Fences Make Good Neighbors #3: The Long Arm of the Law
The holiday season is chaotic even under normal circumstances. When a pair of DPS special agents show up on the doorstep the Friday before Christmas, though, the seasonal stress gets elevated to an entirely new level.
On Friday the 21st of December, Janelle and I were relaxing at home when a knock on the door surprised us. She and I exchanged curious glances—we weren’t expecting anyone. Pulling open my front door, I was greeted by two strangers who introduced themselves as special agents of the Texas Department of Public Safety. With little preamble, they explained that they were following up on anonymous tip: someone reported that I was a threat to children. I gave a knowing nod and—without thinking—quipped, “I’ve been expecting you.”
It might not have been the smartest thing to say, but the truth is that I HAD been expecting them. When I chose to come out as a minor-attracted person (MAP), I knew that not everyone would understand what I was trying to do. When it comes to children, the line between attraction and action is so blurred that most people don’t even understand that there is a difference between a person who is attracted to children and one who takes advantage of them. It was inevitable that someone would want to make sure that I didn’t have the chance to harm kids, and a report to the authorities is a sensible way to approach the situation.
So, while I was expecting to have a conversation with law enforcement, I honestly expected to have it back in June when this journey began. Still, though the timing was not what I anticipated, the meeting itself seemed preordained. So, as I explained why their presence wasn’t a surprise, I invited them in.
Over the next hour I shared my story, what MAPs are, and why I’ve chosen to come out and share my experiences. They listened patiently and asked probing questions. I answered it all as openly and honestly as I could. After getting a feel for my situation, and realizing that I really was trying to cooperate, they asked if they could take a look at our electronics.
I confess that I blanched a bit at this. I don’t have anything to hide, but it’s also hard to let some stranger go digging through your personal life. Still, I knew that handing over electronics now, willingly, would go much further than any verbal reassurances I could grant them. So, after some discussion with Janelle, we agreed.
For some of our devices they were able to download the information they needed to their own machines. They also perused my laptop as we sat there. We even temporarily surrendered some computers for them to take back to their lab; those we got back the first Monday in January.
As expected, nothing has transpired since then. There’s nothing illegal on my computers, and now DPS is aware of that. Janelle and I cooperated with every request they made, and I firmly believe that this matter is closed.
I won’t lie, though. The entire experience was nerve wracking. Having someone digging through my life leaves me uncomfortable. I don’t have anything to hide, but I can’t lie and pretend I’m thrilled about someone potentially reading the electronic journal that I’ve kept off and on for almost twenty years. Some things are personal and turning them over to strangers to comb through leaves me feeling very vulnerable.
I remain convinced it was the right course of action, though. It is one thing for me to sit behind my computer and extol how we need to learn to embrace MAPs in order to help them not offend. It is another thing to hand over my computers to law enforcement and prove the merits of that position.
As to the anonymous tipster who started all this, I imagine that person will remain forever unknown. I can’t help but be curious, though. Maybe he or she has been reading my posts and finally decided to act. Or perhaps this person just now stumbled upon those essays. Maybe I emailed him or her as I’ve sent out probes looking to make connections. It is also possible that this is someone at one of the churches I’ve been working with.
Honestly, I hope he or she is reading this, or will at least get pointed to it. I want this person to know that the authorities took that tip seriously…and came up with nothing.
I’ve stated this before, but in light of this experience I want to reiterate. I’m not hurting kids. I have no child porn on my computer. I believe these things are wrong and I’m fighting against them. My goal isn’t—and never has been—to normalize MAPs so that their desires can be acted upon. Instead, I’m hoping to create a world where BEING something isn’t treated the same as DOING something, where I can admit my sexual proclivities without people believing that they somehow override the rest of what makes me a human being.
Only in that world can we say that we are ready to help MAPs stop child abuse before it starts. Thank you for helping me take steps toward that world.
If you are unfamiliar with my series of essays on life as minor-attracted person, you can read up at my website (wileyhaydon.com/blog) or in my first series of Facebook essays on the topic: Beyond Pride. You can reach me at email@example.com. Also, please consider helping me spread this word by sharing this or my other posts.