North American Man/Boy Love Association
|Focus(es)||Pedophile, pederasty activism and education|
|Mission||Removing age of consent laws|
The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) is a pedophile and pederasty advocacy organization in the United States. It works to abolish age of consent laws criminalizing adult sexual involvement with minors, and for campaigns the release of all men who have been jailed for sexual contacts with minors that did not involve coercion. Some reports state that the group no longer has regular national meetings, and that as of the late 1990s, to avoid local police infiltration, the organization discouraged the formation of local chapters. Around 1995, an undercover detective discovered that there were 1,100 people on the rolls. As of 2005, a newspaper report stated that NAMBLA was based in New York and San Francisco.
Goals and positions
NAMBLA's website states that it is a political, civil rights, and educational organization whose goal is to end "the extreme oppression of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships." According to the NAMBLA, some of the organization's primary positions are:
- Supporting and promoting man/boy relationships: they hold that when consensual these relationships are not harmful or child sexual abuse. One study they cite is the controversial Rind et al. paper.
- Age-of-consent reform: what NAMBLA describes as "empowerment of youth in all areas, not just the sexual."
NAMBLA, and its affiliated organization, Zymurgy, Inc., are controlled by a Steering Committee. NAMBLA publications include:
- NAMBLA Bulletin, a quarterly publication sent to dues-paying members In 1996 co-founder David Thorstad stated that, "The Bulletin is turning into a semi-pornographic jerk-off mag for pedophiles." Other members stated that the group only had a minority who were pedophiles, with the majority being pederasts.
- Gayme Magazine, a publication mailed periodically to dues-paying members and sold at some bookstores. It was a periodical published by NAMBLA during the 1990s that became involved in obscenity lawsuits.
- TOPICS, a series of booklets
- Arrel's Pages, a project through which literature concerning "man-boy love" was sold
- A prison newsletter
Events such as Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign in 1977, and a police raid of Toronto-area gay newspaper The Body Politic for publishing "Men Loving Boys Loving Men" set the stage for the founding of NAMBLA.
In December 1977, police raided a house in the Boston suburb of Revere. Twenty-four men were arrested and indicted on over 100 felony counts of the statutory rape of boys aged eight to fifteen. Suffolk County District Attorney Garrett Byrne found that the men used drugs and video games to lure the boys into a house, where they photographed them as they engaged in sexual activity. The men were members of a "sex ring", and said that the arrest was only "the tip of the iceberg." The arrests sparked intense media coverage, and local newspapers published the photographs and personal information of the accused men. The "Boston-Boise Committee", a gay rights organization, formed in response to these events and to protect the "rights of gay men" and promote "gay solidarity." NAMBLA's founding was inspired by this gay rights organization. It was co-founded by the gay historian David Thorstad.
In 1982 a NAMBLA member was falsely linked to the disappearance of Etan Patz. Although the accusation was groundless, the negative publicity was disastrous to the organization. NAMBLA published a book documenting the events, A Witchhunt Foiled: The FBI vs. NAMBLA.
In testimony before the United States Senate, NAMBLA was exonerated from any criminal activities and it concluded "It is the pedophile with no organized affiliations who is the real threat to children,"
Mike Echols, the author of I Know My First Name is Steven, infiltrated NAMBLA and his observations are recorded in his book, published in 1991. At one point he published the names, addresses and phone numbers of 80 suspected NAMBLA members on his website, which led to death threats towards people who were not members.
In 1994 NAMBLA was expelled from the International Lesbian and Gay Association, having been the first US based organization to be a member. Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys was produced and directed by Adi Sideman in 1994. Members of NAMBLA were interviewed and presented defenses of the organization. Allen Ginsberg appeared in the film.
In 2000, Robert and Barbara Curley sued NAMBLA for the wrongful death of their son. A NAMBLA founder speculated that the case would "break our backs, even if we win, which we will." The suit was eventually dismissed. Media reports from 2006 have suggested that for practical purposes the group no longer exists and that it consists only of a web site maintained by a few enthusiasts.
Relations with LGBT organizations
In 1980 a group called the "Lesbian Caucus – Lesbian & Gay Pride March Committee" distributed a hand-out urging women to split from the annual New York City Gay Pride March because the organizing committee had supposedly been dominated by NAMBLA and its supporters. The next year, after some lesbians threatened to picket, the Cornell University gay group Gay PAC (Gay People at Cornell) rescinded its invitation to NAMBLA founder David Thorstad to be the keynote speaker at the annual May Gay Festival. In the following years, gay rights groups attempted to block NAMBLA’s participation in gay pride parades, prompting leading gay rights figure Harry Hay to wear a sign proclaiming "NAMBLA walks with me" as he participated in a 1986 gay pride march in Los Angeles.
By the mid-1980s, NAMBLA was virtually alone in its positions and found itself politically isolated. Gay rights organizations, burdened by accusations of child recruitment and child abuse, had abandoned the radicalism of their early years and had "retreat[ed] from the idea of a more inclusive politics," opting instead to appeal more to the mainstream. Support for "groups perceived as being on the fringe of the gay community," such as NAMBLA, vanished in the process.
In 1994 the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) adopted a "Position Statement Regarding NAMBLA" saying GLAAD "deplores the North American Man Boy Love Association's (NAMBLA) goals, which include advocacy for sex between adult men and boys and the removal of legal protections for children. These goals constitute a form of child abuse and are repugnant to GLAAD." Also in 1994 the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) adopted a resolution on NAMBLA that said: "NGLTF condemns all abuse of minors, both sexual and any other kind, perpetrated by adults. Accordingly, NGLTF condemns the organizational goals of NAMBLA and any other such organization."
In 1994, Pat Califia argued that politics played an important role in the gay community's rejection of NAMBLA, however, Califia has since completely repudiated his earlier support for the association.
The International Lesbian and Gay Association controversy
In 1993, the International Lesbian and Gay Association achieved United Nations consultative status. NAMBLA's membership in ILGA drew heavy criticism and caused the suspension of ILGA. Many gay organizations called for the ILGA to dissolve ties with NAMBLA. Republican Senator Jesse Helms proposed a bill to withhold $119 million in UN contributions until U.S. President Bill Clinton could certify that "no UN agency grants any official status, accreditation, or recognition to any organization which promotes, condones, or seeks the legalization of pedophilia, that is, the sexual abuse of children". The bill was unanimously approved by Congress and signed into law by Clinton in April 1994.
IN 1994, ILGA expelled NAMBLA and two other groups (MARTIJN and Project Truth) because they were judged to be "groups whose predominant aim is to support or promote pedophilia." Although ILGA removed NAMBLA, the UN reversed its decision to grant ILGA special consultative status. Repeated attempts by ILGA to reacquire special status with the UN were eventually successful in 2006.
Gregory King of the Human Rights Campaign later said that "NAMBLA is not a gay organization ... They are not part of our community and we thoroughly reject their efforts to insinuate that pedophilia is an issue related to gay and lesbian civil rights." NAMBLA responded by claiming that "man/boy love is by definition homosexual," that "man/boy lovers are part of the gay movement and central to gay history and culture," and that "homosexuals denying that it is 'not gay' to be attracted to adolescent boys are just as ludicrous as heterosexuals saying it's 'not heterosexual' to be attracted to adolescent girls."
Curley v. NAMBLA
In 2000, a Boston couple, Robert and Barbara Curley, sued NAMBLA for the wrongful death of their son. According to the plaintiffs, Charles Jaynes and Salvatore Sicari, who were convicted of murdering the Curleys' son Jeffrey, "stalked ... tortured, murdered and mutilated [his] body on or about October 1, 1997. Upon information and belief immediately prior to said acts Charles Jaynes accessed NAMBLA's website at the Boston Public Library." The lawsuit further alleged that "NAMBLA serves as a conduit for an underground network of pedophiles in the United States who use their NAMBLA association and contacts therein and the Internet to obtain and promote pedophile activity." Jaynes wrote in his diary, "This was a turning point in discovery of myself.... NAMBLA's Bulletin helped me to become aware of my own sexuality and acceptance of it [...]."
Citing cases in which NAMBLA members have been convicted of sexual offenses against children, Larry Frisoli, the attorney representing the Curleys, argued that it is a "training ground" for adults who wish to seduce children, in which men exchange strategies on how to find and groom child sex partners. Frisoli also claimed that NAMBLA has sold at its website what he called "The Rape and Escape Manual" that detailed how to avoid being caught and prosecuted. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stepped in to defend NAMBLA as a free speech matter and won a dismissal based on the fact that NAMBLA is organized as an unincorporated association, not a corporation. John Reinstein, the director of the ACLU Massachusetts, said that although NAMBLA "may extol conduct which is currently illegal", there was nothing on its website that "advocated or incited the commission of any illegal acts, including murder or rape".
The Curleys continued the suit as a wrongful death action against individual NAMBLA members, some of whom were active in the group's leadership. The targets of the wrongful death suits included David Thorstad, a co-founder of NAMBLA. The Curleys alleged that Jaynes and Sicari, who were convicted of the rape and murder of their son, were members. The lawsuit was dropped in April 2008 after a judge ruled that a key witness was not competent to testify.
Purpose of NAMBLA
Onell R. Soto, a San Diego Union-Tribune writer, wrote in February 2005: "Law enforcement officials and mental health professionals say that while NAMBLA's membership numbers are small, the group has a dangerous ripple effect through the Internet by sanctioning the behavior of those who would abuse children."
NAMBLA rejects the widely held view that sex between adults and minors is always harmful, arguing that "the outcomes of personal experiences between adults and younger people primarily depend upon whether their relationships were consensual."
- Bill Andriette, journalist. He joined NAMBLA at the age of 15 and edited the NAMBLA Bulletin for six years.
- Samuel R. Delany, professor and author. In extended interviews about his novel Hogg in 2004 he stated he supported a group like NAMBLA because "abuse is fostered by the secrecy itself and lack of social policing". He expounded that "for thousands of years, relations we assume are abusive by definition (child marriages, slavery, child labor, etc.) were the social and legal norm, institutional and ubiquitous [..] behavior that we [today] find wholly unacceptable—flogging slaves, wife beating, and child beating (in the family, in the school, and at the factory)—was recommended by experts and clergymen as the most efficient and least disruptive way to maintain [social] order. All of these institutions changed, nevertheless, only when they were no longer economically feasible or beneficial to the greater society.
- Allen Ginsberg was a defender of NAMBLA and a member.
- Harry Hay, leader of the LGBT rights movement, supported the inclusion of NAMBLA in gay-pride events.
- David Thorstad, historian of the gay rights movement, founding member
- Age disparity in sexual relationships
- Cartman Joins NAMBLA, a South Park episode that parodied the organization
- Chickenhawk (gay slang)
- Party for Neighbourly Love, Freedom, and Diversity
- Sexual Morality and the Law
- Vereniging Martijn
- Holmes, Ronald M.; Stephen T. Holmes (2002). Current perspectives on sex crimes. SAGE. p. 165. ISBN 0-7619-2416-7.
- M DeYoung (March 1989). "The World According to NAMBLA: Accounting for Deviance". Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 16: 111–126.
- Soto, Onell R. (2005). 'FBI targets pedophilia advocates: Little-known group promotes 'benevolent' sex', San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 February.
- "Boston Magazine, Boy Crazy, By Benoit Denizet-Lewis, May 2001". Bostonmagazine.com. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- "Who We Are." North American Man/Boy Love Association.
www.nambla.org/welcome.htm. Accessed 2010-08-26.
- "What Does Science Have to Say?" NAMBLA
- Lilienfeld, SO (2002). "When Worlds Collide: Social Science, Politics and the Rind et al. (1998) Child Abuse Meta-Analysis" (pdf). The American Psychologist 57 (3): 177–187. Archived from the original on 2003-04-29.
- "Curley v. NAMBLA". Thecpac.com. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- Memorandum and Order on Motions to Dismiss, March 31, 2003.
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- Kennedy, Hubert (1986-05-13). "A Witch-hunt foiled: The FBI vs. NAMBLA". The Advocate (446): 54. "book review"
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- Boy Crazy By Benoit Denizet-Lewis
- Thorstad, David (February 1990), "Man/Boy Love and the American Gay Movement", Journal of Homosexuality (Routledge) 20 (1 & 2): 251–274, doi:10.1300/J082v20n01_15, ISSN 0091-8369
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- Califa, Pat (1994). "The Aftermath of the Great Kiddy-Porn Panic of '77," The Culture of Radical Sex.
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- "''Economic and Social Council Approves Consultative Status for Three Non-Governmental Organizations Focusing on Gay, Lesbian Rights'', Economic and Social Council ECOSOC/6242, December 11, 2006". Un.org. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- "Gamson, Joshua (1997). ''Messages of Exclusion: Gender, Movements, and Symbolic Boundaries''. Gender and Society 11(2):178-199". Links.jstor.org. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- From CNN & Time Correspondent Kathy Slobogin (January 5, 2001). "Parents of murdered child sue child-sex advocates - January 8, 2001". Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- Murdock, Deroy (2004). "No Boy Scouts: The ACLU defends NAMBLA."
- Reinstein, John. "ACLU Agrees to Represent NAMBLA in Freedom of Speech Case." ACLU of Massachusetts Press Release, 9 June 2003.
- Saltzman, Jonathan. Curley family drops case against NAMBLA, The Boston Globe, April 23, 2008
- Lowenthal, Michael (1996-10-24). "The Boy-lover Next Door". The Boston Phoenix (The Phoenix Media/Communications Group). Retrieved 2010-10-05.
- Delany, Samuel R.; Freedman, Carl (2009). Conversations with Samuel R. Delany. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 143. ISBN 978-1-60473-278-8.
- Haggerty, George (2000). Gay histories and cultures: an encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. pp. 627–628. ISBN 978-0-8153-1880-4. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
- Kennedy, Hubert (1991). "Sexual Hysteria—Then and Now". OurStories (Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California). pp. 17–18. "A former president of New York’s Gay Activists Alliance and a founding member of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), Thorstad is uniquely qualified to write on this topic."
- Art Cohen, "The Boston-Boise Affair,", Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, Vol. 10, No. 2. March–April, 2003.
- John Mitzel, The Boston Sex Scandal, Boston, Glad Day Books, 1981.
- Stuart Timmons, The Trouble With Harry Hay: Founder of the Modern Gay Movement, Alyson Pubns, 1990.