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North American Man/Boy Love Association

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North American Man/Boy Love Association

NAMBLA logo.svg

A NAMBLA logo. The capital M and lowercase b symbolize a man and a boy.
Founded 2 December 1978[1]
Founder David Thorstad
Type Unincorporated association
Focus Pedophile and pederasty activism
Area served
North America
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,[2][3] and campaigns for the release of all men who have been jailed for sexual contacts with minors that did not involve coercion.[2][4] 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.[4][5] Around 1995, an undercover detective discovered that there were 1,100 people on the rolls,[4] and in 1997, NAMBLA was the largest group in Ipce, an international pro-pedophile activist organization.[6] As of 2005, a newspaper report stated that NAMBLA was based in New York and San Francisco.[4]

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."[7] According to the NAMBLA, some of the organization's positions are:

In achieving these goals, NAMBLA aims to co-operate with the mainstream LGBT community and women's liberation movements.[7]

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."[4]


NAMBLA, and its affiliated organization, Zymurgy, Inc., are controlled by a Steering Committee.[10] NAMBLA publications include:

  • NAMBLA Bulletin, a quarterly publication sent to dues-paying members.[10] 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.[5]
  • Gayme Magazine, a publication mailed periodically to dues-paying members and sold at some bookstores.[10] It was a periodical published by NAMBLA during the 1990s that became involved in obscenity lawsuits.[11]
  • TOPICS, a series of booklets[10]
  • Arrel's Pages, a project through which literature concerning "man-boy love" was sold
  • A prison newsletter[10]


Events such as Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign in 1977, and a police raid of Toronto-area newspaper The Body Politic for publishing "Men Loving Boys Loving Men," set the stage for the founding of NAMBLA.[5]

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 Byrne said that the arrest was only "the tip of the iceberg."[5] The arrests sparked intense media coverage, and local newspapers published the photographs and personal information of the accused men.[citation needed] Commenting on this issue, Boston Magazine described NAMBLA as "the most despised group of men in America", which was "founded mostly by eccentric, boy-loving leftists".[5] 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.[12] It was co-founded by the historian David Thorstad.[13]

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.[14] NAMBLA published a book documenting the events, A Witchhunt Foiled: The FBI vs. NAMBLA.[15]

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,"[16]

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.[5]

In 1994 NAMBLA was expelled from the International Lesbian and Gay Association, having been the first US-based organization to be a member.[13] 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.[17]

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."[5] 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.[18]

Opposition to NAMBLA

The first documented opposition from LGBT organizations to NAMBLA occurred in the conference that organized the first gay march on Washington in 1979.[19]

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.[19] 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.[19] 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.[20]

By the mid-1980s, NAMBLA was virtually alone in its positions and found itself politically isolated. Some 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,"[21] 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.[21]

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 April 2013 the hacktivist group Anonymous prevented NAMBLA's website from being accessed by the public as part of an operation dubbed "Operation Alice Day."[22][23] The timing of the attack coincided with Alice Day, a Pedophilia Pride Day celebrated by a small group of pedophiles and their supporters on April 25.[24][25][26]

Support for NAMBLA

In 1994 members of NAMBLA, along with many members of the Gay Liberation Front, participated in the "The Spirit of Stonewall" march which commemorated the 1969 Stonewall Riots.[27] It is unknown whether or not members of the GLF had known about the presence of NAMBLA members during the march.

In 1994, Pat Califia[28] 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.[29]

Dan Savage, author of syndicated sex advice column Savage Love, was quoted in the Boston Magazine as being in favor of NAMBLA in part, saying that:

We live in a culture that's hysterical about children and assumes they have no sexual agency or desire. But anyone who can remember what they were like when they were 11 knows that kids are sexual, and whether it was messing around with their cousin, playing doctor with their neighbor, or making passes at people 10 years older, they were horny. So NAMBLA steps out to articulate all this, albeit in its usual highly dysfunctional and creepy way, and because we know what they say to be true on this issue, we've got to label them as insane perverts. Any attempt at rational discussion about youth sexuality and intergenerational sex is simply shouted down.[30]

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.[31]

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."[32] NAMBLA responded by claiming that "man/boy love is by definition homosexual", that "the Western homosexual tradition from Socrates to Wilde to Gide ... [and] many non Western homo sexualities from New Guinea and Persia to the Zulu and the Japanese" were formed by pederasty, and 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."[32]

Curley v. NAMBLA

Main article: 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."[10] 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."[10] 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 [...]."[33]

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.[34] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stepped in to defend NAMBLA as a free speech matter[35] 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".[36]

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.[citation needed] The lawsuit was dropped in April 2008 after a judge ruled that a key witness was not competent to testify.[37]

Associated individuals

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ a b Haggerty, George (2000). Gay histories and cultures: an encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. pp. 627–628. ISBN 978-0-8153-1880-4. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  2. ^ a b Holmes, Ronald M.; Stephen T. Holmes (2002). Current perspectives on sex crimes. SAGE. p. 165. ISBN 0-7619-2416-7. 
  3. ^ M DeYoung (March 1989). "The World According to NAMBLA: Accounting for Deviance". Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 16: 111–126. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Soto, Onell R. (2005). 'FBI targets pedophilia advocates: Little-known group promotes 'benevolent' sex', San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 February.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Boston Magazine, Boy Crazy, By Benoit Denizet-Lewis, May 2001". Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  6. ^ "IPCE Newsletter". July 1997. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "Who We Are." North American Man/Boy Love Association. Accessed 2010-08-26.
  8. ^ 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. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.57.3.176. PMID 11905116. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2003-04-29. 
  9. ^ "NAMBLA Replies to ILGA Secretariat (Revised)". Queer Resources Directory. North American Man/Boy Love Association. January 28, 1994. Retrieved August 5, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Curley v. NAMBLA". Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  11. ^ Memorandum and Order on Motions to Dismiss, March 31, 2003.
  12. ^ "Gay Community Fights Back (1978)". We Raise Our Voices. Northeastern University. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2010-08-26. 
  13. ^ a b Gay histories and cultures: an encyclopedia By George E. Haggerty p.628
  14. ^ Jenkins, Philip (2004). Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America. Yale University Press. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-300-10963-4. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  15. ^ Kennedy, Hubert (1986-05-13). "A Witch-hunt foiled: The FBI vs. NAMBLA". The Advocate (446): 54. book review 
  16. ^ Gay histories and cultures: an encyclopedia By George E. Haggerty p.627
  17. ^ Holden, Stephen (1994-07-08). "FILM REVIEW; Men Who Love Boys Explain Themselves". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  18. ^ Boy Crazy By Benoit Denizet-Lewis
  19. ^ a b c 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 
  20. ^ Hogan, Steve and Lee Hudson (1998). Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia. New York, Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-3629-6.
  21. ^ a b Johnson, Matthew D. (2015). NAMBLA on Archived from the original (2004)
  22. ^ "Anonymous Operation Alice Day". Youtube. anon2world. 22 April 2013. 
  23. ^ "Operation Alice Day : Child abusers will not celebrate this year". Retrieved 2015-08-03. 
  24. ^ Feinberg, Ashley. "Anonymous Just Took Down NAMBLA's Homepage to Protest Pedophilia Pride Day". Retrieved 2015-08-03. 
  25. ^ Fleishman, Cooper (2013-04-24). "Anonymous is targeting every pedophile hub on the Web". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2015-08-03. 
  26. ^ "Alice Day". 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2015-08-03. 
  27. ^ a b Bronski, Michael (2002-11-07). "The real Harry Hay". The Phoenix. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  28. ^ Califa, Pat (1994). "The Aftermath of the Great Kiddy-Porn Panic of '77," The Culture of Radical Sex. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Cleis Press.
  29. ^ "''Radical Transformation'', Writer Patrick Califia-Rice has long explored the fringes. Now the former lesbian S/M activist is exploring life as a man, San Francisco Chronicle, Rona Marech, October 27, 2000". October 27, 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  30. ^ ">"Boston Magazine, Boy Crazy, By Benoit Denizet-Lewis, May 2001". Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  31. ^ "''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". Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  32. ^ a b "Gamson, Joshua (1997). ''Messages of Exclusion: Gender, Movements, and Symbolic Boundaries''. Gender and Society 11(2):178-199". Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  33. ^ From CNN & Time Correspondent Kathy Slobogin (January 5, 2001). "Parents of murdered child sue child-sex advocates - January 8, 2001". Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  34. ^ Murdock, Deroy (February 27, 2004). "No Boy Scouts: The ACLU defends NAMBLA". National Review Online. Archived from the original on February 29, 2004. Retrieved August 5, 2015. 
  35. ^ "ACLU Statement on Defending the Free Speech of Unpopular Organizations". American Civil Liberties Union. August 31, 2000. Retrieved August 5, 2015. 
  36. ^ Reinstein, John. "ACLU Agrees to Represent NAMBLA in Freedom of Speech Case." ACLU of Massachusetts Press Release, 9 June 2003.
  37. ^ Saltzman, Jonathan. Curley family drops case against NAMBLA, The Boston Globe, April 23, 2008
  38. ^ Lowenthal, Michael (1996-10-24). "The Boy-lover Next Door". The Boston Phoenix (The Phoenix Media/Communications Group). Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  39. ^ 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. 

Further reading

  • 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.