Yours, Daniel
Budding Sexuality

To had been posted an erotic photo that some argued was of a child. This led to a discussion of so-called pedophilia, to which I contributed the following:

When does a man become "grown"? When did you feel grown? When did you feel sexual?

I was erotic and sexual well before 18. In retrospect, I figure I was sexual my whole childhood along, but there was a moment when I understood that these feelings and pleasures and desires were called erotic and sexual by the adult world and that all the instructions about sexuality applied to them. For me, and I think I was tardy in my development, I clued in at about 14. Definitely 15. Maybe 12.

But mature? Hell, I don't think I was mature until I was at least 24. That's when I could finally discern when to say yes and when to say no, and how to make my decisions stick. Until then, and still a bit too often now, I tended to go with anyone who expressed any interest in me, sexual or otherwise.

I have come to understand that sexual action must always come from within a person, each and every time, and from within every person present. Getting that arousal is what courtship is for.

I have also come to understand how necessary it is to forgive myself my mistakes, 'cause Spirit knows I've made them. I've had room to make them. I've been given room, guidance, and ongoing support, often by older men who took me in, and took me to bed, and let me prance around just like this young man [pictured] (who could be easily in his mid to late 20's).

I treasure the gay community's understanding and handling of budding sexuality. It helped me. I think it's one of the gifts we gay folks bring to at least American society, which is way too wedded to inflexible rules. We fail our children in this society by not having a healthier understanding of what is the experience of wakening to adulthood. Instead we say people aren't sexual until 18, abandoning them to travel a difficult path without mature guidance, and then say that after 18 they're suddenly mature, which is equally absurd and certainly made me feel like a failure since I knew I wasn't mature when everyone said I should be.

Now I'm 39. Now I'm beginning to get a clue what maturity is. I find maturity a hell of a lot more sexy than hairless twinks, but I will not disparage the kind of men who cared for me when I was 19. Even though they loved my young body, they also loved and supported and grew my sense of myself. We are still friends. We are, in fact, family.