A miracle interrupted: remembering Paul Christiano 1976-2015

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On August the 4th, 2015 the Chicago Tribune published an article whose headline read 'Paul Christiano, talented dancer and choreographer with a difficult past, is dead at 39'. Christiano was a paedophile, and he had taken his own life. Paul Christiano, from his earliest childhood, was different to the other boys: he was an odd, creative soul, who loved to perform, and who was fascinated by the world of girls. At the age of eight or nine, inspired by a bio-pic of Nadia Comaneci, he started gymnastics lessons and would spend all his spare time practicising women’s floor routines in the school playground and on his front lawn. [...]

In high school, whilst the other boys were dating their classmates, Christiano's romantic and sexual interests remained with girls between the ages of seven and eleven. These feelings, and what he describes as his 'effeminate heterosexuality', left him increasingly isolated from his peers. Despite Christiano's talents in dance and gymnastics his ambition was to become a writer. But words proved refractory, and his literary struggles would drive Christiano to two suicide attempts and a month-long stint in an adolescent psychiatric unit. [...]

After high school Christiano studied dance for three years, and taught dance, gymnastics and tumbling to children. As a teacher, Christiano thought of his sexuality as a ticking time-bomb. Terrified that one day he "would turn into this insatiable sex monster and go molest a kid" he imposed on himself rules and rituals that would keep sexual thoughts out of his mind, and ensure that he never crossed any lines with his pupils: fasting all day, never sitting down whilst teaching, and rigorously maintaining an emotional distance from his students.

In 2000, when still in his early 20s, Christiano was convicted of purchasing child pornography after having been entrapped by under-cover customs agents. He would never again be allowed to teach or work with minors of any age. For the rest of his life he would be on a publicly-accessible sex offender register, and be subject to stringent reporting obligations, random police checks, and work and residency restrictions. A failure to comply with these would constitute a felony. [...]

Christiano yearned to be a father, and Shayna, a single mother of a two-year-old girl, offered Christiano a ready-made family. But the implications of being in a relationship with a convicted sex-offender proved too much for Shayna and the relationship lasted only a few months. After Shayna left him, Christiano made an attempt on his own life.

Christiano would choreograph his way out of the 'emotional black hole' left by the end of this relationship by transcribing excerpts from his love-letters to Shayna into sign language, and setting the resulting gestures to the music of Vivaldi. The resulting work - 'Miracle, interrupted' - was first performed by the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago in June 2001. It proved to be Christiano's break-out creation. It earned him the plaudits of the critics, and led to the Chicago Tribune naming him as one of that year's top sixteen Chicagoans. [...]

Growing hysteria around child sexuality, the accessibility of Sex Offender registers, and improving internet literacy meant that employing Christiano became a serious risk for any business. Christiano found it increasingly hard to find work. [...]

Christiano became a tireless volunteer and administrator for B4U-ACT, giving interviews to newspapers, contributing to radio documentaries, promoting a more humane and rational approach to Minor Attracted Persons. He applied the same thoroughness, dedication and leadership skills to this role as he did to his art. [...]

In May of 2015 Christiano was arrested for falsifying his address. He faced at least three years in prison, during which he would be able to pursue neither his art nor his work for B4U-ACT. He also knew that he would be unemployable after his release. Faced with this future, it is understandable that death for him should seem a 'soaring relief', as he described it in a note left at the site of his suicide.

source: Article 'A Miracle Interrupted: Remembering Paul Christiano 1976-2015' by Dissident; consentinghumans.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/a-miracle-interrupted-remembering-paul-christiano-1976-2015-2/; Consenting Humans; 3 August 2017