Guidelines developed by NAMBLA activists for surviving in an insane world

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The attack on men and boys who have consensual relationships is like other campaigns of repression against politically unpopular groups in the West. Like crusades against socialists during the Palmer "red scare" and McCarthy era, attacks on civil rights workers in the South during the 60s, and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the current campaigns against man/ boy lovers have destroyed many lives and been used as a cover for diminishing the freedoms and rights of all.

NAMBLA challenges this injustice. But for now, we must learn how to survive in a hostile culture. The following guidelines can help.

1) Relationships between boys and men

  • The age of consent for sex varies greatly in North America. In no place is that age higher than 18. The most common age in the various US states is 16 years. But in California, for example, the age is 18. In New York it is 17. In Canada the age is 14, but anal sex and prostitution are prohibited for persons under 18. Though age-of-consent statutes are not the only laws restricting sex for people younger than 18, they are the most important and severe. Consensual sex involving adolescents above the age of consent is rarely prosecuted, even when there are laws against it. When it is prosecuted, the penalties are usually mild. The laws restricting the right of young people to have sex are too numerous, varying, and complex to catalog easily. The text of these laws matters less than the way police and prosecutors use them to attack consensual relationships. This varies with the jurisdiction and circumstances of the particular case.
  • Because of the hysteria and the harsh penalties involved for man and boy alike, an argument can be made for not having sex with boys in the US at this time.
  • If you decide not to have sex with boys under the age of consent, it should be a reasoned choice and not be a denial of your sexuality. There are legal ways to celebrate man/boy love:

- relationships with boys above the age of consent
- fellowship with other man/boy lovers
- through fantasies, stories, and legal erotica
- nonsexual relationships with boys (But remember: in the current hysteria, even the appearance of a sexual relationship between a boy and a man involves some risk. That risk varies greatly depending on where you live and the precise circumstances of your life.)

If you have sexual relationships with boys, particularly in the US, experience tells us that:

  • The more people who know about your relationships, the more vulnerable you are. Just because someone is a friend, a fellow man/boy lover, or even a member of NAMBLA does not guarantee that he or she will not give you away either accidentally or under police pressure. Do not share specific information about your relationship, such as the identity of your lover.
  • Do not allow relationships with boys to overlap with your relationships with other boy-lovers. Don't get sexually involved with groups of boys, or boys who are involved with other boy-lovers.
  • Do not rush into sex. Respect the wishes and feelings of your partner. Talk out any anxieties and fears a boy may have. Never push the relationship further than is comfortable. For many reasons, including security, we should strive for relationships that are mutual, caring, and ethical.
  • Develop a positive relationship with your partner's family. If police become involved, expect them to pressure the boy's family to turn against you.
  • If as a boy grows your sexual attraction for him diminishes it is important to carry the relationship onto another level. The feeling that he has been abandoned, particularly for a younger youth, may hurt and anger him.
  • Discuss the possibility of police interrogation with your partner. Help him understand and prepare for the fact that police and social workers routinely threaten and coerce boys whether or not sex has actually taken place.
  • Assess your ability to survive police interrogation, a raid on your home, public exposure in the media. As much as possible, make sure both you and your lover understand and are prepared for the potential consequences of breaking laws and social taboos.
  • Secure legal representation before you need it. Many people feel poorly represented by counsel they had to settle for once they were arrested. If possible, arrange a source of bail (such as a line of credit at your bank) in advance.
  • Be sensitive to the boy's family and community. Avoid activities that bring attention to your relationship or that might offend your partner's family, friends, and neighbors.
  • Don't keep photos of your partner in a place where police may find them. Even ordinary, nonsexual photos can provide a line of investigation for police. Photos showing sex should not be taken or kept.
  • Do not document your relationship unnecessarily. If the police do investigate you, they will probably scrutinize your phone calls, letters, diaries, photo albums, and address books.
  • In particular, never discuss the specifics of an illegal relationship with therapists or social workers. In most jurisdictions, the law requires these people to report sex with minors to the police. Sadly, many are prepared to violate the trust of their clients.
  • Always practice safe sex, and encourage your partner to do the same. No matter who you are having sex with, don't let cum get in the ass, mouth, or open cuts. If you fuck, use a condom.

2) If you are a boy in a relationship with a man

  • You have the right to decide whether you and your friend share sex or affection, assuming your friend desires the same. At least part of the man's feelings for you is sexual. But most boy-lovers are happy being your friend without having sex. You also can decide that you like having sex with men without becoming their friend or lover.
  • You have the right to set boundaries on the relationship. If a man wants to have sex with you and you don't want sex with him, say so. On the other hand, you should also feel free to initiate sex. If there are certain kinds of sex or affection that you don't like - fucking or kissing or whatever - you have a right to say no. If there are certain kinds you do like, you should make your feelings clear. If your friend violates boundaries you have set, you should complain to him. You have the right to break off the relationship if you find you cannot work out disagreements.
  • No matter who you are having sex with - a man, another boy, a girl or woman - don't let cum or menstrual blood get in anyone's ass, mouth, cunt, or open cuts. If you fuck, use a condom.
  • If the police want to talk to you, say no. You do not have to talk to the police and they cannot force you to go with them, unless you are under arrest. You cannot be arrested for having sex with a man.
  • Be careful who you tell about a sexual relationship with a man. People in relationships often like to share their experiences with others they are close to. Unfortunately, many people in our society misunderstand man/ boy love. If you are having sex with a man, you should avoid telling others about it. At least, you should talk with your friend before discussing your relationship with anyone else.

3) Pornography

The US federal government defines "child pornography" as any photographic depiction of a person younger than 18 having sex (including masturbation) or displaying the genitals in "lascivious" way. Under various federal and state laws, it is a felony to produce, sell, trade, and even possess such images.

  • Given the breadth of these laws, virtually any photo of a nude minor could be prose-curable. The more explicit the image, the greater the danger of prosecution. For example, a photo of a naked boy with legs parted is riskier than one of a naked boy simply standing. The more mainstream the source of the image, the lower the danger of prosecution. For example, a photo of a naked boy from a boy-love magazine is riskier than one from National Geographic, which poses virtually no risk at all.
  • There is no pornography commercially available depicting persons younger than 18 - except from undercover police. Virtually any ads for such porn, whether domestic or international, will be placed by government agents seeking to entrap you. Any individual who contacts you seeking to sell or trade porn is almost certainly a police agent, as well. If you receive any such solicitations, send them on to NAMBLA or just destroy them.
  • Do not order or request porn, or agree to trade or examine it. Requesting, sending, or receiving pornography by mail is illegal. Penalties for violating porn laws are severe and porn cases are more easily prosecuted than charges of sexual relations.
  • Do not attempt to outwit the government in their deceptions. If you send any sort reply to sting letters, the police will begin an extended correspondence to provoke you into committing an illegal act. In addition, they may put you under surveillance.
  • Possessing pornography that depicts minors involves some risk. The danger is higher if you have ever been arrested on sex charges or are currently legally vulnerable. To reduce risk you can:

- store erotica someplace other than your home or office, or at least keep it out of sight in a secure place where it will not be seen by a snooping plumber or meter reader
- keep only one or two items in all
- possess erotic images only from recognized artists or mainstream publications
- keep only less explicit images

  • To eliminate legal risks associated with owning pornography, destroy any suspect images you own. Or send such images to a university sex archive. (Be sure to remove any indication of your identity and address before sending, and do not include your return address on the package.)
  • Instead of illegal pornography showing young people, you can safely enjoy:

- stories and fantasies
- erotic paintings and drawings of boys, which are not covered by child porn laws
- pornography showing adolescent boys who are at least 18
- nonsexual relationships with boys

4) Dealing with police

  • Never answer police questions. It is not in your interest to cooperate with the police (this includes the FBI, customs, or postal agents). If the police come to your door to question you, close and lock the door in their faces. It may help to say, "My lawyer told me not to talk to you." You are not legally required to answer police questions beyond confirming your name and address.
  • Never allow the police into your home unless they show you a search warrant.
  • Don't expect to outwit the police or use them for your own purposes. They will not be fooled and it can be illegal to lie to them.
  • You are not required to go to a police station unless you are under arrest. If you are arrested, the police are required to terminate questioning as soon as you request an attorney.
  • The police may try to pose as your friends, and claim to understand and be sympathetic to your feelings. A "friendly" police officer is just as dangerous as a threatening one. Everything you say can and will be used against you. When faced with arrest or a search warrant, get a lawyer as soon as possible whenever possible.

5) Your safety as a member of NAMBLA

  • NAMBLA is a legal organization that advocates changes in the law. We do not break the law or advocate that others break it. Our publications and meetings are protected by the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
  • The NAMBLA mailing list is private and is kept secured. It is never released or shared.
  • Since the organization was founded in 1979, no one has been prosecuted simply for participation in NAMBLA. At most it can be said that in a few cases, NAMBLA activists who had spoken out publicly and were later prosecuted for sex with boys were treated more harshly because of their political work. But in other instances, high profile NAMBLA activists who were prosecuted on sex charges were not treated unusually. In any case, there is no evidence that simply belonging to NAMBLA or being involved in a chapter increases your risks of conviction or punishment if you are ever prosecuted.
  • Keep in mind that even exposure as a NAMBLA activist (at least in large cities) has not caused severe problems. For example, a grade school teacher was identified as a NAMBLA activist on his city's news radio station a few years ago and has continued in his job without significant difficulty.
  • Although it is easy for authorities to initiate a mail cover (recording the names and return-addresses of people writing to a certain address) there is no evidence that this tactic has been used against NAMBLA. In any case, you do not need to put a return address on your envelopes.
  • If you feel safer this way, you can become involved in NAMBLA under a false name, use money orders rather than checks, and use a post office box instead of your home address. Experience does not suggest that these precautions are necessary, but take them if they make you feel better.
  • There is no known instance in which the government has exposed an individual as a man/boy lover or started a criminal investigation simply because the person was a member of NAMBLA. The federal government does maintain a list of "sexually suspect" persons that has reputedly thousands of names. However the list is seen as unreliable even by the customs and postal agents who have compiled it, and there is no evidence that the list has been used for any purpose except targeting pornography sting solicitations.

Our sense of self-worth and dignity is our best protection against the police state in which we live. The slight risk of joining together with other man/ boy lovers is more than balanced by the opportunity to support each other and stay informed. Being involved in NAMBLA helps prepare you for the challenges we all face.

source: Article 'Staying Safe and Happy as a Man/Boy Lover - Guidelines developed by NAMBLA activists for surviving in an insane world'; NAMBLA Bulletin, Vol. 12, No. 8; October 1991