EDWARD BRONGERSMA’S PREFACE TO HIS LOVING BOYS
Dr. Edward Brongersma’s Loving Boys was published in two volumes by Global Academic Publishers in New York in 1986 and 1990. This is his preface to it.
Two of the illustrations for this article are taken from Pan, a magazine about boy-love (Amsterdam, 1979-85) simply because Brongersma was a regular contributor to it while writing Loving Boys, so it is close to him in spirit.
OVER ten years ago (1970), the publisher Lichtenberg in Munich brought out a German book of mine upon which they bestowed the alarming title of Das verfemte Geschlecht (The Damned Sex). It has long been out of print and it soon became high time that a new edition be considered.
However, as I re-read the text it seemed impossible to limit myself to a simple revision. During the intervening years I had been active in the formation and growth of both the Dutch and the German action groups for paedophile and youth emancipation. I had corresponded with men (in 27 different countries) who loved boys; from many of them I had received substantial documentation (both written and visual) of their love lives; I had become personally acquainted with many of them. I had also travelled a great deal, heard much and seen much. I had read many new books touching on or devoted to the subject. So it seemed I had to write a completely new work. Of course it would repeat many of the essential thoughts of Das verfemte Geschlecht.
I am deeply grateful to all who have helped me write this book, who gave me their observations and confided in me the most intimate details of their life stories. I particularly want to thank Walter Koch, Frank Torey and Mark McHarry for their most valuable corrections and criticisms of my manuscript.
A man who, as member of Parliament for eighteen years, has involved himself deeply in so-called “public morality” matters; who, as a lawyer, defended many clients prosecuted for having had sexual affairs with boys; who himself suffered imprisonment for being involved with a 16-year-old boy (under a law now repealed because the legislator himself finally came to see that it was unjust); who, over 25 years, has published many books and papers about sexual relations with children and participated in conferences on this subject in his own country and abroad; who created a foundation to further studies in this field – such a man would make a fool of himself if he pretended to have only an academic interest in this phenomenon. Quite obviously his interest is personal, and when this was suggested in an interview with me (Bibeb in Vrij Nederland, 2 Sept, 1978), and during a program on Dutch television (30 Oct, 1978), I didn’t deny it. As a result one journalist wrote in a nationally distributed Dutch newspaper that my professional written work in this area could be dismissed because it was obviously coloured by personal preference.
What curious reasoning! Arguments, then, should no longer be tested on the basis of their validity, or met with counter arguments. To dismiss them one only need say that they were put forward by an “engaged” author.
Are matters really as simple as that? Must a book on marriage be suspect if written by a married man or woman, a book on religion dismissed if written by a monk? Or doesn’t a personally engaged person have some unique opportunities to see the living reality of a phenomenon and so gain better insight into it, especially in the case of a hidden, often inaccessible aspect of human life, a secret or semi-secret subculture? Won’t he have talked more frequently and more openly with members of this subculture? Might he not have been welcomed in homes where the door remained closed to others? And, in any case, isn’t it more honest at least to hear him out and evaluate what he reports before pushing aside all he has to offer as being suspect?
This book deals with boys and their erotic attraction, with boys as subjects of love and as partners in love relationships. This is not exclusively a matter of sexuality: much more is implied, as we shall see later on. But at the same time we will see how true are the words of a philosopher from Greek antiquity who, in referring to the relationship between an adult man and his young friend, said, “It’s not just a matter of sex – but it’s not without sex, either!
Now, it is precisely this sexual aspect which provokes disgust in our Western culture. If a teacher, youth leader, friend of the family is nice to a boy, devotes his spare time to him, troubles himself with the boy’s problems, the parents are grateful and appreciative. But the moment the man gives physical expression to the relationship – fondling him or allowing a sexual contact to take place (and it doesn’t matter whether man or boy is the instigator) – most parents react with extreme indignation. The law, in criminalizing such physical behaviour, obviously reflects the feelings of the majority of Western adults.
And so, in this book, we will stress just this forbidden, condemned aspect of boy-love. Yet it must be stated clearly at the outset that such emphasis upon the physical does not really correspond to the balance of deeper feelings in many of the men to whom this book is dedicated. I am reminded of one Englishman who wrote me, “If I had to choose between a casual contact implying sexuality and a deep, lasting relation without it, I wouldn’t hesitate a moment in preferring the latter.” One of the most sympathetic boy-lovers I ever met, the late Michael Davidson, an English journalist, says in his autobiography, “My highest, most intense pleasure or happiness is of the mind; and comes from seeing, being with, touching, looking into the mind of, a boy who, emotionally, mentally, rather than bodily, is simpatico; and from visually absorbing the multiple delights of his nakedness. Any sexual acts which may, and generally do, accompany, follow or precede this mental joy are adjuncts – prologue or epilogue to the essential monograph of the mind.” Not everyone shares this opinion. There are men – and boys, too – who wish to limit their relationships to the sexual. But many others will certainly agree with Davidson and my English correspondent.
So, although the spiritual aspect of man/boy relationships is often very important, it will not occupy us very much in the following pages. Our examination will focus upon the sexual aspect and its physical expression, with what is forbidden, damned and rejected – with shocking things, if you will. This is significant, because sexual activities between men and boys, between older and younger boys, are not at all exceptional; they are not rare, indeed they are quite common and thus of utmost importance in the boy’s development.
Few people who haven’t delved into these matters have any idea of its extent and importance. Recent enquiries among male adults, and especially college students, have shown that as many as a quarter, or even a third, had had at least one sexual experience with an adult during boyhood. It is, then, a statistical probability that all parents with two or more sons, and a near certainty that all pedagogues, teachers, youth leaders, children’s doctors, children’s court judges, etc. have the responsibility of dealing with boys who have had or are currently having a sexual affair with an adult. As for sex play and other sexual activities among boys themselves this is even more common: according to Kinsey. 30% to 53% (depending upon the social environment) of male youth had engaged in it before reaching puberty.
So the subject of this book should concern not just those people who love boys, who are having erotic relations with them or wish they were, but also every man and woman involved in the education, socialization and upbringing of male youth. Many may initially find the subject painful and prefer to pass it by in silence, to avoid it. But how can one prepare young people for the reality of human life if one closes one’s eyes to a significant part of this reality, one which, moreover, these young people themselves perceive as being extremely important?
What is the meaning of sexuality? What can we say about the mystery of sexual attraction of one sex by the other, of a certain age group? Along what lines do the physical and psychosexual development of a boy run, and what are the possible outlets for his impulses? What are the real or imagined negative aspects of an intimate relationship between a younger and an older partner – and what are the positive possibilities? What are the means by which the partners give physical expression to their feelings?
We will try to answer these questions here, without making the slightest bow toward prudishness. We will be making our points from many sources in the older and newer literature (mainly in the English, French, German, and Dutch languages), from non-fiction and fiction alike, from recorded individual experiences, from our own research with nearly fifty young men and boys, from examples taken from both Antiquity and from modern ethnology. Traditional moral and pedagogical ideas will be continuously confronted with our findings. We will illustrate our ideas with over 400 quotations from case studies and fiction. In all of this we will be led by the conviction that sexual behaviour that truly respects one’s fellow-man is to be welcomed as a creative power, an expression of love, a source of pleasure and a primordial force of nature.
This book is certainly not suitable reading matter for everyone. I have already suggested those whom it should concern. It is only fair, then, to enumerate those who might better leave it unread:
those who believe that a totally benevolent and all-wise god created this universe – but at the same time believe that sexuality, a very important and dominant aspect of this creation, is vulgar, disgusting, dirty, and bad;
those who claim to venerate aesthetic beauty and exhalt nature – but become timid and avert their faces with shame when the natural beauty of a young body is revealed in its complete nudity;
those who fly high a banner emblazoned with “Love Thy Neighbour” – but, in fact, foster aggression by denying and repressing natural impulses of sex;
those who preach humility and modesty – but refuse to face creation as it is, or learn about it and from it, preferring to impose upon it their own preconceptions;
those who pretend to love young people – but want to overlook everything young people pursue and experience in the realm of lust and pleasure.
And now to the facts!
 Vlodrop, J. van, Het houden van kinderen. 16. NRC-Handelsblad, 16 aug. 1980. [Author’s reference]
 Buffière, F., Eros adolescent – La pédérastie dans la Grèce antique. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1980, 651. [Author’s reference]
 Davidson, M., The World, the Flesh and Myself. Washington: Guild Press, 1962, 19. [Author’s reference]
 Corstjens, J. M. H., Opvoeding en pedofilie; sexualiteitsbeleving en attitudes ten aanzien van pedofilie. Doctoraalscriptie Nijmegen, 1975; Landis, J. T., Experiences of 500 Children with Adult Sexual Deviation. Psychiatric Quarterly Supplement 30: 91-109, 1956. [Author’s reference]
 Kinsey, A. C. et al, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1948 170. [Author’s reference]
The best comments will be collected at Letters To The Editor (some editing may be involved)
Anonymous 97, 8 June 2022
Is there somewhere the whole set of Pan Magazine photos are shared? I've found PDFs of the magazines, but with all the images removed.
Editor, 10 June 2022
To the best of my knowledge, the version of the magazines with the photos removed is the only one online. A fair number of the photos have been used as illustrations to articles on this website, but I do not know of any other online source.
Anonymous 97, 12 June 2022
Could Greek Love's full gallery of PAN Magazine photos be published in full somewhere? I've never seen the PAN images on this article before, so I assume there are others the writers and editors on this site could still release.
Editor, 12 June 2022
If Greek love should every publish photo galleries, then yes. In the meantime, please see other examples posted here and with the various other extracts from Brongersma's Loving Boys.