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three pairs of lovers with space



“Personality Traits of Boy-Lovers” is the eighth part of “Man/Boy Relationships”, the third section of “Adult Lovers”, the second chapter of Loving Boys, the encyclopaedic study of Greek love by the eminent Dutch lawyer, Edward Brongersma, of which the first volume (including this) was published by Global Academic Publishers in New York in 1986.


The Dutch psychiatrist Veenstra once rightly observed that one thing which characterises the sciences dealing with man and his society is that they usually cannot prove their most important theses – and what they are able to prove is mostly unimportant.[1] Research and statistics thrust upon us an image badly corresponding to reality but conforming instead to the individual tastes of the investigator – an image decorated or disfigured with pleasant or unpleasant attributes. In the case of paedophilia, this has obscured the only important generalization one can make about people whose sexual appetite is predominantly directed upon children: to wit, that all the world’s vices as well as all the highest human virtues are to be found in them. History has shown them to be capable of the most savage sadism as well as sublime self-sacrifice.

Corll Dean 02
Dean Corll 1939-73

The American Dean Wayne Corll, who, about 1973, killed 27 boys in Houston after fettering and raping them, torturing and maiming their genitals, was a paedophile.[2] Likewise, Haarman, the “werewolf” who between 1918 and 1924 killed at least 24 boys by biting their throats during sexual intercourse.[3] But on the other hand we read of the Greek Episthenes imploring General Seuthas to let him be executed in place of a beautiful boy Seuthas had sentenced to death.[4] Likewise the socially prominent Dutch client of mine who chose to tell the police everything they wanted to know, thus destroying himself socially, rather than see his beloved boy tormented by police questioning. As the former Chairman of the English Paedophile Information Exchange has attested, this response is far from exceptional: many boy-lovers have similarly sacrificed themselves.[5]

As boy-lovers are men like all others, we may encounter them in any age group and in all social classes. Jacques de Brethmas rightly observes that a man may be publicly known as a boy-lover and function as television producer, head of a government department, pope, archbishop, singer, diplomat, general – but it is nearly impossible to be appointed clerk at the town hall, become a traffic policeman or a subordinate employee at a bank if you’re suspected of having “bad morals”.[6] In 1980 the newspapers reported that two lovers in Sicily, a 25-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy, had persuaded a 13-year-old friend to kill them with a gun because they could no longer stand the persecution of the people with whom they had to live. This couple had learned from experience how cruel heterophiles can often be….

Nevertheless, it seems that the majority of boy-lovers don’t feel unhappy about their peculiarity per se. They wouldn’t want to change the object of their attraction even if this were possible. Many are proud of their special talent for dealing with boys, helping them, getting on confidential and intimate terms with them.[7]

Investigations of boy-lovers should be limited to what is peculiar to their particular situation. In part the situation they find themselves in is artificial, a product of our culture, and might therefore change if society dropped its prejudices in exchange for better knowledge, gave up those tenets of its moral code which impose an unnatural negation of sexuality and adopt instead positive tenets in harmony with human nature. The persecution of boy-lovers by the forces of “bourgeois decency”, the law and a kind of psychiatry which views adaptation to social norms rather than mental health as the aim of therapy all place on this group the same heavy mental and emotional burden which other people put on groups they fear by means of continuous threats, expulsion from society, injustice and repression. Could this be the reason why Wilson & Cox[8] found them more introverted than average?

Apart from these culturally acquired characteristics, there are some traits which are inherent in the specific condition of being a boy-lover. The sharp observer who writes under the pseudonym of Casimir Dukahz remarks: “Boy-lovers are not remarkable for their longevity… indeed, because of their youthful élan vital even beyond eighty, most who have passed away can be said to have died young."[9] De Brethmas likewise affirms that the boy-lover is more childlike.[10] He retains his youth longer than other men.[11] It certainly can be said that the more childlike he is the more successful he will be in dealing with young people. He will like to be surrounded by children and adolescents, and this may determine his choice of profession (teacher, pediatrician, etc.) or how he uses his spare time (youth leader, sport club manager).[12] In his relations with youth, exuberant spirits, playfulness, trust, carefree behaviour, lightheartedness, informality and other such qualities will increase his popularity.[13] This is not to say that the boy-lover possesses more of these assets than other people do. I have seen some who are depressed and characteristically go about with their faces clouded with gloom, putting boys off and constantly complaining about their lack of success.

 Australia 1980. Man 65  boy 14 before mirror

Many homophiles are mortally afraid of old age, when their physical charms have withered and they will be faced with loneliness. The boy-lover has less reason to fear in this respect, for boys aren’t really very interested in the looks of their adult friends. When a boy likes a man it is not for his physical charms. Some men possess a kind of aura, exercising a magnetic attraction on nearly every boy they meet. I will never forget a rather ugly man who, even in countries where communication was frustrated by his ignorance of the language, had boys simply running after him. Another, well up in his sixties, kept writing me how amazed he was that one strikingly handsome boy, who was hardly short of admirers, returned to him time and again to abandon himself in sexual pleasure as soon as they were naked together. When my correspondent looked at his old face and worn body in the mirror he simply couldn’t understand it. As this theme kept recurring in his letters, I finally got fed up and sent off a telegram: “Smash the mirror”. In the letter that followed I explained: “Your friend is not fascinated aesthetically by your body; he is – justly – fascinated by your selfless care, your affection, your knowledge, your understanding, your generosity, and this enthusiasm he communicates with his body to your body, because at his age this is the most perfect way to express himself.”

Stenbock beautifully portrayed such a situation in his story Narcissus (1894). The radiant, classically beautiful face of a man is horribly disfigured when a jealous woman throws acid on it. As a result of this catastrophe he becomes socially very withdrawn, until one day a blind boy crosses his path and they become intimate friends. He protects, looks after and loves the poor child. Finally he finds an ophthalmic surgeon who operates to restore the boy’s sight. Then the dreaded day comes when the bandages are removed and the little friend will see for the first time the man’s repellent face. But the boy looks at him and exclaims, “You’re the most beautiful person in the world!"[14]

Are boy-lovers more tender, less aggressive than other people? Statistically it is evident that they very seldom resort to violence against the objects of their desires. Rape and assault on boys are most exceptional, much more rare than with men loving girls or women.[15] In his study, Bernard[16] observed that the participants at the Breda conference showed a reluctance to dominate. Is this the reason for the low incidence of violence, or is it that the boy by his behaviour reveals himself less fit to be victimised?[17]  

Lord and servant England 1250 d2

Bismarck, the German imperial chancellor, held homosexuality a menace to the social order because it bridged “the distinction between classes ordained by God."[18] Blüher[19] says it is “a well-known fact that refined and less rigid people show a strong attraction to simple, robust natures. They spontaneously choose the objects of their love from among the common people.” One seeks his opposite in the beloved. Since a homophile cannot do this with gender, he may look for his opposite in social class or race; men in uniform may excite him, or the polarity of sado-masochistic relationships.[20] This magnetism of opposites – the prince and beggar-boy of so many fairy tales – is frequently observed in boy-love. It is as though the contrast in age is not enough: social differences are valued as well.[21] As poet Paul Verlaine put it[22]:

Mes amants n’appartiennent pas aux classes riches,
Ce sont des ouvriers faubouriens ou ruraux,
Leurs quinze et leurs vingt ans sans apprêts, sont mal chiches
De force assez brutale et de procédés gros.

(My lovers aren’t found among the rich; they are working people from the suburbs or the country. They carry their fifteen or twenty years without finery, and they don’t hesitate to act brutal and coarse.) In the same poem he praises their powerful sex and dancing buttocks. There are: Charles, a choirboy developing into a rough youth; Odillon, still a child but endowed like a man; François the supple, with the legs of a dancer and such a fine cock!; Auguste, so handsome when the poet first came to know him but everyday, now, growing more adult…

In a special issue of the magazine published by the Belgian homophile action group “De rooie vlinder”, a boy-lover laments the short life of most relationships: “It is possible to dream, in theory, about steady relationships – in practice, however, there are only two possibilities: either casual sex in a doorway or the lasting friendship in which one is sexually very reserved (…) Most boy-lovers have to limit themselves to the first – casual sex in a doorway. Many suffer from having this as their only option; others are avid consumers and find it normal and healthy. But many would prefer more continuity. Most relationships are very superficial: one nearly never meets the same boy twice. This is the big sorrow of most boy-lovers. I wonder if the boys themselves wouldn’t like to meet one a second time."[23] The investigation carried out by Pieterse has shown that, at least for The Netherlands, this picture is too gloomy.

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I am acquainted with one boy-lover who, during his whole life (he is now well over sixty) had sex with only two boys – but with these two frequently and intensely. Another declares, equally creditably, that at least 800 boys have shared his bed and brought him to orgasm. After the death of the Australian court recorder Clarence Osborne, photos, notes and recorded tapes were discovered documenting the sex he had had with some 2,500 boys.[24] Are these three men very different types, or was it mainly different exterior circumstances which made their life styles so different? This is the kind of question upon which research should now be directed. How do boy-lovers meet their partners? How do they approach the boys? How to they talk to them and what about? How often are they successful? How do they relate to the parents of their boys? Do they often discuss sexual matters with their young friends? How important is the sexual aspect in their relationships? What are their experiences with boy prostitutes? Do they participate in group sex? What do we know about father-son incest? All of this, and much more, must be studied.

It is also important to know more about how relationships end. Saint-Ours, a French author, claims boy-love is a preparation for loneliness: only until he reaches a certain age does the boy possess his erotic attractiveness for the loving man and thus sex inexorably comes to an end.[25] In the final analysis, this is the only fundamental problem common to all boy-love relationships. We will come back to this theme in later chapters. The fact that many boy-lovers have relationships with a number of boys, one after another or several at the same time, is connected to this.

Another consequence of the fixation of the boy-lover’s eros upon the fleeting boyishness of the partner is that we often find he has taken up the hobby of photography: the beloved and admired boy is frequently photographed, mostly naked, to preserve a lasting image of the transient glory of his body.[26]

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For boy-lovers share with the ancient Greeks their admiration of the young male body. The simple presence of a handsome boy, the chance to look at him, contemplate him, may, just in itself, make the boy-lover happy. And he would certainly agree with French author Jouhandeau[27] where he observes: “To me no boy is naked enough.” One wants to see everything, uncovered, to study every secret. Some men will keep their beloved jealously concealed from the eyes of fellow boy-lovers; others want to bring their boys to the point where they can go about nude in the company of their friends without feeling shame.

An American feminist who has written excellent articles on man/boy love, Pat Califia, was of the opinion that boy-lovers in having sex show more concern for the pleasure of their partners than does the average heterophile.[28] Now, it comes naturally to human beings in sexual intercourse to be excited by the partner’s symptoms of delight; imagining his or her pleasure normally reinforces one’s own. What everyone wants, as William Blake observed, is to see “the lineaments of gratified desire” in the face of a beloved.[29] In the NISSO research among 140 boys aged 15 to 17, only 1% thought it unimportant to excite a girl’s lust feelings during intercourse, 2% thought this “rather pleasant”, 36% found it “pleasant” and 60% “very pleasant."[30] Not without reason are frigid women taught to simulate sexual excitement in order to give their men greater satisfaction. In man/boy contacts, however, this aspect seems to be especially important. For many men, the chief source of delight is experiencing how the boy’s naked body jerks in orgasm, hearing how he pants in high excitement, feeling in embrace his muscles strain spasmodically, listening to the quickened beat of his heart. Saint-Ours.[31] declares: “why try to describe my own lust? It has no meaning except as an echo of the lust I procure.” Michael Davidson writes: “And even during actual bodily play, my pleasure – beyond the mental joy of seeing and touching, which is intense – comes from a consummate privity to his pleasure; if that’s absent, the whole process seems absurd and pointless. My own orgastic conclusion may happen as a mere afterthought, if it happens at all – that too depends on his desires."[32] Eglinton: “Much of the excitement in sexual contact (…) comes from observing one’s partner’s reactions – squirming, delighted squeals, sighs, endearments, other obvious manifestations of pleasure – and from knowing that one is giving one’s partner such delicious sensations."[33] Tom Reeves, spokesman of the North American Man/Boy Love Association and who has slept with hundreds of adolescents, says: “I have never cruised a boy. They come to me. And if I was with a boy and he showed on his face that he wasn’t interested I wouldn’t be able to function."[34] Jouhandeau: “My delight is only my delight if first it was his delight."[35]

One might be tempted to suppose that this applies only to relationships of profound love, but that is not the case. Even in sex with prostitute boys the same holds true: the client’s dearest desire is to produce orgasm in the boy.

33:  Janus[36] reports the words of Tony, a fifteen-year-old New York boy with three years of experience as a prostitute: “My teacher introduced me to a couple of other men who were very nice and didn’t really ask very much except to suck my penis, I used to wonder what they were getting out of it. I was prepared to refuse if they wanted me to start going down on them or anything, but they seemed perfectly happy with that, and they’d take me a lot of places I’d never have got to otherwise, and spent a lot of money on me.”

14  European 1980 d

Moroccan and Tunisian boys in their relations with tourists often are only willing to be active in anal intercourse. Laud Humphreys mentions North American cities where if a car stops near certain well-used public lavatories two or three boys instantly appear at the window, even before the driver has had time to get out. “Got a dollar, mister?” a boy of about thirteen will say. “I’ll let you suck my cock."[37] Albert Reiss[38] gives a detailed picture of boy prostitution in one American city: innumerable boys are involved and their relations with clients are subject to very strict rules. The client sucks the boy, nothing else being permitted. If the man tries to be tender to the boy, the gang will beat him up. The boy must pretend to feel no pleasure: he is just delivering his sperm in order to get money. The world tennis champion, Bill Tilden, was known to have only had masturbatory contacts, restricting himself to masturbating the boy.[39]

This phenomenon of the boy’s pleasure having more importance for the man than his own has been noted by many other authors. Pieterse quotes a 55-year-old musician, loving boys 11- 15, who says: “I love to give a child a sexual experience; I don’t have to reach a climax myself; it often happens that I don’t come myself; my pleasure lies in the pleasure of the child. I feel much more satisfaction if the child has felt relaxed and cheerfully satisfied in sex. I myself don’t need this liberation. Often, after the child, freed of tension by his climax and delighted with the sensations he experienced, has left my home, I masturbate myself rather quickly."[40] Weeks[41] mentions this, too. There is one recorded example of the opposite: Redhardt[42] quotes a professional prostitute who complains about clients being entirely indifferent to his sexual needs.

Many boy-lovers experience the deepest satisfaction in feeling how, in their fondling hands, the boy’s soft sex responds to these ministrations and gets hot and hard. Peter van Eeten once remarked that the stiffening sex of a boy is the sweetest of love-songs. In his poetic masterwork Tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats, Jean Guyotat makes an army general daydream about the boys he has seen helping the cooks in the kitchen: “Oh, to throw myself upon  these bodies, so ready for pleasure… and then my hand opens and slips under their sex, and my fingers clutch the glandular globes while the other grasps the shaft and feels it as it grows hard, stretches itself, become shot and glowing like red-hot iron… to feel in my hand how the sex throbs…"[43]

Just watching this phenomenon may be enough. Pieterse[44] tells of a man who, seeing his beloved boy in orgasm, spontaneously reaches orgasm himself. And Guyotat, describing activities in a colonial boy’s brothel, lets one of the inmates, Amour, tell his brother, who is also working there, “Kment, this morning a client came… I was naked on my bed – he didn’t touch me… He put flowers and dry leaves on my stomach and asked, ‘Boy, bring these flowers and dry leaves to life again…’ I jerked off; the client laid his ear on my panting, narrow chest, his face enveloped in the perfume of my stiffening sex; then the seed spurted from it, drenched the flowers and dry leaves. ‘Amour, I’m grateful to you. I take them back with me, freshened by your thaw.’ He seized my sticky cock, dropped from my trembling hand, pressed it to his lips and drank the last drops of seed still issuing from it.[45]


Continue to Origins of Boy-Love


[1] N. R. C. Handelsblad 21 Feb, 1981 [Author’s reference to a work not in his bibliography]

[2] Gurwell, J. K., Mass Murder in Houston. Houston: Cordovan. 1974. [Author’s reference]

[3] Lessing, Th., Haarmann – Die Geschichte eines Werwolfs. Berlin: Schmiede, 1925. [Author’s reference]

[4] Buffière, F., Eros adolescent – La pédérastie dans la Grèce antique. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1980, p. 621. [Author’s reference]. The primary source for this is Xenophon, Anabasis VII 4 vii-viii.

[5] O’Carroll, T., Paedophilia–The Radical Case. London: Peter Owen, 1980, p. 100. [Author’s reference]

[6] Brethmas, J. de, Traité de chasse au minet. Paris: Perchoir, 1979, pp. 72-73. [Author’s reference]

[7] Wilson, G. D. & Cox, D. N. The Child Lovers. London: Peter Owen, 1983, pp. 45, 48. [Author’s reference]

[8] Wilson, G. D. & Cox, D. N. The Child Lovers. London: Peter Owen, 1983, p. 56. [Author’s reference]

[9] Dukahz, C., The Asbestos Diary. New York: Layton, 1966, p. 9. [Author’s reference]

[10] Brethmas, J. de, Traité de chasse au minet. Paris: Perchoir, 1979, p. 83. [Author’s reference]

[11] Wilson, G. D. & Cox, D. N. The Child Lovers. London: Peter Owen, 1983, p. 117. [Author’s reference]

[12] O’Carroll, T., Paedophilia – The Radical Case. London: Peter Owen, 1980, p. 59. [Author’s reference]

[13] Thorstad, D. & Hocquenghem, G., Loving Boys. Semiotext(e) Special, Summer 1980, p. 33. [Author’s reference]

[14] Fraser, M., The Death of Narcissus. London: Secker & Warburg, 1976, p. 181. [Author’s reference]

[15] Baurmann, M. C., Sexualität, Gewalt und psychische Folgen. Wiesbaden: Bundeskriminalamt, 1983, p. 304 ; Pieterse, M., Pedofilie. Doctoraalscriptie Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, 1978, p. 92. [Author’s reference]

[16] Bernard, F., Pädophilie–Liebe mit Kindern. Lollar: Achenbach, 1979, p. 109. [Author’s reference]

[17] Baurmann, M. C., Sexualität, Gewalt und psychische Folgen. Wiesbaden: Bundeskriminalamt, 1983, p. 322. [Author’s reference]

[18] Fontanié 1980, 652 [which could refer to either of two works in the author’s bibliography]; Gury, Chr., Les journées nationales d’Arcadie. Arcadie 27, 11 (323): 1980, p. 655. [Author’s reference]

[19] Blüher, H., Die Rede des Aristophanes. Hamburg: Kala, 1966, pp. 60-61. [Author’s reference]

[20] Gagnon & Simon 1974, 256 [not identifiable in the author’s bibliography]; Tripp, C. A., The Homosexual Matrix. New York: New American Library, 1975, pp. 157-158;  Galloway, D. & Sabisch, Chr., Introduction. In: Galloway & Sabisch (Eds.), Calamus. New York: Quill, 1982, pp. 36, 48. [Author’s references]

[21] Abraham, F., Les perversions sexuelles. Paris: Productions de Paris, 1969, 321; Arch Smith, T. d’, Love in Earnest. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970, 191-192; Barrington, J. S., Sexual Alternatives for Men. London: Alternative Publishing, 1981, pp. 68, 150; Oskamp, A., Man en macht - 11 Gesprekken met mannen over seksualiteit en relaties. Amsterdam: Van Gennep, 1980, p. 47; Tournier, M., Les Météores. Paris: Gallimard, 1975, p. 333; Tripp, C. A., The Homosexual Matrix. New York: New American Library, 1975, p. 158. [Author’s references]

[22] Verlaine, P., Oeuvres libres. Segovia: de Herlagnez, 1868, p. 176. [Author’s reference]

[23] Rooie Vlinderschrift, 1977, 21 [Author’s reference]

[24] Wilson, P., The Man They Called a Monster. North Ryde: Cassell Australia, 1981. [Author’s reference] Very likely, the boy-lover who reported having had sex with about eight hundred boys was Brongersma's friend Hajo Ortil (1905-83), who said this in an interview with Pan magazine. [Website footnote]

[25] Saint Ours, Un ange à Sodome. Paris: Authier, 1973, p. 202. [Author’s reference]

[26] Hennig, J.-L., Thomas, 30 ans: Bruno, 15 ans: le nouveau couple zig-zag. Recherches 37: 137-166, 1979, 153-159. [Author’s reference]

[27] Jouhandeau 1909, 75 [Author’s reference, wrongly dated and thus not corresponding to anything in his bibliography].

[28] Califia, P., The Age of Consent: An Issue and its Effects on the Gay Movement. 12 The Advocate 303: 18-23 & 304: 16-23, 45, 1980, 20. [Author’s reference]

[29] Friday, N., Men in Love. New York: Dell, 1981, 74, cf. Page 68. [Author’s reference]

[30] Boer, J. de, Gevoelige kwesties omtrent seksuele kontakten van jongeren. Zeist: NISSO, 1978, , 2A-G-2-10. [Author’s reference]

[31] Saint Ours, Un ange à Sodome. Paris: Authier, 1973, p. 194. [Author’s reference]

[32] Davidson, M., The World, the Flesh and Myself. Washington: Guild Press, 1962, p. 31. [Author’s reference]

[33] Eglinton, J. Z., Greek Love. New York: Oliver Layton, 1964, p. 152. [Author’s reference]

[34] Rose, F., Men and Boys Together. The Village Voice 23, 9: 1, 17-21, 1978, 18. [Author’s reference]

[35] Jouhandeau 1969, 13 [Author’s reference to a book not in his bibliography].

[36] Janus, S. The Death of Innocence. New York: Morrow & Co., 1981, p. 216. [Author’s reference]

[37] Humphreys, L., Tearoom Trade – A Study of Homosexual Encounters in Public Places. 17. London: 242 Duckworth, 1970, p. 98. [Author’s reference]

[38] Reiss Jr., A. J., The Social Integration of Queers and Peers. In: Ruitenbeek (Ed.), The Problem of Homosexuality in Modern Society. New York: Dutton, 1963. [Author’s reference]

[39] Gay Books Bulletin, Review of Frank Deford “Big Bill Tilden”. Gay Books Bulletin 1, 3: 12, 1979. [Author’s reference]

[40] Pieterse, M., Pedofielen over pedofilie. Zeist: NISSO, 1982, II 93- 94. [Author’s reference]

[41] Weeks, J., Inverts, Perverts, and Mary-Annes. Journal of Homosexuality 6, 1/2: 1980/81 p. 133. [Author’s reference]

[42] Redhardt, Prostitution bei weiblichen und männlichen Jugendlichen. Stuttgart: Enke, 1968, p. 77. [Author’s reference]

[43] Guyotat, P., Tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats. 6. Paris: Gallimard, 1967, pp. 245-247. [Author’s reference]

[44] Pieterse, M., Pedofielen over pedofilie. Zeist: NISSO, 1982, II 45. [Author’s reference]

[45] Guyotat 1973, 113 [Author’s reference, presumably an error for Guyotat, P., Tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats. Paris: Gallimard, 1967, p. 113.]