90 Miles From Tyranny : From ‘Pedophile Rights’ to ‘Transgender Rights’

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Sunday, September 17, 2023

From ‘Pedophile Rights’ to ‘Transgender Rights’

The curious tale of two gay-activist “heroes” – and a movement that’s been piggybacked not once but twice.

When I was a young man attending Gay Pride Marches in New York City in the 1980s, there were two groups of marchers that stood out. One was the gay police officers, who always got the most applause – partly because everyone realized how much guts it took in those days to present oneself publicly as a gay cop (especially given that other members of New York’s Finest were there on duty, memorizing your face) and partly because their presence was living proof that being gay was not inconsistent with being an upstanding, respected, and useful member of society.

The other group that stood out was the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). NAMBLA got the least applause. In fact it got none. Silence. None of the ordinary gay men and lesbians who lined Fifth Avenue wanted to be associated with pedophiles. They’d spent their lives fighting that stereotype. Why, then, were the pedophiles there? Because the Gay Pride March, like all gay organizations of the day, was run by left-wing radicals who viewed the gay cause primarily as a vanguard for other “progressive” movements. They spoke of “gay liberation,” not of gay equal rights. And they appropriated the formerly derogatory term “queer,” using it as a broader term than “gay,” to describe not a sexual orientation but a posture of rebellious outsidership in relation to capitalist, Christian, family-oriented American society.

Most gay Americans, then as now, weren’t looking for “liberation.” We loved America. We loved our families. We didn’t want revolution. We just wanted, as the title of my 1993 book put it, a place at the table. Part of the reason why we ended up winning that place at the table – which meant, among other things, the decriminalization of gay sex, the right to serve openly in the military and in sensitive government jobs, and, ultimately, the right to marry – was that those of us who just wanted equality (and who were derided by the liberation crowd as “assimilationists”) wrested the microphone, as it were, away from the revolutionaries. My book was a part of that process. Another part was the eventual banishment of NAMBLA from Gay Pride Marches.

Those days seem long ago. But the last few weeks have seen two eye-popping articles, one published in Britain and the other in Norway, that have caused the memories to come flooding back. Each of the two articles is about the longtime #1 gay-rights icon of the country in question. In Britain, that figure is Peter Tatchell. Born in Australia in 1952, Tatchell started his activist career in the UK as a leader of the Gay Liberation Front, a far-left organization that – what else do you need to know about it? – idolized Che Guevara. Imagine thinking of Che Guevara, who lined up gays against walls and shot them, as a hero for a movement to “liberate” gay people! Such was the gay movement, in the UK as in the US, before the 1990s. It was run by fatuous radicals who, unwilling to settle for gay rights within a Western capitalist framework, wanted a new heaven and a new earth. They saw themselves as Robespierres. It was as if they’d devoured books about the French Revolution but never made it to the part when the Reign of Terror begins.

As Tatchell would later recall in the Guardian: “We were sexual liberationists and social revolutionaries, out to turn the world upside down. …GLF’s main aim was never equality within the status quo.”

Tatchell hasn’t smartened up since. The only real difference is that as Britain’s political center moved to the left, he was transformed from a rebel outsider to an establishment darling. Most recently, as James Essen noted in his revelatory July 21 article, Tatchell was “the poster boy for the new Metropolitan Police initiative of ‘LGBT+ Community Liaison Officers,’” the purpose of which is to protect “LGBT+” individuals from abuse. Which raises the question: how much actual abuse of “LGBT+” Brits occurs every year? I suspect that the figure is dwarfed by the number of ethnic English girls who are serially raped by Muslim “grooming gangs.” Alas, the British police have been too busy waving pride flags and hunting down people who’ve desecrated rainbow-painted crosswalks to address the “grooming gangs” issue with even the remotest degree of seriousness.

But that’s not the only irony here. “To choose Tatchell as the face of a campaign seeking to encourage reporting of sexual abuse,” observes Essen, “is a strange choice…given that Tatchell himself has faced numerous accusations of excessive sympathy with adults who wish to have sex with children.” Although, as Essen is quick to add, Tatchell has repeatedly insisted that the accusations are baseless, the public record is certainly curious, to say the least. Essen cites a 1997 letter to the Guardian in which Tatchell defended as “courageous” a book entitled Dare to Speak that “challenges the assumption that all sex involving children and adults is abusive.” Tatchell professed that in the Sambia tribe of Papua New Guinea, “all young boys have sex with older warriors as part of their initiation into manhood.” And who doesn’t want to pick up a few tips about social organization and moral values from the Sambia tribe of Papua New Guinea?

Tatchell mentioned a boy he knew who’d “been having sex with boys since the age of eight, and with men since he was 12 …He comes across as bright, articulate, sure of himself, and mature beyond his years. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting away with taking advantage of him.” Yeah, right. This is vintage Tatchell. Above all else, he’s a dimbulb who still thinks in puerile terms about “liberating” everybody from everything. If his type of gay activism had continued to prevail, most gays in the UK would still be in the closet, barred from open military service, and certainly unable to marry.

That Guardian letter was just the beginning. In 1998, Tatchell wrote what Essen calls “a glowing obituary” for a founder of something called the Paedophile Information Exchange. In 1986, he contributed to a book, Betrayal of Youth (BOY), promoting pedophilia and an end to age-of-consent laws. In 2010, he gave a speech calling for a lowering of the age of consent to fourteen. And in a 2015 article he spoke of “encouraging young people to have a more open, positive attitude towards sexual matters.” None of which should be terribly surprising. It was all there from the beginning, in the decision by these early gay liberationists that their goal wasn’t equality but the establishment of a utopian society, with gay people as the tip of the spear.

Much the same thing, of course, was going on at the same time elsewhere in the Western world. In Norway, the most prominent gay activist for decades was Kim Friele, who was reportedly the first gay person in Norway to come out publicly. Like Tatchell, she too ended up being celebrated by the establishment: in 2018, then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg praised her for having “made Norway a more decent society”; when she died at age 86 in 2021, the government paid for her funeral (which in Norway is essentially the equivalent of a state funeral) and the current Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, delivered a eulogy to a congregation that included Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette-Marit. A 2021 documentary was entitled Kim Friele: First Lady of the Gay Struggle.

All of which made it extremely fascinating to read an article by Pål Vegard Hagesæther that was published on August 22 in Norway’s newspaper of record, Aftenposten. In extensive detail, Hagesæther recounts the history of a group called the Norwegian Working Group for Pedophiles (NAFP), which held “its first large conference” in 1978. And among the speakers at that event, it turns out, was Kim Friele, who at the time was General Secretary of Norway’s leading gay organization, the Norwegian Association of 1948 (DNF).

At the time, NAFP’s member journal reported that Friele said as follows: “Pedophiles must show pride for their feelings! Don’t let yourselves be cowed!” According to Hagesæther, Friele also “compared pedophile liberation with gay [liberation] and said that the two [movements] had many similarities.” At the following year’s NAFP gathering, it was the turn of Friele’s partner, a member of the Norwegian Parliament named Wenche Lowzow, to give a flattering speech. Friele, for her part, participated that year in a formal discussion in which she suggested a gradual lowering of the age of consent – or, alternatively, a campaign to “liberate children’s oppressed sexuality” entirely. Some time later, she...

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