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social sciences

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NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association was organized in Boston in 1978. Despite repeated attempts by American authorities to suppress it, the association continues to publish a Bulletin, carefully vetted of material that the government might use to attack it.


In Greco-Roman antiquity, the predominant form of same-sex sexual relationships was pederastic, but in the modern West the predominant form is androphilic. Hence, the pederast in contemporary times is definitely a minority within a minority.

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Moreover, what was an institutionalized practice in ancient Greece is frequently seen as a subversive and corrupting activity in the contemporary West, with the adult partner subject to draconian penalties for engaging in sexual activities with an underage boy.

The glbtq movement for equality has largely distanced itself from pederasty, in part because have often accused homosexuals of child molestation and "recruitment," but also because there are real questions about the effects of age-asymetrical sexual relationships on adolescents.

Although most pederastic relationships are consensual, and often involve mentoring and support for the youthful partner from the adult, there is nearly always a power imbalance that makes such relationships unequal. Many adults who had such relationships in their adolescence remember them fondly. Not all do.

Vern L. Bullough

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social sciences >> Overview:  Greece: Ancient

The institution of pederasty (paiderastia) was a conspicuous feature of ancient Greek public and private life, but other forms of male-male sexual relations flourished in the Greco-Roman cosmopolis of the second and third centuries C.E.

literature >> Overview:  Greek Literature: Ancient

Ancient Greece holds a unique place in the heritage of homosexual literature as it was a society that openly celebrated same-sex love in its poetry and prose.

literature >> Overview:  Roman Literature

Roman writers on homosexual or bisexual themes generally followed Greek models; but unlike the Greeks, Romans condoned sex with slaves.

literature >> Overview:  Uranian Poets

The Uranian poets, who lived and wrote from the close of the Victorian era to the middle of the interwar period, celebrated love for adolescent boys.

social sciences >> Brand, Adolf

Editor, photographer, and activist, Adolf Brand was the leader of a faction of the early German homosexual emancipation movement whose cultural views were expressed in Der Eigene (The Self-Owner), the first homosexual literary and artistic journal.

literature >> Mackay, John Henry

The Scottish-German John Henry Mackay, who wrote in German, dedicated himself to the cause of gaining sympathetic recognition of man-boy love.

social sciences >> NAMBLA

The aim of NAMBLA's small but determined membership has been to attack social and legal proscriptions against sexual relations between adults and pubescent or teenage boys.

literature >> Rocco, Antonio

Italian rhetorician and philosopher Antonio Rocco is author of an early classic of pederastic literature, L'Alcibiade fanciullo a scola (Alcibiades the schoolboy), which was written in 1630 and published anonymously in 1652.

literature >> Sade, Marquis de

Whether or not the Marquis de Sade was himself bisexual, homosexual activity is an important item in his program of revolutionary sexual libertinism.


Brongersma, Edward. Loving Boys. Vol. 1. Elmhurst, N. Y.: Global Academic Press, 1986.

Bullough, Vern L. Sexual Variance in Society and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Dover, Kenneth J. Greek Homosexuality. Rev. ed. New York: MJF Books, 1989.

Eglinton, J. Z. Greek Love. New York: Oliver Layton, 1964.

Geraci, Joseph, ed. Dares to Speak: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Boy-Love. Norfolk, England: GMP, 1997.

Halperin, David. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and Other Essays on Greek Love. New York: Routledge, 1990.

Mackay, John Henry. Bücher der Namenlose Liebe. Berlin: privately published, 1913.

Menasco, David. "Pederasty." Gay History and Cultures. George E. Haggerty, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 672-75.

Percy, William Armstrong, III. Pederasty and Pedagogy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996.


    Citation Information
    Author: Bullough, Vern L.  
    Entry Title: Pederasty  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 13, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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