He became a second father figure

In an article in the New Zealand Journal of Sociology, Terry Leahy has reproduced excerpts from various interviews with people who had a relationship with a man as a boy. The published excerpts from the interview with Christopher are reproduced here. The other interviews with other men are fragmentary, but can be found in the freely available PDF of the article.

Source: Terry Leahy (1992). “Positively Experienced Man/Boy Sex: The Discourse of Seduction and the Social Construction of Masculinity”. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology, 28(1), pp. 71-88.

Christopher’s interview provides a thorough discussion of these issues. At the time when he was interviewed he was in his mid thirties. His relationship with an adult gay man, George, began when he was nine years old and lasted till he was eighteen. In a wry comment on the discourse of seduction he offered this remark:

Christopher: “So I suppose then, you want to know now if I’m fucked up now sexually because of this terrible trauma of my childhood? Well – no. Umm. My main thrust – pun! – is heterosexual but ahh, I still occasionally sleep with males but when I say occasionally I mean very occasionally.”

In particular, in discussing the various sexual activities in which he was engaged, Christopher stresses the physical pleasures of various acts and argues that his initial reservations about particular practices (oral sex, anal sex) were broken down as he received physical pleasure from these activities and came to feel that it was only fair to reciprocate.


In making sense of these issues Christopher makes a distinction between his sexuality and his sexual practices in this period. He refers to an incident when his mother tried to find out whether he was homosexual. She made inquiries through friends and Christopher denied any homosexuality despite his relationship with George:

Christopher: “She was right, I was basically gay at that stage – in practice certainly. But I never, I didn’t feel … Actually there was a distinct difference in my sexual practice in that as a boy growing up in a boy’s world I would go out and try and score to go to bed with a woman, not with a bloke, but I would also at the same time maintain my relationship with George and Fred but without that seeming to me to be in any sort of contradiction. Yeah.”


He refers to an early period of his intergenerational relationship as follows:

Christopher: “What he did was encouraged me to spend my Saturdays over there,working in the shop, doing things which I did which on, you know,on the one hand was an excuse for him to get close to me, but on the other hand I got tons out of it too. It wasn’t just him trying to get me in there. I mean I … he shared his knowledge and did take a sort of patron role with me, I s’pose. ‘Patron’ is not the right word. In that Greek sense of, you know, a father figure who’s not necessarily your real father but who – there is a word, I can’t actually think what it is …He certainly filled a lot of the roles my own father couldn’t for me.”

As in the social psychology texts referred to above, Christopher relates this mentor role to his need to go beyond what was available to him from his parents. He claims that his turning away from his parents in this period was an instance of ‘normal adolescent disagreements,probably, and shifting feelings of closeness, or affection or love, what-ever, towards one or the other’. This sense that breaking away from one’s parents is a normal and beneficial part of adolescence informs his presentation of the attractions of his relationship with George:

Christopher: “And it was certainly not a totally, not only a sexual relationship, in that, this is in those early days, in that he umm, uhh, supplied me with something which I didn’t get in my family life which was a sort, which was an outside existence. In a world that had to do with something that my immediate family and school world had nothing to do with at all, like an art world in other words. Specifically a sort of world of culture with a capital C. Which I knew nothing about and had no contact with. In that my parents were poor, we didn’t go to theatre or anything like that much … He became a second father figure to my own father figure. And for a period I certainly turned against my family and was in favour of him if you like, but umm, the way that I think now is quite differently to that. In terms of … what I was doing was a classic case of a child rejecting the family and he provided an easy vehicle for me to do it with.”


Christopher: “There was definitely anti-poofter, sort of poofter bashing mentality around at the time. And I didn’t want anyone to know [about his relationship] but at the same time that was to some degree balanced against a tendency in me to not necessarily want to conform to society’s notions of what I should be and some sort of inherent sense inside me that this was not right, you know .. within the terms that I had been educated in, the Christian ethic, it was not right. So that’s I suppose how I would see the relationship now and how I instinctively felt about it at the time; that sure, despite all my guilts and despite the religion and despite my, you know, the pressure on me from peer groups and society in general to poofter bash that it just wasn’t right, you know.”


Interviewer: If someone put to you the view that you were involved sexually with George, not because of any sexual interest but (1) because he wanted you to do it and (2) there were no sexual outlets in women what would you say?

Christopher: “Oh, I’d say it’s probably true. (Pause) I mean for me that’s fine because it was a good relationship. But probably that’s true, that’s the reason it started … was because puberty was arriving or had hit or whatever and I had nowhere to direct it and someone came along and either sensed that or wanted or fancied me for his own ends. I mean I don’t really care if he fancied me for his own ends – that’s alright too.”