Trolls asserting paedophilia within LGBTQ+ communities are doing more harm than you think
On 19 June 2018, halfway through Pride month, the mother of 8-year-old drag kid "Desmond is Amazing" received numerous messages alerting her to the contents of unofficial flyers for Central Oregon’s Pride event that had been posted up around Bend, Oregon. They featured an image of Desmond, announcing events such as a "Kiddie Zone" and a speech by self-asserted paedophile Todd Nickerson. The most telling part of the flyer was an apparent sponsor, NAMbLA, or the "North American Man/Boy Love Association", a group which advocates to support gay, male paedophiles. These flyers, posted up as a hateful joke, are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the trend of associating homosexuality and the wider LGBTQ+ community as whole with paedophilia.
As the LGBTQ+ community has become more outspoken about the respect and rights they deserve as members of society, so too has the discriminatory backlash against them grown. The internet especially has become a breeding ground for this sort of behaviour. 4chan, a forum website notorious for its unfiltered nature (and thus its often disgusting alt-right postings and jives towards "liberals" and "SJWs") has been at the forefront in online spaces when it comes to trolling that paedophiles should be considered as part of LGBTQ+ society. They have invaded Twitter and Tumblr tags alike, creating fake pages and identifying as "pedosexual" or "minor-attracted person" (MAP).
What's extremely concerning, however, is the very real affirmation these trolls are unwittingly providing paedophiles to assert themselves as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Though it is true that a significant amount of those expressing themselves as paedophiles on the internet are often internet trolls, these "jokes" allow for actual paedophiles to creep in and try and take a place within LGBTQ+ spaces.
While writing this article, I talked to some of my online LGBTQ+ acquaintances about their thoughts on those who self-identify as paedophiles on public Twitter accounts. One concern was repeated through almost all of these conversations: the ability of paedophiles within LGBTQ+ communities to take advantage of teenagers just beginning to feel comfortable in their identities. It is true that many paedophiles lying low within the community won’t reveal their paedophilic nature publicly and will instead groom minors between the ages of 16-18 to reduce their chance of getting jail-time if they are revealed. However, there are genuine paedophiles who try to assert themselves within the community under their assertion that paedophilia is a mental illness or condition that they can be treated for.
In order to take advantage of LGBTQ+ teenagers who may be feeling unwanted or insecure as they learn about and accept who they are, paedophiles will manipulate them under the guise that they are helping the paedophile get better. They will affirm their identities (when said teen in question may have no access to affirmation offline, such as from friends or family) in order to gain their trust. Then, through this process, they will continue to groom them until contact is broken off. Usually paedophiles in these spaces want this relationship to remain online in order to reduce risk of exposure, yet this of course does not make their behaviour any less vile; they use and discard those struggling in order to fulfil their own horrible desires.
Is it true that paedophiles wouldn’t be present in LGBTQ+ communities if their agendas hadn’t been pushed by alt-right jokesters? Of course not. However, while paedophilia has been ingrained and normalised to an extent in heterosexual society (such as older male celebrities’ sexual relations with suspiciously younger girls going overlooked by the media, or the suggestion that a prepubescent girl wearing a crop top is sexual) it has been used as a tool to demonize LGBTQ+ people throughout history. And this incorrect link is what lets paedophiles abuse LGBTQ+ teenagers in this manner; they are encouraged by it, and they find it easy to manipulate kids searching for someone to accept them for who they are.
The drive for paedophilia to be included in a community it has no place in is no new movement. It is also not new that the people suggesting it should be included are anything but level-headed; the majority of people who do push for it are those who want nothing but the LGBTQ+ community to be associated with the scum of the earth, as freaks and as misfits who don’t deserve a place in society.
But LGBTQ+ people have a right to an equal presence in society. As a community they are speaking out against this sort of homophobia – what they need next is for the rest of society to listen to and acknowledge their voice as the truth. Listen to the teenagers struggling with their identities. Give them hope and recognise how vital it is for us to protect those who are having a hard time coming to terms with who they are. Instead of associating them with hatred – show them love.