Join Date: Dec 2004
My Ride: Beach Cruiser
Salon: Pedophilia is a sexual orientation
I’m a pedophile, but not a monster
Welcome to the new normal
I was born without my right hand. As a child, this deformity quickly set me apart from my peers. In public I wore a prosthesis, an intimidating object to other youngsters because of its resemblance to a pirate’s hook. Even so, I wore it every day; I felt inadequate without it. I was shy, uncoordinated and terrible at sports, all of which put me on the outs with other boys my age. But I was good at drawing and making up stories for my own entertainment, and I spent more and more time in my own head, being a space adventurer or monster wrangler or whatever character I could think up. These would ultimately prove to be useful skills, but for now they only served to further alienate me from other kids. On top of it all, I still struggled with bladder control—likely due to my heaping pile of insecurities, to which this problem only added more—well into my elementary school years.
But none of this would compare to the final insult the universe would deal me. I’ve been stuck with the most unfortunate of sexual orientations, a preference for a group of people who are legally, morally and psychologically unable to reciprocate my feelings and desires. It’s a curse of the first order, a completely unworkable sexuality, and it’s mine. Who am I? Nice to meet you. My name is Todd Nickerson, and I’m a pedophile. Does that surprise you? Yeah, not many of us are willing to share our story, for good reason. To confess a sexual attraction to children is to lay claim to the most reviled status on the planet, one that effectively ends any chance you have of living a normal life. Yet, I’m not the monster you think me to be. I’ve never touched a child sexually in my life and never will, nor do I use child pornography.
But isn’t that the definition of a pedophile, you may ask, someone who molests kids? Not really. Although “pedophile” and “child molester” have often been used interchangeably in the media, and there is some overlap, at base, a pedophile is someone who’s sexually attracted to children. That’s it. There’s no inherent reason he must act on those desires with real children. Some pedophiles certainly do, but many of us don’t. Because the powerful taboo keeps us in hiding, it’s impossible to know how many non-offending pedophiles are out there, but signs indicate there are a lot of us, and too often we suffer in silence. That’s why I decided to speak up.
The Discovery of an Alternate Sexuality:
Many gays begin to recognize their sexual preferences sometime around puberty, if not before. For me it was the same. I was about 12 when the first inklings of a sexual preference bubbled up in me, though at the time I thought little of it. As I turned 13 it occurred to me that what I initially took as a phase had begun to solidify into something more troubling. Even so, at this point I could still convince myself that I was within the realm of normalcy. Then something happened that all but removed my ability to continue this self-denial: my Eureka Moment.
One day, as I was sketching in my grandparents’ living room, a neighbor of theirs came to visit with his seven-year-old daughter in tow. At first I hadn’t noticed her because she was quiet. I only heard my grandpa and his neighbor chatting in the kitchen while I sketched. Soon the little girl walked into the dining room and stood at the archway entrance to the living room, watching me draw. I can still see her today in my mind’s eye: dressed in blue jeans and a nearly matching denim jacket, with pristine blue eyes and a halo of wispy blond curls framing her face. She seemed somehow larger than life and almost ancient in the way she stood so perfectly still. Then, just like that, she was gone; she and her father left. That singular moment, though it could scarcely have lasted more than a few minutes, has become seared into my memory.
He Touched Me:
So how had this happened? Well, I have a pretty good idea. When I was seven years old, I was fondled in the front yard of my grandparents’ home by a man I barely knew. It was a one-time event in my life and not a particularly traumatic one. A man I’ll call Hans, a German who was acquainted with my uncle and aunt from when they lived in Nuremberg, had come to visit America. He spent a day and a night at their place, and they lived next door to my family along with my grandparents, who shared their two-story brick house. That day, the man lingered in the house with my grandma, who was stuck with him while everyone else had gone to work, and as neither could speak the other’s language, it quickly became uncomfortable for both.
Grammy’s solution was to send Hans outside with one of the grandkids. As I happened to be in the room at the time, I was assigned the task. “Take him out and show him Papa’s garden,” she told me. “Tell him the names of the vegetables. He’d probably enjoy that.” I agreed. Besides, even though I knew not a whit of German, I was very much at ease in Hans’s presence. He was painfully thin, with a messy mop of hair and large glasses. I should point out that the men in my life, including my father, were gruff blue-collar types who could intimidate me. Hans was different: gentle, soft-spoken and appealingly awkward—a lot like me!
I took the man’s right hand with my left (my good hand) and led him out into the garden, which took up most of the front lawn at my grandparents’ place. I escorted my new friend down the rows of veggies, calling out each one as we passed it, and Hans would gleefully parrot the names. This went on until we made our way through the entire garden. I was proud to find myself educating an adult rather than the other way around. When the English lesson was over, Hans plopped himself down on a patch of earth near the garden and patted the spot next to him, indicating he wanted me to sit there. I did. I couldn’t believe this peculiar man I barely knew was so eager to connect with me, the weird little kid nobody liked. It felt good.
For long minutes we simply enjoyed each other’s company. Then, out of the blue, Hans slipped a hand into my shorts, even though we were only about 30 feet from the poorly paved country road that meandered through this stretch of country. This went on for several minutes. I was confused but not frightened or troubled. The only thing I could think to say while this was happening was “Peepee,” continuing the English lesson with my pet name for my genitalia even in the midst of my own abuse. Hans chortled and repeated the word: “Peepee.” Eventually this came to an end, and Hans, having gotten what he wanted, shooed me away. I can’t imagine why it didn’t occur to him that I would immediately rat him out; maybe he knew and just didn’t care. Anyway, he could hardly ask me not to, could he? I raced back to Grammy and promptly informed her of what had happened. She deliberated over what to do, in the end asking me to keep it a secret from everyone, including my parents, and ordering me to stay away from Hans. No authorities were called, and life went on as usual. Hans stayed that evening with my uncle and aunt and left the next day. I never saw him again.
It’s easy to assume that pedophilia is always the result of some early sexualization or abuse, and certainly there seems to be a connection in some cases. However, evidence suggests there’s no magic bullet that pedophilia can be traced back to. For every pedophile who was sexually abused as a child there’s another who wasn’t. Likewise, most abuse victims never manifest pedophilic desires. Some researchers surmise that pedophilia can be traced back to genetics. Others believe the cause is congenital, and still others that it’s environmental. Personally, I think the ultimate cause is likely some combination of those, and that it varies from person to person.
Another issue is the role feelings of inadequacy play in forming our sexuality. Pedophilia may not arise from such fears (otherwise there’d be a lot more pedophiles), but those fears can certainly reinforce it. I think it’s safe to say that many pedophiles have deep-seated feelings of inferiority in one way or another, or at least we did when our sexuality was forming, and this becomes a downward spiral during puberty and beyond. Anything can be the trigger of this: disabilities, weight issues, or just general feelings of unattractiveness to peers. These feelings can be influential on one’s developing sexuality, such that even the severe cultural taboo is not enough to override it. Indeed, the taboo itself can negatively influence these vulnerable children.
I recall an event from when I was 11, sitting in the family jeep with my dad and his friend Andy when a news piece on the radio reported the sexual abuse of a girl, to which my dad said to his friend something like, “They should take people like that and place weights on top of their genitals until they smash.” Pretty horrific imagery for an 11-year-old to process, and I couldn’t help but sympathize with the abuser. After all, I could recall my own molestation perfectly, and I hardly felt it warranted that kind of response.
The bile has only multiplied since then, and I believe all that hatred just serves to reinforce pedophilia in youngsters predisposed to it. It’s a form of cognitive bias called the Backfire Effect or polarization. Everyone does this to some extent. When challenged on deeply held beliefs, no matter how uncertain or incorrect they may be, we tend to dig in our heels. With sexuality, that effect is likely magnified because there’s a physiological component, a drive every bit as powerful as belief. In essence, your brain knows what it likes and isn’t going to take no for an answer. For that reason, the nature or nurture question with respect to sexual preference is ultimately irrelevant—it becomes all but hardwired soon enough, until it’s all you know. And it’s self-reinforcing, no matter how much you wish to dig it out. Eventually it all tangles together with the rest of who you are.
** Removed ** by a nerd