MOLESTATION 101: Child Abuse, Homophobia, and The Boys of St. Vincent

K. Ohi
2000 GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies  
It is nearly impossible today to open a magazine or newspaper without reading an account of a shocking child abuse scandal. Such scandals provide "commentators" with endless opportunities for numbing reiterations of their banal outrage and with a culturally sanctioned outlet for their prurient imaginings of ritualized retributive violence. 1 Much of this violence is, whether explicitly or not, homophobic, and the discourse around child abuse has given stalwart homophobes (that is, almost
more » ... e) a seemingly unassailable venue for homophobic ecstasy in the guise of inflamed righteousness. That, for example, gay child abusers are statistically negligible, especially compared to the abusers sheltered in healthy heterosexual homes, does not prevent gay pedophiles from attracting the lion's share of public scrutiny. 2 The antihomophobic "solution," however, is not to insist that homosexuality has nothing to do with child abuse. The link between child molestation and homosexuality may well be, in other words, a homophobic illusion, but the effort to challenge the political ideology underlying this link -an ideology of sexual oppression in general -is better served by a thorough examination of structures uniting homophobia and abuse paranoias than by a simple debunking of this homophobic illusion as counterfactual. I would further resist the collapsing together of child abuse and pedophilia, as well as the distancing of homosexuality from both; while it should go without saying that pedophilia, whether "acted out" or merely fantasized, is not the same thing as child abuse, the fact that pedophilia and pedophilic relationships are legible only under the rubric of abuse attests to the power of the bleakly monochromatic discourse around child abuse, pedophilia, and childhood sexuality. Such a collapsing together of pedophilia and child abuse often lurks in popular attempts to clean up homosexual desire for public consumption, the often abject apologias that chastise gay pedophiles, among others, for frustrating one's heartfelt gropings toward normality, for giving queers a bad name. But queers
doi:10.1215/10642684-6-2-195 fatcat:tq5tdetwtfcddlm6ebpczgfwia