Dramatic though this turnaround may be, it did not happen overnight. Four years ago in these pages, in an essay called “Pedophilia Chic,” I described in some detail a number of then-recent public challenges to this particular taboo, all of them apparently isolated from one another. Plainly, as the record even then showed, a surprising number of voices were willing to rise up on behalf of what advocates refer to as “man-boy love,” or what most people call sexual abuse.
These included, among other events and soundings, a much-publicized Calvin Klein ad campaign that paid homage to the conventions of child pornography; the publication by a reputable publisher, Prometheus Books, of a book advocating “intergenerational intimacy,” i.e. pedophilia; a still-notorious piece in the May 8, 1995, New Republic praising NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, for its “bravery” and suggesting that we lower the age of consent for boys; a sympathetic profile in Vanity Fair of a convicted child pornography trafficker; a sympathetic profile of a pedophile in a celebrated book by author Edmund White; and a review of the writings of several prominent gay authors, all published and acclaimed in mainstream circles, whose books featured sex scenes between men and underage boys. Literary critic Bruce Bawer was a minority voice objecting to the latter trend.