Here are the facts, as reported in the article:
- Between August 2009 and April 2010, a 56-year-old Metro Vancouver man is said to have had consensual sex at least three times with a 15-year-old youth.
- They met through Grindr, an Internet hook-up site.
- In order to register at Grindr, the youth lied about his age and said he was 17, the minimum required.
- The age of consent in Canada is 16.
- This case came to light when the youth took the 56-year-old man to his parents's house, "...where they had sex before his mother came home and found [the latter] naked in her son's bathroom."
- On that occasion, the youth admitted to his mother that he's gay.
- The 56-year-old "...was charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault."
- It was decided "...jail time would serve no purpose"; however, the 56-year-old is currently serving 18 months's probation.
- His name was added to the Canadian sexual offender registry for a period of twenty years.
We have to call this what it is: pedophilia, pure and simple. This is not two gay men having consensual sex. It's a 56-year-old predator having sex with a 15-year-old boy. End of story. There's no way to pretty this up or make it more palatable.
Look. I'm not against men who are gay, and I'm not against sex. I'm gay, and I have sex. My position would be exactly the same if:
- a 56-year-old man had had sex with a 15-year-old girl; or
- a 56-year-old woman had had sex with a 15-year-old boy, or
- a 56-year-old woman had had sex with a 15-year-old girl.
To me, the sexual orientation of those involved isn't the issue at all.
The issue, as I see it, is the inappropriateness of two people having sex, where, according to the law, one is a minor. The law is the law, whether you agree with the age of consent or not. (And, for the record, I don't agree with Canada's age of consent. I think it should be older, a minimum of 18. How can the legal drinking age in Canada be 19, but the age of consent only 16? This is a disconnect if ever I've seen one, but maybe there's a good reason for it I'm not aware of.)
And, of course, I have a problem with the age difference. If the youth had been 18 or 20, I'd still have a problem with the age difference. What business does he have engaging in sex with someone who could be his father? And, conversely, what business does a 56-year-old have engaging in sex with someone who could be his son, or even his grandson? I don't get it.
Apparently, the 15-year-old youth is said to have consented to engaging in sex with the 56-year-old. What? How is that even relevant when we're talking about someone so young (contrary to what a doctor is quoted as saying in the article--that, in his estimation, some 12-year-olds are in a better position to consent to having sex than some 20 or 30-year-olds)?
We have a 15-year-old male in our extended family. Yes, he has a stocky build and facial hair. Yes, on the surface, he physically appears like a young man--mature and in control of himself. But just below the surface, he's still very much a boy, a kid, as I suspect most youth his age are.
How can someone, anyone, who's just 15 be emotionally ready to make the decision to have consensual sex with a man who is forty-one years his senior? Does he have any idea how personal and intimate and special sex is--with the right person? Does he have any idea what he's giving away to someone, who doesn't mean anything to him?
When Chris and I talked about this case recently, he asked, "To what extent is the youth responsible for leading on the 56-year-old?" Good point. The youth did lie, since he hooked up under false pretences, claiming to be 17. I don't necessarily think because he's a minor, he's blameless. He has to take some responsibility. But, in the end, he's only a kid. And, thankfully, most of us as kids are given leeway for some pretty stupid decisions we make because of our stupidity and immaturity.
To me, the one who should have the brains to know better is the 56-year-old, the clear adult in this case. Don't you think he needed to be more clued in to all the signs the 15-year-old wasn't the age he claimed to be? That if he had the slightest doubt about the age of the youth, he should have asked to see his ID? But, even before that, he shouldn't have tried to hook up with someone only seventeen years of age in the first place. Where was his head?
Oh, I have other issues with this, too.
Among them is the fact that, when news of this case hit the media, I'm certain those who already hold gay men in contempt decided we're all the same--that every one of us routinely enjoys having sex with underaged youth. Never mind that countless gay men wouldn't consider having sex with kids, let alone anyone they have no business having sex with.
I also have an issue with some of the readers who wrote in to Xtra! to support...the 56-year old, no less. Yes, one wrote, his name on the offender registry "cheapened" it. And another took the responsibility off the 56-year-old and wrote the youth knew how old the man he was intending to have sex with was and went ahead and had it anyway. Further, he wrote, some male youths have a thing for daddy figures, and "since when should other people decide what turns ANOTHER person on?"
And where were the 15-year-old's parents in all this? Okay, I'm not a parent, so maybe it's not my place to criticize their parenting skills. But, really, they had no clue what their 15-year-old son was doing--trying to pick up an older man using an application on his smartphone (which, according to the article, he'd succeeded in doing before)?
I'm all for respecting the privacy of children, but that doesn't mean absolving yourself from the responsibilities of a parent and being aware of what they're up to. He's just 15, for crying out loud. He's still lives under your roof. He still needs parental leadership and guidance. Wake up!
I hate to admit it, but this is not an isolated incident. Older gay men, who should know better, have sex with boys--or, at the very least, young men, who are much too young for them and with whom they have no business having sex--all the time. The only difference between them and our 56-year-old in this story is they haven't been caught yet.
The idea of me, in four years, when I'm fifty-six, having sex with a young kid the age of Chris's nephew now, stuns and outrages me. If we think this is okay, we need to give our heads a shake. I can't even fathom the absurdity of it. How is it possible anyone could?
(To read the complete story in Xtra!, please click here.)