Boylove in modern times

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Modern history, also referred to as the modern period or the modern era, is the historiographical approach to the timeframe after the post-classical era (known as the Middle Ages). The modern era began approximately in the 16th century.[1]


Modern forms of boylove

This entry is intended to be an overview of the modern era and the articles in Category:Boylove in modern times

The Middle East and Central Asia

In pre-modern Islam there was a "widespread conviction that beardless youths possessed a temptation to adult men as a whole, and not merely to a small minority of deviants."[2]

Osman Agha of Temeşvar who fell captive to the Austrians in 1688 wrote in his memoirs that one night an Austrian boy approached him for sex, telling him "for I know all Turks are pederasts".[3]

In 1770s, Âşık Sadık the poet wrote, in an address to the Sultan: Lût kavmi döğüşür, put kavmi bozar. Askerin lûtîdir, bil Padişahım ("The people of Lot fight, the people of idolatry spoil. Know, my Sultan, that your soldiers are sodomites").[4] Studies of Ottoman criminal law, which is based on the Sharia, reveal that persistent sodomy with non-consenting boys (i.e. rape) was a serious offense and those convicted faced capital punishment.[Citation needed] However, consensual sex between men and boys was common, never the subject of legal action, and not seen as anybody's business but those enjoying it.


Men's sexual interest in youths was reflected in prostitution, with young male sex workers fetching higher prices than their female counterparts as recently as the beginning of the 20th century. In Tianjin there were thirty-five male brothels, housing 800 boys, and men from the area were assumed to be expert in anal relations. Though the superintendent of trade at Guangzhou issued an annual warning to the population against permitting westerners access to boy prostitutes ("do not indulge the Western barbarian with all our best favors"), Europeans were increasingly welcomed in the boy brothels.[5]

In 10th-century China courting male couples consisted of the older qi xiong (契兄) and the younger qi di. (契弟) (The terms mean, literally, sworn elder brother and younger brother. It is very common in the Chinese culture to conceptualize many kinds of alliances as fictive kinship relationships). Boy marriages, which lasted for a set period after which the younger partner would find a wife (often with the help of the older one) appear to have been part of the culture in the province of Fujian in pre-modern times. The marriages were said to have been celebrated by the two families in traditional fashion, including the ritual "nine cups of tea". The popularity of these pederastic relationships in Fujian, where they even had a patron god, Hu Tianbao, gave rise to one of the euphemistic expressions for same-sex love in China, "the southern custom".


In Japan, the practice of shudō (衆道), "the Way of the Young", paralleled closely the course of European pederasty. It was prevalent in the religious community and samurai society from the mediaeval period on, and eventually grew to permeate all of society. It fell out of favor around the end of the 19th century, concurrently with the growing European influence.

Its legendary founder is Kūkai, also known as Kōbō Daishi, the founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism, who is said to have brought the teachings of male love over from China, together with the teachings of the Buddha. Monks often entered into love relationships with beautiful youths known as " chigo (稚児)", which were recorded in literary works known as "chigo monogatari (「稚児物語」)".[6]


One of the earliest mentions of male attraction to boys is that of Gongmin of Goryeo (r. 1351–1374), the 31st king of the Goryeo dynasty, who was famous for his predilection for falling in love with young boys. After the death of his wife in 1365 he is reputed to have spent his time in the practice of Buddhism and relations with boys, establishing an organization for their recruitment.[7]

Paul Michaut, a French physician writing in 1893, described Korea as a country where "[p]ederasty is general, it is part of the mores; it is practiced publicly, in the street, without the least reprobation." [8]


North America

"Of the Koniagas of Kodiak Island and the Thinkleets we read, 'The most repugnant of all their practices is that of male concubinage. A Kodiak mother will select her handsomest and most promising boy, and dress and rear him as a girl, teaching him only domestic duties, keeping him at women's work, associating him with women and girls, in order to render his effeminacy complete. Arriving at the age of ten or fifteen years, he is married to some wealthy man who regards such a companion as a great acquisition. These male concubines are called Achnutschik or Schopans' (the authorities quoted being Holmberg, Langsdorff, Billing, Choris, Lisiansky and Marchand). The same is the case in Nutka Sound and the Aleutian Islands, where 'male concubinage obtains throughout, but not to the same extent as amongst the Koniagas.' The objects of 'unnatural' affection have their beards carefully plucked out as soon as the face-hair begins to grow, and their chins are tattooed like those of the women. In California the first missionaries found the same practice, the youths being called Joya." (Bancroft, i. 415 and authorities Palon, Crespi, Boscana, Motras, Torquemada, Duflot and Fages). (R. F. Burton, Terminal Essay)

Central America

Bernal Diaz del Castillo, in his The Conquest of New Spain, reported that the Mexicapeoples regularly practiced pederastic relationships, and male adolescent sacred prostitutes would congregate in temples. The conquistadores, like most Europeans of the 16th century, were horrified by the widespread acceptance of sex between men and youths in Aztec society, and used it as one justification for the extirpation of native society, religion and culture, and the taking of the lands and wealth; of all customs of the Nahuatl-speaking peoples, only human sacrifice produced a greater disapproval amongst the Spaniards in Mexico. The custom died out with the collapse of the Aztec civilization.

Though early Mayans are thought to have been strongly antagonistic to same-sex relationships, later Mayan states employed pederastic practices. Their introduction was ascribed to the god Chin. One aspect was that of the father procuring a younger lover for his son. Juan de Torquemada mentions that if the (younger) boy was seduced by a stranger, the penalty was equivalent to that for adultery. Bernal Diaz reported statues of male pairs making love in the temples at Cape Catoche, Yucatan

South America


Pederastic eros in the West, while remaining mostly hidden, has nevertheless revealed itself in a variety of settings. Legal records are one of the more important windows into this secret world, since for much of the time pederastic relations, like other forms of homosexual relations, were illegal.[9] The expression of desire through literature and art, albeit in coded fashion, can also afford a view of the pederastic interests of the author.

Reflecting the conflicted outlook on male loves, some northern European writers ascribed pederastic tendencies to populations in southern latitudes. Richard Francis Burton evolved his theory of the Sotadic zone, an area bounded roughly by N. Lat. 43° N. Lat. 30°, stretching from the western shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean.[10] Likewise, Wilhelm Kroll, writing in the Pauly-Wissowa encyclopaedia in 1906, asserted that "The roots of pederasty are found first of all in the existence of a contrary sexual feeling that is probably more frequent in southern regions than in countries with moderate climates."[11]


Medieval Russia was known for its tolerance towards homosexuality and how widespread it was. As well as other forms of homosexuality, pederasty was very common. The beardless youth was seen as an alternative to women, and shaving was seen as an invitation to sodomy for men. The banyas, traditional Russian-style bath houses in particular were places where men would go and have sex with teenage boys who worked there and beat the men with birch branches, and rubbed their backs.[12] Later on, from the 18th century onwards, the bath houses still thrived and cadet schools and the Page Corps and Imperial School of Jurisprudence were hotbeds of homosexual activity between the boys. Russia's laws were very lenient compared to those of Western Europe in that homosexuality was made illegal for soldiers at the beginning of the 18th century and was made illegal for the rest of society in the 1830s and even then, the new laws were not strictly enforced, and at the end of the 19th century, St. Petersburg had a thriving gay scene.


In England, public boarding schools, with their uni-sexual environment (all boys), often encouraged situational homosexuality, due to the emphasis on the Classics, and homosexual relations were formed and quietly accepted, both between the older and younger boys and even between the teachers and the boys. However, there had been some scandals around such relationships. In the mid-19th century, William Johnson Cory, a renowned master at Eton from 1845 until his forced resignation in 1872, evolved a style of pedagogic pederasty which influenced a number of his pupils. His Ionica, a work of poetry reflecting his pederastic sensibilities, was read in intellectual circles and “made a stir” at Oxford in 1859.[13] Oscar Browning, another Eton master and former student of Cory, followed in his tutor’s footsteps, only to be likewise dismissed in 1875. Both are thought to have influenced Oxford don Walter Pater, whose aesthetics promoted pederasty as the truest expression of classical culture.[14]

Also in 19th-century England, pederasty was a theme in the work of several writers known as the "Uranian poets". Although most of the writers of Uranian poetry and prose are today considered minor literary figures at best, the prominent Uranian representatives --- Walter Pater, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Oscar Wilde—are figures of worldwide renown. Hopkins and Wilde were both deeply influenced by Pater's work. Wilde wrote of pederastic and homoerotic culture—though not in the "elevated" pederastic sense that it held for Pater and Hopkins[15]—in a number of works.[16] In the case of Hopkins, "Hopkins often was, it must be admitted, strikingly Ruskinian in his love of Aristotelian particulars and their arrangements; however, it was at the foot of Pater -- the foremost Victorian unifier of ‘eros, pedagogy, and aesthetics’—that Hopkins would ever remain."[17] Another notable late 19th-century writer on pederasty was John Addington Symonds, whose essays A Problem in Greek Ethics and A Problem in Modern Ethics were among the first ever defenses of homosexuality in the English language.[18]

Reaction and retrenchment

The end of the 19th century saw increasing conflict over the issue of social acceptance of pederasty. A number of other pederastic scandals erupted around this time, such as the one involving the German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp, which drove him to suicide. In the same vein, in a work that was to influence the evolution of communism's attitude towards same-sex love, the German political philosopher Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx's collaborator, denounced the ancient Greeks for "the abominable practice of sodomy" and for degrading "their gods and themselves with the myth of Ganymede".[19]

This strife also involved the Wandervogel movement, a youth organization emphasizing a romantic view of nature. Wandervogel took flight in 1896, the same year that the journal Der Eigene went to press. It was published by a twenty-two-year-old German (Adolf Brand), and it advocated classical pederasty as a cure for the moral flabbiness of German youth. Influenced by the ideas of Gustav Wyneken, the Wandervogel movement was quite open about its homoerotic tendencies, although this kind of affection was supposed to be expressed in a nonsexual way. The founding of Young Wandervogel happened largely as a reaction to the public scandal about these erotic tendencies, which were said to alienate young men from women.

Until the 1970s, English "public schools" were walled boarding schools, educating adolescent boys only, with a strong concentration on Greek and Latin classics. They continued to be “hotbeds of pederasty” into the 20th century.[20] C. S. Lewis when talking about his life at Malvern College, an English public school, acknowledged that pederasty "was the only counterpoise to the social struggle; the one oasis (though green only with weeds and moist only with foetid water) in the burning desert of competitive ambition."[21]

However in the late 20th century into the beginning of the 21st in western society then spreading throughout the world, a moral panic towards boylovers has taken hold.


  1. Article adapted from Wikipedia
  2. El-Rouayheb, 2005. Op.cit. p.115
  3. Temeşvarlı Osman Ağa, Gâvurların Esiri, Istanbul, 1971
  4. Hulki Aktunç, Erotologya, Istanbul, 2000
  5. Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience, Ronald Hyam; p.141
  6. T. Watanabe & J. Iwata, The Love of the Samurai. A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality, pp.31-2
  7. Homosexuality in the Korean Social Context
  8. "[T]he non-contaminated subjects are the exception." (Proschan, Frank "Syphilis, Opiomania, and Pederasty": Colonial Constructions of Vietnamese (and French) Social Diseases" Journal of the History of Sexuality — Volume 11, Number 4, October 2002, pp. 610–636)
  9. Michael Rocke, Forbidden Friendships, p.6
  10. Richard Burton, Arabian Nights "Terminal Essay"
  11. Wilhelm Kroll, "Knabenliebe" [boy-love or pederasty], article in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopaedie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, vol. 11, cols. 897-906
  12. Gay Urban Histories since 1600
  13. Brian Reade, Sexual Heretics; p.)
  14. Naomi Wood, "Creating the Sensual Child: Paterian Aesthetics, Pederasty, and Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales" in Marvels & Tales - Volume 16, Number 2, 2002, pp. 156-170
  15. Michael Kaylor, Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians: Hopkins, Pater and Wilde, 2006, pp. 292-295
  16. Brian Reade, 1970, op.cit., p.28
  17. Michael Kaylor, Secreted Desires, 2006, p. 289
  19. Karl Marx, Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State
  20. H. Montgomery Hyde, The Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name, pp.110-112; Boston: Little, Brown, 1970
  21. C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life Harvest Books (1966) p.106