The fallout following Milo Yiannopoulos’ comments endorsing sexual intimacy between teenage boys and men has been swift.
While all good people across the globe bask in some serious schadenfreude at the demise of famed provocateur and alt-right human centipede bookend, many of us are still coming to terms with the revelation that free-speech—hallowed pulpit of so much Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism and everything else flowing through the bowels of the alt-right camp—has a crossable line: pederasty.
Although quick to clarify his misgivings: “I wasn’t talking about anything illegal [or] referring to prepubescent boys,” he added that “every gay man knows” it to be true that a sexual relationship between older men and younger boys can help them “escape from a lack of support or understanding at home.”
Still, most cried pedophilia.
It’s ironic that it was a comment welcoming the positive benefits of a relationship between two consenting intergenerational males that ‘crossed a line’ and razed a career built on militarised bigotry, and sustained by ‘free-speech’. It could be that Milo is finally getting a taste of his own medicine – that facile knee-jerk derision to a complex and delicate non-cis topic.
Whether or not you agree with the notion that age of consent laws are ‘oppressive and arbitrary,’ or that Milo's comments were in fact endorsing pedophilia, we’ve asked some friends to share their real teenage experiences with older men.
I was 18 when I met this guy outside a gay club in Auckland, Family Bar. He said he was 53. He was attractive aesthetically but kind of not as well, but as a person he was really nice. He was an artist – I was studying art at the time – he took me back to his apartment and we hung out and chatted and he showed me his work. We didn’t have sex, even though I wanted to, but we did kiss. He was super respectful and took me out for breakfast in the morning.
We hung out again a few days later and I took some of my art work for him to see. We had sex.
There was a maturity thing that was really nice about it. There was support and trust – I knew I could tell him important and difficult things and he wasn’t going to go and gossip to all my friends, you know, he was out of that friendship circle.
He had lots of information and could understand me, and we had really great sex, which was cool. I wasn’t super vulnerable or being used, I was in a good place during that time. I think I gained a lot of trust in men by being with him. He made me realise that the gay scene I was in at the time wasn’t all sleaze; it was just a really nice connection.
The hardest thing about that situation was the judgement from outside. People would think it’s paedophilic because they see it as an older guy preying on a younger guy. It wasn’t. You know, if we’re talking about ‘Homeland package’ society looking at it they just think it’s about money. But ours wasn’t a candy situation, although I’ve been in a situation like that before and it was cool!
Online dating like Scruff and stuff have categories for it, you can put it in your preferences, “Daddys”, you know, or Older for Younger, it’s a thing and everyone has their own personal reasons for desiring it.
I wasn’t even out at this point – it was 4 years before I came out. I talked to him about that and he gave me guidance and told me I should just do what I feel comfortable with doing. And he taught me about what it was like to be in the closet ‘back in those days’; that historical knowledge was really beneficial for me.
That diversity in generations is important to have, in knowledge and to grow as a human, you know?
To be honest it's really satisfying to watch Milo be destroyed by the very bigots he was willing to jump into bed with in order to achieve a bit of notoriety. It's harsh but it's a natural kind of justice that he finds out that his supposed allies think he's disgusting. It's not what you asked but I think the real issue here is that middle class white faggots should learn that they'll be accepted by the bourgeois racist, sexist status quo, but only up to a point.
True queer liberation can only be achieved through solidarity with trans people, POC, women, the working class and others who are oppressed. If you try and fuck others over to get some scraps from the master's table, you deserve every inch of that inevitable fall from grace.
Now to the question: I was date raped by two older men the first time I went out alone. Then fell into a weird coercive friend/relationship with someone 7 years older than me almost immediately after. This was in some ways supportive but he was in love with me and constantly pushing my boundaries.
Older men often acted in a predatory way towards me until I was around 23 and knew how to fend them off. I'm now able to hook up with older guys and enjoy it, but I can't say I was ever nurtured by one.
So yeah I think it's possible to have a supportive intergenerational relationship but I think it's murky territory and the younger partner can only say for sure how OKAY it was when they're older. I mean, if you're an older guy and feeling altruistic and nurturing, you could also just not fuck the person you're helping out you know?
Touchy subject. There is a lot of stigma around non-conventional relationships and sharing stories that are both positive and negative could be helpful to young queers and enlightening to uptight conservatives.
I have had both a positive and negative experience with an older man. The first was really positive when I was 17 and was shown the sexual 'ropes' by an older male of early thirties. This older man was extremely respectful and open but also confident. He showed me that penetrative sex between males could be an easy and enjoyable experience and could be outside of a typical submissive/dominant or top/bottom sexual interaction. He also pushed my boundaries about my own body with complete respect and consent. This in turn gave me my own sexual confidence that I was then able to bring into future sexual relationships.
He was extremely respectful, open and caring.
The second experience was with my ex. I met him when I was 19, he was about 35. I was under the impression the dynamic was much like the first but through the course of the first 6 months we were together I discovered he was emotionally manipulative/abusive, with me ending up being addicted to drugs and in all sorts of financial strife. None the less he was not physically abusive and my sexual self-flourished for the most part (until we started to hate each other).
But I don't regret a bar of it. I feel that as a queer you have already broken through typical sexual norms which opens you up to not only more sexual freedom but to being more accepting and understanding of other minorities who experience marginalisation and discrimination. I learned so much about 'the human condition' through these experiences as a young man.
And I also learnt about my own strength and resilience. Both negative and positive experiences occur interpersonally but to my understanding the outcomes rely mostly upon your own self-worth and dignity. Though it took me a year of daily drug use and stealing money and all sorts so me and my partner could use until I could finally draw the line and go, 'I am better than this.' And walk away.
MoMA's recent exhibition, Items: Is Fashion Modern? declared tattoo an influential item among 111 garments and accessories shaping culture and society. I speak to the L.A artist chosen to illustrate tattoo, Roxx, on the paradoxical and multifaceted nature of contemporary tattoo.
Although tattoos in the West are becoming increasingly mainstream, the pain accompanying a session usually remains something to be tolerated at best, or completely mollified through the consumption of analgesics at worst. So when people began actively seeking out the painful ritual of a Brutal Black tattoo session, I contacted them to find out more about why they chose to engage with amplified tattoo pain.
"Modern-day passion, tangible tradition, and striking creativity: trace how tattooing continues to evolve in the follow up to Forever." Read extracts from my articles featured in FOREVER MORE: The New Tattoo, including interviews with Kelly Violet, Miriam Frank, Indomito, the Brutal Black Project and Expanded Eye. Purchase discounted copies of Forever More here.
(First published in VICE 06/07/17) Respectively raised in the suburbs of the Gold Coast and Perth, the couple longed for something with more danger and glamour, so, naturally, after meeting one another they combined their hearts and skills to saturate the world with their idiosyncratic aesthetic of "demented sparkling" performance art.
(First published in INKED, issue 45) When forensic inquiry is applied to tattoos, it can assist in the identification or capture of criminals or missing persons. The Forensic Analysis of Tattoos and Ink is a pioneering work detailing the methodology of this process. This is an interview with the book's author, Dr Michelle Miranda.
Love Shakthi Om, to be launched in the first week of May, will produce limited works of art to be sold with profits donated to charity. "We strongly believe this life is about karma, sharing love, traditions, and cultures. For us, this is largely based in art."
(VICE online 25/04/17) This is one of the most brutal experiences one can imagine in the field of tattooing, where wills are either broken or solidified. This is the Brutal Black Project, and they’ll “ruin your life”.
In this second installment of the 'Interview with the Editor' series, where editors of some of the most influential tattoo publications share their two-cents, Alice Snape, editor of Things&Ink, talks about her journey as an independent publisher of a female friendly tattoo culture publication.
"I bought a load of tattoo magazines for inspiration. Needless to say none of them appealed to me, they were very much aimed at men and none of them featured tattoos that I like or would suit me and my tastes. They were also all very much geared towards men, with half naked women legs apart with barely any tattoos on the cover."
(Abridged version first published in DAZED & CONFUSED magazine, 03/03/17) Touka Voodoo has actively used body art and modification to transcend the notion of binaries.
In this first installment of the Interview with an Editor series, head honcho of Skin Deep, Sion Smith, offers advice for writers, photographers, and tattooists looking get published, while discussing life at the helm of the UK's best selling tattoo magazine.
"For writers, be original, spell things correctly (I have better things to do than watch your back), be on time, be nice to work with and don’t be a dick."
Milo's comments embracing the positives of a legal, consenting relationship between a teenage boy and older man were labelled pedophilia. So I ask three male friends to share their teenage sexual encounters with older men.
(First published in Skin Deep, issue 275. Republished in INKED, issue 45) Ahead of VICELAND’s 2017 series, Needles and Pins, Grace talks about her experiences in front of the lens, riding around LA on quad bikes with Venice Bad Boys, and what it’s like to be an ambassador for contemporary tattoo culture.
(First published in INKED, issue 45) Currently in her third permutation of a body suit, New Zealand based artist Jak Nola talks about her psychedelic erotic art, tattoos, and what an orgasm can do for the mind.
(Abridged version first Published in The Guardian, 23/11/16) Lying in a satin-lined coffin or wearing a bondage hood may help you face up to your inevitable demise. I attend the inaugural Sydney Death and Dying Festival to get a taste of what's to come.
(Published in INKED issue 42) “That was Ricky’s right above Pinky’s. That’s because Pinky’s had a hepatitis scare and the American navy had banned them from going there, so he just opened upstairs and called it Ricky’s. It was two shops but it was the same. They just liked names that had that “icky” sound and I just happened to be there at the right time.”
(VICE online, 27/09/16) "Isaac Comer was heavily tattooed including on his cock. Henry Findlay was tattooed on his chest, arms, hands, fingers, calves and from his knees to his groin 'after the Burmese manner’. Henry was a soldier, court-martialled in Burma, so presumably he got some pretty wild tatts during service." Discover a rich history of colonial stick & poke tattoos and wild convict stories with Simon Barnard, author of the new book Convict Tattoos: Marked Men and Women of Australia.
(INKED magazine, issue 39) On February 26th, I presented an exhibition of tattooed silicone hands and sheets at Melbourne's Neon Parlour. All profits from the sale of these works went to SafeSteps and WIRE, two Melbourne based organisations dedicated to providing support to women and children experiencing domestic violence.
(INKED magazine, issue 35) 'Tattooing in the Islamic Republic (dictatorship) of Iran' is the culmination of furtive correspondence with four brave Iranian tattooists who risk imprisonment and torture on a daily basis all for the sake of their art.
(Things & Ink, issue 10) "Tattooing is conducted during the vigil. Beside the body the near family sing the deceased's history in a rhythm made of tears. While clusters of cousins drink and gamble in little pockets of light about the village, as the ancestors one by one arrive from their graves to receive the spirit of the newly dead, as the animals set aside to die in the morning shuffle blandly, a select few receive tattoos."
(Things & Ink, issue 12, abridged on VICE online) What began as an intellectual interest in body modification within the context of BDSM ended with 250mls of saline infused into my scrotum and 500mls infused into my girlfriend's breasts.
(Things & Ink, issue 11) "I think it’s a real big kick and liberation once you’ve put on a face and the costume and you go out in public. You become a character, a different person, and so people respond to you differently, and so I can take it on and enjoy whatever it is that could potentially serve me, which is completely different every time."
My scrotum is a thin sack of skin that contains part of my reproductive system. Insert a needle, add a litre of saline, and it is apparently transformed into a serious fun bag.
(Things & Ink, issue 10, republished in INKED magazine, issue 31) "Most people understand that taxidermy is done with the leftover skins, and so it is separate from the live-animal debate, and the leather/fur debate, which uses farming. Animals are not objects, but taxidermy pieces are objects. If taxidermy is made into art for art’s sake, there is still the beauty and appreciation of the animal and the art, so it really isn’t for nothing."
(Things & Ink, issue 11, republished in INKED magazine, issue 32) A short review of Ricky Luder, a book complied and published by Done With Electricity. The book is an illustrative historical treat!
(Things & Ink, issue 9. Republished in Melbourne Permanent, issue 1) ‘Since putting the photo on Instagram, I was like, “Wow; I didn’t realise it would become such a thing”. Someone put it on Facebook, and it turned into this big thing with over 200 comments, and everyone was thinking I was a total freak. I guess I took it a bit lightly and didn’t explain myself, it was just like “RAAAAAHHH; I’m eating my own head!”
(Things & Ink issue 4. Republished in INKED, issue 29) I speak to 5 awesome artists from varying disciplines about their work, tattoos, and meaning.
(Things & Ink blog, 23/12/14. Republished in INKED magazine, issue 30) I talk with the Bangkok based Knowing Buddha Organisation about it's objection to Buddha tattoos, and discover that it may pay to think twice before tattooing a deity on your body.
(Things & Ink blog, 14/12/14. Republished in INKED issue 32) ‘Yeah man, vultures on the streets shaking down people for payouts. I was headed back from a ju-jitsu session and I was told I’m a Russian selling coke around the red-light areas, [the officer] greedily stuck his hands into my gym bag to find a sweaty ju-jitsu gi! These guys’ other rackets are being squeezed by the military so they need to find other ways to buy Christmas goodies this time of year.’
(Things & Ink, issue 8. Republished in INKED, issue 27) ‘The first hit, your mind is full of so many thoughts; mostly you’re thinking, “Shit, what have I done; what am I doing; I can’t do this”. After a few days, I couldn’t feel my body: the pain had reached a different level. I was in another world; I was literally looking over my own body. I was simply not there.’
(Things & Ink, issue 7. Republished in INKED, issue 28) In April of 1990, an Australian toddler had just finished unwrapping his birthday gift. Ecstatically, he began shouting ‘Lollilog! Lollilog!’ Clutched between his two white hands was his first Golliwogg doll. Twenty-four years later, that same little boy sits before me in a cluster of Golliwoggs, discussing the red lipped, bow-tied, black-skinned doll tattoo on his leg.