Friday, August 21, 2015

"...and so we end an Age."

The title is a line from the H.G. Wells 1936 film "The Shape of things to Come".

The following is a back, and forth by some readers, and myself about that terrifying organization of the late 20th century...gasp!  Nambla.

There I said it. 

Though I had to cross myself a dozen times take a trip to Lourdes drink the blood of martyrs, buy a lifetime subscription to the "Watchtower". 
That, and cut out my own tongue for mentioning the demonic name of you know who. 

Let's see it began when dear comrade Lukas asked if there were priests that went to the meetings of the dreaded organization...



Yes some Clergy were supportive of Nambla, and Queer Rights generally in the latter part of that 1970's. As a Journalist, and Queer Activist I covered the "Gay" beat for Pacifica Radio. I even tried to be objective. I used to be critical of the pre-AIDS mass promiscuity among gay men. I feared there might be biological blow-back eventually.

There tragically was.

The random multiple sex encounters was a perfect vector for the virus, and turned it into a pandemic. As for Nambla it didn't actually start as a pedophile group. It was about teen boys, and gay men, and the relations they had been having through a long local history.

A group of men were rounded up in Boston, and charged with sexual activity with large group of teens. On investigation this had been a gay tradition in the area for near 100 years. There was a similar tradition is some parts of Paris, and Berlin. I've heard discussions about an industrial part of London, but have no specifics.

Nambla was formed in response to the Boston arrests, and even had tentative support within the general Gay community. The very first meetings of this group were sheltered in various Churches even a Synagogue. The first official meeting even had members of Academia, and the Medical Profession that had been studying the various local traditions. Members of the arts later came to meetings. They discussed the cultural tradition in various cultures for inter-generation relations. For the first two years Nambla believe it or not was just another wing of the larger Queer movement.

This radically changed due to gross mistakes made by that organization, and growing hostility among lesbians. Sadly we all know where this went.



What were Nambla's biggest mistakes, do you think? I didn't come on the scene till the early 80's, so I missed those earliest developments. By then the die was pretty much already cast, I think.

I've begun to think that a big part of the problem is that there's no Left left in this country. By Reagan time the radicals either disappeared like Abbie Hoffman or turned into yuppie "progressives."

If we'd maintained a vigorous culture of opposition to the neo-liberal corporate zombie model, lots of causes and organizations would have survived that have been swept down the memory hole.



 It's possible that if the conservative reaction to the 1960's, and 70's were not as complete as it was there might have been 'some' space for the more radical ideas within the culture of the times to survive more or less intact.

As I said the tradition of the love between men, and youths was at least within the realm of rational discussion. This without it being drowned out by feminist hostility which thought this was the same as the massive actual abuse of little girls. This or attacks from the religious or far right.  None of this had happened...yet.

Gay men, and women were still close comrades at least on the ground if not in the upper levels of the then Movement. That schism also was in the future. So there was actually room for dialogue on this, and a host of other important topics that have since become verboten.

The right-wing tide however was unprecedented.

Historians could now with justification say the "Reagan Era" was the true, and final last hurrah of the "Angry White Men". The simple math of the new demographics changed that two generations later.

Those resentful working, and middle class white men are now a minority, and with every passing year they become more so. In 2008 more non-white babies were born than white ones. Their parents vote.  They changed the shape of government in the past two general elections. Their children in not that many years will continue to further the interests of this new majority.

Though there has been desperate rear guard politics, and even deadly violence by whites.

The die is cast.

This is why the current Republican Presidential primary race of 2015 is such a pathetic circus.

Not so in 1980.


Uncle continues:

 As for the death of Nambla.

For one Nambla never understood parenthood, and the nature of the parent to child continuum. "...Hi we've come over to butt fuck your kids you don't mind do ya?'

This is how that group was seen, and this is how they eventually presented themselves.

They refused to compromise in any way. They stuck to the plank of absolute overturn of 'all' age of consent laws. One Nambla representative interviewed by the gay rights program at the station at which I worked went so far as to say that "children under 10 could give informed consent to anal sodomy with an adult".

The sound of jaws dropping could be heard at the Canadian border.

Btw I was raising nieces, and nephews from my assorted sisters at the time. A Queer uncle is a built-in day-care center.  This among other reasons is why I left. Pretty much all of their progressive movement supporters did too. The founder generation of the group had already mostly left.

They were most certainly 'not' boy-lovers as the term is usually understood. True the law didn't care. We were all the 'same' to them. Even mainstream gays at the time were the 'same' as far as they cared.

However beyond that within the then Gay Community, and to the Progressive Community in general the difference 'was' recognized.

Hence the small window for discussion.

I recall well the battles in the columns of the gay press, and some of the progressive press like the Village Voice. Pieces ran that could 'never' see print today.

Within the Nambla press releases there were some fig leaves about ancient Greeks, but sex was really just it. It had degenerated into what the cops, and press assumed it always was,...a sex club for perverts.

Trading porn which I witnessed, and on occasion boys from whom I as a reporter heard first hand testimony nearly 30 years later. I imagine those convicted are just coming out of prison now as old unwanted men.  It was a sad, and tragic business. That group strayed so far from their idealistic roots.

No wonder they were so ripe for police, and FBI infiltration.

At one point their treasurer was a police agent.

I was told by a colleague at the "New Jersey Press" the only people that came to Nambla meetings in that State towards the end were a hand full of unbalanced people hoping that there would be little children there, and police agents.

It became like that 1950's joke about Communist Party Meetings.

"The only persons there were FBI agents, and maybe 2 or 3 collage students thinking they could pick up girls."

The last I heard was several years back when these geniuses thought it would be a swell idea to go to a third world country to fuck hungry street kids.

Some of them pooled their money for tickets to some dreary hell-hole where they could screw 9 year old kiddies for Hersey bars. Well of course their treasurer was a cop. As soon as money changed hands the crime was committed, and a bunch of them went on to make new friends in federal prison.

The butt of late night comic's jokes "South Park" "The Simpsons", and a hate target for the whole country especially straight gays.

So ended Nambla.

Stay tuned.


  1. Thanks comrade for that astute historical analysis. I really did want to hear the skinny like you told it.

    You know, as much as I have bitterness over the way things have gone, and have always felt the unmentionable "N" group was treated unfairly, I have to admit that, as the Shrub Administration self-exculpatingly put it, "mistakes were made" that definitely contributed to its downfall. Like that guy you quote from the radio broadcast - an example of astounding political stupidity. I can recall another such example from my experience - there was a guy within the group at this end of the country who openly advocated infanticide, as being on a par with abortion. With supporters like that, who needs enemies? Of whom of course there were always plenty.

    Moreover, refusal to compromise on the AOC topic now looks to me like a really bad political choice. Probably it would have been much better if the focus had remained on the sort of relationships that first became the target of police repression, those between the men & teenage boys in Boston. By the late 1970s, any sensitive political observer would have noticed that the wind was shifting away from the freewheeling anything-goes spirit of the 60s, and adjusted course accordingly. Thinking that the country or the world were ready to talk about abolishing AOC was a serious miscalculation.

    Also, it has to be admitted that nambla *did* attract a class of unbalanced & unsavory characters - and, as already mentioned, political numnuts. How they would have been excluded I don't know. In any case, what began as an idealistic campaign of liberation by courageous anti-war radicals turned into an Eiffel Tower of a lightning-rod, bringing a catastrophic irreversible melt-down.

    So this is a post-mortem, an object lesson for future historical analysis. The figure you've chosen to symbolize the current status, with his party balloon out in the sleet & snow, perfectly illustrates the situation.

    I don't think things will be able to change in a positive direction until this civilization has completed its current process of self-destruction, or at least moved a good long way down that path. Much nastiness may reasonably be expected to occupy the interim. Perhaps things will develop differently in various parts of the world. But at this point it's crystal clear that we ain't never gonna have no liberationist paradise in a now-dying industrial world.


  2. We're bringing back the radical left a left authority will not be able to handle: Fingers Crossed. The internet is our gathering place.

    By-The-Way Sydney I couldn't log on to "Dragon Fly". Maybe it has been removed. Or maybe it is something temporary.

  3. Sydney,
    I just looked back a little and found you post on the 20th about "Dragon Fly". I am so sorry. No we cannot retire.

  4. Yes "Dragonfly" has been thrown to the fires. When you consider the range of grotesque sites demeaning men, and women sexually all over the realm. I have to conclude to is a conscious process to destroy beauty.

    Especially types of beauty not currently approved.

    I'm old enough to remember when gay publication were actually hunted down by the postal authorities, and their publishers criminally charged with distributing porn. Never-mind that these were Gay Civil Rights 'Zines, and books.

    For now the mainstream gay press is safe.

    Safe to publish the most ugly images imaginable. Bright color images of hairy musclemen shoving everything from their arms to pipe baseball bats, and good grief! ...tree branches yo their rectums.

    Nude boys of 14 15 or even 16 skinny dipping. ...with prose, and poetry praising the sweet beauty, and innocence of it. Images that once graced the covers of "Life", and the "Saturday Evening Post". Well such are the extreme of vulgarity, and though somewhat legal has no place on any blog host sites such as Blogspot Tumblr Wordpress, and the others.

    Well as pals tell me,."...they own the pages they makes the rules." ya own domain, and page.

    Which I did for my Pod-casting. Through now some time in the fall or early winter I'll get around to purchasing one for my Queer stuff so I can gleefully post the glory of Queerdom, and the epistles Ralph Chubb without having to look over my digital shoulder.

    I know i should have done it many years ago...just lazy, and generally pissed off. So this is kind'a my own fault.

    'Still Fuck'em to Bleep.

    Anyway time marches on, and there's plenty of new, and gleeful mischief to get into.

    Stay Tuned.