North American Man/Boy Love Association
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NAMBLA stands for the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Its agenda is to repeal laws prohibiting adult men from having sex with boys under the age of consent, and to repeal laws regarding age of consent in general. The organization therefore promotes and in some cases practices pedophilia. An investigator reported that NAMBLA had around 1100 members in 1995, but it has been estimated that its membership has dwindled to a handful who run its website as the internet has provided pedophiles with venues perceived to bear less legal risk than a NAMBLA membership. There are also lesser-known NAWBLA and NAMGLA organizations with similar goals, but curiously no sign of a NAWGLA.
NAMBLA and gay rights
While it certainly campaigns for legal rights on a same-sex issue, to characterize NAMBLA as a gay rights organization is a little disingenuous, since its most controversial aspect is not that it advocates sexual relationships between people of the same sex but that it advocates sexual relationships between adults and minors.
During the organization's early history (in the late 1970s and early 80s), NAMBLA received some support from a few LGBT groups, but vehement opposition from many others who were understandably concerned to keep homosexuality, which was becoming increasingly tolerated and accepted in the USA, from being associated with pedophilia. The NAMBLA controversy within the gay community divided its more radical, some might say narcissistic, elements, who saw virtually all norms that restricted the behavior of any segment of the gay community as oppressive, and gays seeking mainstream acceptance, equality, and support, with urgency heightened by the onset of the AIDS crisis. While there are still a very small number of people on the fringes of the gay rights movement who accept them, most now ban them from showing up at their rallies.
Controversy erupted among the LGBT community as it came to light that leading organizers of the 1979 Gay March on Washington and the 1980 New York Gay Pride Parade were known NAMBLA members and supporters. In 1981, in what can be charitably described as a tone-deaf move, Gay People At Cornell (GayPAC) invited NAMBLA founder David Thorstad as a keynote speaker at its Gay May Festival. The invitation was rescinded after a storm of protest. The controversy over NAMBLA simmered within the LGBT community through the 1980s into the 1990s, with a NAMBLA presence at gay pride events tolerated but not encouraged. Some saw the distancing from NAMBLA as a sellout to gain mainstream acceptance for gays and marched behind the NAMBLA banner as an act of protest within gay rights events. One such person was the poet Allen Ginsberg, who joined NAMBLA as an act of protest. The final straw in the controversy was the religious right's seizing upon the NAMBLA presence at gay events during the early 1990s to denounce the entire gay rights movement as advocating pedophilia. Starting in 1994, NAMBLA has been explicitly disinvited from gay pride events, NAMBLA publications have been purged from gay-oriented bookstores, and NAMBLA-related links have been banned from gay-oriented websites.
Nevertheless, opponents of gay rights often continue to cite NAMBLA as an example of the homosexual agenda to groom children for sexual abuse. This is really an association fallacy, since other gay rights groups do not promote "man/boy love" and the gay community almost unanimously condemns NAMBLA and its aims.
NAMBLA claims that they do not advocate that their members commit child molestation, nor do they claim to engage in conspiracies to actually molest kids. However, they have supported alleged pederasts who have been to trial, and even lent their support to Michael Jackson during his last child molestation trial. Jacko was sane enough to avoid affiliating with them, and instead picked the Nation of Islam.
While NAMBLA is a real, albeit minuscule group, it has become the brunt of jokes, as well as a target frequently named in the context of moral panics over a purported child sexual abuse epidemic. This is so much so that most NAMBLA sightings these days may be parodists, and NAMBLA's remaining function may be as a "honey pot" for monitoring potential child predators.
- Mike Pearl, Whatever Happened to NAMBLA, America's Paedophilia Advocates? vice.com, 25 March 2016.
- "Boy Crazy", Boston Globe Magazine, May 2001
- See the Wikipedia article on North American Man/Boy Love Association.
- See the Wikipedia article on List of pedophile and pederast advocacy organizations.
- Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys – 1994 award-winning documentary on NAMBLA, essentially letting their members dig their own graves.