Many times, pedophiles have a huge fear around coming out as a pedophile to friends and loved ones. Many of us have heard the horror stories: Pedophiles getting outed, kicked out of the house, losing jobs, friends, family, even committing suicide. So, we must ask the question…
What Do Most Coming Outs Look Like?
Absolutely nothing like that. While there is risk — I will get to that in a moment — most coming outs are positive, not negative. I have heard many positive stories of people coming out, in passing on VirPed, and in other circles I participate in. I know several people, myself included, who are out to most of the important people in their life, friends and family. I know two people who are completely public, and are still not dead yet: Gary Gibson and Todd Nickerson. In both cases, their family mostly accepted them.
For many, it takes time for them to process the full implications of what it means to have a sexual attraction to children, because often, people have preconceptions about what it means to be a pedophile. They picture a middle-aged man in a trench coat who has molested a child, not a teenager tearfully telling their parents they are attracted to children and want support. So, they will often ask questions, seek clarity on what it means to have an attraction, if the pedophile has acted on their attractions, how they view ethics, if they have viewed child sexual exploitation material, if they view themselves as a risk.
Coming out to a loved one is not easy, and in some cases, involves some shock, crying, and a lot of questions. That is for the people who receive the information. For MAPs, it is just plain scary. Not only are you putting information in someone’s hands that could go wrong in a lot of ways, you are trusting that your opinion of them is accurate enough that they will not overreact. There is a lot of reluctance on the part of MAPs to come out about their attractions, even when they are dealing with mental health issues they need help with that may or may not have anything to do with minor attraction.
How Can MAPs Safely Come Out?
Yes, coming out. Just as there are myths, fear, and stigma associated with being part of the LGBTQ+ community, there are myths, fear, and stigma associated with being a minor-attracted person. Just as LGBTQ+ people keep their feelings in the closet until it is safe to tell people, MAPs must do the same, or face consequences, like the reaction seen above.
Coming out as a MAP to the people you love and trust can be a risky and challenging process. Not only is this because there is a risk that people will not understand, or they will have a negative reaction to it, but because that information is now in someone else’s hands. In much the same way as a LGBT person can observe someone, see how they feel about the topic in general by asking them about similar issues (“So, how do you feel about transgender people? How do you feel about gay people? Do you think people choose their sexuality?”), a MAP can do much the same.
While I have a more comprehensive guide for MAPs about figuring out who is safe to tell, whether telling parents is an option, and some of the practicalities around coming out to people, the short version is this: Only you know your situation and the people in your life well enough to know whether you are making a wise choice by telling people about your attractions.
Do MAPs See The Safety Of Coming Out Clearly?
It is very, very common for MAPs to misjudge people and assume they would never understand them, never support them, and would hate them if they told important people in their life about their attractions. I know it was true in my own life that I thought it was not safe to tell anyone about my attractions, and worked myself into an extremely negative mindset because of hiding that from people.
That mindset led me to the conclusion that I was a risk to children. I attempted suicide because of it, and as a result of that, I found out in one of the most terrifying ways possible that people will still care. My family told one of my friends, who privately told other friends who were asking why I was not in contact with them. Everyone was very worried about me, and those friends reached out to me to support me.
Granted, I live in Minnesota where everyone is nice to everyone (some sarcasm there), but I do believe that when you have people that know you well, and genuinely care about you, they are not going to be so offended by you liking children that they leave you, harass you, or spread your information around. They will ask hard questions, they will wonder if you can change your attractions (not possible), they will ask how you know you are attracted to children, and it may be difficult for them to believe or accept your attractions.
What will go through most people’s minds is not the trolling you see on the internet, or the horror stories you read about. You see people doing their best to show love and support. It may be scary to come out, and in some situations it may not be possible, but in my experience, in most cases, it goes very positively.
I think MAPs tend to see coming out as this huge risk where people might never speak to them again, and in my experience, that hardly ever happens. While some people will need time and resources to take in the information, coming out is usually safe when you are surrounded by people who care about you.