As an early teen in the 1980s, I started to realise I might be different. I pulled the large family dictionary off the shelf and looked up the word “paedophile.” The definition: “child molester.”

I went back into denial for a while.

I knew I was attracted to little girls. I also knew didn’t want to pursue them sexually, but I had never heard of someone like me who kept their desires in check. I had no role model for such things. Later I told a few friends. They were disturbed, concerned, not very supportive. But one friend told me about the Reverend Charles Dodgson, pen name Lewis Carroll. And he loaned me a video tape of the 1985 film “Dream Child.”

Self Portrait by Charles Dodgson, 1856

Dodgson told fanciful stories to a little girl named Alice and her sisters which featured Alice in them, and they later became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He made friends with a lot of children, but Alice seems to have been his favorite. He was perhaps the world’s first amateur photographer, and took lots of pictures of her. There is a lot of speculation of whether he was in love with her.

I bought several books and became convinced that he was in love with her. That he was someone who had attractions to little girls and did not act on them. Though long dead, he became my role model.

Alice Liddell, 1861

In the film “Dream Child,” an old Alice remembers her time with him while on her one trip to the United States. She also remembers the stories as if she herself had been in them, with help from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Looking back, she sees how much he loved her. I still cry when I watch that film.

It makes sense to me now that I had not heard of many paedophiles who never hurt children. We tend to live quiet lives, not announcing our attractions to the world, for our own safety and the safety of our loved ones. I recently discovered a group called Virtuous Pedophiles, and now I know there are a lot of us out there. It is great to be able to give and receive support and just talk to people who understand. But I will always be thankful to the Reverend Charles Dodgson, and to the friend who introduced me to him.