“You can ruin my life when this show is over.”
June 20, 2015 1:12 PM   Subscribe

"He sent me long emails about how I was a tool of the devil. I pictured him with two computer screens open — one for looking up scripture, and another to Mapquest the location of his next bathroom rendezvous. We were never going to have the cool kind of gay dad." Why I Answered My Dad's Gay Sex Ad by Aussa Lorens
posted by The Whelk (85 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite


 
I always wondered what it would be like to grow up as a kid of somebody who wrote Christian family self-help books. This sounds about like what I imagined. It almost destroyed her, but she got out in the end.

I wonder who her father is.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:33 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


A) One heck of a story

B) I too wonder who her father is.

C) It's hardly fitting with the grim tone, but I love the artwork in the article. Nice, clean, & slightly cartoonish.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:36 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some people always need to feel like they win every conflict or "get one over on the other guy." This guy thinks he's getting one over on both his god and his family. It's no way to live, and I feel sorry for the people he dominates without consent. Kudos to Aussa Lorens for getting out.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:44 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I assume that we shouldn't actually try to figure out who this guy is, even though it's hard not to wonder.
posted by jepler at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can try, if it's important to you. It would be better if you didn't share what you find out with us.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


Her behavior is almost as disturbing as his. How is his private sex life that his wife knows about something that his children should be researching to the point of creating detailed cross-tabulated spreadsheets about it?
posted by winna at 1:52 PM on June 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yes, she admits that her obsession went over the top. But I'm willing to give her a pass on breaching his privacy in that way--especially since according to Lorens he was still lying to his wife about his actual sexual behavior, just not about his orientation.
posted by col_pogo at 1:54 PM on June 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


How is his private sex life that his wife knows about something that his children should be researching to the point of creating detailed cross-tabulated spreadsheets about it?

Because her father is publicly spouting bigotry against gay people and writing books telling others how to run their marriages and families while picking up gay teenagers.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2015 [101 favorites]


Also, this guy wasn't just Joe Citizen quietly living a double life. He published Christian parenting books that portrayed his family life as a model for others' while lying to his wife (and children). I'm not going to say she didn't take things a bit far, but if you make your ostensible sexual orientation part of your public persona, you can't then turn around and start claiming it's your private business when the truth comes to light.
posted by axiom at 1:58 PM on June 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yeah, his wife did not actually know about her husband's activities. What she knew was the version he told her, and the daughter gave up when she realized her mom wasn't ever going to let herself know the truth.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:58 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


lso, this guy wasn't just Joe Citizen quietly living a double life.

Isn't just Joe Citizen quietly living a double life, presumably.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:06 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


The REAL monster here is the young woman who was gaslighted by her narcissistic father! #slatepitches
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:06 PM on June 20, 2015 [34 favorites]


I'm confused as to why she didn't publish his name. It doesn't sound like there's much of a relationship to salvage.
posted by bracems at 2:09 PM on June 20, 2015


Her behavior is almost as disturbing as his.

It is, but I blame that on him too. When you have reality staring you plain in the face, and someone is blatantly gaslighting you about it, it's pretty understandable to become obsessed with getting them to acknowledge reality.
posted by fatbird at 2:09 PM on June 20, 2015 [48 favorites]


She was exposing a lie, and invaded someone's privacy in the course of doing so.

He was living a lie, publishing books about the lie, gaslighting his wife and children in order to protect the lie, trapping his wife into a sham marriage to protect the lie, causing his daughter physical medical problems because the lie was causing her so much stress, and driving a wedge between his children and their mother in order to protect the lie.

Their actions were not even on the same plane.
posted by bracems at 2:22 PM on June 20, 2015 [67 favorites]


Father knows best goes west.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:25 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Her behavior is almost as disturbing as his. How is his private sex life that his wife knows about something that his children should be researching to the point of creating detailed cross-tabulated spreadsheets about it?

I can absolutely understand why she tried to catalogue all the evidence about her father's continued hidden sex life. Although it had unhealthy effects on her, it's not something I can condemn in the least. To be told by your parents that what you had seen with your own eyes wasn't true, to be accused of lying and making things up and being a "sinner" yourself when you're just trying to get someone to take responsibility for their own deceptive and hypocritical behaviour--I mean she was fighting back against being gaslighted. But yeah, I felt really bad for her that the obsession had such a profoundly negative effect on her life. I just don't see it as something one could criticize her for.

Her father sounds like a hateful piece of work. There is a small but devout contingent of evangelical Christians in the town where I grew up, on the edges of my province's bible belt. They are aaaaaaalllllllll about the "family values" American evangelical authors like James Dobson etc. who write the kind of bullshit Aussa Loren's father writes/wrote. I wonder how many of them followed this guy's writing obsessively.

A recent postscript from her blog (which is pretty interesting in its own right): Nothing Causes Family Drama Like A Wedding:
We’re all aware I’m pretty much living a fairytale over here, so it should come as no surprise that my dear Mother had an absolutely adorable response when I told her I’m getting married.

She told me to go to therapy.

It wasn’t immediate—she listened as I detailed our plans for the venue, the date, and the honeymoon. It was when I mentioned my four older brothers would walk me down the aisle that her face twisted in shock, hurt, and outrage. She didn’t even have to say it, it was obvious what she was thinking:

“I can’t believe you don’t want your lying, piece of shite pedophile father to walk you down the aisle.”

Or something like that. Obviously I am the worst daughter ever.

I emphasized that I very much wanted her to be there and for her to be the Mother of the Bride– even though none of my brothers speak to her.

“If anyone has a problem with that, it’s their problem. Not your problem, not my problem, and they can learn to deal with their own problems.”

She didn’t seem to hear me, but immediately launched into a long tirade about how much I was going to hurt my father—I was his only daughter, didn’t I understand that?

“I think that if you would just sit down and talk to him, all of this could be cleared up,” she said. ”You’ve never really given him a chance.”
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:32 PM on June 20, 2015 [27 favorites]


So sad to have the mom get suckered over and over again until it's pretty clear that no amount of evidence will ever be enough to make her believe that her husband is having tons of planned, secretive gay sex, because it seems like she thinks that forgiveness somehow annuls evidence.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:36 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Note about her blog: there is something wacky with the way the internal links are working (e.g. to previous posts)--if you replace the beginning of each URL (string of numbers/~aussalorens) with just "aussalorens.com", it works.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:37 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


How is his private sex life that his wife knows about something that his children should be researching to the point of creating detailed cross-tabulated spreadsheets about it?

If for no other reason than that he's having sex with minors.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:48 PM on June 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yup and it's probably an unhealthy dynamic with each 17 y/o that does his "conquests" no favors in the long run, either. I can only hope his encounters are largely one-off vs. grooming creepy evil shit.

Even if he wasn't a hypocritical author I would say the daughter is entirely justified. There's a chance she had some narcissistic tendencies too, you can't really blame a child for inheriting them, and "had" to save her mother out of some desire to "fix" her, because it did kind of seem like mom was in an obviously huge level of denial this whole time and was basically trying to get daughter to stop digging. And mom telling daughter "don't worry I'm done with him after XYZ just kidding" is a classic pattern too
posted by aydeejones at 3:01 PM on June 20, 2015


If for no other reason than that he's having sex with minors.

I hope people got to this point. It's not just that he's a public hypocrite. It's that he's alleging he's a pedophile. The headline is misleading.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


(Justified because gaslighting and minors and an urge to inform her brothers and help her mother, even if it's really a competitive need to "win" the competition is driven by abusive gaslighting)
posted by aydeejones at 3:03 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wife/mother stated that she knew the guy was gay quite soon after they married. My feeling is that during the first "I found out Dad is gay!" conversation, the writer's mother was as much playing a role as the father was playing the role when he swore he had never actually had sex with the guys he contacted.

My guess is that Mom's role is as important to her as the father's role is important to him. She needs to be horrified at women who would put their kids in daycare. She needs to be the perfect mother whose reaction to a non-perfect husband is to go into protective mode towards her daughter. It's the kids who want her to be "poor mother who believed Dad's lies." But the kids are more willing to buy into her role of The Perfect Mother than they are to buy into Dad's role of The Perfect Father.

I'm only sad that the roles of Perfect Christian Parents caused them to cast stones at other sinners. Other than that, hey, a double life is fun.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:11 PM on June 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


For "gas lighting", read "trying desperately to keep a secret he was deeply ashamed of". The closet is toxic.

Im sure her father is an asshole, and that this was incredibly disturbing for the author but the way she responded was totally creepy and violating.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 3:37 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Because her father is publicly spouting bigotry against gay people and writing books telling others how to run their marriages and families while picking up gay teenagers.
Mmm-hmm. And if you believe she should have dealt with his public behavior, then she should have publicly exposed him, or taken some action that actually forced him to stop, like at least making a credible threat to publicly expose him.

But she was apparently only interested in convincing her mother.

So, sorry, no. The claimed justification is not consistent with her actual actions.
posted by Hizonner at 3:53 PM on June 20, 2015


I'm flabbergasted that anyone could sympathize with this hateful hypocrite and the torment he's put his family through to preserve his façade of sanctimony. Who wouldn't emerge unhinged from such a damaging environment?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:14 PM on June 20, 2015 [19 favorites]


#notallpedofiles!
posted by futz at 4:20 PM on June 20, 2015


I'm guessing that the not outing the father has to do with her not writing under the name she was born with--at least, like, cursory Googling suggested that there's no well-known Christian writer named Lorens. Which would mean that outing her father would also out her, which would potentially be damaging to her own career. I don't think anybody is ever, ever, ever responsible for the bad behavior of their parents when dealing with it would have had negative repercussions to their own lives. You're allowed to take care of yourself first. She's allowed to talk about going through all this even if she's not at a point in her life where she's willing or able to take on the risks to herself of outing him, in just the same fashion as abuse victims are not required to be up to going to court or going public without being culpable for the acts of their abusers. Children are not responsible for sacrificing their own futures to deal with their parents' behavior, whether it's abusive, unethical, or illegal. It's good when they can do something, but it's not obligatory.
posted by Sequence at 4:23 PM on June 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Man, she was a kid when this started up. A kid, growing up in America when AOL was hip and new, so gay issues weren't exactly mainstream. And we're mad that she didn't take responsibility for outing her respected-author father? Sure it's creepy to install a keylogger on a family computer. But the whole situation is creepy.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:30 PM on June 20, 2015


There wasn't necessarily any requirement on her to have done anything in particular. I'm not saying she had any responsibility at all to out her father.

But outing her father would have been the most obvious way to address what DarlingBri suggested as a justification. Whereas what she actually did didn't address it at all. Nor did she say those were her actual reasons. She said that she was trying to get her mother to acknowledge her father's behavior, and that she then became obsessed.

Personally, if I'd been her, I would probably have just walked away from her parents. But of course I wasn't raised by those people, and my actual parents probably helped a lot with the sense of independence that would enable me to consider such a thing.

What she did is totally understandable... but not the ideal thing to have done, regardless of whether you think she had any obligation to do anything at all.
posted by Hizonner at 4:32 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Secretly, my mom continued telling me she planned to leave him after my brother’s wedding. Then autumn passed and a miracle occurred.

“He’s healed now,” she said. “He no longer struggles with…that.”

I tried to use the word “gay” again but she shushed me. I asked what word better described a man who snuck off to have sex with men while his wife and kids thought he was at work. This only made her angry.

“Your lack of forgiveness is very ugly.”


The mother clearly understands what a terrible thing it is to live a life under the weight of all these lies, but then seems perfectly happy to turn around and try to inflict that suffering on her own children.

But she was apparently only interested in convincing her mother.

Given the above, it's quite understandable that's what she was interested in.

But yeah, her actions were not doing anything to combat the public hate-mongering her father was engaged in and kind of serves as a post-hoc justification, even though he's keepin' on keepin' on when he knows all his kids know.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:34 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Her behavior might have been over-the-too but I really wish she would have gone to the cops when she discovered he wasn't gay but actually a pedophile. Who knows how many children he may have victimized while she tried to convince her mother he was simply gay. He's not gay - he's a criminal.
posted by photoslob at 4:43 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


you could ask the same question of the mother, and her brothers too at this point tho, couldn't you photoslob?

Can you not put yourself in her place for one moment and consider why she might not want to do this? For some information on how human beings might feel in this situation, consider Sequence's fine comment a few comments back.
posted by some loser at 4:47 PM on June 20, 2015


[One comment deleted. If you actually think something's hinky, drop us a line at the contact form, but otherwise don't level weird accusations at other people in the thread. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2015


photoslob: "He's not gay - he's a criminal."

Is that because of the "seventeen-year-old named Rex?" That would be legal in a lot of states. I don't know which state she lives in.
posted by RobotHero at 5:06 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a hell of a thing, to have to reprocess fond memories through the prism of what you later know was actually happening at the time.

On her blog, Lorens throws this out there:

Some of my fondest memories as a child are from the evenings when my father would take me and my four older brothers to a certain park downtown. It had a huge red slide that took years for me to gather the courage to go down. There were all sorts of inappropriate things carved into the plastic sides of the jungle gym and the kids in the area always seemed a little rough. But it was fun because my father would leave us alone to play by ourselves while he did a few laps around the walking track.

Or so we thought.

Fast forward to when I’m 19 years old, telling my brothers about a certain dirty little secret I’ve been keeping about our family, and my brother’s immediate response is “Wait, he used to tell us to stay on the playground while he went and talked to some other men."

We googled the playground and the first page of results were full of all the public solicitation sting operations that had gone on there. Apparently our dad used to take us to the city’s most well-known gay park so we could play on the monkey bars while he boinked random strangers in the tall grass. Makes you kind of second guess your childhood memories, doesn’t it?

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:11 PM on June 20, 2015 [20 favorites]


My deepest, darkest, childhood memory was the algae at the bottom of the deep end, at Moxley's Pool, well, and the rest of it. Brilliant kids, first of all have a hard time with believing, rather than knowing. Then to add processing hypocrisy on top of that. Obviously, Mom had a comfortable life, she was not going to give up, for truth, morality, family or any other intangible. She was about tangibles and keeping up pretenses. You have to wonder what she enjoyed, to the extent she was willing to play pretend Christian, and sham wife? Sham Wow! Sham on her.

Looks like a life well lived is still the best revenge.
posted by Oyéah at 5:42 PM on June 20, 2015


I don't think this is about whether the father was gay or not. His secret, and willingness to deny it to everyone over and over (in the face of massive evidence), and his wife's acceptance of that fact, IS. I'm about to become a gay parent. I'm not naive enough to say I'll tell my kid the truth about everything (see Calvin and Hobbes), but the fact I love their Mom? And don't cheat on her? Yeah. I'll tell 'em that.
posted by triage_lazarus at 5:54 PM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Boy there's a special kind of tingling fury that rises up when you listen to smug liars who self righteously throw everything back on the accuser. I got the same feeling watching a Lance Armstrong documentary last month.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:06 PM on June 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


Is that because of the "seventeen-year-old named Rex?" That would be legal in a lot of states. I don't know which state she lives in.

No. It's because of her discovering his original emails when she was in middle school and mentioning that some of the boys looked to be about her same age.
posted by photoslob at 6:19 PM on June 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


Oh, I did not connect those dots.
posted by RobotHero at 6:36 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I can't find the link to the specific Risk podcast episode about a woman meeting her father in an online kink chatroom. Might be a curious adjacent story.
posted by stevil at 6:55 PM on June 20, 2015


Christian homophobia damaged the father, who in turn damaged his daughter. I see two victims, and little else to debate about this.
posted by polymodus at 7:12 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Christian homophobia damaged the father, who in turn damaged his daughter. I see two victims, and little else to debate about this.

Well, there's also her brothers and her mother and the other young men he apparently victimized (if what she's saying is true). I'm not sure I see the reason to debate, but I'm also not sure how you can put him in the same category as the rest. The closet is certainly toxic, but does that mean he gets a pass for what he does to others as an adult?
posted by frumiousb at 7:49 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, for those of you questioning her behaviour, there's a pretty natural desire in kids to have at least one good parent and to create one in their own minds if one is not apparent. It's pretty common for kids in a toxic household to decide one parent is the "good" parent and to try to rescue them. Her mother was clearly part of the problem, but it's pretty hard to know that as a kid. I know I would have gone to any kinds of lengths to rescue one of my parents, if I thought truth could set them free.
posted by frumiousb at 7:54 PM on June 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'm flabbergasted that anyone could sympathize with this hateful hypocrite and the torment he's put his family through to preserve his façade of sanctimony.

I think it's quite possible to empathize with someone and still judge their behavior as despicable. In this case, this man is clearly so filled with self-loathing that it infects his relationship with everyone else. How can you respect others when you don't respect yourself?
posted by Slothrup at 8:30 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


The closet sure has wrecked a lot of men's lives. It's terribly sad. He's a despicable person for the religious nonsense and screwing his family over. But I've known other men trapped in his position and always have a little sympathy for them, too. This terrible repression has to stop, for everyone's health.
posted by Nelson at 8:32 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


as someone who is hella queer and grew up in a super religious home, i don't buy that being in the closet makes people seek out underage partners.
posted by nadawi at 10:03 PM on June 20, 2015 [29 favorites]


"Addresses and photos were being exchanged. Some of the boys looked my age." (author was in middle school)

The topic of the week on the site where this story is posted is "Daddy Dearest". It is not a story about a gay man whose life is ruined by being trapped in the closet. It is a story about child abuse.

Previously, not even a week ago, most of the comments in the "my dad is in jail for possession of child porn" thread were all about what a monster her father was and how it was hard to understand how she could even think about forgiving him. I don't recall it saying the child porn he possessed was of girls (and, super-obviously, if it was or it wasn't, so what)?

This author's father is gay, yes, but so what? He had the addresses and pictures of middle-school-age-appearing children on his computer, his kids caught him trying to hook up with a 17 year old, and when confronted, both parents are immensely terrible, emotionally abusive parents in the way they go about handling it. Which, when your kids confront you with evidence that you are a pedophile and/or married to and enabling a pedophile, I guess you made your bed a long time time ago, so what are you gonna do? It's not just morally horrible, it's also a criminal offense.
posted by shiawase at 3:12 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The writer calls her father gay and writes about trying to out him to her mother as gay, and not as pedophile. It's not actually clear if the guy is pedo or not. He could easily have been attracted to the category called Barely Legal. She says that her father sneaks away to have sex with men, not that he sneaks away to have sex with teenagers, let alone saying that he sneaks away to try seduce boys.

What I notice is how tremendously judgmental the whole family is. There is no sense that "isn't it nice that Dad is getting some loving on the side and Mom is good with this" Of course I grew up with non-monogamous parents, so I remember my Dad approving of my mother having extra-marital partners and my expectations of tolerance and admiration are unrealistic. To me having a gay family member is something to celebrate, along with celebrating because we have a graduate, or a straight family member, or that somebody finished writing a 600,000 word role playing game.

Of course the Dad could be pedo, and the daughter in denial about this when she calls him gay and refers to him having sex with men instead of boys. But until she re-phrases the way she describes her father I am going to go with the label she chooses. And if the daughter is in denial it would be no surprises as denial is something her family does very well indeed.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:23 AM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Did you read the same article as me? Mom was not "good with it" she was deep, deep in denial about it in order to protect her self image and her social position. There's a difference. There's a difference between having an open relationship and lying and manipulating in order to hide your affairs.
posted by bracems at 5:57 AM on June 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is the centerpiece of the article:
"My brother reminded him he was there to have sex with a minor.
'Why does it give you such joy to believe I’m a monster?' my dad asked. 'I came here because I knew you were trying to trap me. I would never actually do anything like this.'
They tried to tell him how stupid he sounded, but he held up his hand like a martyr.
'I’m not going to listen to all of this hatred. I’ve been forgiven and healed. You need to deal with your own sin.'"

But until she re-phrases the way she describes her father I am going to go with the label she chooses.

I'm not. I'm going to go with the one she describes him as actually being. (...the two actually, the other being"emotionally abusive") .
posted by shiawase at 7:26 AM on June 21, 2015


as someone who is hella queer and grew up in a super religious home, i don't buy that being in the closet makes people seek out underage partners.

And also probably worth pointing out that Mel White spent years zealously toiling in the belly of the beast that is the Christian right hate machine, doing writing that would seem to be on par with the shit Loren's father is cranking out.

The outcome he chose to create (for himself and his ex-wife and children) couldn't be more different than the one Loren's father has chosen to inflict on his family and his underage conquests.

So I'm not so sanguine on the father's choice of hookups. At minimum, he's creepy as fuck, and it's not the closet that's done that.

The more I reflect on it, the more I think it's a case of the author saying "And all of the above, dear reader, is why my father is a piece-of-shit human being and parent," which seems like a pretty fair opinion for her to hold.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:27 AM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


What I notice is how tremendously judgmental the whole family is. There is no sense that "isn't it nice that Dad is getting some loving on the side and Mom is good with this" Of course I grew up with non-monogamous parents, so I remember my Dad approving of my mother having extra-marital partners and my expectations of tolerance and admiration are unrealistic. To me having a gay family member is something to celebrate, along with celebrating because we have a graduate, or a straight family member, or that somebody finished writing a 600,000 word role playing game.

I grew up with the Jewish, pre-Internet version of a dad like this. He met men in the gay porn section of the local bookstore and my mom found out by catching an std from him (not AIDS, thank god). This article is like a weird parallel universe for me and I'm left wondering whether it would have been better or worse for me to have found out first and told my mom. Maybe she wouldn't have had the std but then I'd probably be even more fucked up than I am. And the comment quoted above....I can't even....no.
posted by hazyjane at 9:18 AM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Of course the Dad could be pedo, and the daughter in denial about this when she calls him gay and refers to him having sex with men instead of boys. But until she re-phrases the way she describes her father I am going to go with the label she chooses.

From the recent post on her personal blog that I quoted above:
[My mother] didn’t even have to say it, it was obvious what she was thinking:

“I can’t believe you don’t want your lying, piece of shite pedophile father to walk you down the aisle.”

Or something like that. Obviously I am the worst daughter ever.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:31 AM on June 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Although her blog's name (Hacker.Ninja.Hooker.Spy) and tagline (I don't make good choices, but I do have good stories) suggest it's calculated for distinctiveness, I still appreciated Loren's honesty vis-a-vis the ethically questionable aspects of her sleuthing, e.g., the keylogger, leaving the bathroom window open to facilitate sneaking into the house, etc.

Loren's narrative holds that all four older brothers bought into both her method (spy craft) and her motivation (save Mom!). Could they (or a subset) have been motivated by the hope that finding and presenting definitive proof would enable their sister to stop obsessing? The brothers don't to the mother anymore, per the wedding planning blog entry linked above: they've moved on. Years later, on the cusp of her wedding, these events are still the defining aspect of her life. That's understandable, but it's not healthy.
posted by carmicha at 12:07 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


He could easily have been attracted to the category called Barely Legal.

can we please stop pretending that it is not creepy and wrong for old dudes to be into "this is edgy because the people in it are ALMOST too young to legally consent"? i seriously doubt anyone is into "Barely Legal", they're into people who are too young to consent, and they're skirting the edge of what is acceptable.

as to the gay vs. pedophile thing, when you have a religion/culture that conflates all "sexual sin" the same way, you end up with people who are actually pedophiles hiding behind the "gay" label because that way they get to pretend that they are just struggling with a religious thing that doesn't harm anything but their relationship with their god.
posted by NoraReed at 12:29 PM on June 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


If my dad was gaslighting me this hard about being something he devoted considerable time and energy to persecuting as a part of his profession, you better believe I would scrape up every bit of evidence I could. I think that's a very fair response to "no you see YOU are the one who is delusional/looking for reasons to think I'm a monster" for years and years while watching him bellow from the rooftops about how awful homosexuality is. Just for the sake of one's own sanity, the effort alone is worth it.

That's the lose-lose situation of gaslighting, I guess: either let someone convince you you're crazy, or go to great lengths to uncover their obfuscation and be accused of being "obsessive".
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:53 PM on June 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


"Can we please stop pretending that it is not creepy and wrong for old dudes to be into "this is edgy because the people in it are ALMOST too young to legally consent"? i seriously doubt anyone is into "Barely Legal", they're into people who are too young to consent, and they're skirting the edge of what is acceptable."

This is a real tricky subject. Real tricky.

There are people who believe that two fourteen-year-olds who have sex together are evil and bad because kids that age should be pure and not disobey their parents and have sex. Used to be it wasn't legal either. Kids sometimes got put in prison for it, generally under the catch all terms of "incorrigible" or "juvenile delinquent.' In fact, there were kids who got sent to prison for having been sexually active when the other person was jailed for forcibly raping them because well, they were no longer pure enough to be around good kids. (I am thinking 1950's through 1960's US and Canada)

Used to be that girls hit puberty a lot later than they do now, and started working a lot earlier. For example if you started work at 14 during the 1800's, a very common thing for girls working in domestic service and in factories, the odds were high that you wouldn't have had your first period yet when you became a self supporting adult. Believe it or not, it was common for African American girls in the US to not get their first period until they were twenty. They were so badly nourished that their puberty was delayed that long. Right now there are so many African American girls hitting puberty at about nine that it is no longer defined as precocious puberty, just as starting earlier than average.

Right now we live in a society where most people can get enough calories to lay down a fat layer around when they reach their teens so they hit puberty around that same time. It is no longer possible to instantly and automatically tell a twelve-year-old apart from a twenty-year old by looking at her breasts. They might both have breasts that appear full sized and don't sag yet.

Two guys are eating lunch at a food court in the mall and people watching. A beautiful female walks by.

Guy #1: "That girl is hot!"
Guy #2: "I know her. She's fourteen."
Guy #1: "Ewwwwwwww!"

In my experience there are a LOT of guys out there who are attracted to the same beautiful flawless skin they see on models in the media, and they want their female partner to be sexual exclusive with them. And they like healthy women. And they like breasts and a butt and a girl who is just a little bit smaller than they are.

Which means that when they see a kid of a certain age they see someone sexually attractive. Not old enough to have had lots of partners/rivals/cuckold me. Young enough to have perfect skin. (Except model perfect skin is actually an indicator of prepuberty. Puberty brings blotches and big pores. However for some reason having a bad complexion and body hair is not considered mainstream attractive.) Old enough to have breasts. Guys get turned on by the girl not because of her age so much as despite it. What attracts them is newly-old-enough, not not-old-enough.

I mean, there are more guys in the baby-boom generation per capita than there are in the thirteen-to twenty age range, and yet there is not a preponderance of porn depicting women in their fifties through their seventies. Most porn has to be being bought by guys who are older than the models. They can't all be pedophiles, can they? I think it is nubility that attracts most men on the purely endocrine level. Nubility, incidentally does not mean old-enough-to-fuck but old-enough-to-marry.

Of course there are also guys out there who do want not-old-enough-to-marry, and they are no doubt frequently settling for models with ID on file proving they are age eighteen and fantasizing that the model is younger, since that's the closest type of easily available porn they can get. But my belief is still that the cohort that likes just-old-enough is bigger than the cohort that likes not-old-enough.

As far as I can see, if you were attracted by a fourteen-year-old back when you were fourteen, you are a pedophile. Period. I base this on the fact that when I was fourteen I was most physically attracted by guys who were about thirty, maybe thirty-five and my basic wiring hasn't changed. I still find guys in this age range the most physically beautiful and desirable. Now, I know that this is empirical and anecdata, so I am willing to debate that people's sexuality can change - but if people can change their sexuality because what they formerly felt was hot is no longer socially appropriate then why isn't there a cure for being gay?

I believe that most guys are fairly decent people who don't want to make anyone miserable and don't want to get into legal trouble and feel most socially comfortable with someone in their own age range, so although their wiring may make them attracted to a thirteen-year-old, they would be sickened and horrified at the thought of making out with one, not to mention being stulifyingly bored at having to engage one in conversation for any length of time.

I don't know about the Perfect Christian Father in the post. Maybe he does want boys instead of young men. It seems to me that if he were more pedo than gay he would have been looking at sites that are about boys, such as the Boy Scout's appeal for volunteers webpage as opposed to gay hook-up sites. The assumption on a hook-up site is that you make your own profile and decide whether or not to meet up or not and that you are horny when you do it, all of which is a decent sort of tool to screen for consent and maturity.

It strikes me that his cover up and denial is deep enough that if he did want boys rather than young men he would have been looking for boys. But of course it's also possible that when he typed some repulsive key words into his search engine nothing came up, so he was settling for the hook-ups instead.

What I don't get is the depth of the damage that the revelation of her father's secret sex life did to her. "I hid the secret inside of me but it began to take a toll. First there were blinding headaches so intense I’d be curled up on the bathroom floor, hugging the toilet. Mom took me to a doctor and he told me I had migraines. The next year I began to suffer from excruciating stomach pain that left me unable to eat. Mom took me to a doctor and he told me I had ulcers. After that, my hair began to fall out. My body turned against me and refused to give me my period. Every month my Mom would buy more tampons and I’d hide them in the bathroom cabinet with a year’s worth of unopened boxes. She eventually took me to another doctor and he told me I had depression. We stopped going to doctors."

Whoa, all this because she looked at a few porn sites over one afternoon?? Migraines, inability to eat, hair falling out, dysmenorrhea?

I dunno why she is so obsessed with her Dad's sexual purity as usually in those families it is the other way around. Perhaps her extreme physiological reaction was not so much because of his sexuality but because of the entire lie the family lived - the one where the father made up fantasies about holding his little girl on his lap and playing football with his sons. These are things that directly impacted her. But it is a lot harder to say, "My father lied when he said that he held me on his lap and cried tears of gratitude to God for giving him such a perfect little girl." than it is to say, "My father has a secret sex life!" Besides, the second one sells better.

To me the damage was done to her by his lying about the nature of his relationship with her. The family has consistently been claiming that the parents are the Perfect Christian Father and Mother while not even putting in the effort to spent ten minutes tossing a football around on the lawn once or twice. The gas-lighting, the projection, the authoritarianism, the psychotically bad grip on reality - those are the things that I think caused the daughter the pain and anger that led to what sounds like a very sensible estrangement.

But it is easier to focus outrage on his sex life than it is to find validation if she were to only complain that while yes, he provided her with everything she needed materially, emotionally he was so narcissistic and delusional that he devastated her. By putting the focus on his sex life she can gain support from both the Moral Majority who will blame him for having non-vanilla sexuality and from the people who get indignant about how those hypocritical Christians behave. I don't doubt that his actions did wound her, but not the fact of his being gay.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:16 PM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Between this and the other recent FPP touching on closeted William F. Buckley, not to mention other semi-recent history ("wide stance," etc.), I wonder how much of the right wing in the US is driven by this sort of thing, and to what degree things will improve with better acceptance of gays.
posted by exogenous at 3:50 PM on June 21, 2015


As far as I can see, if you were attracted by a fourteen-year-old back when you were fourteen, you are a pedophile. Period. I base this on the fact that when I was fourteen I was most physically attracted by guys who were about thirty, maybe thirty-five and my basic wiring hasn't changed.

Your basis is bad. For instance, I've been watching the first documentary in the Up Series, filmed in 1964, which is about seven-year-olds. One of 'em has a girlfriend. Those two kids aren't knocking boots, but ithey're certainly in a privileged relationship of choice. A good friend of mine has noted that as she has gotten older, the particular actors she's found attractive in films has changed - young dudes look too young, older dudes look better. So yeah - there's some anecdata in the opposite direction, and I'm going to say that you're a) being ridiculously you specific, and b) coming a bit dangerously close to normalizing pedophilia in a very gross way.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:02 PM on June 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


i am constantly amazed by the amount of words people are willing to spend on defending and normalizing the creepy sexual fixations men have on children
posted by NoraReed at 4:16 PM on June 21, 2015 [33 favorites]


But it is a lot harder to say, "My father lied when he said that he held me on his lap and cried tears of gratitude to God for giving him such a perfect little girl." than it is to say, "My father has a secret sex life!" Besides, the second one sells better.

This is such an unbelievably shitty thing to say and runs counter to the actual reasons she gave in the article, e.g., that he was actively crusading on the evangelical homophobia bandwagon, alienating his own wife and children with this duplicity, gaslighting his kids and cruising for underage boys.

Speaking of which,

I mean, there are more guys in the baby-boom generation per capita than there are in the thirteen-to twenty age range, and yet there is not a preponderance of porn depicting women in their fifties through their seventies. Most porn has to be being bought by guys who are older than the models. They can't all be pedophiles, can they? I think it is nubility that attracts most men on the purely endocrine level.

I don't know if you've looked at any porn made after the early 2000s, but there is very much a preponderance of middle-aged amateur porn made by consenting, informed adults, being freely shared. I am also baffled at this "purely endocrine level" defense. Yep, can't blame the men, they're just victims of evolutionary maps; not consumers from a skeezy industrial porn machine.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:11 PM on June 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is an excellent, tightly written piece that works on a lot of levels, but there's one section that seems to point in a direction that's never followed up:
I’ve read the books he wrote about my early childhood and wondered who this man was that claimed to have held me on his lap. I don’t remember these touching moments, nor do I recall any of the stories about him tossing a football with my brothers in the front yard.

That’s why it was strange when he suddenly started paying attention to me. It was the mid-‘90s and the Internet was still something you had to access with dial-up and a shrink-wrapped CD from AOL. Any time I’d walk in while he was on the computer he’d immediately turn to face me.

“Hey there,” he’d say, “how was school?”

I could hear the telltale sound of the mouse clicking to minimize a screen.

Dad had a secret. [emphasis added]
What was the source of his interest and how did it manifest itself?

The crux of the drama is whether her mother will believe her or the father, and despite absolute proof to the contrary, her mother believes him and not her -- but she told her truth and everybody else does believe her, yet the essay concludes in surprisingly despairing tones:
This was the last time I ever tried to convince my mom of anything. I’d become so obsessed with trying to save her that I’d almost lost myself.

. . . Mom continued to run his PR campaign and still smiles happily on the jacket cover next to the line that describes him as a proud father of five.
What was left for her to try to convince her mother of?
posted by jamjam at 5:23 PM on June 21, 2015


i am constantly amazed by the amount of words people are willing to spend on defending and normalizing the creepy sexual fixations men have on children

No one here is trying to defend or normalize pedophilia, and characterizing it this way is pretty crappy. We're trying to untangle a complicated narrative via an unreliable narrator with a lot of problematic aspects. That doesn't mean anyone is okay with molesting children.
posted by fatbird at 5:30 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Equating being closeted with going for young boys is a manifestation of homophobia. There is a long long history of saying that a reason being gay is bad is that they're all pedophiles. That attitude is still pervasively ingrained in culture. If you are finding yourself feeling like his actions are the fault of being in the closet, you are tacitly accepting that gay = pedophile. More than likely this is completely subconscious, and you would be abhorred if someone were to say that out loud. But any excuse or sympathy for his behaviour along those lines acts to reinforce that homophobic stereotype. It's not supportive of gay people, it is a microaggression against them. Please reflect on why you think being gay is an excuse for sleeping with teenagers.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:48 PM on June 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


No one here is trying to defend or normalize pedophilia, and characterizing it this way is pretty crappy.

Did you read Jane the Brown's long-ass, evotruthy, and only on-topic by the most generous of estimations, comment? Because I don't particularly care if she's trying to defend or normalize pedophilia, but it is what that kind of comment contributes to.
posted by NoraReed at 5:57 PM on June 21, 2015 [18 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks that this story is fake? *scans thread* Looks like I am. But friends, this piece just screams "fake memoir" at me. This is Rachel Dolezal/James Frey stuff. This never happened.

Here is the first passage to set off my bullshit detector:

Once he finished, I pretended I wanted to get on Instant Messenger. Instead, I downloaded a hacker program that secretly logged all encrypted keystrokes on our family computer.

Wait--a middle school student in the era of AOL gets a few moments alone on her dad's computer and is able to instantly install a keystroke logger?

I hid the secret inside of me but it began to take a toll. First there were blinding headaches so intense I’d be curled up on the bathroom floor, hugging the toilet. Mom took me to a doctor and he told me I had migraines....my hair began to fall out.

That feels really melodramatic and unlikely. Then the story fast forwards to the author in college.

I brought another spreadsheet I’d made to contrast his various trysts and online sexcapades with things like “this was the night we watched ‘White Christmas’” or “this was when he emailed me a Bible verse about the hardness of my heart.” I thought I could persuade my mom by charting his exchange of dick pics next to her housework schedule.

Cute, but no. Not plausible.

Several years later my father was arrested for trying to have sex with an undercover police officer in a local park. The news ran his mug shot and he was forced to retire from his high-powered job.

Too pat. Above all, this story fits way too easily into the genre of "bad things we wish to believe about our opponents." Hypocritical gay-bashing gay fundamentalist pastor? We on the left eat that shit up.

I have no proof beyond instinct, but I will guarantee you this story is fake.
posted by LarryC at 11:20 PM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know, LarryC, I noticed some of the same implausible stuff. Her parents were also such dramatic stock characters, too. They just simply didn't read as real to me, though god knows there are unbelievable real people and parents out there. She seems like a pretty prolific blogger, but I wonder. Maybe she mixed a little creative retelling in with the story?
posted by branravenraven at 1:06 AM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is a real tricky subject. Real tricky.

If what you're saying in that wall of text is that "pedophilia" is a technical term applying only to attraction to prepubescent children, and children often undergo puberty during middle school now, so therefore this dude getting the contact information of middle-schoolers with the hopes of having sex with them doesn't make him a pedophile.... then, fine, how about I just go with "baby fucker" instead? I can live with that.


i am constantly amazed by the amount of words people are willing to spend on defending and normalizing the creepy sexual fixations men have on children

Yep.


I have no proof beyond instinct, but I will guarantee you this story is fake.

Oh God, not this too.
I need to leave this thread, it's making me much too angry. And yet here I am, still engaging with it all, just like that author did. So, so not surprising or unrealistic even a little.
posted by shiawase at 1:20 AM on June 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm not saying that pedophilia doesn't exist, or the complicated and horrible family dynamic Aussa Lorens wrote that she grew up in. However, there were certain aspects about the article that seemed too convenient to me too, and very stock. I unequivocally reserve the right to question what I read. Maybe that is just her writing style, though, and again, that's not to say that crazy-shit-you-can't -write-in-fiction-that's-actually-true-because-it-is-too-unbelievable doesn't actually exist. No need to assume that questioning means some sort of overall denial of children's experiences growing up with pedophillic, religiously hypocritical fathers and mothers in severe denial. Because that definitely is real.
posted by branravenraven at 1:38 AM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


My angry "oh god" comment wasn't really directed at you so much, branravenraven, since you are at least giving her a pass on the basic truth claim of her article and only questioning some of the- let's face it, pretty weird- details.

That said though- and I know that you're not the one who brought it up in the first place, that you're attempting to engage in good faith, and that you're also not trying to be dismissive of the existence of the behaviors she's writing about in general- ....all that said though, still, picking the accounts of victims into piles of nothingness and silence is a big part of how society tolerates child abuse and rape while pretending to abhor them.

Pieces of her account may or may not be an exact perfect replication of what actually happened, but unless the story as a whole is substantially false, then she's a person working hard to overcome a really pretty horrible past, and the compassionate thing to do is to keep any judgements we may have about individual details to ourselves.
posted by shiawase at 2:40 AM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I have no evidence or reasoning whatsoever beyond pure emotional reaction but I call bullshit on this" is such a tired faux-criticism of the stories people share of their personal struggles and I really wish people would refrain from this kind of baseless threadshit.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:57 AM on June 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


I have no proof beyond instinct, but I will guarantee you this story is fake.

Count me among those who have no faith in your guarantee. Unless you are a mental-health professional or LEO or something of the sort, who has extensive experience with the extremes of human behavior, your instinct is not reliable here. People can be very, very weird.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:18 AM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, sad story for the author. She still sounds like she's searching for validation. Mom isn't going to listen because it would ruin her marriage and her job(housewifing). Dad is a creepy pedophile who sought out religion to cover his shame. He supports the creepy pedo-porn industry, molests underage guys, and fucks with his daughter's head. Nice. My view of humanity just keeps getting worse.
posted by theora55 at 7:42 AM on June 22, 2015


That mother..... so many people live in a hell of their own making.
posted by Gwynarra at 9:08 AM on June 22, 2015


My sincere apologies for those I have offended by questioning the veracity of this story.

I am sitting on my porch here in Spokane, where the progressive community (and my university) is still in shock over the Rachel Dolezal scandal. For years most of our community swallowed her stories hook, line and sinker. We did so because her lies were perfectly pitched to be pleasing and to reinforce the things we already believed. And all along there were doubters in the progressive community (particularly about the alleged hate crimes, which were always implausible), who mostly self-censored. Partly we did this from not wanting to strengthen the opponents of racial justice (of which there are many around here), partly from not wanting to be tarred as bigots ourselves, and sometimes just out of laziness. After all, you couldn't prove her stories were not true. And then--kaboom!--it blew up in all our faces. The Dolezal saga was quickly driven out of the national news cycle by darker events, but here in Spokane we will be feeling the fall out for years and years.

So what are we to do when someone on our side tells a compelling and unlikely story? Seriously, I am asking.
posted by LarryC at 12:42 PM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


is the person writing a blog post and not asking for you to support them in anyway? just let it go.

the mods are very much not going to want us to discuss the spokane issue, so all i'll say is the stakes are very different.
posted by nadawi at 12:47 PM on June 22, 2015


I can't think of a way to say this clearly that doesn't sound flip, so I want to say ahead of time that I take your question seriously and as a question asked in good faith.

At it's core, whether the author is aware of it or not (and I think she mostly is most of the time), this is a story about rape and the fallout of rape. So, given that, there are always going to be plenty of people to say "bitches be lying". There's no need to add your voice to that chorus.

Even if you feel in your bones that this particular bitch actually be indeed lying up a storm, there are way more bitches telling the truth than there are false accusations, and it's incredibly hurtful for other rape survivors to hear yet another account of rape being dismissed as a lie, just like pretty much every other account ever.

Yes, it is true that if you make a moral judgement to have a policy of believing the victim/accuser every time until proven otherwise, once in a very, very long while you're going to believe a lie. And sometimes the lie is even going to have widespread, unfair social consequences (like the Rolling Stone campus rape story, for example). But you're not counsel for the defense and you're not an investigative reporter. You're essentially a bystander, and in a culture that covertly tolerates and even encourages rape, imo the job of a moral bystander is to help tip the balance towards less rape by believing the bitches.
posted by shiawase at 3:33 PM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I forgot to say: thank you for your apology. It helps.
posted by shiawase at 3:34 PM on June 22, 2015


So what are we to do when someone on our side tells a compelling and unlikely story? Seriously, I am asking.

But ... you just said you have "no proof beyond instinct" that the story is unlikely. Is this how we're deciding the veracity of a survivor's story now? I don't think the question you're asking is the right one. How about "what can we do to take survivors at their word instead of blithely dismissing them for no other reason than our 'instinct' tells us their story does not ring true, detached and as far removed as we are from their situation?"
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:14 PM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, in line with this I wanted to mention that what I was saying before about taking an assumption of belief as a moral imperative is not just a matter of political expediency. It's an acknowledgement that fundamentally, at this remove (and even much closer) you really cannot ever know, so the choice to believe or not believe is based on something other than how likely the event actually was as measured by some kind of omniscient narrator or whatever, whether you're consciously aware of that or not.

At this point I think most reasonably informed people are aware that memory is fallible and that victims don't always present in a manner that matches up perfectly with traditional versions of credibility. How a purportedly nonfiction narrative of anything is presented is partially based on what really happened, but a lot of it is based on various traits of the narrator that have nothing to do with the narrative events themselves, and except at the absolute margins (like if she had said her father raped kids on Jupiter), there's no way for you as a reader to know which is which. You can guess, but except at the very margins of provable impossibility, your guesses are really about you and your belief structure, not about her.
posted by shiawase at 5:56 PM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lorens first posted this essay in slightly different form in 2014 as a now-deleted entry on her blog: That Time I Was a Gay Man. It's an interesting comparison of the rough draft to its final incarnation.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:24 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Comment deleted. It's fine to talk about the article and the older post, but yeah, do avoid diagnosing someone with a personality disorder because they respond in a friendly way to commenters on their own blog, for example, and let's just generally avoid jumping to the sexism of the "crazy woman" trope. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:55 AM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


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