Attraction doesn't always mean action

So here's a really interesting story. It's a hard one to read or listen to, because it involves something that, I'd wager, most of us would rather not think about. It's about a young man who discovered he was sexually attracted to children, and how he's been struggling with this attraction all his life. A big part of his struggle is that pedophilia is something for which it is very difficult to get help. As the article states: "…they have no way to talk about these urges or how to prevent them from taking control of their lives without being considered a threat. Talk to a shrink? You risk being reported to the authorities. The scientific community is so afraid of the stigma attached to even researching pedophilia that it's barely been studied it at all." Which is why this young man has risked tarring and feathering to set up support groups, to help people who need help taking control of their lives instead of letting their urges define and control them. It's actually a pretty inspirational story about taking control and standing up for what's right, even when the wrongness is coming from your own self.

Now, here's where I'm about to get very unpopular.

Take that same story, but replace all references to sexual attraction to children, with sexual attraction to members of the same sex.

Suddenly, it goes from a story of inspiration and self-control to one worthy of derision because of its support of self-denial and giving in to homophobia.

I've seen many arguments that saying "anti-gay" is wrong because people can't change who they are, and they should be free to act on their feelings. It's the whole crux of the argument for allowing same-sex marriage: preventing discrimination based on what a person is. Yet if we were to apply the same logic to other sexual attractions that are (still) considered bad — pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, take your pick — we would be immediately shot down for trying to support the "sick" or "depraved" (if we weren't immediately shot for merely insinuating any kind of relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia).

So what's the difference? Attraction to children is something that, as a society, we all seem to agree is wrong — so it's ok to have laws against it and to not even think about granting legal protections and rights to those forms of relationships. And yet, it wasn't until just the past few years that the same could be said for same-sex attraction. Debate or blame whomever you wish for the existence of California's famous Proposition 8, but the fact that it passed means there was a significant number of people who, less than a decade ago, supported the idea that condoning same-sex attraction was wrong.

So, why? Why is this form of sexual attraction ok, and others aren't? What makes same-sex attraction part of a person's being, but underage attraction something that a person can and should suppress and live their lives in denial of? And what form of sexual attraction that we think is wrong today, will we be forced to bake cakes in celebration of ten years from now?

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