In an essay for Salon, Todd Nickerson wrote of the two "insults" the universe dealt him — a lack of a right hand since birth and an attraction to minors.
"I'm a pedophile, but not a monster," Nickerson's essay is titled. The freelance graphic designer from Tennessee wrote that while he is attracted to minors, there is a stark difference between a pedophile and a child molester — an important distinction, he said.
"I’ve been stuck with the most unfortunate of sexual orientations, a preference for a group of people who are legally, morally and psychologically unable to reciprocate my feelings and desires. It’s a curse of the first order, a completely unworkable sexuality, and it’s mine. Who am I? Nice to meet you. My name is Todd Nickerson, and I’m a pedophile. Does that surprise you? Yeah, not many of us are willing to share our story, for good reason. To confess a sexual attraction to children is to lay claim to the most reviled status on the planet, one that effectively ends any chance you have of living a normal life. Yet, I’m not the monster you think me to be. I’ve never touched a child sexually in my life and never will, nor do I use child pornography.
But isn’t that the definition of a pedophile, you may ask, someone who molests kids? Not really. Although 'pedophile' and 'child molester' have often been used interchangeably in the media, and there is some overlap, at base, a pedophile is someone who’s sexually attracted to children. That’s it. There’s no inherent reason he must act on those desires with real children. Some pedophiles certainly do, but many of us don’t. Because the powerful taboo keeps us in hiding, it’s impossible to know how many non-offending pedophiles are out there, but signs indicate there are a lot of us, and too often we suffer in silence. That’s why I decided to speak up."
Nickerson wrote that he began to realize he was attracted to minors around the time of puberty — when he was a minor himself. And although he was inappropriately touched as a child, he glosses over the incident as "not a particularly traumatic one."
But it was during college and after graduation that he began to struggle with depression and "fell into the deepest pit of despair imaginable" for several years. It was during that time that Nickerson said he found an online forum — "nothing illegal was happening there," he wrote — where he could connect and chat with other people with the same taboo attractions as he.
However, even then, among the pedophile forum, Nickerson said he didn't feel like he could quite fit in with the "pro-contacters," people who thought sex with minors was acceptable and child consent laws should be eradicated.
"I wanted desperately to be friends with people who shared my sexual orientation, even if they held crazy beliefs, but I could never quite reconcile with their viewpoint," Nickerson wrote.
Nickerson praised the work of Virtuous Pedophiles, a website that promises support and to resources for people who are attracted to children but do not want to act on those desires.
Those individuals who have the courage to come forward and lay claim to this affliction with the understanding that they only want to use their pedo powers for good should be commended, not hated and feared. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to tell people you’re a pedophile, even a non-offending one, and even if those people are other pedos. Truly, the very concept of a pedophile who neither molests nor wants to molest children is often anathema to people’s way of thinking. The long-held belief that pedophiles are destined to abuse kids is a tough one to overcome, yet many of us get just as upset as — if not more upset than — non-pedophiles when we read accounts of sexual abuse, not only because we hate when one of the little people we love most suffers, but also because, whenever yet another pedophile is arrested, it reinforces the reigning paradigm of the pedo as ticking time bomb.
For better or worse — mostly worse — we have this sexuality, and unlike with most sexualities, there is no ethical way we can fully actualize our sexual longings. Our desires and feelings, if we are to remain upright, are doomed from the outset. Indeed, whereas the majority of crimes can be bounced back from, society doesn’t extend a mulligan to molesters. I understand why, but that doesn’t make the burden any lighter to bear, particularly for those of us who have minimal or no attraction to adults. And for the pedos who are lucky enough to be able to form working relationships with adults, there are a new set of concerns: What if we have children? Will I be a threat to them? Can I ever share this fact with my spouse? Can I ever love and want her as much as I do a child?
Read the rest of Nickerson's essay here.