Forum Facts, Foibles, and Fantasies
     The online boylove forum takes many forms and has many faces. Many fora come and go in a relatively brief time period, a few last for several years, and at least one has been around for over a decade. Some are small and principled, while others are less principled and tend to have more participants and posts for whatever reasons there seems to be an inverse ratio between principles and activity. In any given forum one might find some combination of the disgusting and nauseating, the frivolous, bland, and humorous, and/or the friendly, civil, rational, supportive, and - occasionally - instructive and even profound. The ultimate accountability for the degree to which each of these is or is not present lies with those who set and enforce administrative policy, as does the responsibility for the general character of the forum and its positive or negative influences.

     The wholesome admiration and discussion of the beauty, freshness, candor, and companionship of boys is a legitimate and acceptable function of a boylove forum. But the danger to an inexperienced and impressionable boy-attracted pedosexual male who comes to these fora expecting enlightenment is that he may be adversely affected if he finds portrayals of boys by some posters as nothing more than passive objects of their sexual fantasies and/or thinly veiled real life intentions. There is little reason to believe that these miscreants comprise any more than a minuscule fraction of the overall boylove community, but nevertheless, by flooding the fora with their rubbish they give the illusion that they are much more numerous and mainstream than they really are. While experienced readers most likely will recognize and dismiss their trash for what it is, the neophyte who accepts these portrayals as being the norm for people who share his attraction to boys may be influenced to think and act in accordance with what he has read.

     Likewise, while the non-prurient graphic portrayal of boys is a legitimate and acceptable practice, with a long history in art, the presence on some fora of borderline images of boys as attachments to posts and in "galleries" is a completely different issue. There is no substantive research that indicates the viewing of such boy erotica is causative of sexual predation, but the presentation and especially downloading and possession of images that "cross the line" is a criminal offence in most Western countries. While it usually is claimed by fora administrators that no "illegal" images are permitted, many are so suggestive and provocative as to push the limits, and, depending on the law enforcement operative or jurist, any given image may or may not be judged to be pornographic, and therefore the subject of prosecution. The extent to which such images as well as the trash posts mentioned above draw the attention of law investigators to a forum and its participants is unclear, but these red flags certainly are unlikely to lessen such unwelcome interest, a matter that prudence would seem to require giving serious consideration before participating extensively in any given forum.

     Of course, it is easy to fall back on the rationalization that society exclusively is at fault, and some of the more militant posters on these fora have much to say in the way of self-justification of their antisocial attitudes and behaviors. But even if society is, in fact, at fault, those who are sexually attracted to boys have little choice but to live in their society, and to try to find ways to conduct their lives and express their love for boys without running afoul of the law and ruining themselves and their younger friends.

     While painful and pitiful examples could be cited, it is not known how many boys and men have been negatively influenced by what they found on BL fora, and have been swayed toward behaviors which although they may in reality be harmless are considered criminal by the powers that be. Or how many of these people have had their relationships sundered, their hopes and dreams destroyed, their families alienated, and their freedom taken away, all because of behaviors encouraged by debased posts or borderline pornography in a BL forum. So newcomers and old-timers alike should be critical, cautious, and not allow themselves to be seduced by the insidious temptations of unprincipled radicals.

     Motivations for operating a BL forum can range from an honest desire to be supportive of boy-attracted pedosexual males to advocating for the rights of boys to their own sexuality, and all the way to outright ego trips. While most of those egotists will deny it, they actively compete for participants and posts, and some are so insular in this competition that they forbid the mention of any other forum, as well as not allowing links to external URLs. Some dispense with any vestige of principles and resort to various means to entice participation, such as the marginal graphics and galleries mentioned above, and encouraging chaos by advocating that everyone should be free to post whatever he wishes, no matter how harmful it may be to others. But does this release the forum and its operators from moral responsibility for the negative effects on vulnerable boy-attracted pedosexual males who are searching for answers? Does the forum reinforce the pejorative "pedophile monster" view of boylovers that is so omnipresent in academia and the media, and thereby become responsible for further debasing boylove and boylovers in the eyes of non-BLs who come to the forum just to see what "boylove" is really all about? The operators and administrators of these fora may try to denigrate, ignore, or reject such responsibilities, but in the real world the buck stops with them.

     Anybody can open an Internet boylove forum. All it takes is a modest investment in a domain registration and a service provider. There are two basic forms of these fora; the "open" ones, where anyone can read or post, and the "password protected" ones which require registration for access which ranges from minimally difficult to stringently checked. Free software is available for download, and many service providers make forum software available as part of their package. A certain amount of technical expertise is desirable for additional bells and whistles, but simply getting a new forum up and running is within the capabilities of basic computer literacy. However, what really matters for all concerned is the character that the forum adopts and the services or unhappily, disservices it provides.