Interview with Jörg: "In Relationships, One Must Proceed Carefully"
Wolf Vogel, Social Worker, Ludwigshafen
Jörg is 29 years old; he describes how, as a child, the married couple Rita and Jens came to be his "parents of choice." Prior to conversing with me, Jörg expressed the concern that, with the interview being published, Rita and Jens could get into trouble, admonishing: "In relationships, one must proceed carefully." Upon my suggestion that the persons' names be changed and their locations omitted, Jörg was ready to talk.
Question: At the age of seven, you got a second set of parents. How did this relationship begin?
Jörg: In order to answer that, I have to go back a ways. In our city, my biological parents owned a bar, and for that reason, were either unable or unwilling to look after me. If I wanted to spend time with my parents, I would have to take a seat in the smoke-filled bar amongst adult men. When I began school at age six, I had a considerable speech impediment, and therefore was placed in a special education school for those with learning difficulties; not in the normal class, but in a class for those with muscular dystrophy and Down's syndrome. The School Entry Committee obviously wanted nothing to do with me, so I landed in this class, which I really didn't belong in. Obviously, I myself can no longer recall the reason for this, which they probably had never told me anyway. But later on, when I came of age, I found out many details, but I asked about it.
My teacher at the time, Rita, noticed right away that I was totally out of place in this class. She found the School Entry Committee's decision scandalous, and tried, successfully by the way, to get me into a normal elementary school classroom. Later on Rita told me that, two years subsequent to that, I was already in the top third of my elementary school class. I think that Rita, as an experienced Kindergarten teacher, had a good sense of what my level of development was, and to what extent I was capable of being educated
Question: It is not unusual for a teacher to discern that a child is capable of more scholastically. But of course you, although you have parents of your own, are taken into this family of teachers. Is that what you wanted?
Jörg: My biological parents' interests were focused on the bar. The children – I also have an older sister – were of little interest to them. We felt like, especially on weekends, we were in our parents' way. Rita and Jens had a small vacation home in the mountains where, from time to time, I was allowed to spend weekends with them. I was seven at the time. Later on, I would spend nearly every weekend with the couple, whose own children were grown and had already left the house.
Question: Were your parents agreeable to your spending so much time with this couple of married strangers?
Jörg: I believe that my parents probably thought it was a good thing that I was out of their way on weekends. Rita and Jens had tried to adopt me, but this plan ran aground against my parents' resistance.
Question: Would adoption have been of interest to you?
Jörg: It would have been the fulfillment of my dreams at the time. Even today, more than twenty years later. that is exactly how I see it.
Question: Did your parents and substitute parents have any contact with each other?
Jörg: Well - Rita and Jens were by no means "substitute" parents. To the contrary, they were, in my spiritual and emotional life, my actual caregivers. To my knowledge, there was only occasional contact between the two couples.
Question: Was there also physical contact with Rita and Jens?
Jörg: When I was with them, I was allowed to spend the night with them in their bed. I was addicted to physical affection, and Rita and Jens made it possible for me to be able to compensate somewhat for what, up until then, had been a deficit of physical intimacy. I also recall that I was, physically and sexually, quite precocious. In photos that Jens took of me, you can see that at eleven years of age, I already looked like a fourteen-year-old. I already had an interest in other people's bodies when I was allowed to spend the night with Rita and Jens for the first time. For one thing, sometimes there were also other children there as guests, with whom I played, sometimes including erotic games; for another thing, I had a lively interest in Jens' body. I was probably seven or eight years old when I was already having actual sexual contact with him, and properly testing out everything, which at that age is par for the course.
Question: Were your physical interests directed only towards Jens?
Jörg: Exclusively. For as long as I can remember, I have never had any sexual interest in females. Rita helped me in other ways. She tells me with pride today that, at nine years old, I was already able to pronounce complicated and even foreign words. She has fostered my linguistic development in unbelievable ways.
Question: Were your actual parents jealous of the fact that you felt more of a sense of belonging with your new parents?
Jörg: Probably so. When I didn't come home like my parents had told me to, or my scholastic efforts were not up to their expectations, I was not allowed to go see my adult friends. For my biological parents, this was the ideal lever by which to compel good behavior on my part. They would occasionally cancel one of my afternoons or even a whole weekend with Jens and Rita.
Question: Was that a hardship for you, or was it all the same to you?
Jörg: It was a huge hardship for me. There were nights when I cried about it. I wanted to be with them unconditionally; it was like paradise for me. From my perspective today, I see myself as having been like an asylum seeker. I wanted out of the house, out of the mess at home. With Jens and Rita, I was allowed to move about freely, let my hair down. They were loving to me, looked me in the eye, gave me a lot of their time. It was an important period in my life.
Question: How did you manage, despite the occasional resistance on the part of your biological parents, to again and again get them to go along with what you wanted?
Jörg: Against it I placed resistance of my own, with words, defiance, disobedience. The more resistance I put up, the less able they were to focus on their own interests, and so they let me go.
Question: Wasn't this a difficult situation for Jens and Rita, as different parents taking the child away as it were?
Jörg: I don't think so. One time, when I was still little and Rita was giving me a bath, she discovered lots of welts on my body. In answer to her questions, I responded that my father often hit me. And Rita threatened to report my father if he ever beat me again. After that, my father stopped beating me. Solely for this reason, my biological parents adopted a sensible attitude towards Rita and Jens. Because of that, I was then able to visit and be together with my new parents without any major problems.
Question: So, due to the rejected adoption, you were still living at home, and were with Rita and Jens only occasionally, on weekends and during school holidays?
Jörg: Yeah, that's right.
Question: The physical contacts continued?
Jörg: Yeah, including with older boys, who had already been coming over to visit with Rita and Jens. I was constantly crawling into bed with them. Looking back on it, it was for me an urgent need for love, but also an urgent need to make up for lost time, because, at home with my parents, things were really quite cold.
Question: Returning again to the sexual contacts with Jens: Were the erotic contacts of a fleeting nature, or were they of longer duration.
Jörg: These contacts did continue. They were most frequent and most intensive when I was between eleven and fourteen years of age. This is the period that I'd like to refer to as the relationship proper, or to put it in a better way: as the high point of the relationship.
Question: Were the sexual contacts desired more by the adults, or by you?
Jörg: This was actually my desire. I felt truly happy in this relationship, and so, these contacts came about as a result of mutual agreement.
Question: Did you yourself want the sex, or did you just want to give pleasure to adults?
Jörg: I wanted sex also.
Question: Including with Rita, Jens' wife?
Jörg: No. Females played no role in these desires. I was only interested in the masculine body.
Question: Did you have a sense, at the time, of being homosexual?
Jörg; At the time, I had not grappled with this subject in any real way. The relationship with Jens was a friendship, which is what this grew out of. It was only when I reached the age of fifteen that I really grappled with the issue of "homosexuality" for the first time.
Question: So, how was that for you?
Jörg: Right after I turned fourteen, I became acquainted with one of the regulars at my biological parents’ bar. He was studying medicine, and was well-known to my parents. Looking back on it, I think he was a pederast, and therefore was interested in me. And so I formed, alongside the relationship with Jens, an additional friendship with this student. Admittedly, this friendship turned very bad in the end, because my father told a third person about it, and probably threatened to report him. And so, this relationship was broken up.
Question: At what point were you conscious of being homosexual?
Jörg: This didn't happen all at once, but rather, little by little. At first, when I was fifteen years old, I tried to fight it. I even had a girlfriend at the time. But I was soon compelled to conclusively recognize that my father was anti-gay, and it was also derided at school, and so, I just had to wait for better times, in order to be able to live openly as gay.
Question: Are you in a steady relationship now?
Jörg: Yes, I have a steady boyfriend, we‘ve been living together for eight years now, and I think that, if someone is gay, people shouldn't dwell on it, but rather, look upon it as just one of several sexual possibilities and relationships.
Question: Could it be that you're gay because you went to bed with that teacher?
Jörg: No way. I recall that, much earlier on, my parents already suspected that I might be gay, because they noticed that I had never been interested in girls.
Question: Has your father ever discussed this with you?
Jörg: No. His only response regarding this was to threaten to report the student.
Question: Does your father know that you're now living together with a man in a committed relationship?
Jörg: Yes. About ten years ago, I clearly spelled out my sexual preferences to him. My parents knew about my current relationship from day one, and obviously Rita and Jens as well, who really like my current boyfriend, and invite him over from time to time.
Question: Looking back, how important were (or still are) Rita and Jens to you?
Jörg: Rita was like a foster mother, and Jens was my best friend and my first lover.
Question: Should a man like Jens, who had, so to speak, taken a boy in, have gone to bed with this child?
Jörg: Yes, certainly, if both consented to it, and it was not a question of brutality or coercion, if there was no financial dependency, and no psychological dependency. It must be an equal partnership.
Question: Is an equal partnership between a child and an adult really possible?
Jörg: Of course. Between Jens and me it was an equal partnership. He never demanded anything of me; he respected my desires and needs, and wasn't even jealous when I had other boyfriends. Unfortunately, the sexual contact with Jens came to an end when jealousy led to a crisis in Jens' and Rita's marriage. This still has repercussions for me today, and I believe that Jens has also suffered because of this. But he has not allowed himself to say anything about it. In every other area, my relationship with Jens and Rita is as strong as ever, and I believe that this relationship will be life-long.
Question: I would like to put the sexual aspect to the side once again, and come back to your scholastic and vocational career. What careers have you pursued?
Jörg: After completing junior high, I initially attended a vocational school where I learned about my desired occupation, stonemasonry, which I looked at as a fast growing area between hand-crafting and art. I studied this occupation for three years, and tested out as the best in the entire region. Because I wanted to combine hand-crafting with art, I stayed on for an additional year of training in sculpture, and also passed the exam for stone sculpturing.
Question: From being shunted off to special ed to becoming a sculptor – a truly impressive trajectory. Have you attained the goal of your vocational desires?
Jörg: No, not yet. At present I am still attending night school, in order to make up the middle form. [A "form" is a class or grade, as in, tenth grade.] After that, I would like to take the college exam, and attend a restaurant school. Perhaps even in Venice.
Question: All of this sounds like a picture-perfect trajectory out of a book. Where were there problems in your friendship with Jens and Rita?
Jörg: For one thing, I very much regret that the sexual part of the relationship did not go on for even longer. For another, there was already something like jealousy on Rita's part toward the sexual contacts between Jens and myself.
Question: Rita knew about it from the beginning?
Jörg: Yes, of course, we lay in the same marital bed. Sometimes I had the feeling that Rita was punishing Jens by withholding love because Jens was also taking care of me. That's why he appeared to become more inhibited, and I'd sometimes asked myself if he was no longer interested. Of course today I know that that wasn't the case.
Question: Did it bother you that you were in bed with a man, and lying next to you was a woman who was not interested in sex?
Jörg: No, not really. As a child, one probably thinks quite egotistically, and would like to get one's own needs met. But the sex did not really play the huge role as it perhaps appeared to. In any event, my relationship with Rita did not suffer because of it, at least not from where I stand.
Question: From your perspective as an almost thirty-year-old, what advantages has your relationship with both of them brought you?
Jörg: I was lucky to have a sexual relationship with a man who had the positive quality of respecting the feelings of both partners, who did not act egotistically, did not attempt any unwanted sexual practices, but instead, held back. It was a harmonious partnership. And Rita, obviously along with Jens, provided exemplary encouragement to me; otherwise, I wouldn't have come nearly as far vocationally as I am today. It was a fortunate combination of the two, which has had a huge influence on my life. I would also like to keep them as adult friends.