Philia

    June 2000

    Christian Boylovers Start Newsletter for Spiritual Inspiration
    By Heather Elizabeth Peterson
    Philia

    A new publication for Christian boylovers was unveiled at the Christian Consultation on Boylove 2000, held from June 8 to 11 near Washington, D.C.

    Copies of the blue-and-white newsletter were passed around the tables, and several members of the consultation took extra copies to show to friends and family members.

    That, says editor Mark Distefano, is the reason for the publication's existence.

    "I got the idea for Paraklesis [an ancient Greek word meaning 'encouragement'] when I received in the mail my first issue of the publication from the pro-gay organization for people in my church denomination," says Mr. Distefano. "Simply seeing that issue in print somehow validated the existence of gays and lesbians in the church. Reading the articles gave me examples of people who were not ashamed of who they were and who were trying to promote dialog in the church. This seemed to contrast with the efforts of boylovers to communicate with each other and with non-boylovers, which being limited to the internet, still seemed secret and illicit, as if we should be ashamed."

    Mr. Distefano hopes that the newsletter, which is published both in print and on the Web, will reach a wider audience than other publications by boylovers, because it can be shown to people who spend little or no time on the Internet. "I'm hoping that copies will be relayed to lots of boylovers and non-boylovers I don't know through those that I do know," he says. "I especially want to reach pastors and mental health people. I hope it will help to change people's assumptions about boylovers."

    Paraklesis is sponsored by the Christian Boylove Forum. According to the publication's editor, its goal is to "provide mutual support and encouragement for Christian boylovers, to discuss ethical, spiritual, and emotional issues surrounding boylove, to encourage responsible behavior, and to promote dialog and understanding."

    The summer issue of the newsletter includes articles on the difficulty of integrating one's life in a community with one's life as a boylover; on how a boylover learned about God's love through the agape (brotherly love) of a boy; and on how Christian boylovers can overcome the "fear factor" and trust that God will shield them through their faith. Among the articles is Mr. Distefano's account of his attempt to strengthen his relationship with God as he seeks understanding of his sexuality.

    "I'm hoping that Paraklesis can allow Christian boylovers to discuss important issues with each other, to be role models to each other (demonstrating healthy relationships with boys), and to be a forum for discussion with non-boylovers," he says.

    Subscriptions to the printed edition of the quarterly publication are free, and can be obtained by e-mailing the editor through the address at the newsletter's Web site. As Mr. Distefano says in his opening editorial, Paraklesis is the first publication of its kind.

    "We need to walk along side and encourage each other in our spiritual and emotional journeys to seek the will of God in our lives, to accept ourselves as among God's beloved people, to discern how best to promote the well-being of the boys whose lives we touch, and to be role-models to one another," he writes. "We know that various sites on the web already accomplish some of these purposes, but not in one place, and not from a uniquely Christian perspective."

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