Advent Calendar 5th December 2011: Born this way

In 1915, Michael Davidson was 18 years old and served in the British army. His company had not been deployed to war yet, but was preparing for it. Because he was “the only person in the company that didn’t shave”, he became the favourite among the older officers and was called “the boy”. Page 71 in The World, the Flesh and Myself:

It was astraddle my 18th birthday that my first ‘adult’ sexual encounters occurred: that I discovered that grown-ups could behave just as I felt like behaving. I knew by now exactly what I wanted; and though the young men I lived among, in spite of their endless talk about women, now and then paired off in bed for bodily larks, I knew that this was mainly a boyish hangover and quite different from my own yearning.

And I still vaguely believed that I and Oscar Wilde – and, I suppose, that unlucky man at the Southampton swimming pool – were the only people since the age of Alkibiades to be born with this yearning.

Now I learned from experience that there must be quite a lot of men, and even women, who wanted boys; and I was only too conscious of looking contemptibly a boy, with my undersized shoulders and cheek as smooth as eggshell – two years earlier I hadn’t even reached puberty.

Tomorrow we’ll read about how 18 year old Michael reacted to the first sexual advances made to him by an elder.

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