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"The love that dare not speak its name" in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man...It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him.
Oscar Wilde is fond of this trope

Say Bob and Charlie are not family, but are close to one another. Really close. Bob is younger than Charlie, and Charlie is quite happy to take Bob under his wing. He guides Bob to his place, whether in the world or simply in one social circle. However, Bob and Charlie's affection for each other is a bit more than fatherly.

This dynamic applies to a gay couple (or simply an ambiguous one) in which one partner is much older and acts as a Mentor to another. In this dynamic, Charlie is most often powerful and successful, and Bob is most often attractive in one way or another, as well as an Uke.

This trope originates in ancient Greece, with their custom of homosexual pederasty. The Greek words for this trope are "erastes" (lover) and "eromenos" (beloved). A very similar system developed independently in Japan, where the partners are the nenja ("man who loves") and his wakashu ("young person")[1]. High-ranking Chinese courtiers and Buddhist monks also took younger male lovers fairly often, but in a less formal system than in Greece and Japan.

All but a Forgotten Trope nowadays, due to potentially squicky All Gays Are Pedophiles or Parental Incest vibes. It may, however, show up in The Twink's Coming Out Story nowadays, and the social circle the older partner leads the younger into is likely to be the gay community.

See also Seme, Uke, Senpai Kohai, Hot for Teacher, and Classical Mythology. The heterosexual version of this is the Sexy Mentor and/or Mentor Ship.

No Real Life Examples, Please

Examples of Lover and Beloved include:

Anime and Manga

  • Much of Saiyuki is set in Buddhist temples and there are in-story references to master/acolyte relationships (specifically a possible relationship between Sanzo (then Koryuu) and his fond foster-father Koumyou). There's also quite a bit of Ho Yay enthusiasm for Sanzo and Goku.
  • Loveless's Soubi and Ritsuka maybe have been inspired by this trope, though Soubi's "name" is Beloved, and Ritsuka's is Loveless, despite the latter being the younger in the pair.
  • In Naruto, this is the simplest way to interpret the relationship between Zabuza and Haku.


  • Steve Traynor's and Wulf's relationship began this way, but by the time of Top Ten, they've been a couple for about 30 years.
  • In Marvel's The Incredible Hercules, most of the Greek gods assume (incorrectly) Hercules and Amadeus Cho have this relationship. Amadeus always angrily corrects them.


  • The Gayngst-defining 1919 German film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others) focuses on the relationship between concert violinist Paul Korner and his pupil Kurt Sivers.
  • Gender-swapped in Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform) (1931), based on Christa Winsloe's play Gestern and Heute, which itself is based on her novel Das Kind Manuela, in turn based on Winsloe's experiences at school. The school in the film is, like Winsloe's, a single-sex Boarding School for the daughters of the upper classes, and is run on very strict lines. The young Scripture teacher, Fräulein von Bernburg, is the only adult there who shows the girls any kindness or affection, and as a result many of them fall for her. Sensitive, motherless Manuela von Meinhardis, fourteen and a half years old, falls particularly hard, and Fräulein von Bernburg seems to have feelings for Manuela in return, though, as she explains to Manuela, she can't play favourites. When Manuela accidentally gets drunk and proclaims her love in front of the entire school and the headmistress, the horrified headmistress comes down hard on her, and she nearly kills herself. In the novel and the play, she does kill herself. The film was a big hit on the lesbian scene in Berlin, which at that point was quite active and open. The Nazis, irked less by the film's homosexual content than by its portrayal of the schoolgirls collectively rising up against authority, tried to destroy all copies of it, but fortunately failed. The United States government attempted to ban the film, but Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded them not to.
  • Zéro de conduite (Zero for Conduct), a 1933 film by Jean Vigo, the story of a rebellion at a boys' Boarding School. An older and a younger boy have a homoerotic friendship, while the science teacher seems keen on patting the head and hands of the long-haired, 'sissy' younger boy.
  • In 1961s Victim, which uses elements of the plot of Different from the Others, a lawyer nearing 40 gets to know a young man about half that, who hero-worships him and with whom he shares a mutual attraction, though the older guy breaks it off because "he was getting too fond of me" — or, as his wife suggests, "you were getting too fond of him". Said young man has also had a relationship with a middle-aged bookshop owner, who is deeply in love with him and wants to give him a home and a job for life.
  • Les amitiés particulières (1964), the film version of Roger Peyrefitte's novel of the same name, set in a Jesuit Boarding School for boys. In the book, the schoolboy lovers are fourteen and twelve; in the film, they are fifteen and thirteen. Peyrefitte met his twelve-year-old beloved on the set.
  • Comes up in if.... (1968) by Lindsay Anderson, set in a Boarding School for boys thirteen to eighteen, where it's common and accepted for older boys to take a shine to younger ones. One of the three main characters has a relationship with a younger boy, of whom he's protective, but who seems to be a more mature person than his lover.
  • Briefly mentioned in The Lion in Winter (1968). King Henry says to his mistress Alais, "In my time I've known contessas, milkmaids, courtesans and novices, whores, gypsies, jades and little boys, but nowhere in God's western world have I found anyone to love but you." Richard the Lion Heart and Philip II of France are depicted as having had an affair two years before the action, when Richard was 24 and Philip was 15. Philip tells Richard that he is no longer "the boy you taught to running first, me scrambling after."
  • In John Schlesinger's Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971), a doctor in his fifties is having an affair with a 25-year-old male artist, who's also having an affair with a woman. Both partners are a bit jealous over their younger lover. We also see another man in his 20s whom it's implied the doctor has had sex with before, perhaps paying him for it. Originally, the age difference wasn't intended to be so large: Schlesinger had wanted Alan Bates, then in his mid-thirties, for the part of the doctor, but Bates couldn't do it so Peter Finch, mid-fifties, played the role instead. Schlesinger got the idea for the film from a relationship he himself had had with a much younger man. They'd broken up but remained on amicable terms. Incidentally, Alan Bates also had relationships with younger men.
  • Gerard Blain's <<Les Amis>> (The "Friends") won the Golden Leopard for Best First Film at the 1971 Locarno Film Festival. In the film, fortysomething Philippe and sixteen-year-old Paul have a classic lover/beloved relationship. Philippe is a fairly wealthy businessman who has no children and whose marriage has become a formality. He is in love with Paul and sexually attracted to him. He pays for Paul to stay at a fancy resort and have riding lessons, comforts him when he gets his heart broken by a girl, supports him in his ambition to be an actor, and despite his own private feelings of jealousy and possessiveness, encourages Paul to go off with friends his own age, in the interests of Paul's development. Paul, though basically heterosexual, is happy to sleep with Philippe and loves him back, "in a different way", according to Blain. Being fatherless, neglected by his family, and poor, he is grateful for all Philippe gives him. Un enfant dans la foule (A Child in the Crowd), a 1976 film by Blain, is set in Paris during and just after the Second World War. A thirteen-year-old boy, also fatherless, poor and neglected by his family, is taken up by various men and also by one woman, who a friend of one of the men. They all have sex with him. One man and the woman are only after sex and treat the boy quite cavalierly, though not cruelly. Another man, a teacher, separated from his wife and kids, temporarily becomes a good mentor to the boy, though the man eventually decides that he can't provide what the boy needs because he doesn't want to take responsibility for him. Blain's films on this subject are highly autobiographical, drawing on his experiences with adults when he was a kid. The teacher in particular is based on someone, also married with kids, who was very important to him back then.
  • Montreal Main (1974), a highly autobiographical film by Frank Vitale. A photographer in his late 20s, also named Frank, ostensibly straight, lives with a bunch of gay hippy types and his Heterosexual Life Partner of five years, who is a straight man of the same age, nicknamed Bozo. Frank and Bozo experiment with mutual masturbation together, but it's not much fun. Then Bozo starts a relationship with a young woman. Frank strikes up a friendship with a 12-year-old boy, Johnny. The nature of the friendship is ambiguous; according to the filmmaker, Frank isn't sure what he wants from Johnny. Frank's gay friends object, not because of the potentially sexual aspects of the relationship — one of them at least has had sex with younger guys — but because of the emotional intensity, which they say could be damaging to a young kid. Johnny's father forbids Frank to see Johnny again, but the boy comes round declaring he wants to live with Frank, who is too scared to go through with it, declaring that he's not ready to be be Johnny's father. There's also a scene in which a man eyes up two boys, Johnny and a pal, playing an arcade game, and is chased off by one of the gay friends.
  • Butley (1974), the film of Simon Gray's play about a professor of English whose wife and younger boyfriend each, on the same day, leave him for another man. The eponymous protagonist is played by Alan Bates, who himself had several relationships with younger men.
  • Die Konsequenz (The Consequence) (1977), based on an autobiographical novel of the same name by Alexander Ziegler. Martin, an actor of about 30, is, like Ziegler was, sent to prison for sex with his 15-year-old boyfriend — who now has a girlfriend. Martin meets Thomas, the 16-year-old gay son of the prison warder, and the two fall in love and, at Thomas's instigation, have sex. When Martin gets out of prison he finds that Thomas's parents and boss reject Thomas because of his homosexuality, so he and Thomas leave town together, get an apartment and plan for Thomas to go back to school. However, Thomas is taken away by social services and sent to a very unpleasant home for delinquent boys. Martin breaks him out, but Thomas ends up with an older man who says he'll help him but instead blackmails him into becoming his boyfriend. Then the older man throws Thomas out and Thomas becomes a prostitute and finally, having nowhere else to go, returns to the boys' home. At 21 he is released and he and Martin, who in the meantime has had a casual boyfriend nearer his own age, reunite, but Thomas seems irretrievably damaged. He attempts suicide and then runs away from hospital, and there the film ends.
  • Du er ikke alene (You Are Not Alone) (1978): another tale about an older and a younger boy at Boarding School. The older boy, fifteen, is something of a teacher and protector for the younger, twelve, who looks up to him. As is common with this trope, the older boy is the more sexually interested: he catches sight of a pretty face and goes for it. The younger boy, who masturbates already but whose sexuality may not yet be very strong or defined, is happy to go along with things out of affection and admiration for his older friend.
  • The Lost Boys, a 1978 BBC miniseries by Andrew Birkin. It's a fictionalised account of J. M. Barrie's (Peter Pan) relationships with the five Llewellyn Davies boys. Birkin is the world's foremost Barrie expert and also wrote a factual account, J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys.
  • Arguably, Une histoire sans importance (A Story of No Importance) (1980), which is about the homoerotic friendship between two teenaged boys. Though there's only about a year's difference in their ages, they conform to most of the classic elements of this trope. Philippe, the elder, is gay and falls deeply in love with Claude, the younger. Claude, on the other hand, is basically straight, and sees flirting with Philippe as a game. During an argument, Claude says, "I was a kid back then. You taught me things." Philippe is frustrated that Claude is not a deep thinker and they can't talk about ideas together. When they eventually have sex, it consists of Philippe masturbating Claude. Eventually, Claude turns to girls, leaving Philippe broken-hearted. These are all things you can find in many lover/beloved tales with a wide age gap between the pair. At one point, Claude is eyed up on the street by a grown man. It's a brief moment but full of implication, given the ending of the film, in which Claude has sex with Philippe for money.
  • Played with in Patrice Chereau's L'Homme blessé (The Wounded Man) (1983). Henri, an innocent lad in his late teens, is waiting to see his sister off at the railway station when he realises that he is being watched by another man. He follows the man to the men's toilets, where he finds him being assaulted by another man. The other man suddenly kisses Henri, whereupon Henri becomes obsessed with him. He returns to the station to find this strange older man and insists on following him about. The man, who is gay, is a jaded crook and pimp, but Henri falls in love with him, and becomes a hustler in order to please him.
  • In Abuse (1983) by Arthur Bressan, who spent most of his career making gay porn films, a 31-year-old gay film student is making a documentary about child abuse. He meets Thomas, a somewhat effeminate 14-year-old whose parents have brutally physically mistreated him for the past six years, and Thomas becomes the centrepiece of the documentary. Thomas is also gay and becomes interested in the filmmaker. They have a relationship, and eventually run away together so that Thomas can escape from his awful parents. Bressan says this was based on his own experiences with a real boy like Thomas; they became "friends, then lovers, then finally ex-lovers", although, as in the film, Bressan's friends disapproved of Bressan's being involved with such a young boy. This film was praised by Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet.
  • Il sapore del grano (The Flavour of Corn / The Taste of Wheat) (1986). Lorenzo, a university student doing a year's teaching in a rural area, develops a romantic friendship with twelve-year-old Duilio, one of the boys in his class. The lover/beloved dynamic is played with. Lorenzo brings Duilio an encyclopedia as a present; Duilio teaches Lorenzo to drive a tractor and identify trees and offers him the simple affection which Lorenzo, who lacks a family and whose (rather vigorous) sexual relationships with women are emotionally unsatisfying, needs. When Lorenzo's girlfriend, seeing a postcard from Duilio, asks if he's one of Lorenzo's pupils, Lorenzo says, "No, he's the one who taught me everything I know." Lorenzo is made uneasy by his sexual attraction to Duilio, particularly when Duilio's family, with whom he has also become friends, grow uneasy too — the stepmother because she thinks, mistakenly, that Lorenzo has done something sexual with Duilio, the father because he sees that Duilio loves Lorenzo more than Duilio loves him, the father. Eventually, though the family decide they like Lorenzo again, Lorenzo leaves the village, even though Duilio longs for him to stay.
  • Now That It's Morning (1991). A 15-year-old schoolboy attends his boyfriend's 45th birthday party. The guests at the party, all gay men, make snide comments about the boy's youth and the man, drunk, loses his temper and gives them a piece of his mind.
  • Voor een verloren soldaat (For a Lost Soldier), a 1992 film set during the Second World War, portrays the brief love affair between a twelve-year-old Dutch boy and a young Canadian soldier, with elements of this trope invoked. The source book, an autobiographical novel by choreographer Rudi van Dantzig, portrays the soldier pretty much forcing himself on the boy, who is upset by this but is also drawn to the soldier and keeps coming back to him. The film turns this into a gentle, consensual romance.
  • Gossenkind (Street Kid), a 1992 German film. Relationship between a married man with a young son and a 14-year-old boy hustler with a girlfriend and cruel, violent parents.
  • Smukke Dreng (Pretty Boy), a 1993 Danish film. A 13-year-old boy runs away from home and gets into robbery and hustling. He has a relationship with an astronomy professor, whom he's drawn to because he's also interested in astronomy, but the man also has an adult girlfriend, and throws the boy out when she comes home from vacation. The boy is angry and wants revenge.
  • Total Eclipse (1995), a fictionalised depiction of the love affair between poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud.
  • Pianese Nunzio Quattordici Anni a Maggio (Pianese Nunzio 14 in May / Sacred Silence) (1996). A 28-year-old priest is struggling against the Mafia in his neighbourhood. He's also having a relationship with a 13-year-old boy, who plays the organ in the church and serves at the altar. His enemies find out about the relationship and to bring the priest down force the boy to tell social services about it. As seems to be quite common with this trope, only the older boyfriend is gay; the boy, though he enjoys sex with the man, is basically heterosexual and is also having a relationship with a girl. As also seems to be common, the man has previously had a relationship with another boy, but turned to a younger model once the boy outgrew his interest.
  • Possibly implied in All Over Me (1997). A gay 16-year-old boy meets a gay man in his twenties who offers support and dating advice. They seem to flirt a little with one another. We don't get to see where things end up because the man is murdered.
  • Wilde (1997), a fictionalised account of the relationship between Oscar Wilde and Bosie. Stephen Fry plays Wilde.
  • La ville dont le prince est un enfant (The Fire that Burns), a 1997 TV film adapted from Henry de Montherlant's play of the same name, about the love between an older and a younger boy at a Jesuit school, and a priest's jealousy over the younger boy.
  • F. est un salaud (Fögi Is a Bastard) (1998), based on a novel of the same name by Martin Frank, set during the 1970s. 16-year-old Beni is a big fan of 26-year-old rock star Fögi. They meet and start a relationship; Beni leaves home to be with Fögi and Fögi breaks off his relationship with a male band member his own age. Initially, the relationship is happy, but Fögi has a lot of emotional problems, particularly a terrible fear of ageing, and things go downhill: Fögi persuades Beni to have sex with older men for money, Beni ends up being in porn photos and a D/s element enters his and Fögi's relationship. Beni goes along with everything because he is very deeply in love with Fögi. Eventually Fögi persuades a reluctant Beni to commit suicide with him. Fögi dies, Beni lives.
  • Love and Death on Long Island (1998), in which an out-of-touch professor falls hopelessly in love with a shallow male teen idol who represents his ideal of beauty.
  • Gods and Monsters (1998), a fictionalised depiction of the last days of James Whale. Whale is famous both for directing Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein and for being openly gay in 1950s Hollywood. The film portrays him becoming attracted to his new gardener, a handsome young ex-Marine. The gardener is straight but Whale assures him that he has no sexual intentions. This turns out not to be the case, and the gardener freaks out.
  • La virgen de los sicarios (Our Lady of the Assassins) (2000), based on Fernando Vallejo's semiautobiographical novel of the same name, portrays the love between a 50-year-old writer and a 16-year-old hustler and hitman in Medellín, Colombia.
  • Krámpack (Nico and Dani) (2000). Two sixteen-year-old boys, friends since grade school, are vacationing by the sea. One, Dani, is falling in love with the other, Nico, but though Nico is well up for a spot of sex with Dani he can't reciprocate his friend's affections, since he only likes girls. Dani goes to a dinner party with Julian, a thirty-something gay writer, who knows Dani's father because Dani's father was his teacher at university. Dani wants to be a writer too, so he and Julian have something in common, and Julian is clearly attracted to him. Julian's friends are made uneasy by Dani's youth and try to warn Julian off — his straight female friend, who gives Dani private English lessons, reminds Julian that Dani is a minor and that she could report Julian or talk to Dani's father. However, Julian and Dani do end up alone together, and Dani makes an advance to Julian, who, initially hesitant, agrees to have sex with him after Dani tells him it's not his first time — but then Dani walks out and goes home.
  • The 2000 TV film Juste une question d'amour (Just a Question of Love), which was very popular in France and instrumental in making people there more relaxed about homosexuality. A 23-year-old man doing a microbiology internship hits it off with the 30-year-old guy he's working for. The older guy is out and has little patience with the younger guy's hesitation in telling his parents about his homosexuality.
  • Eban and Charley (2000). 29-year-old Eban meets Charley, just turned 15, and they fall in love. Somewhat subverted in that Charley initiates the sex. The filmmaker said this was based on a true story he knew of: a teenaged boy, mature for his age, had an older boyfriend; the man's friends disapproved of the relationship because of the age gap and the man broke up with the boy, who was devastated. In the film the lovers get a happy ending: they run away together.
  • L.I.E. (2001) Big John, a 55-year-old ex-Marine, respected local figure and pederast, lives with a 19-year-old boy and also buys the services of teenaged male prostitutes. He tries to use his regular, callous seduction moves on 15-year-old Howie, but instead finds himself falling in love with Howie and sublimates his sexual desires to be the father stand-in Howie desperately needs. Howie becomes aware of his power over John and flirts with him, eventually making an advance which John, very unusually for him, turns down.
  • Return to Innocence (2001), of which the screenplay was adapted by Gary M. Frazier from his novel of the same name. 13-year-old Tommy has been mistreated by his mother for years; among other things, she prostituted him, and made pornographic videos of him to put on the internet. When this is discovered Tommy is sent to a group home for mistreated boys. The head of staff there is Glen Erskine, a married father, and a respected expert on male adolescent sexuality. Tommy has a relationship, including sex, with his counselor, another middle-aged married man with kids. The relationship is discovered and shortly thereafter the man dies in a car accident. Tommy, believing Erskine is responsible, lashes out at Erskine, falsely accusing him, and Erskine ends up on trial for sex with a minor.
  • The 2004 film of The Merchant of Venice deliberately emphasised the Lover/Beloved Subtext between middle-aged Antonio and young Bassanio.
  • Played with in Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros) (2005). Maxi is an effeminate gay 12-year-old boy from a family of petty criminals in the slums of Manila. He falls in love with a young rookie policeman, Victor, when Victor rescues him from an assault. Maxi seeks out Victor's company and the two become friends, Victor advising Maxi to go to school, get a good job and stay away from crime. The other policemen tease Victor about being Maxi's boyfriend, but Victor turns down Maxi's romantic overtures, leaving Maxi heartbroken. At one point, however, Victor calls Maxi pretty and strokes his hair, which is probably just chaste affection but carries a possibly hint of Ho Yay. At the end of the film Victor waits to speak to Maxi but Maxi walks by him — just possibly an Unrequited Love Switcheroo. Filipino audiences may read the film quite differently to Western ones, however.
  • Le Temps qui reste (Time to Leave), a 2005 film by François Ozon. Romain, a 31-year-old gay fashion photographer, is told that he is dying of cancer. He has a boyfriend, Sasha, perhaps eight or ten years younger, who lives off Romain's money and spends his days playing video games. He breaks up with Sasha without telling him that he is dying, and when they meet again, Romain lies that he has found a new boyfriend. Sasha asks how old the new boyfriend is, and Romain says "My age." Sasha says, "That's good. That's what you need."
  • The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green (2005). The 26-year-old protagonist has a couple of relationships with guys his age but also one with a 19-year-old, who in a subversion decides that his older lover is not mature enough for him!
  • Tre somre (Three Summers) (2006), a Danish short film. A man in his 40s is going through a string of relationships with somewhat younger women. One summer, the 14-year-old son of a friend comes out as gay to him. The next summer, the boy, now 15, seduces him and they have drunken sex. The summer after that, they meet again and the man says that they can't sleep together again and must keep it quiet that they once did, but he agrees to give the boy a farewell kiss.
  • Little Miss Sunshine, a popular family comedy from 2006. Frank, a renowned Proust scholar (Proust was gay) fell in love with a male graduate student of his. This younger man left him — for another older man, Frank's rival Proust scholar. Being upset, Frank acted up and got kicked out of his job. Then he couldn't pay the rent and got kicked out of his apartment. Then he found out that his rival in love and work had won an honour instead of him. So he slit his wrists...but he survived. The film begins with him in hospital.
  • In Avant que j'oublie (Before I Forget), a 2007 film about an ageing gay man, lover/beloved relationships between older and younger men are the only kind portrayed. Often, the older man feels more attraction and affection for the younger one than vice versa, and the younger man is partly in it to have money left to him.
  • André Téchiné's Les Temoins (The Witnesses) (2007) is about the early days of AIDS in France. Middle-aged doctor Adrien meets 18-year-old Manu, newly arrived in Paris, in a cruising spot in the park. He falls in love with the youth and takes him under his wing, though they don't have sex. Manu then has an affair with a 30-something married cop with a baby daughter. Then Manu contracts HIV and is soon dying. Adrien becomes involved in medical research to combat the virus. After Manu's death, Adrien has a brief affair, sex included, with a young man on a visit from the US. Also, when heartbroken over Manu's affair with the cop, Adrien tries to pick up a young male Streetwalker, but can't go through with it.
  • The 2007 British TV film Clapham Junction subverts this trope. A 32-year-old man, suspected by locals of being on the sex offenders' register, lives in the neighbouring tower block to a 14-year-old boy. The boy sees the man through the window and is very attracted to him, in fact masturbates while watching him. The boy eventually goes to the man's flat and seduces him. The man is also very attracted to the boy but he's afraid of the consequences of having sex with him, and takes a good bit of persuading. They have anal sex, and the boy 'tops'. When the boy's mother and father find him there, and his mother suspects what's happened and becomes furious, the boy staunchly denies it.
  • James (2008). A boy of 15 or 16, looking younger than his age, gay, friendless and bullied, goes to a local public toilet where men meet for sex. A middle-aged man with a suit and a nice car approaches him in the toilet, promising "We won't do anything you don't want to do", but he leaves. On another day, he comes back, sees the man outside the toilet, gets in his car and says, "Do you know somewhere we could go?" The car starts, the film ends.
  • En forelskelse (Awakening) (2008), a Danish short film. A 16-year-old boy meets his new girlfriend's parents and ends up having a brief, awkward secret affair with the dad. Subverted in that the boy is the one who makes the first move.
  • The German TV film Guter Junge is about a man who finds out that his 17-year-old son likes younger boys and doesn't know what on earth to do about it. Sven, the son, has a relationship with a fatherless, neglected boy of 12 or 13, Patrick, whom he tutors after school, and who plainly looks up to him. However, the trope is subverted in that with this boy and with an 11-year-old he's seen hanging out with at a party, Sven is happy to follow the boy's lead. Patrick wants to be an actor, so the two go to the movies together. The other boy wants to play the family CD collection for Sven, so that's what they do. Far from getting a kick out of being the 'older man', Sven is fixated on boyhood: he keeps his old toys around, shaves all his body hair and feels glum about turning 18.
  • עיניים פקוחות‎ (Eyes Wide Open), an Israeli film from 2009 about the forbidden, secret love affair between two Chassidic men in Jerusalem. Aaron is a married man, probably in his middle thirties, with four young sons. His father, a butcher, has recently died and Aaron takes over the butcher shop. He meets Ezri, in his early twenties, with nothing to do and nowhere to stay, and gives him a job and a room at the shop. Aaron teaches Ezri the butcher's trade, gives him advice, and 'tops' when they eventually do have anal sex. So far, so classic Lover/Beloved — but it's Ezri who's more homosexually experienced, and who makes the first move. Ezri is shown to have had an earlier affair with a man nearer his own age.


  • Two of Plato's early dialogues, the Phaedrus and the Symposium, glorify pederasty as the highest form of love. Pederastic themes also crop up in the Lysis and the Charmides. However, Plato says that it is nobler to be attracted to older boys, who are more mature and intelligent, than to younger boys, who only have their beauty to offer. He also says that while sexually consummated pederasty can be noble, only chaste pederasty can reach the greatest spiritual heights. He became stricter about the no-sex rule in his later writings. In The Symposium, one character opines that there ought to be a law against courting young boys, as opposed to older boys, because if a man goes after a young boy he is wasting his efforts on an uncertain prospect.
  • Ancient Greece and Rome produced much pederastic poetry. Particularly well-known authors in this vein were Anacreon, Theognis of Megara, Theocritus, Meleager of Gadara, and Straton/Strato of Sardis (ancient Greece), and Horace, Martial and Catullus (ancient Rome). Their poems range from idealistic, to humorous, to heartbroken, to scurrilous. There were many more such poets than these; the Fourth Book of the Greek Anthology is the one to consult for Greek pederastic poems. Virgil's Second Eclogue also features this theme, as does a fragment of poetry from Solon, the preeminent statesman and lawmaker of archaic Athens. Interestingly, under one of Solon's laws any man who entered a schoolroom (schools were only for boys) without good reason could be sentenced to death; this penalty was never applied, however. The celebrated Greek poet Pindar, for whom pederasty was a natural part of an aristocratic male's education, wrote about his eromenos Theoxenos, in whose arms he is said to have died. The Roman poet Ovid wrote about the pederastic couples of myth. There was also a popular Athenian drinking song, of anonymous authorship, about the pederastic couple Harmodius and Aristogeiton. The pair were credited with killing the tyrant Hippias out of a love of liberty. In fact, they had killed his brother Hipparchus for making unwanted passes at the young Harmodius and, when Harmodius refused him, publicly humiliating Harmodius' family by claiming Harmodius' sister was not a virgin. Some of the Greek pederastic poems compare the beauty of women unfavourably with that of boys, and complain about women generally: the nagging, the makeup.
  • Crown Prince Xiao Gang of the Chinese Liang Dynasty was a distinguished poet as a young man and wrote a love poem to a boy. Later in life he had numerous children. Long after this, between 1630 and 1640, a series of homosexual-themed short stories appeared in China. In one, a twenty-year-old academic pursues a fifteen-year-old fellow scholar and a group of adolescent valets. In another, a soldier with two warrior wives is seduced by a younger male friend.
  • Since during early medieval Europe it was usually only men of the Church who were literate, it was they who wrote the pederastic literature of the time period, along with writing everything else. Marbod, Bishop of Rennes and before that master of the Cathedral school at Rennes, wrote a poem about a beautiful boy, referencing an ode of Horace's, and warning the boy addressed not to scorn his suitors, because his beauty would soon be gone as he grew up. Hildebert of Lavardin, successively Bishop of Mans and Archbishop of Tours, wrote a poem about Jove and Ganymede; Hilary of England, a student of Abelard's, wrote poems to pretty boys, also referencing Jove and Ganymede. Later the social climate turned against the 'sin' of sodomy and poems were written fulminating against homosexual practices. Some wag appended to one such attack a verse which compared Ganymede favourably to Venus and said, doubtless correctly, that many people who publicly condemned sex with boys were having it themselves on the sly.
  • Medieval Middle Eastern writers independently evolved their own traditions of pederastic poetry, dealing with boy cup-bearers, dancing boys and the like. 'Gazelle' was the term poets of this tradition used for a beautiful adolescent boy. The celebrated Persian poet Hafiz wrote prolifically about boys, as well as about women. So did Abu Nuwas, who had an Arab father and a Persian mother, lived in Baghdad, wrote mostly in Arabic and occasionally in Persian, and is considered one of the greatest of classical Arabic poets. His poems celebrate wine and boys and mock lesbianism, male sexual passivity and female sexual intemperance. They also objectify women and boys, and he even wrote about raping a boy. He liked to shock people by writing about things Islam forbade, and may have been the first Arabic poet to write about masturbation.
  • Richard Barnfield, of Elizabethan England, wrote a rip-off of Virgil's second eclogue, but also a series of openly erotic sonnets of hopeless adoration to a (perhaps fictional) boy, in the sweetly romantic style of the period.
  • Some of William Shakespeare's sonnets are addressed to a woman, some to a beautiful younger man. The poet urges him to marry so as to pass on the inheritance of his beauty.
  • Alcibiade fanciullo a scola (Alcibiades the Schoolboy), apparently published in early 1651 in Venice, probably written by Antonio Rocco. It has the form of a Platonic dialogue and is set in ancient Athens, where a teacher, Philotemes, modelled on Socrates, is longing to sleep with one of his students, a boy named Alcibiades. The boy permits his teacher to caress him, but when Philotomes prepares to have anal sex with him, Alcibiades, angry, asks him how he can "defile the purity" of the boys whom he has been trusted to educate. Philotomes spends the rest of the book arguing elaborately in defence of homosexual sodomy. Finally, he claims that the semen of a noble man will travel up from a boy's anus to his brain, warming and purifying the brain and helping it to develop, whereupon Alcibiades, pleased, permits sex to go ahead.
  • Lord Byron wrote a series of celebrated love poems about John Edleston, whom he had fallen in love with when Byron was 17 and Edleston 15, and who died six years later. He also wrote a poem of unrequited love to 15-year-old Loukas Chalandritsanos, 20 years younger than Byron.
  • Don Leon, a long poem of anonymous authorship, published in 1866 but probably written in the 1830s. It is written in the first-person voice of Lord Byron, and is a passionate defence of homosexuality, directed against the law forbidding sodomy. It describes Byron's love for various boys, refutes the notion that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because their inhabitants practised sodomy, and makes reference to the Greek pederastic tradition, including to Plato and Socrates and to Epaminondas, who was a great Theban general and statesman and had a younger boyfriend, Cephidorus. Love between two boys or between a man and a boy is the only form of homosexuality mentioned in the poem; love between two men is not considered. It is thought that the poem was written by Byron's friend George Coleman.
  • Celebrated and influential Eton teacher William Johnson Cory wrote two books of poems which show a romantic pederastic sensibility. The first, Ionica, published in 1858, is dedicated to a "pretty-faced" favourite pupil of Cory's. The second, Ionica II, was printed privately and created quite a stir at Oxford. Following in Cory's footsteps, a group of poets calling themselves the Uranians wrote a whole lot of pederastic poetry up until about 1930. Among these poets were the Reverend E. E. Bradford, Fabian S. Woodley MC, John Leslie Barford, and Francis Edwin Murray. Their books, often printed privately in limited editions, included such titles as Rondeaux of Boyhood, Love in Earnest and A Garland of Ladslove. Murray's Rondeaux are frequently humorous; Woodley's poems are sentimental; Bradford's demonstrate his fondness for working-class boys, defend homosexuality and say that boys are more beautiful than women, though their beauty does not last as long. Barford's include a poem on the classic theme of "beloveds and lovers" at a boys' Boarding School, one narrated by a playing field at that school about its love of the boys who played sports on it, one about the painting The Blue Boy, which sexologist Krafft-Ebing observed was often hung in pederasts' houses, and one imagining Christ and St John as a pederastic couple. Barford seems to have sublimated his sexuality and been anxious to protect the boys he fell for from the knowledge of his feelings; Bradford, however, seems to have been sexually active with plenty of boys, and wrote a poem on how he chatted up boys who were swimming naked, naked male swimming being a common practice at the time. Arthur Lyon Raile wrote a poem about a boy drifting away from him into heterosexuality as the boy grew up, and a follow-up poem in which he said that heterosexual love was no better nor worse than pederastic love. The theme of losing the boy as he grew up was a common one for these poets. A couple of Uranians wrote poems about thinking of ancient Greece as they watched beautiful boys.
  • The Romance of a Choir-Boy, the story of Philip Luard, a young man studying to be a priest, who falls in love with Teddy Faircloth, a beautiful boy of twelve and a half. Recognising the exceptional beauty of Teddy's soprano voice, he arranges for Teddy to attend a famous London choir school. Two years later, when Teddy is fourteen and a half, the two have a friendship, Philip mentoring Teddy and resolving, in spite of his sexual attraction to Teddy, to keep the friendship on a chaste footing. The author, John Gambril Nicholson, a teacher at boys' schools, also wrote Uranian poetry.
  • Ralph Chubb, an outlier of the Uranian group, created rhapsodic woodcuts and drawings about the beauty of the adolescent male and the liberating joy of sex between men and boys. In real life, except for a brief fling with a 15-year-old when he was 19, his sex life was unfulfilled. Chubb developed an involved personal mythology, claiming among other things to have had a vision which made clear that he was the prophet of a boy-god who would arrive to save England. "I announce a secret event as tremendous and mysterious as any that has occurred in the spiritual history of the world. I announce the inauguration of a Third Dispensation, the dispensation of the Holy Ghost on earth, and the visible advent thereof on earth in the form of a Young Boy of thirteen years old, naked perfect and unblemished."
  • Frederick Rolfe's Stories Toto Told Me, in which the Roman Catholic Don Frederico and his teenaged acolytes walk in the Italian countryside and the head acolyte, sixteen-year-old Toto, tells stories about the saints, who in the stories behave more like pagan gods. These Toto stories contain pederastic elements; Corvo represents this as the 'Greek love' which all educated men of his time knew about from their reading of the Classics. In a later novel, The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole, Rolfe presents a slightly disguised version of the trope. Nicholas Crabbe, a very Corvo-like figure from a highly autobiographical earlier novel, Nicholas Crabbe, rescues a 16-year-old girl from the Messina earthquake and employs her as his assistant and gondolier. To avoid scandal, he has her wear boys' clothes. Crabbe ends up getting a book contract which assures him a lot of money and declaring his love to the girl. Earlier, as a young man, Rolfe had written sentimental poetry about boys swimming naked, boy martyrs and so on.
  • Stefan George, a German poet of aristocratic sympathy whose verse often echoes Greek forms, wrote love poems to adolescent boys, most of them dedicated to the cult of a dead lad named Maximin, whom George had loved.
  • Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which two somewhat older men fall hard for a very beautiful young man. Wilde also wrote a short story, The Portrait of Mr W. H., in which the main character is convinced, for various elaborately explained reasons, that the unknown "Mr W. H." to whom William Shakespeare's sonnets are dedicated was Willie Hughes, a boy actor, and that the sonnets to the "lord of my love", "lovely boy", "sweet boy", "master-mistress of my passion", etc. were written to him.
  • The Priest and the Acolyte, a short story by Oxford undergraduate John Francis Bloxam, who had also written a couple of romantic poems about boys. In the story, a 28-year-old Anglo-Catholic priest and a 14-year-old acolyte (all acolytes were boys then, of course) fall in love with each other. The boy is the one who starts their relationship: he comes to the priest's room at night and confesses his love. They don't have sex, but they kiss and hug and at night they spend hours together in the priest's rooms, the acolyte sitting on the priest's lap. Their love brings them both happiness and helps them conduct Mass better too. Eventually another priest, the protagonist's superior, discovers them together, whereat the protagonist responds to this other priest's condemnation with a passionate defense of his own nature and his love for the boy. Afraid of the fallout, and wanting to be together forever, the priest and the acolyte commit suicide together by drinking poisoned Communion wine at a two-person Mass, said by the priest and served at by the acolyte, for the repose of their own souls. This story appeared in the first and only edition of Bloxam's periodical The Chameleon: a Bazaar of Dangerous and Smiling Chances. Bosie Douglas's poem Two Loves, containing the line "I am the Love that dares not speak its name" also appeared in this magazine. The contents of the magazine were used against Oscar Wilde at his trial, giving Wilde the opportunity to make the speech in which he said: " 'The Love that dare not speak its name' in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood ... It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. ... The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it." This speech got Wilde a standing ovation. Wilde also said that The Priest and the Acolyte was badly written but refused to condemn it as immoral; this refusal weighed heavily against him. While Wilde's health was being broken in prison, and then while he was dying in exile, Bloxam became an Anglo-Catholic priest and lived a quiet and apparently blameless life, well-liked by his parishioners.
  • Death in Venice. Mann quotes from the Phaedrus in this.
  • John Henry Mackay, individualist anarchist, born in Scotland and raised in Germany, wrote various political works and also, from 1905 to 1913, a series of works dedicated to the emancipation of pederasty: Die Bücher der namenlosen Liebe (Books of the Nameless Love). In these books, the boys loved by men are 13 to 18 years old. One book, Fenny Skaller, is a thinly fictionalised account of Mackay's own life and his attraction to and romantic love for boys of 14-17, and particularly those of 15-16. The title character finds that some of the boys willing to sleep with him sponge off him; others are only after thrills; others disappear from his life without warning. Another book in the series, Am Rande des Lebens (On the Margin of Life) is a collection of Mackay's poems: about unrequited love for boys, about quick casual sex with boys, about sentimental longing for boys only seen once or twice, about judges who condemn men who like boys. Mackay also wrote the pederastic novel Der Puppenjunge (The Hustler). In the novel, a 15-year-old boy, Gunther, comes to Berlin from the countryside and becomes a hustler. Hermann, a young man working for a publisher, falls head over heels in love with Gunther, who at first doesn't care, and leaves him for a wealthy count who simply likes to watch Gunther lying naked on a bearskin. Gunther grows bored and returns to Hermann, who is deliriously happy, but then Gunther is picked up on the street and taken into care by the authorities. He escapes and comes back to Hermann, whom he grows to love in return. Then they are discovered, Hermann is imprisoned for 'gross indecency', and Gunther is sent away to be a butcher's apprentice. Christopher Isherwood praised this book's realistic portrayal of the Berlin homosexual world.
  • Fernando Pessoa, said to be the greatest Portuguese poet of modern times, wrote a long poem about Hadrian mourning for Antinous, with Antinous' youth and the sexual aspect of the relationship made very clear.
  • Some writings by Karol Szymanowski, one of Poland's greatest composers. He wrote four poems in French, then the lingua franca of Eastern Europe, to his fifteen-year-old Russian boyfriend Boris Kochno, and also wrote a pederastic-themed novel, now lost.
  • Forrest Reid was an Irish novelist, literary critic and translator with connections to the significant literary figures of his day, including the Bloomsbury Group. He wrote one of the best critical studies of W. B. Yeats and the definitive work on the English woodcut artists of the 1860s. He also wrote about the fiction of his friend Walter de la Mare, produced two volumes of autobiography and translated poems from the Greek Anthology. His special subject was boyhood and his novels carry an undercurrent of his interest in teenage boys. His 'Tom' trilogy, reprinted by the Gay Men's Press, follows a boy's growing up. Young Tom, or Very Mixed Company won the 1944 James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In The Garden God, a 1905 novel, two sixteen-year-old boys fall in love. The novel contains lush descriptions of aristocratic adolescent male beauty and copious references to ancient Greece. It is implied that one of the boys has previously had sex with other boys at their single-sex Boarding School, but he 'redeems' himself by dying to save his innocent friend, whereupon the friend, who has had Greek-inspired pagan tendencies, turns back to Christianity. Reid dedicated the novel to his idol Henry James, who never spoke to him again. Nowadays the book seems much less shocking; Michael Matthew Kaylor, in his introduction to the reedition, writes, "If there can be such a thing as a puritanical pederast, Forrest Reid was that person." Reid has been called "the first Ulster novelist of European stature".
  • Wilfred Owen, the greatest poet of the First World War, wrote romantically-tinged poems to the various boys he befriended, as well as one about a boy prostitute and another about surreptitiously kissing the hand of a boy acolyte.
  • Siegfried Sassoon, who knew Owen during the war, wrote a few poems about his grief over death from a bullet wound of young David Thomas, with whom Sassoon had been in unrequited love.
  • E. F. Benson's 1916 novel David Blaize, a boys' Boarding School story. The title character takes up with Frank Maddox, three years older, who becomes his best friend, his (chaste) lover, his mentor and protector. When David is new at school, according to custom he is Frank's servant. Later on, Frank has to beat David to teach him a lesson — "this will hurt me more than it hurts you" kind of thing. David's open innocence 'redeems' Frank from the 'sin' of mutual masturbation with other boys.
  • T. E. Lawrence wrote a couple of poems about Dahoum, an Arab youth whom he loved and who died young.
  • Several of WH Auden's most famous love poems, including 'Lullaby' and 'A Bride in the Thirties' were written about teenaged Michael Yates, when Auden was in his late twenties.
  • Les amitiés particulières (This Special Friendship), Roger Peyrefitte's classic novel set in a Jesuit Boarding School for boys. Fourteen-year-old Georges has this kind of love affair with twelve-year-old Alexandre. Georges also has a friend his own age, Lucien, who's involved in a similar relationship with sixteen-year-old André. Georges and Alexandre remain chaste; Lucien and André do not. Georges looks up Greek and Roman pederastic poems, relating them to his love affair with Alexander; the père de Trennes, an archaeologist, talks about Greece, "where for once in the history of mankind, beauty and purity were united", and says that Georges should know about Greece, that he deserves to. The novel won the Prix Renaudot. Peyrefitte's much later, rather trashy novel Roy is about a thirteen-year-old boy prostitute who has a lot of sex, including sadomasochistic sex, with the rich men of Los Angeles, including the police chief.
  • Invoked and subverted in Ursula Zilinsky's Middle Ground, set in a Nazi work camp for male prisoners. The 33-year-old commander, Johannes von Svestrom, and a 16-year-old prisoner, Tyl von Pankow, fall in love. Tyl describes Svestrom as his "father, friend, lover and beloved". Svestrom later says that he does not believe love is possible except between equals. Svestrom has previously had a relationship with Tyl's uncle Gabriel, whose commanding officer he was; Gabriel, seven years younger than Svestrom, has been killed in action. Various of the camp guards have "favourite boys" among the prisoners. At least one of these relationships turns from exploitation into a committed mutual love. It begins when the boy prisoner is fifteen.
  • Les Garçons, by Henri de Montherlant, another tale set in a Jesuit school for boys. Relationships following this trope are common and accepted, even encouraged, among the boys. The heroic sixteen-year-old protagonist is very anxious to be a good mentor to his fourteen-year-old beloved, to the point of being willing to sacrifice the sex and even the relationship itself, and disapproves of the attitude of some of the other older boys, who are just in their relationships for the kicks.
  • Marguerite Yourcenar's Mémoires d'Hadrien (Memoirs of Hadrian) deals, among other things, with the relationship between fifty-something Hadrian and teenaged Antinous.
  • In Fritz Peters's Finistère, published in 1951, one of the first mainstream novels with homosexual themes, a 12-year-old boy crushes on a grown man, a friend of his family. Then, when 15 and at a boys' Boarding School, he has a love affair with a male teacher in his late 20s.
  • Mary Renault's books, because she wrote a lot about ancient Greece, where this trope was the standard for homosexual relationships. In The Last of the Wine, Alexias' lover Lysis is about 8 years older than him, which wouldn't be much except that they fall for each other when Alexias is 15 and start a relationship when Alexias is 16. In The Mask of Apollo, Nikeratos is about a dozen years older than his life partner Thettalos, and the relationship starts when Thettalos is 18; Plato (yes that Plato) has an ongoing friendship with a man, Dion, whose lover he was when Dion was 20 and Plato was 40. In The Persian Boy, 26-year-old Alexander the Great is seduced by 16-year-old Bagoas, which is the start of a 7-year relationship, lasting till Alexander's death. In The Praise Singer, 15-year-old Harmodios embarks on a love affair with Aristogeiton, a man in his late 20s. The King Must Die, The Bull from the Sea, Fire From Heaven and Funeral Games don't feature this trope so prominently, but they all take place against the backdrop of societies in which young men, and sometimes older men, have relationships with teenaged boys and, if both are upper-class, are expected to mentor the boys. The Charioteer, Renault's last contemporary novel, set during World War II, has its twenty-three-year-old protagonist Laurie involved in two relationships: he's the Lover to nineteen-year-old Andrew, the Beloved to twenty-six-year-old Ralph. Incidentally, the teenaged Alexander and Hephaistion subvert this trope in Fire From Heaven by being a.) lovers and b.) the same age; this surprises Alexander's father Philip. However, these days historians think that relationships between adolescent coevals, albeit with a lover/beloved dynamic still obtaining, were probably common in ancient Macedon; each area had its own tradition of homosexuality. Bagoas, who comes from a different culture, sees Alexander as Hephaistion's "boy" and takes pride in giving Alexander the chance to play the "man's" role. Obviously, the Alexander/Bagoas relationship, the Harmodios/Aristogeiton relationship and Plato's relationships with younger guys are fictional depictions of actual relationships recorded by history.
  • Jan Hanlo, one of the most important Dutch poets, also a prose writer in the latter part of his career, was attracted to boys and wrote a lot about his feelings. Of particular significance are his love poems to a twelve-year-old named Josje, and a book of letters, Go to the mosk, which concentrates mainly on Hanlo's sexual orientation.
  • Jean Genet's novels, memoirs and poems record his attraction to, infatuation with and relationships with various somewhat younger men.
  • Lolita is, of course, chiefly about a man sexually attracted to girls 9-14 years old and his passion for his 12-year-old stepdaughter, whose life he ruins. The homosexual version crops up with a minor character, a French expatriate named Gaston Godin, who becomes friends with Humbert Humbert, the protagonist. Godin is a professor of French at the local college. He and Humbert play Chess together (Godin is a terrible chess player) and Godin kindly gives Humbert various presents, surplusses from gifts given to him by the neighbourhood ladies — he's popular in the neighbourhood. He also has a liking for young boys, which nobody seems to have noticed except Humbert. He keeps, and shows to Humbert, an album of snapshots of the local lads; in his basement he has pistols and tiger-skins and other things likely to appeal to the boys, whom he invites round. Once, he and Humbert go to the theatre together, Humbert taking Lolita and Gaston taking a local boy, whose father is away that night. Humbert says that Godin eventually got involved in a sale histoire, "in Naples of all places", and got into trouble.
  • Harold Norse, Beat poet, wrote several poems about attraction to and sex with 14-year-old boys.
  • Sandro Penna's celebrated poems, which are largely about boys, since "everything else is uninteresting". In Penna's only collection of prose there is a short story in which a man is attracted to a working-class boy of 12 or 13 whom the man sees in a barbershop.
  • In Iris Murdoch's The Bell, 40-year-old Michael falls in unrequited love with 18-year-old Toby and thinks that " might be possible to watch over him and help a way that Toby would never know, in humble services obscurely performed at future times. ... He was conscious of such a fund of love and goodwill for the young creature beside him." While a 26-year-old teacher, Michael had a brief, chaste love affair with a 15-year-old pupil of his, Nick. This was the first time Michael had been attracted to someone so much younger than himself. He thought that "Nick, who was already his lover, would become his son"; indeed, Nick was "already playing both parts". But a revivalist preacher came to the school and after listening to his sermon Nick felt that his relationship with Michael was a sin, so he reported it, and Michael was thrown out of his job and his hopes of the priesthood ended. In Murdoch's A Fairly Honourable Defeat, two of the main characters, both grown men, one older than the other, are a lover/beloved couple.In The Nice and the Good, a man becomes attracted to his 15-year-old nephew, who is oblivious, instead pining for a girl his own age. It later emerges that the man was thrown out of a Buddhist community somewhere in the East for having sex with an adolescent boy.
  • Frits Bernard's two 1960 novellae. Costa Brava is about the love between a Venezuelan man and a twelve-year-old refugee boy during the Spanish Civil War. The man succeeds in reuniting the boy with his family; they lie to him, telling him the man has died, but years later the two meet again by chance and affirm their love for one another.Vervolgde Minderheid (Persecuted Minority) is about a fifteen-year-old boy's love affair with his male teacher; the man is imprisoned for the relationship and makes up his mind that on his release he will emigrate to get away from the Netherlands' legal and social condemnation of pederasty. Bernard was a psychologist and sexologist who campaigned for the acceptance of homosexuality and particularly pederasty.
  • The Asbestos Diary by Casimir Dukahz, a humorous, punny take on man-boy relationships, made quite a splash when first published in 1966. Dukahz, who liked to rhapsodize about the beauty of 13-year-old boys, wrote four other novels with similar themes: Vice Versa, It's a Boy, Growing Old Disgracefully and Shakespeare's Boy.
  • Lover / beloved affairs are also the done thing in Lord Dismiss Us, another boys' Boarding School story, from England this time. The trope is subverted in that sixteen-year-old Allen is more mature than eighteen-year-old Carleton, his boyfriend, the story's protagonist. Also, Allen comments, "With us it's different to everyone else. It's usually the older one who loves more. But I love you more." Twenty-four-year-old Ashley went to the school as a boy and there had a love affair with a younger boy, mirroring much of what is going on between Carleton and Allen, but has had no contact his former boyfriend since. He has now returned to the school as a literature teacher. Carleton wants to be a writer, and Ashley helps him with a story he is writing. Carleton has no idea about Ashley's affections and is initially shocked and repulsed when he finds out, but softens his opinion later. Some other men among the teachers at the school are also attracted to the boys and have little coteries. Amusingly, the chaplain has a taste for rather unwashed lads, whom he has to tea in his study. He keeps art of naked boys around, but never actually lays a finger on the real boys; their proximity is enough. He tells Allen, who wants to be a clergyman, that homosexual sex is a sin, but is fine with homosexual love. Carleton and Allen have independently decided to keep their relationship chaste. Carleton also remembers that when he was a small boy at his preparatory school, a teacher there used to sit on his bed and talk to him at night, sit Carleton on his lap, and touch Carleton's bottom.
  • Angus Stewart's Sandel is about the love between Tony, a 13-year-old choirboy, and David, a 19-year-old undergraduate, who is reading English but is also an accomplished musician. David becomes a teacher at Tony's choir Boarding School. When 17 and at school himself, David fell in love from afar with a younger boy, but never acted on his feelings. Tony is quickly growing up and the breaking of his voice, the growth of his pubic hair, the development of his adolescent coarseness of mind and manner will put an end to the boyishness that attracts David to him.
  • At the beginning of Paul Scott's Raj Quartet, set near the end of the British Raj in India, Ronald Merrick, a policeman in his early thirties with repressed homosexual and sadomasochistic tendencies, becomes strongly attracted to a young man of 22. This young man is good-looking; he is stuck-up; he is Indian, whereas Merrick is white, and feels superior for it; he was raised in Britain, in a much more upper-class milieu than Merrick's, so Merrick feels's a perfect storm. Merrick ends up ruining the young man's life. Someone else comments that Merrick "chose" Kumar because he was "unable to love. Only he was able to punish." In a later book an older Merrick reappears, and it emerges that he has been sleeping with young Indian men. In between we meet Count Bronowski, an urbane elderly Russian who falls in unrequited love with young men; he recounts how he once loved an 18-year-old boy who loved a girl, and he is currently just as hopelessly in love with his young social secretary, Ahmed Kasim. There's also a rare gender-swapped version of the trope in which an ageing lesbian falls in unrequited love with younger women. The trope is averted with Pinky, a 20-year-old gay man: he is frequently offered boy prostitutes on the street but "it wasn't a boy he wanted, but someone of his own age."
  • Isabelle Holland's The Man Without a Face. 14-year-old Chuck persuades 47-year-old Justin McLeod to tutor him over the summer so he can pass the entrance exam to a boys' Boarding School, which will get Chuck away from his mother and older sister, whom he hates. Needing a father figure, Chuck becomes attracted to Justin, who mentors him, and Justin probably reciprocates the attraction, but Justin tries to keep things within strict bounds. It's hinted that when Justin was a teacher at the same boys' boarding school Chuck wants to go to, he may have had some sort of a relationship with a boy Chuck's age, who was killed in a car crash when Justin was drunk driving. Justin ended up in prison over this and feels deeply guilty about it — both things for reasons not entirely spelt out.
  • Subverted in Tony Duvert's Quand Mourut Jonathan (When Jonathan Died). An artist, Jonathan, has a four-year relationship with a boy, Serge, aged six to ten, twenty-one years younger than he is. Serge takes the lead in everything; Jonathan does whatever Serge wants. Jonathan is described as a "disciple" to the little boy, who sometimes sees Jonathan as being a child even younger than himself. The novel was inspired by a vacation Duvert had had with a neglected boy. Duvert's other novels also discuss sex between adults and children and criticise bourgeois society, particularly the power of mothers over their children. They are Récidive, Interdit de séjour, Portrait d'homme-couteau, Le voyageur, Paysage de fantaisie, Journal d'un innocent, L’Île Atlantique and Un anneau d'argent à l'oreille. Paysage de fantaisie, a sort of fever-dream set around a brothel in which the prostitutes are small boys, received the prix Médicis, thanks largely to the praise of literary theorist and homosexual Roland Barthes.
  • Hakim Bey, anarchist Sufi, writes a great many poems about man-boy relationships as a form of liberation from the chains of the family and society.
  • Kim, min elskede (Kim, my Beloved), a Danish novel by Jens Eisenhardt. A troubled 28-year-old teacher and one of his male pupils, aged 14, fall in love with each other. The relationship continues into the boy's adulthood. There's also a sequel.
  • Le visiteur de hasard (Chance Visitor) by Patrick Drevet. A high school teacher, hitherto heterosexual, married, loving father to a son, becomes passionately obsessed with one of his students, a not particularly remarkable lad of seventeen or eighteen. In the end they have sex.
  • In Golden States, Michael Cunningham's first novel, a 12-year-old boy gets his first kiss from a young man in San Francisco.
  • Gary Shelhardt's Kite Music. A young American postgraduate student of teaching goes to Thailand on a teacher-exchange programme. There, he agrees to allow two 12-13 year old boys to live with him, since this will permit them to attend school. The teacher and one of the boys fall in love with each other and have an affair. The boy initiates the sex, climbing into bed with his teacher one night. Their relationship survives intimidation from American officials and blackmail threats. Eventually the boy becomes a monk.
  • In Stephen Fry's The Liar, the main character writes a play with a Victorian setting, in which a man rescues a 14-year-old boy from prostitution but then, to his horror, kind of accidentally sleeps with him. Said main character is in love with a slightly younger boy at his boys' school and also spends a while ...or does he? as a prostitute working Piccadilly Circus, picked up by older men. He's in his later teens at this point; some of the other boy prostitutes are as young as 11.
  • In Magic's Price of the Heralds of Valdemar series, Vanyel's Doppelganger Replacement Love Interest, Stefan, is much younger than he is. Initially Vanyel plays the mentor role to the young bard, refusing even the slightest hint of sexual attraction, but eventually the lifebond between the two becomes impossible to deny.
  • The Dream Life by Bo Huston. A boy is doing poorly in school and when he is eventually expelled his mother hires him a tutor. The mother is not interested in him and pretty much leaves him to the care of the tutor. The two end up running away together and falling in love. The boy is 14, the tutor 33.
  • Relationships between older and younger men crop up in Andrew Holleran's novels.
  • Reasons of the Heart, by Bron Nicholls. In Australia in the late 1960s, 25-year-old Fred and beautiful 11-year-old paperboy Jonathan meet and over the next year a relationship develops between them. Jonathan lives with Fred from age 12 to age 17, when he leaves to be an artist. Ten years later, Fred is not over Jonathan and lives alone, but then Jonathan, who is now widowed and has a son with Down's Syndrome, reappears in Fred's life.
  • Joseph Geraci's novels. In Marrying Tom, two boys aged 13 and 16 have a relationship. In The Deaf-Mute Boy, Maurice Burke, a former Jesuit, is now an archaeology professor at Columbia University and has an adult boyfriend, who has AIDS. While working in Sousse, Tunisia, he becomes close to Nidhal, the 13-year-old deaf-mute boy of the title, and also becomes involved with the boy's family. In Loving Sander, Will, an American art scholar in his early 30s who likes boys, takes up a fellowship in the Netherlands and there falls in love with the 10-year-old son of a couple he's friends with. Over the next almost two years, Will and Sander have a close relationship, and when Sander is 11 they start having sex. Sander's mother seems to have a fairly good idea what's going on, but she doesn't interfere. Sander is an eager participant and even offers Will sex with his, Sander's, friend Michael. Will has an adult friend who also likes boys and is defiant about his preference, conducting a relationship of his own with a boy, and taking photographs of him. At the end of the book, Will has to choose between returning to the US and staying in the Netherlands. He and Sander have declared their love to one another, but Sander is almost 12, nearing puberty and starting to want independence from Will; the relationship will soon be over.
  • Fernando Vallejo's semiautobiographical La virgen de los sicarios (Our Lady of the Assassins), which was later made into a film, portrays the love between a 50-year-old writer and a 16-year-old hustler and hitman in Medellín, Colombia.
  • Laura Argiri's The God in Flight, set in the 1880s, portrays the love affair between Doriskos, an art professor at Yale, and one of his students, Simion. They meet when Simion is 16 and Doriskos is 31. At 17, Simion is described as looking only 14. He is the blond Ganymede of whom Doriskos has dreamed throughout his twenties. The two lovers discuss Plato's Phaedrus and other classical Greek ideas, which they admire. Simion sleeps with a friend his own age, who is in love with him, and a classmate of his also falls in love with Doriskos.
  • Matthew Stadler's novels all concentrate on man-boy relationships. In Allan Stein, a man has an affair with a 15-year-old boy. There are also Landscape: Memory, The Dissolution of Nicholas Dee and The Sex Offender.
  • The Nightrunner series has Seregil in the mentor role and Alec as the student. Interestingly, it was the inequality in this pairing that kept Seregil distant for sometime. After two books worth of subtext, they finally received an upgrade.
  • In Paul Russell's The Coming Storm, a 25-year-old man, Tracy, takes up a teaching job at a swanky boys' Boarding School. The headmaster of the school, a married man, has a history of friendships with favourite boys at the school. He is attracted to Tracy and strikes up a friendship with him too, teaching him about classical music. Meanwhile, Tracy begins an affair with a 15-year-old pupil at the school, Noah. Noah has been sent to this school because he had a crush on a teacher at his previous school, and he makes many advances to Tracy before Tracy finally gives in. We also find out that a friend of Tracy's went to the school when he was a boy and had an affair with the then-headmaster, Jack. Another boy, a friend of Noah's, is having an affair with a 40-year-old man, a doctor.
  • Heavy Subtext of this in King of Shadows, a children's book by Susan Cooper, who is most famous for her The Dark Is Rising sequence. Nat Field is a gifted actor and gymnast of about eleven who joins the Company of Boys, a group of boy actors eleven to eighteen years old which is going to perform A Midsummer Night's Dream at the reconstruction of the Globe theatre in London. Nat, however, finds himself transported back in time to the original Globe in 1599, playing Puck in the first-ever performance of the play. He meets William Shakespeare, and because Nat's father killed himself a while back and Shakespeare's son Hamnet died two years before at the same age as Nat, the two find that they fill a void in one another's lives. The whole thing seems rather homoromantic. This is doubtless partly attributable to the time where it's set, a time where sodomy was illegal but where boys dressed as women on the stage and it was perfectly acceptable for men to call boys "sweet" and "pretty" and for unrelated males to kiss. However, Cooper confirmed that "I had intended King of Shadows to be a book about...a homosexual relationship...between this boy and Shakespeare, and it wasn't spelled out in the book. And one of the nicest things anybody has ever said to me about a book is when a friend of mine said, 'I wish I'd had that book when I was a gay boy at ten.' So it was there--something--it was as if it was still there in the book for someone who wanted to take it out." There is even conceivably a hint of Ho Yay in the relationship between choirboy Will and his mentor Merriman in the The Dark Is Rising sequence.
  • Return to Innocence, which the author later adapted into a movie. 13-year-old Tommy has been mistreated by his mother for years; among other things, she prostituted him, and made pornographic videos of him to put on the internet. When this is discovered Tommy is sent to a group home for mistreated boys. The head of staff there is Glen Erskine, a married father, and a respected expert on male adolescent sexuality. Tommy has a relationship, including sex, with his counselor, another middle-aged married man with kids. The relationship is discovered and shortly thereafter the man dies in a car accident. Tommy, believing Erskine is responsible, lashes out at Erskine, falsely accusing him, and Erskine ends up on trial for sex with a minor.
  • In The Lantern Bearers by Ronald Frame, young, brilliant composer Euan Bone lives with a somewhat older man who runs his life and is protective of him. Bone, in turn, is revealed to have been sexually involved with a young teen boy. Fourteen-year-old boy soprano Neil Pritchard falls for Bone while staying in Bone's house so as to sing a piece Bone is writing.
  • In At Swim, Two Boys, the three main characters are a young man in his twenties with a liking for teenaged boys ("half-girl faces on man-sized bodies") and two sixteen-year-old boys who fall in love with each other. The man, Mac Murrough, buys the sexual services of the poorer and more experienced sixteen-year-old, Doyler. He then gets to know Doyler's innocent boyfriend, Jim, while Doyler is away. The realisation of Jim's innocence and deep love for Doyler shakes shallow, promiscuous Mac Murrough to the bone, and he falls in love with Jim and refrains from making advances to him, though Jim flirts sometimes. Instead, Mac Murrough teaches Jim to swim so that Jim can keep a pact with Doyler, and encourages his relationship with Doyler in other ways. He does this even though it hurts him to see Jim with somebody else, so much that he decides to leave the country, though war eventually intervenes.
  • Allan Hollinghurst's novels, especially The Swimming Pool Library and The Spell, are full of attraction, sex and relationships between older and younger gay men.
  • In Mark Behr's Embrace, the 13-year-old protagonist has two simultaneous homosexual love affairs while at his choir Boarding School, based on the Drakensberg Boys' Choir School. One affair is with his best friend, a boy the same age, the other with his 30-something choirmaster.
  • Anafiel Delunay and Alcuin in Kushiels Dart
  • In Alexander Chee's Edinburgh, a 12-year-old boy, Fee, joins the Pine State Boys' Choir as a first soprano. He falls in unrequited love with Peter, his best friend in the choir. Turns out that the choir director sexually mistreats the boys, going so far as to drug them in order to do so. He is eventually caught, but the emotional fallout for the boys is heavy, and Peter and another boy later kill themselves. When in his middle teens, Fee is hit on by an older man, and he thinks about "how I could kill him". He also has a summer job working as a research assistant to an older man, who is a mentor for him and never lays a finger on him. At the man's funeral, he sees grown men of varying ages, and realises that the man has had a series of adolescent boys work for him. Fee has a lot of gay sex during college but keeps on falling in love with straight blond boys who remind him of Peter. At thirty, he is in a stable, happy relationship with a somewhat younger man, whom he's married in a commitment ceremony. He then meets a blond 17-year-old boy, hitherto straight, who, in a subversion of the Lover/Beloved trope, falls in love with Fee and pursues him. Fee is attracted to the boy and they eventually meet for clandestine sex.
  • In Michael Lowenthal's Avoidance, 28-year-old Jeremy works as assistant director of a boys' summer camp where there is a strong emphasis on men mentoring boys. Jeremy agonises over his sudden attraction to 14-year-old Max, one of his charges. Turns out that Jeremy's own former mentor Ruff and the camp director Charlie both have similar predilections, but unlike Jeremy have used the mentor role to coerce boys into sex. Things are complicated by Jeremy's recollection that when he was 14, he desired the 50-something Ruff. There's a backstory in which, a few years ago, Jeremy had a friendship with a 13-year-old boy to whom he seems to have been subconsciously attracted.
  • In Tall Cotton, by Charles G. Hulse. Tots, a boy growing up during the Depression, has sex with boys and girls his own age, and with men. His male cousin, a few years older, then reveals that he is in love with him.
  • The Moralist, by Rod Downey. 50-year-old professional spin doctor Richard 'Red' Rover is a self-proclaimed 'boylover' and has had sex with several boys. He joins a creative writing mentoring programme and ends up mentoring 12-year-old Jonathan, with whom he falls in love. Jonathan points out, "You like to hang around me, because it makes you feel like a kid again." Over the next year and a half, Red becomes friends with Jonathan's parents, takes Jonathan on outings, buys him presents, photographs him and offers to pay for his orthodontia — but does not have sex with him. Then Red's best friend's house is burnt down by a group of vigilantes, so Red defiantly talks about his private life on TV, and he and Jonathan end up interrogated by the police.
  • Played with in Uncle Sean by Ronald L. Donaghe. 14-year-old Will meets his beautiful Uncle Sean, whom he has not seen for the past eight years, and falls in love with him. Sean is gay and devastated because his boyfriend has been murdered by his own side in Vietnam. Sean becomes reciprocally drawn to Will but is alarmed by his own feelings and refrains from acting on them. He tells Will that it is very important to find the right person to love. In the sequel, Lance, Will does find love, with a boy his own age. In the next and last book in the sequence, All Over Him, Will, conducting a Long-Distance Relationship with Lance, lives with Sean while going to university.
  • Played with in Havemercy. Roy is older and definitely a mentor for Hal, but is reluctant about entering a relationship with him for precisely that reason. He doesn't want to take advantage, and in fact it's Hal who ends up as the pursuer for much of the novel.
  • The medieval Japanese chigo monogatari ("acolyte tales"), written by various authors between about 1300 and 1500, tell of relationships between Buddhist monks and their chigo (literally "child"), young boys retained as assistants and acolytes. Some of the most famous include the tragic romance A long tale for an autumn night, and the unabashedly pornographic "Chigo scroll", which may be Japan's oldest preserved piece of pornography.
  • Sex advice column Dan Savage, author of Savage Love, has a "campsite rule" about having sex with younger people: the older one has a responsibility to leave the other in better shape than he found him, physically, emotionally, and sexually.

Live Action TV

  • The American version of Queer as Folk had this kind of relationship in the alpha couple after a while, although it didn't follow the classical formula of the older guy being the more enthusiastic.
    • Part of the point was that the younger guy was very enthusiastic and sure of what he wanted; it was a deliberate subversion. Another part of the point was to have the younger guy be just under the age of consent and the school-leaving age, so he was 17 in the American version, 15 in the British version. As is often the case, the impact of the boy's youth is softened by using Dawson Casting: the actor playing the boy in the UK version was 18, and taller than his adult lover; in the US version he was 23! In the UK series the adult lover, who is 29 in both versions, says that a teacher had anal sex with him when he was 12.
  • Will on Will and Grace found himself in a relationship like this, by accident. At first he thought he had just made a generous new friend, but freaked when he realized what he was getting into, then decided it actually wouldn't be a bad thing, THEN found himself to have been quickly replaced by an even younger and more attractive man.
    • Earlier in the series, Will, then probably 35, briefly dated Scott, "23 and 3/4" — though when Scott initially asked Will out, Scott said he was 24 and thought Will was 27. Will felt embarrassed about Scott's age and broke it off with him.
    • Married, middle-aged Beverley Leslie has a long-term relationship with his much younger "business associate" Benji.
  • Technically, this fits for Ianto (early to mid 20s) and Jack (around 170 when they first meet) on Torchwood. It's implied that, even though he wasn't a complete ingenue, Ianto never had a boyfriend before Jack. And he does expand his skills and grow quite a lot as a person while working for Jack. Jack for his part seems to have hired Ianto mainly for his good looks and good coffee. Subverted a bit in that Ianto set out to seduce Jack first, and only after Jack found out why and forgave him for it did they start having anything approaching a real relationship.

  Jack: Wish I'd never met you, Doctor! I was much better off as a coward. *kisses him goodbye*

  • Possibly subverted on Glee. Blaine is initially set up as Kurt's Sexy Mentor, and he helps Kurt deal with bullying, but it's later revealed that Blaine is actually younger than Kurt.


  • Mozart's first opera, written when he was 11, and of which four of the five main parts are for boy singers, tells the story of Apollo and Hyacinthus. It also introduces a sister of Hyacinthus', Melia, whom Apollo eventually marries. Schoolboy morals mustn't be corrupted, after all.
  • Tom Robinson's classic gay anthem from 1976, 'Glad to Be Gay', contains, among other condemnations of mistreatment of homosexuals, the line "Make sure your boyfriend's at least 21." At the time, the UK age of consent for heterosexual acts was 16, whereas for homosexual acts it was 21. This caused not a few hassles for men with younger boyfriends. Later it was lowered to 18, but not until 2000 were the ages of consent equalised. By that point, the idea that a grown man and a 16-year-old boy might want to have sex together had become pretty taboo, so the campaigners' arguments focused on equality and the rights of teenaged gay lovers.
    • The full line is "Make sure your boyfriend's at least 21/So only your friends and your brothers get done." (Note: 'to get done' in UK slang means to get into legal trouble.) This was a reference to Peter Wells, a young man who had been imprisoned for having sex with a lad of 18. Robinson sang this very pointedly at the Secret Policeman's Ball, an Amnesty International charity concert. Amnesty were at the time refusing to acknowledge those imprisoned for homosexual offences as human rights cases.

Religion and Mythology

  • Achilles and Patroclus, arguably. Complicated/inverted by the fact that while Patroclus is older, Achilles is the leader and teacher in their relationship. They start falling into this trope in the 5th century when Erastes Eromenos was the social norm.
    • Even in Homer, though, while Achilles is the greater fighter, Patroclus is the one who trains him to be a warrior before the Trojan War kicks off. Later Greeks reversed the ages of the two; Aeschylus' The Myrmidons makes Achilles the elder, Patroclus his beloved younger boyfriend. Homer, for that matter, does not state that the two were lovers, but the later Greeks assumed they were.
  • Pang Zhang and Wang Zhongxian, a couple in a legend originating in China during the Zhou dynasty. Pang Zhang is a writer, Wang Zhongxian his student. They are a devoted couple for the rest of their lives, they die together, and when they are buried a tree grows out of each grave and the trees intertwine, as in Tristan and Iseult.
  • Zeus and Ganymede, Apollo and Hyacinthus, Poseidon and Pelops and lots of others.
  • David and Jonathan have often been thought of and depicted as this kind of couple.
  • Christ and St John have sometimes been seen this way, e.g. in the poem 'Whom Jesus Loved'.
  • Emperor Hadrian and Antinous; Hadrian had Antinous deified after he drowned in the Nile. Hadrian was also deified after his death, as customary for Roman Emperors. The Cult of Antinous was quite popular for several centuries afterwards.


  • In some interpretations, The Merchant of Venice. There's a lot of Ho Yay between Antonio and Bassanio and Antonio, who is somewhat older than Bassanio, guarantees a big loan so that Bassanio can marry, in the process putting himself at risk of death at the hands of Shylock, whom he despises for being a Jew. In some readings the relationship is seen this way: Bassanio has a good male buddy his own age, but his boyfriend is the older, richer man Antonio. The rather reckless, youthful Bassanio is sincerely fond of Antonio but is also well aware that he has Antonio wrapped round his little finger; he wheedles money out of him and then proceeds to go off with a girl. The self-sacrificing Antonio, who loves Bassanio more than Bassanio loves him, watches and even facilitates this, keeping a lid on his own private pain over his love for Bassanio. All this is classic Lover and Beloved. Other readings, however, see a fully mutual love affair between Antonio and Bassanio, with Bassanio marrying Portia largely for her money, though he does declare his love for her. Still other readings see no sexual or romantic relationship between the two, with Antionio's love for Bassanio wholly unrequited, and yet others interpret Antonio and Bassanio simply as Heterosexual Life Partners.
  • At the beginning of Christopher Marlowe's Dido, Queen of Carthage, Ganymede is seen sitting on Jove's lap coquetting away in order to get more presents from Jove. Also, in Edward II, a character recites a list of famous male/male couples, justifying homosexual relationships by saying that "The mightiest kings have had their minions...And not kings only, but the wisest men." Most of these are lover/beloved couples: Hercules and Hylas, Tully and Octavius, Socrates and Alcibiades, Achilles and Patroclus — Achilles and Patroclus are not said to be lovers in the Iliad, but were seen as erastes and eromenos by later Greeks, although in the Iliad Patroclus is the elder. Alexander and Hephaestion, who were coevals, are also mentioned in the list. The historical Edward and his boyfriend Gaveston were actually the same age, but lover/beloved was the predominant homosexual trope in Marlowe's day: people learned the trope from the Greek and Roman classics they read at school, as the list shows. Marlowe himself is supposed to have said "All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools."
  • Über die Stufen von Marmor (Above the Marble Steps), a one-act play, one of John Henry Mackay's Books of the Nameless Love. In Venice, a young German sculptor and a sixteen-year-old tourist, both male, discover that they are in love and, during a one-hour interlude with the stage curtain drawn, have sex.
  • Gender-swapped in Christa Winsloe's Gestern und Heute (Yesterday and Today), about a young teenaged girl's experiences at a strict single-sex Boarding School. The girl falls for a young female teacher, who loves her back but sticks to a chaste mentoring role. Things come unstuck because of the harsh, unfeeling way the school is run. The play, also called Ritter Nérestan (Knight Nérestan) and Krankheit der Liebe (Sickness of Love), was very popular. It is based on Winsloe's novel Das Kind Manuela (The Child Manuela), itself based on Winsloe's own experiences at boarding school. It was later filmed as Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform), with a screenplay written by Winsloe.
  • Henry de Montherlant's play La Ville dont le prince est un enfant, which has the same plot as his novel Les Garçons. Sevrais, sixteen and six months, is deeply, nobly, self-sacrificingly in love with Souplier, fourteen and three months. He longs to help Souplier grow up to be a good person.
  • Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane. A sister and brother in their thirties both have the hots for a young man of eighteen or nineteen. They end up sharing him.
  • Harold Pinter's The Confession is about two couples: James and his wife Stella, both in their thirties; and Bill, in his twenties, and his boyfriend Harry, in his forties. Stella and Bill are both dress designers and the plot revolves around a one-night stand they may or may not have had.
  • Simon Gray's Butley. The eponymous protagonist, who like Gray is a lecturer in English literature, is thoroughly unproductive at his job. He has recently married and had a daughter, but he and his wife separated after a short time together, and she tells him she's leaving him for another man. The same day, Butley's boyfriend also tells him that he's leaving him for another man. The boyfriend (with whom Butley may never have had sex, because Butley is not keen on being homosexual, which is also why he got married) is younger than Butley by ten years or so and used to be his student. Now he is a colleague, working as a lecturer in the English department of Butley's university and in fact sharing his office. The man he leaves Butley for is about his own age, which is late twenties, or if he's older it's not by much, but this man is clearly the dominant one in the relationship.
  • Latin! or Tobacco and Boys, a rather 'rude' and humorous play which Stephen Fry wrote when he was twenty-two. The main character is Dominic Clarke, a Latin teacher at a boys' preparatory Boarding School like the one Fry attended. Clarke hated going through puberty with its acne and pubic hair, and wishes that he were still a boy. Sometimes he even wears boys' clothing in secret. Clarke gives 'extra Latin' to thirteen-year-old Cartwright, a boy in one of his classes. In reality, of course, this is a cover for sexual liasions with the boy, which are the only way Clarke can feel that he himself is a boy again. Clarke plays favourites outrageously with Cartwright and is discovered to have cheated for Cartwright on Cartwright's Common Entrance exams to get into secondary school. He is sacked, and he and Cartwright convert to Islam and go to Morocco, where pederasty is more acceptable. The other boys in the class then decide they want to go to Morocco too. The title is a reference to Marlowe's "All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools."
  • In Julian Mitchell's Another Country, which was made into a film of the same name, a boy at secondary school is deeply in love with a boy about a year younger and nobly protective of him.
  • A gender-swapped version of this in one of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues, The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could. A 13-year-old girl who when she was younger was violently raped by a man is given vodka by a 24-year-old woman who then gently seduces her. She describes the experience as positive and concludes, "Now I'll never need to rely on a man." In response to the controversy this caused, Ensler later raised the girl's age to 16. The girl adds defiantly that some people would call this rape, but "well, I say if it was rape, it was a good rape." Ensler removed this line, again because it caused massive controversy. Ensler herself was raped by her father as a child.

Video Games

  • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood: The DaVinci Dissapearance single-player DLC depicts the relationship between Leonardo and his young pupil Salai. Leonardo tries to dance around the true nature of the relationship in front of his friend Ezio; Ezio has no reason to think it's wrong, as his philosophy is basically anything goes. Or more precisely, "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."
  • This is the dynamic between Gulcasa and Nessiah in Blaze Union, where Nessiah plays the role of caretaker, confidant, and kingmaker to the more inexperienced and emotionally vulnerable Gulcasa. Of note is the fact that while Nessiah is definitely much older, the two are about the same age physically, and Nessiah is also the smaller and more delicate of the pair. Over time, the two of them shed this trope as Gulcasa becomes more emotionally dominant and Nessiah more dependent.
  1. wakashu technically covers any boy between early childhood and adulthood, and was also used outside of relationship contexts, but by the end of the Edo period it pretty much meant "Uke"