|A Consenting Juveniles narrative is a first-hand account reporting the words of the research subject on his or her experience.|
What I felt I ought to feel was that I was abused.
|Source:||Shrink Rap: Stephen Fry Meets Dr Pamela Connolly|
Channel 4 (United Kingdom), April 3, 2007
Stephen Fry is a hugely popular entertainer in England. He has been voted one of Britains top living icons1 and one commentator called him the Official Spokesperson of the British for the British.2
In his first autobiography,3 which covered the first 18 years of his life, Fry talked about the exhilaration and the anguish of falling in love with another boy when he was 14. He also wrote about his first experience of anal sex the year before with an older student and his heartbreak that the older boy was gone by the time I had pulled up my trousers and turned round and always treated him as a stranger after that. He concluded the description of the incident with, I bear him no grudge and cannot believe he did me any harm. He didnt make me queer, he didnt make me a bugger or a buggeree, so alls jake as far as Im concerned.
Later in the book were some excerpts from a poem Fry wrote when he was 15 about the incident. What started out with him feeling like the older boys bride ended in feeling used. And he wrote that he was surprised, looking back at that poem in his late 30s because it seems to indicate that I had been more devastated by my deflowering than I had supposed.
Ten years later, the BBC produced a series in which celebrities were interviewed in psychotherapy style by actress and psychologist Pamela Connolly. Out of 14 episodes, the second featured Stephen Fry. A transcript of relevant portions is below.
For all other cases presented in this research, the voice of the interviewer is omitted in order to focus on what the people themselves have to say. An exception is made here. Several people in the Consenting Juveniles research have complained that they were browbeaten by psychologists who insisted they were victims whether they felt that way or not. See, for example, what
What comes across from reading Frys autobiography is that he very much enjoyed the seduction, was surprised by the actual sex act, and then was deeply hurt by the older boys coldness afterwards. What comes across from the BBC interview is that he had forgotten about that coldness and mostly remembered the pleasure of the seduction.
In the interview, Fry remembers his age at the time of the incident as 15, whereas his autobiography says he was 13.
Connolly: So if I say to you, Were you ever abused? Lets say sexually.
Fry: I might have been. I think I probably was. Certainly had my bottom fondled lots of times by schoolmasters and things like that. I dont think I was ever seriously abused. But, if thats abuse, well, to Hell with it. Its fine. I have no problem with that at all.
Fry: [laughs] I would call
Connolly: I wish I could find that funny, but I dont. You even wrote a poem about it.
Fry: Well, I think
Connolly: Well, isnt that exactly the same?
Connolly: This was a person in a position of power over you. He was a much older boy. Even if
Fry: No, Im afraid youre
Connolly: Well, Im really just going from your poem. Can you remember what you wrote about it?
Fry: I dont. I dont remember at all, no.
Connolly: Because it seemed to me that you
Fry: Well, because thats the language that he used. And I was fully aware that thats the way older boys at a school like that justify to themselves their desires for younger boys. It was
Connolly: But that was also something that made it particularly painful for you,
Fry: Well, yeah.
Fry: And it didnt hurt and it was quite funny and I had no
Connolly: Youve written about the pain. Youve written that it was painful. Was that not true?
Fry: Well, yeah, it was
Connolly: I mean, if
Fry: [laughs] It
Connolly: Well, then I certainly dont subscribe to the idea that one should feel a particular way.
At this point, Connolly interrupts Fry to ask about his earliest sexual memories, which were playing show-me with other boys and girls at three or four years old. Then they talk about his deep feelings for the boy he fell in love with at 14, and both the enlightenment and pain associated with that experience.
Near the end of the interview, they come back to the anal incident after Fry talks about a self-critical voice in his head, which Connelly says is the voice of his father. Although she had earlier said that she didnt what to tell Fry how he should feel, she now tells him that he can never feel peace of mind until he accepts that he was abused, including sexually.
Connolly: Because that peace wont come until you can let go of the voice. And in order to do that, Im afraid, Stephen, youre going to have to accept that you really were traumatized as a child in quite a number of ways. And I know that you dont want to think about that because you think its weak and suppy.
Fry: No, not that its weak. I want to be honest. I want to be absolutely honest.
Connolly: I think you were tremendously traumatized. I think that it was very traumatic. Because, you know, trauma for children doesnt just occur with somebody
Connolly: But on top of that, you know, you were misunderstood at school. You were beaten, all the time, at school.
Connolly: And you were sexually abused and youre a long way from accepting it.
Fry: Well, no. Im accepting that these things happened.
Connolly: Youre a long way from accepting that they are negative things that had a profound effect on who you are today.
Fry: We ought to
Connolly: Im not criticizing you for it;
Fry: No, no. And Im not taking it as criticism,
Connolly: I understand why.
Fry: but one ought to get to the root of
Connolly: Did you sexualize it?
Fry: Well I was about to say, its very difficult if youre a boy and youve been abused, and youre gay.
Connolly: It has nothing to do with your being gay.
Fry: Im aware of that. But all Im saying is that, naturally, they might become connected
Fry: in ones mind, and they need a lot of separating out. But all I know is that the thing that emotionally, really knocks me up are things like my inability to let go, my sense of physical awkwardness, inelegance, lack of dance, lack of joining-in-ness that I had. This awkwardness,
Connolly: Well, that in itself was traumatic for you.
Connolly: Yes, indeed.
Limited portion transcribed and posted under fair use doctrine for noncommercial, educational purpose.
Footnotes1. Living Icons: Vote Result
BBC, December 2006
www.bbc.co.uk/arts/livingicons/vote/2. Is Stephen Fry the de facto Queen of England?
by Jack Faulkner, Hawkblocker, April 23, 2012
www.hawkblocker.com/2012/04/23/stephen-fry-queen-of-england/3. Moab Is My Washpot: An Autobiography
by Stephen Fry, Soho Press, 1997