“Will there always be this dark side?” Gay teenage boys’ sexual experiences with adult men

Ofer Kronenfeld, Yochay Nadan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Sexual assault in the LGBTQ+ community has received only limited scholarly attention. Gay and bisexual adolescent boys are especially vulnerable, partly due to their engagement in relationships or sexual encounters with older men. Objective: The study explored the experiences and meaning assigned by Israeli gay adolescent boys to their sexual or romantic experiences with older men, in retrospect. Participants and Setting: Participants self-identified as gay and during their adolescence were involved in sexual encounters or romantic relationships with men at least five years older than them. Methods: Employing a qualitative-phenomenological approach, 15 semi-structured interviews were conducted. Interviews were fully transcribed and analyzed according to the interpretative phenomenological framework. Results: The analysis yielded four themes: (1) dimensions of closet and risk; (2) mentoring versus exploitation; (3) dimensions of self-agency; and (4) the effects of the sexual experiences on the subsequent lives of the participants. These themes reflect complex experiences of the participants that varied between “dark” experiences to more “lightful” ones, with many different “shades” in between. Conclusions: Our analysis portrays the complexity and ambivalence inherent in the experiences of gay adolescent boys in their sexual experiences with older men. We propose that these experiences be viewed on a spectrum with different variations, thereby contributing to the body of knowledge on the subject, which has tended to depict these experiences in a dichotomous manner as either positive or negative. The findings also shed light on several possible aspects enabling age-discrepant relationships, such as being in the closet and a need for gay men role models.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number107338
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Age-discrepant relationships
  • Gay adolescent boys
  • LGBTQ+
  • Phenomenology
  • Sexual assault


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