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The Boston Globe

Opinion

RENÉE LOTH

Exploited boys remain invisible

Yoyo was 14 when he was thrown out of his house. He knew even then he was gay, but coming out to his family left him homeless and broke. He lost one job after another. He thought about suicide. He traveled around, voguing in ballroom dance events and looking for work. Then one of his women friends suggested they try to make money “escorting,” to use the popular euphemism. Soon enough, Yoyo was in “the life.”

A large, dark man with sensitive eyes and daisy tattoos on his arms, Yoyo, now 27 and a counselor for other young male victims of sexual exploitation, speaks in a reedy voice with a hint of his native Dominican Republic. He tears up when he describes, with disarming frankness, the years he spent being used for sex: the shame and self-loathing; the bouts with sexually transmitted diseases; the ever-present threat of violence from his “clients” or the older men who controlled him. He hit bottom several years ago in Miami’s South Beach. “I was sleeping on the beach, turning tricks for $20 behind the Dumpster,” he said. “I realized then, this life isn’t for me.”

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