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HOMOSEXUALITY AMONG TRAMPS.
BY "JOSIAH FLYNT."
I have made a rather minute study of the tramp class in the United States,
England, and Germany, but I know it best in the States. I have lived with
the tramps there for eight consecutive months, besides passing numerous
shorter periods in their company, and my acquaintance with them is nearly
of ten years' standing. My purpose in going among them has been to learn
about their life in particular and outcast life in general. This can only
be done by becoming part and parcel of its manifestations.
There are two kinds of tramps in the United States: out-of-works and
"hoboes." The out-of-works are not genuine vagabonds; they really want
work and have no sympathy with the hoboes. The latter are the real tramps.
They make a business of begging--a very good business too--and keep at it,
as a rule, to the end of their days. Whisky and _Wanderlust_, or the love
of wandering, are probably the main causes of their existence; but many of
them are discouraged criminals, men who have tried their hand at crime and
find that they lack criminal wit. They become tramps because they find
that life "on the road" comes the nearest to the life they hoped to lead.
They have enough talent to do very well as beggars, better, generally
speaking, then the men who have reached the road simply as drunkards; they
know more about the tricks of the trade and are cleverer in thinking out
schemes and stories. All genuine tramps in America are, however, pretty
much the same, as far as manners and philosophy are concerned, and all are
equally welcome at the "hang-out." The class of society from which
they are drawn is generally the very lowest of all, but there are some
hoboes who have come from the very highest, and these latter are
frequently as vicious and depraved as their less well-born brethren.
Concerning sexual inversion among tramps, there is a great deal to be
said, and I cannot attempt to tell all I have heard about it, but merely
to give a general account of the matter. Every hobo in the United States
knows what "unnatural intercourse" means, talking about it freely, and,
according to my finding, every tenth man practises it, and defends his
conduct. Boys are the victims of this passion. The tramps gain possession
of these boys in various ways. A common method is to stop for awhile in
some town, and gain acquaintance with the slum children. They tell these
children all sorts of stories about life "on the road," how they can ride
on the railways for nothing, shoot Indians, and be "perfeshunnels"
(professionals), and they choose some boy who specially pleases them. By
smiles and flattering caresses they let him know that the stories are
meant for him alone, and before long, if the boy is a suitable subject, he
smiles back just as slyly. In time he learns to think that he is the
favorite of the tramp, who will take him on his travels, and he begins to
plan secret meetings with the man. The tramp, of course, continues to
excite his imagination with stories and caresses, and some fine night
there is one boy less in the town. On the road the lad is called a
"prushun," and his protector a "jocker." The majority of prushuns are
between 10 and 15 years of age, but I have known some under 10 and a few
over 15. Each is compelled by hobo law to let his jocker do with him as he
will, and many, I fear, learn to enjoy his treatment of them. They are
also expected to beg in every town they come to, any laziness on their
part receiving very severe punishment.
How the act of unnatural intercourse takes place is not entirely clear;
the hoboes are not agreed. From what I have personally observed I should
say that it is usually what they call "leg-work" (intercrural), but
sometimes _immissio penis in anum_, the boy, in either case, lying on his
stomach. I have heard terrible stories of the physical results to the boy
of anal intercourse.
One evening, near Cumberland, Pennsylvania, I was an unwilling witness of
one of the worst scenes that can be imagined. In company with eight
hoboes, I was in a freight-car attached to a slowly moving train. A
colored boy succeeded in scrambling into the car, and when the train was
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