Ginsberg was born into a Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Paterson. He was the second son of Louis Ginsberg, a schoolteacher and sometime poet, and the former Naomi Levy, a Russian emigree and fervent Marxist.
Association with NAMBLA
Ginsberg was a supporter and member of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), a pedophilia and pederasty advocacy organization in the United States that works to abolish age of consent laws and legalize sexual relations between adults and children. Saying that he joined the organization “in defense of free speech”, Ginsberg stated: “Attacks on NAMBLA stink of politics, witchhunting for profit, humorlessness, vanity, anger and ignorance … I’m a member of NAMBLA because I love boys too—everybody does, who has a little humanity”. In 1994, Ginsberg appeared in a documentary on NAMBLA called Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys (playing on the gay male slang term “Chickenhawk”), in which he read a “graphic ode to youth”.
In her 2002 book Heartbreak, Andrea Dworkin claimed Ginsberg had ulterior motives for allying with NAMBLA:
[I]n 1982, newspapers reported in huge headlines that the Supreme Court had ruled child pornography illegal. I was thrilled. I knew Allen would not be. I did think he was a civil libertarian. But, in fact, he was a pedophile. He did not belong to the North American Man/Boy Love Association out of some mad, abstract conviction that its voice had to be heard. He meant it. I take this from what Allen said directly to me, not from some inference I made. He was exceptionally aggressive about his right to fuck children and his constant pursuit of underage boys.