Compulsory military service in Italy was suspended, in practice abolished, in 2004. Prior to that, all the guys, at the end of the eighteenth year, were referred to the physical for military conscription. There were many legends related to collective nakedness and to the presence of homosexual doctors, with all that this could entail. The embarrassment for the physical, the first physical that included genital examination, was common for years among the guys who were preparing for the fateful moment. Of course, for gay guys the embarrassment was much greater, for many of them this was the first moment of collective nakedness and hard-ons could become uncontrollable.
On May 3, 2008, I received and published on the blogs of Gay Project the email I quote below translated into English.
I was born in March 1986, so in January 2004 I received, last among the last ones, the terrible call card for the military physical. Compulsory military service reform was a highly debated issue in those days, the suspension of the mandatory enlistment seemed a probable hypothesis, but a lot of things were not yet well defined. I had hoped until the last moment to get rid of it, but my precept postcard summoned me for military physical at the beginning of August 2004. From September 30, 2004, military physical has been abolished. In essence, I would have been in the very last contingents for the compulsory military service before the abolition of it.
At school I was a year ahead, just in time for not being able to get a referral for study reasons, I could enroll at the university and I would have escaped military service with the referral, and instead my parents did not want to hear any reason and I hated them for that, but in fact this was my luck, even though I realized it later on. My father always told me that in the army they would make me a man and said: “Who is not good for the king is not good for the queen either!” An old way to say that those who didn’t do military service aren’t good for marriage. I had the terror of military service, of hazing and of all I had heard about these things. I could not say to my dad that I was gay and that if I stated it during the physical I would have avoided the military service, so for me there was no escape.
I think all the guys have read a lot of porn stories on the military physical, well, I assure you that if you read about the military physical when other guys have to deal with it, it can be fun, but when you are the one you have to undergo this experience it makes you feel anguish.
It was not even for the thing in itself, because I had passed some sporting physicals and also with some embarrassing situations because having to lower your underpants in front of the doctor is embarrassing for anyone, but the thing I was worried about was not even that but getting a hard-on, because for a gay guy, in a situation like that, being naked in front of so many other guys and in front of the doctors who could do with the guys whatever they like with the excuse of the medical examination (and someone really exaggerated) well, it does a certain effect and, wanting or not wanting, when a gay guy sees things like that it’s very easy that he can get a hard-on, but if it happens in such a situation there is not only the embarrassment but they brand you, that is, you cannot really lose control there.
I didn’t knew exactly how it would have been, it was a common fear to all the other guys who had to get the military physical, but I didn’t know guys who had already gone through the physical. Those older than me had fun telling me terrible things, in short, things similar to that of porn movies. Last week I did a lot of yoga exercises up to the incredible: checking my breath, posture, standing on one foot, holding my breath for a long time, pulling my belly back and so on because I had read it was something that decreases hard-ons, etc. etc..
The terrible day arrives, I was uncomfortable from the morning. They send us to a waiting room and, waiting, waiting, it’s almost noon; chatting with others, one tells me: “There is one doctor with a beard, if you happen to get examined by him you are in trouble! That doctor is gay and you’ll get a very special physical!” At a certain point a sergeant comes and calls ten guys and me among them, and he gets us into the locker room and tells us to held on just the underpants and to deposit everything else in the lockers. We undress. My heart beats violently, they get us two by two into the medical room and send us at the end of the room where there are two examination tables. I see a very nice blond guy just in front of me.
Two doctors come in, they both have a beard, the doctor who comes to me has only a goatee, the guy in front of me is now completely naked and the doctor checks all that can be checked: fells the testicles, pulls back the foreskin, and I’m there to see, so I get a hard-on and I cannot hold it back. My doctor makes me lower my underpants and immediately realizes what’s happening, feels the testicles for half a second, pulls on my underpants and sends me rapidly away making me understand with a move of the eyes that I had to get out of the medical room immediately before the other doctor may be interested in me, all this while the other doctor humiliates the blond guy even making comments loudly.
When I went out of the medical room I had a terrible heartthrob, 120 and beyond, then the blond guy explained to me that the pansy (“finocchio”) doctor did not happen to me but to him. I was absolutely certain of the opposite but I could not explain why. Of course, for a gay doctor, doing military physicals should be the best, the doctor who had happened to me, however, did not humiliate me at all and did not take advantage of the situation while he could have done so putting me into a terrible embarrassment, but he, in my opinion, understood how things were, that is, that I was gay, and allowed me to escape the humiliation. The following days there were psychological tests, but they were all shit. At the end: skilled and enrolled!
The first November they send me to the regiment. There was the atmosphere of a total disarmament, it was the last contingent of compulsory enrolment. I arrive, they incorporate me, then comes dressing and then they send me to the department. The usual embarrassment in the showers (no partitions) but as there were no fixed times, I ate very little at lunch and I was showering in the early afternoon when there was no one. I would very much like to do it in crowded hours, along with so many other guys, but that was too dangerous. Every now and then I entered the showers at rush hour, but that’s all another talk.
Hazing? I did not see it, I repeat, perhaps because it was the last contingent, and even the officers treated us very elastically. In the early months there was a real discipline, later they realized that we were calm and did not disturb and this was enough for them, it was a rather bland thing. With the other guys things got loose quickly enough. Of course I could not say I was gay but I never felt in trouble because I was on my own. One of the guys was, Bruno, coming from Trentino was a very handsome blond guy, though he was called Bruno (in Italian Bruno sounds like brown) (I have e weakness for the blondes!), I was always with him, we did everything together except the shower, he was polite, not intrusive, not conceited, a pretty guy but quiet.
In short I took a crush for Bruno, keeping him close, talking to him, staying with him so long caused me sexual reactions and sometimes I was embarrassed because I thought he would notice it and so happened, he smiled and said to me, “But what are you doing?” I became red like a pepper, but nothing changed between us, we kept going all the time together, then came the talk of the military physical and I told him what happened to me, which in practice meant to make it clear that I was gay, going further on with such subject I was afraid of a negative reaction and I felt very embarrassed, but he was smiling amused by my story, then the unexpected thing, he looks firmly in my eyes and says, “You don’t know what happened to me, I just had a huge hard-on and my doctor, the one with the goatee, told me to leave as soon as possible.” So Bruno was gay too! This was his coming out.
We joked about all the stories of the physical, and then I said, “It’s great to be in the army! Or am I wrong?” Now you can wait for I don’t know what, maybe so much sex but no, there was some kind of total incertitude, both on my side and on his, I dreamed of him every night and when I could, that is when there was a little privacy, I masturbated thinking of him and he certainly did the same but we never spoke about. Once we camped together, near Udine, we were in the tent together but we were in eight and we couldn’t even have a little privacy. When we got to have free exit we were always together, same pizzeria, same walk. We sat on the benches and talked for hours, he told me all his fantasies, even sexual things but just little, then I asked him if he had a boyfriend in civil life and he told me no, I told him that the same was for me, but even after these confessions nothing happened.
One day I told him I had fallen in love with him and he said to me: “I’m in love with you too, but I don’t feel like I’m starting a story that cannot last long.” He made me realize that he wanted me but he was saying it only with words, no gesture, not even least, not even a caress, we were deliberately going to the showers at different times, but we wanted each other. He was convinced that as we lived 400km away we could never have built a serious thing together, but to stay with him I would have done a thousand miles. I tried to insist, it was evident that he was tempted and was fighting against himself to hold back the idea, he was anxious, I knew that he was working on his choice, that he was basically trying to resist himself but wanted to surrender.
Day after day I saw his defenses fall and I hoped that the next day he would tell me yes, then I was discouraged and I did not insist on saying that I wanted to have sex with him, reluctantly I was tossed into more generic speeches, that is sexless, in the beginning he seemed very reassured by my decision to lower the tones, then after two days, he comes to me in the morning and tells me, “When are you going to the showers?” I light up a smile at 34 teeth and say, “At two and a half, and there is no one!” He answers: “I come, but look, we just have a shower!” We were in the square and there were people around and so I could not embrace him and I could not even shriek for happiness because they would think I was crazy, I just made the gesture with my mouth to send him a little kiss and he said to me: “Remember you promised, just the shower!” Well, we arrived both at showers a quarter of an hour in advance.
I was expecting that our meeting would easily turn into a very strong and direct sexual contact, but nothing like that happened. He told me that he was very embarrassed and that he didn’t feel like doing such things, I told him that I could understand it and that I would not hurt him. He hesitated a bit, then said to me, “But at a distance and together, did you understand?” And he walked away from me several meters, placed himself right on the opposite side of the showers’ room. We undressed together and went to the showers not only without touching each other but staying far away, but I could see him naked and it was not a fortuitous thing, he was there for me and on the other hand I was there for him as well. Everything lasted at most three minutes, I think the three most intense minutes of my life, then he said to me: “It’s enough!” We went back to the dressing room and we dressed. It was a thrill experience.
Once dressed, we put our heads under the jet of frozen water because otherwise we were not in a state to leave the showers and go around the barracks. In the following days the shower rite at two and a half in the afternoon became the rule, he was less embarrassed and I too, but we never touched each other for about two months, then we were discharged and when they gave us the leave sheet and told us we could finally leave because everything was over, well, I went through a moment of profound discomfort, I felt agitated, I was really sad because leaving Bruno seemed to me a terrible thing. He caught it and said, “Do you think it will work?” I answered him as a desperate guy. We left the barracks and began to speak like a couple, now it was obvious that we would not separate anymore, that we would have fought against everything and against everyone to live our lives. It was 1st November 2005. We have been together for two and a half years now and I hope to grow old with Bruno at my side.