FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE GAY GUY WHO DELIVERS PIZZAS

Hello Project,

I read several emails you published in the forum and some have been really enlightening for me and have helped me not to feel like a rare animal. I realize that the situations I am experiencing, even if they have nothing standard, are much less rare than I believed.

I am 35 years old, I have dedicated my life especially to study and work, because I inherited from my parents the idea that a minimum of economic security is essential to build one’s life. I have a pretty good relationship with my parents, with them I have never spoken explicitly about my being gay, but if they are not stupid they should have understood it for themselves, because they have never seen me with a girl, I have no friendships with girls, I never go to the disco, etc. etc.. I think that my father, in particular, has understood, because he never told me to find a girl, on the contrary, my mother still tells me it from time to time. So, all in all, the situation at home never created problems for me. On the other hand I have never brought home guys, I had my experiences, for the truth minimal, but I never had a guy or as people say today a boyfriend, an expression that I cannot stand at all, but the thing is a bit complex and I think you’ll understand it better by reading this mail.

I’m not a good looking guy, I’m a guy we can say normal, but my flaws are many, I’m not thin or tall, I’m not athletic, I don’t have blue eyes or blond hair, indeed, to tell the truth, when I look in the mirror I don’t consider myself attractive at all. I can also say that I have never really been looking for a guy because I think that seeking doesn’t make any sense, it is not like hunting, I can simply say that I have paid attention to any possibilities but such possibilities never arrived (here too I say it with reserve), and I can say that I never really worried about it.

The story I am about to tell you seems like a novel but it is not at all, it is the simple account of what happened. One evening, I came home late from work, I hadn’t done the shopping and I had the fridge empty, I called a pizzeria that deliveries at home and I ordered a pizza.

After half an hour a guy arrived to deliver it. When I opened the door I was struck by lightning. I found myself in front of a beautiful guy, just a bit shabby, probably because very tired. I felt embarrassed, I gave him 20 euros, he was going to give me the change, but I waved indicating that I didn’t want any change, he smiled and went away. That apparition had been very short but it had upset me, I wanted to know something more about that guy but it was clear that I had no means to do it. The next day I ordered another pizza at about the same time, it was the least I could do, but a middle-aged man came to deliver it, I cannot deny that I was disappointed, but I didn’t give up, the next day I ordered another pizza but also this time the beautiful guy was absent, exactly a week after our first meeting, I remember well that it was Wednesday, I ordered a pizza again and the guy reappeared in all his glory, also this time very tired but always beautiful.

Also the scene of the tip was quite the same, but this time he told me that the tip was not needed, I told him I had always done so and he replied “Mh … ok.” I asked him in what days he was in charge of making deliveries and he answered me on Wednesday and sometimes on Saturday, then he left. Obviously my question made a spark lighten in his head and maybe I was a bit naive and exposed myself too much. However since then I ordered pizzas only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Wednesdays he was always there, on Saturdays more or less twice out of three times. One Saturday night he came, delivered the pizza and then, because out it was raining cats and dogs, he asked me if he could wait at home till the next order. The request seemed to me unusual, but was welcomed by me with enthusiasm. I brought him a fruit juice, we talked a bit of his work, then he told me that he was a university student and was about to graduate discussing a thesis on a very difficult subject of which I didn’t understand anything at all.

He was almost 30 years old even if he seemed much younger, so he was late with his studies, but had a job and maintained himself. The conversation didn’t last long because the call for the next order arrived. Over the course of the week, the guy, who was called Paul, began to spend the waiting time between one call and the other at my home, and so, perhaps in dribs and drabs, our conversation went on. One evening he told me something completely unexpected: “Do you have a boyfriend?” I asked him the reason for that question and he told me: “From your books and from all the way you do it’s evident that you are gay and that you don’t have a boyfriend”, but he hurried to tell me that instead he had a boyfriend, as if he were telling me not to put in my head strange ideas. I opened my arms and said, “Ok, I’m glad, but for me it does not change anything!” Well, actually it was not exactly like that even if in fact our strange relationship had not changed at all, sometimes he came to my house carrying his laptop, which was really monstrous, then began to bring home books and leave them at my house, sometimes the intervals between an order and the next lasted over an hour and he started to work on his thesis, One evening I asked him if he had eaten and he said no, so I prepared a very quick dinner and we had dinner together.

Unfortunately, the times of our relationship were very slow because we could meet only two days a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but even with such relaxed times we got to know each other better. He was a really remarkable guy, I respected him a lot, he told me his story, he told about his current boyfriend and those he had had before, I listened to him and I didn’t know what to say, I realized that he had a very rich and complex emotional life, much richer than mine. He always kept himself at a certain distance from me, didn’t give me too much confidence, we used to speak very seriously but he tended to point out that he had his life. Slowly I adapted to the idea of being just the friend of Wednesday and Saturday night, something that, if in some ways was not exciting, but on the other hand defined precise boundaries and didn’t feed false expectations.

One evening he told me that the date of the discussion of his degree thesis had been fixed and that he would like me to go to assist but, he added, “I don’t know you … because there’s also my boyfriend and other people and I don’t like questions or chatting” I told him I would pretend not to know him. The day of the discussion I came there three hours early, he was in the waiting room together with other undergraduates, I saw from a distance his boyfriend who leaved place for the other friends, standing anyway close to him, of course I didn’t introduce myself and kept me at a distance. There was more or less a discussion every hour, about 45 minutes of discussion and then 10 minutes for the commission behind closed doors and then the proclamation arrived. Paul was calm, he wasn’t dressed like a manager like everyone else, he was dressed like every day, he hadn’t cut his hair for the occasion and had the usual tired air. His turn arrived. The relator exposed a short presentation of the thesis and then he let Paul speak. The subject was completely unknown to me but I saw the professors of the commission listening very carefully.

At the end of the exposition, one of the professors proposed a very particular subject, he was somehow insinuating that Paul hadn’t took that subject into account, but Paul answered as a true scientist, he began with a “You pose a fundamental question to which I have long sought an answer” then he started a projection related to a very recent experiment and developed his own theory in this regard. In the end, the professor who had proposed the question concluded: “Very interesting, I would like to deepen the subject with you, because what you say is original but also very concrete.” After other brief, more formal speeches, Paul was sent back to the waiting room and the commission retired in the council chamber. Five minutes later Paul received his degree with honors. He was happy but not excited, he passed near me but didn’t say hello, his friends hug him and then they all went away together. Paul’s work life didn’t change at all, he continued to make deliveries on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The following Wednesday, when I saw him at my house, I made him find a small cake and a dinner ready, he just said thank you, but he seemed happy. He continued to stay at my house in the pause times and slowly our relationship consolidated. Months went by, the relationship with his boyfriend went into crisis, he found another guy, then he told me about. He was madly in love with his new boyfriend, but that guy, after an initial enthusiasm, no longer wanted to know about him. Paul entered into deep crisis, he was very neurotic and aggressive even with me, but never in a bad way. We often quarreled, but we reconciled a little later, he told me that he loved me but underlining as always that he had a boyfriend even if “not very stable”. Two years after our first meeting, it also happened that he stayed to sleep at my house or that he stayed at home to study for his Doctorate when I was at work, then he asked me if he could stay for a few months, in this way he would avoid paying a rent that could be useful only for a short time. So he came to stay at my house. I was fine with him.

No sex, but I felt just like in my family and I realized that he was fine too, three months later he received the news that he had to leave for his Doctorate in Germany. He was used to speaks English perfectly but not German. We started studying German together, we attended a German school together three times a week. We learned everything you can learn of German language in 70 days by studying an average of six hours a day. Then he left and I was alone again, but I was in chat with him every night, he insisted that on skype we had to speak German only, the thing went on for a few months, then he started letting some of his German friends into the conversations and slowly we got quite skilled using German. Here in Italy, at work, there are also Swiss and German customers who tell me that I speak German very well. In short, when the Doctorate ended in Germany, Paul made me an unexpected proposal and he did it in German: “Warum kommst du nicht hier her? Ich denke, wir könnten eine tolle Zeit haben. Kurz gesagt, ich würde es mögen.” (Why do not you come here? I think we could have a great time. In short, I would like it.) It took a little while for me to find a job there, but I didn’t have big problems and about four months later I went to live in Hamburg with Paul. It seems that now he’s no longer looking for a guy, he always repeats that he is not my boyfriend but in practice this only means that we don’t go to bed together, because when he is not at the DASY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron) he stays at home with me, almost always at the computer to study.

Here, Project, the story ends, what will happen in the future nobody knows but I can tell you that I don’t feel any frustration, between me and Paul there is a very strong emotional relationship. Could it all end? Well, I think that sooner or later he might find a boyfriend, but I don’t think that everything could finish between us. I don’t know if it’s a gay love story, of course it’s a strange story but it’s my story.

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WHAT I LIKE AND WHAT I DISLIKE OF GAY SEX

Hi Project,

I had big fears before talking to you last night, then those fears have dissipated and I can only say that talking to you was really useful to put aside many unnecessary complexes. I had a very Catholic education, which I don’t consider totally negative, but which also created a lot of complexes about sexuality in me, and the fact that I’m gay has certainly not facilitated things. However, yesterday evening I had no problems, it’s true, but I still limited myself to very general speeches.

Today I would like to go into more specific issues on which I have no chance to compare myself with other guys and then, where I live, it would be not only difficult but also risky because homophobia is quite common here.

I can tell that I’m rather lucky because I attend university in a big city and I have my autonomy, at 22, almost 23, I have done my sexual experiences even if with very variable results. There are things that I don’t like at all, first of all the fact that dating a guy should only serve to have sex with him and then: goodbye, see you next time! It’s absurd to think of being with a guy just to have sex with him. I cannot stand the indecision, the fact that one depends on the decision of the other whether to have sex or not and the other pretends nothing, such an attitude seems hateful to me, sex should not be asked as a grace, but should come spontaneously, otherwise the relationship is not equal. But let’s go into the specific. I like guys who don’t make their partners pray them, who make the first step, who don’t play only in response, the ones who let understand that they are really involved.

Allow me to express myself freely, I don’t like guys who when they are getting ready to have sex (lowering their underpants) are not even in erection, if you don’t have it hard it means that you are not really sexually involved, if it is not my presence itself to make you get hard, what sense does it have to go on? Probably there are other people with whom you would react with a very quick and decisive hard-on, I say this because, if I’m really involved, I react immediately. I don’t like guys who are ashamed to be excited, guys who cover it with their hands, who want to turn off the light, who want to stay under the sheets. But what’s the point of having sex with a guy if I cannot even see him naked and excited? One told me that I’m a voyeur, but if I have sex with you and it’s okay with you, I don’t really understand what you have to be ashamed of.

Then there is the whole unmentionable series of complexes on the size of the penis, on the shape, on the length, on the thickness, on maintaining the erection, etc. etc., here maybe I can understand more the fears of so many guys and what you say, Project, it seems a bit simplistic. At least for me the fact that my partner is well endowed is not indifferent. I take my penis as a model, which is nothing special, but it suits me because I’m used to it. I like guys with a penis similar to mine, so to speak, normal size and straight.

I’ve never met guys with the penis curved in an accentuated way, but I found one with a narrow phimosis and he was a bit complexed by this thing, but I must say that, except for a little initial perplexity it did not create any problem, it reacted very well and in many ways (size and shape) was also well above normal standards and above mine in particular. With that guy I didn’t have any sexual problems of any kind, but the story is over because he went to live in Australia and I was very disappointed, because he was a very good and very intelligent guy. But let’s go on, I don’t like ritual, repetitive sex, sex made with a hard face, without smiling and without joking about what is being done.

Then there is a fundamental thing, even if I managed to achieve it only once, the sex must be safe, the risk must be reduced to zero, you do the test together before having sex, you wait the window period and repeat the test, if it came negative both times, then you can be much calmer and you can have sex without being devoured by doubts and concerns. If one does not want to do the double test, sex must be done only with condoms and there can be no discussion, certainly it is much less involving, but if you want to do it in a more involving way then you must adapt to the idea of the double test. But let’s go on.

During sex you have to talk at least a little, and avoid being always silent, A guy told me that before he met me he had been with another guy who told him that he had a ugly penis, here, I consider a thing of this kind hateful. Don’t you want to be with that guy? Okay, you can go somewhere else, but if you stay there you cannot despise the person you’re with. Among other things, the guy who was offended had a very normal and very reactive penis, when I told him it, he felt very gratified, because he didn’t expect it at all. I think that telling a guy that he has a nice penis is a compliment certainly very welcome, telling him that his penis is ugly is really offensive. There is a psychological attitude that I hate, and it is, after having sex with a guy, to say that you did it only for him but that you didn’t really care. So what have you been doing? A charity action? This is a reasoning of an unacceptable hypocrisy.

Another thing I don’t like at all is the lack of reciprocity, that is, the fact that when you did what you wanted to do, everything is over and goodbye, and your partner at most can masturbate on his own. Such a thing is terrible, I heard it but it never happened to me, I think I would have reacted badly. Another hateful thing is using for a guy a female term of endearment. If you want to be with a girl, go there, there are so many girls, there’s no reason to run after a gay guy. Another hateful question: to tell a guy how another guy has sex, especially if the two guys know each other. There is nothing more odious. Sex is done in two and is not told to others. Here I am talking about sex with Project who doesn’t know who I’m and certainly in telling some things I don’t write the name and surname of the people I’m talking about. Another thing that I cannot stand: attitudes of superiority, doing the part of the master of sex, of the guy who has understood everything and can teach others how to do it. People who take themselves too seriously only show off their stupidity. Another important thing: finished the sex, you don’t have immediately to say goodbye, you can have a coffee, a chocolate, go back to a dimension of ordinary life and then you say goodbye.

The spontaneous opportunities to have a little sex can be many, I think for example to take a shower together, which also has a playful meaning (and it happened to me), I think of laughing together. Project, one thing you said about sexual game impressed me: the game is a way to a less inhibited sexuality, it is true and I have experienced it directly.

And here there is the big chapter of sexual practices to be opened. Some may consider it strange but I love cuddles, and especially sexual cuddles, exchanging caresses even the intimate ones but without any specific sexual purpose, beyond sharing one’s intimacy, even physical, just like an exchange of emotional warmth. I really like the idea of falling asleep in the arms of my partner, I would say that this is one of the nicest things of gay sex, then there is mutual masturbation that I think everyone likes without exception and about oral sex the speech is more less the same, even if here there are problems related to the use of condoms, because here there is a risk and condoms should be used, even though many may consider them a completely unnatural and unpleasant thing, however, with the only guy who agreed to do the double test, we did it without a condom and it was very intimate and I would say very pleasant.

As for anal sex, I immediately say I’ve never done it but not only because it’s the most risky sexual practice, but because I’ve never had sexual fantasies of this kind. I thought I was a bit out of the norm for this, but I changed my mind. Out of the five guys I’ve been with, only one proposed to have anal sex and was disappointed when I told him no. With the others the topic was not even touched in the least, even when we had sex almost every day. Of course, common sense would like a couple to find its balance even in terms of sexual practices avoiding any attempt in this field to impose anything on those who don’t like it.

From everything I have written you can think that now I have no doubts and that I know how to behave on every occasion but it is not so. There is a guy I fell in love with and with whom I have never had the slightest contact I don’t say sexual but not even vaguely physical, I will call him Paul, well, I swear, Project, I have never felt so embarrassed as with him, I also desire him sexually, I would like everything of him, because I think he is a very good guy and I would like to spend all my life with him, if you didn’t understand, I am in love with him, like I have never been in love with anyone else, that’s why I never know what to do. I’ve come to a decision, next time I’ll tell him that I love him and when I hear him on the phone I feel happy, but I will not tell him that I also get a hard-on, because I’m afraid he might be scared, it seems stupid but it could also happen and I wouldn’t want to miss him for anything in the world.

I feel very shy, as if I was 14 years old and I was in my first story, but I’m probably in my most important story. My friends tell me that Paul is not beautiful and there is someone better and I should look around, but I spoke several times with Paul and I thought he was a great person, that one you can trust, the one that talks just a little (maybe I talk too much) but he does what he says. In short, Paul is not the beautiful doll to show to friends but he could be the real life partner. Tomorrow I will see him, Project, and I will make him my first declaration of love, I am very hesitant, but something tells me that everything will be fine. I will let you know.

B. G.

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DIFFICULT GAY LOVES AND LONELINESS

Hi Project,

It’s a bit of time that I ask myself some questions to which I cannot find an answer. I don’t have a boyfriend and I have not looked for one for years, but I had a boyfriend, the only one in my life. Now at 45, after years since we broke up, I keep thinking of him. He still calls me on the phone from time to time and I have the impression that he is not well. Years ago he focused on a guy’s search and on sex. He also had risky behaviors that doesn’t seem to have caused any consequences, it was a really convulsive phase, but in the end he remained alone. I fear that he may slip into depression or worse that he has already slipped. Making a serious talk with him is difficult if not impossible, he is aggressive but not violent, neurotic, he reacts impulsively, nevertheless something is left between us. I keep thinking of him very often, when I don’t hear him for a longer period a tremendous anxiety takes me, but sooner or later he calls me and then for a while I feel calmer. He’s not my boyfriend anymore and maybe he’s never been, but I think he’s never been anyone’s boyfriend, I think nobody’s been able to make him feel really good. He trusts me, he speaks to me freely, he is not afraid to show me his weaknesses because he knows I will not leave him alone. Some time ago I was also sure of the fact that I would never leave him alone and that I could spend my life for him, then, year after year, this certainty began to falter. I love him and if I could live with him and for him I would feel fulfilled, at least I still think so, but the passing of time made me realize that we will never be together, that he will continue to dream things and people that don’t exist and I will always be just an outlet valve in the worst moments. A role of this kind should be tight, but I would accept it at the end, as I have always accepted it, but years ago I thought, or better I hoped that it could serve something, I thought that I was a medicine to overcome the disease, but I’m aware that I only serve to alleviate the pain, but I cannot change anything substantial. It takes me a kind of discouragement because I see that the years pass and not only things don’t improve, but they are getting worse, that he is more and more alone, that every now and then begins to feel abandoned even by me and that our relationship tends to become more and more faint, as if it were just fading and this scares me. I found my own balance, especially because I work, he doesn’t have a stable job and he adapts to do everything to make ends meet but it is like he stopped hoping for the future. I love him, I’m terrified by the idea that he can think that I want to do a good deed by standing by him. He for me, despite the many doubts, is still a fundamental person, but I think that for him I’m much less, something more than zero, this is true, but still someone who cannot change his life. If I ask myself, today as today, what I would be willing to do for him, I answer that I would be willing to do very little, because what I would like is not what he wants, and this will not change. I think that more than a meeting of people our is a meeting of two dreams, I have embodied my dream in him, even if he perhaps has nothing to do with my dream and he has embodied in me some of his expectations to which I do everything to match, but this is not a love story. When I see him now, with some white hair, with a little belly, with his neglected appearance, I think that he is not even the shadow of the handsome guy who he was but in the end I’m quite wasted too, a man of half age who in life has not achieved anything serious and above all anything of his own, who has fallen in love with a guy but has failed to pull him out of the pit of melancholy. I don’t know if this is the story of a failure, Project, but sometimes I feel really lost. After all, each of us is deceived by his own dreams and ends up losing touch with reality, but this is not a consolation. I’m not enough for him, I’m not his ideal guy, he always told me, he also told me that he loves me, but wants to be free, stray, alone, it’s like he has a craving to get into trouble. Do you know why I’m writing to you, Project? It’s easy to say: he has not called me for 15 days and I begin to feel badly, I keep thinking of him and I need to vent myself, but when I say that I think of him I mean that I think of him with worry, because I know that he doesn’t feel good. Project, sometimes I cannot keep going on, I’m afraid something might happen to him, that moments of ugly melancholy can assail him and make him lose control of himself. And I, who always told him that I love him, what do I do? I should really work hard for him, but I don’t know how and then I let the time go by and I don’t do anything and so I too slide in the pit of depression. Only a phone call could reassure me, but that phone call doesn’t come because he is lost in who knows what melancholy or in who knows what unrealistic hopes, unrealistic like mine. Is this love, Project? Of course it is something that tears me internally. I leave you, now, if you want, send me two lines.

Paul72

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THOMAS AND KLAUS MANN TWO HOMOSEXUALS

On November 20th, 1968, during a general audience, Pope Paul VI expressed himself so: “One forgets that man in all his spiritual being, that is, in his supreme faculties of knowing and loving, is correlative to God; is made for him; and every conquest of the human spirit increases in him the restlessness, and ignites the desire to go further, to reach the ocean of being and life, the full truth, which alone gives beatitude. Removing God as a term of research, to which man is by nature addressed, means to mortify man himself. The so-called “death of God” turns into death of man. We are not the only ones to affirm such a sad truth. Here is a testimony that has been left by a very cultured avant-garde writer and unhappy type of modern culture (Klaus Mann, son of Thomas). He wrote: “There is no hope. We intellectuals, traitors or victims, we would do well to recognize our situation as absolutely desperate. Why should we make illusions? We are lost! we are won! The voice that pronounced these words – the testimony goes on -, a voice a little veiled, but pure, harmonious and strangely suggestive, was that of a student of philosophy and literature, with whom I met by chance in the ancient university city of Uppsala. What he had to say was interesting, and it was still characteristic: I heard similar statements by intellectuals everywhere in Europe. . . And he said in a voice that was no longer certain: We should abandon ourselves to absolute despair …” Dear sons, for us no, it is not so.”

Who is Klaus Mann, the man Paul VI considers the most unhappy paradigm of modern culture? And what is the meaning of the reference made by Klaus Mann to that student met in the ancient university city of Uppsala? As mentioned by Paul VI himself, Klaus Mann is one of the sons of Thomas Mann, that is the son of one of the men who most influenced European culture in the last hundred years, but it is not about literature that I intend to speak.

The fact that Klaus is son of Thomas has enormous significance, from my point of view, because both the father and the son found themselves having to deal with their homosexuality and in front of it they gave very different answers. In the work of Thomas Mann the atmospheres are very particular and, in general, the gay reader feels immersed in a world that doesn’t seem strange to him at all. The conflict between the “serene” bourgeois world where everything is codified and ordered and the appeal of art that has anyway the charm of the abyss, often emerges. This conflict in “Death in Venice” reveals itself, out of metaphor, as the conflict between heterosexuality and homosexuality.

Thomas Mann, born in 1875 in Lübeck, when he was a high school student, confessed his feelings to a friend who didn’t share them because he simply couldn’t share them. That experience constituted the first falling in love of Thomas Mann. One gets the impression that the image of that high school mate often returns within Mann’s work. But Mann experienced a much more engaging falling in love with Paul Ehrenberg, a young violinist and impressionist painter a year younger than him. Between 1899 and 1903, according to the diaries and letters of Thomas Mann, falling in love became a real infatuation, which led to an intense relationship between the two guys. A painting by Ehrenberg entitled “Die Hetzjagd” (the hunt) hung for some time in the room of Thomas Mann. In those years, from a set of memories of family life written by Thomas for Paul Ehrenberg, who lived in Munich, the drafting of “The Buddenbrooks” began.

Both the character of Hans Hansen of “Tonio Kröger” (1903) and the character of the painter in the novel “The hungry men” (1903) and that of Rudolf ‘Rudi’ Schwerdtfeger, also a violinist and an object of homosexual interest in the “Doctor Faustus” clearly refer to Paul Ehrenberg. In the case of Tonio Kröger the analogies become very strong because in Munich, where he used to meet Ehrenberg, Mann saw by chance for the first time a twenty year old girl who was talking animatedly with the tram ticket collector, he tried to know who she was, he was told that she was Katia Pringsheim, a student of mathematics, physics and chemistry, daughter of the great mathematician Alfred Israel Pringsheim, a university professor very rich and of Jewish family, who lived in a grand palace the most beautiful life that a high bourgeois could dream of. The professor Pringsheim was not an observant Jew, and he let his sons follow Lutheranism but it was not enough to save his family from Nazi persecution. Mann, through friends, managed to get introduced to Pringsheim and “fell in love” (I’ll explain later why I put this word in quotation marks) with Katia but she wished to enjoy her youth and was not willing to marry and nothing followed.

Mann left for Denmark where he wrote the Tonio Kröger, in which Tonio falls deeply in love with both his school friend Hans Hansen and the young girl Ingeborg Holm, both had blue eyes, light hair and a distinctly Nordic appearance. The strength of Tonio Kröger derives from the fact that it is a substantially autobiographical novel in which the true passions of the young Mann are transfused. It should be emphasized that Tonio is identified as “a different one”, in this case for artistic reasons, that is, as someone who cannot enjoy what others enjoy. In Denmark Mann not only wrote the Tonio Kröger but also wrote letters to Katia Pringsheim that convinced the girl to agree to the wedding, celebrated on February 11th, 1905. It was a “happy” wedding, here too I have to put the term happy in quotation marks, six children were born. However, many doubts remain in considering this marriage as the outcome of a love story.

In his essay “On marriage – toast to Katia” Mann argues that marriage and art are both a bourgeois service to life, an ethical pact and a sacrament, because it is precisely through art and marriage that the spirit arrives to dominate on matter, on flesh and blood. It should be noted that shortly before the marriage Mann had lived with Ehrenberg a very strong relationship and it was not a sublimated relationship, such as the one described in Tonio Kröger, but a sexual relationship that decades later Mann himself will consider the fundamental emotional experience of his life with unequivocal words: “I lived and loved, . . . finally, with a new happiness, because I held in my arms someone I was deeply in love with”, but, it must be underlined, these evaluations of the relationship with Ehrenberg have matured in Mann several decades after their relationship.

At the time of their relationship, Mann’s attitude was radically different and was dominated by a kind of self-denial as a homosexual and by the condemnation of “abnormality”. In practice Mann condemned himself to marriage to try to remove from himself the homosexual passion he had lived deeply with Ehrenberg. Thomas’s brother, Heinrich, who also claimed that Thomas’s relationship with Ehrenberg was madness and insisted that his brother get married soon, suspected that the marriage had been accepted by Thomas for reasons of social opportunity, of course it is that the social position of his father-in-law undoubtedly favored Thomas.

Some, given the existences of marriage, have tried to talk about a bisexuality of Thomas Mann but the reality would rather make us think of an escape from homosexuality to a bourgeois paradise much more reassuring. The poor Ehrenberg had no choice but to follow the path of marriage, too, and ended up marrying the painter Lilly Teufel. Mann, after the wedding, wrote “Royal Highness”, the story is set in the Grand Duchy of Grimmburg, a tiny imaginary state, reduced to situations of economic hardship, and the protagonist is the second son of the Grand Duke who is forced to marry a rich heiress to raise the fate of the state. The contrast between “Royal Highness” and “Tonio Kröger” could not be more jarring. Thomas Mann had six children from Katia, the first two were admittedly homosexual, the eldest Erika, born in Munich on November 9th 1905, married on July 25th 1926, not yet twenty-one years old, with Gustaf Gründgens, but in 1929 divorced. Erika, a declared lesbian, had her first relationship in 1932 with Pamela Wedekind, whom she met in Berlin and who was engaged to her brother Klaus, who was also a homosexual.

We known, in successive periods, at least three other important and sexually passionate lesbian relationships of Erika Mann, on whose sexual orientation there was never any doubt. Her father Thomas had a very positive attitude towards women with whom his daughter had a love affair, but he didn’t show the same openness towards his son Klaus. The attitudes of Klaus and his father towards homosexuality were radically antithetical and this didn’t encourage dialogue between them. I don’t elaborate the discourse on Klaus Mann’s homosexuality here, because I will take it analytically again after concluding that on his father.

Even after the marriage Mann didn’t abandon the homosexual topic and in 1912 he published “Death in Venice” which was the basis of the homonymous film by Luchino Visconti of 1971 and of the homonymous 1973 melodrama by Benjamin Britten. Needless to say, both Visconti and Britten were homosexuals. The story is imbued with a tragic spirit. Gustav von Aschenbach, a fifty-year-old man who dedicated his whole life to art, after remaining a widower, went to Venice and in the grand Hotel des Bains in the Lido island, was struck by the beauty of a Polish boy aged more or less 14, Tadzio, sailor suit, stayed in the Hotel with all his family. On the boy Aschenbach builds a thousand arguments apparently related to his conception of art, while he observes the boy trying not to be discovered. But it’s too hot and in Venice cholera breaks out, the authorities minimize but Aschenbach realizes that the danger is real, he should warn the family of that boy but he doesn’t because he doesn’t want to see him leave, in the meantime, from an exchange of looks Aschenbach is led to believe that the boy shares his feelings, the presence of Tadzio becomes obsessive in Aschenbach’s mind who comes to realize that his interest is a sexual interest and that the art plan is just a fictional overlap. Aschenbach weakened and sickly sees Tadzio play with friends and then raise an arm almost to greet him, that will be the last image of Tadzio that will accompany the last breath of the man who had hiddenly loved him. The novel has its undeniable tragic power, but the association between homosexuality and death seems to be a too emphasized theorem.

Mann’s difficulty in accepting his homosexuality was also found in 1925 when Thomas wrote a small essay entitled “On Marriage”. In this little work Mann opposes marriage (obviously heterosexual) to homosexuality as if they were the only two possible options. And his position against homosexuality appears very clear, I would say far too sharp to appear credible. In 1927, when Mann was 52, during a holiday in Silt, he met the then 17-year-old Klaus Heuser and invited him to his villa in Munich. The one for Klaus Heuser was probably the last great passion of Mann, but always very restrained. When Heuser went to see Mann in Zurich in 1935, Mann noted in his diary: “He has not changed at all or just a little: skinny, still a boy at twenty-four, the same eyes. I kept looking at him and saying ‘My God!’ … He expected me to kiss him but I didn’t, but before he left I was able to say a few words of love to him.”

I come now to a critical moment, not only for the life of Thomas Mann and his sons but for the whole of Germany and unfortunately also for the whole of Europe and not only for it. The elections of May 1928 had brought to the Reichstag 12 National Socialist deputies, but already in the 1930 elections the National Socialist party of Hitler had passed to 107 deputies. In the 1932 elections Hitlerian deputies rose to 230 out of 608 seats in total and the National Socialist party became the first party in Germany. Hitler ran for the presidential elections of January 1933. In the elections, Hindenburg, a hero of the First World War, outgoing president, appeared the only candidate able to stop the rise of Hitler and was supported by a coalition that went from the nationalists to the Social Democrats. Hindenburg again won the presidency with 53% of the votes against 37% of Hitler, who was appointed Chancellor on January 30th, leading a coalition of parties (Nazis and German-national popular party), but a few days later, in the elections of March 5th 1933, the climate had radically changed. It was voted in the week when the Reichstag building was burned (February 27th 1933).

Marinus van der Lubbe, a 24-year-old Dutch communist, blamed for the fire, was beheaded for this reason on January 10th 1934. The majority of historians agrees that the fire had been organized for political purposes by Nazi leaders, the evidences in this sense are many and were collected from independent sources. The Reichstag fire became a pretext to banish an anti-Bolshevik crusade against democratic parties. The fact is that Hiltler convinced Hindenburg to issue the so-called “Reichstag decree” on the same day of February 27th 1933, on February 28th the decree became law and most of the rights guaranteed by the Weimar Constitution were suspended for emergency reasons. In this climate, the elections for the renewal of the Reichstag were held on March 5th. The leaders of the Social Democratic Party were forced to flee. Despite an endless series of threats and intimidation, the Nazis didn’t obtain the absolute majority. Hitler was therefore forced to maintain an alliance with the German-national popular party. Hitler aimed not at a coalition majority but at obtaining the so-called “decree of full powers”, i.e. a legislative power independent of the Raichstag, to pass the decree of full powers a majority of 2/3 of the Reischstag was needed. On March 23th the decree was approved with the support of the Catholic Center and with the only Social Democrats voting against, and entered into force on March 27th. Many social democrats were physically prevented from entering Parliament while all the communist deputies, who constituted 17% of Parliament, had been arrested.

Given this historical picture, one wonders what was the position of Thomas Mann and his sons. If one considers that in 1929 Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature it is easy to understand that his position would not have been indifferent to the Nazis. In January 1933 Mann held a public lecture at the University of Munich on the theme “Pain and Greatness of Richard Wagner” in which he effectively denied the links between Nazism and Wagnerian art, the Nazis present in the hall gave signs of nervousness because Mann represented a voice openly out of the chorus, just in the critical moments of Hitler’s assault on power. Mann realized the danger, especially since his wife’s family was of Jewish origin, and he immediately moved to Switzerland and then to the United States, and a group of German anti-Nazi exiles gathered around him.

I limit myself to remembering that from 1940 to the end of the war Thomas Mann recorded a long series of speeches in German that were broadcast by Radio London to be heard in Germany. In these speeches Mann is the first to refer to the extermination of Jews in the gas chambers, the report of crimes perpetrated by the Nazis is documented and there is a very clear attempt to awaken the consciences of the Germans by making them aware of the atrocities that Hitler’s propaganda had systematically hidden. There is no doubt that Mann was one of the very few and tenacious “German” animators of anti-Nazism. Immediately after the surrender of Germany on May 8th 1945, Thomas Mann will read in German on the radio the radio message titled “The lagers” announcing the destruction of the culture and life of Germany and making the Germans understand how the horror of the extermination camps had shamefully destroyed the image of Germany in Europe, Mann argues that this is a sin against the German spirit that cannot be forgiven.

If already in 1945 Europe began to make a difference between German and Nazi, this is due to the few characters who behaved like Thomas Mann. But one thing should be stressed, Thomas Mann did not make choices of convenience but of conscience, and when in 1952, the most ferocious “McCarthyism” spread in the United States, a sort of witch hunt against the Communists or presumed such, wanted by the Republican Senator Mc Carthy assisted by two young men who would have had considerable weight in the history of the USA as Richard Nixon and Robert Kennedy, Thomas Mann became indignant and abandoned the United States as the greatest foreign intellectuals did, for example Charlie Chaplin and his wife Oona O’Neil. Even if the discourse would deserve much further study, let’s leave aside Thomas Mann and take care of his son, whom Paul VI presents as the unhappy paradigm of modern culture.

Klaus Henry Mann, second son of Thomas was born in Munich on November 18th 1906. From the age of 19, in 1925, with the publication of his first novel “The sacred dance”, an autobiographical book of a unique and disarming sincerity in which he portrays the life of the gay Berlin of the 20s, he declared himself homosexual. In the same year “Anja e Ester” also came out, a very delicate love story between two girls. If you think that the pretext for the murderer of Ernst Röhm and the top of the SA by Hitler in 1934 was just homosexuality, it is understood that in 1933, with Hitler’s coming to power, the situation of Klaus became particularly dangerous and Klaus followed without hesitation his father in exile.

He was a sensitive and fragile 26-year-old guy, but he was one of the most tenacious and courageous adversaries of Nazism. His liberalism was guided by great ideals, it was, in essence, a faith that in some respects recalled certain aspects of socialism. Fascinated by the Christian ideal, Klaus had deep friendships in every social and cultural level. He himself tells us with the utmost seriousness of fleeting loves with some sailors from the port of Marseilles. He loved without being returned the surrealist writer René Crevel and later had a history of a few years with an American journalist Thomas Quinn Curtiss. He became a fraternal friend with the lesbian writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, with André Gide, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947, and Jean Cocteau, a French academic, author of novels, theater and film director. Both Gide and Cocteau were explicitly homosexual. A work by Klaus Mann is particularly well-known to the general public due to its film reworking, which won the Oscar in 1980, and is “Mephisto or the story of a career”, in which Klaus describes the story of his former brother-in-law, the actor Gustaf Gründgens, who had divorced his sister Erika in 1929, and had sold his soul to the devil in order to make a career in the Nazi regime. Obviously Gründgens didn’t like the publication of the work at all. The adoptive son of Gründgens, in the 1960s, turned to the court and after seven years of legal battles he succeeded in obtaining from the German Supreme Court that the book was not reprinted, but after his death the book was printed again.

In 1934 Klaus published an article titled “Homosexuality and Fascism” for a Prague magazine and composed a fictional biography of Piotr Illich Cajcovskij, also a homosexual. In 1937 he published “Window with bars” on the last days of Ludwig of Bavaria, the homosexual king who hated war and loved art. A film will be drawn from the book by Luchino Visconti, “Ludwig”, in 1972.

Just before the war, in America, Klaus lives poor and alone, tries suicide but then reacts and when the United States enter the war he enlists and enters the military department of the Ritchie Boys, a special group made up of Jews and German refugees, particularly trained in psychological warfare who are very motivated and know perfectly the German mentality. In 1942 the American soldier Klaus Henry Mann was added to the Fifth Army that would fight in Africa and in Italy, before departure Klaus Mann asks to have an interview with a Catholic military chaplain because he intends to convert to Catholicism abandoning Lutheranism, as it is clear from the letters (“Briefe und Antworten” Letters and Answers). It seems that the meeting actually took place but that the chaplain refused the conversion, probably because of Klaus’ homosexuality.

In Italy Klaus is employed as a war reporter following the Fifth Army, he works with Rossellini as a screenwriter of “Paisà”, after the war he goes in person to visit the horrors of the Nazi extermination camps. Intoxicated by drugs, in 1949 he goes to Cennes to detoxify himself. On May 20th, after walking for a long time in the rain, waiting for a certain Luois, he swallows a massive dose of barbiturates and on May 21th he dies at the age of 42. He was accused of everything, even of being a spy of Stalin but he remains a character of the highest nobility of mind for anyone with the ability to understand it, but Paul VI, in calling him the model of the desperate intellectual of the ‘900 that in the death of God had condemned to death the man behaved towards him exactly as the Catholic chaplain who had refused his conversion.

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GAY LOVE AND TRANSGRESSIVE SEX

Hi Project,

I find myself in a difficult situation that I would never have placed between the possible hypotheses. I am 45 years old, I have had only one serious story in my life with the only guy with whom I have also had sex, he is 10 years younger than me, the story was beautiful, because he is an honest person who speaks clearly and with me behaved very well, but despite all this, the story lasted a few years and then ended, without quarrels and recriminations, but ended because he was looking for something else and I think he was right, because I don’t believe me at all the ideal companion. Since then, and it’s been five years, he had several guys but he never managed to have a relationship with a minimum of stability and I saw him gradually fall into situations of increasingly serious discomfort. He was going a little towards depression, and a little towards too easy enthusiasms, he became increasingly addicted to sex, which by now I don’t think it is anymore satisfactory for him, I think instead it has become a kind of obsession that made him waste time with the studies and then with the possibility of finding a real job, but above all convinced him that he was a kind of pathological case and in reality in his worst moments he could give that impression but I think that he is terribly alone. He knows that I no longer have a boyfriend after him and he every so often calls me, especially when he feels worse, I try not to disappoint him as it is possible, but I realize that little by little the dialogue between us has been reduced only to talking about sex. He asks me if I remember when we were making love and I say yes, because I remember it, but then I see that he is not really interested in sex as a way to be with a guy and to be well with that guy, but as a way to evoke transgressive situations lived together, that end up being the dominant memories, and he asks me in particular and insistently if I remember exactly those moments and tries to reconstruct them in a very detailed way, and this speech is often repeated, so much so as to become sometimes the only topic of conversation. He has been going to a psychologist for a few months now, she seems like a good woman, not invasive, he talks to her but probably she does not know him as I do. Project, sometimes I wonder what I can do for him, because I love him. It is obvious that he doesn’t want to get back with me and I think that at the moment he doesn’t want to be with anyone else and that’s what scares me, because I think that loneliness can be a trap without exit. When he calls me, at the most improbable hours of the day and night, I never know how to react, I try to support him, but I realize that the dialogue is limited, nevertheless I think that it is better than nothing and then, honestly, it makes me feel bad to see him so prostrate and addicted, it is as if for him everything revolves around the transgressive sex, which for him is an interest precisely because it is transgressive. A few years ago, when we were no longer together, he told me a lot about himself and I know, as he knows, the reason for all this. Project, look, he’s a guy with a monstrous intelligence, when he’s really shiny, and then he’s extremely outspoken, he never makes any psychological tricks, doesn’t follow strategies, and says what he really thinks. I still feel a strong attraction to him, if it depended only on me, I wouldn’t think twice and I would get back with him, but the fact is that he doesn’t want this, he’s probably looking for a person who shares with him the charm of transgressive sex to feel it as a normal thing one can also speak about without problems and that can be accepted. Project, when I say transgressive sex don’t imagine crazy things, for him the exciting transgression is only one, that of betrayal, of double play, of keeping one foot in two shoes, going to bed with one without saying it to the other, but keep in mind that when he did these things he himself said that, as if this, let’s call it sex with betrayal of trust, should be accepted and somehow approved. Apart from the fact that these things were very rare exceptions, even if in his memory they left a deep trace. I would add that such behavior probably would not have undermined anything, if it were an exception as it actually was. Get back with him, today as today, it is an eventuality absolutely impracticable, even if I think it wouldn’t be a hypothesis so much to discard, because I really love him and he has a dialogue with me that I don’t believe he can have with other persons. So what should I do? If we try to see each other once in a while, for example every two weeks, we will inevitably end up in bed having some sex, but it would be strongly conditioned by the memories of the transgressive sex and at the end he would feel nevertheless uncomfortable (it’s already happened). I gave up on having my plan for the future and my desire is just not to leave him alone, but I don’t know what to do. In his dark moments, when I try to open a more substantial speech with him, he silences me and asks me not to change the subject and we go back to talking about the memories of transgressive sex. His presence in my life has been a constant for many years and it is so much more now because I see him uncomfortable. He doesn’t want me to tell him that I love him and he tells me: “Enough with these sentimental things!” And we return to the usual speeches. Yet not more than a couple of months ago, I had seen him very differently, the relationship with the psychologist was working and he was coming out of the idea almost obsessive to live, or better not to be able to live a love story. In reality, however, it was as if he had simply accepted the idea that he would never have had a romance, but not because no one would fall in love with him, but because he would never really fall in love with anyone. Project, I bring inside myself so much melancholy and I don’t know what to do, I’m still in love and I feel really in disarray. My dreams are not compatible with his, and I am also willing to adapt to his but I don’t know how, and above all I fear to be a remedy worse than the disease. The story ends here. The future is very uncertain and I have no reference points whatsoever. What should I do  Project?

Alex

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HOMOSEXUALITY AND PARAPHILIAS

This post is dedicated to the paraphilias in the homosexual field. As it is well known, the “Dagnostical and Statistical Manual of the Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition” (DSM-5) contains some useful definitions for circumscribing the field, first of all the distinction between paraphilia and paraphilic disorder, and then establishes the criteria for defining a diagnosis for some types of paraphilia. As it is obvious, DSM-5 is a fundamental indication of principle, aimed primarily at psychiatrists and takes into consideration many different situations that psychiatrists can encounter in the daily practice of the profession. The manual also has an indicative value for the knowledge of paraphilic phenomena that do not necessarily lead to paraphilic disorders but which are decidedly more common and are also found outside the areas of intervention typical of psychiatry. As there is a psychopathology of daily life so there is a widespread paraphilia of daily life that in some cases can move towards the borderline with true paraphilic disorders.

Obviously I will try to address the issue based on the experiences gained in Gay Project.

Some fundamental methodological observations must be kept in mind.

1) To get to talk about one’s own paraphilias, it is necessary to have the greatest guarantees of confidentiality, not just because it’s about matters related to sexuality but because certain behaviors can be criminally relevant, as it happens with pedophilia. It happened to me several times to talk with people who had pedophile fantasies, but not exclusive and, what is more important, never put into practice. Fantasies are an individual question, while behaviors are criminally relevant, so it is not surprising that only fantasies emerge.

2) Some paraphilias may involve forms of sexual contact with non-consenting persons (frotteurism) or forms of violence (sadism) or deception (voyeurism) and therefore are difficult to admit because they may involve moral discredit, if they remain at the level of fantasies, or even sanctions if you they produce concrete behaviors.

3) Some paraphilias (coprophilia, pissing, spermatophagia) can be very difficult to admit because they can generate repulsion.

4) It should be emphasized that, precisely for the above, only non-episodic paraphilias emerge in the interviews and often characterized by concomitant serious anxious states more or less connected with the paraphilia itself, so they are true paraphilic disorders.

5) Often more paraphilias manifest themselves together and a very complex picture is outlined closely related to the individual’s personal history.

6) From the talks emerge some constant correlations that seem to indicate causal links more than probable, as for example the fact that “all, without exception,” the people I met who had pedophile fantasies reported having suffered sexual abuse in childhood.

So, I think it is essential to emphasize an aspect of the paraphilias: the person who has paraphilic disorders often experiences the difficulty of relating “sexually” with another person because the presence of the paraphlia and the tendency to put it into practice in a sometimes obsessive manner arouse perplexities in the partner who sooner or later inevitably goes away because he has the impression that sexuality is literally dominated by the paraphilia or even reduced to it.

The feeling of rejection and abandonment almost always accompanies the life of the person who manifests paraphilias. The tendency to project his paraphilias to other subjects is often observed in the subject carrying paraphilias, assuming that others can react to those stimuli with a similar sexual excitement, but this is not realized at all and this is one of the reasons that make particularly difficult a sexual relationship with a person who has paraphilic disorders.

I would like to add to the paraphilias listed in the DSM-5 another paraphilia related to the unconscious involvement of another person in sexual intercourse: it is about having sex while talking about something else on the phone with another person with whom you had sexual relations. In this behavior the central element is the “betrayal” of the trust of the person with whom you talk about something else. It should be emphasized that when the transgressive behavior loses its transgression meaning because somehow it is accepted and justified by the partner and especially by the third person, it quickly loses its sexual meaning.

I have often observed boys with paraphilias who tended not to blame themselves or to try to change things but consider themselves elements socially excluded and almost condemned to live a life without affections, now definitively prey to a sexuality that cannot be shared with others. Often the reaction to the feeling of marginalization does not lead to depression but to forms of rationalization and critical examination of one’s sexuality. In practice, the person acts on two distinct levels, a rational one, in which solitude is accepted as something to live with and a sexual one, characterized by the loss of rational control and total abandonment to emotionality and inevitably to the paraphilia.

The real problem lies in building an affective relationship “compatible with sexuality”, because the person with paraphilic disorder generally has no problems in building a friendly relationship, if that relationship is born and keeps completely devoid of sexual values, the problems arise instead in relationships in which sexuality is explicitly involved. I have been able to observe several times as in such cases, in order to preserve at least the friendship, the person with paraphilic disorders has deliberately and rationally tried to avoid any chance of sexual involvement.

Who is involved in a relationship with a paraphilic guy, at the beginning, may not even realize it or can only perceive a polarization of his partner on the strictly sexual aspects of the relationship, then, with time, and with the development of the relationship, the paraphilic will come to talk about his problem with his partner for whom a period of doubts about the behavior to be held will start, with continuous oscillations between a minimization of the problem and a greater awareness.

As I have already said, some paraphilias do not undermine affective relationships, but they heavily condition their possible sexual developments. The paraphilic needs love, is generally a pleasant person and tends to keep the paraphilia only at the level of fantasies or talking with a reliable partner and often gives a value of transgression to behaviors that have very little transgressive and tends to emphasize some of his transgressive behaviors as if they were habitual even if they occurred only once. Boys who have paraphilias need first of all respect and feel hurt by preconceived reactions and discriminatory behavior. Their need to integrate makes them generally pleasing to their friends and also to their sexual partners with whom they usually have a very honest interview and do not tolerate hypocritical behavior. I have often been able to notice how many paraphilias are connected to childhood experiences and tend reproduce situations of childhood experience, a childhood experience that remains very present in children’s memories and which they consider to be the basis of paraphilias.

The re-elaboration of childhood experience and its rationalization are indispensable conditions for getting out of the dependence on the paraphilias. Generally I am rather reluctant to the idea of an easy recourse to the intervention of a psychologist, but in front of the paraphilias the presence of a psychologist cannot be replaced by that of a friend or worse of the partner, because a friend or the partner can to be involved very deeply on an affective level and not only, and they are certainly not the most suitable people to help their friend in the recovery of rationality and above all in the elaboration of childhood experience.

The difficulty of the paraphilic to create a shared emotional-sexual relationship is due to the obsessive mechanism of the paraphilia, not to the paraphilia itself. If the paraphilia does not present itself obsessively, it would be only a temporary variant of sexual behavior that probably would not generate problems within the couple, but the paraphilias always present with an obsessive mechanism, are a kind of fixed idea that the person must realize on the basis of a real addiction relationship, there can be periods of abstinence more or less long, relatively free from the paraphilia, which then however ends up reappearing and makes the rational mechanism of abstinence collapse.

Often periods of abstinence are interrupted when the attempt to build a sexual relationship detached from the paraphilia meets unexpected difficulties, that is when the person experiences for the umpteenth time the mechanism of rejection. The return to the paraphilia through a sexual contact with a partner who accepts it, even if only episodically, provokes a feeling of security and control over that partner and is therefore at least relatively reassuring. But these are experiences that do not involve a real sharing of sexuality and that also leave a strong feeling of precariousness and non-genuine correspondence at the level of the couple.

I have seen people subject to paraphilias who more than once, after a series of failures in the creation of emotional-sexual relationships, have ended up putting aside the idea of having a partner with whom to build a relationship and have operated a kind of splitting between affectivity and sexuality, reserving the affectivity to friends with whom they maintain a stable relationship without sexual implications and experiencing sexuality, with some occasional partners, usually always the same, with which however any implication of affection is excluded a priori.

When I speak of occasional partners I do not intend to refer to unknown people found on the internet through dating sites or with particular applications, but almost always to ex-boyfriends, and this because while ex-boyfriends are more or less aware of the existence of the paraphilia and somehow accept it, strangers completely unaware would almost certainly be negatively affected and would not comply, thus accentuating the sensation of impossibility and rejection.

Guys affected by paraphilias are not the only victims of paraphilia, because even the guys who try to build emotional-sexual relations with them live complex and contradictory experiences and they often go into crisis because seeing that things do not go, they try to understand who is responsible for it, and in this way or they blame the person affected by paraphilias who seems strange to them, complicated and in some way pathological, or they blame themselves, because they were not able to bear everything in the presumption that loving a person means accepting that person by sharing everything, and even the pathologies.

The most wrong attitude towards a person with paraphilias consists in considering the paraphilias a kind of game made to experiment. This attitude manifests a radical misunderstanding of the seriousness of the problem and causes those who experience it to live a profound suffering, while they deserve the utmost respect. I add an obvious observation, but particularly important in these cases: people who come to talk about their own paraphilias have the right to maximum confidentiality and any violation of this confidentiality is a real wound to those who, seriously speaking about problems that are not at all easy to talk, are actually asking for help.

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AUGUST VON PLATEN HOMOSEXUAL ACCORDING TO RAFFALOVICH

With the chapter titled “Platen or the superior uranist”, André Raffalovich closes his book “Uranism and Unisexuality”. It is certainly not a case. Raffalovich has always shown a remarkable sympathy for von Platen and for his conception of homosexuality, which is celebrated by him at the end of the chapter with accents of genuine enthusiasm as well as moral sharing. It should be said immediately that Raffalovich, in his overview on remarkable homosexuals of the history and literature stopped at the first ‘800, with the only exception of Wilde. In his work therefore don’t appear some fundamental characters of the history of homosexuality such as John Addington Symonds, Edward Carpenter and the Raffalovich himself, who belong to the second half of the ‘800 and in some cases have extended their activity to the first decades of ‘900.

Platen, like Grillparzer, Motitz, Goethe, and Byron himself, belongs to a period, in which the debate on homosexuality is still something utopian and vague to be placed in a future of which it was impossible to foresee even the dawn.

The destruction of the memories and of many letters of Byron after his death is a sign of how the idea of the homosexuality of the author was considered unthinkable.

Grillparzer and Moritz were very careful in defending their honorability from the risk of accusations of homosexuality. All these characters (with the exception perhaps of Byron) went through periods of doubt, oscillations and uncertainties about the real dimension of their sexuality because they were totally or almost totally lacking in evidence that could put the dominant prejudice into crisis. They all experienced heterosexual stories in which the emotional participation was really minimal and that today would not be difficult to identify as coverage relationships.

Byron, who had behaved more freely, was forced by gossip to leave England and never returned.

Before Platen, the signs of homosexuality had to be found in little known biographical elements or in the ambiguities of the works, where they were almost always transcribed in heterosexual key. For Platen it is not like that. It could be said that Platen is the first homosexual in the modern sense of the term, because he recognizes his homosexuality, at least in front of his friends, who don’t disown him for this, and affirms his right to love and be loved as a friend of noble soul, because his feeling has nothing to be ashamed of. Raffalovich interprets the fact that Platen considers his homosexual love something dignified and high by hypothesizing the idea that it was a love without sex or almost without sex, and anyway with an extremely sublimated sexuality, a hypothesis that could perhaps be proposed for young Platen, but sounds quite unrealistic for the Italian period of the poet’s life.

It should not be forgotten that Italy, for the whole ‘800, was for the rich homosexuals of northern Europe a true earthly paradise, totally devoid of English moralism and German hypocrisy in matters of sexuality.

Certainly Platen, it seems, even in Italy didn’t live a wild life to the level that will then be typical of Wilde and seems to maintain moralistic attitudes even when he condemns very libertine poets who intend to create a relationship of friendship with him.

But Platen is modern also for another reason: his not to surround his life and his poems of too much caution exposes him to gossip and he ends up being a victim of very heavy and vulgar personal attacks, obviously on charges of homosexuality, advanced in the most vulgar ways by a character like Heine, in other respects an excellent and fine literate of Hebrew origins.

The controversy between Heine and Platen arose for reasons of literary pride, it seems that Heine had not much appreciated a poem by Platen and had expressed about it a very critical, if not scornful, judgment, Platen replied by bringing into play Heine’s Jewish origins. Heine answered letting himself go to insults against Platen related to his homosexuality.

The story of the quarrel between Platen and Heine is the sign of how much the accusation of homosexuality was (and still is today) a weapon that is kept in store and can be unleashed whenever the opportunity arises.

Thomas Mann dedicated a long essay to Platen who, in his solitary death in Syracuse, by cholera (perhaps), is the inspirer of “Death in Venice”, on which Luchino Visconti based his cinematographic masterpiece. But Mann’s work on Platen, rather than representing a hypothetical fight of Platen against homosexuality, embodies in Platen the similar and far more grievous struggle of Mann against his own homosexuality. Today, after the complete publication of Platen’s diaries, the reading of the character made by Mann can no longer be shared. Platen, unlike the great majority of cultured homosexuals of his generation (and also om many of the later ones) had accepted his homosexuality and considered it a value that could not be set aside in any way. Of course, in a world where homosexuality was heavily criminally persecuted and denial was the only attitude of all, including homosexuals, a man like Platen spent his life between disappointments and frustrations, falling in love with heterosexual friends with a lot of misunderstandings, but for him homosexuality was a form of love with capital L and certainly he would not have lowered to the idea of mercenary sex, he’s a character who has maintained high, even as a homosexual, the level of his morality.

Let’s leave the floor to Raffalovich. Below you can read my translation into English of the chapter dedicated to Paletn in “Uranisme et Unisexualité” by Marc André Raffalovich, 1896. My translation into Italian of the entire work can be downloaded without any formalities on the page: http://gayproject.altervista.org/uranisme_et_unisexualite.pdf

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PLATEN OR THE UPPER URANIST

I would like to present in a clear way the noble, interesting and melancholic figure of the poet Auguste, Count of Platen-Hallermünde.

He is for excellence the born uranist, destined, self-assured, upright, complete, courageous, elevated, all dedicated to his love for poetic glory, for poetic art, for intellectual and physical beauty, in the most lively way in which he feels it, because he feels it in accord with his dignity as a man. He strongly loved his friends, Count Fugger, Liebig, A. Kopisch, Gustav Schwab, etc., and raised hateful hate. Even today, the Munich library holds the eighteen volumes of Platen’s diary, and this precious deposit awaits a respectful and intelligent publication, which von Laubman and L. von Scheffler have promised.

In 1860 Engelhardt published some fragments of the diary that stop in 1828 – Platen was born in 1796 and died in 1838. It is with the help of this autobiographical fragments, of his works, his letters and the publications of his friends that I will try to show his physiognomy.

Auguste, Count of Platen-Hallermünde (or Count of Platen, as he preferred to be called) was born October 21th, 1796 in Ansbach where his father was in the service of Prussia. The first Count of Platen, Franz-Ernest, had received his title on July 20th, 1689 by Leopold I.

Platen’s father, born in 1740, had married Miss von Reitzenstein in the first marriage, and from this marriage were born six children, one male and five females. The marriage was unhappy and led to a divorce. Count Platen remarried in 1795 with Louise-Friederike Christiane Eichler von Auritz. They had two sons, the first was the poet, the youngest died at the age of three.

Auguste von Platen, or Platen as I’ll call him, when he was still very young, had a long illness, the famous doctor of Erlangen, Hildebrand, considered it incurable; but the child grew up despite the disease, bred with simplicity, and as happened to most of the noble children born after the French Revolution, he was taught to be on familiar speaking terms with his parents and to feel free in their presence: they never spoke to him about his noble birth.

Platen recalled that his early childhood friends had been Simon Langenfoss and Jeannot Asimont, sons of a French teacher, and two Liebeskind. He also often went to the castle to play with the princess, daughter of Prince Louis of Prussia, brother of the king. He met there also the aunts of the little girl, the Queen Louise of Prussia, and the princess of Thurn und Taxis.

Platen’s father made so many small trips to visit the forests to which he had to supervise and the child remained alone with his mother. She read for him loudly and made him love reading. He soon preferred books to his many toys. He also learned to write early. The first book he read alone contained childish comedies. He loved the theater, he went there as much as possible, he recited some comedies with his companions. In his seventh year he wrote a pastoral comedy and sent it to a young friend.

He wrote many small parts in verse, full of fairies, witches and wizards. Even mythology took possession of his imagination, but the stories of love left him indifferent. He considered love only a theatrical artifice. Despite his fondness for fairy tales, he was rather skeptical. He replied to a professor that there was no hell. It meant that there was no place where souls were roasting.

His mother withdrew completely from the world to take care only of her son. She pushed him to work. She had him write letters to an English girl his age, whom he had never seen, daughter of a childhood friend of the Countess. A young girl, Caroline von Gemmingen, soon came to live with them. Platen and her were always at war.

In 1806 the child, in his ninth year, saw the defeat of the soldiers of the Emperor of Austria, Bernadotte passing through Ansbach and the fall of Prussia; and he became very interested in all these events.

In the same year, General Werneck, the head of the Cadets in Munich, a childhood friend of the father of Platen, offered him to incorporate the boy among the Cadets. The father accepted and the mother took the child to Monaco.

The separation from his mother was a great pain for him, and the rigid and heavy clothes bothered him, but the novelty amused him, and what reconciled him with his new style of life was friendship.

He remained for four years among the Cadets. He described very well the life as it was organized there – the Cadet school had been a Jesuit monastery. There were a hundred Cadets. They almost were not allowed to read, their readings and their correspondence, were rigorously examined. The Cadets were constantly supervised: during the lessons by the teachers, during the recreation by the officers, at night by the servants. They were never left alone. They taught them Mathematics, Geometry, History, Geography, Style, Latin, Religion, French, language to which great attention was paid, Fencing, Dance and almost all musical instruments.

Cadets used to make fun of his verses. At mealtimes he was always at the table in the middle: there were three tables on which the food was proportional to the progress or to the relapses of the students. – Comedies were recited; the number of comedies was limited due to the lack of female roles. Platen never recited such comedies. In his tenth year he probably overcame his childhood illness, because he remembered, not without pleasure, of a trip on foot made during the holidays with some companions and some teachers, a trip to the Tyrol. The Tyrolean people seemed to him kind and considerate. The Cadets slept on straw, but they were well fed. He spent the rest of the holidays at home, happy to be free. The constraints of the college were unbearable. His obstinacy attracted so many punishments on him that they ended up aggravating this trait of his character. He soon found himself on bad terms with the military authorities and with the professor of Lutheran Religion. Platen, although he was a Lutheran, had defended Catholicism in a spirit of contradiction. His stubbornness, he himself says, was punishable, but it was also the beginning of his independence of judgment.

Friendship, after all, made the college bearable for him. Friendship was the goddess of the Cadets. Each one could look for and find a soul similar to his own, and despite the external constraints, a Cadet could be linked to a friend for life.

His first confidant was Friedrich Schnizlein, to whom he entrusted his first writings. He was a perfect confidant, but he was not in favor of the fervor of sentiment in friendship.

Ludwig von Luder, he too Protestant, also received the literary confidence of young Platen. He was older and very intelligent, a lover of science, without disordered inclinations. He always remained Platen’s sincere friend, and their discussions were only about politics.
Among the Cadets in his class he often saw Ernst Wiebeking, Count Sprety, Kasimir Baeumler, Tettenborn, etc .; among those of the other classes, Karl and Alexander Welden, Krazeisen, Brand, Kaeser, Normann, Wilhelm and Joseph Gumppenberg.

Max von Gruber particularly attracted him. He was not very gifted, but full of will, a mathematician lover of poetry, just, solid and without prejudices. He would forgive Voltaire his atheism if Voltaire had not so often denied it; he did not blame any of Napoleon’s evil deeds if they were part of his role as conqueror. It is understandable that the young Platen, who had to feel different from others, clung to Max von Gruber, honest and full of respect for the essential differences between men of value or genius. They always remained friends. Gustav Jacobs, son of the philologist, was also very closely linked to Platen; he was a simple, open-minded boy, he hated pedantry, hardly loved by the authorities, he blamed Platen’s lamentations but praised his poems and was interested in them.

The two Fugger brothers loved Platen too, and Friedrich, the eldest, enthusiastic about Goethe, will remain in the history of German literature related to the name of Platen, honored by his long, tender and modest friendship.

Friedrich Fugger was linked above all to Wilhelm Gumppenberg and joined to him by his love for music. Count Fugger later put many of Platen’s poems into music, and in college he already shared his aversion to drinkers’ songs.

But of all these friendships, the most tender was that for Joseph Xylander. They had met in college for three years, before getting to know each other better. They had this happiness in March 1810, and until the autumn of that year, when Platen left, they enjoyed an almost romantic friendship.

Platen wrote for him many poems that Xylander never saw. He also wrote a hymn to friendship, novels and a comedy, parodies and satires, which made him unwelcome in the environment.

All these attempts were destroyed before the end of 1810. The reading of Homer enthused him and transported him to the Greek world. that was so dear to him.

The war of 1809 with Austria taught him to keep quiet.

The Bavarians loved Napoleon: Platen would have preferred the success of the Austrians, and when Munich was occupied by the Austrians and the Austrian officers came to visit the school of the Cadets, Platen hid his sympathies.

In September 1810 Platen left the Cadets and became one of the king’s Pages. Before joining the group of the Pages he spent two months in his father’s house. He had suffered greatly, leaving Xylander.

At the age of 14, Platen’s character seems to have been well defined: love for poetry and friendship, friendship for young people of his age, educated, serious, and at the same time an exclusively sentimental attachment for someone a little younger than him, and then a lot of stubbornness, sensitivity and ability to suffer, a solid patriotic point of view and a desire to love, to be loved, and to get better.

This is the boy who twenty years old will write in his diary that God, chastity, friendship and learning are the basis of his system.

He rested in the group of Pages from 1810 until 1815. His first impression was sad: he had no friends. They looked at him with indifferent eyes. He had no one to confide in. Little by little he found himself well. Count Kuenigl, whom he knew, came to his aid. Among the Pages there was much more education than among the Cadets, there was more freedom, more cleanliness, the food was better. The clothes were more beautiful, and you could change clothes when you wanted. They were treated like elder boys. You could work on your own and you could read all the classic books.

He loved Latin and Greek, Italian and English. He always wrote a lot and destroyed what he had written. The king was very good with the Pages, and court ceremonies were fun for them. Platen slowly made friends, but not a close friend. A certain Count Lodron Laterano was of some importance to him, making him love Italian. Baron Perglas, a young man with an iron zeal, stimulated him at work, as well as the Counts Gajetan Berchem and Saporta. But he had above all confidence in a certain baron Massenbach, a very honest boy. All were useful for his education. He was weakly religious and prayed fervently only in the unpleasant moments, but he never completely forgot to pray decently, without mumbling. His first communion in 1811 gave him many good intentions.

Professor Hafner, the most important man in the school of Pages, did much to amuse and grow the Pages. He took them to the museums at the Academy, read for them aloud, and when the Pages were in bed he told them stories.

In 1813 Platen decided to become official, not out of affection for the military state, but because this state, according to him, involved more free time and more freedom.

His poetic future always tormented him, he wanted to write a tragedy on Corradino, the friendship of the young Frederick for Corradino had to fill more than one good scene. It is interesting that at the age of seventeen he felt obliged to add a girl in love with Corradino, who followed him disguised and unrecognized to Italy.

He had not yet found his literary path.

A few years later, he resumes the theme of Corradino , finds the friendship of Frederick and Corradino more than enough and no longer needs to invent a girl.

Two days before his seventeenth birthday, Platen begins his diary – and will continue until his death, for twenty-five years. – There are some diary pieces in French, others in English, Italian and Portuguese.

He had the passion to read poets in their own language, and he learned Spanish, Swedish, Danish and Persian.

In his eighteenth year, he thinks he is in love with a young Marquise Euphrasia, the most beautiful girl in the court. He goes to live in the same house, he sees her from time to time, but he realizes in the same year that he was wrong, and leaves the good widow, where he is staying, and the mother of this excellent person, with much more regret than that he felt in leaving the Marquise Euphrasia.

He notices this sentimental error, the only one of his life, it seems, and quickly dissipated. I don’t think any other woman really interested him after that. This passing interest in Euphrasia is a curious and instructive moment in the history of Platen. The need to focus on someone and be interesting, the idea that one should be tenderly in love with someone, the monotony of his life, give him this illusion.

Not many unisexuals have let themselves be so easily illuminated as Platen; the collapse of an ordinary superficial love made them seek out insistently the feelings and emotions that the woman can give, but Platen did not restart at all. He already had enough desires, enough aspirations. He wanted to see foreign countries, Italy, London, Rome.

On March 31st, 1814 he became a lieutenant. He does not like the company of the officers. He comforts himself reading a lot, working a lot. He is quite upset by the license of the costumes around him. He learns that a young poet, named Hesse, sent verses to Goethe and received a reply from him. He is very impressed, he wonders if his verses are worthy of such an expedition.

In the middle of his imagination for Euphrasia a sudden friendship for a young man, Issel, is enough to show the most lively interest of Platen for friendship.

Issel is a young painter and the Grand Duke of Darmstadt makes him travel. At the beginning (the friendship begins on May 28th and ends in June: therefore, above all, it didn’t last long), Issel did not interest him, then he noticed in this painter a great variety of interests, a pure taste in art, a lot of cordiality, lots of attention. Issel would have left after eight or nine days.

Knowing that Platen is interested in poetry, Issel tells him that he had received from young Voss a curl from Schiller’s hair cut after his death and offers to share it with him.

Left together by the friend who had made them meet, they spoke of foreign languages, of Goethe’s works, of such a short life and of such a long art. Issel lives by Nathan Schlichtegroll and advises Platen to get to know him. Then they discuss the reform of the mystical school of Schlegel, of Werner that Issel knows. Issel asks Platen to accompany him to Italy. Platen doesn’t understand how a man of so much spirit can be interested in him.

They often meet after this first meeting. One day Issel begs Platen to read to him some poems [1] and reads to him his own. The next day, Platen reads to him several other poems but then regrets having done so. He feels sad, he thinks he has profaned the paradise of his thoughts having introduced there a stranger. It is possible that Issel (mediocre poet after all), had not appreciated Platen enough. Platen promises to stop writing the verses and frowns at the thought of the loneliness that awaits him. The next day comes the reconciliation: they spend a nice evening together.

Isssel begs him not to abandon poetry, and the next day sends him Schiller’s hair and receives a poem in return. On June 6th Issel tells him he wrote a tragedy (whistled in Frankfurt, about the Countess Platen who played an important role in the court of the Duke of Brunswick, father of George I of England). On the same day, Platen learns that he must bring carts with tents to Battenberg in Tyrol. Issel comforts him, offering to accompany him. The same evening he drinks to his brotherhood with him and Schlichtegroll.

The 9th, Issel and Platen leave together, discussing abuot Dr. Gall, whom Issel knew, reading Wallenstein.

The 10th Platen is happy to see a so beautiful landscape in such a dear company. The same day they have problems. Issel hurts his self-love, then accuses him of curiosity, indiscretion, etc.. Platen finds it offensive to justify himself. They don’t talk any more.

Anyway, climbing up a hill, he meets Issel, who descends, who shouts to have engraved the name of Platen on a stone. When he and Issel leave permanently, Platen regrets having set him aside for his irritable mood and admits that his stubbornness will make him unhappy and will remove many men from him. And he spends two days after Issel’s departure to write several songs.

On June 17th he returned to Munich.

I told this episode in detail, because we can find there what characterizes and strongly distinguishes Platen: his enthusiasm for his young friend, intelligent, cultured, or who wanted to teach or learn. Naturally melancholic himself (since he had left his father’s house), the joy of those he likes, the sweet and calm mood, the laughter of his friend, make him jump with joy. Issel was elder than him, it’s true, but Platen was very young then, he was eighteen.

Later, when he gets to a higher degree of maturity, his friend will be a little younger, young enough to give him the impression of a beautiful youth, but big enough to resemble him, to share his tastes.

Platonic love (philosophical or honorable) has always delighted Platen; for those different from him he had friendship, affection, gratitude, respect. But his passion was directed towards those who seemed to him similar, more beautiful and with more virtuous grace.

This episode of Issel did not last long, but shows Platen at 18 as at 12, who fell in love immediately, expecting to find everything and not always finding great things (as in this Issel) but in any case not finding happiness.

This is the love at the same time intellectual, passionate and sentimental that has made him suffer so much, but that has also kept him intact and dignified. When he wrote the rules of conduct at the age of 20, one was to forget what is sensual in him; another was avoid to study the mystery of physiognomy in the people who interest him, not to think of the absent, to perfect himself, to improve himself.

Even if he says that we must not think of those who are absent, we should not believe him indifferent to his friends; on the contrary, he has been faithful to them, but it is to whom is more than a friend that he tries not to think too much to be able to work and live.

We can already see the difference between Platen and a dissolute; he never seeks rare sensations, but a lasting and fascinating love.

He would have retreated in horror to the loves of Oscar Wilde, in front of the venal loves that are not the quintessence of two noble and manly existences.

In the middle of 1814 he did not recognize himself neither as a man nor as a poet, he is not interested in Euphrasia enough for her to inspire or occupy him. The military state does not suit him, he is advised to study the sciences, poetry still doesn’t belong to him, he goes groping, he has not found himself. His friends are not in Munich, they dispersed. He doesn’t have time to read enough. Nature doesn’t fascinate him when he is alone or bored. However, he reads a lot and in many languages, Petrarca, Dante, the Pastor Fido, Pope, Corneille, Voltaire, Racine, Boileau, etc., and always Goethe. You could apply to Goethe, he said then, what about Goethe said Hamann: “His works are often sibylline books that are understood only when we are in the same situation as the poet.” And we see, for example, Platen at different times of his life who reads and re-reads Goethe, with so much profit as admiration. And as he is in different situations, the same work of Goethe becomes increasingly clear, true and moving. For example, “The natural daughter”, which he doesn’t appreciate at all at the beginning, and which he later admires for its spirit in 1814, becomes for him in 1821, after the tragic sinking of his great passion for Otto von Bulow, a precious mirror of his own pain.

Now he is consoled of his emptiness and of his boredom, of his life that he waits with the discouraged impatience of youth, reading and writing in English with Perglas, reading with him also Virgil and Tasso, skating, concentrating on policy. When Napoleon returns from the island of Elba, he feels a patriotic enthusiasm but Wiebeking spoils this feeling: “If you were to go to serve as a simple soldier for the freedom of Europe you could claim a small part of glory, but you are an officer, and there are many officers. It would be very easy to replace you. You could serve your homeland in a more useful way.”

On November 30th, he reads in a newspaper some maxims drawn from oriental poetry, and copies a certain number of them, struck without knowing why, excited as you can be vaguely in the presence of an important event. Persian poetry was about to express after a short time his secret ideal.

In the spring of 1815 he feels happier, he goes to the English garden every morning to pick up daffodils and to read the Pastor Fido. He writes patriotic poems that serious men read with pleasure. On April 15th, his regiment sets off and arrives at Fontainebleau on July 19th and Platen is back in Germany in November. He seems to have well endured the discomforts of the march, the oppressive heat. His diary is very nice and likeable. He is kindly interested in the good people he meets, he reads very much Petrarch, Jacopone da Todi, Goethe, Eulenspiegel, Eloisa and Abelardo by Pope, that he continually re-reads. He admires gardens, flowers, envies calm and familiar joys, he would like to have with Goethe only a conversation about the destiny of humanity and the spirit of Christianity; then he finds the true letters of Eloisa much more beautiful than those of Pope, and so true. He reads his mother’s letters with great pleasure, writes in prose and verse to Xylander and other friends. The French peasants fascinate him, their kindness, their language enchant him. He is quite isolated among the officers, he totally hates their excesses and their lascivious conversations that he does not take part in. A poem shows how much he suffered from the unpleasant immorality of his companions. At Bar-le-Duc, he is also shocked by the corruption of French books he has found in his room, and his landlady amazes him by saying: Read, my friend, because it is the reading that educates young people.

In Châlons he has the joy not only to meet his friend Schlichtegroll, but also to meet a young German, the secretary of Barclay de Tolly, who tells him that he already knows him very well through Schlichtegroll’s stories. Platen is quite impressed with this observation. In Nemours, he is also happy in the garden of a certain doctor Micheleau whose wife is no longer young, but is so sweet and caring. He speaks French with her with pleasure, and speaks English with an old English lady who lends him some English books. He leaves these kind people with regret and even an old 86-year-old curate, very realist, who says Mass every Sunday, with no other company than his dog and especially his canary, which had been given to him by a certain Rouxelle, a radical, anti-Christian, separated from his Catholic wife, and who lives with his servant, without baptizing his children. “One can be a good man, said the curate, without being a Christian.”

He likes a lot the sub-prefect of Tonnerre, a delightful city, who is a charming young man, the most beautiful model imaginable for a young Roman. On October 6th, he gathers with some old comrades and other young educated men, and Platen can sincerely rejoice by taking part in an intelligent conversation, unambiguously and in a pure dialect. On November 2, he writes in his diary that shame is natural, the shamelessness is acquired. It is certain that Platen was fundamentally modest and full of modesty. On November 3rd, in Troyes, he buys Bérenice, his favorite Racine tragedy. And he notes that in a shop of a rich shopkeeper he saw a clerk, who looked a lot like his friend Xylander.

Back in Germany, he tries to build a system of morals and conduct based on: God, a severe morality, the desire to learn, the love for friends. Without these principles, how can you be happy? How can we fail to aspire to what is higher, how can we do without the chastity of the body and the spirit, the love of study, the friends? And he finds more and more that he cannot argue with young men who speak only of horses, dogs and pleasures, who have neither seriousness in their character nor the desire to perfect themselves and to improve themselves. He feels enriched by everything he has seen, read, thought during this year.

In 1816, he went to Switzerland; in 1817 in the mountains of Bavaria. He still reads a lot of Pascal, Ariosto, Homer, Horace, Alfieri (with whom he finds several similarities) [2], Tasso, Goethe, Byron, Camoens, Calderon, etc.. He makes many projects of tragedies, heroic poems and other things, with all the effervescence of a talent that wanders. He recognized himself in a book on temperament in the chapter: “The sensual melancholic”. There are many impulses of friendship-love that lead nowhere, and yet he is fierce against those who seek him. He has a very masculine nature in its virtues, as in its defects. He must be the one who loves, who discovers, who distinguishes, and demands a sympathy that he doesn’t find at all. You can see, comparing the published fragments of his diary and his poems of that time, as some friends, such as Voelderndorf, worried him and interested him. He reports in the diary every time he meets a young man, polite and kind; he no doubt builds a scaffold of hope every time. He notes in a beautiful poem the sudden emotion of a friend at the sight of Platen and wonders if he is the poet who made his friend’s heart beat, or if it is a coincidence.

At that time, Platen would settle for very little, but he would not be surprised to get everything. He believes he has become very reasonable, he believes he has renounced the dreams that made his life bearable. He is full of modesty, of distrust, he doesn’t believe in his vocation, he is grateful when he is encouraged. He would like to have an advisor, he has too much false shame to cultivate those who could help him. He finds a passage in the Confessions of Rousseau that applies to him, the union “of a very ardent temperament, of lively passions and of ideas slow to be born, embarrassed, and which don’t show up except in hindsight.” He thinks is own merit consists in his struggle to arrive at truth and goodness. Journeys are an exquisite distraction for him. I think it is impossible to read his impressions of travel without feeling sympathy for him.

The day before his twenty-first birthday, one of his poems is published, he immediately sends copies to his parents, to Max von Gruber, to Fugger, to Dall ‘Armi, to Perglas, etc.. His friend Schlichtegroll, who had twenty-five copies, sends one to the painter Issel, and Platen receives from him a leaf grown on the tomb of Virgil.

Despite his friends, who all love the letters and the sciences, for him the life in Munich becomes unbearable and the desire to know, to learn grows so much in him, that he gets by the king to be sent to a university, first to Würzburg and then to Erlangen, first for a year and then for a longer period. The king paid him 600 guldens a year (it was a privilege granted to some of the Pages), his father gave him 300, and he received 12 monthly as an officer. After six months in Würzburg, Schelling, whom he had known as a child, kept him in Erlangen. Platen stays there until 1826.

As soon as he arrives in Erlangen, the change of environment, the professors who are interested in him, the students around him, the ardor of work, make him eventually find his poetic path. He starts writing admirable songs that only injustice has made less known than those of Heine.

Platen must now be pervaded by his masculine ideal, by his masculine love. He loves in silence, he declares himself. “You call me to a painful duty. Yet for one last time I would embrace you, don’t remember me anything before. Who could approach you with indifference, who could coldly see the beautiful, the divine figure, the divine, the beautiful form. Study my life; examine it to see if I have ever been burned by a guilty love, it is only your Dionysiac presence that has conquered my heart.”

“You say I was wrong, you swear to me, but I know you loved me, but now you don’t love me anymore. Your beautiful eyes burned, kisses burned even more, you loved me, confess it, but now you don’t love me anymore. I don’t count on any return of your love. Just confess that you loved me and you don’t love me anymore.”

It is impossible to know to whom these verses are addressed, but they are easy to decipher. Platen, always looking for a fraternal and passionate soul, must have had several disappointments; he was loved calmly, superficially, but not with passion, and probably those who would love him with passion, physically, would not have attracted him. Because in him the senses were confused when the imagination became inflamed.

In 1820 he writes (February 24th): “Never investigate my secret, you must not deepen it, the sympathy will reveal it to you, if we understand each other. Don’t ask what separates us. It is enough that we are separated from one another. What surrounds me, does not understand me and overwhelms me and pushes me, but if I try to console myself in poetry I find myself completely.”

Platen, finally understood his unisexual love and has not been damaged or depraved by this fact.

He is 24 years old, he is ardent, in love, and wants to love only in his own way and only the one whom he thinks worthy of being loved.

He wants passionately to find him, throws himself to his search, recovers, and then is happy with the rest of his heart and his job. On May 10th 1820: “Spring has invited everyone, but not me. He saw me as a prisoner, I was attached to his cheeks, to that face. Now I am free, now spring arrives, only now I can fully enjoy it, even if I’m calmer and calmer than streams and roses.”

In July, he feels again in love. But in the month of August he finds that only the echo has remained. His heart asks for love but he doesn’t know whom to love. This condition of uncertainty of desire tears off him many of the most beautiful poems of German literature.

He is very interested in Persian, studies Hafiz, writes fascinating Ghaselen very well received and appreciated, then comes to his great passion for Otto von Bulow in 1821; on July 13th he makes his acquaintance. He was a young dragon officer in Hanover, who had been given permission to spend a year at the University of Erlangen. He was joyous, light, without affectation and without arrogance, always kind and lovable.

Platen, melancholic in nature, who noted with joy and amazement the two friends with whom he had laughed a lot during his life, falls madly, passionately, platonically in love with Otto von Bulow. He reads Shakespeare’s sonnets greedily and finds there all his affection for Bulow. Full of Hafiz and his love, he finds finally the dreamed and desired ideal, we cannot be surprised by the speed with which the passion of Platen was exalted for his “beautiful friend”, as Fugger calls him in his letters to Platen. The poet’s literary activity naturally increases a lot; he studies oriental books and literature, books are brought from London, Vienna, Munich. He reads Calderon and Sophocles, and welcomes the profound religious sentiment that penetrates Ajax. During a brief absence of Bulow, he writes a poem about him where the name of Bulow is found in each stanza. We see his glory but also the fear that Bulow on the chest of a beautiful girl, is perhaps making fun of his friend. “I should die if I did not write to you; forgive me, Bulow, to love you so much. Who would not be chained by these eyes and these cheeks? Who would not like such joy, but above all a heart so honest? The beautiful Bulow doesn’t give it if not to goodness.”

This happiness (I think it is ridiculous to doubt the chastity of such an eloquent and exalted love at that time) did not last long. In early September, Bulow is recalled to his country and Platen accompanies him to Goettingen.

There, abandoned to his despair, he composes most of the “Ghaselen” of the Hafiz Mirror, which exclusively reflects Platen’s love for Bulow. He reads Cervantes, Persiles and Sigismunde, and other books in different languages.

He meets Goethe, and others, but without making any profit, because he receives a letter from Bulow telling him he is forced to stay in Hanover. The despair of Platen appears in his letters to Fugger. He swears he will no more write poems before he sees Bulow again. The delicacy of heart and spirit of the faithful Fugger is recognized by reading his letters. He doesn’t try to console his poor friend by recommending him resignation or oblivion. Instead, he advises him to hope for an encounter with Bulow; Bulow, he says, cannot forget him or stop being grateful [3]. Fugger also comes to spend some time with Platen, in Erlangen, to distract him.

In December 1821, Platen dreams of making a long trip during the Easter period to see Bulow again. He would have traveled on foot, spending about two guldens a day. He would not have had enough money to see Bulow for long, but at least he would have seen him; he could also go to the beach with him.

He reads the Bible every night in bed, and on January 1st he gets the idea of writing a drama about David and Jonathan, which he had already thought of in the past.

On February 3th, he sees the charming Liebig and makes his acquaintance on 17th. The famous scientist was not yet 20 years old and was then, as a long time later, extremely attractive. A tender friendship immediately linked him to Platen. On February 17th Platen writes: “He has clear ideas in everything and knows what he wants; the more two men approach each other, the more they try to reveal themselves to each other, the more they become enigmatic, and only a superficial man can believe that two men really know each other.” He writes verses for Liebig. Liebig left Erlangen almost immediately and in May spent a couple of days with Platen in Darmstadt; he never saw Platen again, but they continued to write, to love each other, to respect each other, and Liebig later publicly witnessed his friendship for Platen. The latter did not go to meet Bulow, for reasons I don’t know. Was it because of lack of money, or did Bulow get too cold for him? In any case, he announced to Fugger, when he returned from his trip, that he only went to Cologne. Explanations were given verbally.

A new passion seems to have taken possession of him, or rather it is the same passion for an ideal that cannot tame or hold back. It is Cardenio whom he considers the new symbol, the new incarnation of his idol. On July 22nd 1822, he wrote an epistle in verse, another on August 19th. He wrote several Ghaselen and in 1823 seven sonnets in Cardenio, and on March 13th a Ghasele (to Krieger, a student in Erlangen), which seems to close the episode: “The edifice of hope is dissolving – and yet we were so well together – dark hair, my face … ” the poems dedicated to Cardenio are among the most autobiographical and clearest.

Platen denies always to burn of a forbidden love, [4] and complains about the cruelty of his friend. Cardenio is cold and proud, thin and sweet. – In the evening Platen saw him working with his curly hair illuminated by the lamp. Cardenio is his last hope, there are times when he thinks they both suffer the same way. He cannot understand if he inspires hatred, a predilection for him or indifference.

Ah! if he could only rest on Cardenio’s beloved breast. Ah! No, because a more beautiful head rests on his chest; “Take this letter, give it to your beloved so that he can ask himself if he feels in himself a consistency like mine.”

He wishes to be the pipe between the lips of Cardenio, who receives his perpetual kiss, envies his cap, he who almost never could touch his hair. He was illuminated one winter evening by Cardenio who wore a torch, and this memory inspires a beautiful sonnet. – After long trials and long doubts, it seems that the enemies of Platen (the poets have always enemies, especially those sober, those closed and those austere who don’t allow themselves too much) have indisposed Cardenio against his friend. A casual fact left them alone all night, and Platen dared to put his arm around Cardenio and confess his love. Cardenio did not seem shy at all, and did not retreat, seemed to be acquiescent with his silence, and Platen left him, drunk with love, believing that their souls were melting, that their hearts went to beat one beside the other, believing that Cardenio belonged to him, but the following days Cardenio became colder, harder and harder, and Platen let himself go to the love lamentations. If his wish had been guilty he would have understood that coldness; all sadden him; he had a spotless mirror in which to look at himself, now he cannot be reflected in what is dead, and hide all the pains that are being prepared for him.

Platen’s wishes are specified: rest on the chest of an intellectual friend, handsome and trustworthy seems to be Platen’s amorous ideal. Three years later, in 1826, the same ideal will be found in the sonnets in Karl-Theodor German, and also in the great triumphal sonnet that is near the end of the sonnets.

This loving aspiration without a sexual purpose pronounced or admitted made the furious and trivial Heine call Platen “tribade man”.

In any case, Platen’s desire, in his orientation and intensity, is absolutely uranian, platonic, unisexual. Sodomy, sexual intercourses are very far from this love; and this is probably what helps him to recover, in Platen’s eyes, what makes him call it an innocent love. From the point of view of religion or the code of social conventions, obviously, one could say that this type of chastity is dangerous and reprehensible, but how can the lover judge in this way a tyrannical love, which asks nothing of what the debauchery demands?

“My love may not be praiseworthy, says Platen one day, but it seems foolhardy to blame it.”

Platen has never been false or hypocritical; and when he proclaimed his love for Otto von Bulow and for Cardenio, he sincerely believed he loved in an elevated and dignified way. He believed in decentralizing the sexual instinct, transfiguring the senses, making them feel spiritual sensations, and consoling the soul by teaching it bodily emotions. “I am for you what the soul is for the body, what the body is for the soul, I am for you what the woman is for the man, [5] what the man is for the woman” He says in a Ghasele, and so frankly expresses the nature of his love. It is the passion of similarity, of homosexuality, which pushes Platen.

The uranism, the unisexuality are different in him in this way: put aside the female sex, his love is addressed neither to the effeminate, nor to the very young, nor to mature men.
Platen has always been in one piece, direct, and as such has also been treated by many illustrious men, with respect and consideration. The list of contemporaries who have paid homage to his character and talent is long and contains noble names. “I, who have never loved art or half-beauty, have the right, he says, to make accents rarely heard”, and it is certainly what his friends thought. Goethe has made a point of honor to publicly pay tribute to Platen and to assert his superiority over Ruckert.

In 1823, after the disappointment of Cardenio, Platen wrote with inspiration and ease several poems, and thanks to the letters of Liebig, thanks to the friendship of Professor Engelhardt, of Schelling, of Bruchmann, of the scientist Doellinger, of Kernell, a young hectic with whom he studied the Swedish, saw splendid days. This is the culmination of his stay in Erlangen. In Platen, who has nothing of the erotomaniac or degenerate, the sufferings of love are followed by a great intellectual activity, as happens to all superior men who don’t seek oblivion in dissipation or pleasure.

He writes in five days “The glass slipper”, a fairy tale. The Swedish phlegmatic Kernell was so fascinated that he threw himself at the Platen’s neck; and the story, read to friends and their wives and sisters, was very successful.

The last Ghaselen were very well received. Platen receives an interesting letter from Cassel, from Ludwig-Sigismund Ruhl, [6]. Ruhl tells him that sympathy is a mystery that he does not want to deepen. The first verses of Platen had already made him known a sympathy that we feel for a few people. He seems to have understood Platen before Platen understood himself and didn’t hesitate to tell him. If they will ever meet, Platen will be able to convince himself of the relationship between their minds and their lives. He wants an answer. Platen asks for his portrait and receives it accompanied by an enthusiastic letter.

Dramatic poetry now interests Platen. He writes the Treasury of Rhampstnit, Aucassin and Nicolette. On 21st August 1824 he goes to Venice. His first volume of comedies earned him 154 florins. Hanover’s aunt sent him six gold louis.

Venice inspired him the admirable Venetian sonnets, and he was enthusiastic about Italian painters, for the gospel of beauty. His artistic taste is perfected and matures progressively.

Venice makes him forget his past life, and he lives in a present without yesterday.

The October 24 he celebrates his birthday in Venice going in the morning to see the Barbara by Palma in the church of Santa Maria Formosa, then Tiziano and Bellini in S. Giovanni e Paolo, then the Cristo by Campagna in San Giuliano, then goes to S. Crisostomo to see Piombo, then to San Samuele to see the “Sebastiano” by Veronese, I don’t continue the itinerary. On November 9th, he leaves Venice and on the 19th he arrives in Munich after seven years of absence. He thinks that he had been happy, unknown and busy there. He goes to see Xylander and his wife and other friends, old and new. He is celebrated, his sonnets are applauded.

He sees again after seven years Euphrasia, whom he had believed to love, and that no other woman had come to erase in his mind. He comes back to Erlangen which now bores him, is punished militarily for having passed his period of military leave, and remains from January 2 till to March 22th at the arrests in Nuremberg. He reads a lot in this period and writes in prose and verse.

On March 23th, he receives a letter from a melancholic poetess, in love with Platen. He does not like Erlangen anymore after Venice and Munich. His friends are too busy, and he needs to see new faces, new places.

On June 14th in Erlangen one of his plays is staged (Aucassin and Nicolette) with great success in front of a young and friendly audience.

He’s acclaimed by the public and is brought to the scene almost in spite of himself. Schelling after the show gathers friends to honor the poet.

Here the fragments of the diary that we owe to Professor Engelhardt and Karl Pfeufer stop. [7]

In 1826 Platen wrote a comedy in the style of Aristophanes and also twenty-six sonnets in Karl-Theodor German, sonnets and elegies, of rebellion, of desires, of passion. In a letter to Fugger, he says that the author of the play is the most unfortunate of men.

These sonnets in Karl-Theodor German are among the most beautiful in German literature. Platen in the sonnet flies above all German poets, including Goethe. The perfection of form, the poignant and sumptuous emotion is reflected in them perfectly. The feeling is the same as Shakespeare’s sonnets (with the personal note) and the form is that of the Italian or French sonnet. Platen in his sonnets has reached one of the peaks of poetry. He apparently received no hostility and evil from this German, but was once again persecuted by his unhappy choice. Those he loved the most were taken away by the absence or never belonged to him. He was always ready to love faithfully, constantly, always, and never had the opportunity to prove his sincerity, but he kept at least one promise, to give immortality, celebrity.

Who would know Otto von Bulow or Karl-Theodor German without the great poet?

The last sonnet (the twenty-first) [8] of the poet soaked in bitterness ends like this: “How tired I am of my country!”

And in the same year he went to Italy where he stayed until his death in Syracuse, with the exception of a trip to Munich to see his beloved mother who became a widow.

The collection of ninety seven sonnets ends in a surprising and unique way. After having consoled himself of his sufferings of love, remembering that he has always restored the balance of his life with all the strength and all the dignity of his soul, the poet who has so loved and suffered so much, ends with an epithalamy of unisexual love victorious and with his own epitaph, saying calmly what he did, boasting that pure style that has not been overcome, his odes and sonnets, and his influence on the German language.

He arrived in Rome on the thirtieth anniversary of his birth and died in Syracuse December 5th 1835.

This is not a biography of Platen, nor even his literary history. For this reason, a few lines will suffice. Having had great success (and being conscious of it) in the Ghasele, in the song, and in the sonnet, the ode is the only lyrical form that enchants him and he writes odes ever more complicated and formally rigorous. Now he knows himself thoroughly. What amuses the others down there in his country does not amuse him. Nature, for his suffering, honed his hearing and allowed him to use music to perpetuate all pain. He has been slandered and, despite his silence, he suffers a lot. Even in politics (and politics interests him more and more) he cannot say what he thinks. We must therefore put aside (he tells in an ode) the mantle of illusion, the embroidered garment of the senses.

And the following ode, with its love melancholy of honey kisses, its sighs and its looks, messengers of happiness, perhaps, and the silence and darkness, show that the poetic sentiment did not even sleep in this attractive Italy. Did he not then frequently see a young Italian artist, the most beautiful creature he had ever met? But soon his goodness, his affection and his desire to be useful bind him to August Kopisch, musician and poet, who himself expressed his gratitude to his illustrious friend.

“Our bond is not like the most part of the bonds, said Platen, our witnesses are the sea and the earth. The image of your image for a long time was in me, from the moment in which the vocation to friendship had awakened in my soul that longs to see itself again, but more noble, in another person. Chest against chest, servants of love, let us build a new Rome to that love.”

After 1829 the love poems cease. That year the Romantic Oedipus appears, a great comedy in the style of Aristophanes; then, in 1833, a history of the Kingdom of Naples from 1414 to 1443, then the League of Cambrai; then, in 1834, the beautiful poem in nine songs, the Abassids; then, in 1854, the second edition of his poems. After his death his political poems were published.

The climate of Italy, his many Italian friends, the Germans who traveled there, the admirers who wrote to him, his friends in Germany who always loved him, and the absence of the coercions he had undergone in Germany, certainly made him more happy the years of Italy. And one can be sure that even in this voluptuous Italy and less hypocritical than his Bavaria, Platen didn’t renounce either his principles or his dignity. The pleasure without love never inspired him, and a poet so autobiographical would have surely sung the beautiful bodies and the classic caresses if venal love had played an important role in his life. And a man so honest and truthful (his mother, who survived him, said he never told a lie), if he wrote, he would write the truth. Before 1829 there are still very beautiful odes of love, and one would be surprised if after suffering so much to love without body, Platen had not been tempted by bodies without souls; tempted, but not defeated.

When it will be decided to publish Platen’s complete diary, I think that morality, psychology and literature will gain a lot.

Platen is, in my opinion, clearly the male poet and uranist of the enthusiastic friendship and higher uranism. And, as he himself said, if it is impossible to praise his conception of love, it is foolhardy to blame it. He wanted to satisfy in the most intellectual and ideal the needs of his delicate and ardent nature, always seeking the image he had within himself, trying to find this very noble mirror, not content with any other consolation that friendship and art, when he lacked love. Because you must not confuse his friendships and his loves. His friendships were lasting because they were based on his solid virtues; his loves were not because they were an illusion, an ideal to be pursued, of symbols of worship.

“Are there two souls that understand each other completely? He said; man must seek the answer to this enigma, looking for men like him, until death, until he can seek and die.”

In a letter to Schwab Guslav, from Rome, February 16th 1828, Platen talks about a young Waiblinger who had written a poem for him and wanted one. The poet refused because this Waiblinger repelled him too much. “He has talent, but not enough. His stay in Italy is fatal. His poems are no better because he puts inside the Pantheon, the Colosseum, etc. .. But how do you want him to became a Sophocles when he lived like a pig, which he admits every day, because his frankness, he is not afraid of be disgusting. Lord Byron, it is true, was able to give some credentials to the libertine geniuses, but certainly he did not behave badly not even a half of what they said, and then lived in luxury and did not need to attend taverns and brothels.”

Relationships between truthfulness, lies and sexual life are tight. The effeminate people are liars at all levels, from the meticulous perfidy to the unconsciousness, to the incontinence of falsehoods. They observe things badly and report badly what they have observed. The exaggerations of lies and sexuality are well known from hysteric, sick, criminal, insane people.

The courtesans or the independents, Ninon de l’Enclos and her followers have sometimes boast to be honest, which is very difficult for many effeminate men, and even impossible for a certain number.

The uranist, the unisexual male, like Platen or Michelangelo, who is sincere with himself and with others, is in a particular position as regards his sexuality, once he has reached the age of reason. His fiery, lively, flammable temperament makes him want furiously a complete love without fear, without restraint and without suspicion, the determination in love, at the same time, has an ideal of which it would not know how to do without. He cannot pretend to love someone who doesn’t seem worthy to him just to achieve the sweetness of illusion. The effeminate, the presumptuous, the greedy, the fickle, the curious man, those who would abandon themselves to appearances for a little fun, cannot understand the position of the uranist whom truth and truthfulness defend from frivolous pleasures, from deceiver passions, from relationships that don’t last, and that give too much to do, too much to hope for, in order to get drunk with the pleasures of the street Eros.

Let’s teach first of all truth, veracity, sincerity, if we want the sexual man, heterosexual or unisexual, do not stumble under the weight of his sexuality.
________

[1] Subject of these youthful poems is the love of a girl for her beloved.
[2] The same timidity, the same “taciturna natura” (“taciturn nature”) [in Italian in the text], the same slowness and “ritrosità” (“backwardness”) [in Italian in the text] towards new knowledges, the same stubbornness, the same obstinacy. He was pleased, like him, to be noble because he could more easily despise the prejudices of his caste without being accused of envy. He didn’t even like dance. He could not get used to military coercion, and always felt a certain melancholy when he didn’t like someone or something.
[3] Once again I have to neglect several interesting nuances and several delicate shades.
[4] Like Michelangelo in many poems.
[5] Heine has committed the vulgar action of mentioning only this hemistich and not the next.
[6] A biography of this interesting man is desirable.
[7] Published in 1860.
[8] To K. T. German.

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