I’m writing to you because I cannot do it anymore, I don’t know where to bang my head. I’m thirty, I’m gay and I’m married for two years, I have a son not yet a year old. I feel literally split in two, on one side there is my wife with my son, on the other my sexuality.
When I was married I was 28 and I was with the same girl for ten years. Everything started almost as a game because all my friends had a girl and I with my friends was fine. Was I gay even then? I think so, my friends were drooling over their girls, I was fine with mine, but already I felt that having a girl at social level, for me was the maximum I could aspire; for my friends to have a girlfriend meant having sex with that girl. For them, doing such things was obvious and obviously very engaging, for me it was kind of a hypothesis that I tried to keep away as much as possible, even though I used to see my girlfriend almost every day with the blessing of my parents who were trying to leave us all the possible freedom, that is, they tended to leave us alone as much as possible, what I was trying to avoid systematically, because when it happened to be alone, a kind of sexual game, that she liked very much, started, but for me it was quite embarrassing.
Playing with a girl, including a certain level of physical contact was after all good and when we kissed the erection arrived. When she was touching me from above my trousers (always from above, with one exception) I felt a strange feeling of the type. “But what am I to do here?” I was wondering why I was not involved as my friends were in similar situations, although I knew it very well. The only time we masturbated each other my feeling was of total passivity, the brain was elsewhere and had already removed everything.
She was obviously inexperienced and then she was a girl and to me it was not good at all and then finding me masturbating a girl provoked me some moment of real rejection. It was a world I did not know at all and that I did not care at all. After that I had to make it clear to my girlfriend that it did not feel right to me to live sexuality that way, in practice I was flaunting false religious sentiments to prevent such experiences from repeating and it worked because she was not really excited by sexuality, at least as far as she could put it into practice with me.
Anyway, she was somehow perplexed at the beginning, that is, she was uncertain, then she realized that if she insisted she would lose me completely and she preferred to avoid systematically the subject, even because she was interested in marriage even then, as if marriage could be imagined without a real sexual interest, at least at the beginning. At that time I was 22 and she 21. We went on for six years between holidays together, without sex, of course, and lunch at my own home one Sunday yes and one no.
Then we had to think about the study and a reason to postpone the important decisions was there, then I graduated and she shortly thereafter.
There is something that I’m ashamed of a bit. I could have looked for work on my own but my father-in-law offered me to work with him and since everything seemed so obvious and the offer was good I accepted almost immediately. My father-in-law created a very collaborative relationship, almost a complicity, but my father-in-law took absolutely for granted that I would marry his daughter in a very short time. I was trapped now and I knew I could not escape so we fixed the date and married.
It all seemed wonderful but between me and my wife there was a fundamental issue never faced, not so much about having sex with her because at the limit, thinking of something else, I could have a sexual intercourse with her, the real problem was that I had a parallel life: no occasional lovers or sexual intercourses, but I was masturbating with gay pornography and I was doing it since I was 15 years old. I never put my wife’s health at risk, I would never have done such a thing and, honestly, it was a hypothesis out of reality.
I knew very well that I did not want to be with a woman, that for me was absolutely unnatural, but in my background there was the idea that “with a bit of will I could set aside the stupid vice of masturbation and so homosexuality would disappear. I started to try everything to get away from homosexual desires, I forced myself not to go to gay sites or rather not to go to porn sites of any kind, because in fact you can see men also in the straight pornography, I tried to drive those which I called “bad thoughts” but there was nothing to do, after a short period of time I was again masturbating with gay videos.
I had, if I can say so, a little bit of tranquility about the last times of my waiting for my son and the first six months after his birth. Frankly I thought I had found peace again. My wife did not attract me sexually but she was busy with the baby now and the problem did not even arise. Grandparents were radiant, we were receiving gifts for the baby and for us, my wife was in the seventh heaven but I slowly began to feel guilty in an ever deeper way: “I have a beautiful family and masturbate thinking about guys, but I am an adult, I am a father, I should think of the happiness of my family but instead of thinking of them I go looking for gay sites and I do it at night, in secret, when they are asleep, I’m just a shabby depraved!”
I considered as irreconcilable things my love for my son and, all in all, also for my wife, who is completely unaware of what I’m going through, and homosexuality, as if they were really incompatible things. I said to myself, “If you do those things you cannot love your son!” And even though I was looking for gay sites all night long, I loved my son tenderly.
Then I started wondering why homosexuality should be destructive of my real family feelings and I came to a conclusion, namely that I would never have wasted my marriage for “a gay adventure”, at that time I used that expression but as long as I was limited to some porn videos, in fact, I would not have destroyed anything, and so, we can say with more awareness, I decided to be able to afford gay pornography even if with limited time and of course in very private form.
Talking with my married friends I learned that they also used pornography, obviously straight, and that, from time to time, they betrayed their wives if they had the opportunity, and so I began to feel less the black sheep.
This is where I am now. I do not think I would ever betray my wife with a man, I do not know, maybe the opportunity has not happened yet and if it will happen I will do in a very different way but honestly I think I would stay in my place, But why should I deprive myself of that little sex that I really feel belongs to me? For the sake of my son? But what do you mean? I do not put anything into crisis and then why should I make a clear speech to my wife about these things? I know that in theory between wife and husband there must be no secrets, but she is happy now, so I just do not see why I should turn her life into crisis because of things she could never understand.
I’m gay but she does not suspect anything like that, so what do I do wrong going on like this? If things will change, I will think about, but now speaking clearly would mean destroying everything for a matter of principle that, in certain cases, can make sense, but in this case it’s completely misleading.
I’m anxious for your answer.
If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=138
The History of Italian Literature has for centuries presented Torquato Tasso as the incarnation of the scruples and obsessions of the Counter-Reformation, Giacomo Leopardi, who knew very well the work and the soul of Tasso, found in him a poetic affinity and I would say a very deep moral affinity. If you look for substantive affinities between Tasso and Leopardi and do not stop at the surface, you come to the conclusion that one of the stronger contact points, if not the strongest is represented by homosexuality. The “Liberated Jerusalem” is the poem of the impossible love; the final duel between Tancredi and Clorinda make you think to the famous phrase: “everyone kills the one he loves” in Querelle de Brest of Fassbinder on Jean Genet’s novel.
Tasso’s official story is already complicated in itself, few characters have such a frantic life full of anxieties and upheavals. Tasso was a man of court, of course, the typical jar vase between iron vases, a man who suffered the violence of court life in all its forms, until the forcible hospitalization in St. Anna’s madhouse. Mind illness? Segregation for political reasons? Or something else? We will never know.
But besides the official story of Tasso there is a secret story that is good to know and in this secret story homosexuality has a fundamental role, but be careful not to assimilate the homosexuality of Tasso to the modern concept of homosexuality.
In order to understand Tasso’s homosexuality you have to enter the spirit of his time, in a counter-reformist environment where heterosexuality was already a taboo and homosexuality was violently repressed at least in public. At that time the expression “internalized homophobia” would have had a pregnancy that is now largely vanished. There was no talk about homosexuality except in a lesser tone with regard to classical literature. Understanding to be homosexual could be really traumatic and the idea of coming out in public was sometimes equivalent to suicide.
I intend to dwell here on a short period of Tasso’s life from May 1576 to January 1577. I remember that Tasso in 1576, to the usual feelings of frustration for his poor life to which he had been forced, although he was already a famous poet, had added another cause of concern: the idea of being spied.
Caused by the courtier Ercole Fucci, he had slapped him and Fucci had replied giving Tasso some stick shots. A servant had revealed to Tasso that in his absence Ascanio Giraldini, another courtier, had tried to force the door of his room to try to seize some Tasso’s manuscripts.
So Tasso wrote to Scipio Gonzaga:
“Now, Monsignor Luca, may even tell me that I’m too suspicious! I cannot help but tell you one of Brunello’s works. Each time I went out of the Ducal Palace, he asked me for the key of my rooms, telling me that he wanted to use it for love affairs, and I gave it to him, but locking the room where I kept the books and the writings. In that room there was a box in which, beyond my compositions, I kept most of the letters from your Lordship and from Monsignor Luca, and especially those containing some poetic advice [omissis] As I suspected something, I started hunting news, and in the end I came to know from a servant of my neighbor Luigi Montesucoli, that, while I was in Modena during Lent, he saw, when it was already night, that with Brunello also came into my rooms a smith. Then I went looking for that smith and found him, and he confessed that he had been to the Ducal Palace to open a room of which, who brought him there, said he lost the key. Your Lordship can infer the rest. This is one of Brunello’s frauds, but there are others, no less beautiful, and I think there are some more important, but I cannot prove it. It is my consolation that I destroyed all the letters from your Lordship and from Monsignor Luca, in which something was said freely, except those in which the details of the Sperone affair are concerned. For now I close here my letter and kiss with every affection hands to your most illustrious Lordship. Letter sent by Ferrara.”(1)
Monsignor (a term at that time also used for lay people) Luca, of whom Tasso speaks is Luca Scalabrino, a high-ranking cultural character of whom I was unable to find the exact date of birth but more or less coetaneous of Tasso. Scalabrino had fallen in love with Tasso and was kind enough to mention such a thing to the 21-year-old Horace Ariosto (descendant of the author of the “Orlando furioso”) who, in turn, had reported the news to Tasso himself, who at first reacted badly.
On May 9, 1576, Tasso writes to Scalabrino:
Luca Scalabrino. – Rome. 1576
“You are absolutely wrong and you cannot be disturbed by this. Writing to me is wrong in substance and form, but I only blame myself.
This is Just enough to answer a part of your letter, to which I will answer in more detail after having read not the Greek alphabet one time, but all the Psalms ten or twenty times [after careful evaluation]. Be sure, however, that I have always loved you and sincerely love you. I am not so crazy, that loving you as I love you, I cause your shame with my great ardor. I’m completely master of my secrets and I can, without offending anyone, reveal what I want and to whom I want. Of the secrets of others I speak only so much as it is pleasing to those who entrust them to my discretion. And if I have talked to your father about your disease, against your will, I have done it only because I’m worried about your health, of which I am determined not to worry more than you like; but, for the love I have for you, so that I am satisfied with you, never hiding any of my thoughts, please do not use with me any particular secrecy on some of your affections or projects that are well known to others, do not be angry with me, if anything, by accident, is reported to me, or at least, please, show your disdain jut to me without manifesting it to others, because you cannot do such a thing without showing that you love me just a little and consider me of little value. I said more than I wanted to say: forgive me, because the hand, driven by just pain, has gone beyond will.
But now let’s move on to another topic.
From Ferrara on the 9th of May.
Loving brother and servant the Tasso.”(2)
Scalabrino was afraid of the language of Tasso and sent to Ariosto a letter in which he accused him of having gossip with everyone, and in particular with Tasso well known for not being able to keep the tongue in place. Scalabrino already considered himself in very difficult situations but, shortly after, the fears were set aside and the dialogue between Tasso and Scalabrino became explicit.
To Luca Scalabrino, – Rome. 1576
“Your Lordship, with his last letter, asks me for forgiveness for not making me aware of his concupiscible love, and with the letters he has written before, has always shown me to believe that I was angry with him for the fact that he did not reveal to me his carnal desire, and gave me a very honest explanation of his secrecy and silence kept with me. I, who wanted to confirm the decision I made many years ago, that is, to consider Your Lordship not only as a dear and cordial friend, but as the dearest and closest of all friends, that is, as part of my soul, I no longer want to leave you in this mistake and in this deception: and if you don’t deceive yourself, but only want to show so, I don’t want to leave this possibility, nor can I endure that at least in my things and in what belongs to me, you don’t match my naivety, whether silly or philosophical. Know therefore that I did not despise you because Your Lordship had not shown me is love (because you had no obligation), but because you were driven to such an injury as to let Ariosto notify me the question. Not only did you get angry, but you wrote to Ariosto in a way that manifested that you had felt seriously offended by him. Then you wrote to me a letter full of contempt on which I add nothing. You had a good reason to think that Ariosto had revealed this secret to me, who don’t keep my secrets; but you certainly did not have any reason to say so openly with so bad words to him and me, against my reputation. The friend must hide the defects of his friend, and I, who consider myself the most polite man in the world, have never said anything that could displease you, either in this or any other occasion, except that I said of your infirmity to your father and to Monsignor Antenore, for the great concern of your health. And God testifies to me that I did not say anything about you, except for what I knew and believed it was according to your desires. But here I quit my complaint. I will remember only the many kindnesses and loving-kindness I have received from you, and of this banality I will not keep memory, but I will forgive the impetus of those letters and your nature, as I pray to forgive my nature the bitterness of some letters, in which, exhorting you to correct yourself, I used tones too harsh and vehement.
We are equal, as it is said, I begin now, and since the love and confidence I have for you have not diminished at all, I will carefully avoid to provoke your anger. I ask you forgiveness for my previous letters. You do not need to ask forgiveness to me as to a superior, because in nothing I’m superior and in many things I am after you. But if you want to do so, do it without hurting me in the act of giving me satisfaction, because the reason that you are asking me for forgiveness is not for the superiority of my person but for that of the cause; and I grant you my pardon, and you give it to me and let it over! … and stop talking about these things … I mean, I’m all yours.” (3)
These are probably the letters the courtiers were looking for in the rooms of Tasso!
In mid-December of 1576 the confidence between Tasso and Scalabrino is such that Tasso confesses to Scalabrino that he has fallen in love with the 21-year-old Horace Ariosto, whom Tasso simply calls the Lord omitting the name.
To Luca Scalabrino – Rome, Date December 14, 1576
“I saw the Lord’s letter, it’s very good, but what? I never doubted his wit, and now I am sure of this and wish him every success. But you admire in him the aptitude to eloquence, and I the disposition to be courtier, for he has learned more about this art within a few months in the schools, than I did in many years in the court.
In the end, I do not deceive myself, and speak for the sake of science, not by suspicion or by conjecture; you can believe what you like; but if you were here or were present at one or two of our reasonings, you would clarify in part your ideas; because he treats me so that he doesn’t care to leave me satisfied; for him it’s enough that I cannot be able to make the others understand that he offends me. I love him, and I love him for a few months, because love impressed in my soul an emotion too much strong, that cannot be removed in a few days, by an offense of any gravity; and I hope that time will medicate my soul for this loving infirmity, and will make it perfectly healthy.
Certainly I would not love him, because the more his wisdom is loving, and his way of doing towards everybody, the more his particular way of doing towards me seems hateful to me, this particular behavior has just begun, coming from I don’t know what affection, if not from emulation, or from the desire to satisfy others, what I believe most. I call this my love, and not benevolence because, in sum, it is love: I had not noticed it before, because I did not feel waking up within me any of those appetites that love uses to bring, even in bed where we were together. But now I clearly realize that I have been and I am not a friend, but a very honest lover, because I feel great pain, not only because he matches me little in love, but also because I cannot talk to him with the freedom, I was used to, and his absence is squeezing me gravely. In the night I never wake up that her image is not the first to come to my mind, and rethinking in my soul how much I have loved and honored him, and how much he has mocked and offended me, and what is most important to me (since it seems to me very resolute in his decision not to love me), I’m so afraid that two or three times I have cried bitterly, and if I’m saying the fake, God will not remember me. I would hope that if he was certain of my soul, he would have to love me, but how can he be certain of it, being certain of his thought, and judging ex aliorum ingenio (according to the reasoning of others)? And if you, to whom no affection of my soul was ever concealed, and that should have known so long how I can pretend, you doubt it, it is right that he who has less knowledge, doubts it. That’s enough about him.”(4)
Tasso and Scalabrino exchange letters on Horatio Ariosto even if the language is not always understandable because we don’t possess Scalabrino’s letters.
A Luca Scalabrino. – Rome.
“But keep your beliefs (if you believe what you write), that it is good for me to keep my certainty; in fact, I don’t like it, but it hurts me, that I would, if it were possible, don’t know so much inside as I know about this particular.
You, however judicious you are, will never be praised for that. That magnanimous courtesy, and that suffering of my overwhelming suspicion, real voices, sonorous and witty concepts, where are they born, and where do they come from? In response, I will just say that, in the future, I will be very careful to give myself in prey to a friend, so that it is not only difficult, but boring, to escape him. Now I approve what I said in other times inhuman, that you should love in such a way that it is easy to stop loving. The counsel you give me, I accept it as dictated by love, although it was first given to me by those who didn’t love me very much; when my bosses, who love me well, sought to create in me that confidence, of which my soul, at the beginning of this affliction, was completely full. I don’t know whether I will use it or not, but because men are not faithful, and I am poor in wealth and value, may God guard my innocence, and here is the end of these speeches. Be healthy.
Of Modena on January 6 ”.(5)
This last letter is of January 1577. Tasso, disappointed with Ariosto, begins a turbulent relationship with the young courtier: Horace Orlando. Tasso fears that the thing may become of public domain and tries to appear heterosexual as far as it is possible. On June 17, being spied on by a servant, launches a knife against him.
Of course, many other elements of a personal nature such as stress for Jerusalem’s composition, the frustrations for the misunderstandings he faced, and the obsessive fear of being spied, besides possible reasons of religious, political and diplomatic nature, have influenced in a very complex way Tasso’s biography, but, of course, there is also homosexuality among the elements which have determined his life.
(1) “Ora dica M. Luca ch’io son troppo sospettoso. Non posso tacer una delle prodezze di Brunello. Egli sempre, ch’io andava fuori mi dimandava la chiave delle mie stanze, mostrando di volersene servir in fatti d’amore, e io gliela concedeva, serrando però la camera dov’io tenea i libri e le scritture. Nella quale era una cassetta, in cui oltre le mie composizioni, io riserbava gran parte delle lettere di V.s. e di M. Luca, e quelle particolarmente, che contenevano alcuno avvertimento poetico [omissis] Con questo sospetto cominciai ad andar pescando, e intesi finalmente da un servitor del Conte Luigi Montesucoli mio vicino, che quando io era in questa Quaresima in Modana , vide entrare col Brunello, essendo già notte, un magnano [fabbro] nelle mie stanze. Tanto andai poi cercando. che trovai il magnano, il qual mi confessò d’essere stato in corte ad aprir una camera, della quale diceva il conduttor d’aver perduta la chiave. V.s. argomenti il resto, quella è una delle sue frodi, ma ce ne son molte altre, non men belle: e credo che ve ne siano alcune di molta maggiore importanza; ma io non me ne posso accertare. Mi consola che io stracciava tutte le lettere di V.s. e di M. Luca nelle quali era detta liberamente alcuna cosa, trattone quelle de i particolari dello Sperone. Altro non mi occorre per ora, se non che a V.s. Illustr. bacio con ogni affetto le mani. Di Ferrara.”
(2) A Luca Scalabrino. – Roma. 1576
“Avete il torto in mille modi; e sia detto con vostra pace. Scrivendo a me, peccate in materia ed in forma; ma io non ne incolpo se non me stesso. Tanto mi basta di rispondere ad una parte de la vostra lettera, a la quale risponderò più a lungo come avrò letto non una volta l’Alfabeto greco, ma dieci o venti volte i Salmi: frattanto siate sicuro che io v’ho sempre amato, e vi amo svisceratamente; non sono ancora tanto pazzo che, amandovi com’io fo , debba con tanto ardore procurare la vostra vergogna. De’ miei secreti sono signore, e posso senza offesa altrui, rivelarne quella parte che mi piace a chi voglio. De gli altrui, tanto ne dico quanto piace a chi li commette a la mia fede; e se io altre volte ho discoperto, contro vostra voglia, a vostro padre il vostro male, l’ho fatto per soverchio zelo de la vostra salute, de la quale son risoluto di non volere aver maggior cura di quella che voi vogliate che s’abbia: ma ben vuo’ pregarvi, per l’amore che vi porto, che se io rimango sodisfatto di voi, a cui nulla ascosi mai de i miei pensieri, che non usiate meco estraordinaria secretezza di alcuni vostri o affetti o disegni che a molti son palesi, né dobbiate poi sdegnarvi contra me se alcuna particella a caso, non la cercando io, me n’è riferita; o almeno sfogate meco tutto questo sdegno senza dimostrarlo altrui; che ciò non potete fare, che non diate insieme a divedere che poco m’amiate e nulla mi prezziate. Ho detto più di quello ch’io voleva: perdonatemi; che la mano, spronata da un giusto dolore, è trascorsa mal grado de la volontà.
Ora passiamo ad altra materia.
Di Ferrara, il IX di Maggio Amorevol Fratello e S. (servitore) Il Tasso”
(3) A Luca Scalabrino, – Roma. 1576
“Vostra Signoria per l’ultima sua mi dimanda perdono di non m’aver palesato il suo amor concupiscibile; e per l’altre sue, che prima m’ha scritto, ha sempre mostrato di credere ch’io sia sdegnato con esso lei, pereh’ella non m’abbia rivelato questo suo desiderio carnale, e rende assai onesta cagione de la sua segretezza e del silenzio usato meco. Io, che ho deliberato di confermar quella deliberazione ch’io feci molt’anni sono; cioè d’aver Vostra Signoria non solo per caro e cordiale amico, ma per lo più caro e per lo più intrinseco di tutti gli altri, ed in somma per parte de l’anima mia; non voglio più lungamente lasciarla in questo errore e in questo inganno: e se pur non s’inganna, ma vuol mostrar d’ingannarsi, non le voglio lasciar questo pretesto, né posso soffrire c’almeno ne le cose mie, e in quel c’appartiene a me, ella non corrisponda a la mia ingenuità, o sciocca o filosofica che sia. Sappia dunque, ch’io non mi sdegnai perché Vostra Signoria non mi scoprisse il suo amore (c’a a questo per nessuna ragione voi eravate obbligato); ma mi sdegnai perché voi vi recaste a cosi grande ingiuria che l’Ariosto me n’accennasse un non so che. Non solo vi sdegnaste, ma a lui scriveste in modo che ben si poteva comprendere che vi riputavate offeso da lui gravemente. A me poi scriveste una lettera piena di tanto disprezzo, che nulla più. Confesso c’avevate occasione di dolervi fra voi stesso, che l’Ariosto avesse palesato questo secreto a me, il quale so mal tacere i miei propri secreti; ma certo nissuna ragione voleva che, per cosa di si poca importanza, cosi apertamente fosser da voi dette parole cosi acerbe e a lui e a me medesmo contra la mia riputazione. L’amico deve ricoprire i difetti de l’amico; ed io, che sono il più loquace uomo del mondo, non ho mai detto cosa alcuna c’a voi possa spiacere, né in questa né in altra occasione; se non solo che palesai a vostro padre ed a m. Antenore la vostra infermità per soverchia gelosia de la vostra salute. E Dio mi sia testimonio, che di nissun altro vostro particolare ho io ragionato, se non in quel modo ch’io ho saputo, non che creduto c’a voi fosse caro. Ma sia qui il fine de le mie querele. Io mi ricorderò solamente le tante cortesie ed amorevolezze ch’io ho ricevuto da voi; e di questa baia non terrò memoria, ma perdonerò l’impeto di quelle lettere a la vostra natura; si come prego voi a perdonare a la mia l’acerbità d’alcune lettere, ne le quali, esortandovi al purgarvi, usava luoghi troppo aspri e veementi. Siam patti e pagati, come si dice: da ora inanzi io, non iscemando punto né de l’amore né de la confidenza che ho in voi, mi guarderò di provocar la vostra collera. Io vi dimando perdono de le lettere passate: a voi non occorre dimandarlo a me com’a superiore, peroché io in nessuna cosa vi sono superiore, e in molte vi cedo. E se pur volete usare questa creanza, usatela senza offendermi, mentre volete sodisfarmi: che non la superiorità de la persona, ma la superiorità de la causa mi fa meritevole che da voi mi sia chiesto perdono; ed io vel concedo, e voi concedetelo a me, e brindisi!… e più non si parli di queste co… In somma, io son tutto vostro.”
(4) A Luca Scalabrino – Roma Datata 14 dicembre 1576
“Ho veduta la lettera del Signore, bella certo, ma che? De l’ingegno suo io non dubitai mai, ed ora ne son certissimo e spero di lui ogni gran riuscita. Ma voi ammirate in lui l’attitudine a l’eloquenza, ed io la disposizione a l’esser cortigiano, perché ha più appreso di quest’arte in pochi mesi ne le scole, ch’io non ho fatto in molti anni ne la corte.
In somma io non m’inganno, e parlo per iscienza, non per sospetto, per congettura; voi credete quel che vi pare; ma se qui foste o vi trovaste presente ad uno o due de’ nostri ragionamenti, vi chiarireste in parte; perciocché egli tratta meco in modo, che non si cura di lasciarmi soddisfatto; gli basta solo ch’io non possa far constar ad altri ch’egli m’offenda. Io l’amo, e son per amarlo anco qualche mese, perché troppo gagliarda impressione fu quella, che l’amor fece ne l’animo mio, né si può in pochi dì rimovere, per offesa quanto si voglia grave; pure spero che il tempo medicherà l’animo mio di questa infermità amorosa, e ’l renderà intieramente sano.
Che certo io vorrei non amarlo, perché quanto è amabile l’ingegno suo, e la maniera in universale, tanto dee a me parer odioso un suo particolar procedere verso me, cominciato da poco in qua, e nato non so da qual affetto, se non forse da emulazione, da desiderio di soddisfare altrui, il che più credo. Chiamo questo mio amore, e non benevolenza perché, in somma, è amore: ne prima me n’era accorto e non me n’accorgeva, perché non sentiva destare in me nessuno di quegli appetiti che suol portare l’amore, anche nel letto, ove siamo stati insieme. Ma ora chiaramente mi avveggio ch’io sono stato e sono non amico, ma onestissimo amante, perché sento dolore grandissimo, non solo ch’egli poco mi corrisponde ne l’amore, ma anche di non poter parlar con esso lui con quella libertà, ch’io soleva, e la sua assenza m’affligge gravissimamente. La notte non mi sveglio mai che la sua immagine non sia la prima ad appresentarmisi, e rivolgendo per l’animo mio quanto io l’abbia amato ed onorato, e quanto egli abbia schernito ed offeso me, e, quel che più mi preme (parendomi troppo indurato ne la risoluzione di non amarmi), me n’afliggo tanto, che due o tre volte ho pianto amarissimamente, e s’io in ciò mento, Iddio non si ricordi di me. Spererei che se egli fosse certo de l’animo mio, sarebbe costretto ad amarmi, ma come ne può essere egli certo essendo consapevole del suo, e giudicando ex aliorum ingenio. E se voi, al qual nessuno affetto de l’animo mio fu mai celato, e che ’n tanti anni dovreste aver conosciuto quanto io sappia fingere, ne dubitate, ben è ragione ch’egli, che n’ha minor conoscenza, ne dubiti. Tanto basti intorno a lui.”
(5) A Luca Scalabrino. — Roma.
“Tenetevi pur voi la vostra credenza (se pur credete quel che scrivete) ch’a me giova d’attenermi a la mia certezza; anzi, non mi giova, ma mi noce, che vorrei, se fosse possibile, non saper tanto a dentro quanto io so di questo particolare.
Voi per giudizioso, non sarete giammai per questa ragione laudato. Quella magnanima cortesia, e quella pena del mio soverchio sospettare, voci in vero e concetti sonori ed arguti, ove nascono, ed onde vengono? Per risposta altro non dico, se non che per l’avvenire, mi guarderò molto di darmi così in preda ad alcuno amico, che mi sia poi non solo difficile, ma noioso, il ritormigli. Ora approvo quel detto che altre volte riputai inumano, ch’in guisa si debba amare, che sia facile il disamare. Il consiglio che mi date, accetto da voi come amorevole, se ben m’è stato prima dato da coloro che non molto m’amavano ; ove i padroni, che ben mi vogliono, cercavano di generar in me quella confidenza, de la quale l’animo mio, nel principio di questa briga, era in tutto pieno. Non so però s’io l’userò o no, ma perché ne gli uomini non è fede, ed io son povero di fortuna, e di valore, custodisca Iddio la mia innocenza, e qui sia fine a questi discorsi. State sano.
Di Modena il 6 di Gennaio ”.
If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, open on the Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=125
After browsing the forum long and wide and reading your book “Being Gay” I decided to write to you. I am 26 years old, I can say that I am quite poorly satisfied with my life, that is with my studies and, from a very short time, with my work, which I do not like too much, and I’d better say that I don’t like it at all, but if I think that so many guys cannot work at all, I can only think that I must keep it tight. There is another aspect of my life on which I’m thinking for hours every day. Let’s just say that I do not dislike girls, I mean that if a girl comes up and cuddles me in the right way, for me it’s okay. I had two stories with girls, the first began when I was 15, I came in it with enthusiasm because it made me feel great and it was not bad. I say so now, because I know how things have evolved afterwards. She did not want to go beyond well-defined limits and I did not want to go either, in fact we were good friends, we went out together, there was some tenderness, but without exaggerating, and that was okay. Then it all ended after three years, when our parents got in the way to formalize the thing, that is to make it become something different, and so began the rituals of engaged people, but these rituals did not please me or her, after a few months we ended up “by common agreement and without problems” that we were just good friends and so the story ended, with regret (and disappointment) of our parents. With the second girl, my present girl, things were very different, we were both 24 years old and had good prospects for study and work. Saying that we got together like a couple is improper. Even with her everything started with a friendship not particularly important. We often called each other on the phone, often came out, but always with groups of friends, sometimes we talked seriously, but especially about study and job prospects. After the second level degree, I managed to find a job and she has gone abroad for the PhD, neither of us thought that he or she could give up something in the name of the other, I rather encouraged her to go because so she would have had much better prospects. In the first few weeks we used to get in touch on Skype almost every day, now much less and, frankly, I don’t miss her, as I think she doesn’t miss me. So far this would be an ordinary story of a guy not too much interested in girls and especially not too much (in practice for nothing) interested in sex with girls, but things do not end here. I always had a lot of special friends and I was fine with them, but I have never felt any physical attraction for a guy, or maybe just a bit, but none of the things I read on the forum. For a few months I’ve met a guy who I’ll call Nino, twenty years old, a guy who hit me right away. I did not feel overwhelmed, what struck me was his emotional state and his level of participation in things. We got to talk a bit, I told him that my girlfriend is abroad and other things and he told me he is gay and is in love with a guy I know. The guy he is in love with is a nice guy, but I do not think he is gay even though I have never seen him with a girlfriend. Nino keeps telling me about this guy, I see that he is totally in love and I am really astonished at this, because if I think of my two girls, well, they were not very involved, while Nino practically lives for that guy and feels really uncomfortable for this reason. He was very astonished by my reaction to his revelations and said that he can only talk to me about these things, I try to warn him, for at the moment the other boy knows nothing and probably not even imagine that Nino fell in love with him, and the reaction could be not only of disengagement, but of total repulsion, and Nino could come out badly. Even here, in the end, it could be a bit less common story of a friendship between a heterosexual (I) and a gay guy (Nino), but things are more complicated because with the passing of time between me and Nino is tightening a very special tie. He tells me very beautiful things, which I enjoy, but the fact remains that even with all the good will I do not feel gay. I talk to him for hours, but then I forget it. He knows I’m hetero and have a girl, but he gives no consideration to that, and he is a very attractive and seductive with me, as if I were gay and about to fall in love with him, and from here on there is a problem for me too, because I like to be with him, but I do not want to deceive him, because he might feel very uncomfortable. When we talk, I tell him about my girlfriend, he tells me about his boyfriend, but basically we just talk about us, my girlfriend and his boyfriend are pretexts to keep talking without creating too much trouble. I also wondered if by chance I was gay, perhaps in a very special way, because with him I feel comfortable and the fact that he is gay and that he may have fallen in love with me (maybe the word is not suitable, but there is something similar) doesn’t even upset me, but it seems to me very nice because he has a behavior a lot different from that of girls, much more affectionate and much more direct, than I really like, but then I think everything could stop here. I add one thing: I would not mind being gay and fall in love with Nino, but at the moment it’s just a hypothesis, I do not know if something could come out later, surely with him I feel more involved than with a girl. Nino might seem a little effeminate, because he is always very kind and affectionate, but I do not see in him anything feminine and I do not consider him at all as I consider girls, I feel him much closer to me, with him it seems to me that could be possible that affectionate friendship that has always been my ideal, and the fact that he is gay, in the end, is just what makes this affectionate friendship possible. I would not, however, want to condition his life, this is my main concern. As you can see, Project, the problems are so many and so very interwoven with each other. In your opinion, what should I do?
p.s. If you like, post this mail on your sites.
Gay Project has just published in Italian a “Manual of homosexuality”: http://gayproject.altervista.org/manuale_di_omosessualita.pdf, that is a guide to know and understand the real problems of gay guys. The manual has 22 chapters. I present here the first chapter in English, in the coming weeks I will publish the next chapters.
CHAPTER 1 – UNDERSTANDING TO BE GAY
Let’s start with a concrete example.
A boy 12 year old (seventh grade) experiences for the first time the spontaneous swelling up of his penis (erection) while he is in the locker room along with his mates and while concentrating his attention on one of them who is undressing. The experience is pleasant, the guy comes home, sits back to think about his mate, goes quickly erect, the feeling is newly nice, the guy starts a long manipulation of his penis (masturbation) at the end of which he feels a strong contraction of the testes (orgasm) that makes a white substance (semen) squirts up from his penis (ejaculation), immediately after the guy experiences a strong feeling of relaxation, as if all the tension caused by sexual arousal had been discharged (post-orgasmic phase). Throughout all this procedure, the imagination is concentrated on the image of the mate undressing in the locker room (masturbatory fantasy).
Let us now analyze this example. It is the discovery of masturbation, that is the first real sexual experience. In this experience, there are two different components linked together, the physical one (erection, masturbation, orgasm, ejaculation, post-orgasmic phase) and the imaginative one (masturbatory fantasy).
It is usual to call masturbation also the whole physical-imaginative process we have just described. During masturbation the guy brings to mind the images that had caused the erection spontaneously, because focusing on those images (masturbatory fantasies) he can easily get an erection (sexual arousal through masturbation fantasies) and the erection is more vigorous and all the process of masturbation is strongly addictive. If the masturbatory fantasies of a guy are directed towards other guys we use to say that masturbation is gay oriented, if masturbatory fantasies are directed towards girls we use to say that masturbation is hetero oriented. When the masturbatory fantasies are really spontaneous, they represent the fundamental indicator of sexual orientation: a guy who masturbates in an exclusive and consistent way with gay fantasies is to be considered a gay guy.
Now we go further with exemplification.
The same guy that we talked about before, listening to his mates about masturbation becomes aware that they experience something similar to his own experience in the physical aspect but different with regard to the masturbatory fantasies, and realizes that his mates, during masturbation, don’t focus attention on other guys but on girls. Back home, the guy tries to masturbate focusing on a girl, that is, using the same masturbatory fantasies used by his mates, but those fantasies do not produce results and are on the contrary experienced as something alien and not really exciting. The guy then comes back to masturbation fantasies focused on his mates and the physical response is rapid and convincing.
Let’s analyze the example.
This is the first perception, by a gay guy, of the fact that his sexuality is not similar to that of other guys. The thing in itself would not cause any problem, but the guy, speaking with his mates, becomes aware, with a growing awareness, that his sexuality is considered by his mates as an object of ridicule and as something quite offensive to joke about and begins to connect to his sexual orientation words like gay, fag, queer, fagot and so on, that people use as an insult. This way the guy perceives for the first time the discomfort of being gay, which is not caused by the fact of having a sexuality different from that of the other guys but by the contempt shown by other guys.
But let us proceed with the examples.
The guy that we talked about in the previous examples starts to feel the presence of the guy who is the object of his masturbatory fantasies as something very pleasant, he is happy while being beside that guy, talks to him for as long as possible, appreciates his voice, his physical presence and smile and tends to create a relationship with him. At first that relationship seems to have the typical characteristics of friendship but really differs from friendship because that guy is also the subject of masturbatory fantasies.
All the process described above represents a typical gay love affair, in which there are two components: one affective, which consists in creating a relationship of proximity and affection with the other guy, and the other strictly sexual, which consists in being sexually involved by the other guy assuming him as object of masturbatory fantasies.
For the other guys, who leave similar experiences, but oriented towards girls, the natural outcome of being in love is the declaration of love to the girl they love, that statement is usually taken by the girls like something however flattering. The gay guy understands on the contrary that, for him, declaring his love for another guy carries the risk of being identified as gay and thus being branded with offensive epithets by his mates and also by the guy he is in love with. In essence, the gay guy realizes that he’s a gay guy in a group of guys who have a different sexual orientation and concludes instinctively, that not to be labeled as gay by his mates, he has to pretend to be straight.
So far we have presented a very simple model of getting aware of being gay applied to a 12 year old gay. In reality, this scheme can be complicated by many disruptive factors. Let us therefore examine the most important factors that interfere with the awareness of homosexuality. Consider an example.
A guy 11/12 year old is involved in sexual games with a girl slightly older than him, his first erections are not really spontaneous but are induced by the interplay of sexual manipulation by the girl, which is especially rewarding because allows the preadolescent to perceive himself like a man. The guy will repeat on his own the handling of the penis and will arrive at the discovery of masturbation and, at least apparently, his masturbatory fantasies will be oriented toward girls, but in this case during the masturbation the spontaneous sexuality cannot emerge just because the first erections are not spontaneous but are induced by a girl through explicit sexual advances (the manipulation of the penis or the intimate caresses). The sexual imprinting , that is the first real sexual or para-sexual experience, in this case, has been experienced by the guy “in a straight atmosphere” due to external elements (the girl) and thus was not the result of the sexual spontaneity of the guy, but nevertheless such sexual experiences are not superficial. The hetero imprinting can induce quite easily masturbation fantasies related to the imprinting, i.e. hetero fantasies, rather than to spontaneous sexuality. Following an hetero imprinting, even a guy who, if he could spontaneously develop his own sexuality, would manifest a gay sexuality, can present a straight masturbation for years. Gay guys sooner or later come certainly out of the constraints that derive from the hetero imprinting because in the long time spontaneous sexuality comes always afloat.
Much more complicated and problematic is the situation of guys who have been subjected to violence or sexual abuse. I would simply point out that sexual abuse can leave on anyone who has suffered it very heavy consequences, particularly if it was committed with physical or psychological violence or by a close family member.
Let us consider now much more common disturbing elements that can interfere with the process of getting aware of being gay. We start here with an example.
An 8 year old guy is part of a larger group of friends and hears them speak with great interest about pornography on the Internet. For him, 8 years old, genital sexuality is still something to come, but he is induced by what he heard to go and see what it is. In this way, the guy discovers pornography, which means, in the vast majority of cases, heterosexual pornography, before having sexual maturity to understand the real meaning of sexuality. In this way, the guy gets a form of pre-orientation toward sexuality almost always towards heterosexuality, which tends to stabilize the guy because using pornography he feels integrated with the group of older guys. Over the years the tendency to imitate the sexuality of the older guys leads that guy to the discovery of masturbation that takes place in a straight atmosphere and therefore manifests a heterosexual orientation. This not spontaneous hetero orientation, precisely induced by the described mechanism, just because it is not spontaneous, may not coincide with the deep sexual orientation and therefore, also in this case a young guy with an exclusive hetero masturbation may be, with the passing of time, having to deal with the subsequent emergence of a spontaneous gay sexuality.
We come now to another important point, namely the education that a guy receives about sexuality, and as usual we consider a concrete case.
A guy has been accustomed from childhood to attend Catholic circles, typically the parish. In that environment he feels comfortable, the family has confidence in the priests and is happy that the child attends that environment because even the parents grew up in that environment and feel it as safe and suitable for the growth of the child. Gradually, from childhood on, that guy has assimilated the values typical of a Catholic environment that are related to the idea of family (father, mother and children), seen as the center of the life of an individual. This model does not create any problem to the guy before his first contact with sex life and indeed is regarded as quite natural because, before discovering sexuality, a guy identifies himself only in the role of child and not in a possible role of father. But there are also other things to take in account, a guy, before discovering sexuality considers as natural the idea that sexuality, which he still does not know concretely, is aimed exclusively to the procreation and that any other use of sexuality is wrong. When the guy discovers masturbation and the horizon of real sexuality, he is brought automatically to suppress the new feelings and to feel guilty about the fact of not being able to do without what he believes to be absolutely to avoid. Up to this point the conditioning of sexuality operated by the religion is practically the same for both gay and straight guys, but for gay guys there are also other problems. In religious circles in general people tend to take for granted that all the guys are heterosexual and the existence of homosexuality is considered as a manifestation of disease and sin. The priests who care for older kids only talk about relationships between guys and girls and these behaviors lead gay guys to stay as far as possible away from homosexuality, considered like a very serious sin but avoidable. Let us pause to reflect on the situation we have just described.
The Catholic Church considers heterosexuality as the only natural form of sexuality and considers homosexuality as a pathological tendency, something against nature, which must be repressed. The Church considers a grave sin every homosexual act, that is, all forms of sexuality shared with someone of the same sex and also considers masturbation a grave sin. The World Health Organization has recognized for several decades homosexuality as a “normal ” (i.e. non-pathological) variant of the human sexuality and homosexuals has been recognized in many states the right to join together to form a family, a family formed by same-sex partners, in some states, it is also granted to homosexual couples the right to adopt children exactly as it is granted to heterosexual couples. The same World Health Organization has explicitly acknowledged the value of masturbation not only as a fundamental element for the formation of sexuality in adolescence but as a positive element that produces pleasure, accompanies the entire sexual life of an individual and also involves married man and women, who clearly have also a sexual life as a couple. The World Health Organization has included education to masturbation as part of sex therapy aimed at the well-being of the person as an individual and as part of a couple.
The teachings of the Catholic Church in matters related to sexuality and especially homosexuality and masturbation, are not only not universally shared but are completely incompatible with what the scientific community says about the same subjects.
Sexuality education in accordance with the dictates of the Catholic Church or other religious groups with similar attitudes, promotes feelings of guilt and leads to the repression of sexuality and especially homosexuality, which is seen only in the dimension of sin and not as a natural and spontaneous behavior.
What are the consequences of all this for a homosexual guy? The guy tries to force himself toward heterosexuality and considers homosexuality as a vice to be eradicated, seeks to create a relationship with a girl that can reassure him by giving him the illusion that his homosexuality will disappear if he will be able to resist temptation particularly avoiding masturbation, so in fact the feeling towards a girl will grow “pure” that is not tainted by sex. In repressing masturbation, which would inevitably be gay oriented, and in building a relationship with a girl chastely, that is, without any trace of sexuality, the guy sees a merit, a victory over himself and the sign that his “heterosexuality” is true love and not vice because it is not contaminated by masturbation. In fact the apparent “pure” falling in love with a girl is not really falling in love because is missing entirely any sexual involvement. That apparent falling in love allows the guy to pretend to be straight, relegating homosexuality to the rank of marginal vice that will pass easily, over the years, when he will go to the wedding. It is in essence a problem of removal of homosexuality that is denied and minimized. In some cases, starting with these concepts, when the first attempts to couple sexuality with a girl are successful, the guy can get easily even at the wedding.
The expression “sexual imprinting”, in the strict sense, is used to denote the first sexual or para-sexual experience (nudity, physical contact) that induces, through sexual arousal, the initial orientation of masturbation towards guys or girls. It is quite common to speak of sexual imprinting also about the discovery of pornography and even about the educational pressures. While the discovery of pornography, particularly if very early, can effectively determine the initial orientation of masturbation, and therefore can constitute a real sexual imprinting, the educational pressures act mainly through deterrence. In general, the removal of homosexuality as a result of education does not lead a gay guy to hetero masturbation but to abstinence from masturbation, in this case we can speak of sexual imprinting only in very general terms.
Here it should be clarified that as a guy who lives a straight imprinting can masturbate, for a period of time at least, with heterosexual fantasies, even if he is not straight, so a gay guy, in situations of particular emotional involvement, can have a sexual intercourse with a woman. It should be borne in mind that the true sexual orientation is the “spontaneous” sexual orientation of a person, therefore a guy is gay if, without any conditioning, his sexuality is focused on guys, and similarly a guy is straight if, without any conditioning, his sexuality is focused on girls, but that does not mean that a gay guy, that is a guy who, without any conditioning, focuses his sexuality on guys , cannot, under specific conditions, i.e. with strong constraints, respond to heterosexual stimulation. Similarly, a straight guy, who is spontaneously led to a hetero sexuality, in some particular situations, may also respond to homosexual stimulation. It is precisely for this reason that, in the presence of strong environmental constraints, when the orientation of masturbation does not coincide with that of couple sexuality, the true sexual orientation is what emerges from masturbation because during masturbation the weight of the constraints is enormously less and there is no expectation to satisfy on the part of the partner. The fantasies that accompany masturbation are, for these very reasons, the fundamental index of sexual orientation.
It should be noted that, given that 92% of the population is composed of heterosexuals, environmental pressures that push toward heterosexuality are very strong, while those that push towards homosexuality are virtually nil. That’s why there are many gays who have problems, even for long periods, about their being gay, while it is very rare to find a straight guy who has problems about is being hetero.
About 30% of the guys who end up recognizing themselves exclusively gay have had before periods in which they considered themselves to be heterosexuals and some of them, and not a few, also had sex with a girl and also with more than just one. Those guys are not heterosexuals who have become homosexuals but they are homosexuals who have been induced to pretend to be heterosexuals by environmental pressures or by an education for nothing respectful of sexual spontaneity and typically have lived long and troubled periods of uncertainty about their sexual orientation. It is significant that most of these guys, even when they have a girlfriend and have sex with girls, continues to practice masturbation with gay fantasies.
Let us now deal with elements that can appear but are not indicators of sexual orientation. Let’s consider an example.
A 11 year old guy goes for swimming and compares his penis with that of his peers. In this case it is true that there is an interest in the penis of other guys but it should be clear that for the guy this is only an element of comparison for assessing his own sexual maturation in relation to that of other guys, the same is true when considering physical development, height or strength in relation to the similar characteristics of other guys. All this has nothing to do with homosexuality.
Let’s move on to another situation which is incorrectly related to sexual orientation or gender identity, that is the feeling of being a man or woman. A child about 5 or 6 year old sometimes puts on mum’s shoes, plays with dolls with girls and not at soldiers with his male mates, is at ease with the girls better than with his male mates, does not like to play football and so on.
Such situations are not indicators of sexual orientation or gender identity (feeling of being male or female) but can sometimes express forms of discomfort to integrate into the peer group, often caused by a very rigid education or simply by shyness. Adults should avoid to negatively emphasize these behaviors with attitudes amazed or worried that can really cause insecurities that are likely to remain unexpressed and unresolved.