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:



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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Scrolling through the catalog of “La Pléiade” it’s easy to realize that from 1972 to 1998 eight full-bodied volumes were published, for a total of more than 14,000 pages, containing the complete work of Julien Green. Those who have even a minimal acquaintance with French Literature know that the honors of “La Pléiade” are due only to the recognized great masters of French literature: Julien Green is one of them. Elected, first of the non-French, among the “immortals” of the Academy of France in 1971, in place of François Mauriac, he resigned in ’96 claiming to feel “exclusively American” and “not at all interested in honors, whatever they are.” 

 He was not actually of French descent, his real name was Julian Hartridge Green. He was born in Paris on September 6, 1900, the last of eight children, from parents of Scottish and Irish ancestry, who emigrated to France from Georgia in 1893. Julien’s grandfather was a rich cotton merchant, owner of plantations, which made in France a good fortune, the mother came from Georgia, the father, originally from Virginia, was a businessman and was Secretary of the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris. 
Julien Green is generally qualified as a Catholic writer, an expression that has, in his case, a very particular meaning: Catholic yes, certainly, but also homosexual. The lacerating attempt to reconcile homosexuality and Catholicism was a constant in his life and it must be said that this attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable, at least giving the word Catholicism the traditional sense that the Catholic hierarchy attributes to it, emerges very clearly throughout the his work.
Julien Green has offered an extremely honest and realistic picture of himself and his inner conflicts. The self-censorship concerning sexual contents has become increasingly less binding over the years and it has happened that subsequent editions of his works have been enriched with many pages, originally omitted; a large part of these pages deals with homosexuality. This is the case of the first volume of the “Diary”, Les années faciles, the first edition of 1938, is heavily censored, while the second, of 1970, which presents almost 200 pages more, gives much more space to the theme of homosexuality. The censorship, on the other hand, remained rigid in relation to the homosexuality of other people, sometimes referred to as pseudonyms.
However, a laic homosexual, in the most radical sense of the term, who approaches the work of Julien Green cannot but recognize a considerable intellectual and moral rigor, of course, in the secular sense of the term, and a basic honesty in dealing with theme of homosexuality and trying to analyze it in front of his own conscience. Julien Green has undoubtedly an emblematic value because he embodies the ideal aspirations and anguish typical of true Catholics who want to be honest with themselves in the face of homosexuality, not considered as a theoretical question or as a problem of others, but as a profound element of their own personality, irreconcilable with faith.
On May 15, 2013, “L’Osservatore Romano”, the newspaper of the Holy See, published an article by Joseph Ratzinger entitled “And Julien Green became himself again”. So Ratzinger expresses himself on the religious education of Green:
“He tells how, from his childhood, his mother, Anglican, had literally immersed him in the Holy Scriptures. It was obvious for him to know by heart all the one hundred and fifty Psalms. Scripture was the atmosphere of his life. And he says: “My mother taught me to understand it as a book of love and deeply permeated me with the idea that, from the beginning to the end of Scripture, it was only love to speak. And all my being wanted nothing but love.” In the end a man who has received such bases cannot be lost.”
These statements by Ratzinger, from a secular point of view and in reference to the homosexuality of Green, instead, think of the violence of a religious education based on Scripture, which was accompanied, among other things, by the radical repression of sexuality, systematically operated, from an early age. As we will see later, this repressive education left deep traces in the soul of adult Julien. To memorize the one hundred and fifty Psalms is not at all obvious to an adolescent who, exposed to such a radically and strictly religious education, risks becoming dependent on many prejudices of religious origin, from which it is often difficult to get free. Julien’s mother was by no means the “ideal religious mother” described by Ratzinger, or perhaps she was fully, the assessment depends on the idea of religion of the one who judges. The fact remains that Julien’s mother heavily conditioned her son in the development of his sexuality. Julien remembers at least twice the rigid behavior of the mother when he was in the bathtub and the attitude of almost rejection that she showed for everything related to sex in relation to her 10 or 11-year-old son.
Julien remembers that when he drew naked bodies they were always completely without sex.[1] The only sexual curiosities came to Julien’s mind by reading the Bible and were systematically resolved with a “You will understand when you grow up. For the moment there is no need for you to know.”
Green does not omit to describe his perplexity at the attempts of other boys to explain something about sex or even to seduce him, in fact he was not able to recognize the normal awakening of sexuality or to have an authentic awareness of pleasure like his peers. He was about 15 years old when some of his high school friends of the Lyceum Janson of Sailly started him with the pleasures of masturbation. At that time the sense of sin was linked to the concept of pure and impure, not through a personal assessment but in terms of permitted or prohibited. Referring to masturbation he says: “As for the gesture in question, I didn’t reconnect it to any known offense.” Weeks passed before it occurred to him that he should regret it.
Julien himself speaks to us of his silent love for his classmate Frédéric: “No carnal desire tormented me. If the heart burned, the senses were sound asleep and I was exceptionally cold. The idea of getting my hands on Frédéric would have seemed to me simply monstrous, because nothing seemed beautiful to me that it was not pure, finding that word in my mind all the power that it had almost lost.”[2] 
Of his love for Frédéric Julien had spoken to the his friend Philippe but not to Father Crété who was in charge of his religious education. Not having the courage to confess to Father Crété what he did with his friend Philippe or alone, he went to confession elsewhere in complete anonymity. Teen Julien is now fascinated by the human body, especially the male one. Julien rarely talks about girls, when he shows a slight interest in a girl, every approach is cut short by the intervention of his sister Mary and his mother, terrified by the idea that Julien could follow a destiny similar to that of his uncle Willie, who died of syphilis inflicted on him by a servant.
At 15, Julien read Baudelaire but was unable to grasp his sensuality.
Only the following year the awakening of the senses occurred, at least partially, during a trip to Italy. In Italy he read Boccaccio and was shocked.
In 1916, after the death of his mother, he converted to Catholicism and let the hypothesis of a vocation  to religious life in the order of the Benedictines emerge. Sister Mary was the first converted to Catholicism, then her father and mother followed her. From a secular point of view it is hard to believe that the conversion of Julian sixteen years old and his momentum towards monastic life were free and well thought out choices.
A year after the conversion we find Julien seventeen years old involved in the war, to volunteer in the red cross of the United States on the Italian front. After the war, now eighteen, oscillates between the idea of religious vocation and artistic tendencies (painting and music). He then went to the United States and studied from 1919 until 1922 Languages and Literature at the University of Virginia, three years of studies offered to him by Savannah’s uncle. It is precisely at the University of Virginia that Green begins to understand that he is “a man with a great secret”, that is, a man who must bring with him the secret of his homosexuality. He is however enchanted by his fellow students, who considers the best humanity imaginable. At the University of Virginia he falls in love with Benton Owen, whom he will call under the pseudonym of Mark. It is through the Virginia guys and through the unconfessable love of Owen that Green realizes the emotional strength of homosexuality. Love towards Owen is platonic but not for this reason it is less violent. Green abandons Mark in 1922 without confessing his love, but then has an unforeseen opportunity to meet him again in July 1923, when Mark is traveling and is in Paris. Julien promises to finally speak clearly to Mark on the Pont-Royal, Mark is ready to listen, but in the end Julien gives up:[3] “One or two minutes later, on the other side of the bridge, I said to Mark:” I’m sorry but I cannot”. He squeezed my arm a little and told me: “I understand you very well” Once again I found myself faced with the risk of permanently losing his affection and I had considered that risk too great. There is no need to stress that in my work Mark reappears continuously, under one form or another. He is always the mysterious handsome guy to whim you does not dare to declare your love. Eric Mac Clure, in “South”, Praileau in “Moïra”, Angus and Wilfred, both of them alternatively, in “Chaque homme dans sa nuit”, Paul in “Le Voyageur”, and especially the handsome guy of “L’Autre Sommeil” “
Perhaps it is no coincidence that after a long time Green has considered the years of Virginia as some of the saddest of his life, were certainly those that troubled him more and put him in front of the reality of his homosexuality.
Leaving the University of Virginia without graduating and returning to France in 1924, Green publishes under the pseudonym Théophile Delaporte the “Pamphlet against the Catholics of France”[4] dedicated “to the six French cardinals.”
Let it be clear, this is not a pamphlet against the Catholic Church but rather a pamphlet against Catholics accused of being too lukewarm with regard to their faith. Some quotes of the text can give an idea of its content. The Catholics of this country have ended up making their religion a habit, to the point that they no longer worry about whether it is true or false, or whether they believe it or not; and this kind of mechanical faith accompanies them to death.[5]
“It is not possible to believe without fighting, but they don’t fight at all with themselves, and accept Catholicism as something simple and natural; and they would end up killing it, if this was possible.”[6]
“However they are Catholics, because they have received the mark of the Church, and they are forever, because the Church does nothing that is not eternal, but these submissive children bring the germs of a powerful corruption. Don’t look elsewhere for the true enemies of this Christian Church of which they believe themselves be the defenders.”[7]
“They were raised in Catholicism; they live and die there, but they don’t understand what they themselves represent or what is happening around them, and they don’t perceive anything of the mystery that surrounds them and separates them from the world.”[8]
“They live in the world as if they were of the world; however, they have been chosen by virtue of certain signs and certain words and if they understand that they have received a mark and are rebelling, they are not less Catholic for this, and if they degrade, they remain Catholics even in their fall and in their damnation.”[9]
“They read the prayers, every word of which is of great importance, and read them as if the prayers were for someone else, for someone else’s life, for someone else’s salvation. One would say that they don’t know that prayers speak only of their condemnation to death and their grace; one would say that they believe that Catholicism was founded for others and if they themselves are part of it, it is only by chance or by game.”[10]
But if 1924 is the year of the apology of Catholicism contained in the Pamphlet It is also the year in which, after having reached the peak of his religious exaltation, Green moved away from Catholicism. Here I quote Ratzinger’s quoted article:
“[Julien Green] He writes that in the interwar period he lived just like a man of today lives: he allowed himself all he wanted, was chained to pleasures contrary to God so that, from one side, he needed it to make his life bearable, but, on the other, he found that life itself unbearable. He looks for ways out, connects relationships, goes to the great theologian Henri Bremond, but the conversation remains on the academic level, theoretical subtleties that don’t help it. He establishes a relationship with the two great philosophers, the spouses Jacques and Raissa Maritain. Raissa Maritain indicates to him a Polish Dominican. He meets him and still describes to him his lacerate life. The priest tells him: “And do you agree to live like this?” “No, of course not!”, He replies. “So do you wants to live differently? Are you repented?” “Yes!” says Green. And then something unexpected happens. The priest tells him: “Kneel! Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis – I absolve you.” Julien Green writes: “Then I realized that after all I had always awaited this moment, I had always waited for someone to tell me: kneel, I absolve you. I went home: I was not another, no, I had finally become myself.” “
So Julien Green wrote to Jacques to Raissa Maritain on April 25, 1939:
“I am writing a few words to you before leaving, to tell you that this morning I had communion after a conversation I had with Father Rzewuski.”[11]
It’s easy to understand how much the young Ratzinger found in the account of the conversion of Green a confirmation of Saint Cyprian’s famous statement that “there is no salvation outside the Church”.[12]
 Yet Green was Catholic, he had converted at age 16, because people speak of a second “conversion” in 1939? Ratzinger does not explicitly tell us what was there in Green’s life, before April 25, 1939, which then led to the need for a new conversion to Catholicism, and prefers to remain vague on the subject  for the fear of dirtying a character who seemed fully embody the ideal Catholic model. To understand that what happened in the life of Julien before 1939 we can be read a short novel published by Green in ’31, “The other sleep” (L’Autre Sommeil), all centered on the theme of the discovery of homosexuality (awakening) made by Denis, the protagonist.
The novel portrays Denis, first child and then teenager, who lives a life neither better nor worse than that typical of the children of thousands of bourgeois families. The death of his father, who is a liberation for him, marks the true beginning of his youth. Chaste up to 15 years for natural coldness, Denis experiences a little later, the revelation of the pleasure of senses. “With oscillations between coldness and the will to resist, I was weak and sensual” He then knows the strange ways of passion, he believes he loves Andreina but it is Remy, her lover, who fascinates him. “Nothing is as mysterious as the path of passion in a heart without experience.” Claude, Denis’s cousin and childhood friend, who was an orphan after his mother’s death, is welcomed into the house by Denis’s parents and the two guys are living together. For Denis it is as if a dam had collapsed revealing the violence of all that it held, now Denis is aware of being in love with his cousin. He would like to reveal his feelings to Claude, but during the few occasions he has to see him, after a period of absence, before he leaves again, this time definitively, he cannot confess to him those feelings. The protagonist realizes that he will regret this failed declaration for life. This portrait of a young man with a heavy heart, whose dreams, whose desires and fears nourish a rich and terrible inner life, highlights the eternal emotion of a silent love, of a passion that doesn’t dare to declare itself and of which he preserves the sad and useless weight throughout life. This book reveals “the obsession of cold and the fear of fire”, a rather surprising tale of psychological darkness. It is obvious, and Green himself admits it without difficulty, that “L’autre sommeil” reflects his falling in love for “Mark”, the Benton Owen that Julien had met at the University of Virginia, so it is a substantially autobiographical novel. But homosexuality as a fundamental element of Green’s life between the two conversions also emerges from other elements. It is Green himself, in “Jeunesse”, the fourth volume of autobiography, who talks about the period after his return to France from Virginia and presents us with a Julien who attends the meeting places of the Parisian homosexuals of the Lungosenna. It should be added that in that period Green knows and frequents literary man who had publicly declared themselves homosexual like André Gide and Jean Cocteau and also others who were homosexual but much more secretly than Gide and Cocteau, like François Mauriac, on whose homosexuality I refer to the excellent study of Jean-Luc Barré.[13]
The fourth volume of autobiography concludes with a reference to a “person” with whom Julien falls in love and who will make him live the best years of his life. Despite the extreme reticence of Green himself on this point, we know that Green was bound by strong friendship with Robert de Saint-Jean, Green rarely talks about the relationship with his friend and defines it as Platonic. Anyway Green’s Diary and Autobiography leave no doubt that the two have lived together for years. That the link was really important is also apparent from the fact that Green did much to do, after the Germans entered Paris, to allow Saint-Jean to leave and take refuge in the United States.
Saint-Jean was a very important person and very exposed at the time of the German occupation, he was not only one of Green’s dearest friends, most probably the most loved, he was also the deputy chief of staff of the French minister of information.
Saint-Jean had written several times in the French press about Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, who harbored a personal grudge against him, and if he could, he would not have let him escape.
Saint Jean called Green from Bordeaux when the French government was disintegrating, and Green, who had taken refuge near the Spanish border and could have crossed it because for him, an American citizen, the ban on entry into Spain ordered against fleeing French citizens, could not be applied, had no doubt about what to do, he would in no case leave his friend Saint-Jean to his fate and to the revenge of Ribbentrop. In “The end of the world”, which dates back to June 1940, Green tells how he managed to get his friend to Portugal, and then get him a visa for entry to the United States.[14] In essence “The end of the world “of Green is a true love story, even if it doesn’t have such appearance. The relationship between Green and Saint-Jean had begun well before the war. 

In “Fin de Jeunesse” Green talks about a trip to Germany together with Saint-Jean, in the summer of ’29, and doesn’t hide that the purpose was the search for sexual adventures. It was the twilight years of the Weimar Republic and the city of Berlin appeared to the homosexuals as a kind of ideal homeland, where tolerance was highest and the guys were available and not biased against homosexuality. Christopher Isherwood’s “Farewell to Berlin” represents very well the particularly welcoming cultural and human climate typical of Weimar Berlin. However, if we wanted to try to reconstruct the relationship between Green and Saint-Jean, on the basis of Green’s works, we would not come to anything because self-censorship and the defense of privacy are essentially impenetrable. It should be emphasized that Saint-Jean was also a homosexual, in his novel “Passé pas mort” – The undead past[15] male loves are often quoted, without masks or modesty, even if with all the moderation and elegance of writing. The struggle of the soul with the body is also felt in Saint-Jean but less exasperated than it appears in Green: We would have gone through storms and this need for mutual presence would not have failed, this hunger that time cannot satisfy. Why he? Why me? Why this happiness that is nothing more than feeling silent in the same room?[16] 

To try to understand the evolution of Green’s positions towards homosexuality after the second conversion, I would like to focus on two closely related works of Green even if far in time, the novel “Moïra” published in 1950 and the theatrical text “L’étudiant roux” completed by the author in 1993. The play is an adaptation of the novel for the theater but with substantial changes. Who reads the novel tends not to interpret it as a homosexual novel because the protagonist, a nineteen-year-old student of the University of Virginia, red hair, violent and fanatical, yet another literary reincarnation of Benton Owen Green had fallen in love with, is openly heterosexual. Joseph shares with his fellow students that season of life in which the drives explode uncontrolled and in which every value is questioned. Joseph imposes himself both for his physical presence and for his very particular moral disposition as a radical “puritan”, a staunch defender of an uncompromising faith. In the novel there is also a homosexual character, Simon, who, in love with Joseph and, not returned, decides to commit suicide, but it is a marginal episode in the novel, admitted and not granted that such an episode can be considered marginal by who really remains involved. It’s also possible to perceive by intuition something similar to a secret relationship between Joseph and his friend Praileau, but the thing remains too vague to assume a real weight in the development of the story. Moira, which is the Irish form of the name Mary, adopted daughter of Joseph’s landlord, is used to seducing and does not expect herself to be seduced by a beautiful virgin guy who seeks holiness and considers chastity the supreme value. At the end of their only night of love, Joseph will realize that his myth of chastity and holiness is now destroyed and will kill Moira. “I hate sexual instinct,” Joseph said in a dull voice. He stood straight at the table, his fists clenched, his forehead illuminated by the lamp. Something was broken in his features like a wave. With a contained violence, he resumed: “Did you hear what I said? I hate the sexual instinct. Do we yield to that instinct? That blind force is evil [. . . ]. We are conceived in a crisis of dementia.” After mentioning this passage.
Ferdinando Castelli, Jesuit and professor of literature at the pontifical Gregorian university, in his essay “The taste of hell in the novels of Julien Green”[17] continues: Perched in this hatred, Joseph becomes an isolated man: he lives in the company of mistrust, fear, contempt for the sex sphere. They call him “the Angel exterminator”. He has no friends [. . . ], has no interests except that of eternal salvation, he does not grant himself entertainments. Above all it has no love. Can one live without love in proud solitude? When the demon of lust, crouched deep inside, awakes and bites, Joseph strangles the girl with whom he has sinned: Moira.
The reading of the novel by Green given by Castelli, as a conflict between the flesh and the spirit, which on the other hand reproduces a motif dear to Green, seems logical and satisfying, even if it leaves the reader, and especially the homosexual reader, rather perplexed. A beautiful heterosexual guy, paladin of chastity, who strangles the only girl with whom he has had a sexual intercourse inevitably pushes the reader to wonder what is behind the crime and above all what lies behind the hatred declared towards sexuality.
The answer to the doubts comes from Green himself, who in 1993 adapted the story for the theater reveals the arcane: a relationship of homosexual love exists between Joseph and his classmate Praileau. It is Green himself who states that this is the fulcrum of the whole affair. Among other things, in the play, the episode of Simon is greatly reduced and Simon, rejected by Joseph, will simply abandon the university and will not commit suicide as happened in the novel.
Let us now try to give a reading of a non-Catholic but homosexual matrix of the whole affair, of course it is only one of the possible interpretations and it’s up to the reader to judge of its plausibility. Joseph, as already said, a nineteen-year-old student at the University of Virginia, a southern United States region that didn’t shine at the time for openness, has a homosexual love affair with a classmate, Praileau, obviously Joseph and Praileau’s story is lived in a completely hidden way.
Joseph is not afraid of homosexuality itself but of being identified as a homosexual. The love story is lived with such discretion that another homosexual guy, Simon, finding in Joseph something that attracts him and not seeing him at all interested in girls, thinks he can move forward. Joseph is already engaged on an affective level, but the real reason why he leaves Simon is another: Simon tends to express his feelings too openly and Joseph risks being identified as a homosexual. Then there is another fundamental point, for a very nice 19-year-old guy it is obvious to have adventures with girls, Joseph must therefore find something that allows him to keep girls at a distance without fueling gossip, the best trick is chastity for religious convictions. That’s why Joseph becomes the sworn enemy of sexuality, but attention, we talk about heterosexual sexuality. It is in essence a very exasperated attitude but at the same time all exterior. The secret life of Joseph in fact isn’t involved at all, rather it is almost defended and secured by these attitudes. So far we could say that it is a classic homosexual story in a homophobic environment, but apparently at least, one would not understand how Joseph can get to spend a night of sex with a girl and how he can get to strangle her soon after. Let us now try to deepen the discussion. Joseph, is living, it is true, a homosexual love story, but in reality he is not willing to renounce, in the name of that love, to a rewarding life made up of frequent and “normal” social relationships, a little like the Clive of the “Maurice” of Forster.
The appearance of Moira is lacerating for Joseph not because Moira unleashes in him the fire of lust but because she brings to mind a reality alternative to his homosexual love, socially accepted and much less complicated to manage. Moira represents for Joseph the temptation to betray his true love and to live like a hetero guy. Moira is very seductive and Joseph thinks that you can also try to be straight and the thing at a technical level works, this is the great temptation of a repressed gay, but then comes the idea that you cannot betray yourself and live a life that is not your own. Moira is murdered because she destroyed the “true” dream of love of Joseph that is the relationship with Praileau. This reading of the story of “Moira” and “L’étudiant roux”, which is much more credible than that based on a figure of Joseph considered a true heterosexual, torn apart by the struggle between flesh and spirit, is yet another proof of how much, even many years after Green’s second conversion, homosexuality is alive and present in his works.
An example perhaps even more significant is found in another novel “Le malfaiteur”. Green had stopped working on this novel in 1938, when the time for his second conversion to Catholicism was maturing, but in 1955 the intimately felt desire to contribute to a deeper understanding of the homosexual condition led Green to resume and complete the novel “To bring to the attention of serious readers one of the most tragic aspects of the sexual (carnal) life of our modern world, tragic because it involves in a sometimes violent way all affective life and seriously affects spiritual life.”[18] As we see quite clearly, Green, over the years, while remaining Catholic, recovers at least in part his homosexual conscience. The novel has a rather simple plot: Hedwige, a young orphan, lives in the same house as Jean and only partially realizes Jean’s homosexuality, he would not be afraid to explain things to her even if in writing. Gaston Dolange, the object of love both of Hedwige and Jean, is unashamedly homosexual and knows how to monetize his graces.
Gaston, who is not interested in either Hedwige or Jean, appears only briefly at the beginning and end of the novel, but his sexual orientation is absolutely clear both to the other characters and to the reader. The evildoer is Jean, because he loves too much the handsome guys. The bourgeois society is still willing to turn a blind eye avoiding at least sending the police to give scandal knocking on Jean’s door. For years Jean lives hidden then, before disappearing committing suicide, he confesses himself (the so-called confession of Jean), in a letter to Hedwige, the girl, in the text of 1955, is not able to really understand the meaning of what he reads because Jean’s confession is vague and cryptic. She only knows she is a girl in love with a man who will never be able to desire her physically and she will also end up following the path of suicide. If it is true that Green in 1955 considered it his duty to shed light on the unknown world (then as today) of homosexuality, he left his work deliberately in half because, in practice, the text of 1936-38 was published in the ’55 without the fundamental chapter containing “the confession of Jean”. In the ’55 edition, the reasons that push Jean to flee to Italy, where he then committed suicide, remain smoky and incomprehensible, and it should be emphasized that the vision that Green offers of homosexuality is radically negative because Gaston is a nice maintained gay and Jean is a guy deluded and depressed who ends up committing suicide, and as if this were not enough, no explanation is offered either for the behavior of the former or for the latter. Only in 1973, with the second edition of “Le malfaiteur”, there is a substantial resipiscence of Green: the “confession of Jean” is reintroduced in the original integral form of 1938, without censorship, and so, reading the text, we understand that homosexuals, both in Paris and in the province, are forced to attend the typical places of clandestine meetings, disreputable and seedy places, because they are forced to live in falsehood and in constant fear of scandal, are filed and monitored by the police and even denied by their families. The reintroduction of the full text of “Jean’s confession” gives the text another depth and makes serious understandings of the dramatic situations in which homosexuals were forced to live in France in the 1930s.
But let’s close the references to the works and return to the biography of Green. There is a part of his life on which Green is totally reticent, if possible more than about Saint-Jean, I refer to his relationship with his adopted son Eric Jourdan. If Saint-Jean was a year younger than Julien, Eric was 40 years younger than him. Jourdan is a novelist and a playwright, his debut novel “Les Mauvais Anges”, published in 1955, when he was not yet 16, is still one of the most popular homosexual novels, in which sensuality emerges to the highest degree. Pierre and Gérard, two seventeen year old guys are overwhelmed by passion, their sexual desire is violent: “We had wanted to know all the secrets of love in a single night and a real fury guided this discovery, to the point that dawn enlightened in these bodies satiated but not satisfied two young lovers doubly male for their way of taking and giving to each other.”

Such a union could not but arouse jealousy around them. Some young neighbors of whom the two guys had slaughtered the falcons, for play or revenge, kidnap Gérard and rape him. From here begins the sliding of Pierre and Gérard towards death. Their love is both joy and torture. They are both slaves and masters in satisfying their pleasure, they don’t tolerate any compromise and prefer to choose the death that suffer the wear and tear of the feelings and bodies caused by time. As we can see, it is not only a homosexual novel in the most explicit way, but a novel that is immensely distant from the vision of homosexuality typical of Green.
After the publication of “Les Mauvais Anges” Juordan lived in a very free way before being adopted by Green. After his adoption he settled in Paris and remained close to Green until his death. But we don’t know more than this. Francesco Gnerre interviewed Eric Joudan in 2007.[19] Jourdan had made the condition that there were no questions about Green, However, to the explicit question of Gnerre: “Why don’t you want to be asked questions about Julien Green?” Jourdan replies: “The fact is that very often we tend to make allusions to the story of my adoption to belittle my work, and I don’t like this. Of course I adored my foster father, but we never practiced the same kind of writing and our vision of life has always been poles apart. Juliern Green was a fervent Catholic, I am a pagan, an iconoclast. I am convinced that all the churches and religions, in the first place the monotheistic ones, are kept standing by people who exert their influence on individuals and on the community under the exclusive pressure of material interests. They blame the people for “making them pay”, both in terms of cash offerings and the removal of their drives.” Frankly, I don’t think that the relationship between Jourdan and Green can be seen as the relationship between the devil and holy water, things are certainly much more complex. Green and Jourdan met when Jourdan was 15 years old and all kinds of gossip were made about their relationship, but the two did not get destroyed by gossip and after a few years Jourdan’s parents died and Grenn adopted him and even on this the gossip spread. In “La Civiltà Cattolica”,[20] after the death of Green, Ferdinando Castelli published the article “Julien Green witness of the invisible – in memoriam”. Castelli’s article aims to emphasize the figure of Green from the point of view of faith, but in the article there is a direct reference to the problem of homosexuality in the work of Green. “What does Green think about sexuality and homosexuality, themes repeatedly taken up in his work? – “There was in me, in different periods, an element of terror before sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular [. . . ]. In 1958 I won (supprimée) sexuality. I heard a voice saying to me: “Or now or never.” I replied: “If You don’t help me, I cannot do it.” The help has arrived, but the experience has been excruciating. It lasted about two years, but now peace is back “. Homosexuality is a very large theme, it is a mystery that concerns the wider sphere of sexuality. Both homosexuality and heterosexuality fall into the struggle between the flesh and the spirit: the problem is this,”[21] 
I point out that Green doesn’t see a specific problem in homosexuality but tends to frame all the sexual morality in the dimension of the struggle between the flesh and the spirit. Radical dualism seems inevitable to Green, but a secular spirit, faced with these things, wonders what is the reason why sexuality should be suppressed and finds no other motivation than the blind obedience to a precept that is attributed to God. I can understand that in tracing the obituary of a homosexual and Catholic writer, “La Cività Cattolica” is concerned with giving God what belongs to God, but for a secular homosexual, like me, it is essential to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and highlight the elements of the life and work of Julien Green that make stand out the homosexuality, won or repressed as you like, but essential to understand the true torment of a soul torn by faith. The prohibition of homosexuality, I return to the point, as in general the prohibition of non-procreative sexuality even within marriage, has no other reason than the will to conform anyway to the alleged will of God, even at the cost of suppressing sexuality violently. God gives us sexuality and then forbids us to use it according to our freedom and without harm to anyone. The prohibition has no other reason than to measure the level of obedience and self-denial before the God’s request, a little like the request made to Abraham to sacrifice his son, but, to take back a bit of evangelical language, whoever of us, if he saw his son in a garden full of fruit, would forbid him to eat the fruits of a particular tree to test his obedience? If therefore we, as bad as we are, don’t forbid our children to eat any fruit of the garden, because should God, who is infinite goodness, show Adam the tree of knowledge to say: you will not eat the fruit of this tree? It will be possible to answer that this is a mystery of faith, but it is precisely because faith, through these mechanisms, creates suffering, that I cannot conceive how blind obedience can be made a principle on which to found life.
[1] Julien Green: Religion and Sensuality – By Anthony H. Newbury – p. 12-14.
[2] “Aucun désir charnel ne me tourmentait. Si le cœur brûlait, les sens étaient profondément endormis et j’étais d’une froideur exceptionnelle. L’idée de porter la main sur Frédéric m’eût paru tout bonnement monstrueuse, parce que rien ne me semblait beau qui ne fût pas pur, ce mot retrouvant dans mon esprit tout le pouvoir qu’il avait failli perdre.” – Partir avant le jour.
[3] “Une ou deux minutes plus tard, de l’autre côté du pont, je dis à Mark : «Je regrette, je ne peux pas.» Il me serra légèrement le bras et dit : «Je comprends très bien.» Une fois de plus, j’avais mesuré le risque de perdre à jamais son affection et l’avais jugé trop grand. Ai-je besoin d’indiquer que dans mon œuvre, Mark revient sans cesse, sous une forme ou sous une autre ? II est toujours le mystérieux beau garçon à qui l’on n’ose pas déclarer son amour. Eric Mac Clure, dans Sud, Praileau dans Moïra, Angus et Wilfred, les deux alternativement, dans Chaque homme dans sa nuit, Paul dans Le Voyageur, surtout le beau garçon de L’Autre Sommeil”. (Terre Lointaine, V, pp. 1257-1258)
[4] “Pamphlet contre les catholiques de France”
[5] «Les catholiques de ce pays sont tombés dans l’habitude de leur religion, au point qu’ils ne s’inquiètent plus de savoir si elle est vraie ou fausse, s’ils y croient ou non ; et cette espèce de foi machinale les accompagne jusqu’à la mort.»
[6] «On ne croit pas sans se livrer bataille, mais ils ne luttent pas avec eux-mêmes, et ils acceptent le catholicisme comme quelque chose de simple et de naturel ; ils finiraient par le tuer, si c’était possible.»
[7] «Cependant ils sont catholiques, puisqu’ils ont reçu la marque de l’Eglise, et ils le sont pour toujours, car l’Eglise ne fait rien que d’éternel, mais ces enfants soumis portent les germes d’une corruption puissante. Ne cherchez pas autre part les vrais ennemis de cette Eglise chrétienne dont ils se croient les défenseurs.»
[8] «On les a élevés dans le catholicisme ; ils y vivent et ils meurent, mais ils ne comprennent ni ce qu’ils représentent ni ce qui se passe autour d’eux, et ils ne pressentent rien du mystère qui les enveloppe et qui les sépare du monde.»
[9] «Ils vivent dans le monde comme s’ils étaient du monde ; cependant ils ont été mis à part en vertu de certains signes et de certaines paroles, et s’ils comprennent qu’ils sont marqués, et qu’ils se révoltent, ils n’en sont pas moins catholiques, et s’ils s’avilissent, ils demeurent catholiques dans leur chute et leur damnation.»
[10] «Ils lisent des prières dont chaque mot est d’une grande importance et ils les lisent comme s’il s’agissait, dans ces prières, de quelqu’un d’autre, de la vie de quelqu’un d’autre, du salut de quelqu’un d’autre. On dirait qu’ils ne savent pas qu’on y parle uniquement de leur condamnation à mort et de leur grâce ; on dirait qu’ils croient que le catholicisme a été fondé pour les autres et qu’eux-mêmes, s’ils en font partie, c’est par hasard ou par jeu.»
[11] L’Osservatore Romano, 27/28 August 2008 – “Storie di conversione: il duplice ritorno di Julien Green – by Claudio Toscani”
[12] “Salus extra ecclesiam non est”, Cyprian, epistle 72 to Pope Stephen
[13] François Mauriac, biographie intime, by Jean-Luc Barré – Fayard editor, Paris, 2009.
[14] Julien Green: The End of a World – As Germany occupied France, Green brought Paris to life in his superlative diaries.
[15] Passé pas mort, Grasset, 1983, re-edited in 2012.
[16] «Nous aurons traversé des orages sans que cesse ce besoin réciproque de la présence, faim que le temps ne rassasie pas. Pourquoi lui? Pourquoi moi? Pourquoi ce bonheur rien qu’à se sentir silencieux dans la même pièce?»
[17] Civiltà Cattolica 2971-2976, p. 353.
[18] … de porter à l’attention des lecteurs sérieux un des aspects les plus tragiques de la via charnelle dans notre monde moderne, tragique parce qu’il engage d’une façon parfois violente toute la vie affective et qu’il touche gravement à la vie spirituelle] [Introduction to Le malfaiteur in the Complete Works of 1955.]
[20] La Civiltà Cattolica, 1998 IV, 365-375.
[21] Taken from the interview reproduced in Le Monde on 19 August 1998, 17
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In the first period of interplanetary exploration, we realized that on Mars there was no life or at least there was no life evolved in intelligence; since then (around the beginning of the 21st century), the existence of Martians was archived, as a ridiculous hypothesis, for more than a century. However, recent explorations of the red planet have completely altered this theory.
The “Geo-Mars” mission, which ended in 2123, found in the subsoil of Mars abundant signs of a highly developed Martian civilization at a technological level. Archaeological evidence showed that it was a small community of a few thousand individuals, the technological findings are numerous but their interpretation divides scientists … some objects seem similar to mobile phones like those used at the beginning of the last century, but scientists don’t understand what kind of energy could make them work and above all they don’t understand their exact function, some discoveries left the scientists amazed: have been found very detailed maps of the planet Earth, as it had to appear between the sixth and the seventh century BC.
For many years no direct traces of the Martians have been found, either in terms of images or writing or something that might appear similar to writing and the mystery of Mars has thickened. What greatly amazed the scientists was the recent discovery of a wooden box or better of a box made of a material that looks like wood (material that doesn’t exist on Mars), containing parchments or things that look like parchments written in a language that looks like an archaic form of Greek (similar to linear B). These documents were brought to Earth to try to decipher it. At the end of the mission of 2123, only one thing seemed certain: the Martians existed, at least up to the VII-VI century BC, even if only archaeological traces remain. The real shocking news came from the Greek paleography school of the University of Athens. The documents reported on the Earth appear to be actually written in an archaic form of Greek. Some texts, a fundamental document and a few others, with some uncertainties, have been translated and published, below you can read some passages.
“In the year 56765 of the fourth body from the shining Sun (probably therefore of Mars) the people of the Fourthians (Martians), having failed the conditions for the preservation of life, left their city of Underfourthian, in the subsoil of Forthian, and transferred to Thirdian (on the Earth). We, Fourthians, have chosen to assume in all the appearance of the inhabitants of Thirdian to live between them and we have also chosen to select our genes to make them compatible with those of the inhabitants of Thirdian, our species are therefore compatible and our genes can recombine with those of the inhabitants of Thirdian. On the basis of probabilistic laws the population of Thirdian, in a few years, will be constituted for 92% of pure Thirdians (pure Terrestrials) and for 8% of pure Fourthians. Our physical appearance will be indistinguishable from that of the Thirdians and we will also assimilate their language and, partially, their culture, but in some things we will not mix with them, only the Fourthians know and will know what these things are.”
A lot of the other documents reproduced treaties of alliance between Greek cities, one of them, Fourthian, seems to have been the first residence of the Fourthians on Earth. The prospects opened up by the new discoveries are shocking … the Martians are among us! All the remaining documents referred to philosophical-scientific and political questions, from them the scientists deduce that Fourthians had a singular instinct of freedom and lived in a society without laws, among them only one behavior was sanctioned: the attempt to limit the freedom of others and it can also be inferred from some documents that Fourthians had a particular tendency to reason avoiding metaphysics, at any level, it seems that all their way of life was based on two fundamental elements: the reason and the affective involvement, elements to which they seemed to give equal dignity. But we cannot deduce more than that from the translation of documents that present gaps, sometimes in essential points, gaps that don’t appear random: everything that describes the relations of the Fourthians with the Thirdians is explicit and understandable, all that seems to allude to relationships of the Fourthians between themselves is instead evanescent and incomprehensible because it is incomplete and, probably, deliberately incomplete.
Once it was thought that Martians were bad, and so much science-fiction literature was produced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries starting from this idea and, after all, even today, many scientists are led to give it credit. It was also thought that the Martians were green, very strange in shape, that they spoke an incomprehensible language made up of well-modulated whistles and ultrasounds, but today all this makes no sense anymore. Today we have the certainty that Martians are among us.
Diary of Kennet White, New York 21/1/2127
Today I have been at the university … a terrible lesson … all nonsense and then, above all, the apology of oppression … they call it moral … if there is a moral rule that can make sense it is only the respect for the freedom of others … here everybody still reasons in terms of good and evil … but only in the abstract … all metaphysics … a professor who does the metaphysics of war and then talks about freedom … but do they know what freedom is? … they talk about it … but it’s a metaphysical freedom, they talk about morality but their morality consists in limiting the freedom of others, in condemning, in pulling out sentences … anything but respect … here respect for others doesn’t exist at all and then I live such a situation on my skin … freedom … respect … but here the hypocrisy is the rule! … but what can you do? You are in the midst of a mass of people but you feel lonely … they speak another language … we will never understand each other… never! Sometimes I have the impression of being from another planet … mah! Tomorrow yet another recital … every day you have to pretend, there is no remedy … let me open the communicator … there are a dozen messages … my Monday’s speech must have made an impression … let’s see.- Hello Kennet … I read your speech … you will make political career …… No! This must be deleted immediately … – Ugly fool but who do you think you are? … You look like an alien … This too to delete … – Kennet, I read your speech with interest and I would like to give you some advice … this too to delete … In short, ten messages not so bad … one of insults, all the others positive … but a little … how to say … a little … far … when I speak they understand me or better they understand what they can understand on the basis of their experience … but it is an experience that is very far from mine … another message has arrived … let’s see … – The things you said I feel them mine … obviously we are Martians … now you’re not alone anymore … now we are two.
If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum:


Investigating the sexuality of great personalities of the past is not always easy, for some the documentation deriving from private correspondence is very limited but explicit, as in the case of Torquato Tasso, for others, who have left a considerable amount of private correspondence, the documentation is sometimes really encrypted and difficult to interpret, as in the case of Niccolò Machiavelli.
Reading the private correspondence between Machiavelli and Francesco Vettori, ambassador of the Florentine Republic to the Papal Court, we are often perplexed, because we reach the end of a letter with the clear impression of not having understood exactly the meaning that is hidden behind the words.
Machiavelli was a person of considerable political importance and the letters he sent, even the private ones, were subject to some form of encryption in order to make them difficult to interpret for anyone who did not possess the right keys to read. The discourses contained in particular in the private correspondence with Vettori, sometimes apparently vague and incomprehensible, are actually full of implications and metaphors that can be deciphered correctly only if one is very familiar with that form of correspondence.
So let’s get into the subject.
Machiavelli was born in Florence on May 3th, 1469.
On May 23th, 1498, when Machiavelli had just turned 29, Fra Girolamo Savonarola was hanged and burned in Piazza della Signoria. Between mid-June and mid-July Machiavelli was elected secretary of the Second Chancellery and also became secretary of the Council of Ten that was responsible for the policy of territorial expansion of Florence and for the affairs of war. In 1501, at age 32, a decidedly mature age for the time, Machiavelli married Marietta Corsini, with whom he had 7 children. It could be argued that there is no more convincing proof of Niccolò’s exclusive heterosexuality, however, many years later, Francesco Vettori, writing to an almost 54-year-old Machiavelli, on April 17th, 1523, will say: “we sometimes accuse the nature itself as a stepmother when, instead, we should accuse our parents and ourselves: if you had truly known yourself, you would never have taken a wife; and my father, if he had known my desires and habits, would never have joined me to a wife, as one who nature had generated for play and for fun, not eager to make money and in the least worried about his wealth. But a wife would have forced me to change, which, however, cannot be accomplished happily for anyone.”[1]
Vettori’s speech seems to allude more to heterosexual adventures, both of Machiavelli and Vettori, both very free in sexual behavior, rather than to homosexuality, but, as we will see, Machiavelli certainly did not disdain even homosexual adventures and probably a similar discourse could also be done for Vettori.
That Machiavelli was not only a married heterosexual, who limited himself only to sexual intercourses with his wife but that he went to look for sex for “foia”, that is for lust, even with very low-level female prostitutes is evidenced by his letter of December 8th 1509, when Machiavelli was 40, to Luigi Giucciardini (brother of the historian Francesco Guicciardini). In fact, Machiavelli tells Guicciardini that he had gone through an irrepressible craving of sex (affogaggine) with a very ugly woman, an authentic monster, only because there was just a bit of light that didn’t allow to see her clearly, but then, taken an ember from the fire he lit up the lamp, he saw how ugly she was and felt a very strong sense of rejection. [2]
On May 27th, 1510, an anonymous connoisseur put in a hole of anonymous denunciations this denunciation: “I notify to you, Eight gentlemen (police authority), that Niccolò of Messer Bernardo Machiavelli fucks Lucretia colled “la Riccia” (“The woman with curly hair”) in the ass”. [3]
Machiavelli was therefore accused of sodomy with that prostitute named Lucrezia called la Riccia (“The woman with curly hair”). The accusation is about sodomy but with a woman, the vox populi (popular rumor) who tries to discredit Machiavelli, a politically important man, married and with several children, does not therefore contain any reference to homosexuality, which would have been, on the other hand, not very credible.
The political fortunes of Machiavelli are linked to the Florentine Republic and to the pro-popular conceptions of Pier Soderini, perpetual gonfalonier. On September 16th, 1512, after the escape of Soderini, the Medici resumed control of Florence and the fate of Machiavelli precipitated. On November 7th he was deposed from his offices, on November 10th he sentenced to a year of confinement within the Florentine territory. Suspected of having favored the conspiracy of Agostino Capponi and Pietropaolo Boscoli to restore the Republic, on February 12th, 1513, he was arrested and put to the rope torture.
Machiavelli quickly tries to mobilize his powerful friends and gets results. While Capponi and Boscoli are put to death, Machiavelli is condemned to pay a large deposit, which he is not able to pay, but still comes out of prison in a short time because on March 11th, 1513, Giovanni de’ Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, already created cardinal at the age of 13, becomes Pope Leo X. Leo X’s election is followed in Florence by the general amnesty and Machiavelli, released from prison, takes the prudent decision to disappear from Florence and retire to the farm of the Albergaccio, in Sant’Andrea in Percussina. Machavelli was then 44 years old.
On December 19th, 1513, Machiavelli wrote to Vettori a letter, cryptic in the first part but very interesting in the second, from our point of view. Let us limit ourselves to the analysis of the second part, which also suggests a reason for the so encrypted first part.
Machiavelli remembers that Vettori had written four verses about a certain Riccio (“a guy with curly hair”), a guy available to homosexual contacts, also indicating the names of those who had been put “in berta” (had been ridiculed) because they had gone with Riccio. Machiavelli recited those verses from memory to Giovanni Machiavelli, thus accusing him of homosexual activities. Giovanni Machiavelli took it badly and tried to insist, saying “that he does not know where you have found that he touches (touching means having homosexual relationships in the cryptic jargon of Florentine homosexuals)”. Vettori had not accused Giovanni Machiavelli of homosexuality, but it was Niccolò who, by changing the names, had given the impression that instead he had done so. Giovanni Machiavelli wants to give and ask for explanations and Niccolò laughs at the insult he has made. It should be noted that the verb “to touch” is fundamental because, as we shall see, it is necessary to correctly interpret a discourse that Machiavelli makes about himself. [4]
In the same letter Machiavelli mentions a Franciscan friar who makes politics preaching and throws words of fire from the pulpit. Machiavelli writes, not without pungent irony: “These things shocked me yesterday so that I had to go this morning to be with the Riccia, and I did not go there; but I do not know, if I had had to be with the Riccio, if the effect of the words of the friar would have been the same. I didn’t hear the preaching because I’m not used to such things, but I heard it repeated like this from all Florence. [5]
On January 5th, 1514 Machiavelli wrote a very interesting letter to Vettori.[6] He begins by observing that men are blind in the things in which they sin as they are bitter persecutors of the vices they do not have.
So, then, Machiavelli wrote to Vettori that had shown him that he was worried about the fact that having hosted in his house ser Sano, a well-known homosexual, could discredit him through the gossip of Filippo Casavecchia, and explains to Vettori that Filippo Casavecchia, another well-known homosexual and friend of Machiavelli, would never have criticized Vettori even if ser Sano had remained at his house from one jubilee to another, and indeed he would have congratulated Vettori for the choice. And the Brancaccio then, another well-known homosexual friend of Machiavelli, wouldn’t have dared to comment even if Vettori had taken home the whole brothel of Valencia, indeed he would have considered him a great man more for this than if he had seen him talk better than Demosthenes before the Pope.
Filippo Casavecchia would have thought it unseemly that Vettori would bring easy guys home, but not someone like Ser Sano who was prudent and Brancaccio would not like to see Vettori in the company of cheap whores. However, if Vettori had followed their advice, removing Ser Sano and the easy women, Casavecchia would have wondered where Ser Sano had gone and would have done everything to get him back. Machiavelli adds, to make things even clearer, a discourse that sounds more or less like this: if I had happened in Vettori’s house when he had chased away Sano and the easy women from his house, “I, who am running next to both guys and girls [7] would have said “Dear Ambassador, you will get sick because it does not seem that you take any fun, here there are no guys and there are no women, what the “cock”-house is this?”
On February 25th 1514, Machiavelli wrote to Vettori a very interesting letter [8], I quote the full text in a note and transcribe some parts here, simplifying the descriptions of the places, very detailed in the text, and trying to report the real meaning in a language more understandable at first reading. “I received your letter the other week and I waited until now to answer you because I wanted to have clearer information about a fact that I will tell you below and then I can respond appropriately to your letter. A kind thing happened, or to call it by its real name a ridiculous metamorphosis, which would be worthy of being noted in the books of the ancients. And since I do not want anyone to complain about me, I’ll tell you it hidden under allegorical forms.”
Machiavelli, in the introduction, then tries to tickle the curiosity of Vettori and is preparing to tell the story in the manner of Boccaccio’s novels.
Giuliano Brancacci, eager, so to speak, to go to the bush [which means to go in search of homosexual contacts], one evening a few days ago, after the Ave Maria, seeing that the weather was overcast and windy and that it was beginning to drizzle (all things that you can well believe that every bird [obscene allusion to homosexuals] waits), back home, put on a pair of big shoes [like those used to hunt], tied the game bag to the belt, took with him a lantern and the tools to hunt the birds, and went away for a while snaking through the alleys that lead to the center of the city, and not finding birds waiting for him, he went to the parts of the goldsmith that you know, he went a little further and, looking very carefully at the places where the birds used to hide, he found a beautiful young thrush and caught him using his tools to capture birds and took him to the bottom of the ravine, under the cave where Panzano used to stay.
He then stayed with the young thrush and, finding that he had the “vein” wide (obscene allusion to the ass), after having kissed it several times, he re-stuck two feathers of his tail and put it in his back bag.” [The Italian text is very ambiguous and clearly allusive to an anal intercourse: “Si intrattenne quindi col giovane tordo e, trovando che aveva la “vena” larga, dopo avergliela baciata più volte, gli riacconciò due penne della coda e lo mise nel carniere di dietro.”]
So far the metaphor, then Machiavelli continues more or less like this [even here I render the text more comprehensible]:
“Since I cannot lengthen the subject too much, I will proceed in clear and go bevenayond the metaphors. Brancaccio, who had found the thrush, wanted to know who he was and asked him and the boy replied that he was Michele, nephew of Consiglio Costi. Then Brancaccio said to him: “You are the son of a good man, and if you can do it, you have found your way.” So the Brancaccio [feeling that he could ran the risk of being involved in dangerous affairs] told the boy [lying] that he was Filippo Casavecchia [9] and he also told him where he had his shop [that of Casavecchia, of course]. Since I have no money with me now, come or send someone directly to the shop tomorrow morning and I will pay you.
The next morning, the boy, who was more lascivious than stupid, sent another to Filippo Casavecchia with a slip of paper, asking him to pay his debt and reminded him of what he had promised. Filippo read the note and made a sad face and replied: Who is he and what does he want from me? I have nothing to do with him, tell him to come to me. The boy who had brought the note came back to Michele, who had sent him and told him about Filippo Casavecchia’s answer. The boy did not even get a little scared and went to Casavecchia, reminded him of the benefits he enjoyed and concluded that if the man thought he could deceive him that way, he would have no problem to publicly blame him.
After that answer Filippo felt himself squeezed, let the boy in the shop and said: – Michele, you have been cheated, [but not by me!] I am a very moderate man and I don’t care such squalid things, so you have to think rather to find who deceived you, so that who has received pleasure from you pay the due to you, rather than to insult me in this way without you get any advantage. Now go back home and come tomorrow to me and I’ll tell you what I’ve come up with. –
The boy went away all confused and accepted the idea of returning the next day to Casavecchia. Casavecchia, left alone, was very worried about the fact and did not seem to be able to get out easily and felt as agitated as the sea in front of Pisa when the Libeccio  [a warm southwest wind] blows strongly. He said to himself: – If I’m good and quiet and I keep Michele good with a florin, I end up being blackmailed by him, I recognize myself his debtor, I confess the sin and from innocent I became guilty, but if I deny without finding the true guilty I could be compared with the boy, I should justify myself with him and also with others and the wrong would be all on my side. If I try to understand how things really went, however, I should still blame someone, I might not be able to blame anyone, I would make enemies and with all this I would not come out clean anyway of all this. –
While he was so anguished, he chose the last hypothesis as less unpleasant and was so fortunate that he addressed the first idea that came to his mind to the right target! And he thought that it was Brancaccio who had made him that bad joke, because Brancaccio was one who hunted for boys (“macchiaiuolo”, he gave himself to the bush, in the double sense of the word) and other times he had deceived him.
He then went to see Alberto Lotti, told him the fact, told him also what he had in mind and asked him to speak reservedly with Michele, who was one of his relatives, to see if other matches could be found. Lotti, who was used to those things and knew them very well, immediately thought that Casavecchia had seen right and promised that he would do everything possible, then sent to call Michele and after talking to him for a long time, he came to this conclusion. He said to the boy: If you heard the one who pretended to be Filippo Casavecchia, would you have the courage to recognize him by his voice? – The boy answered yes and Lotti took him to sant’Ilario where he knew that Brancaccio often entertained, saw the Brancaccio who sat among so many people telling stories, and shrewdly had the boy approached behind Brancaccio in such a way that he heard him speak, then they appeared before him and Brancaccio saw them, changed his attitude quickly and went away and everything was clear to everyone. Filippo Casavecchia came out completely clean and Brancaccio was covered with insults. And in Florence in this last carnival nothing else has been talked about, except: – Are you the Brancaccio or the Casa{vecchia}? – And this story was very well known to anyone. I think you already had news of it but I wanted to tell you the same in detail, because it seemed my duty.
As for you, I can only tell you to follow the love at loose bridles because the pleasure you can take today you cannot take it tomorrow, and if the things are as you have described them, I envy you more than the king of England! I beg you to follow your own inclination and do not let anything escape for any reason, because I believe, believed and always will believe really true what Boccaccio says: that is better to do and repent, than not to do and repent! “
So far, as we have seen, Machiavelli makes homosexuality a theme for spicy stories in the manner of Boccaccio, also hints at his “touching” that is at the fact that he does not disdain homosexual activities, but so far lacks the emotional dimension of homosexuality. Machiavelli is now 45 years old, has a wife and seven grown-up children and still behaves like a young man who goes into a cheerful brigade hunting for adventures.
However, a letter to the Vettori of August 3th, 1514 [10] shows that Machiavelli also felt the affective side of homosexuality. He congratulates Vettori for his romantic adventures in Rome and tells him that he (Machiavelli) has found correspondence “in a creature so kind, so delicate, so noble, both by nature and by accident, that I could neither praise nor love her so much that she could not deserve more.” The pronouns are used to the feminine because they agree with the term creature that is of female gender, this does not however have to deceive on the sex of that creature. 
Machiavelli adds: “And do not believe that Love to take me used ordinary ways, but knowing that they would not have been enough, he followed extraordinary ways, from which I didn’t know, and didn’t want to beware. It is enough that, already close to fifty years, neither these suns offend me, nor the harsh streets crush me, nor the obscurities of the nights amaze me. Everything seems easy to me, and I adapt myself to every appetite, also different and contrary to what should be mine. And although I seem to have entered great labor, nevertheless I feel so much sweetness in it, for what his so rare and suave appearance produces in me, and also because it puts aside the memory of all my troubles, so that if I was able to free me, I would not.”
We do not know who the “creature” is so kind, so delicate, so noble, but certainly it is the first time that Machiavelli does not use the tones of the Boccaccio satire but those of love.
If there is still any doubt that it is a homosexual love, it will be easily dispelled by a letter from Vettori to Machiavelli dated January 16th, 1515 [11]. Vettori writes to Machiavelli:
“Dear main man. I have no letters from anyone that I read more willingly than yours, and I would like to be able to write many things, which I know cannot be entrust to the letters. It’s been several months since I understood very well how you loved, and I was to say, “Ah, Coridon, Coridon, quae te dementia cepit?” [Coridon, Coridon, what madness took you?] Then, thinking within myself that this world is nothing but love, or, to tell it more clearly, lust, I held back; and I have been considering how much in such things men have their hearts far from what they say with their mouths.”
The Latin quote is taken from the second Eclogue by Virgil (Bucolics II, 69). “Ahi, Corydon Corydon, What madness took you?” Corydon’s Madness was the love of the beautiful Alexis. Corydon was already in the times of Virgil one of the most known myths related to homosexuality and certainly Vettori was well aware of that when he quoted Corydon and the second Bucolic in relation to Machiavelli. Corydon assumed such a symbolic value that André Gide (a character to whom I will soon dedicate an article) called “Corydon” a dialogue published in 1924 which contains a first attempt to demolish the respectability that condemned homosexuality. Gide writes in Corydon: “The important thing is to understand that, where you say against nature, it would be enough to say: against costume”. After the publication of Gide’s Corydon, Paul Claudel, a Catholic intellectual, stopped speaking to Gide. Current Catholic homophobia has distant roots.
[1] nos aliquando naturam ipsam tamquam novercam incusamus, cum potius parentes aut nos ipsos incusare debemus: tu, si te ipsum bene novisses, numquam uxorem duxisses; pater meus, si ingenium, si mores meos scisset, me numquam uxori alligasset, quippe quem ad ludos, ad iocos natura genuerat, lucris non inhiantem, rei familiari minime intentum. Sed uxor filie me mutare coegerit, quod nemimi feliciter succedere potest.– Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971 
[2] Niccolò Machiavelli a Luigi Guicciardini
Verona, 8 dicembre 1509
Spectabili viro Luigi Guicciardini in Mantova tanquam fratri carissimo.
Affogaggine, Luigi; et guarda quanto la Fortuna in una medesima faccienda dà ad li huomini diversi fini. Voi, fottuto che voi havesti colei, vi è venuta voglia di rifotterla et ne volete un’altra presa; ma io, stato fui qua parechi dì, accecando per carestia di matrimonio, trovai una vechia che m’imbucatava le camicie, che sta in una casa che è più di meza sotterra, né vi si vede lume se non per l’uscio. Et, passando io un dì di quivi, la mi riconobbe et, fattomi una gran festa, mi disse che io fussi contento andare un poco in casa, che mi voleva mostrare certe camicie belle, se io le volevo comperare. Onde io, nuovo cazo, me lo credetti, et, giunto là, vidi al barlume una donna con uno sciugatoio tra in sul capo et in sul viso, che faceva el vergognoso, et stava rimessa in uno canto. Questa vechia ribalda mi prese per mano et, menatomi ad colei, dixe: Questa è la camicia che io vi voglio vendere, ma voglio la proviate prima et poi la pagherete.
Io, come peritoso che io sono, mi sbigotti’ tucto; pure, rimasto solo con colei et al buio (perché la vechia si uscì sùbito di casa et serrò l’uscio), per abbreviare, la fotte’ un colpo; et benché io le trovassi le coscie vize et la fica umida et che le putissi un poco el fiato, nondimeno, tanta era la disperata foia che io havevo, che la n’andò. Et facto che io l’hebbi, venendomi pure voglia di vedere questa mercatantia, tolsi un tizone di fuoco d’un focolare che v’era et accesi una lucerna che vi era sopra; né prima el lume fu apreso, che ’l lume fu per cascarmi di mano. Omè! fu’ per cadere in terra morto, tanta era bructa quella femina. E’ se le vedeva prima un ciuffo di capelli fra bianchi et neri, cioè canuticci, et benché l’avessi el cocuzolo del capo calvo, per la cui calvitie ad lo scoperto si vedeva passeggiare qualche pidochio, nondimeno e pochi capelli et rari le aggiugnevono con le barbe loro infino in su le ciglia; et nel mezo della testa piccola et grinzosa haveva una margine di fuoco, che la pareva bollata ad la colonna di Mercato; in ogni puncta delle ciglia di verso li ochi haveva un mazetto di peli pieni di lendini; li ochi haveva uno basso et uno alto, et uno era maggiore che l’altro, piene le lagrimatoie di cispa et e nipitelli dipillicciati; il naso li era conficto sotto la testa arricciato in su, et l’una delle nari tagliata, piene di mocci; la bocca somigliava quella di Lorenzo de’ Medici, ma era torta da uno lato et da quello n’usciva un poco di bava, ché, per non havere denti, non poteva ritenere la sciliva; nel labbro di sopra haveva la barba lunghetta, ma rara; el mento haveva lungo aguzato et torto un poco in su, dal quale pendeva un poco di pelle che le adgiugneva infino ad la facella della gola. Stando adtonito ad mirare questo mostro, tucto smarrito, di che lei accortasi volle dire: — Che havete voi messere? —; ma non lo dixe perché era scilinguata; et come prima aperse la bocca, n’uscì un fiato sì puzolente, che trovandosi offesi da questa peste due porte di dua sdegnosissimi sensi, li ochi et il naso, e’ m’andò tale sdegno ad lo stomaco per non potere sopportare tale offesa, tucto si commosse et commosso operò sì, che io le rece’ addosso. Et così, pagata di quella moneta che la meritava, ne parti’. Et per quel cielo che io darò, io non credo, mentre starò in Lombardia, mi torni la foia; et però voi ringratiate Iddio della speranza havete di rihavere tanto dilecto, et io lo ringratio che ho perduto el timore di havere mai più tanto dispiacere.
Io credo che mi avanzerà di questa gita qualche danaio, et vorre’ pure, giunto ad Firenze, fare qualche trafficuzo. Ho disegnato fare un pollaiolo; bisognami trovare uno maruffino che me lo governi. Intendo che Piero di Martino è così sufficiente; vorrei intendessi da lui se ci ha el capo, et rispondetemi; perché, quando e’ non voglia, io mi procaccierò d’uno altro.
De le nuove di qua ve ne satisfarà Giovanni. Salutate Jacopo et raccomandatemi ad lui, et non sdimenticate Marco.
In Verona, die viii Decembris 1509.
Aspecto la risposta di Gualtieri ad la mia cantafavola.
Niccolò Machiavegli … s.html#170 Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere, a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni editore, Firenze 1971.

[3] “Notifichasi a voi, signori Otto, chome Nicholò di messer Bernardo Machiavelli fotte la Lucretia vochata la Riccia nel culo.”

[4] Quelli quattro versi che voi scrivete del Riccio, nel principio della lettera di Donato, noi li dicemmo a mente a Giovanni Machiavelli; e in cambio del Machiavello e del Pera vi annestammo Giovanni Machiavelli. Lui ne ha fatto un capo come una cesta; e dice che non sa dove voi avete trovato che tocchi, e che ve ne vuole scrivere in ogni modo; e per un tratto Filippo e io ne avemmo un piacere grande.

[5] … ttere.html Edizione di riferimento: “Tutte le opere storiche e letterarie di Niccolò Machiavelli”, a cura di Guido Mazzoni e Mario Casella, G. Berbera Editore, Firenze, 1929.
“Queste cose mi sbigottirono ieri in modo, che io aveva andare questa mattina a starmi con la Riccia, e non vi andai; ma io non so già, se io avessi auto a starmi con il Riccio, se io avessi guardato a quello. La predica io non la udi’, perché io non uso simili pratiche, ma la ho sentita recitare così da tutto Firenze.”

[6] Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.
Niccolò Machiavelli a Francesco Vettori
Firenze, 5 gennaio 1514

Magnifico oratori florentino Francisco Victorio benefattori suo observandissimo.
Magnifico oratore. Egli è per certo gran cosa a considerare quanto gli huomini sieno ciechi nelle cose dove e’ peccono, et quanto e’ sieno acerrimi persecutori de’ vizii che non hanno. Io vi potrei addurre in exemplis cose greche, latine, hebraiche, caldee, et andarmene sino ne’ paesi del Sophi et dei Prete Janni, et addurreve’li, se li exempli domestichi et freschi non bastassino. Io credo che ser Sano sarebbe possuto venirvi in casa dall’un giubbileo all’altro, et che mai Filippo harebbe pensato che vi desse carico alcuno; anzi gli sarebbe parso che voi dipigneste ad usar seco, et che la fosse proprio pratica conforme ad uno ambasciadore, il quale, essendo obbligato ad infinite contenenze, è necessario habbia de’ diporti et delli spassi; et questo di ser Sano gli sarebbe parso che quadrasse appunto, et con ciascuno harebbe laudato la prudenza vostra, et commendatovi insino al cielo di tale electione. Dall’altro canto, io credo che se tutto il bordello di Valenza vi fosse corso per casa, non sarebbe stato mai possibile che il Brancaccio ve ne havesse ripreso, anzi vi harebbe di questo più commendato che se vi havesse sentito innanzi al papa orare meglio che Demosthene.
Et se voi havessi voluto vedere la ripruova di questa ragione, vi bisognava, senza che loro havessino saputo delli ammonimenti l’uno dell’altro, che voi havessi fatto vista di credere loro, et volere observare i loro precepti. Et serrato l’uscio alle puttane, et cacciato via ser Sano, et ritiratovi al grave, et stato sopra di voi cogitativo, e’ non sarebbono a verun modo passati quattro dì, che Filippo harebbe cominciato a dire: Che è di ser Sano? Che vuol dire che non ci capita più? Egli è male che non ci venga; a me pare egli uno huomo dabbene: io non so quel che queste brigate si cicalano, et parmi che egli habbia molto bene i termini di questa corte, et che sia una utile bazzicatura. Voi doverreste, ambasciadore, mandare per lui. Il Brancaccio non vi dico se si sarebbe doluto et maravigliato della absenzia delle dame, et se non ve lo havessi detto, mentre che egli havessi tenuto vòlto il culo al fuoco, come harebbe fatto Filippo, e’ ve lo harebbe detto in camera da voi a lui. Et per chiarirvi meglio, bisognava che in tal vostra disposizione austera io fussi capitato costì, che tocco et attendo a femmine: subito avvedutomi della cosa, io harei detto: Ambasciadore, voi ammalerete; e’ non mi pare che voi pigliate spasso alcuno; qui non ci è garzoni, qui non sono femmine; che casa di cazzo è questa?
Magnifico oratore, e’ non ci è se non pazzi; et pochi ci sono che conoschino questo mondo, et che sappino che chi vuol fare a modo d’altri non fa mai nulla, perché non si truova huomo che sia di un medeximo parere. Cotestoro non sanno che chi è tenuto savio il dì, non sarà mai tenuto pazzo la notte; et che chi è stimato huomo da bene, et che vaglia, ciò che e’ fa per allargare l’animo et vivere lieto, gli arreca honore et non carico, et in cambio di essere chiamato buggerone o puttaniere, si dice che è universale, alla mano et buon compagno. Non sanno anche che dà del suo, et non piglia di quel d’altri, et che fa come il mosto mentre bolle, che dà del sapore suo a’ vasi che sanno di muffa, et non piglia della muffa de’ vasi.
Pertanto, signore oratore, non habbiate paura della muffa di ser Sano, né de’ fracidumi di mona Smeria, et seguite gli instituti vostri, et lasciate dire il Brancaccio, che non si avvede che egli è come un di quelli forasiepi, che è il primo a schiamazzare et gridare, et poi, come giugno la civetta, è il primo preso. Et Filippo nostro è come uno avvoltoio, che quando non è carogne in paese, vola cento miglia per trovarne una; et come egli ha piena la gorga, si sta su un pino et ridesi delle aquile, astori, falconi et simili, che per pascersi di cibi delicati si muoiono la metà dell’anno di fame. Sì che, magnifico oratore, lasciate schiamazzare l’uno, et l’altro empiersi il gozzo, et voi attendete alle faccende vostre a vostro modo.
In Firenze, addì 5 di gennaio 1513.
Niccolò Machiavelli

[7] “tocco et attendo a femmine”. 
To touch is a specific verb that indicates homosexual activities. “Tocco” and “attend” are not synonymous and we have already seen a clear example of this in the letter previously examined.

[8] Niccolò Machiavelli a Francesco Vettori
Firenze, 25 febbraio 1514
Magnifico oratori florentino Francisco Vettorio apud S. Pontificem suo observandissimo. Rome.
Magnifico oratore. Io hebbi una vostra lettera dell’altra settimana, et sono indugiatomi ad hora a farvi risposta, perché io desideravo intendere meglio il vero di una novella che io vi scriverrò qui dappiè: poi risponderò alle parti della vostra convenientemente. Egli è accaduto una cosa gentile, o vero, a chiamarla per il suo diritto nome, una metamorfosi ridicola, et degna di esser notata nelle antiche carte. Et perché io non voglio che persona si possa dolere di me, ve la narrerò sotto parabole ascose.
Giuliano Brancacci, verbigrazia, vago di andare alla macchia, una sera in fra l’altre ne’ passati giorni, sonata l’Ave Maria della sera, veggendo il tempo tinto, trarre vento, et piovegginare un poco (tutti segni da credere che ogni uccello aspetti), tornato a casa, si cacciò in piedi un paio di scarpette grosse, cinsesi un carnaiuolo [cerniere], tolse un frugnuolo [lanterna da caccia], una campanella al braccio, et una buona ramata [strumento per la caccia agli uccelli]. Passò il ponte alla Carraia, et per la via del Canto de’ Mozzi ne venne a Santa Trinita, et entrato in Borgo Santo Appostolo, andò un pezzo serpeggiando per quei chiasci che lo mettono in mezzo; et non trovando uccelli che lo aspettassino, si volse dal vostro battiloro, et sotto la Parte Guelfa attraversò Mercato, et per Calimala Francesca si ridusse sotto il Tetto de’ Pisani; dove guardando tritamente tutti quei ripostigli, trovò un tordellino, il quale con la ramata, con il lume, et con la campanella fu fermo da lui, et con arte fu condotto da lui nel fondo del burrone sotto la spelonca, dove alloggiava il Panzano, et quello intrattenendo et trovatogli la vena larga et più volte baciatogliene, gli risquittì [riacconciare le penne agli uccelli] dua penne della coda et infine, secondo che gli più dicono, se lo messe nel carnaiuolo di drieto.
Ma perché il temporale mi sforza a sbucare di sotto coverta, et le parabole non bastano, et questa metaphora più non mi serve, volle intendere il Brancaccio chi costui fosse, il quale gli disse, verbigrazia, essere Michele, nipote di Consiglio Costi. Disse allhora il Brancaccio: — Sia col buono anno, tu sei figliuolo di uno huomo dabbene, et se tu sarai savio, tu hai trovata la ventura tua. Sappi che io sono Filippo da Casavecchia, et fo bottega nel tal lato; et perché io non ho danari meco, o tu vieni, o tu mandi domattina a bottega, et io ti satisfarò. — Venuta la mattina, Michele, che era più presto cattivo che dappoco, mandò un zana a Filippo con una poliza richiedendoli il debito, et ricordandoli l’obbligo; al quale Filippo fece un tristo viso, dicendo: — Chi è costui, o che vuole? io non ho che fare seco; digli che venga a me. — Donde che, ritornato il zana a Michele, et narratogli la cosa, non si sbigottì di niente il fanciullo, ma animosamente andato a trovare Filippo, gli rimproverò i benefici ricevuti, et li concluse che se lui non haveva rispetto ad ingannarlo, egli non harebbe rispetto a vituperarlo; tale che parendo a Filippo essere impacciato, lo tirò drento in bottega, et li disse: — Michele, tu sei stato ingannato; io sono un huomo molto costumato, et non attendo a queste tristizie; sì che egli è meglio pensare come e’ si habbi a ritrovare questo inganno, et che chi ha ricevuto piacere da te, ti ristori, che entrare per questa via, et senza tuo utile vituperare me. Però farai a mio modo; andra’tene a casa, et torna domani a me, et io ti dirò quello a che harò pensato. — Partissi il fanciullo tutto confuso; pure, havendo a ritornare, restò paziente. Et rimasto Filippo solo, era angustiato dalla novità della cosa, et scarso di partiti, fluctuava come il mare di Pisa quando una libecciata gli soffia nel forame. Perché e’ diceva: Se io mi sto cheto, et contento Michele con un fiorino, io divento una sua vignuola, fummi suo debitore, confesso il peccato, et di innocente divento reo: se io niego senza trovare il vero della cosa, io ho a stare al paragone di un fanciullo, hommi a giustificare seco, ho a giustificare gli altri; tutti i torti fieno i mia. Se io cerco di trovarne il vero, io ne ho a dare carico a qualcuno, potrei non ivi apporre, farò questa inimicizia, et con tutto questo non sarò giustificato.
Et stando in questa ansietà, per manco tristo partito prese l’ultimo; et fugli in tanto favorevole la fortuna, che la prima mira che pose, la pose al vero brocco, et pensò che il Brancaccio gli havesse fatto questa villania, pensando che egli era macchiaiuolo, et che altre volte gli haveva fatto delle natte quando lo botò a’ Servi. Et andò in su questo a trovare Alberto Lotti, verbigrazia, et narratoli il caso, et dectoli l’oppenione sua, et pregatolo havesse a sé Michele, che era suo parente, vedesse se poteva riscontrare questa cosa. Giudicò Alberto, come pratico et intendente, che Filippo havesse buono occhio, et promessoli la sua opera francamente, mandò per Michele, et abburattatolo un pezzo, li venne a questa conclusione: — Darebbet’egli il cuore, se tu sentissi favellare costui che ha detto di essere Filippo, di riconoscerlo alla boce? — A che il fanciullo replicato di sì, lo menò seco in Santo Hilario, dove e’ sapeva il Brancaccio si riparava, et facendogli spalle, havendo veduto il Brancaccio che si sedeva fra un monte di brigate a dir novelle, fece che il fanciullo se gli accostò tanto, che l’udì parlare; et girandosegli intorno, veggendolo il Brancaccio, tutto cambiato se li levò dinanzi; donde a ciascuno la cosa parse chiara, di modo che Filippo è rimaso tutto scarico, et il Brancaccio vituperato. Et in Firenze in questo carnasciale non si è detto altro, se non: — Se’ tu il Brancaccio, o se’ il Casa? —; « et fuit in toto notissima fabula coelo ». Io credo che habbiate hauto per altre mani questo avviso, pure io ve l’ho voluto dire più particulare, perché mi pare così mio obbligo.
Alla vostra io non ho che dirvi, se non che seguitiate l’amore totis habenis, et quel piacere che voi piglierete hoggi, voi non lo harete a pigliare domani; et se la cosa sta come voi me l’havete scritta, io ho più invidia a voi che al re di Inghilterra. Priegovi seguitiate la vostra stella, et non ne lasciate andare un iota per cosa del mondo, perché io credo, credetti, et crederrò sempre che sia vero quello che dice il Boccaccio: che gli è meglio fare et pentirsi, che non fare et pentirsi.
Addì 25 di Febbraio 1514.
Niccolò Machiavelli in Firenze Edizione di riferimento Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.

[9] Notoriously homosexual. Of Filippo Casavecchia, in Florence, the relationships he had with Niccolò Machiavelli are better documented, to which he was bound by strong bonds of friendship. The familiarity between the two, which dates back to before 1500, results in particular from a group of five letters sent by Casavecchia between 1507 and 1509, during the stays at Fivizzano and Barga, and by the references that appear in letters by Machiavelli to common friends.
[10] Niccolò Machiavelli a Francesco Vettori
Firenze, 3 agosto 1514
A Francesco Vettori in Roma.
Voi, compare, mi havete con più avvisi dello amor vostro di Roma tenuto tutto festivo, et mi havete levato dallo animo infinite molestie, con leggere et pensare a’ piaceri et alli sdegni vostri, perché l’uno non sta bene senza l’altro. Et veramente la Fortuna mi ha condotto in luogo, che io ve ne potrei rendere iusto ricompenso; perché, standomi in villa, io ho riscontro in una creatura tanto gentile, tanto delicata, tanto nobile, et per natura et per accidente, che io non potrei né tanto laudarla, né tanto amarla, che la non meritasse più. Harei, come voi a me, a dire i principii di questo amore, con che reti mi prese, dove le tese, di che qualità furno; et vedresti che le furono reti d’oro, tese tra fiori, tessute da Venere, tanto soavi et gentili, che benché un cuor villano le havesse potute rompere, nondimeno io non volli, et un pezzo mi vi godei dentro, tanto che le fila tenere sono diventate dure, et incavicchiate con nodi irresolubili. Et non crediate che Amore a pigliarmi habbia usato modi ordinarii, perché, conoscendo non li sarebbono bastati, tenne vie extraordinarie, dalle quali io non seppi, et non volsi guardarmi. Bastivi che, già vicino a cinquanta anni né questi soli mi offendono, né le vie aspre mi straccano, né le obscurità delle notti mi sbigottiscano. Ogni cosa mi pare piano, et a ogni appetito, etiam diverso et contrario a quello che doverrebbe essere il mio, mi accomodo. Et benché mi paia essere entrato in gran travaglio, tamen io ci sento dentro tanta dolcezza, sì per quello che quello aspetto raro et suave mi arreca, sì eziam per havere posto da parte la memoria di tutti e mia affanni, che per cosa del mondo, possendomi liberare, non vorrei. Ho lasciato dunque i pensieri delle cose grandi et gravi; non mi diletta più leggere le cose antiche, né ragionare delle moderne; tutte si sono converse in ragionamenti dolci; di che ringrazio Venere et tutta Cipri. Pertanto se vi occorre da scrivere cosa alcuna della dama, scrivetelo, et dell’altre cose ragionerete con quelli che le stimono più, et le intendono meglio, perché io non ci ho mai trovato se non danno, et in queste sempre bene et piacere. Valete.
Ex Florentia, die III Augusti 1514.
Vostro Niccolò Machiavelli Edizione di riferimento Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.

[11] Francesco Vettori a Niccolò Machiavelli
Roma, 16 gennaio 1515
Spectabili viro Nicholò Machiavelli in Firenze.
† A’ dì 16 di Gennaio 1515.
Caro compare. Io non ho lettere da nessuno che io legha più volentieri, che le vostre, e vorrei potere scrivere molte choxe, le quale conosco non potersi commettere alle lettere. E’ sono più mesi che io intexi benissimo in che modo amavi, e fui per dirvi: « Ah, Coridon, Coridon, quae te dementia cepit? ». Poi, pensando intra me medesimo che questo mondo non è altro che amore, o, per dir più chiaro, foia, mi ritenni; e sono ito considerando quanto li huomini in questo chaxo son dischosto chol chuore a quello dicono cholla bocha. Ha un padre il figluolo e dice volerlo nutrire honesto: non di meno gli chomincia a dare un maestro che tutto dì stia con lui et che habbi commodità farne a suo modo, e gli lascia leggere qualchoxa da fare risentire un morto. La madre lo pulisce, lo veste bene, acciò che piaccia più: quando chomincia crescere, gli dà una camera terrena, dove sia cammino e tutte le altre commodità, perché possa sguazare a modo suo, e menarvi e condurvi chi gli pare. E tutti facciamo choxì, et errano in questo, più quelli a’ quali pare essere ordinati: e però non è da maraviglarsi ch’e nostri giovani sieno tanti lascivi quanto sono, perché questo procede dalla pessima educatione. Et voi et io, anchor che siamo vechi, riteniamo in qualche parte e chostumi presi da giovani, et non c’è rimedio. Duolmi non essere chostì, perché potessimo parlare insieme di queste choxe et di molte altre.
Ma voi mi dite choxa che mi fa stare admirato: d’havere trovato tanta fede e tanta chompassione nella Riccia che, vi prometto, li ero per amor vostro partigiano, ma hora li son diventato stiavo, perché il più delle volte le femmine soglono amare la fortuna et non li huomini, et quando essa si muta mutarsi anchor loro. Di Donato non mi maraviglo perché è huomo di fede, e oltre a questo pruova del continuo il medesimo che voi.
Io vi scripsi che l’otio mi faceva innamorato et choxì vi raffermo, perché ho quasi faccenda nessuna. Non posso molto leggere, rispetto alla vista per l’età diminuita: non posso ire a solazo se non achompagnato, e questo non si può far sempre: non ò tanta auctorità né tante facultà che habbi a essere intratenuto; se mi ochupo in pensieri, li più mi arrechono melanchonia, la quale io fuggo assai; e di necessità bixogna ridursi a pensare a choxe piacevole, né so chosa che dilecti più a pensarvi e a farlo, che il fottere. E filosofi ogni huomo quanto e’ vuole, che questa è la pura verità, la quale molti intendono choxì ma pochi la dichano. Fo pensiero a primavera ridurmi a voi, se mi fia lecito, e parleremo insieme di questo et molte altre choxe. Racomandatemi a Filippo, Giovanni e Lorenzo Machiavelli e a Donato. Christo vi guardi.
Francesco Victori oratore in Roma Edizione di riferimento: Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.

If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum:


The problem of sources

André Raffalovich deals with Byron’s homosexuality in an extremely synthetic way, not to say reductive, but it should be kept in mind that Byron, more than a person, is an icon, a myth of English Romanticism, and that a myth is such as it is supported by a mythology, which, as is well known, is an enemy of history. Raffalovich was certainly not superficial when conducting his studies on homosexuality in history and literature, his succinctness derives from substantial reasons and not from personal assessments. Raffalovich on Byron had only very small and widely censored sources.

Thomas Moore, with his “Letters and Journals of Lord Byron” has for a long time been the only point of reference for Byron’s life studies. The work was published in 1830 but the collection began in 1814, when Byron himself sent Moore a first packet of letters and diaries so that they could be preserved and eventually published. By 1818 Byron began writing his autobiography, which Moore should have published, with additions taken from letters and diaries. Byron assumed that Moore could earn profits from the publication. Moore through Byron’s Letters and Diaries publishing intended to correct the idea that Byron was a vicious misanthropist, idea widespread in England well before the poet died, showing in the contrary his amiability. From the correspondence between Byron and Moore it is clear that both worked and in agreement on the project. Byron expresses concern for the fate of all that material, but at the same time invites to trust Moore, even though he knows that after his death Moore will still work a censorship, so to speak, a prudential censorship.

In 1830, just a few years after Byron’s death, most of the people mentioned in his letters were still alive, and the lawyers of those families would certainly read Moore’s biography. The people involved in Byron’s most or less honorable events were very powerful and influential, and it could not be surprising that Moore has acted censorship, but it is surprising that the biography has not been much more censored than it really was. The original memories of Byron, the core of the business, was destroyed by the will of Byron’s friends, and in particular by the executor, Hobhouse, who was largely involved in Byron’s affair with homosexuality, despite Moore’s protests.

Evidently, full publication would have created a great deal of embarrassment on many powerful people whose private life would have been put on the streets and would have heavily discredited Byron’s memory, supporting the allegations of homosexuality, sodomy, and incest that had been brought against him. It is not a moralistic censorship choice, as it is often presented, but an option without real alternatives, save perhaps the freezing of the publication for 50 or more years.

Byron biography books are many and also those who deal with the theme of the poet’s homosexuality are quite numerous. For me, in 2017, the greatest risk of trying to write a Byron homosexual biography is to be a “great translator of Homer’s translators”, that is to use rather than the sources, what others have written on the subject. The temptation is great and the work would be greatly facilitated, but when it comes to highlighting historiography more than documents, history becomes history of historiography and that’s exactly what I want to avoid here.

In the studies on Byron, a milestone is represented by the monumental and punctual philological work done by Peter Cochran (1944- 2015), who not only has rigorously transcribed an immense amount of Byron’s letters, documents, and texts but has opened to anyone free access to his archives. I have constantly referred to these archives in my attempt to reconstruct the facts, avoiding, as far as possible, deforming them on the basis of ideological assumptions.

The early years

George Gordon Noel Byron, was born in London, at Holles Street n.16, January 22, 1788, by John Byron and Catherine Gordon of Gight. A contraction of the Achilles tendon, found at birth, he made him slightly limp since he was a child. George Gordon spends his early years in Aberdeen at his mother’s home. His father, reduced to poverty from debt, retires to France, where he dies, probably suicidal, in 1791. At the time of his death, in 1798, George Gordon inherited his noble title and his property at the age of 10, becoming Sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale and then Lord. He leaved the Aberdeen’s maternal home and went to Newstead Abbey that was in abandonment at that time. He had inherited from his uncle great possessions but also many debts.


In October 1805, at age 17, nearly 18, he joined Trinity College in Cambridge, where he became acquainted with those who became his closest friends: Edward Noel Long, William Bankes, Francis Hodgson, Douglas Kinnaird, John Cam Hobhouse, Scrope Berdmore Davies and Charles Skinner Matthews are all among his close friends. At Trinity College, in October 1815, Byron also met John Edleston (then sixteen), a blond, beautiful boy, then Trinity College chorister. In 1816 Edleston gave Byron a spell of cornelian shaped heart. At the gift Byron writes:

No specious splendour of this stone
Endears it to my memory ever;
With lustre ‘only once’ it shone,
And blushes modest as the giver. (b)
Some, who can sneer at friendship’s ties,
Have, for my weakness, oft reprov’d me;
Yet still the simple gift I prize,
For I am sure, the giver lov’d me.
He offer’d it with downcast look,
As ‘fearful’ that I might refuse it;
I told him, when the gift I took,
My ‘only fear’ should be, to lose it.
This pledge attentively I view’d,
And ‘sparkling’ as I held it near,
Methought one drop the stone bedew’d,
And, ever since, ‘I’ve lov’d a tear.’
Still, to adorn his humble youth,
Nor wealth nor birth their treasures yield;
But he, who seeks the flowers of truth,
Must quit the garden, for the field.
‘Tis not the plant uprear’d in sloth,
Which beauty shews, and sheds perfume;
The flowers, which yield the most of both,
In Nature’s wild luxuriance bloom.
Had Fortune aided Nature’s care,
For once forgetting to be blind,
‘His’ would have been an ample share,
If well proportioned to his mind.
But had the Goddess clearly seen,
His form had fix’d her fickle breast;
‘Her’ countless hoards would ‘his’ have been,
And none remain’d to give the rest.

(a) The cornelian was a present from his friend Edleston, a Cambridge chorister, afterwards a clerk in a mercantile house in London. Edleston died of consumption, May 11, 1811. (See letter from Byron to Miss Pigot, October 28, 1811.) Their acquaintance began by Byron saving him from drowning. (MS. note by the Rev. W. Harness.)
(b) ‘But blushes modest’.

On February 23, 1807, Byron wrote from Southwell to Edward Noel Long, his childhood friend and added to his letter this post scriptum: “If possible I will pass through Granta, in March, pray, keep the subject of my “Cornelian” Secret.” (Granta is the original name, still in use locally, for the River Cam, this name indicates, by extension, the city of Cambridge). Thomas Moore, who deleted homosexual passages from survived diaries and letters, called Edleston “adopted brother” of Byron.

A short time before Byron left Cambridge on June 27, 1807 he sent to John Edleston a short note written in cypher characters and translated by Leslie Marchand with the help of an alphabetical key found in his papers.


D–R–T [Dearest?] —  Why not? With this kiss make me yours again forever.

[“Byron’s Letters and Journals” a new selection – From Leslie A. Marchand’s – twelve-volume edition – Oxford University Press, 2015. Page. 22.]

To that same Cornelian, donated by Edleston to Byron, the poet refers in the poem “The Adieu” (of which we do not possess the date) at the time of separation from Edleston.

The Adieu

by George Gordon Lord Byron

Written Under The Impression That The Author Would Soon Die.

Adieu, thou Hill! where early joy
Spread roses o’er my brow;
Where Science seeks each loitering boy
With knowledge to endow.
Adieu, my youthful friends or foes,
Partners of former bliss or woes;
No more through Ida’s paths we stray;
Soon must I share the gloomy cell,
Whose ever‑slumbering inmates dwell
Unconscious of the day.

Adieu, ye hoary Regal Fanes,
Ye spires of Granta’s vale,
Where Learning robed in sable reigns,
And Melancholy pale.
Ye comrades of the jovial hour,
Ye tenants of the classic bower,
On Cama’s verdant margin placed,
Adieu! while memory still is mine,
For, offerings on Oblivion’s shrine,
These scenes must be effaced.

Adieu, ye mountains of the clime
Where grew my youthful years;
Where Loch na Garr in snows sublime
His giant summit rears.
Why did my childhood wander forth
From you, ye regions of the North,
With sons of pride to roam?
Why did I quit my Highland cave,
Mar’s dusky heath, and Dee’s clear wave,
To seek a Sotheron home!

Hall of my Sires! a long farewell–
Yet why to thee adieu?
Thy vaults will echo back my knell,
Thy towers my tomb will view:
The faltering tongue which sung thy fall,
And former glories of thy Hall,
Forgets its wonted simple note–
But yet the Lyre retains the strings,
And sometimes, on Æolian wings,
In dying strains may float.

Fields which surround yon rustic cot,
While yet I linger here,
Adieu! you are not now forgot,
To retrospection dear.
Streamlet! along whose rippling surge
My youthful limbs were wont to urge,
At noontide heat, their pliant course;
Plunging with ardour from the shore,
Thy springs will lave these limbs no more,
Deprived of active force.

And shall I here forget the scene,
Still nearest to my breast?
Rocks rise and rivers roll between
The spot which passion blest;
Yet, Mary, all thy beauties seem
Fresh as in Love’s bewitching dream,
To me in smiles display’d;
Till slow disease resigns his prey
To Death, the parent of decay,
Thine image cannot fade.

And thou, my Friend! whose gentle love
Yet thrills my bosom’s chords,
How much thy friendship was above
Description’s power of words!
Still near my breast thy gift I wear
Which sparkled once with Feeling’s tear,
Of Love the pure, the sacred gem;
Our souls were equal, and our lot
In that dear moment quite forgot;
Let Pride alone condemn!

All, all is dark and cheerless now!
No smile of Love’s deceit
Can warm my veins with wonted glow,
Can bid Life’s pulses beat:
Not e’en the hope of future fame
Can wake my faint, exhausted frame,
Or crown with fancied wreaths my head.
Mine is a short inglorious race,–
To humble in the dust my face,
And mingle with the dead.

Oh Fame! thou goddess of my heart;
On him who gains thy praise,
Pointless must fall the Spectre’s dart,
Consumed in Glory’s blaze;
But me she beckons from the earth,
My name obscure, unmark’d my birth,
My life a short and vulgar dream:
Lost in the dull, ignoble crowd,
My hopes recline within a shroud,
My fate is Lathe’s stream.

When I repose beneath the sod,
Unheeded in the clay,
Where once my playful footsteps trod,
Where now my head must lay,
The weed of Pity will be shed
In dew-drops o’er my narrow bed,
By nightly skies, and storms alone;
No mortal eye will deign to steep
With tears the dark sepulchral deep
Which hides a name unknown.
Forget this world, my restless sprite,
Turn, turn thy thoughts to Heaven:
There must thou soon direct thy flight,
If errors are forgiven.
To bigots and to sects unknown,
Bow down beneath the Almighty’s Throne;
To Him address thy trembling prayer:
He, who is merciful and just,
Will not reject a child of dust,
Although his meanest care.

Father of Light! to Thee I call;
My soul is dark within:
Thou who canst mark the sparrow’s fall,
Avert the death of sin.
Thou, who canst guide the wandering star,
Who calm’st the elemental war,
Whose mantle is yon boundless sky,
My thoughts, my words, my crimes forgive:
And, since I soon must cease to live,
Instruct me how to die.

On June 30, 1807, Byron, while still in Cambridge, probably after a short absence (and after the farewell to Edleston), writes to his friend Elizabeth Bridget Pigot (1783-1866).

[Byron to Elizabeth Pigot, from Trinity College, Cambridge, June 30th 1807: (Source: text from Newstead Abbey Collection NA 948(j); LJ I 120-3; QI 28-9; BLJ I 123-4)]

LORD BYRON TO ELIZABETH BRIDGET PIGOT      Cambridge June 30th, 1807

. . . I am almost superannuated here. My old friends (with the exception of a very few) all departed, and I am preparing to follow them, but remain till Monday to be present at 3 Oratorios, 2 Concerts, a Fair, and a Ball. I find I am not only thinner but taller by an inch since my last visit. I was obliged to tell every body my name, nobody having the least recollection of visage, or person. Even the hero of my Cornelian (who is now sitting vis-à-vis, reading a volume of my Poetics) passed me in Trinity walks without recognising me in the least, and was thunderstruck at the alteration which had taken place in my countenance, &c., &c. Some say I look better, others worse, but all agree I am thinner, – more I do not require. . . .
I quit Cambridge with little regret, because our set are vanished, and my musical protégé before mentioned has left the choir, and is stationed in a mercantile house of considerable eminence in the metropolis. You may have heard me observe he is exactly to an hour two years younger than myself. I found him grown considerably, and as you will suppose, very glad to see his former Patron. He is nearly my height, very thin, very fair complexion, dark eyes, and light locks. My opinion of his mind you already know; – I hope I shall never have reason to change it. Every body here conceives me to be an invalid. The University at present is very gay from the fêtes of divers kinds. I supped out last night, but eat (or ate) nothing, sipped a bottle of claret, went to bed at two, and rose at eight. I have commenced early rising, and find it agrees with me. The Masters and the Fellows are all very polite but look a little askance – don’t much admire lampoons – truth always disagreeable.

The relationship between Byron and John Edleston continues until Byron leaves Trinity in the summer of 1807. Farewell takes place July 5, 1087, as we know from a Byron letter to Miss Pigot.

Byron to Elizabeth Pigot, from Trinity College Cambridge, July 5th 1807: (Source: text from Newstead Abbey Collection NA 948(k); LJ I 133-6; QI 29-31; BLJ I 124-5)


My Dear Eliza.

Since my last letter I have determined to reside another year at Granta, as my rooms, etc. etc. are finished in great style, several old friends come up again, and many new acquaintances made; consequently my inclination leads me forward, and I shall return to college in October if still alive. My life here has been one continued routine of dissipation – out at different places every day, engaged to more dinners, etc. etc. than my stay would permit me to fulfil. At this moment I write with a bottle of claret in my head and tears in my eyes; for I have just parted with my “Cornelian,” who spent the evening with me. As it was our last interview, I postponed my engagement to devote the hours of the Sabbath to friendship: – Edleston and I have separated for the present, and my mind is a chaos of hope and sorrow. To-morrow I set out for London: you will address your answer to “Gordon’s Hotel, Albemarle Street,” where I sojourn during my visit to the metropolis.

I rejoice to hear you are interested in my protégé; he has been my almost constant associate since October, 1805, when I entered Trinity College. His voice first attracted my attention, his countenancefixed it, and his manners attached me to him for ever. He departs for a mercantile house in town in October, and we shall probably not meet till the expiration of my minority, when I shall leave to his decision either entering as a partner through my interest, or residing with me altogether. Of course he would in his present frame of mind prefer the latter, but he may alter his opinion previous to that period; – however, he shall have his choice. I certainly love him more than any human being, and neither time nor distance have had the least effect on my (in general) changeable disposition. In short we shall put Lady E. Butler and Miss Ponsonby to the blush, Pylades and Orestes out of countenance, and want nothing but a catastrophe like Nisus and Euryalus to give Jonathan and David the “go by”. He certainly is perhaps more attached to me than even I am in return. During the whole of my residence at Cambridge we met every day, summer and winter, without passing one tiresome moment, and separated each time with increasing reluctance. I hope you will one day see us together. He is the only being I esteem, though I like many. . . . My protégé breakfasts with me; parting spoils my appetite – excepting from Southwell [i.e. leaving England altogether].

So far, the reader has been able to follow Byron’s homosexual history until the age of nineteen and a half: the resulting picture is still conforming to the Byronian myth: there is the love for a boy who was two years younger than the poet, but the border between love and friendship is very labile and the term “protector”, which Byron uses to designate Edleston without being too explicit, seems to emphasize more than a difference in age, a social difference, which is not overcome by feelings. Byron certainly will not give up on the Grand Tour, typical of high-ranking youth, to stay alongside Edleston, who will follow his way as a businessman. We must always keep in mind, however, that we are dealing with Byron’s homosexuality relying only on the little that has remained after the destruction of his Memories, wanted by his friends after the poet’s death. The beautiful youth surrounding Byron had little to do with the heroes of Foscolo and Alfieri heroes, they were young guys, who belonged to aristocratic and very rich British families, and for them the university life in Cambridge was certainly not limited to the study. Byron himself, as we have seen, highlights the festive aspect of university life, especially in the summer, but student life could not be reduced to ritual parties and entertainments, or rather ritual parties could be interesting occasions for heterosexual students, certainly not for homosexual ones. There was, then, as there is now, an underground university life linked to homosexuality, and Byron was not alien to all this. We cannot hope to find out such things in Moore’s Biography, but clues and evidences exist anyway. We have fortunately a letter from Charles Skinner Matthews to Byron, London, June 30, 1809, on the departure of Byron for the Grand Tour, of this letter will be discussed in detail below. Matthews, the author of this letter, was born on March 26, 1785 and therefore nearly three years older than Byron, was elected a fellow of Downing College in Cambridge (this fact is mentioned in the letter) and unfortunately died drowned in the Cam, while bathing, August 3, 1811, at age 26. When Matthews, defined by Moore as “the libertine friend of Byron,” wrote the mentioned letter, he was at the beginning of his 24  and Byron was 21. The letter highlights many interesting facts: at least three people (Byron, Hobhouse and Matthews) used to convey homosexual content a “mysterious” style, so they define it, “that style in which more is meant than meets the Eye”. Matthews found the reason very simply in the fact that “should the tabellarians [postmen] be inclined to peep”. In a time when homosexuality was a serious offense and sodomy involves the death penalty, a cryptic language imposed itself as an indispensable security condition. We’ve already seen that Byron and Edleston in the college exchanged encrypted messages, but here we are not talking about short messages but about real letters with encrypted and unencrypted parts. The “mysterious” style was recently inaugurated and was in the process of being routed because it was designed to keep long-distance correspondence between guys involved in the Grand Tour and guys in England. The likelihood that Turkish police could inspect letters sent to England from very wealthy foreigners was certainly far more than a theoretical hypothesis and the encrypted text was not to be recognized as such. The use of expressions in French, of words to be understood according to French reading or the identification of coded words, among others, with the addition of one “e” at the end, were artifices unlikely to be recognizable to an unknowing eye. Thus a true brotherhood was created, the brotherhood “de la Methode” (in French) (Methode (ending with “e”) = homosexuality) and the adepts were the Methodistes (with “e”), who obviously had nothing to do with the Methodist Church. We can talk about Methodiste desires, other Methodistes, apostles of religion, and so on. Hunting for boys is encrypted with the botanical metaphor of collecting flowers and flowers have significant names: Hyacinth (which alludes to the boy loved by Apollo) represents the homosexual partner available; but the metaphor goes even further, because according to the legend, Hyacinth died during a launch of disks or rings because the wind let go back the disk that struck Hyacinth violently. In English “coit” is a variant of “quoit” = ring of iron, plastic, rope, etc., used in the game of quoits. Therefore Hyacinth died for a “coit”, a word that alludes openly to “coitus” = sexual intercourse. To indicate a complete sexual intercourse, the Methodistes (with “e”) used the acronym pl&optC = “plenum et optabilem coitum” (full and desirable sexual intercourse), an expression used by Petronius in his Satyricon. Some traits of Matthews’s letter remain nevertheless obscure. Beyond the Methodistes Sect and their cryptic language, Matthews’ letter contains another very important element in Byron’s homosexual biography. Matthews talks about an “Abbey Hyacinth” (with reference to the fact that Byron had lived the first adolescence in Newstead Abbey), the “Abbey Hyacinth” is Robert Rushton ( 1793-1833), a boy who was about 16 years old at the time of Matthews’ letter. Robert Rushton was the son of William Rushton, one of the most important tenants in Newstead estate. In 1808, at the age of about 14 to 15 years, Robert was in service at the Abbey as a Byron page, Byron took the boy with himself on the journey to Europe in 1809, but then sent him back home from Gibraltar and paid the expenses for his education in Newark; however, we will have the opportunity to deal again with Rushton later, let us here just note that among Byron’s friends Rushton is considered as one of the complacent boys whom Byron could enjoy. We will see that Byron showed friendly attitudes towards Rushton, even in very embarrassing situations for the poet. A reflection should be made on a very important point: the “loves” or perhaps more banally Byron’s homosexual interests are not directed towards its peers but towards boys of very different social condition. Raffalovich, at the end of the eighteenth century, will blame John Addington Symonds for similar attitudes, but Symonds, while being a wealthy man, was certainly not a lord and his attitudes show a substantial affection for young men (non-adolescents) whom he falls in love with, Byron, perhaps because he is still very young, seems to swing between romantic and goliardic attitudes, where homosexuality becomes argument of social play and hot speeches between mates.

On June 25, 1809, just before embarkation, Byron communicated to Henry Drury that one of the reasons for his trip to the eastern Mediterranean was the ambition to contribute to a book proposed by Hobhouse [Byron’s Letters and Journals, ed. Leslie A. Marchand, 13 vols, John Murray, 1973-94; I 208.]]

“… a chapter on the state of morals, and a further treatise on the same to be entituled “Sodomy simplified or Pæderasty proved to be praiseworthy from ancient authors and from modern practice.” – Hobhouse further hopes to indemnify himself in Turkey for a life of exemplary chastity at home by letting out his “fayre body” to the whole Divan.(a)” (BLJ I 208)

(a) The Divan is a Turkish reserved room, meaning, obviously joking, that Hobhouse wanted to prostitute with all those present.

Byron, Hobhouse and Matthews’s interest in boys is very evident in a letter written by Byron and Hobhouse to Matthews from Falmouth just before their departure for the Grand Tour on June 22, 1809. Byron and Hobhouse use this in this letter the code “mysterious”. Hobhouse writes:

Byron and John Cam Hobhouse to Charles Skinner Matthews, from Falmouth, June 22nd 1809:

(Source: text from B.L.Add.Mss. 47226 ff.6-7; BLJ I 206-7) [(in Byron’s hand): Falmouth June twenty-two / C.S.Matthews Esqre / 13 Bunbury Court / Strand / London / Byron]

Falmouth June 22

My dear Matthews Under  – omissis – As to the journey of Byron & myself to this port I have little or nothing to inform you of, except that nothing happened worthy of notice. I should not however forget to inform a Methodiste,(a) that by a curious accident we overtook Caliph Vathek(b) at Hartford Bridge; we could not obtain a sight of this great apostle,(c) he having closed the shutters on the out-side. By another strange coincidence, we heard at Salisbury, that a noble namesake of a Trinity Friend of your’s(d) was upon the road for his Devonshire seat.

These things do not happen without some intention of the gods, & are certainly ominous of either something very bad or very fortunate – Besides all this, the Cornish air is so exceedingly favorable to complexion, that the roses of the genus andron(1) are the most universally blooming you ever beheld, so much so, that our conversation here, pupis pars non minima fueris,(e) has generally turned on that interesting topic – … – omissis –

Byron writes: My dear Mathieu, – I take up the pen which our friend has for a moment laid down merely to express a vain wish that you were with us in this detestable region, as I do not think Georgia itself can emulate its capabilities or incitements to the “Plen. and optabil. – Coit.”(g) the port of Falmouth & parts adjacent. – –

We are surrounded by Hyacinths & other flowers of the most fragrant [tear: “na”]ture, – & I have some intention of culling a handsome Bouquet to compare with the exotics we expect to meet in Asia. – One specimen I shall certainly carry off, but of this hereafter. – Adieu Mathieu! — —

(a) Codeword for “homosexual”.
(b) William Beckford, author of Vathek, B.’s favourite book.
(c) At BLJ I 210 (letter to Francis Hodgson, June 25th 1809) B. refers to Beckford as “the great Apostle of Pæderasty”. See CHP I st.22, especially its first version.
(d) Trinity friend unidentified.
(e) Male gender.
(f) Latin expression that should mean “You were not a negligible topic for kids” but the term “pupis” seems rather unlikely in Latin
(g) Petronius, Satyricon, par. 86.

But let’s come to Matthews’s letter.

Charles Skinner Matthews to Byron, from London, June 30th 1809:
(Source: National Library of Scotland 12604 / 4247G)

London. Saturday June 30. 1809
In transmitting my dispatches to Hobhouse, mi carissime βυρον (a) I cannot refrain from addressing a few lines to yourself: chiefly to congratulate you on the splendid success of your first efforts in the mysterious, that style in which more is meant than meets the Eye.(b) I shall have at you in that style before I fold up this sheet.

Hobhouse too is uncommonly well, but I must recommend that he do not in future put a dash under his mysterious significances, such a practise would go near to letting the cat out of the bag, should the tabellarians(c) be inclined to peep: And I positively decree that every one who professes ma methode do spell the term w ch. designates his calling with an e at the end of it – methodiste, not methodist; and pronounce the word in the French fashion. Every one’s taste must revolt atconfounding ourselves with that sect of horrible, snivelling, fanatics.

As to your Botanical pursuits, I take it that the flowers you will be most desirous of culling will be of the class polyandria,(d) and not monogynia (e) but nogynia.(f) However so as you do not cut them it will all do very well.

A word or two about hyacinths. Hyacinth, you may remember, was killed by a Coit.(g) but not that “full and to-be- wished-for Coit.” have a care then that your Abbey Hyacinth (h) be not injured by either sort of coit. If you should find anything remarkable in the botanical line, pray send me word of it, who take an extreme

interest in your anthology; and specify the class & if possible the name of each production.

Tomorrow morning I am going to Cambridge to invest myself with the magisterial hat, to drink ale, &, eventually, to play at Coits. It is not auditable (though from it’s auricular qualities it might almost be called so) which I am so eager to obtain, but some which comes from a more northern part of the kingdom. You who are so well acquainted with the topography of our cellar will immediately comprehend the sort I mean, when I tell you that I mean to broach one of two butts which I have often pointed out to your notice; not the tall one. And of the pl&optC, (i) should I be so happy as to obtain one, or of the progress towards it, you shall be fully informed.

I have not yet seen the hero of that Treatise on the Bathos which you promised me, but were too much engaged to execute; But, in another point, I have been admitted behind the scenes & was very much disappointed on a rear inspection of the Palma.

I admire the stoical unconcern & Christian resignation with which both of you seem to bear your disappointment of the Packet; & the consequent prolongation of your stay in this country. From which I readily infer that there must be something in Falmouth not a little delectable, and deplore my lot that I am not sharing your delights. I enclose with this the frontispiece to the Trial of Cap. Sutherland: which I bought yesterday thinking that it might contain quelque chose de la methode: but nothing of the kind appears. The face & right thumb of the negro are the principal features in the picture: which I send you on account of it’s oddity: and think that you, Hobhouse, & M.

l’Abbé Hyacinth (l) might represent the scene with much effect, taking the parts of the Captain, the negro, & the cabin boy, respectively.

I cannot conclude without exhorting & beseeching you, as I have besought Hobhouse, to oblige me with frequent favours in the epistolary way both before & after your leaving England.

Adieu my dear Lord; I wish you, not as Dr Johnson wished Mr Burke, all the success which an honest man can or ought to wish you, (m) but as grand founder and arch-Patriarch of the Methode I give your undertaking my benediction, and wish you, Byron of Byzantium, and you, Cam of Constantinople, jointly & severally, all the success which in your most methodistical fantasies you can wish yourselves.
So sail along with happy auspices & believe me.
Your’s very sincerely

(a) “Byron” (Greek).
(b) Matthews refers to the coded style of B.’s letter of June 22nd.
(c) Postmen.
(d) “with many males”.
(e) “with a single female”.
(f) “nogynia” is Matthews’ coinage: “with no females”.
(g) Hyacinth was killed when a discus he with which he was practising in a contest with Apollo, his lover, was flung back at him by the jealous West Wind.
(h) Robert Rushton.
(i) “Coitum plenum et optabilem” – “full and highly satisfactory sex”. From Petronius’ Satyricon.
(l) Robert Rushton.
(m) “When the general election broke up the delightful society in which we had spent some time at Beconsfield, Dr. Johnson shook the hospitable master of the house [Burke] kindly by the hand, and said, “Farewell my dear Sir, and remember that I wish you all the success which ought to be wished you, which can possibly be wished you indeed – by an honest man.’” – Piozzi’s Anecdotes, p.242

If Matthews’s letter stopped only with goliardic gossip about homosexuality, it would just be another manifestation of the desecrating livelihood of a group of homosexual young people, after all, nothing at all disruptive, but Matthews’s letter presents another element, not immediately obvious, but that needs to be clarified to understand the mentality of these guys more closely. The three Methodistes follow the English press carefully. Matthews’s letter is dated June 30, 1809, and refers to the trial of Captain Sutherland, who had been hanged the day before, on June 29, at the strength of the capital executions on the banks of the River Thames, used for the judgments handed down by the Admiralty. On November 5, 1808, Captain Sutherland (captain of a British shipping vessel on the Tagus, one mile from Lisbon) had killed with a dagger William Richardson, a 15-year-old boy. A black sailor, John Thompson, testifies to the trial in a way that could suggest that the captain had taken the boy in Lisbon about a month earlier because he was sexually concerned with him: the guy often went to the captain and the captain sent all sailors to the ground and stayed on the ship with the boy only. This testimony was not read by the Admiralty as a sign of sodomy, but after a brief process, Sutherland was sentenced and hanged for murder. It is amazing that on such a recent and so objectively terrible story, Matthews can make the spirit with his friends, but that’s just what happens. Matthews obtains a record of the process to look for Sutherland homosexuality, but he does not find it, sends out some drawings published in the papers to his friends and suggests that the three of them may represent the scene of the assassination. Matthews’s behavior shows some disturbing element of perversion, which goes far beyond the banal gay goliardery.

Accompanied by his valet Robert Rushton and by John Cam Hobhouse, Byron sailed from Falmouth on July 2, 1809 to Lisbon, then to visit Seville, Cádiz and Gibraltar. In Gibraltar, Byron decides to send back home Rushton and writes to the boy’s father:

Byron to Mr Rushton, from Gibraltar, August 14th 1809: (Source: NLS Acc.12604/ 4219A or C; LJ I 242-3; BLJ I 222)

Gibraltar August 14th 1809 Mr. Rushton, – I have sent Robert home with Mr. Murray, because the country which I am now about to travel through, is in a state which renders it unsafe, particularly for one so young. – I allow [you] to deduct five and twenty pounds a year for his education for three years provided I do not return before that time, & I desire he may be considered as in my service, let every care be taken of him, & let him be sent to school; in case of my death I have provided enough in my will to render him independent. – – He has behaved extremely well, & has travelled a great deal for the time of his absence. – Deduct the expense of his education from your rent. – Byron

Arrived in Malta on August 19, Byron and Hobhouse stay about a month before leaving for Preveza, the port of Epirus, reached September 20, 1809. From there they move to Giannina and then to Albania, to Tepelenë, where they meet Alì Pasha. They then settle in Athens, except for some months in Constantinople. On May 3, 1810, Byron crosses the Dardanelli’s narrow swimming. That same May 3, 1810 he writes to Henry Drury:

Byron to Henry Drury, from the frigate Salsette, off the Dardanelles, May 3rd 1810: (Source: text from Wren Library R2 40a , Trinity College Cambridge; LJ I 262-9; QI 63-7; BLJ I 237- 40)

… I see not much difference between ourselves & the Turks, save that we have foreskins and they none, that they have long dresses and we short, and that we talk much and they little. – In England the vices in fashion are whoring & drinking, in Turkey, Sodomy & smoking, we prefer a girl and a bottle, they a pipe and pathic. [A passive partner] …

It has long been credited to the news according to which John Cam Hobhouse recorded in his diary on June 6, 1810: “messenger arrived from England – bringing a letter from [Francis] Hodgson to B[yron] – tales spread – the Edleston accused of indecency.”

But Paul Elledge [[In “Lord Byron at Harrow School: Speaking Out, Talking Back, Acting Up, Bowing Out”] [The Johns Hopkins University Press, Beltimore and London, 2000]] showed that the annotation involved a collection of Hobhouse’s poems, considered obscene, the word “Collection” was confused with the word Edleston. Poor John Edleston was in fact not accused of anything.

During the voyage, Byron rejects the love offerings of Donna Josepha Beltram in Seville, Constance Spencer Smith in Malta, and Teresa Macri (or rather Mrs Macri on behalf of Teresa) in Athens. In a letter dated July 29, 2010, sent to Hobhouse from Patras, Byron tells about the first encounter with Eustathius Georgiou, the first boy to fascinate him in Greece:

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Patras, July 29th 1810: (Source: text from NLS Acc.12604 / 4123A; 1922 I 10-12, censored; QI 74-7; BLJ II 5-8) Patras. July 29th . 1810

… At Vostitza I found my dearly-beloved Eustathius – ready to follow me not only to England, but to Terra Incognita, if so be my compass pointed that way. – This was four days ago, at present affairs are a little changed. – The next morning I found the dear soul upon horseback clothed very sprucely in Greek Garments, with those ambrosial curls hanging down his amiable back, and to my utter astonishment and the great abomination of Fletcher, a parasol in his hand to save his complexion from the heat. – However in spite of the Parasol on we travelled very much enamoured, as it should seem, till we got to Patras, where Stranè received us into his new house where I now scribble. …

On August 16, however, Byron is already tired of Eustathius and tells Hobhouse that he has sent him to his home because the boy is epileptic.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Tripolitza, August 16th 1810: (Source: text from NLS Ms.43438 f.15; 1922 I 12-13, cut; QI 77-82; BLJ II 9-11) Byron’s account of his meeting with Veli Pacha. Tripolitza August 16th. 1810

I have sent Eustathius back to his home, he plagued my soul out with his whims, and is besides subject to epileptic fits (tell M. this)(a) which made him a perplexing companion, in other matters he was very tolerable, I mean as to his learning, being well versed in the Ellenics.You remember Nicolo at Athens Lusieri’s wife’s brother. – Give my compliments to Matthews from whom I expect a congratulatory letter. – – I have a thousand anecdotes for him and you, but at present Τι να καμυ? (b) I have neither time nor space, but in the words of Dawes, “I have things in store.” –

(a) Why should Matthews be especially interested in the fact that Georgiou waseplieptic?
(b) “What to do?”

The “Nicolo” to which Byron refers, the boy whom the poet loved the most during Grand Tour, was actually called Nicolas Giraud and was born in Greece by French parents. The name Nicolo is a name coined by Byron. From what Byron himself says, Nicolo would be the brother-in-law of John the Baptist Lusieri, a Roman painter and swap agent of Thomas Bruce, the 7th Count of Elgin, Lord Elgin. But things were more complicated; Demetrius Zoggrafo, Byron’s guide, informed the poet that Lusieri, now sixty years old, was not married but cuddled two women at the same time, pointing to both of them who would marry her. The link between Lusieri and Giraud seemed very solid and it is not unlikely that they were actually father and son. In the Cappuccini Convent of Athens, Byron succeeds in realizing his dream of a homosexual community similar to Harrow’s, with some extra erotic adventure. On August 23, 1810, Hobhouse wrote in a mixed English language of abundant approximate quotations in Italian, not without a hint of Greek and French:

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Athens, August 23rd 1810: (Source: text from NLS Ms.43438 f.1; 1922 I 13-17; BLJ II 11-14) Byron’s account of his life at the Athenian convent. The Convent. Athens. August 23, 1810.

… – I am most auspiciously settled in the Convent, which is more commodious than any tenement I have yet occupied, with room for my suite, and it is by no means solitary, seeing there is not only “il Padre Abbate” but his “schuola” consisting of six “Regatzi” all my most particular allies. – These Gentlemen being almost (saving Fauvel and Lusieri) my only associates it is but proper their character religion and morals should be described. – Of this goodly company three are Catholics and three are Greeks, which Schismatics I have already set a boxing to the great amusement of the Father who rejoices to see the Catholics conquer. – Their names are, Barthelemi, Giuseppe, Nicolo, Yani, and two anonymous at least in my memory. – Of these Barthelemi is a “simplice Fanciullo” according to the account of the Father, whose favourite is Guiseppe who sleeps in the lantern of Demosthenes. – We have nothing but riot from Noon till night. – The first time I mingled with these Sylphs, after about two minutes reconnoitering, the amiable Signor Barthelemi without any previous notice seated himself by me, and after observing by way of compliment, that my “Signoria” was the “più bello” of his English acquaintances saluted me on the left cheek, for which freedom being reproved by Giuseppe, who very properly informed him that I was “μεγαλοσ”(a) he told him I was his “φιλοσ”(b) and “by his beard,” he would do so again, adding

in reply to the question of “διατι ασπασετε?”(c) you see he laughs, as in good truth I did very heartily. –

But my friend as you may easily imagine is Nicolo, who by the bye, is my Italian master, and we are already very philosophical. – I am his “Padrone” and his “amico” and the Lord knows what besides, it is about two hours since that after {informing} me he was most desirous to follow him (that is me) over the world, he concluded by telling me it was proper for us not only to live but “morire insieme.” –

The latter I hope to avoid, as much of the former as he pleases. – I am awakened in the morning by these imps shouting “venite abasso” and the friar gravely observes it is “bisogno bastonare” everybody before the studies can possibly commence. – Besides these lads, my suite, to which I have added a Tartar and a youth to look after my two new saddle horses, my suite I say, are very obstreperous and drink skinfuls of Zean wine at 8 paras the oke daily. – Then we have several Albanian women washing in the “giardino” whose hours of relaxation are spent in running pins into Fletcher’s backside. – “Damnata di mi if I have seen such a spectaculo in my way from Viterbo.” – In short what with the women, and the boys, and the suite, we are very disorderly. – But I am vastly happy and childish, and shall have a world of anecdotes for you and the “Citoyen.” [[another name for Charles Skinner Matthews, suggesting his democratic politics]] – – Intrigue

flourishes, the old woman Teresa’s mother was mad enough to imagine I was going to marry the girl, but I have better amusement, Andreas is fooling with Dudu as usual, and Mariana has made a conquest of Dervise Tahiri, Viscillie Fletcher and Sullee my new Tartar have each a mistress, “Vive l’Amour!. – –

I am learning Italian, and this day translated an ode of Horace “Exegi monumentum” {into that language} I chatter with every body good or bad and tradute prayers out of the Mass Ritual, but my lessons though very long are sadly interrupted by scamperings and eating fruit and peltings and playings and I am in fact at school again, and make as little improvement now as I did then, my time being wasted in the same way. – However it is too good to last, I am going to make a second tour of Attica with Lusieri who is a new ally of mine, and Nicolo goes with me at his own most pressing solicitation “per mare, per terras” – “Forse” you may see us in Inghilterra, but “non so, come &c.” – For the present, Good even, Buona sera a vos signoria, Bacio le mani.

(a) “a great lord”.
(b) “friend”.
(c) “Why did you embrace him?”

On August 24, 1810, in an addition to the letter dated August 23, Byron adds:

I have as usual swum across the Piræus, the Signore Nicolo also laved, but he makes as bad a hand in the water as L’Abbe Hyacinth at Falmouth, it is a curious thing that the Turks when they bathe wear their lower garments as your humble servant always doth, but the Greeks {not,} however questo Giovane e vergogno. – omissis – I have been employed the greater part of today in conjugating the verb “ασπαζω”(b) (which word being Ellenic as well as Romaic may find a place in the Citoyen’s Lexicon) I assure you my progress is rapid, but like Cæsar “nil actum reputans dum quid superesset agendum”(c) I {must} arrive at the pl&optC, and then I will write to ——. …

(a) Sheridan, The Rivals.
(b) “to embrace”.
(c) Lucan, Phars. II 657 (“… believed nothing had been done while anything was left to be done”).

In his diary of July 17, 1810, Hobhouse had annotated, speaking of an unidentified Greek boy:

Hobhouse’s diary for July 17th 1810 reads, “Took leave, non sine lacrymis, of this singular young person on a little stone terrace near some paltry magazines at the end of the bay, dividing with him a little nosegay of flowers, the last thing perhaps I shall ever divide with him”.

[  pag. 14, footnote 44.]

On October 4, 1810, Byron wrote to Hobhouse from Patras. In the letter, the “M” refers to Charles Skinner Matthews, their fellow of Cambridge, the Grand Master of the Methodiste Sect. The reference to the flower bouquet is to be interpreted through the botanical metaphor of the Methodistes.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Patras, October 4th 1810: (Source: text from NLS Ms.43438 f.18; LJ I 301-5; QI 85-7; BLJ II 21-3) Patras. Morea. October 4th. 1810.

… Tell M. that I have obtained above two hundred pl&optC’s and am almost tired of them, for the history of these he must wait my return, as after many attempts I have given up the idea of conveying information on paper. – You know the monastery of Mendele, it was there I made myself master of the first. – Your last letter closes pathetically with a postscript about a nosegay, I advise you to introduce that into your next sentimental novel – I am sure I did not suspect you of any fine feelings, and I believe you are laughing, but you are welcome. – Vale, I can no more like Ld . Grizzle144 – y rs . µπαιρων

Beyond the goliardic letters exchanged between the Methodistes, it is difficult to understand what kind of relationship Byron really had with the guys he talks about and with Nicolo Giraud in particular. I prefer not to venture into hypotheses and I limit myself to what the documents say. Nicholas Giraud cared for Byron when he took the fever in Patras and traveled with him to Malta when Byron was on the way back to England in 1811. In his testament written in August 1811, Byron left Giraud 7,000 pounds, but later the legacy was canceled.

Return to England

Byron returns to England on July 14, 1811. The first of August his mother dies. He lives in London at St Jame’s Street no. 8. Edleston’s sister, the sister of the boy who had been the poet’s first youth love, told him that his brother died in May of that same year. It is a terrible blow for Byron. Edleston was only twenty-one years old when he was worn out by illness. Byron, deeply touched by Edleston’s death, produces at least seven moving elegies in his memory, including “To Thyrza”, “Away, away, ye are notes of woe!”, “One fight more, and I am free.” They are dead, as young and fair”, “On a Cornelian Heart Which Was Broken” and a Latin elegy recently discovered and published in 1974, the only poem that uses masculine gender “You, you, care puer!”. Although Byron dedicates to the death of Edlaston several poetic texts, we will limit ourselves to examining three of them. Let’s begin with “A Thyrza”. Byron takes the name Thyrza from the poem by Solomon Gessner: “Abel’s death,” in which Thyrza is Abele’s wife. This is obviously a female name, but that does not mean anything. Byron was repeatedly required to reveal who was the person whose death his poem talked about but never answered this question. It is interesting to note that here (as in other poems, dedicated to Edleston), the poet strictly avoids any gender connotation of the character in question; in the text there are never personal pronouns like he, she, him, her, instead of the pronouns the word “form” is used, and the text is almost always in second person. It is significant to note that the Italian translation by Carlo Rusconi, published in 1853, takes on the assumption that it is about the death of a woman. At that time, a text without gender connotations was automatically read to the feminine (George Gordon Byron. Opere complete – Volume V. Traduzione di Carlo Rusconi. Torino, Giunti Pombe e comp. Editori, 1853, pp. 238-240).


Without a stone to mark the spot,
And say, what Truth might well have said,
By all, save one, perchance forgot,
Ah !    Wherefore art thou lowly laid?

By many a shore and many a sea
Divided, yet beloved in vain;
The Past, the Future fled to thee,
To bid us meet — no — ne’er again !

Could this have been — a word, a look,
That softly said, “We part in peace,”
Had taught my bosom how to brook,
With fainter sighs, thy soul’s release.

And didst thou not, since Death for thee
Prepared a light and pangless dart,
Once long for him thou ne’er shall see
Who held, and holds thee in his heart?

Oh ! Who like him had watch’d thee here?
Or sadly mark’d thy glazing eye,
In that dread hour ere death appear,
When silent sorrow fears to sigh,

Till all was past?   But when no more
“Twas thine to reck of human woe
Affection’s heart-drops, gushing o’er
Had flow’d as fast — as now they flow.

Shall they not flow, when many a day
In these, to me, deserted towers,
Ere call’d but for a time away,
Affection’s mingling tears were ours?

Ours too the glance none saw beside;
The smile none else might understand;
The whisper’d thought of hearts allied,
The pressure of the thrilling hand.

The kiss, so guiltless and refined,
That Love each warmer wish forbore;
Those eyes proclaim’d so pure a mind
Even Passion blush’d to plead for more.

The tone, that taught me to rejoice,
When prone, unlike thee, to repine;
The song, celestial from thy voice,
But sweet to me from none but thine;

The pledge we wore — I wear it still,
But where is thine? —  Ah !  Where art thou?
Oft have I borne the weight of ill,
But never bent beneath till now !

Well hast thou left in life’s best bloom
The cup of woe for me to drain.
If rest alone be in the tomb,
I would not wish thee here again..

But if in worlds more blest than this
Thy virtues seek a fitter sphere,
Impart some portion of thy bliss,
To wean me from mine anguish here.

Teach me — too early taught by thee !
To bear, forgiving and forgiven:
On earth thy love was such to me;
It fain would form my hope in heaven !

The short Latin Elegy “Te, te, care puer” (You, you dear boy) entitled “Edleston”, shows a deep pain, though enclosed in classical forms:

Me miserum! Frustra pro te vixisse precatum,
Cur frustra volui te moriente mori? –
Heu, quanto minus est iam serta, unguanta, puellas
Carpere con reliquis quam meminisse tui?

Oh woe! I prayed in vain for having lived for you
Why did I want to die in vain at your own death?
Alas, how is less important to enjoy the laurel wreaths,
the scents and the girls, than to remember you!

Byron sadly communicates Edleston’s death to friends who knew him.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Newstead Abbey, October 13th 1811: (Source: NLS Ms.43438 f.35; BLJ II 113-14) Another letter filling four sides. It’s clear that Byron knows Greece and Albania better than Hobhouse does. Byron alludes casually to the death of Edleston. Newstead Abbey. Octr . 13th. 1811.

At present I am rather low, & dont know how to tell you the reason – you remember E at Cambridge – he is dead – last May – his Sister sent me the account lately – now though I never should have seen him again, (& it is very proper that I should not)107 I have been more affected than I should care to own elsewhere; Death has been lately so occupied with every thing that was mine, that the dissolution of the most remote connection is like taking a crown from a Miser’s last Guinea. – – – – – –

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from King’s College Cambridge, October 22nd 1811: (Source: NLS Ms.43438 f.37; BLJ II 117-18) [Cambridge October twenty third 1811 / Capt . Hobhouse / Royal Miners / Enniscorthy / Ireland // Byron]

… The event(a) I mentioned in my last has had an effect on me, I am ashamed to think of, but there is no arguing on these points. I could “have better spared a better being.”(b) – Wherever I turn, particularly in this place, the idea goes with me, I say all this at the risk of incurring your contempt, but you cannot despise me more than I do myself. – I am indeed very wretched, & like all complaining persons I can’t help telling you so. – – …

(a) The Death of Edleston.
(b) Shakespeare, Henry IV I V iv 104 (adapted).

Byron, who, before departing for the Grnad Tour, had entrusted to Miss Pigot the heart of red cornelian that Edleston had given him, he now feels the need to have that object back again and writes to Mrs. Pigot asking her to solicit her daughter to send it. It is interesting to note that in the letter there is no gender connotation that can make it clear whether the dead person is a man or a woman. Byron speaks of “a person” or “the giver”.

Byron to Mrs Pigot, from Cambridge, October 28th 1811: (Source: text from Newstead Abbey Collection NA 48(n); BLJ II 119-20) Cambridge, Octr . 28th 1811 Dear Madam, – I am about to write to you on a silly subject & yet I cannot well do otherwise. – You may remember a cornelian which some years ago I consigned to Miss Pigot, indeed gave to her, & now I am going to make the most selfish & rude of requests. – – The person who gave it to me, when I was very young, is dead, & though a long time has elapsed since we ever met, as it was the only memorial (almost) I possessed of that person (in whom I was once much interested) it has acquired a value by this event, I could have wished it never 1:2 to have borne in my eyes. – If therefore Miss P should have preserved it, I must under these circumstances beg her to excuse my requesting it to be transmitted to me at No. 8 St . James’s Street London & I will replace it by something she may remember me by equally well. – – As she was always so kind as to feel interested in the fate of [those?] that formed the subject of our conversations, you may tell her, that the Giver of that Cornelian died in May last of a consumption at the age of twenty one, making the sixth within four months of friends & relatives that I have lost between May & the end of August! – Believe [me] Dear Madam yrs. very sincerely BYRON

P.S. – I go to London tomorrow.

In the last months of 1811, the references, obviously covered, to Edleston’s death appear several times in Byron’s poems and with heartfelt accents. I just quote two texts.

Away, away, ye notes of Woe!
Be silent, thou once soothing Strain,
Or I must flee from hence—for, oh!
I dare not trust those sounds again.
To me they speak of brighter days—
But lull the chords, for now, alas!
I must not think, I may not gaze,
On what I am—on what I was.
The voice that made those sounds more sweet
Is hushed, and all their charms are fled;
And now their softest notes repeat
A dirge, an anthem o’er the dead!
Yes, Thyrza! yes, they breathe of thee,
dust! since dust thou art;
And all that once was Harmony
Is worse than discord to my heart!
‘Tis silent all!—but on my ear
The well remembered Echoes thrill;
I hear a voice I would not hear,
A voice that now might well be still:
Yet oft my doubting Soul ’twill shake;
Ev’n Slumber owns its gentle tone,
Till Consciousness will vainly wake
To listen, though the dream be flown.
Sweet Thyrza! waking as in sleep,
Thou art but now a lovely dream;
A Star that trembled o’er the deep,
Then turned from earth its tender beam.
But he who through Life’s dreary way
Must pass, when Heaven is veiled in wrath,
Will long lament the vanished ray
That scattered gladness o’er his path.

December 8, 1811.
[First published, Childe Harold, 1812 (4to).]

One struggle more, and I am free
From pangs that rend my heart in twain;
One last long sigh to Love and thee,
Then back to busy life again.
It suits me well to mingle now
With things that never pleased before:
Though every joy is fled below,
What future grief can touch me more?
Then bring me wine, the banquet bring;
Man was not formed to live alone;
I’ll be that light unmeaning thing
That smiles with all, and weeps with none.
It was not thus in days more dear,
It never would have been, but thou
Hast fled, and left me lonely here;
Thou’rt nothing,—all are nothing now.
In vain my lyre would lightly breathe!
The smile that Sorrow fain would wear
But mocks the woe that lurks beneath,
Like roses o’er a sepulchre.
Though gay companions o’er the bowl
Dispel awhile the sense of ill;
Though Pleasure fires the maddening soul,
The Heart,—the Heart is lonely still!
On many a lone and lovely night
It soothed to gaze upon the sky;
For then I deemed the heavenly light
Shone sweetly on thy pensive eye:
And oft I thought at Cynthia’s noon,
When sailing o’er the Ægean wave,
“Now Thyrza gazes on that moon”—
Alas, it gleamed upon her grave!
When stretched on Fever’s sleepless bed,
And sickness shrunk my throbbing veins,
“‘Tis comfort still,” I faintly said,
“That Thyrza cannot know my pains:”
Like freedom to the time-worn slave—
A boon ’tis idle then to give—
Relenting Nature vainly gave
My life, when Thyrza ceased to live!
My Thyrza’s pledge in better days,
When Love and Life alike were new!
How different now thou meet’st my gaze!
How tinged by time with Sorrow’s hue!
The heart that gave itself with thee
Is silent—ah, were mine as still!
Though cold as e’en the dead can be,
It feels, it sickens with the chill.
Thou bitter pledge! thou mournful token!
Though painful, welcome to my breast!
Still, still, preserve that love unbroken,
Or break the heart to which thou’rt pressed.
Time tempers Love, but not removes,
More hallowed when its Hope is fled:
Oh! what are thousand living loves
To that which cannot quit the dead?

[First published, Childe Harold, 1812 (4to).]

Love and betrayals

At the end of 1811, something new happened in Byron’s life. A Byron letter to Hobhouse, dated December 25, 1811, informs us that the poet had “at least a bit” fall in love with a Welsh servant, Susan Vaughan.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Newstead Abbey, December 25th 1811: (Source: not yet found in NLS Ms.43438; BLJ II 151)

… I am at present principally occupied with a fresh face & a very pretty one too, as H will tell you, a Welsh Girl(a) whom I lately added to the bevy, and of whom I am tolerably enamoured for the present. But of this by the way, I shall most probably be cool enough before you return from Ireland. – …

(a) Susan Vaughan.

Susan Vaughan will betray Byron the following month by seducing Robert Rushton, the Byron page, who had accompanied him to Gibraltar in the Grand Tour. In a letter dated January 20, 1812, Susan Vaughan suggests to Byron that Rushton, then about nineteen, was seduced by Lusy, another Byron servant who, according to Ralph Lloyd-Jones, might have been the mother of one of Byron’s sons.

However, Byron’s letters to Rushton (BLJ II 158) and Susan (BLJ II 159) clearly show that Susan, not Lucy, had a story with Rushton. Byron forgave Rushton (“I am sure you would not deceive me, though she would”), but did not forgive Susan. The affair bothered Byron’s servants: Rushton treated aggressively Susan, Byron rebuked him with great firmness, pointing out that Susan had to be treated with the utmost civilization. Rushton had to accept the reproach but answered with great dignity. Byron tried to keep a positive relationship with the boy.

Byron to Robert Rushton, from 8 St James’s Street, January 25th 1812: (Source: Ms. not found; text from LJ II 94; QI 130-1; BLJ II 158) 8, St. James’s Street, January 25, 1812.

… If any thing has passed between you before or since my last visit to Newstead, do not be afraid to mention it. I am sure you would not deceive me, though she would. Whatever it is, you shall be forgiven. I have not been without some suspicions on the subject, and am certain that, at your time of life, the blame could not attach to you. You will not consult any one as to your answer, but write to me immediately. I shall be more ready to hear what you have to advance, as I do not remember ever to have heard a word from you before against any human being, which convinces me you would not maliciously assert an untruth. There is not any one who can do the least injury to you, while you conduct yourself properly. I shall expect your answer immediately. Yours, etc., BYRON

On January 28, 1812, Byron gave final leave to Susan.

Byron to Susan Vaughan, from 8 St James’s Street London, January 28th 1812: (Source: BLJ II 159) 8. St. James’s Street. January 28th. 1812 I write to bid you farewell, not to reproach you. – The enclosed papers, one in your own handwriting will explain every thing. – I will not deny that I have been attached to you, & I am now heartily ashamed of my weakness. – You may also enjoy the satisfaction of having deceived me most completely, & rendered me for the present sufficiently wretched. – From the first I told you that the continuance of our connection depended on your own conduct. – – All is over. – I have little to condemn on my own part, but credulity; you threw yourself in my way, I received you, loved you, till you have become worthless, & now I part from you with some regret, & without resentment. – I wish you well, do not forget that your own misconduct has bereaved you of a friend, of whom nothing else could have deprived you. – Do not attempt explanation, it is useless, I am determined, you cannot deny your handwriting; return to your relations, you shall be furnished with the means, but him, who now addresses you for the last time, you will never see again. BYRON
God bless you!

On October 18, 1812, Byron wrote to Rushton in a completely different tone:

Byron to Robert Rushton, from Cheltenham, October 18th 1812: (Source: Ms. not found; text from LJ II 177; BLJ II 232) Cheltenham, Oct. 18th, 1812.

Robert,—I hope you continue as much as possible to apply yourself to Accounts and LandMeasurement, etc. Whatever change may take place about Newstead, there will be none as to you and Mr. Murray. It is intended to place you in a situation in Rochdale for which your pursuance of the Studies I recommend will best fit you. Let me hear from you; is your health improved since I was last at the Abbey? In the mean time, if any accident occur to me, you are provided for in my will, and if not, you will always find in your Master a sincere Friend. B.

Wedding stories and incest

Byron had an half-sister, Augusta Maria, born on January 26, 1783, five years older than him. Augusta was the daughter of the first wife of the poet’s father. Augusta married and had seven children; she only met her half-brother when he was a student at Harrow School, and kept with him an exchange of letters focused on Byron’s conflicts with his mother, but she met him very rarely. Throughout the travel period in the East, the exchange of letters broke down. When Byron came back to England, Augusta sent condolences to him on the death of his mother and from July 1813 the two became lovers. Augusta, however, was married, had children and was not planning to put her family in trouble for Byron’s sake. In April 1814, Augusta gave birth to a little girl, Elizabeth Medora  Leigh (April 15, 1814 – August 28, 1849), a few days later, Byron went to his hald-sister’s house to see the little girl. The conviction that Medora was the daughter of Byron became the subject of much talk, and still today the question is unclear. Byron on January 2, 1815, also to silence gossip about his relationship with Augusta, marries Anne Isabella Milbanke, nicknamed Annabella, an heiress learned and passionate about Mathematics, and goes to live in London with her. Byron had not only to silence gossip about his relationship with his half-sister, but also on his homosexuality, that was beginning to move insistently; marriage seemed, among other things, a propitious opportunity to take possession of his wife’s belongings. In December 1815, his daughter Augusta Ada was born, but Byron resumed her relationship with her sister Augusta, and Annabella on January 15, 1816 asked for separation. Byron was accused of incest, adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, free love, and so on. The situation quickly became unsustainable, and the risk of moving from gossip to criminal charges was real and heavy. Byron on April 21, 1816, signed the separation document from his wife and decided to voluntarily exile from England, where he no longer came back.

In Switzerland Shelley

He embarked for the continent on April 25, 1816. Before leaving England, Byron had started a relationship with Claire Clairmont, step-sister of Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft (wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley). With Shelley, his wife and her step-sister, Byron spent a lot of time in good company. From Byron’s relationship with Claire was born Allegra, in January 1817.

In Italy

In October 1816 Byron moved to Milan where he met Silvio Pellico, Vincenzo Monti and Stendhal, then in November 1816 he settled in Venice, where he stayed for three years. Here he learned Italian very well but did not neglect amorous adventures, he boasted of have had sex with more than two hundred women, and he had two important relationships, the first with his hostess’s wife, Marianna Segati, and the latter with the twenty-two years old Margarita Cogni (the Fornarina). Byron’s house on the Grand Canal became a fixed reference point for all the Englishmen who went to Venice, here the fame of tombeur de femmes that accompanied Byron for decades grew. Shelley had been able to see closely Byron’s home in Venice but probably he was not very impressed by all this, some Shelley’s statements, which were very friendly to Byron, seemed generic and referred to the English in general rather than to those who attended Byron’s home. So Shelley writes in the sixth letter to Peacock:

Peacock’s Memoris of Shelley – With Shelley’s Letters to Peacock – Edited by H.
F. B. Brett-Smith – London – Henry Frowde – 1909 – Oxford : Horace Hart – Printed to the University.


Milan, April 20, 1818.

Lord Byron, we hear, has taken a house for three years, at Venice ; whether we shall see him or not, I do not know. The number of English who pass through this town is very great.

They ought to be in their own country in the present crisis. Their conduct is wholly inexcusable. The people here, though inoffensive enough, seem both in body and soul a miserable race. The men are hardly men ; they look like a tribe of stupid and shrivelled slaves, and I do not think that I have seen a gleam of intelligence in the countenance of man since I passed the Alps.

In April 1819, Byron knew the 18-year-old Teresa, wife of the rich sixty-year-old Count Guiccioli: the woman soon became his lover and the two settled down to the end of 1819 in Ravenna, where Guiccioli lived. The young woman has a very positive influence on the poet, who finally adopts a less franyic lifestyle. Between 1820 and 1821 Byron entered Carboneria (a secret society that conspired against Austria for Italian independence) through the contacts of Teresa’s brother, Count Pietro Gamba. He wants his daughter Allegra to be educated as a Roman Catholic, and he accompanies her in March 1821 in the boarding school run by the Sisters of Bagnacavallo, in Romagna. Allegra will die on April 21, 1822 and July 8 of the same year will also die Shelley, drowned together with his friend Edward Elleker Williams, ten miles from Viareggio.

The Greece and the death


In 1823 Byron, induced by his friend John Cam Hobhouse, joined the London Philoellenic Association in support of the Greek Independence and against the Ottoman Empire. Byron organizes an expedition with the utmost care. He convinces Teresa to come back to Ravenna and on July 16  1823, Brigantine “The Hercules” leaves Genoa for Greece. They accompany Byron, Pietro Gamba, Trelawny, a young Italian doctor, as well as eight servants five horses and two dogs. In Livorno climbs to the brigantine a young Scottish, Hamilton Browne. On August 3 the brigantine stops at Kefalonia. On Greek island Byron knows Lukas Chalandritsanos, a Greek boy 15-year-old, and falls in love with him insanity, but his sentiment is not reciprocated. Byron is no longer the lovely boy of Edleston’s time, he is fat, loses his hair and has teeth in a bad state, yet he seeks at least gratitude if not love, spending over a period of six months enormous sums of money to satisfy the boy’s whims. Byron realizes that he is no longer physically a desirable person, but nevertheless he is animated by a love at the limit of madness, the more acute and painful the more rejected. Finally, in December, the poet seems destined to take up the part of Prince Mavrokordato, who more than others guaranteed a serious possibility of establishing a stable authority, and sails for Missolungi, where he came January 5, 1824. Here, in a three-story house occupied by Colonel Stanhope and by a group of Christian Albanians who Byron had hired in Kefalonia, resumes with unremitting obstinacy to work to strengthen the Greek resistance. The main tasks were two: to form an artillery brigade, to assault and conquer Lepanto leading forces whose core should have been constituted by his Albanian guard. Unfortunately, Byron does not get any results. Meanwhile, the story with Lukas became for Byron increasingly destructive. The sign of the terrible despair of that impossible love story (Byron had never experienced anything like this with a woman) can be read in a poem dated January 22, 1824, the thirty-sixth birthday of the poet.

January 22nd 1824. Messalonghi.
On this day I complete my thirty sixth year.

’Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move –
Yet though I cannot be beloved
Still let me love!

My days are in the yellow leaf(a)
The flowers and fruits of Love are gone –
The worm – the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!

The Fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some Volcanic Isle,
No torch is kindled at its blaze –
A funeral pile!

The hope, the fear, the jealous care
The exalted portion of the pain
And power of Love I cannot share,
But wear the chain.

But ’tis not thus – and ’tis not here –
Such thoughts should shake my Soul, nor now,
Where Glory decks the hero’s bier
Or binds his Brow.

The Sword – the Banner – and the Field –
Glory and Greece around us see!
The Spartan born upon his shield,
Was not more free!

Awake! – (not Greece – She is awake! –)
Awake my Spirit! think through whom
Thy Life=blood tracks its parent lake,
And then Strike home!

Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy Manhood; – unto thee
In different should the smile or frown
Of Beauty be.(b)

If thou regret’st thy Youth, why live?
The Land of honourable Death
Is here – up to the Field! and Give
Away thy Breath.

Seek out – less often sought than found –
A Soldier’s Grave – for thee the best –
Then Look around and choose thy Ground
And take thy Rest!

(a) Macbeth, V iii 22-3: My way of life / Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf …
(b) Refers to Loukas’ indifference. Compare B.’s confession of his inadequacy as a Stoic, at Don Juan, XVII, stanza 10:

If such doom waits each intellectual Giant,
We little people, in our lesser way,
To Life’s small rubs should surely be more pliant;
And so for one will I – as well I may.
Would that I were less bilious – but, Oh fie on’t!
Just as I make my mind up every day
To be a “totus, teres” Stoic Sage,
The Wind shifts, and I fly into a rage.

It is as if Byron was now looking for a heroic death as an alternative to a life without love, almost the search for a martyrdom, caused by a violent and rejected love. In the next few days Byron writes two more poems always dedicated to Lukas, the last of his life, in the first he confesses to be crazy for love facing boy’s rejection, and recognizes that the boy’s magic power is mighty while the poet is so much weak; in the second he surrenders to his destiny:

Thus much and more; and yet thou lov’st me not,
And never wilt!  Love dwells not in our will.
Nor can I blame thee, though it be my lot
To strongly, wrongly, vainly love thee still.

(Bloom, Harold – Poets and Poems – Bloom’s 20th anniversary collection, Chelsea Hose Publishers, pag. 115-116)

February and March pass between rebellions, rains, raids, telluric shocks, incompetence demonstrations, repatriation requests by British blasters, betrayals. When the Turkish fleet appears on the horizon it is now clear that the city is not defensible, the poet tries to personally organize the few troops and encourage the terrorized citizens. In the evening, after a mile ride in the rain, Byron has a violent fever attack. On April 10 and 11, he wants to go out on horseback again, but his fiber is surrendering. Doctors are beginning to be seriously worried and they think they will embark him for Zante if the sea conditions allow it. On Day 15 Byron’s condition worsens. William Parry, in The Last Days of Lord Byron (The Last Days of Lord Byron), reports:

He spoke to me about my own adventures. He spoke of death also with great composure, and though he did not believe his end was so very near, there was something about him so serious and so firm, so resigned and composed, so different from any thing I had ever before seen in him, that my mind misgave me, and at times foreboded his speedy dissolution.

(William Parry, “The last days of Lord Byron”  – Paris – A. and W. Galignani, 1826, pag. 95.)

His speeches began to get disjoined. Among other things, he stated that he wanted to return to England to live with his wife and with his daughter Ada. On the 18th day, in Italian and English, imagining perhaps the attack on Lepanto, he shouted, “Come on! Come on! Courage! Follow My Example!” And in delirium he repeatedly named his sister, wife, daughter, children’s places. His last words were: “Now I have to sleep.” He died the next day, Monday 19 April 1824, at six and a quarter of the afternoon. That same evening, Lukas ran away taking the money from the garrison. The funeral saw an endless procession of forty seven carriages mourned but empty, with the just the driver: it was the last vengeance of the aristocracy against the rebellious poet.


If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, on Gay Project Forum:

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Section 2:


ONLY SEVEN DAYS – gay novel

“There’s nothing here to decide . There’s everything to accept.”
James Baldwin

by gayproject

Dear friends, I ended today publishing my first short gay novel in English. It’s about an older man who meets by chance two young gay guys. It’s a love story; a story about how difficult could be for every one of them to accept what’s happening because everyone needs to get used to love.
I apologize for my bad English; I’m not a native English speaker.


This is a particular story which comes from a little town somewhere in the U.S. . Everything looks always normal here, nothing out of traditional rules, nothing openly against the common behavior of the average middle class people. I was walking around like I’m used to, just to go somewhere, I have no dog to walk, no children, no one at all, only me and my lonely soul. Well it was early morning, about six o’clock or so, I love to get up when it’s still dark, have a coffee or something and go out when it’s cold, and I like to feel the harsh sensation of the wind blowing over my face, that’s a big contrast with the worm of inside my room… Well … an humid early morning, it was about starting raining, you couldn’t ever notice the little drops falling on you, just extremely little drops, but then you could feel your hair covered with a moist of cold water… I didn’t get any umbrella, I don’t like umbrellas, I’m used to look at myself as an athletic man, I’m no more an athletic man like I was years ago but fortunately I’m still healthy and keep in shape as I can do it better. That time I had only my walking clothes on. I started my peace meter and began to walk fast to warm up. I was breathing and the air out of my mouth condensed in little clouds. I thought I had to walk by the walls in order to get less drenched. Obviously I chose to repeat loops around my house and the block of flats nearby. I made a fist loop, about ten minutes, then a second; I used to turn the corners speedy because at that hour in the morning no one was around. Well it happened when I turned a corner speeding up… Ouch! … What a terrible crash! I was not aware of myself for at list ten seconds. I don’t remember what happened next, the first thing I saw distinctly was a young man moving hands in front of me to check my consciousness state.
“Are you fine?”
“I hope so… sure I’m a little confused… but just a little…”
“If you like I can get you to the hospital for a checkup…”
“No … thanks … I think it’s not necessary… just wait for a while, just a minute and tell me what happened, if you don’t mind… I wouldn’t make you waste your time… but really I don’t remember what happened…”
“Nothing special, you were coming very fast from around this corner and I was coming on the other site and we crashed into each other …”
“And did you hurt?”
“No! Everything goes well … but you went down…”
“I understand… thanks… thanks, if you have to go… please don’t stay here it’s not necessary… thanks…”
“No, I have nothing to do right now, I’d like to give you a lift home if you like… My car is just around the corner”
“No, thanks, my house is no more than five minutes on foot”
“Where is it?”
“23, Russel Street”
“Near the drugstore?”
“Yeah… right, do you know the drugstore?”
“It’s near my bus stop, sometimes I keep waiting over there for ten minutes or more when I go home… can you stand up?”
“Oh… I have to stand up! … thanks … thanks, I can stand up with no help…. thanks”.
“Be quiet! Be quiet! Nothing to worry… be quiet… there’s my car… be quiet!”
“Thanks … that’s kind of you… perhaps it would be better by car… thanks…”
Just three minutes later he came back parking his car in front of me; he eased me in, then started the engine. In no more than two minutes we were 23 Russel street. He parked his car then eased me out and helped me to reach my door. When I was searching for the keys, he asked:
“Is there someone to take care of you?”
“No… but you have to go… perhaps you have to work or something…
“If you don’t mind I’ll stay just a minute… I repeat, just if you don’ mind…”
“Thanks, that’s very kind of you… here you are… that’s my house, nothing too big or too expensive… would you like a cup of tea? … Excuse me I’m not used in receiving people… “
“Yes, I’d like a cup of tea, but I have to do everything for you because you have better to stay quiet… and I have to suggest another thing to do in advance… You’d better to wear something dry… if you like I’d bring you what you need because you aren’t able to fetch it yourself”.
“Hi dude what the hell are you searching for? I do not need anything… I have to thank you but I don’t need anything…”
“Mister… what’s your name? …“
“Well, Mike… perhaps there is something I would ask you for… if you don’t mind… “
“What is it?”
“You have a big house I wandered if I could rent a room…”
“No rooms to rent here, I like my privacy a lot”.
“But I’m not nosy; I only need a room at night. In the morning I get up very early and usually I don’t come back home before nine in the evening… and in the weekend I have to visit my parents riding my car for four hours and sometimes more… till now I was in the hotel but it’s too expensive and I can’t afford such things… “.
“I understand but I can’t help you, I have no rooms to rent…”
“But… only for a wick, just the time to find another accommodation… I promise I’ll go away in seven days or even two or three days if I can find soon a different solution….”
“And if you don’t?”
“I’ll go away just in seven days… I promise…”
“Good… you told seven days… I’ll show you the room later… on the second floor, now you can prepare that cup of tea if you like… but remember … in seven days!”
“I promised… in seven days… can you tell me how much is it?”
“I told you there aren’t rooms to rent here… you can stay for free for seven days, if you like, but then you have to go”.
“That’s very kind of you… Mike, where’s the kitchen? “
“Please, wait… I think I can stand up… follow me… here’s the kitchen, cups are over there, in the cupboard and there’s also the tea and the sugar… and you… what’s your name?”
“David, born near San Francisco 21 years ago… now living… no I’d say it more exactly, working here from two weeks, till now in the hotel and now eventually here… I’m working as a construction worker for J & J Housing Company… not a great job really, but my job… I’d like to know something about you… if you don’t mind… ”
“You told you aren’t nosy… well… you’ll find yourself whatever you’ll like to find… Have you baggage at the hotel? You’ll have better to bring it here… and I’ll go to prepare your room…”
“Just a minute… now let’s have this cup of tea … and you have also to change because your clothes are still wet …”
“Thanks, but I can take care of myself… thanks for the tea, but please, go fetch the baggage… the door is always open when I’m here you don’t need any key for now…”
“I go… I’ll be back as soon as possible… because I have to prepare for work. I start at seven…bye.”
I’m not used in such things, and all this trouble sounded very strange to me. David, 21 years old, in the green room… He seemed to be a clever guy… well used to courtesy formulas like “if you don’t mind”, “I wandered if” and so on… very strange 21 years old guy… for seven days… only for seven days…
I got upstairs… the green room was filled with a lot of garbage, books, old furniture, as I entered the door a dust storm raised towards me, I was going to stumble on an old tennis racket… No! I could never set up everything myself… David was interested in the room and he had to set it up.
When I was still there he got back.
“This is the room… Dust everywhere, garbage everywhere… but I’m not able to set things up for you… too difficult for me…”
“No problem Mike, now I have to go to work… see you at nine… and I’ll do everything at nine, don’t worry! … I have to go… I’m just a little late… bye!”
“What a strange thing… He never could get rid of all this garbage starting at nine in the evening, nor could he clean everything up or make his bed… I had to do it for him. So I started working hard… there was a loft in my house, a loft I never used because in the summer the roof become so hot that it’s impossible to stay over there… I began to carry upstairs every single piece of furniture, starting from the heavy desk, then the cupboards, the stools, the armchairs and so on… then the books and the other stuff. I had worked hard for hours and was very tired but I kept working till lunch time. I’d have stopped my work but there was something that suggested me to go ahead … I had to finish my work before nine o’clock. At three in the afternoon the green room was empty; I swept and washed the floor, cleaned the windows… then made his bed with new sheets. I also installed in the room a little television set… now it was seven o’clock, I had to cook something for him… Italian spaghetti, fried potatoes, roast chicken breast, some salad and some fruit… Everything was perfect… at eight forty five the bell rang… So polite like he was he would never get into without giving me a signal. I was in my armchair in the living room.
“Good evening Mike… if you tell me where I can set aside all the stuff in the room, I’ll start immediately…”
“Be quiet… follow me upstairs… this is your room…”
“Oh… did you do all the work yourself?”
“This morning I was a little stunned but I like to work hard… over there, there’s a little bathroom not a king bathroom but a little one for your privacy”.
“Oh … that’s incredible… al this work for only seven days… “
“Hold your tongue! … this is the key of your room… and now follow me downstairs… seat down and enjoy your meal! Because you worked hard… or if you like better you can take first a shower… ”
“The shower can wait! … Can we come to an agreement… about money? … I could help.”
“You have only to be quiet… nothing else! … no money at all!”
“But I have to make you understand exactly what I think… I wondered if I could help in case I wasn’t able to find another accommodation … because you know, it’s very hard to find a room to rent at a low price… I know, I promised but … Mike… what do you think about?”
“I think you only have to eat something and go straight to bed, you look tired … I put also a little television set in your room and an alarm clock… what time do you get up in the morning?”
“Usually 5.30…and I get out at 6.15… ”
“Do you have coffee or something for breakfast?”
“Usually I don’t but I’d like to…”
“Remember: tomorrow morning at 5.45 breakfast time… ok?”
“Ok! … I… I would…”
“Good night David! Nothing to say… Good Night!”
“Good night Mike… you know… I’m very happy tonight … thanks Mike!”
“Remember! Tomorrow 5.45 … Good night David!”
“Good Night!”


What was I doing? It was obvious that it wasn’t matter of seven days; there was something in his smile that fascinated me. Well, I use to get up early but my get up would have been somehow different next morning… I had something to do; I had to take care of someone not only of myself like I was used to… It’s very strange to go to bed knowing that there is someone on the other side of the wall. Yes I had to keep rules to preserve my privacy, not to step forward behind the usual limits… and I was aware of all that, but I was also aware that I was going to start a new way in my life… something unexpected but something that I liked, that, perhaps, was exactly what I was searching for until I was aware of myself. I got upstairs and went to bed trying to avoid every noise and tiptoeing in order to let him sleep quietly. The next morning my alarm clock rang at 5.00 I got up but I was aware that something was very different. I took a rapid shower, then sheaved and got downstairs to set the breakfast… I was strangely happy. I was not used to set the table with the tablecloth… but I set it not only with the tablecloth but also with new dishes and new dinner set. Then prepared milk, tea, butter, jam and toasts. At 5.45 o’clock he came down, well shaved and also well clothed… he was not the rude kind of dude… He liked very well to show his elegance and his fairy behavior.
“Hi Mike… how are you?”
“Fine thanks… seat down, please, it’s breakfast time, what do you like better… or first?”
“Perhaps it could sound not so polite but I like everything… but I know it would be better if I could save something to bring at work so I could save lunch money… I know I wouldn’t ask for such things but I think I have to … “
“Right… You can eat now everything you like, I’ll prepare other sandwiches to bring at work, what do you like better, ham, salami, fresh cheese… or whatever?”.
“No problem… but if I can, I’d like better ham and salami… you know: something hearty, something strong… because I have to work hard all day long… “
“Well… four ham sandwiches and four salami sandwiches… ok?”
“Ok! Excuse me if I brushed up everything but to have such a breakfast was a pleasure… thanks…”.
“Now it’s time to go… can I go with you?…”.
“I’d like better not… There could be someone of my work mates at the bus stop… “.
“You’re right … see you at nine in the evening! … bye!”.
“I would never offend you…”
“You are late… go now… see you at nine…”
“Bye… and thanks… I liked everything very well… bye.“
David was right, he had to be careful, work mates are work mates and perhaps are no more than work mates, they aren’t friends… he has to be careful in trusting them… Also this is a strange forethought for a 21 years old guy. That morning I had nothing to set up… I focused on some rules to follow in order to keep fantasy under restraint. First: keep out of the green room. Second: never ask questions … only give answers. Third: never cross the border of the normal conversation. Fourth: never suggest or recommend anything. This rules seemed to me the easiest to follow and also the most useful and logical ones… but I didn’t know David well at that time… He seemed to me only a clever guy who was searching a room to rent, well, a guy who used to be careful with his work mates, and this is strange indeed, but anyway only a clever guy. And we were at the beginning of the story… and as you know, no one can foresee somebody’s moves, and so I was, nevertheless something suggested me to be careful but I wasn’t so inclined to follow such suggestions. I wandered why a 21 years old clever guy made everything he made the day before in order to help me, to follow me into my house, to ask me for the room to rent… there are a lot of rooms to rent in this country, he only had to watch to the for rent advices, yes, it’s true, he got my green room for free, a very large room, with private bathroom … not only the green room but also the breakfast in the morning and eight sandwiches to bring at work… yes, everything for free… and not only for seven days but probably forever… What does it mean? I don’t understand why this guy took all instances to press me to give him a chance… neither I know why I gave that chance to him, Two days ago we didn’t get to know one another, and now I’m here waiting for him, what a strange situation the master of the house waiting for the occupant… I have to cook something different today… roast beef or fish soup? Clearly I think he would like better the roast beef but perhaps he could appreciate something spicier like the fish soup… and what about vegetables? Fish with salad: fennel, oranges, lettuce, olives with slices of baked bread and a little garlic. What else? … Yes, fresh white wine…. And something for breakfast.
I went to the market where I usually go to buy the fish and got little cods, some mullets, two kilos of mussels, some squids and shrimps, then got to the vegetables stand to buy the necessary for the salad, then to the baker for the bread… and then finally at home to set up everything in the fridge, because I had to cook the fish soup not before seven o’ clock in the evening. Before starting I had to wash up and to clean up the kitchen, but such things this time weren’t boring as used to be, strangely I was amazed by how easily I was taking all this work… I usually don’t like changes or things not adequate to my normal behavior… but this time something seemed to be different, something was going to change in such an unusual way. But, you know, things have to go ahead slowly, step by step, and you can’t speed it up. I had to act carefully. I told myself: look before you leap! Waiting for him used to make me happy… his presence on the contrary worried me a lot, could I rise to the occasion? Could I be the normal house master I pretended to be? I was usually in a stew when he was present… I forced myself to be silent or to reply polite but nothing more, to avoid excessive smiling or confidential behavior, to show off only a normal demeanor avoiding whatever could sound strange… And that evening I had to talk with him at supper time with the fish soup, the white wine and so on… He could wander why all this stuff… what am I searching for, cooking such strange things for him? … I was afraid that he might be upset just thinking about our strange situation. I had better to pretend I made the fish soup for some friends of mine… I would pretend my friends had great difficulties that forced them to stay at home… that is why there’s a fish soup… well, this way things sound better… I didn’t cook anything for him, just for my friends … that’s more normal…
Well, at seven o’ clock I started cooking, and the fish soup was cooked in one hour, and I put it in the oven to keep it warm. Then I prepared the salad and set up the table.
At 8.50 David rang the bell.
“Hi Mike, how are you?”
“Fine thanks… are you hungry?”
“Yeah … al the day working, you can understand…”.
“David… I didn’t cook anything… but there is something to eat because I prepared a fish soup for some friends of mine for lunchtime but they didn’t come and you can find the fish soup in the oven, if you like, but I can also prepare something else…”
“What a superb fish soup! Your friends must be very important for you, if you cook such a fish soup for them! It must take a couple of hours to make this masterwork of a soup… and saying so he seemed to smirk at me… I pretended I was deep in different thoughts and had different thinks to focus on. “This fish soup is delicious, the backed bread is still crisp… and the fish broth is still warm… and the oven was cold… Mike, what do you think about? … can I serve your share?”
“What did you do today?”
“I just went to the market and cooked the fish soup…”
“You are a very master cook… this soup is very palatable and just a little spicy like it has to be… and your friends?”
“I don’t like nosy people…”
“Excuse me… I’d ask another question, but I know you are not in the right moment to answer me…”
“What have you to ask?”
“Nothing important … don’t mind … “
“Please, tell me… You can’t suggest something and pretend you didn’t”
“ I think it will better to play dumb…”
“I’m waiting, what is it?”
“Perhaps I can be wrong, but I think the fish soup was too warm in a cold oven, I suppose you cooked it no more than one hour before, and also the crisp bread suggests me you baked it no more than one hour ago… that’s why I suppose you weren’t really expecting for friends at lunchtime, therefore I was wandering if you could have cooked all this for someone else… that means for me… if I’m too rude or intrusive… you can tell me… perhaps I have no right to tell you such things but it’s what I have in mind… I apologize if I crossed the board and broke the rules…”
“Tell me at least, did you enjoy your fish soup?”.
“I enjoyed it very well because it was my fish soup, something made for me… that’s very unusual for me…”
“Do you like a glass of an Italian white wine?”
“Thanks, just a little wine… “
“There is also a big salad… if you like…”
“I love salad… fresh vegetables are the top for me. … Can I ask you another thing?”
“Whatever you like…”
“I’d like to set up for breakfast tomorrow morning… just if you like… because I’m at ease here and fell very comfortable… but I have to help somehow… I don’ like to take advantage of your open heart… “.
“You only have to stay quiet, nothing else, I appreciate your being at ease here but you aren’t taking advantage of anything… it was my pleasure to cook the fish soup… yes I cooked it for you, that’s true, nothing else, you have nothing to pay for… I’d ask you some questions now, can I?”
“Of course… whatever you like”.
“Well, to talk turkey, what are you searching for?”
“To be loyal and spontaneous… I don’t know yet”
“That means?”
“Simply I don’t know yet… nothing else… at the beginning I was only searching for a room to rent, you seemed like a good person, we got in touch in such a strange way and I took my golden opportunity, nothing else, I had to search for a room to rent and so I did… then… well, it’s not so easy to say… you were so crusty at the beginning but also so friendly, so helpful I thought perhaps you wouldn’t turn me down… Was I wrong?”
“No… good, that’s enough… now you have to go to bed… remember, tomorrow 5.45.”
“Thanks, 5.45… and the fish soup was special, tasted good … thanks…”
“Good night David!”
“Good night Mike”
When I entered my room I was upset… no, I could better say I was anxious and distressed for David’s heart-to-heart talk, I didn’t foresee how directly he could get to the core. He was a 21 years old guy and I didn’t even remember what a 21 years old guy can be… I considered his behavior and I was surprised. He was clever, right-minded, hard-working guy, confident, faultless… in a word he was perfect! I tried to fall asleep but a strange wakefulness entered my brain and my soul and till midnight I kept turning over in the bed, I usually have a light sleep and fall asleep easily. This time it was different… I had to fall asleep because I had to get up at 5.00, it was midnight and my brain was perfectly awake. I switched the light-night off then tried another time to fall asleep and this was the right moment. No need to say that when my alarm clock rang at 5.00 in the morning, I felt awful, I couldn’t even stand up, I couldn’t even hold my eyes open, but I had to get up… this time I hated David. How nice would have been to keep on sleeping … but David was here and I had to get up… so I did. With an enormous effort, finally the breakfast was set up just in time. David was cool as a cucumber.
“Hi Mike, how are you? … I could say you can’t even stand… what’s the problem?”
“I was awake till two in the morning, I don’t know why, I’m not used in such things”
“Well, nothing to worry, it happens… have a cup of coffee and you’ll wake up immediately…you bet!”
“Ok but I’m a little stunned today… I hope it will soon subside”
“Can I suggest a little thing?”
“What is it?”
“You have to go to sleep as soon as possible and don’t worry about cooking… you are a master cook, that’s taken for granted, but a steak with potatoes is everything I need…”
“No, stay quiet… sandwiches are in the fridge… I wasn’t able to stand but I did all my job…”
“You have to promise me that when I’ll go to work you’ll go to bed to sleep without even thinking about cooking… I’ll do everything when I’ll go back home at nine… this is not to give you a chance to rest and sleep in the evening… no! That’s in order to let me cook for you just a single time…”
And he smiled and got out.
Now I was alone another time. My brain started to speed up like a full gas engine. What about David? I wandered, what about his smiling and his being always on the border, telling you something and the same time avoiding to explain it clearly. I had been so many times… no, I thought I had been so many times close to understand something else but nothing real came to the surface. David was able to upset me with this sort of behavior. It’s like he would guide you somewhere, like he would let you tell him something else. I usually don’t like such kind of playing cat and mouse. And he really had me to admit I cooked the fish soup for him… Perhaps he had to understand it but he wouldn’t press me to admit such things. It’s not polite, it’s something usually friends avoid with each other. Therefore David isn’t a friend of mine… no! Sometimes friends use to play with each-other, that’s why so he did. Certainly David always seems to be on the verge of something not spoken, throwing stones and pretending he didn’t. Probably he only likes to make a show… And what about me? Do I like to play this way? I could dismiss him, kick him out and so on… but I would never do such things… David is here and he must stay here… no doubt! He had such a pleasant and charming way to do everything, never ostentation or contentiousness, just something vaguely provocative, never wild or angry. He had his own very particular way to resolve and to come to a conclusion, always with a light smile to remark that he was happy. His happiness was really now the most important thing. Why did I cook the fish soup? Naturally to make him smile, or more exactly to make him feel happy. Yes, I think it’s true, David’s happiness like higher aim, and carefulness only like an instrument to achieve that aim. I wondered what he would like to find here. He never acted up to me nor acted neutral. David was probably trying to realize some project of his and I was certainly part of that project… or at least I hoped so. Was I dreaming, or something very unusual was going to start? … David… What do I like better? My privacy, my peacefulness, or his happiness? This was the question! Stay quiet, go ahead with my unremarkable and a little boring life or get involved with David’s life? And what does it mean to be involved with his life? Who is David? What do I know about his life?… David smiles always, I really couldn’t ask for a better tenant. Neither I have to complain about his habits that I don’t know at all. Who’s David? Can I pay heed to him or I’d better to bring the matter to an end as soon as possible? Some days ago when I was thinking about such situations I told to myself: “Remember Mike: never get involved in strange things! Better to stay alone than being involved with some odd fellow”. But was David an odd fellow? I don’t think so, I don’t picture him like a bad guy, rather like a guy who is probably playing hide-and-seek with me. Yeah he’s playing with me, he’s my playmate and it’s a fair game, I have nothing to worry about. If it had been a foul play, I would have noticed something strange, but I didn’t… David foul playing? No… it’s impossible! Can someone smiling the way he smiles deceive you?… I think he can’t. He’s a trustworthy guy… I don’t know why but I know very well, I have a real feel for right-minded guys and he behaves in a fair way that can’t deceive me… David, sleep on it! You have nothing to think about… no… perhaps you have a lot of things to think about, yeah, perhaps you are lost in your thoughts and I can’t even notice it… You were on the other side of this wall, were you sleeping? Were you thinking about your life, or were you thinking about me? I’m out of my mind, I’m going from bad to worse. And now what is going to happen? I feel the strange temptation to enter the green room… No, I have to keep my set purpose, I have to keep away from the green room, it’s his room and I’m not allowed to cross the threshold. Yes I would be just a little nosy… but I know my duty… what a terrible conflict between curiosity and duty… I’m searching for some theoretical justification for going into the green room to poke around his stuff. But what pretext can I invoke? Only my obsessed curiosity! Nothing else… or have I to lie to myself about my reasons behind? Become nosy but why? I’d never thought about being nosy, I was the respect embodied. I never tittle-tattled about someone’s secrets. When someone told me something confidential I always guarded it secret. I never let the cat out of the bag, I don’t like open secrets… That’s why I have to keep away from the green room. I gave him the key but I bet he didn’t lock up… No! I have to stay quiet! whatever he has in his room is not of my business, I told: first his privacy, If he would like to tell me something about himself I’m obliged to listen, otherwise I only have to wait… what for I don’t now but I have to stay quiet… to be an honest man. All my thoughts will probably end up as nothing… Eventually I have to settle with David… I must find as soon as possible a well-balanced rule, a golden rule to follow, because I can’t resist the stress and people under a lot of stress may experience headaches and I don’t like stress-related illness… and this is a very stressful situation. No… I have to get rid of all this thinking aloud… I have to be honest with myself and also with David… No! I’m a well-minded man, what is to come must be… definitely I’m not nosy, at least not so nosy to poke around his room! That’s all!
So, thinking about a lot of such things, I ended up to sleep… finally to a deep sleep. I’d say better I crashed. And I was so stressed that I overslept till 4.00 o’clock.
When I woke up I was still a little stunned… I had to go prepare for David… yes… I thought: I have to prepare for David… It sounded unusual to me, but I was strangely happy to wait for him… I had to prepare… I started up… frying pots, pans, steamer, colander, and whatever. I opened the fridge searching for something suitable for David and had an idea: pizza with artichokes, buffalo mozzarella, and mushrooms and just a little tomatoes, parsley and pepper. In the fridge I found also a cube of yeast. I arranged the flour, melted the yeast in a coup of warm water then mixed up the floor and the warm water with the yeast. Then started to knead everything till it became an easy mass, then covered everything and set it in the oven. My oven is very particular, you can set also the low temperature from 30°C up, well, and I set it at 37°C, the right temperature to reach a perfect yeasting. 45 minutes later the mass was grown up, increasing three times hits volume. I laid it flat into a large cake pan, then added the artichokes and the other ingredients and put everything in the oven well heated, 45 minutes later, just some minutes before switching off the oven, I opened it and spread parsley pepper and olive oil on my masterwork.
I had to conduct an experiment, I’m not a scientist but I would have loved it, I had to experiment on David in order to determine whether or not he worries about me if he doesn’t find me at my usual place. I have to set first the background, I’ll pretend I’m sleeping and then I only have to wait for what he will do. I think he’s about to come home… I have to lay on the bed full clothed and pretend to sleep. Some minutes later I heard the door open and close with a low noise almost undetectable, David would never slam the door… then I heard clearly: “Hello Mike… I’m back home… Mike… Mike… where are you?”, then he knocked on the first floor bathroom, twenty seconds later he knocked on my room’s door. “Mike are you fine?”… I had to answer but what? I thought that let him enter my room would have been too free and easy, that’s why my response was much more formal: “Fine thanks, I was asleep, I’ll be in the living room shortly please only a minute…”. “Be quiet, you aren’t in a hurry…”, then he went downstairs. I combed my hair set my clothes and wearing my best smile, I have to underline: my best spontaneous smile, I got down. “Hallo, David… problems at work?”, “No, not exactly”. “What do you mean?”. “I suggest first we have dinner, then if you like I have something to talk about, but for now, we have better to have dinner… I think it’s pizza because I smell it… be quiet.. I’ll share out into pieces with scissors… you are a master cook… artichokes pizza! Something fabulous … And you? What did you do today?”, “Not a big business only cooking an sleeping”. “No thoughts at all?”, “Clearly when I’m cooking I’m thinking about something….”, “Clearly…”, “Would you like some salad, but something very simple?”. “Yeah… just some lettuce…“. “You have to wait just a minute… the salad is my business … lettuce, olives, walnuts, green tomatoes, a little oregano and just a squirt of olive oil scattered on.” “Wonderful!”. “And what was it that you told me you were going to tell?” “Just a minute… and I’d like some cold white wine… perhaps it could help… but please, if you like, I’d prefer to go to the living room and seat down in two armchairs…”. “Whatever you like…”, “I have to tell you something and to ask you a question. Good… now I’m ready… and now I have to call on all my bravery and get out with it… I think it’s necessary… well… I’m gay”. “You may feel a little discomfort now, but you have a big moral courage, on the contrary I was always a coward, all lifelong… and what’s the question you have to ask me?”. “I don’t need any question… no more”. “You’re right… I’m speechless”. “Another thing… nobody knows I’m gay”. “The same for me…. David now someone would guess that the situation is much more difficult, but I think it’s much more easy… can I ask you a question?” “Of course…”. “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Yeah… I have a boyfriend…“. “If you’d like better to avoid to speak about… it would be all right all the same”. “I told him about you and I have to tell you about him… don’t worry… I only told him you where my house master… a special house master, but only an house master… his name is Jason, 21, born just two days before me, we were kicked out by our parents when they found out we were gay… obviously… he was hired by a delivery service company and I by J and J construction company… his company was a delivery company but he was only a living wage waiter, at the beginning it was terrible, I had no money at all, he had a little room near the railway station, I’d better say a little cubicle on the basement, below stairs, He couldn’t afford to pay for anything better… sometimes we had nothing to eat at all, neither a dime for the day, then I was hired by J.J. here… to leave Jason was terrible, but I had no choice…I can see him in the weekends but only for a little time, because he sometimes has day-shifts, sometimes night-shifts. I get there the Friday about midnight and usually he has two shifts to work, that’s why time flies when I’m there, he’s a lovely guy but we work in different places… now I get some more money but he works hard and has to be half-starved… sometimes I give him a little money, what I can do, he must only obey his boss and stay quiet because he has to hold down his job… And we can’t even talk on the phone because it’s too expensive for us…He got an old mobile but if I want to save money I can’t call him…”.
“David, here is my mobile… go to your room and call him…”.
When David got upstairs… I felt invaded by a terrible melancholy… They are in love and have to stay apart… They are so young and are down and out… perhaps Jason could be hired here… And then, a single gay boy in my house could be a problem, but two would never be… Strange situation? No! The right situation for me… something exactly fitting… and my neighbors? … Because they sometimes worry me… because they are fucking idiot! No! Never worry about fucking neighbors!


David handed me the mobile.
“Thanks… “.
“How are you? Something wrong?…”
“He was sad and depressed because the boss gave him a slap in the face in public…”
“David, call him again… what are you waiting for? Call him again! And then give me the mobile…”.
“Thanks David…. Hallo, are you Jason?”
“Yes, who are you?”.
“I’m Mike, the house master of David… and I have to tell you something… give hear to me… David told me… you have to resign, to leave your home and to get here as soon as possible… without any hesitation… do you understand?”
“But I work without labor contract and have no need to resign explicitly, and for my room
I pay each week… “
“That’s better… jump on a bus and get here!”
“That’s impossible…”
“Why, the hell?”
“Because I have no money at all, not even for the bus…”
“Get ready! We’ll come soon to pick you up… “
“Yes, now! David knows how to get over there, how long will it take?”
“In the night about 90 minutes…”.
“Now it’s 11 o’ clock… we will arrive as soon as possible! Bye! David will call you in 30 minutes in case you need something. Bye, Jason”
“Bye… I’m waiting… bye!”
“David! As soon as possible put in a bag whatever you find to eat and to drink … and carry everything onto the car, in my car! The keys are in the pocket of my sport coat… I’ll take money and car documents… David, take also your documents! … we have to go!”
In no more than 5 minutes everything was ready. I switched on the engine and our strange trip started.
David was speechless, he begun to tell something only when we entered the highway.
“Mike… you are great!”
“Hold your tongue! … or, better, tell me something about Jason… if you like, or even better set some sandwiches for him…”
“I brought the artichoke pizza…”
“Yes but it’s a little thing… he needs something special…. And remember… when we’ll go back home you have to set the bed for him… No queen-size beds in my house!”
“We never used a queen-size bed, it’s not necessary…”
“David you didn’t understand, I mean that I never got a queen size-bed. I’ll buy a queen-size bed for you…and for Jason, I think it wouldn’t be so much expensive…”.
“That’s very kind of you but we needn’t it at all.”
Our conversation went on for about an hour.
“Mike… pay attention, we are going to go out of the highway, slow the speed…”
The precinct near the railway station was frightening, no one seemed to live over there, when we approached the house, David told me “Jason is there waiting for us!”. When I stopped the car, David rushed toward Jason and they hugged each other tightly. I never saw such an emotional hag. The guys loved each other.
David thought he had to seat near me… but I told him he had better to set in the back seat with him…so they did. David started to explain how we made our resolution.
“Jason, you don’t know Mike, he is a great person…”
Then I entered the conversation.
“Jason, you’ll stay at home with David, you have your room and you have to sleep on whatever happened today, tomorrow, after breakfast, we’ll look for a job”
“At my company J & J. they were chatting about hiring someone… perhaps it could be possible”.
“It will be, Jason, it will be!”.
Jason and David gobbled the sandwiches then they became silent till we got back home. I think they were hand in hand, I had to let them fee! How it can be wonderful to be finally together! When we got home I introduced Jason in a familiar way. David set a folding bed, I gave Jason the sheets in order to make his bed, asked him if he’d like to eat something else, he said not. “Good night… I’m very tired and I have to go to bed now it’s two o’clock and tomorrow we have to wake up early… remember, 5.45 breakfast time!” and I went to bed.
Not any noise from the green room, but I thought they were making love, they are in love… are so young, so beautiful… they are the picture of whatever I like… at least I can help, help to build their happiness and it’s really well worth it… to help two guys find out their happiness… I can help them, not two simple guys but two gay guys… I think it would be very hard for them to get some help everywhere… kicked out by their families, slapped by the boss… that’s right, but am I aware of what does it mean? I got involved in their lives, with no come-back, I can no more drop the situation, or turn from them, or forget them for any reason, I only have to encourage them to go ahead step by step… and they will afford harsh und unpleasing situations… they came out to me… and I to them… they trust me, and I have to trust them… they don’t hope in something, they hope in me… I think, I’d like it, I hope… I’m very troubled and concerned by what happened today, but I’m also happy, I feel great, my life seems to have changed.
I’m starting a new life… perhaps my life… love, yes, love, something I never experimented before, yes, love without sex, just love… what a strange happiness, not even a little regret, not even a little doubt… only peace, a great interior peace, my soul is now waked up, my journey is going to start and this time I’m not alone, no more, we are three, two young guys and an old man, I got something to do eventually, I got my life…
I woke at 5.00, set up everything for breakfast… this time I set up for three, at 5.45 o’ clock they came down.
“Hallo Mike… “ David said, Jason kept quiet and just smiled. What a sweet smile! Like an angel smile. “David, can you find out something about whether or not Jason could be engaged by J. & J.? Because working together would be the top… go to work together, go back home together… You could stay together all day long…”.
“I’ll see immediately… but I think it would be really possible… we are starting a new building and they hare short-staffed… If I can find out something I’ll call you…”. Jason only smiled… not a single word by his side. Then I asked him a question: toasts or sandwiches? And finally he answered: sandwiches please… hearing his voice I understood how easily David fell madly in love with him, a shy guy, I think very embarrassed by the situation. David vas bold, at least faced everything with bravery… Jason was clumsy, unassertive, and bashful, I had to be very careful with him in order not to scare him.
After breakfast David hugged Jason tightly without kissing him then got out. I was now alone with Jason… what a difficult situation. Clearly I had to do something in order to break the ice and to start at least a little conversation, but I wouldn’t be too much intrusive or inappropriate.
“Jason is there is something you’d like… whatever… do you prefer to stay alone? … to go somewhere? To sleep in your room? You only have to tell me.”
“I don’t know… whatever you like… ”
“Well… I’m embarrassed… I would never press you… you have to feel at home… that’s all”
“You know, it’s not so easy to settle into new situations… I’m worried about my job… now I’m here but I can’t stay without a job… “
“You’re right, but David will think about… he’s a clever guy and I’m sure you’ll find your job immediately, but you’re right, to be down and out is terrible, but you are not alone, David will find a solution.”
We went on with the difficult conversation for about two hours, Jason began to feel more comfortable.
“Jason, I bet David will find the solution today…”
I hadn’t even ended my sentence and the mobile rang… David told me to bring Jason at J. & J. because they’ll hire him immediately. David was on top of the world.
I opened my eyes wide in front of Jason and he understood immediately.
“Jump in my car… I’ll take the documents… be happy Jason, your problem is no more a problem… David is really a wonderful guy… You and David working together!”
“Oh… great!”
By car it would take about 50 minutes to get there, Jason seemed to be unable to think. “Jason… do you understand what is happening?”… “Yeah… but I’m frightened… a new job… and I’m absolutely unskilled in building houses, yes, I could learn something but now I’m not learned in such things and I would never make a poor showing or make David hide his face because of me…”.
“You can learn everything… and you have to remember that people know about you only what you let them to know, therefore, if you look strong, people will consider you stronger, if you look weak people will consider you weaker. You can be yourself with David and if you like with me, but at work you have to look strong and assertive, otherwise you’ll look an hit-and-miss guy”. “Ok, you’re right”. I had thought about waiting there for them to the end of the work-shift, but it was probably not the right time. Jason got down near the J. & J. building and I got back home.
Jason was cute, cuter than David, but David was bolder. The two of them where well-matched. I only had to get home and prepare for them. David’s dream was finally fulfilled… Jason would probably take his time to get used to such a different behavior. And what about me? What was my role? First never be intrusive. I had to remember that they needed me but I needed them much more.
That’s why this time I had to care of them, to be friendly, to respect them, to help, to keep at my place, to let them go where and when they like. Two young guys that can achieve whatever they like, because they are two guys in love with each other. I have to avoid any remark about myself… but I did so today, I told Jason only about how clever David was… and I’ll keep doing so, I have to be only a support if they like it, otherwise I have to withdraw without any waver… I have a lot of things to learn about love… about this kind of love… gay-love? Perhaps their gayness helps … yes I can’t deny it, but nevertheless it’s a very particular kind of gay-love… I had to set everything for dinner… that was my job… And really I started going to the store… now I had to think about two guys, and aged 21… the market was empty like in normal work-days… I had to search for something not too strange and not too common… Then I found a solution: ravioli with ricotta cheese and spinach, dressed with tomatoes, carrots and minced beef sauce Italian style… and second floor roast chine of pork… first find a chine of pork without fat and the butcher stand had some first option chines of pork… then ravioli and vegetables… At home, I spent a lot of time to cook the pork in the oven avoiding the meat to burn. It took about one hour, then I prepared the soup and sat at my desk… and I heard a signal of a message on my mobile and opened it: “It’s our lunch break… Hi Mike, we work apart but at lunch break we can stay together… and talk about you! … You’re great! See you at nine. Bye. David & Jason”… Reading such a message was far-out for me. I had never got such messages… now I can understand why people like to get short messages by mobile…
Well, I was very touched and started to smile while walking around, something I never experienced before. Had I to send back a message? … yes, certainly I had and as soon as possible, something not too personal and not too tender: “Thanks! I enjoyed your message a lot!”. I sent the message. Then got upstairs and laid flat on my bed… what a sweet feeling to lay down thinking about my two guys. I wondered what David could have told Jason about me, we know each other just a little… but nevertheless we can see through each other. To be present, useful, willing, available that was what I had to do in order to help them, and I had to remember that they were in love with each other and I had to relate with them as a couple, and keep out of the scene, never I had to enter the show, it wasn’t my show. Well, all this things seemed to me to be obvious, but in earlier times I had never accepted such things, but it was long time ago, when I was much more younger and liked to be the leading man, but many years went by and eventually I started to think about someone else’s happiness as something not hurting or scaring but as something to help, to support, to encourage, not to destroy or to envy. And now I was laid on my bed thinking about my two guys in the green room, two gay guys… In other times I never had accepted to come out to someone else but eventually I did… and they came out to me… two 21 years old gay guys… what they may wait for? What may expect or desire? How they picture me? Well, I got their message and it’s not a little thing but … perhaps they look at me like a father or a brother, or like an old friend who may help… I was so lost and absorbed in my thoughts that lunch hour elapsed and I kept fantasizing about my two guys… and so went by the afternoon. At 8.30 I started to set the table, for the first time whit three seats. My place here and the two of them across the table, close to one another. The bread must be sliced, the sparkling mineral water must be on the table with a little bottle of fresh red wine. At nine o’ clock David and Jason rang the bell, this time they didn’t get into. I opened the door and got them into. “David, Jason are you tired? … now right away to wash hands, the dinner is waiting for you… in the green room or if you like better over there, the second door on the left…”. They got upstairs and, I waited for them for about ten minutes… I thought they were hugging each other but I was wrong, when they got downstairs I was surprised, they changed clothes and shaved. “Oh! I’m very pleased for your kindness but I think you are tired that’s why you don’t need shaving or changing clothes… otherwise I would have also to change clothes and to shave… isn’t it? Too difficult… if you like you can do everything you like… always… Jason seat down … are you hungry?”… “Yeah … my back hurts, my bones hurt… but I’m hungry like hell… Ravioli with minced meat sauce… something special”. “Mike is special… you don’t know him yet but you’ll know shortly…”. “Hold your tongue David, let Jason take his time…”. “Right… but if I hold my tongue, he’ll be like I thief in the night… you don’t know how he’s shy…”. “David, you aren’t polite, do you remember how shy you were when you got here the first time?”. “But I made you understand everything right then and there… do you remember?”. “Jason… I wander how you can tolerate such a guy…”.
“He has always something to pull out… needless worrying, you just need to pretend to be interested… He’s inclined to preach… Mike, can I address you this way?”.
“Of course…”,
“Well, Mike, I’m shy… yes, that’s right, but I have something to tell you… no, to ask you… why did you do whatever you did?”.
“Jason… I’m disconcerted… “,
“Excuse me Mike, when I try to act like David, I only put someone to a lot of trouble… I’m sorry.”…
“Boys… can I ask you something?” …
“Are you in love or not?”.
“Why do you ask us this question?”…
“Because there is something you must learn… “.
“What is it?”.
“You have to learn to hold your tongue! You have to respect each other. Chitchatting may be dangerous… Now you are eventually together and living together is much more difficult than stay apart… Here and everywhere you needn’t to change clothes or shave for dinner… but you have to hold your tongue, not for me, but Jason for David and David for Jason. You now can be aware of each other… that’s why before talking nonsense you have to think whether or not it may hurt someone, and notably the one you love… well, what are you waiting for?… Do you like another slice of roast pork? David, some wine? … I’m sorry… perhaps I didn’t hold my tongue…”.
“You’re right Mike… thanks… it was necessary.”…
“If you like to know why I did what I did I can tell you shortly… because you are two gay guys in love with each other… I never did something like that… but now I’m happy just doing what I can do… when you can see someone’s happiness you have to help, non to envy, that’s why you needn’t to point anything out and you only need to love each-other and not only each-other. Nothing else in the world can make you happy. You needn’t get awarded, or similar things… you only have to respect and to love everyone in the world… perhaps I’m also inclined in preaching… I’m sorry… Jason… sorry, sorry”.
“I’m touched… and when I’m touched I start to cry… I know that assertive guys don’t cry at all, but your preach was something that touched me intensely…”.
“Mike… do you understand why I’m in love with him?”. “Yes, I do… but I don’t know what to say… I’m not used to such situations, Jason… please… what can I do? … I don’t know…”,
“Mike… I’d say I feel inappropriate… but I can’t stop… I’m happy… I’m here with David … I started a new job today… and you cooked a dinner for us… No one ever cared about us… our parents kicked us out… and you are here non only cooking but also teaching us something I like well to hear… something about me and David… usually we had to hide from everybody… we hadn’t friends… not at all, only us, me for David and David for me… He told me about you but it seemed incredible… someone who might care about us… might listen to us… someone older…”.
“Jason I have to be honest with you… I’m not a saint, I’m gay and you are two cute guys, you know it’s not only generosity or unselfishness… there’s also something physical… nothing to worry about, I can keep my role, but you don’t have to think I’m what I’m not… “,
“Mike, can I ask you a question?”
“Of course…”,
“Inside yourself what have you in mind about us?”…
“I don’t know exactly… I know I’m going to start a new style life… but I don’t know where it may end up… I’m very happy that you are here, but I can’t foresee what’s to come… I’m not sure that something else couldn’t be hidden somewhere in a dark corner of my soul… some hidden meaning… I’m not sure, but I don’t like to keep my thoughts hidden… at least not with you… I have to tell you everything, especially whatever might scare you… Perhaps you would have expected another kind of response… but it wouldn’t be honest by the side of me…”
… “I’m speechless… what an uncommon statement! … We are not so used to the truth… we are used only to half-truths… you told us the absolute truth… and we have to respond the whole truth… honestly I’m a little scared about you, perhaps David knows you better and he can stay still and unruffled, but I don’t know what I may expect from you… I have to make my ideas more definite… it would take some days to have a more correct picture… for now I’m impressed by your talking about your feelings so openly… but I have to understand something else.”
“Mike… Jason is always well-advised, prudent and careful, he only has to know he would better lay aside all this carefulness… “.
“Well… boys… it’s bed time… tomorrow you have to wake up early… breakfast time at 5.45… good night boys… “.
“Mike, have I to be scared of you?” Jason said with a smile.
“No… nothing similar… thanks, your smile is the better response I could get… good night Jason… good night David”.
The guys went upstairs and I put the dishes into the water and followed them after two minutes… My brain was speeding up… what to think about them, David was bolder but Jason was such tender and lovable, something very uncommon nowadays… A guy who can be touched listening to my preaches… but the same time he had to wait before pronouncing a judgment… I was happy but the same time was perplexed, we had to know each other talking and living together before getting used to one another… Jason cute, clever and emotional, used to cry… at 21… And David looked at him with such a warm expression… two guys in love… yes, or better two guys who’d like to learn how to love… And… what can I teach them about love? I’m not so skilled in similar things, this is my first love story… love story? Yes, love story, loving two guys at a time, because I never got involved in something real… writing a lot, reading a lot, also love poems, but I was never seriously involved in a love story… perhaps now I’m involved in their love story… I’m the one who might stay apart but got involved in something that belongs to other people… Do the three-guys love stories exist? Or am I involved in something that doesn’t belong to me? What a strange threesome… two young guys and me… what’s my role, if I’m playing a role. Tomorrow breakfast time at 5.45… I have to get up early!
This time I fell asleep easily… and when the clock rang at 5.00 I got up with a strange enthusiasm… got to the kitchen and started to cook… this time not only breakfast but also eight sandwiches to take for dinner-time. At 5.45 the two of them got downstairs. “Hi Mike… how are you?”
“Fine thanks… and you?”
“Fine… we slept all the night long… we were so tired… and get up at 5.00 was terrible… “.
“Well, I set sandwiches to take and also a little coffee thermos, everything is in the green bag over there… I put also something else, if you’d like to have different food… you’ll see later….”.
“Mike, today is Friday… and we were wandering if you’d like to spend the weekend with us… wherever you like… we can stay home or to go somewhere else, no matter… we discussed the thing and decided to ask you…”.
“Of course… I’ll stay with you… do you like better go to the falls or to the lake? I think we don’t have to stay at home. I have a little cabin near the lake… I never go there… if you like, we could stay there…”.
“Ok! This evening we will establish everything… for me the cabin near the lake is wonderful, and for you, David?”.
“Very good…”. “Ok, now you have to go, be careful! See you at nine!”.


They went out. My brain started to work about the weekend… a weekend at the cabin near the lake… it’s a cold place… we have to bring sleeping bags… I have just one sleeping bag, today I have to buy a double sleeping bag for them, it’s too cold at the lake blankets aren’t usually sufficient… the heating plant has been checked in June and will probably work… I have to catch the feed for three persons and for three days… this time only rice and beans, steaks and canned vegetables, milk, sugar, tea, bread… and so on… They have to find everything set up to start, and we have to start Saturday at 5.00, no… better at 6.00… we’ll get there at 8.00… the boys have to enjoy their weekend… well I have to wash up, because I must be at the superstore at 8,30… I have to hurry up!
The morning went by, I bought the sleep bag, the food and whatever we needed to spend a weekend in peace, set the luggage in the carrier, because I have a carrier… Cooked something for dinner, I was very tired and plopped down. The mobile rang for a message. “Hi Mike, we are looking forward to the weekend trip… we have a lot of things to talk about… See you at nine. Jason and David”… I had to respond and so I did immediately: “I just set everything up… and have been thinking about a lot of things… good things! See you at nine”. I decided for a low profile language, but appreciated a lot that the short message was going to become an habit… They used to call me at lunch-hour that means they used to talk also about me at lunch hour. Certainly I couldn’t understand the exact meaning of their talking about me… What can two young guys think about an old man? But certainly I was thinking about them every single hour of my day… Life may change suddenly into very different directions… You can run into someone else when you hardly expect something to change… and your life can be fully upset, so that you can’t control it no more. I only had to spend the afternoon cooking for them… my duty was cooking and not only cooking, my role was more complex and all-involving… I was aware that two 21 years old guys are not two boys to foster or to take care of, they are two adult men with a lot of problems and a lot of preoccupations to worry about. I never had to play the part of the old man… no! Neither the part of the playmate. I only had to avoid playing a role, whatever it was. I’m Mike, just Mike, not dad, foster-father, or big brother… no! Nothing similar! I have to mark this clearly… and they will agree with me: never wear a mask, never overact! At 8,30 everything was set up. Dinner was cooked: rice salad with pickles, wiener schnitzels, lettuce salad with potatoes, carrots, anchovies and olives and backed bread with garlic.
At nine the bell rang. “Hi Mike… how are you?”
“fine, thanks… go wash hands… “
They went back in five minutes, without changing clothes and without shaving… Jason realized that Mike was looking at him.
“Didn’t you say we needn’t change clothes or shave? …” And added a little smile.
“I did… right, I did… but now seat down and enjoy you dinner… you have to go to sleep early today because we will leave at six tomorrow…”.
“Mike, excuse me, can I ask you something?”
“Of course”
“Do you think we are allowed to stay here as long as we like?”…
“Of course, but why such questions? You have nothing to ask here… you can stay as long as you like and always for free…”
“Mike, don’t become angry… but now we have a little money to burn… and we thought we have to help and pay our rent…”.
“No! I told David from the beginning that I hadn’t rooms to rent… and excuse me, I don’t like such an offer… No! I don’t like it at all!…”
“Mike, don’t be angry, but we talked a lot about this… We use a big room, with private bathroom, you cook such superb meal for us every day… you bear the expense, and we only have to take advantage, and you have to recognize that it’s an exploitation…”
“Mike… my God… no! … oh my God tell me something, are you fine?”
“I’m fine don’t worry! Let’s have dinner quietly, then all the three of us have to seat down in the living room… nothing happened… and nothing will happen… “
“Mike, I apologize to you for my stupid remark… I never would have offended you … I and David thought only about giving you some help… I swear that we appreciate everything you did, you are a god person, and you never have to think badly….”
“Don’t worry Jason, I know all that very well, know you got a job… and you have to save money… I have another thing in mind… I’d like to tell you, but I’m not so sure it will be understood… it’s not a difficult thing but perhaps it could sound strange to you…”
“What have you in mind Mike… tell us shortly”
“Well, I’ll tell you, but you’ll give me an answer only Monday at nine… ok?”
“Ok what is it?”
“I think you had better go to College… that’s it…”.
“We graduated at the same high school, David was the best, but I was a guy not so bad… we had been also called by a College for courses about physics… our parents would have agreed but then they found out everything about us… and kicked us out… therefore no college for us… at least we got a job… but at the beginning it was terrible… we were literally starved… Mike, to go to college we need a lot of money, much more than what we can save working hard, even staying here for free…”
“Now be quiet… If you like, it’s possible… I’d afford the cost…be quiet… you don’t have to give me an answer today… take your time… it remains firm that I don’t have rooms to rent… you can go to college and come back home in the summer, and I would come to visit you at your college… well I told you everything I had in mind… you are perplexed… well they admit rather guys just out of school, but you aren’t much older… now good night, see you at 5.45, breakfast time”
“Mike I’m speechless …”
“Good night David! Good night Jason! … remember you never have to think badly… that’s your statement .”
Jason and David looked at each other then stood up without a word, looked a second time at each other, then nodded and got upstairs, they were clearly interested.
Next morning I got up at 5.00 as usually, this time they were awake and came down at 5.10.
“Mike… do you think we are allowed to speak clearly”
“Of course!”
“Well this year it would be very difficult… to enroll… “
“No! You are wrong… physics courses start in 10 days and at Y.Y. University… you are still allowed to enroll… I checked the site yesterday and they are searching for physics students… because they are under number… I downloaded the forms, just in case you’d like to enroll. But be quiet, now you have to enjoy your weekend at lake… we can discuss everything there, if you like… there isn’t television over there and the evenings are boring… I’m happy you agreed… thanks… you have to build your future, and physics I think is the better choice… I don’t know anything about physics but I think you can find there everything you need in order to study at high level… you can also stay in a double room in the dorm, with no people nosing around… I checked also this possibility… and you are allowed to… And overall you are major and don’t need any parent’s consent… I think you are about two or three years late… but you have good possibilities to go ahead …”
“How does it cost all this?”
“Yeah, it costs a lot… I can also give you a little pocket money but no more, because I absolutely can’t afford other expenses… that’s all! … Well… Jason, open the fridge end hurry up with sandwiches… You, David… milk and tea! Do you like help? Now you have to. Let’s have a breakfast quickly and leave as soon as possible…”.
The trip was pleasant… we chatted about a lot of things, high school, physics, university, and the future, how to survive in an university dorm … but every argument was discussed with calm and as the most natural thing… They were quiet… I was happy.
We got at the lake… my cabin was icy-cold, we started the heating plant, I showed them their room and we set up everything… then we went out to walk around the lake… I walked between them. The morning was sunny but cold, the air clear and clean, and the lake calm. A peaceful feeling invaded me, they smiled at each other, sometimes laughed openly, playing and kidding in the most familiar way… they seemed to be the cutest boys in the world… we stopped, onshore there was a fisherman who told us something about the lake, about the ice age and so on, he seemed a learned man. There was a boat nearby, David and Jason asked the fisher.
“Mister, would you be so kind to allow us to use your boat… we’ll get back shortly…”.
The fisherman agreed and they boarded. “David, Jason… remember you have to get back shortly, no more than half an hour… good?”
“Yes… don’t worry, not more than half an hour”, then the boat came off the wharf. The fisherman told me: “You are a blessed father with two sons like yours.”, I told nothing and just nodded. No more than twenty minutes later David and Jason went back, fastened the boat to the quay, gave thanks to the fisherman and we got back home, it was about noon. We started cooking.
“Boys… what a beautiful day…. What a beautiful world!”
“Mike do you remember Luis Armstrong’s song Somewhere over the rainbow?”
“Oh yes, I love that song”
“We too… when we were enduring the worst situations, once we heard this song… and I started crying… and it became our song”.
“I’m dazed, sometimes when I feel bad I lay down in my armchair, switch off the light and listen to this song… and it relaxes me, it communicates a wonderful sensation of peace, of quiet, of rest… and all my bad thoughts go away… Armstrong… the top! I saw him in concert many years ago, just singing that song, it was marvelous!”.
We saved something for dinner then they started asking about college… I had brought whatever I had found on the net in order to let them understand exactly what they were going to choose. And talking, we went inevitably to an end: gay life in college. I obviously referred to my college times… no gay people where allowed in College, probably gay people attended classes, but I never met another guy openly gay, everyone was in the closet… I had heard some news about a guy kicked out because he was gay… but asking something about was dangerous and I never did. The private contacts where very different things, tight friendships where frequent… friendships that seamed something else… you know, sex or not sex, when two guys spend a lot of time together and they don’t care dating girls… if they are roommates… and if they never speak about sex when talking with their friends… and especially when they attend lectures together, go to the cinema together, go to the gym together… and so on… clearly they are in love with each other… don’t you think so?”
“Well … yes… are you telling us we have to avoid such behavior?”
“I can’t suggest anything… you have to explore the environment”
“Someone told me that now there are gay fraternities, gay clubs and so on… I think life is very different now…”
“Jason… college wasn’t the gay haven at my times neither is today… Be careful… you have a lot to lose and you really risk to lose it… “
“You’re right! I have to think before speaking… you’re right!”
“David… are you ok?”
“I’m worried about new college life, we have not only to study physics but also environmental sciences, or so to say, gay sciences, in order to survive… it will be not so easy… now at work we can stay together only at lunch time… everything is easy… but over there things will be more complicated.”
“Perhaps well could be not so complicated, we don’t know… you just have to discover… Boys, why physics? Are you sure?”
“Yeah… I got mad about physics, every kind of physics… David was a genius of physics … the teacher always used to put the lesson into his hands… in reality he was the teacher… and the teacher restricted himself to earn the wage. I think we are very enthusiast… To go to college means restart a normal life… Mike… I think I will cry never more…”
“Oh… no! you have to do everything you like… with David… and with me, if you like… only you have to be prudent with someone else… if you don’t trust them…”.
In the afternoon just a little walk to the village to get fresh vegetables. At five o’ clock it was so cold you couldn’t even warm up neither skipping, neither wrapping in a double overcoat, we got on the car and went back to the cabin… David and Jason had red chicks and red noses… we got into the car, started the heating plant and warmed up easily. The cabin itself was well wormed up… Jason ordered me to stay quiet and to seat down in the armchair. He and Jason heated up the rice, cooked three steaks and set up a salad bowl… dressed the table and everything.
“We have to help someway… we can’t help with money but at least doing whatever is necessary… David, do you think it would be easy for us to get used to such a new life style?”
“At the beginning it will be hard… but you’ll muddle through it in few weeks. I have to keep outside… I’d like to come there with you and to come to visit you on a regular basis but I think it’s not so appropriate, you can find me on the mobile or on the net… My soul will be there, needless to say… the college is one hundred kilometers from my house and there is the railway, it takes only 55 minutes to get home… You can come back home every weekend if you like… perhaps the first time you go there I can go with you… obviously, if you like… “
“Mike… I’m scared, David is bolder but I’m very upset… you have to promise that if I need you, you catch a train and go there right away.”
“I promise… but such things will never happen…”.
Then Jason started talking about school memories… that was about David, how clever he was, how skilled, how loveable. I asked him: where you in love already at that time?”
“Yeah… not exactly… I was in love with him or at least needed him but he wasn’t in love with me and probably didn’t even need me … at that time he was a little selfish… I moved heaven and hearth to make him notice me but he seemed offish… I was desperate and he seemed distant and regardless. I started crying at that time, we were about 16 or 17, then his heart melted…but it happened suddenly… one afternoon he got a prize for physics, he was expected to be pleased, but he wasn’t… walked up and down the corridor, someone complimented him but he looked peeved, I wondered what to do, then I went to praise him for his success… and he showed me his best smile… I wasn’t aware of myself then dared and hugged him tightly and he hugged back… our love story started this way.”
“Jason told the story from his point of view… but I had noticed him previously… at a glance he was exactly what I was searching for… but at that time we didn’t know each other yet and I was well aware that to come out to someone else could have been a very risky choice… That’s why I was totally in the closet… in such things Jason was bolder… probably if he wouldn’t have played a risky game, we never would have been aware of each other…”
“And what happened then?”
“Then the life changed, we became best friends, our parents approved, they didn’t know anything about our real life… and we went on being in the closet for everybody… we graduated very well and just in the graduation party the bomb burst, because we were caught by my mother while hugging and kissing… kissing like friends or just something more, nothing sexual or whatever… you know the story from this point on … what do you think about?”
“I think you have been very lucky, because you found the love at 17-18… I found it at 56…”
“Yes at 56 – told David -… but you found it really… there’s a lot in common between us, problems, troubles, preoccupations, wishes, fears… and to stay between us is marvelous…it’s wonderful to talk freely, to tell someone else that I’m gay without any concern… to compare experiences… we are between us… how many guys are still now totally in the closet? … and we stay here… in this cabin the three of us… and what is the link between us? … It’s to be gay, (Jason raised his eyebrows) it’s not to have or to own something but to be something and, we are very similar, I know it instinctively (Jason raised his eyebrows a second time)… I could never fear anything from your part… neither you’ll have to from mine… we needn’t any sex to be in love with each other (Jason raised his eyebrows a third time)”
“From my part I don’t exclude something similar anyway – told Jason. – Yeah, good clarification, but doesn’t matter at all… yes I know that… David knows but doesn’t make any difference… we are in love, well, sex is something similar to the love… “
“Obviously… I must assure I never, and say never, would act something against you or keep something hidden to you…”
“Yes, you needn’t repeat such things, we know yet… “
“Boys… where would you like to go tomorrow?”
“I’d like to stay here… and you, David?”
“Me too… only walking by the lake, and we have a lot to talk about before we leave for college, we can’t waste the time going somewhere else”
“Ok… but now… it’s bed time… Jason… you can set the sleep bag on the carpet… good night boys… don’t be afraid about anything, love is wonderful… and you are in love…”
“No! We are in love, the three of us… good night Mike”,
“Good night Jason, and good night David”.
Somehow I was happy, somehow I was afraid, I wondered how to behave, I had always to remember that we were not three guys in love, they were really in love and I was something like an helping figure. Thy where the same age, I was much more older, life was something that belonged to them, I was just ending up my life, perhaps non exactly ending up but for sure not beginning it. Years can really separate generations. I wasn’t, neither I’ll be any more, an absolute beginner… something similar to the envy started walking around my brain, but I had to stop this walking… they were young guys, something natural, I had to love them like fathers love sons… Probably my offer about college wasn’t so disinterested, perhaps I had to get rid of them as soon as possible, because to look every minute to the image of the happiness is not so easy when that happiness is their happiness not yours. When I locked the door I became aware that my life was in danger, two gay guys are something too difficult to face, and their smiling is something I love but also scares me… My life is different… wishes and dreams don’t belong to men my age. Right they have to go to college and I have to stay here and go straight on my way… It just seems too easy… stay here and get it over, nearly forgetting them and leaving behind wishes and dreams… First I had had to get involved, then I have to forget… But can young guys picture in their mind this sort of consciousness raising? Probably they don’t care at all, they have to live not to think about life… I had to encourage them… to let them rest upon me… this was the heritage of the older age, my own heritage… I was happy to see things go on well, to make them happy about starting university and also to give me my usual peace and quiet, these things have to go together, I never would let them out only to gain my quiet, they gave me their trust and their confidence, something special I had to be grateful for, something I wasn’t used to, and I had to take care of their wishes and their dreams… yes, and also of myself, avoiding too much involving adventures. Keep away in order to prevent any kind of too strong involvement… short, to avoid sex involvement, because such things happen, and you normally can’t avoid it. It would have taken a month, two or more, but it would have happened eventually. It’s better to prevent, this way I have nothing to worry about, nothing difficult to explicate, and nothing to be ashamed of. Am I too complicated? Perhaps they wouldn’t even get upset about such things… but I don’t know. Fathers and sons have different attitudes towards life. Sons love it, fathers fear it, sons feel strong, good, and happy, and fathers fell anxious, worried, and doubtful. Is that true? … I just built such a building but is it well grounded? I don’ know…. “I don’t know” this topic sentence is the normal end of my thoughts. Then I fell asleep.


At 5.00 o’ clock in the morning I got up to set the breakfast, this time nothing enthusiastic, I felt it was my duty to tell them the truth, to love them, to set breakfast for them… a lot of duties… like usually fathers do… was I a father? Somehow yes, I was a father… usually sons move away from fathers … and fathers try to hold them back, but usually fathers don’t risk to fall in love with sons like I do. At 5.45 David and Jason didn’t come to have breakfast. I sat down and waited. At about seven some little noise came from their room. Then they went to the shower. Shower was a magical word at my times, used to mean nudity, something sexual, how many stories I was reading about mates in the shower, this time nothing similar. It wasn’t my time, no more, it was their time. I noticed that they used the shower one at a time entering and getting out fully clothed… it was very cold, that’s right, but I think they were shy with each other, perhaps not always but usually. They never caressed or kissed in front of me… many people do that spontaneously, they don’t.
At 7.20 we were chatting about college and having breakfast in a very relaxed way.
“Mike, are you worried about something?”
“Not exactly”
“What is it?”
“I’d like better to keep it for myself”,
“No… you have to share…”,
“I have to?”
“Yes you have to”,
“Well I think I’m substantially kicking you out… I’m trying to get rid of you…”,
“Mike… please stop it! You are totally wrong. Mike do you know what where we talking about yesterday before we fell asleep?”
“No, I don’t know”
“We were wondering what to think about you… especially if you would have something sexual in your mind about us… well that wouldn’t upset us at all, perhaps we aren’t a family but we can change into a real family, no matter what the father have in mind about sons, sexual love is real love… Mike… you are what you are but now, you can’t help it, we are three and we’ll change into a real family… you can’t get rid of us any more… I think… no matter what you have in mind, whatever it is… love has something sexual and more than something… you have not to worry about anything, not to be ashamed of anything, if you love us it’s a good thing, no matter if it’s sex or something else, love is always love, we don’t fear you… you’ll never act against us, we know it very well… we think that’s impossible, … that’s taken for granted… what you did for David and for me till now is something we like well, something you’ve never underlined and that you never boasted, just struggling to do something for us… never promises, never pointing out, never asking, never impinging privacy… with respect, with care, with love… and that’s enough”.
“Well, I’m confused… probably you are less worried about me than I’m about you… I’d never make mistakes… your life is important … it’s important to me… letting you go to the college, perhaps, I can love you and the same time you are allowed to be free, to get out, to live for yourself… love is love, yes, but you have to enjoy your being young without me, or also with me but in the distance… we can meet every weekend but no more… I love you, but you have better to go… college can give you a lot of chances to meet young people… to make friends… I’ll stay at home waiting for you, but if you some Sunday would go somewhere else you have to go there… no matter if I’m alone or not, if I know my two boys are happy I’ll be certainly happy… do you understand?”
“Not exactly. You need us… it’s something evident, and you don’t need us because of you… no! You need us because we need you… Mike… you can’t abandon us, you can’t at all because we need you, and you know that very well… Yes, we’ll go to college but not to get rid of you neither to let you get rid of us… no! Only to build a future… Mike, we can’t put down each other, perhaps we’ll make friends over there… but we’ll never find another family over there, our family is here… no… you are our family… do you understand?”
“Yeah… “
“And now, what about today? I have something in mind… David… can I ask him”
“Certainly, we have been talking about a lot… you have to”
“Well Mike… we would ask you about your life… that’s not curiosity… “
“I’m very upset…”
“Don’t worry… we’ll tell you something after… so you can relax… do you like to know something about us?”
“Whatever you like…”
“Dave… go…tell him everything…”
“Mike… I have to tell you… we aren’t in love with each other… I can understand that it sounds strange to you… we are only friends, like brothers, I’m really gay, perhaps Jason too is gay but he thinks he’s not… or he thinks he’s not exactly aware of what he really is, do you remember when you told me about the queen-size bed and I told you that we needn’t queen-size beds? I’m in love with Jason but he’s not sure he’s in love with me, I think he is, but he likes better to say we are friends in a particular way… but when I was kicked out by my parents because they find out I was gay he told his parents he was in love with me and they kicked out him too… he probably couldn’t stand being alone… and he has broken up with his family to stay with me… facing very bad difficulties… but he did… he always tells me he did it for me like a friend… I’m not sure…but I have to let him search and find his own way toward happiness. It’s a very hard exercise of abstinence but I love Jason… and his life is much more important than whatever else… we can stay in the same room but we don’t sleep together… neither yesterday night… there was only a sleeping bag and we got into fully clothed… that’s our little secret… we don’t are lovers, I don’t know what we are, but we aren’t lovers, or, if you like, we are, but without sex, at least form his part… Strange? What do you think about? I think I’d like to know and Jason too would like to know… now you know everything…”.
“Oh… I’m speechless… I supposed you were in love… I’m very perplexed … but if Jason thinks otherwise, we have to respect his point of view, perhaps love can be love also without sex… I think at least somehow you are in love, yes perhaps without sex but you are in love… if someone leys aside whatever else in order to follow you he’s in love with you… “.
“Or he’s so much alone and desperate that he likes better whatever else…”
“Jason… yes, I’m an old gay guy… perhaps my point of view is a gay point of view and I’m inclined to this kind of interpretations… but can I ask you something more personal?”
“I’d like better not…”
“Well… you are right… you can choose or think whatever you like and no one is allowed to get in… no matter why… you are right… David…. No! Love is love… and we can’t force him… right?”
“Yes, right!”.
“Jason, you have to take for granted that gay or not we’ll be a family, we three… right?”
“Right Mike…”
“Boys, there’s a thing to talk about… the college… tomorrow morning we’ll have to fill forms, seat down and take a pen… “.
We kept chatting and planning about the college settlements, we agreed I would never come there, Jason agreed only after long discussions on the opportunity of me getting there, but at the end accepted this resolution as the lower dangerous… He wasn’t so interested in college like David. David looked forward to starting the new life, Jason was searching for something else and I had difficulties in make him accept to go. “Jason, remember, you have to go… it’s not the much important thing in the world but this way you can realize your future…” He answered that he didn’t know anything about his future… and he hoped to stay with me and David here, to work in order to have a little money and no more… yes, studying physics was a good thing but he thought he would never come to an end with physics… yes, he had to go to college… but he probably would never be a scientist… He liked better to be a simple man living his simple life which he didn’t know at all… with David, probably, but perhaps without him and perhaps without me… He was going to go to college with this thought in mind, only starting for now, waiting for seasons to cam, without wishes and without dreams. This guy had something uncommon, he was different… perhaps he wasn’t gay, but certainly he was something different. He liked being accepted, loved without questions about his most private life. David was openly gay, Jason liked better to avoid any definition, he was only Jason… you had to love Jason not the gay person that Jason could be, you had to love him, the single person without any specification… He was tender, and needed incredibly to be loved. Probably he was searching for love when he came to David to greet him for his physics prize… David was searching for something specifically gay, Jason wished only to be hugged tightly… David was tentative and doubtful but somehow he had a choice, he was not so desperate like Jason, who had no choice. For Jason there was nothing to think about… he had to go, no matter if David was gay, what Jason knew very well, in fact it was exactly because David was gay that David could have loved him. A young guy, substantially a boy, who surmounts any psychological and also relational difficulty in front of his friends to be hugged by a gay guy, just because the gay guy could love him. Perhaps David too vas searching for love and not only for sex… and Jason undertook the risk and went on… The life of these guys was something like a novel, nothing simple, nothing like play script, everything absolutely original… and their feelings weren’t so simple as I assumed. And at that time they were only 16 or 17! … Yes they experienced a lot of things I can’t even imagine… the matter isn’t about dealing with two gay guys following the play script… no! I have to deal with two young men with their personalities, their feelings, their weaknesses, I had to deal with two young men that could teach me something about life… they hadn’t be in the closet all lifelong like me, somehow they loved each other… and David accepted Jason with no doubt, with no hesitation… because he felt how strong was the love that moved Jason toward him… yes, without sex… but love is always love, you can live without sex, but you can’t live without love.
In the evening we packed everything end went away. When in the car I told them what I had had in mind and the conversation became something incredible, something very sweet, they seemed totally free, speaking without any restraint in front of me like they probably used in front of each other…
“Boys… can I tell you something”
“Of course”
“Today I learned about love a lot of things I have never taught about… I now understand that I experienced nothing at all in my life… I taught a lot of stupid things about love… and also about you I pretended to myself to be experienced in such things but I wasn’t at all… Love for me was something sex-related, no… I have to explicate it better… I never fell in love… yes sometimes I presumed to myself to be in love, but to be in love must be two and I was always alone… I never got in touch with another person, no matter if male or female, I lived only for myself… till now… and now I’m upset looking at you, you know what feelings are, not what is literature about feelings … Jason… I love you… David I love you… I don’t know what does it mean but I know that I love you… no matter if gay or whatever, I love you, you Jason and you David, like single persons… What you are is great for me, you are not like standard models of my fantasy, no! You are different and you are a lot better, you aren’t pictures or literary characters… no! You are two real men… like me… very like me. I love what you are, because my life changed into something really new, into a love life… Boys… I love you with all my heart! Thanks for giving me something so marvelous.”
“David… I can’t help crying… but for happiness… What do you think, David, are we a family?”
“I’m, very blessed with all my love life, and I can’t find out why… At that time I was upset by my coming out, yes, I was worried about my coming out, so worried that probably I never would have come out… but Jason somehow came out to me and hugged me… I was helped and saved by Jason at that time… but we had to separate… then I literally crashed into Mike… perhaps at the beginning I had something in mind but he went beyond my better wishes he made me and Jason join eventually… I have to tell I’m very lucky… perhaps I’m looking forward to college but I’m sad that we have to go to college because with you, Mike, we felt very good… perhaps you didn’t fall in love before but you know very well what love is, I think that you know it better than everyone else, perhaps instinctively, but you know it at the higher level.”
“Boys, when we get home… we have to feel forms so that I’ll send the forms by net tomorrow morning… I’ll send you a message with the responses of the college… but after filling forms you have to go to bed as soon as possible, because you have to wake up at 5.00 tomorrow morning…”
At home, we filled the forms, that wasn’t too difficult work then we said goodnight and went to bed. Next morning I had something to do, something real and necessary. I was so tired that crashed in no more than five minutes. At 5.00 the alarm clock rang, I got up and set the breakfast, and the sandwiches to take away. When David and Jason got downstairs they were tired like me and even worst, they were sleeping standing up… ate coffee, milk, some toasts and went to work, we agreed they will not resign till the official response of the college… Now I was alone with a lot of things to do… I started typing forms into the related section of the college website, then I got the enlisting numbers, the room number in the dorm, the lectures hours, the number of health insurance and so on. I took note of everything in my computer and made also a short table to give them, then I send a message: “Ok! College gave a response, everything is ok! Now you can resign, perhaps you could have to go in a couple of days … and you have to. See you at nine. Now you are enlisted.” I got no response, they had told me they had to leave the mobile in the locker room because they weren’t allowed to use it during the work shift. I had to wait till 13.00, the time they usually called me. My life was changing they were going to go in two days… in two days… I got used to them and I had to let them go… After last weekend our relationship had changed, and let them go was very hard for me, I loved them, I knew they had to go, I knew that this was the only right thing to do… let them go… but how difficult was to let them go… but I only had to encourage them, with love, with respect, with tender feelings but I only had to encourage them to go… this time I thought I had to make all this against my own feelings… no! I was wrong because my real feelings pushed me to let them go, not for me but for them. I loved them… but I loved them because they loved me, between us had started something special, we all where trustful with each other, something I never experimented before. I had only a few days to show them that I loved them… I had at least to make them feel better when going to my home… they had to feel like they were my sons and I was their father… I remembered the rule I had established in order not to get involved… I’m only Mike, not a father or something… but now every thought about prudence was over, they had to remember this latest days with me… my boys… I had a dream a lot of years ago: meet a guy to make love with… I met two lovely guys and I’m in love with them… and what a different love… You never can foresee what love may be… you spend all your life dreaming about something you think is love and finally, and absolutely by chance, you get involved in something you never could even imagine … not what you were hoping or dreaming about but something real, human, strong, something, you know it’s really love… the real love, very different from dreams… love without established rules, without defined borders… love, only love… upsetting every prevision, not something distressing, but something relaxing and nevertheless involving, something that helps you, that makes you feel alive another time… You can recognize that waiting time is over, that the time of hopes and dreams over and you are starting a love time… I had to do something to make them feel happy… yes, something to eat, something special… and also… also something to bring to college… clothes? … no… it’s too private… a camera? Suitcases? … Money? … Yes, that’s the problem, have I to tell them about money? Now they own money they earned at work… but in just a few weeks it will finish… how have I to introduce the speech about money without harming their pride? There’s a lot of problems to settle and a lot of questions to decide… Then I remembered a quote from “Another country” by James Baldwin: “there’s nothing here to decide there’s everything to accept!”. Wonderful! I loved that astonishing book, a masterwork, I think the most moving book I read, the most important book in my life… a sort of love school, something tender and touching… And now I was going to experiment what I learned there, and actually my way to love was very similar to that of the Baldwin’s novel. Nothing to worry… I have just to let them perceive my feelings, but can two 21 years old guys understand what an old man may feel… Yes the do… I think they do…
In the afternoon I cooked in the oven a big lasagna with mozzarella, meat balls, tomatoes sauce, and white sauce, and a lot of parmesan on top… they had to sniff something different… then a big salad with a lot of ingredients, from the walnuts to the oranges, from sun dried tomatoes to little mushrooms… everything was set for 8.30. This time I was waiting a little more… at 9.30 they didn’t yet come back… I was becoming a little worried, then the mobile rang… “Mike, don’t worry… we missed the bus, we’d tried to ask for a passage but everybody was gone… we don’t like hitchhiking and we caught the bus at nine… we’ll be there at 10.15… problems?”
“Not at all… but you did right calling me… I was just a little worried… I’m waiting for you at 10,15… see you”.


At 10.15 the bell rang… “Hi Mike… what a smell! Something special… another masterwork of yours! I think when in the college we have to forger such things… Mike… I don’t know what Jason thinks about … but I’ll stay here… Naturally I’m kidding but … I’m not at ease with going away… not for the college but for leaving this house… and you… Mike… I don’t know what I have to say… I’m a little sad today… I’m starting to realize what college may mean… we have to go away… and that’s not easy to accept”.
“Mike, David is right… college could be too hard for us… we had a lot of time to stay together but in college it would be very different… and we feel better here… “.
“Whatever have you in mind?”
“Nothing at all, we know we have to go, for us and also for you… we’ll certainly go but with an anger in the soul… when we missed the bus we were afraid because you had to wait for us… and now… sniffing and looking around we can see that you are here and you are here just for us… to wait for us, I was not used to someone waiting for me… someone older than me, someone who takes care of me, who waits for me, someone to talk to, to tell everything I have in mind because he will never reproach me… we’ll never find such things in college… yes we are not alone because we are two, but stay with David is something different, sometimes we have our problems, our misunderstandings and sometimes we may also feel depressed because of ithet… and no one is there to minimize all that… we have to surpass all this with only our strength… and this way it’s much more hard to do.”
“Jason… don’t overestimate me… I’m a poor man… yes, I feel better because of you… I feel I’m starting something new and important but I’m nothing more than a poor man… “
“Well… right, but that’s exactly what we need, someone real to help us to face the reality… we have a lot of wishes and a lot of dreams in mind… and you can help us to deal with real life…”.
“That’s very strange… you can’t even imagine how many wishes and dreams I have in mind… I’m not able to help anyone, I’m searching for someone who could help me… and just found out two guys who did it… because you are helping me… you are helping a lot… right, when you’ll go to college I’ll be sad, I know that very well, but you aren’t going away in order to get out from my life… no, you are going to get away just to get back… it’s very different, we’ll see probably every weekend if you like… and there is the mobile…”
“Mike… can I ask you about money, I’m sorry but it would be important.”
“Do you prefer to open a little bank account?”
“No… we prefer get here every week and get a little money for the week… this way at least we have to get back every week… we thought 300 $ a week will be enough all inclusive, also the train ticket to get back… is it possible?”
“Yeah… I thought 400$ a week… but I have to stop here”.
“Good… but 2400$ a month for the college and 1600$ a month for us are 4000$ a month can you afford such expenses? … it’s about 50.000$ a year and physics course lasts for five years…”
“I know but drying all my savings I can afford it… but you have to calculate that depending on your results, college expenses can come less than 1000$ … and I suppose you can reach this goal… one student out of three reaches this goal… and it would be about 15000$ saved… you can help studying hard in order to get out of the college as soon as possible…”
“We’ll do everything in order to save money and to study hard… I promise …. What is this? … Lasagna! Wonderful… “
“Seat down and have your dinner… and what about your resignation?”
“They accepted it right away… from now on we don’t have to go to work anymore… and about college?”
“I think we have to go there and check everything out… We can go tomorrow morning, leaving about at 6.00 we’ll be there in 60-70 minutes… we can have a breakfast and then go to the college office to set everything up.”
“Perfect… tomorrow morning…”
“That’s why you have to go to bed as soon as possible… now it’s quarter past eleven… we can discuss everything while going there… Boys… you are starting a new life… you have to be strong and clever… achieving a good physics graduation you could find also a little job within the college… and that could be in three years… and now let me tell you something else… I know very well that I have to let you build your life, yes, I know that, but you have to take for sure that I will be always with you whenever you need something, no matter what. I’m not getting rid of you, only you have to build a better future… and with a college degree you could find a better job… I don’t know what you are going to make with your life, neither I know what you, Jason, would make with your friendship with David… you are two guys… I think you’ll stay together all lifelong but if things will go otherwise nothing will change for me… each one of you means something special to me… I hope you’ll be a couple, but if things will turn otherwise you have to remember that my respect and my love will be always the same, I love you individually, not like a couple, you aren’t something similar to a symbol of something I never got… no! You are two guys I love because of what each one of you is… “
“Mike… I’m worried about college life… no one will cook for us over there… no one will show his love to us… and… oh… tomorrow we’ll go there together all the three of us… but eventually we’ll stay alone over there… that sounds bad… “.
“You have to stay with each other, you have to help each other, you have to love each other… Jason no matter if sexually or not… love is something that can exist also without sex… perhaps you could separate, your lives could take different ways… nevertheless you have to love each other, love is respect, care, affection… something that will never die… Love isn’t for now… when you’ll become older you’ll need each other much more, if it’s possible… love means no loneliness, no depression, no bad feelings, means to love and to be loved, to let the other love you… Now I understand I’m preaching far beyond the edge… Boys… come upstairs! It’s bed time! You have to wake up at five tomorrow.”
“Mike can I hug you?”…
“Certainly… you can do everything you like… Thanks, Jason, David… the three of us hugging tightly… that’s something I’ll never forget… And now straight to bed… go!”
Clearly I was deeply involved in this new adventure… will it go to an end or will it last forever, all life long? Now the college adventure… then I don’t know what, and this starting college adventure was even something hard to deal with… I wondered if it was adequate to their real situation to live together in the same college, to study together the same subjects… perhaps love needs distance. When you are alone you can be aware of your sadness, of your need of someone else, what hardly happens when you live with another person… Is love something that grows up with loneliness and decreases when you really live with the person you love? Probably I’m building such thoughts castle on my own loneliness based culture… but they are young… perhaps they need the physical presence… they hugged tightly when they met… when you hag tightly the person you love there’s something special, something physical that flows through all your body and trough all your brain, you can feel physically the presence of the other, not sexually, but physically, you can hug the body of another person, it is like you were hugging the soul of that person… they hugged me tightly… it was wonderful. But now I have to go back to more concrete problems… how to start college… and how to catch that enormous amount of money… I can’t tell them I’m afraid of all this situation I’m going to afford… Money is only a problem of mine… yes money… and I hope they will make everything at higher level to get graduated as soon as possible and also to save a lot of money… are they aware of money problem? I think not, but I have to keep it for me… Money is always an old people problem… we have to catch money and they have to spend… that’s natural, at least it seems so natural… Perhaps I could contact my former editor to agree for another book… and now I have a lot of things to write about… clearly changing nouns and situations… but I have a lot of new stuff… I’ll try tomorrow… now I only have to stay quiet and go to sleep…”
Next Morning I woke up at four and couldn’t get asleep any more. I started thinking about the day that was going to start… about the trip to the university town, about the college, but much more about what I was going to tell Jason and David… the evening before I had been satisfied of myself but I was not sure about what I was going to do or to tell next morning, I would never have broken what we had built the evening before… I was happy for the image I gave them of myself but I was afraid about what I was expected to do.
What choice could be appropriate not to destroy what the three of us just built? “It’s better to speak or to stay quiet? To show them my affection or to make an effort and keep away from too much intimacy, especially in public. To talk or not to talk, this is the problem! To talk to show them something they know very well or to keep silence, or at least a relative silence, to let them speak about whatever they like… I don’t like to give someone a bad image of myself… a wrong image of myself… no… it isn’t matter of an image… I want them to love me… I want them to be happy, with no worries and no fears at least about me… perhaps I have to let them lead the situation… I will never plan anything about my two guys, no more, they aren’t kids so that I have to play a role for them… no! They are real men… like me… they are much more younger nevertheless they are like me… perhaps not facing the oldness and such things… but facing the future they are certainly much more motivated to than me… their time is the future, my is the past… no… my time is even the future, perhaps a near future, certainly I don’t have to worry about what is going to be in 30 years… but ten years and better, to make a wish, twenty could be a future possible even for an old man like me… my two guys… are sleeping together, they aren’t making love… no they aren’t, … or somehow they are… yes probably somehow they are… and somehow I’m too… my two guys… one is gay, the other doesn’t even know himself whatever he is… but does that make any difference? … I don’t think so… Can I love them in two different ways because of their sexuality? All this sounds very absurd… love is love… and is always something reciprocal something you can’t control at all. Love… as old as I am I’m, thinking about love… what a strange situation… but what a real situation. Well, it’s time to get up!”
I set the breakfast, David and Jason got downstairs.
“Hi, Mike… how are you?
“Thanks, Jason, I’m fine and you…”.
“I’m very upset… we have to settle the college matter… and then we have to really start it and it will not be matter of a week… we have to get used to a new kind of life…
“He’s easy to get scared of everything… but when he’s in situation he gets away with everything… Well, it’s a subject on which we have to deal at some point, no matter how unpleasant it could be…”.
“Don’t worry… thousands of young people go to college every year and you are older than them … I think you have better to worry about different things you probably don’t consider at all…”
“That is?”
“I’m thinking about your new mates… and about some aspects of college life… you’ll meet young people, nice people, people who can take you in a different environment… your mates are young guys, they know nothing about you and they probably will be attracted to you, because you are older and because you are a couple, I think somehow they will realize it…”.
“Well, clearly we have to keep away from trouble… and think about our stuff… “.
“Yes, but I think there is another aspect you have to consider…”
“And what’s it?”
“I think your mates or at least someone of them could be attracted to you not only because they are nosy… someone of them could be very interested in your behave… and you have to pay attention not only in order to keep your privacy and to avoid trouble… but also not to harm them… You are a couple, or at least you somehow are a couple, you aren’t in closet to each other, but you could meet some guys that didn’t came out to anyone at all… that’s why you have to let your mates take their time. If you only mind your own you can scare them, set them out, and I think you have to be careful… do you understand?”
“Yeah!… that’s a very uncommon advice… you think someone of them… ”.
“Well I not only think but I’m sure there are a lot of gay guys over there… you have to consider that you’ll find guys and girls attending lectures but the dorm is a guys-only dorm… with about two thousand students… you have to calculate about 10% are gay… that makes about two hundred gay guys, ninety percent of them are in the closet and I think much more, they have to study hard… right, but you can take for sure they are searching something different at College…”.
“Do you mean sex?”
“Perhaps it could be… but I think a lot of other thinks, first friendship, then respect, maybe love… but they are weak like I was when I went to college many years ago. When you can see some fear signals, like hesitation, nervousness, aggressive responses, some insistence you would like to avoid, something strange whatever it could be… be careful… never react roughly, no hard words at all… give time to time… let things cool down, become less intense… it’s never too late to make mistakes… You have already passed your coming out… they could be now in the middle of the wading…”.
“What do you think would be better… I mean in order not to harm them…”
“No rules about arguments such this one… it’s your choice… you can also get wrong, yes, you can also scare or harm someone… you have only to follow your feelings and your brain… when you’ll find something you don’t understand you have to respect it… you are going to be in the midst of a lot of young people… a single smile can help, can avail, can make easier a lot of things… and when someone will flash you a smile, you have to give back a smile or better to tell something friendly or nice. Remember, when people smile at you they probably are searching for love… not for sex but for love, and people that need love, at least must be respected… ”.
“Well, Mike, and how to distinguish nosy people smiling from people who really need love? … Perhaps I’m rude but I think no one could distinguish them just at the beginning, don’t you agree?”
“Certainly… you have to be mindful that you can find nosy people spread everywhere, even without recognizing them… yes… first take care of yourselves… you’re right …”.
Breakfast was over, we jumped on the car, David was the driver and Jason sat near him on the front seat… I was in the back seat, and conversation went on while we were going on the highway, but somehow not so easily as I hoped. My arguments where too theoretical and abstract, but they were rather thinking about something concrete… and finally I was going to get back in some hours they instead had to face the real college life, their perspective was very different… I felt just at that moment how far reality could be from my dreams and also from what I used to think as my duty or my perspective on life… I was an old man, they were young guys, between us years dug an abyss, something nobody could event think to overstep, no matter whether or not you like that… the distance can’t really be reduced… starting something and come to the end are very different things… that’s why, probably, David and Jason seemed to be, or I have to say better where really in a different world. Something frightened me… was I really able to understand the two guys? If I had asked them this question they would have answered certainly… probably… yes… but I would never ask them such questions that belong only to me… old people questions… And I? What could I answer myself? Yesterday probably I’d have answered yes… but today my answer is very different… I clearly can’t understand them… I think I can play a role… not pretending to play but really playing my role, but was that for coherence or for love? They are to me what I pretend they are… no one can ever get into the soul of another human being… neither can I… My life, until some days ago, was only mine, only internal… but now I’m very perplexed… I got a flash of something new, I thought it was love, but it was only a flash of something… was it love? Can I at my age experiment something that is really love? Or I’ll only pretend to see somewhere love flashes in order to feel alive? Was I only pretending to play a role that involved something similar to love, just to keep away from loneliness and desperation? … Probably the guys needed really me to tell them something encouraging, to afford expenses they couldn’t afford… or, yes I can tell also… to love them, or just to find someone who pretends to love them… because is there any difference, on the side of the beloved person, between loving and pretending to love? Love isn’t something emotional, love is a duty, something that consists in acting like you were in love… is there any difference between loving and acting like you where loving someone? And really I think there isn’t any difference at all… if loving consists in doing everything in order to let someone feel beloved with enthusiasm and participation… and acting like you where loving someone consists in doing exactly the same things because of duty… I love them… I have to love them… I must love them…perhaps there is a difference but only from my point of view, I certainly don’t have to worry about such differences that involve only myself… I have to hide this thoughts and to keep them to myself… loving my boys or at least avoiding to hate them, because sometimes when love can’t grow up it becomes hate… hate that is confused with love, that is hidden under a coat of love… but hate really exists, not hate because of the guys… no… hate because of the concrete situation… I’d liked it to happen many years ago when this dudes hadn’t even been born… at that time everything could have happened, today is no more my time … gay or not I’m going to my end, I have nothing to start just something to complete…
Suddenly I asked them: “Do you think we can really get in touch with each other? Because I think we can’t… somehow we can’t”. Jason looked at me right in my eyes… “Somehow we can’t… but somehow we can… we somehow need you… we have really something to share… perhaps we can’t understand everything now but we need you, we need exchanging ideas, getting your experiences, knowing how an older man can afford his problems … don’t mind if I speak about you as an older man, we need you just like an older man… we too are somehow worried about how to get in touch with you… it’s something we aren’t already used to, … no… never think you aren’t able to get in touch with us… you are much older than our parents… but we prefer to stay with you… we feel much more free and also much more the object of your thoughts… you know how to take care of us, respecting us…”
“Jason… things are probably much more complicated … I think my good feelings dried years ago… I’m not really involved in your story… I told a lot of things… I promised a lot of things like I was really involved but I’m not… I’ll certainly do everything I told … but I take it for duty, for gay duty, if you like, but for duty… I’m not really involved… I think I pretend to be involved but I’m not… do you understand what the problem is?”
“Mike… do you remember James Baldwin’s novel “Another country”?
“Of course… yes… I know that book by heart…”
“Do you remember the quote: There is nothing here to decide but everything to accept?”
“Of course… I remember…”
“Well there is nothing here to understand or to think about but everything to accept… “
“Yeah… perhaps it’s true… I’m confused, I don’t know what to say… an old man in a strange situation… “
“No… nothing strange… love isn’t strange… or love is always strange…”
“… nothing to decide … everything to accept… right… when I read that sentence it seemed to me like I could accept it as something that belonged deeply to me… but between reading a book and deal with real life there’s an enormous difference… that sentence sounds today very different to me… probably you take it now just as I took it many years ago… you are something like myself when I was your age… If you had met me like I was many years ago, probably we had had the same feelings, the same thoughts… but between me and you there is an entire life you don’t know at all… something that I could share with you but you probably couldn’t understand at all because it’s matter of too many years ago… I think I envy your youth … I think old people envy young people… It could seam something bad… but probably it’s the truth… I would have met you when I too was young… but I’m no more… “
“Mike… how were you, when you where our age?
“I can’t even remember… probably… I wasn’t like you are now… no… when I was young everything was different… probably because I was different… but, yes, I think a lot of things where really different… At that time talking about being gay was impossible… you couldn’t even think about… I had friends… yes I had also a thing for someone of them… but they had their own life… girls, dating… and so on… at that time everybody was straight acting no matter if gay or not… was a general rule and you couldn’t even think to brake the rule… I used to keep out of my friends… yes, sometimes we went to the parties, sometimes to the cinema, but I didn’t like to stay with them too much… the less we used to know each other the less I was frightened about being detected… and being detected at that time was a very unpleasant affair…”
“Did you ever fall in love with someone?“
“Yeah… it happened… but he wasn’t a gay guy…”
“Too bad…”
“No! … I think if he had been a gay guy it couldn’t have been better… I think he loved me… his way, clearly… we spent a lot of time together… chatting about nothing on the phone… or in the car… I was happy… I think we were happy… something tender, honest, clear… something absolutely particular…”
“Did he know?”
“Certainly and there was no need to tell him anything… he told me that this way he was aware I had a better reason to love him really…”
“And now where is this guy? … I think he’s very extraordinary…”
“Yes, really he is… where? He went to Europe many years ago… he married, had children… I think now he’s happy…”
“But are you still in touch?”
“Yes, we are… I never call him but he calls me one or two times a week… and I think he’s happy to hear me…”
“How many years it lasted?
“It never came to an and, I think it will last all lifelong… when he married he didn’t stop to call me at least one or two times a week.. and so on for years… for his children I was something like an uncle… his wife was, I think, a clever woman…”
“Do you think he told his wife about you?”
“No… certainly he didn’t… not in order to hide something from his wife… no… only to avoid me to feel out of place…”
“Mike… is this story true?”
“I thought you could have created it for me… there’s something similar to my story with David…”
“Yes… while I was speaking I taught the same… but no… the story is really true… and I can assure you that some way we were in love and we are even now… we were friends… but very best friends… you know when you feel the love of another person? …. Sometimes when he calls me we speak like lovers… as old as we are… he told me: I need you… I really need you… I was looking forward to these minutes of conversation… I really love you Mike… you know very well… Just next year he’s been seek for months and I flied to Europe because I thought he was going to die… he was affording a very bad time, in the hospital with the oxygen mask, he wasn’t always conscious… when he was aware of himself he opened his eyes and looked straight at me and started crying … I was there holding his hand and repeating: you’ll get out of all this trouble, I’m sure you’ll get out… and I was terribly afraid about my own words because they seemed too much inappropriate to a similar situation… I pried Lord not to get him away… it would have been terrible if he would have gone… but month after month he become more and more healthy and finally doctors told us he was ready to go home… Jason I think that day was the better day for me… three weeks later I was newly at home… I think that someway my life was happy because of him… like now I’m happy because of you… You know? When someone loves you… then you become very different… you are happy, no matter sex or whatever…. Love is love… “
“How are you Mike?”
“Fine thanks…”
“Did black clouds go away?”
“I think yes… Thanks… Jason… you have something really similar to my friend… he used to deal with me the same way… and you, David, are now experimenting something I knew many years ago… boys… I think you are really in love… like I was at that time… because if you are in love you are happy and I think you are really happy… Nothing is better than loving and being loved… “
“But when we’ll feel depressed with no one around to let us be happy… I think it would be hard to deal with our feelings… and I think you too will feel at least just a little depressed without us… Mike… I noticed that you avoid every physical contact with us… isn’t it?”
“Yeah… it is…”
“I think you are worried not to scare us about something that could sound like something sexual… but… perhaps we might need also holding hands… “
“Jason… I don’t know what to say… perhaps you are right but I’m really not used to such things… there is something risky… I have to set rules and to follow what I stated… I’m not so sure about myself that I can feel free to hold hour hands… I’d like it very well… but I must keep the distance… avoid whatever could be too much involving… I have to keep my feelings under control… you have to trust me and I must respect my rules… you are for me something religious, something I have to warship… you are two guys that trust me… is there something more important? … If I have to love you I have also to respect the rules…”
“Well… if that’s true why did you let us hag you?”
“That’s a different thing… I will never stop you… that’s very different… “
“And if I would hag you right here and now?”
“You have not to… it wouldn’t be something spontaneous… no I wouldn’t accept it… it could sound strange to me… it sounds strange to me…“
“Jason… tell Mike about what we were discussing last night…”
“Oh… “
“What is it?”
“Nothing important… just about the remote possibility you could ask for something more physical…”
“I don’t understand…”
“David told me if you had asked him something sexual he perhaps could have done it… and perhaps I would have done the same… it would be like a love exchange… something possible…“
“Jason… please hold your tongue… now… fortunately you are going to land to the university… far from me… and I think that this is the best thing in order not to get out of rules… This things are totally out… remember it’s not because you are much or less complying that I keep away from such things… it’s only by my choice… The fantasy is something very different from real life… I would never waste our friendship, or whatever it is, just to fulfill what is no more than a simple fantasy that I have better to keep for myself or even better to delete at all… and I think perhaps I’ll delete it at all, honestly I’m not yet at this point but I’m not so far from it… it’s a very difficult problem to deal with but our family, so to tell, it’s too much important and I’m really aware of it.”
“Mike… I apologize for my stupid thoughts…”
“ No! You don’t have to apologize for nothing at all… the problem is that this thoughts aren’t really so stupid… I think they are very important… but I have to tell you whatever I think about… remember, Jason… I think I can feel free to tell you whatever I have in mind only if you feel free to tell me whatever you have in mind… never avoid anything just because you think it could sound strange to me… And if you find out there is something I could hide from you because I think… I think you aren’t able to understand it… How could you react? No! Nothing to hide… no more… we… you and me have a lot of experience about hiding something from people… we never have to hide something form each other… it’s not a question of kindness or urbanity… no! Nothing similar between us… we have to feel with each other just as we feel with ourselves… I don’ know what you think about but now, I’m experimenting a freeing sensation… nothing to hide… speak clearly about everything… and then, I’m an older man end you are young guys but I have to consider you exactly as I consider myself, you aren’t too much young to understand me… no! You are able to understand everything… good or bad… I was going to add “at least I think you are able”… but not! Such expression would mean that perhaps you are not… and now I’m aware you really are… and I think you have to think that I’m able to understand whatever you could tell me… otherwise there could be no love at all, no friendship, nothing at all… We have to trust each other otherwise we have better take each his own way… isn’t it?”
“Mike… now you can get angry, if you like, but I have to tell you that I feel a little… I don’t know how to say… too strange, too inappropriate… shortly too stupid… David pretends he’s asleep … and I feel so stupid because I told you what we told each other last night… I had better to keep everything for me… because he’s pretending to sleep… this way he lets me explore the ground… and you, Mike, are just too much assertive… I can appreciate what you told me, but I think something sensual is too much necessary to love someone, but it seems you don’t care about it at all… David and I aren’t lovers… yes, but we have some physical contact… isn’t it David? David… wake up! … sometimes he hugs me or holds my hand or caress my hair… not too much… never too much… but he knows I need it and he does it for me… I know very well that such things are hard to take under control for him but nevertheless he knows I need it and he complies… Mike, don’t you understand me?
“Jason… oh my God… you are terrible… I can imagine how you can stress the poor David… and you are now making the same with me… No! … You are wrong… there isn’t any theoretical problem… David is David and I’m Mike… you can obviously get in touch with him the way you like better, you are two young guys… you can build your life together… sex or whatever, you are searching for love and you’ll find it… but I’m and older man… boys… you can’t understand…”
“You told us just five minutes ego that there was nothing we weren’t able to understand… didn’t you?”
“Right… I did… Jason you are a little fox!… but why are we keeping on talking about sex or whatever… there are a lot of things to talk about…”.
“Are you afraid to talk about sex? … yes… you are… that sounds strange to me, I’m not scared at all… probably I would never make love with a male but absolutely I’m not worried about sex discussions… but you are scared, Mike… I think you are…”.
“Jason… you are terrible and I’m looking forward to starting academic year… this way I could be safe and not worried at all… you are very terrible… but don’t you know that for an aged man such things are out of touch… don’t you understand what’s the difference? … yes… right, you are young… David is young… but I’m not… we, David and I, are gay nevertheless our life is very different, my sun is going to set down… and he’s going to start… do you know the difference? … became and old man… dealing everyday with the idea of getting ill… of being able to face the death… that’s what you don’t understand at all… you only think about sex or not sex… sorry, about love… oh… yes… it’s much more high level matter… but you never think that time flows and you can’t stop it… I was young years ago but I’m no more… what’s my future? the future I’m going to really face? … do you understand what I’m trying to tell you? …”
“Somehow… perhaps… but… perhaps I don’t really understand… really… I think I don’t understand at all… probably it’s impossible… well… I feel stupid pretending I can understand… but neither you are able to understand us… perhaps you remember something that happened to you years ago… but sex isn’t eventually your real fife now… that means it’s not your real life… because what was real in the past is no more real now… perhaps neither love is your real life now… I think I’m too rough but it’s what I have in mind just now… sorry Mike… I wasn’t allowed… sorry…”
“… Jason… I don’t know what to say… I’m really perplexed… probably you are right and I can’t even feel something similar to love… because I’m too much deep in my thoughts… too much selfish… I’m pretending that I love you but perhaps I’m very far from all this… I thought it by myself… you entered an open door… you probably are right… well… and then? What to do next… so are things… good… I only have to accept… I can’t change anything.”
“I think you can… something at least… certainly you can… “
“I don’t understand… is there something I missed?”
“No… but I have to ask a question…”
“Go ahead…”
“Not now… if I need it… could I touch you? Hag you? Take you hand? … This way you can’t even think whether I could like it or not… it would be my choice, only my choice…”
“Obviously you can make everything you like… but I’d like better not… you have nothing to experiment… I love you… at least I try…”
“Yes, right, but you take it as a must… and this sounds strange to me… you aren’t really free, you don’t even feel free… and I have to say I’m not totally at ease with you… I feel like you were keeping me away… I don’t like the idea of scaring you… But you could make something better for us not keeping us away … because you do… you really do… with love… with care at least, but you really do… Did you ever think about taking my hand or David’s, to hag us tightly, to make us feel you really exist? … yes… it would be more difficult to deal with all that stuff but we don’t mind at all…”
“Jason… no… perhaps you can understand, perhaps you can’t even tolerate my behavior that probably seams to you something that comes from fear or whatever… but I have to go on this why… I must to go on this way… you are a couple… really you are… I’m a friend… a gay friend… a gay old friend… and if I have to preserve this strange kind of love I must keep on this way… no matter what your feelings could be now… no… we must work for the future, for your future, probably also for mine… but it’s different… it’s very different… Jason, if I had found guys like you when I was young, things would have been different… but I didn’t … if it had happened probably my life would have been completely different… but nothing similar happened… that time was time of fear… of loneliness … do you understand how your freedom, that you consider so little, is different from the absolute closeting of that times? But that years where my years… and now my time could never restart… “.
“Why are you holding our youth against us? What did we against you? We too will come to face oldness if God wants, if now we are young you can’t blame upon us… can’t you discover what’s common between us? … I think there’s a lot in common, why are you trying to emphasize your oldness… to hold you oldness against us?”.
“Jason… you probably can’t even understand how difficult it could d be for Mike to deal with all the situation… no… we have to understand… and now we aren’t able to… it will take time… I think college is really a good idea… just in order to accept ourselves… we have to experiment what it could be to need Mike … and he has to do the same with us… we have to get used to each other… step by step… we too have to learn how to love him… and to use to much words isn’t useful, to build a lot of thoughts, of theories of abstract reasoning could only distress us … understanding has nothing to do with thoughts, understanding is a matter of love, not of brain… Mike… why are you still? Did we hurt you?”
“I have nothing to hold against you… nothing at all… neither my oldness… and, right, chatting a lot about such questions may only unnerve you… you are right… I’m speaking only about myself something that really has nothing to do with love… I’m not used to love tings… but I have to learn… really it will take its time… but… I don’t think that going to the college will help… no… we need to get used to each other we need to stay together… to feel free… to make mistakes… just as like I did two minutes ago… I’m not perfect, I’m a real man, with a lot of… how I could tell you… with a lot of doubts, of ambiguities, I’m selfish… I’m really selfish like people used to be to bear loneliness, I never had children, or relatives at all…, only myself… and you, right and you, … you know, It’s very boring to deal with an older man like I’m… I’m what I’m… yes, selfish, why not… and you have to take me like I’m… You can reproach me, if you have to, but never be angry with me… I can make a lot of mistakes… but I can’t help it…”
“Jason… how are you?”
“I feel really strange… I had in mind that it could have been easier than that… I feel like a stupid who presumes to understand everything and isn’t even able to really let you tell what you have in mind… I feel like a stupid boy… Mike I would never…”
“Stop! … No! you have nothing to add? Did you hear what David told just now? … Never too much words… I love you Jason… you have to take it for granted… and now you have to think only about college… you have to get rid of all the thoughts that aren’t about college… you can take everything else for granted… I’m just waiting for you to come back home graduates … right Jason?”
“Right… but I’m afraid I couldn’t achieve the goal… I think it could be too much difficult for me…”
“Nothing is too much for you… David and I will support you anyway…”
“But I’m scared all the same…”
“No matter scared or not you have to face all the problems college will imply… and let me tell you clearly: all the students face the same problems and all of them are scared starting college… you aren’t going to start nothing such strange or difficult… it’s a normal thing for guys you age… isn’t it?
“Right… it is… “.
Our journey was going to the end, we went out of the highway and ten minutes later we entered the campus…


… it was 7.00 o’clock and we had two hours to spend waiting for the admission office to open… we went to the campus cafeteria… something decent, not really exceptional… then we did a tour of the campus… there was a list of student organizations recognized by the student government association: Geography, Architecture, Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, Theatre, Pool Sharks, Sigma Nu fraternity, Volley Club… whatever you like… but a gay community… about 2.300 students and no gay club… but it’s a coeducational University… about 1.200 male students… at least one hundred gay students… and no gay club…
“Guys… noting about gay life here… you can find everything but gay association… it sounds a little strange… you must be careful… isn’t it?”
“Yeah… You’re right… Mike… I don’t feel at ease here… “
“Yeah… I understand but you have no choice… It will be hard to deal with but you must learn as soon as possible how to behave in this campus… let’s go to the dorm …”, while we were going there, the conversation went about gay organizations…
“Mike, what do you think about gay organizations?”
“Gay rights associations?”
“Gay organizations, in my opinion… right, made something good letting people understand that gay people exist… showing gay people in the streets… but I think some of them are much interested in something else… in politics, in making money with parties and public happenings… somehow in using gay people for different purposes… I don’t like such associations… they perhaps make the gay situation even worst… because people commonly associates their shows in the streets with being gay… but sometimes they go much more ahead… naked happenings in the streets… using scandal like an instrument against something… and this way there are a lot of people that could never understand that gay isn’t something abnormal… like walking naked in the streets… gay is something normal … but this way people will never associate the gay name wit normality… and I think that would be something wrong… completely wrong…”
“But there are gay associations that aren’t this way… I got one in Canada… yes about an adult site… but everything was public except writing in the discussion board … on this board a lot of people posted regularly… and something very interesting… nothing to do with pornography… One of them got sick and needed money for surgery… and they paid for him… immediately and went there to support him and his family… they prayed Lord for him a lot… hoping for him to recover immediately… he was going to die just before the surgery… and his friends where really destroyed… then… after five days… his brother posted a message that surgery was over and he was recovering quickly… They made a party… and put pictures on the board and they were really happy… such things are real… it really happens…”
“Certainly… and it happens when there isn’t any other purposes in gay associations… but when politics or money are mixed to gay world… the mix risks to be explosive… I think”
“You’re right… you’re right…”
We went there… it was quite a good room with a private bathroom with a shower… two beds, two desks, two little closet with drawers… they were quite pleased… no people around… just something for them… only for them… we unpacked and set everything to the right place… it was easy… each of them got a key… a security key… I was doing everything as it was for me… but I was aware I had to go in the evening… and never go back there… or at least only exceptionally… their new life was going to star and my old life was going to restart… what was going on was the beginning for them and was the end for me… the end? … no, not exactly… my life really changed into something new… I had firs of all to earn money… a lot of money… and for a retired man like me it was very difficult to get newly in touch with my old editors to propose a new book… and what a book? … One of my usual love books … or something new, something absolutely new? It was a problem? How would my old editor accept a new line? Was such a choice according to the marketing? And also… had I better to keep my feelings for myself, for David and Jason… or had I to write thinking also to the people, the gay people? The young gay people and also the older gay people… I newer proposed to my editor a gay novel… I wrote five or six… yes but for me… only for me… and published nine novels about being two… in the straight meaning… even those novels were really gay novels… but no one read them in the right way… this time I had to get out myself… as a gay writer… because I’m… I’ll choose to write not for the public but for gay people… at least I can understand them a little better… and perhaps they could also read something real about gay life… my story… my real story that was damned to finish with my life… but I have something to tell gay people… I have to tell them that our world is a good one and no one has to be worried about being gay… in the world people make a lot of horrible things to gay people… but we never will be defeated… Well, that’s my way to keep in touch with David and Jason… that’s how I have to put in practice what I learned from them… All this thoughts were already well defined in my mind… and perhaps I would face also gay-organizations… because I’m non at ease with some of them…
Eleven o’clock… everything was set up… forms had been signed… university documents had been delivered to David and Jason… nothing else lasted to do… we had to go for lunch at 13.00… out of the campus… we could have booked also to the campus self-service… but I had to keep out… Campus wasn’t really crowded… we went to see the Physics building… an enormous building that smelt strange… like paraffin or oil… courses hadn’t started yet and David and Jason had four days to learn everything about campus life… My God… they were scared… too big buildings, too formal service, everything out of their usual range… The dorm like a hotel… the laboratories like something strange… the library like an enormous hall where an unreal silence reigned… and a few people moved without a word… My God… they were scared… we got out of the library…
“Mike… I never would have imagined such things… it’s terrifying… “
“Jason… no… it’s all normal… this is an university… a lot of smoke… a little roast… you have to remember that students that come here come from high school… therefore you have nothing to be worried about…”.
“But it seems the culture temple…”
“ No… culture has nothing to do with awards, or grades or colleges…”
“I don’t think so…”.
“Culture has only to do with how you can deal with the world… culture is respect and love… sometimes respect and love that are very hard to accept … when experiences are different, social conditions are different… feelings are different… it’s very hard to respect and love someone else… it’s not a spontaneous thing… you must be training yourself, you must force yourself … if you don’t you have nothing to do with culture no matter if you got a PHD or whatever… clearly… here you can study physics at an higher lever… yes it’s also the temple of culture somehow… but of a specific culture not of the Culture with capital letter… I’m very rhetoric today… sorry, this is a strange day for me… Jason, David… tell me a word… perhaps you aren’t at ease… well… I’m sorry… My God, we are spending this way the last day together… no… I’m not at ease now… perhaps I have to go straight now… “
“We are not used to such things … David and I … yeah… I’m not at ease… it seems that everything we did till now is going to vanish… also our feelings with each other seam vanish… word after word… it’s terrible… its’ physically terrible… it’s strange… I don’t like such feelings… when we were at the lake everything seemed to go well… now… the atmosphere is very different… “
“Well I think I’m going now… “
“Mike… no! … “
“You’re right… no…”
“Thanks… I don’t know why but I can’t help crying… it’s terrible… it’s terrible…”
“What’s terrible?”
“You told we were a family… but we are not… we are only strangers to each other… it was too much difficult for you to deal with us… that’s why you send us here… to get reed of us… yes clearly a quite fairly way to get read of us… but what have you in common with us… you are an older man… you hate young people because young people remind you of your totally wasted life… yeah we are young today… and you’ll be never more… that’s true… David … I will never stay in this campus spending his money… his money not our money… He’s buying us… is not a friend of us… I don’t stand him any more… we are going to became his slaves… don’t you understand? David! … I hate him … what are you waiting for… you have to choose or with me or with him… perhaps we can catch some job… but our job… David! You have to choose… now! or nevermore!”
I started walking away… sadly, slowly… Jason cried and yelled out against David. David wasn’t even able to answer… I was terrified… but kept walking away… nothing happened… I turned the corner… I was destroyed… What had I to do? … Never get involved in someone else’s live… I repeated to myself … I wasn’t even sad about myself … a lot of money wasted … for nothing… and even worst I had destroyed the love story of David and Jason… two gay guys … yes… but how far from me… just another country, another world… a world I wasn’t even allowed to approach… their world not mine… I waited for a few minutes but nothing happened… I would have got back… but there was a total silence now… everything had ended up in a minute… then I got back really but no one was there, the guys had vanished, the silence was total… I felt devastated… got back to my car and went home. My God… I was upset… I told them how difficult it could be to respect and to love someone very far from you… two gay guys that hated me… how was it possible? … then I remembered that I had their mobile numbers… had I to call Jason… perhaps in order to scare him even more… had I to try to recover the situation or to let them go their way? … I entered the highway… my brain was upset… I was searching for something wrong clearly from their own point of view because from my own I had nothing to hide from myself… what could have let the bomb burst? It was a money problem? Or a dignity problem? Or both of them? And was there something to do? When at home I went upstairs to the green room, that one of Jason and David… everything was empty. Steps echoed in the late afternoon… everything was in perfect order… the bed… the single bed… it seemed like David and Jason never entered the room… only an unusual amount of food in the fridge reminded me that it wasn’t a dream… only the food in the fridge and two numbers in my mobile… nothing else… I was hoping to receive a call from them… but I was hoping also just the contrary… life has its rules and I had broken that rules… everything is mechanical, no matter what you want or what you like, as usually there is nothing here to decide, there’s everything to accept…
The night came, my soul was empty, an absolute quiet invaded me, physically and emotionally… my old life restarted with all its emptiness and its usual nothingness… I only had to come back to myself… my guys were out not at college as I, not they, planned… where were they now? I wasn’t even allowed to ask… they had gone their way… and all my getting afraid of their future was worth nothing… they had gone… perhaps not David… but he had to go to follow his friend and he did exactly so… not a word to add… he had to go… and Jason that shy boy… what was he hiding in his soul? … Fear, I think just fear… fear of everybody… I probably scared him… He perhaps couldn’t even imagine everything was real… yes probably I was getting reed of them sending them to the college… but… had I really thought about buying their souls? … No… I think I never did… but he was scared all the same… no matter my thoughts… only his thoughts where worth not mine… and I never asked really them about their future… the telephone rang… my heart skipped a beat but it was only a friend of mine to ask for a wedding party… I told him I was sick and I had to go to the hospital to take care of my high blood pressure… but…, I had to ad this “but”, but my doctor told me I could get back home in two or three days… When I hung up I was perplexed… I never lied to a friend… I wasn’t a liar… I only had to stop that conversation, I wasn’t able to stand it… I had to go back to Jason… was he really hating me? For fear or whatever else but was he really hating me? … And David that poor David who was desperate… the mobile rang… David!!! … Oh my God!
– Hallo Mike… we are in our room at college… Jason has been crying desperately all the day long… I’m very concerned and worried… it was impossible to calm him down… he cried desperately, shivered… Mike… I think he’s not able to control himself … I never saw him this way… Mike, I fear for his mental health, he seems panic-stricken… I’m worried he could commit suicide… Mike… come here… come here Mike… now… immediately… perhaps it could help… perhaps it could help… now Mike… now… I’ll call you … I have to go now…
– I’ll get there as soon as possible…
I jumped off the bed and three minutes later I was newly riding my car… I had to go there as soon as possible… I had to go there… and I was frightened… how to help… was Jason really aware of himself? … He was probably stressed… he had a lot of problems to deal with… He wasn’t a boy… he was a real man with all his problems… a man who was never a boy… a desperate man… my brain started melting… but I had to control myself… I got finally out of the highway and turned to the campus … David called back …
– Where are you?
– Just parking the car…
– I can see you from my window… stop in the hall… you are not allowed to come to our room till seven o clock… nevertheless I could ask the receptionist to let you go… you only have to show him your documents… ok?
– Ok.
A second later the receptionist’s telephone rang… he nodded me to approach the desk and give him documents… then he put my license into a mail box with the number 891 and gave me a form to sign with all the rules visitors had to follow… then showed me the lift and told only “eighth floor”. I nodded him back and entered the lift… while rising mi heart skipped another beat… David was waiting for me on the door… he let me in and closed the door. Jason was on his bed fully clothed… but his clothes seamed dirty and moody… his eyes where closed… I took hold of his hand… he instinctively withdrew the hand but the opened his eyes and started crying and gripped my hand tightly… I think heaven can’t be so much different from that moment… then I caressed his forehead and his hair… he was going to tell something but I nodded to be quiet because it was a quarter past five… he nodded back… David sat down nearby… Jason started newly crying, I took hold of the tip of his nose and he flashed me his sweetest childish smile. Not a single word was spoken till seven o’clock then the bell rang in the corridor and some noise started being heard…
“I’ll wait for you down the hall and we’ll go for breakfast… take your time…”.
Ten minutes later they were in the all … shaved and smiling… the receptionist gave me back my license and we went for breakfast… Jason in the middle, David on his right and I on his left. The night, an horrible night was over and I was tired as hell… the coffee helped, I would have had another coffee but I didn’t… my hearth beat was regular as if nothing had happened at all… Jason was silent… I had to break that silence…
– Jason… I’m happy now…
– I’m happy too… happy, really…
– I don’t know what to tell…
– Mike…
– Yes…
– Can you stay here a couple of days?
– Certainly… no problem…
– Good… Mike… am I mad… something pathological? Tell me the truth…
– You need love… all of us need love… and am I something pathological when I can’t even live without Jason and David? … Certainly… somehow I’m something pathological… right… but I need love… nothing else… I need love… just like you Jason… just like you…
– Sometimes I feel like I were upset by your presence… I need love… yes but I don’t even understand what love could be… it’s hard to me to accept you can love us… love not lust after… just love…
– Jason… I don’t know if…
– No, Mike, no! Just love… nothing else… loving David or at least be friends with David is something usual… I can understand or I think I can understand why he loves me… he can at least pursue his own purpose… but you Mike… what are you searching for? Why are you here now? … I had to put you down yesterday… I had to… but then I felt terrible… Why? Do you know why? … Just stay here a couple of days… and I’ll find out why… I think I’ll find out…

The end


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On the novel Maurice by Edward Morgan Forster check:
On the Film Maurice directed by James Ivory check:
As usually, when I speak about literature or cinema I prefer to send readers to competent and appropriated websites and I specifically like to keep for me the gay aspects of the book and the film. If, from my point of view “Another country” by James Baldwin represents the number one, “Maurice” by E.M. Forster represents the number two, if not another number one ex aequo. When I read this novel for the first time I experimented the exciting sensation of having between my hands a book that would be always on my bedside table. The book is extraordinarily moving. Maurice and Clive, his mate at college, start an homosexual relation, that seems a destined history of long-lasting and deep love to being, but Clive is an ambitious aristocratic young man and chooses to sacrifice the love on the altar of the political career that as homosexual he wouldn’t be allowed to start, he goes further to pretend to fall in love with a girl and to marry her. Maurice and Clive will continue to meet only in a formal way but the first love story of the book went to the end. Maurice, invited from Clive in his estate, knows the Clive’s wife but above all he gets in touch with another young man, a game warden, Scudder. While the aristocratic friends of Clive deal Scuder as a servant and humiliate him giving him little money, Maurice just from the first moment deals with him with respect never caring about social differences and the two of them understand that for them something very different is going to start. In a shadow night Scudder enters the window of Maurice’s room and they make love, the moment is thrilling but next morning Maurice is attacked from the doubt that Scudder could blackmail him, Maurice and Scudder will end up to speak each other clearly and to understand that they are essential to one another. Scudder is to leave as emigrating and Maurice is desperate, he needs to see him, to speak to him, but he does not succeed to that, he goes to the wharf where the steamboat is going to leave but Scudder is not there, then Maurice remembered that they had spoken about the possibility of meeting in the remittance of the boats of Clive’s estate, he goes there as soon as he can and Scudder is really there, he didn’t go away, Maurice is happy so that he can’t even speak And since Maurice did not speak, indeed could not, hi added, “And now we shan’t be parted no more, and that’s finished.”
The last chapter of the book has the bitter taste of the revenge or of the contrappasso of Dante: Clive can see of the happiness of Maurice, he knows that Maurice made the right choice and that he will be in love with Scudder in a reciprocal love affair, while he, aristocratic social climber, will have to go to bed with a beautiful girl whom he does not love and whose life he will ruin in order to follow his ambitions. The novel introduces two characters who represents the gay morality (Maurice) and the gay immorality (Clive). Maurice is a “honest gay” who when falls in love can’t love without getting completely involved and is not inclined to loose love and happiness no matter what he could get in exchange, he loves Scudder and that’s why he affords real risks, putting apart chaste privileges, Clive is the “dishonest gay” who don’t hesitate to set his sexuality apart to get in exchange social privileges, he’s just selling himself to get social prestige. Every dialectic is impossible between these two characters who are the incarnation of the good and the evil under the gay perspective. And about Scudder, who’s not a low range character, I can say that he represents for Maurice the opportunity, the only occasion in order to exit from the limbo of the sublimation. Scudder puts in practice the first real sexual initiatives and in making it he risks a lot and also Scudder has a high morality, a gross man could have used the arm of blackmail but this thought does not grazes him at all not even when he understands that this is just what Maurice is thinking about, he gives him a strong morality lesson reproaching him fur his suspicion of being object of such a low action from his part. Maurice will understand. In the book as in the film there are also more common or strange elements like the doctor that thinks clearly that the homosexuals doesn’t even exist, but these are for sure contour elements. The book is a masterwork because it outlines for the first time the many deep lines of a gay morality, the morality of the respect, of the deep love, of never selling yourself. This novel and the film directed by Ivolry deserve a special attention from the gay part, because if Forster has written many masterworks for the others, he wrote Maurice for himself and also for us. For a gay person, to read Maurice and to see the film are fundamental experiences. Personally I can only say that this book and this film have been very important in my moral formation.
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