GAY GUYS AND PREVENTION OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES

Here below you can read the first part of chapter 18 of the Textbook on Homosexuality by Gay Project, you can easily download it here, absolutely free, unfortunately at the moment only in Italian:
http://gayproject.altervista.org/manuale…ualita.pdf
The chapter can also be heard in voice (only in Italian) on the Gay Project Radio website, at:
http://progettogayradio.blogspot.it/2013…zione.html
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From “GAY PROJECT HOMOSEXUALITY TEXTBOOK” – CHAP. 18

GAYS AND PREVENTION

It has been rightly pointed out that sex education cannot be reduced to alerting young people to the risks associated with sexuality (unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases) but must take the fundamental task of contributing to individual well-being increasing the value of the pleasure as a means to improve the quality of life. Certainly we cannot disagree with such a statement, however, it remains that, in particular about sexual education of gay guys, the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases plays an absolutely fundamental role. Let us now try to understand why.

We start from data updated to 2012, which come from the Italian Higher Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità):

In Italy in 2011, there are 94.146 cases of HIV infections treated (HIV-positive and AIDS), adding the estimated share of unaware HIV-positive people, the number rises to 156.910.

The causes of transmission of the virus are divided as follows:

37.2% heterosexual relationships
28.5% injective users of substances
27.7% homosexual relationships between males

At first glance one gets the impression that heterosexual relationships are now even more dangerous than homosexual ones but it should be kept in mind that heterosexuals are about 92% of the population, while homosexual males are about 4%, so 92% of population, composed of heterosexuals, contributes 37.2% to the total number of infections, while 4% of the population, composed of homosexual males, contributes 27.7%. As a result, male homosexuals have a statistical probability of becoming infected with HIV which is 17.3 times higher than that of heterosexuals. The number 17.13 represents the so-called risk ratio gay on hetero for male subjects in Italy, but if we look at Europe, the risk ratio goes well beyond this number. In essence, statistically the risk of contracting HIV for gay males is “much” higher than for straight males.

That’s why, for gays, education to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is absolutely essential.

Obviously it is doctors’ competence to explain in detail the techniques of disease prevention and therefore it is right to refer to the site of the Ministry of health that contains updated information shared by the scientific community. The Internet addresses of the site of the Ministry of Health and of the most accredited Organizations dealing with the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases can be found at the end of this chapter.

I would like to proceed now, on the basis of the experience gained in Gay Project, to analyze three different documents pertaining to the issue of prevention related to different age groups and different personal situations. The first document, very brief, regards the younger boys and their approach to sexuality and prevention, the second is a testimony of how we can move from a substantially dissipated life, spent in the search for false satisfactions, to a life lived with a very solid moral commitment. The third document concerns the fear of being HIV-positive that hangs a guy 19 years old but also witnesses a beautiful friendship born between two gay guys with the only purpose of doing a stretch of their own road together with the certainty of not being alone.

So let’s start from the approach to sexuality of the very young guys.

It happens to me, even if not very frequently, to chat with very young guys who are becoming aware of their being gay. The contents of these chats are often very different from the typical chat content with older guys. With the younger guys I often find myself faced with the need to make people understand:

1) that being gay has nothing to do with “doing this or that” in terms of sex, but it means in the first place to love another guy,

2) that the exasperated research of sexuality in too early age is not a sign of affective maturity but exactly the opposite,

3) that sexuality is not a game,

4) that the couple sexuality is substantially different from masturbation because it is not about dealing with one’s own fantasies but with a real guy and with his psychological reality, that is about creating serious affective relationships,

5) that feelings need time to grow and a guy who, as soon as he knows you in chat, tells you that he is in love with you, isn’t really looking for you but just for a bit of sex,

6) that having sexual intercourses can entail serious risks to health and that the use of condom is always and absolutely essential,

7) that in networked contacts it is necessary to be cautious, we must avoid in the most absolute way to give unknown people cell phone numbers, telephone numbers, home addresses or other elements for personal identification.

If on the one hand it is natural that very young guys tend to explore sexuality, there is on the other the risk that “curiosity” becomes the only or the main motivation towards sexuality. From the interviews it is clear that the youngest gay guys have practically no comparison with reliable adult people on the subject of sexuality and homosexuality in particular. A lot of guys are very shy and embarrassed so that a dialogue (that is, a two-way conversation) is in fact impossible, usually I’m the only one who speaks trying to expose the contents that seem to me of greater interest on the basis of the few words exchanged with the interlocutor. In some cases, about 50%, we get to an open dialogue but not immediately, and it is clear that the guys are not used to talk about sexuality in a serious way. In some cases a climate of trust is created and the dialog becomes less theoretical and much more personal.

When very young guys, who start by setting up all the talk on matters of sexual techniques, feel stopped and brought back to a more serious dimension, or run away or radically change their tone. Those who run away probably do not have the maturity necessary to understand that being gay is something that involves the deep emotional life or perhaps of that deep emotional life they don’t yet feel the need and are stuck to the phase purely exploratory of sexuality. Those who don’t run away but change their tone come to a serious and personalized dialogue. These guys, who certainly have a gay affective dimension already quite defined, don’t try to enhance it spontaneously, but instinctively prefer the sexual dimension by considering it more adult, for them sexuality is still subordinated to the anxiety of growing and sometimes they are amazed by the fact that I give so much importance to the gay affective dimension and that I consider it fundamental, what they consider quite strange, at least at the beginning.

Many guys, even very young, in their anxiety of experimentation of sexuality go far beyond masturbation and begin to mentally build the idea that they must “try with a guy”. The idea of the experiment is sometimes dominant. The couple sexual experience is considered a sort of sexual license of adult life. The “trying” is reduced, however, to try a technique, and the emotional dimension is completely marginalized. In some situations I found myself in front of very young guys who boasted a certain sexual experience and spoke with pride about the number of sexual intercourses they had had and about the sexual practices they had experienced (more or less credible) as it was a real Curriculum to be presented to a competition.

Stopped by me in a drastic way, however, they showed an unexpected will of dialogue. Basically they were facing, probably for the first time, an adult vision of sexuality that in some way fascinated them. In the face of expressions such as “my friends have done it”, or “why not?”, Or “gays do it” I often reacted in a strong way and then tried to resume the conversation calmly. The key thing in chats with very young guys is to listen and make them get to the conclusions by themselves.

Very often, with very young guys I tackle the subject of caution, both in terms of the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and in terms of prudence on the net. It is clear that no one has ever talked to these guys in any way even minimally serious about these things and that they have absolutely no perception of risk. My insistence on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases has sometimes been the cause of the interruption of dialogue with young guys who didn’t like such things and considered them a just form of moralism aimed only at terrorizing guys to put them in mind that sex is a bad thing. In some cases, following my speech on the use of condoms, I found myself faced with paradoxical answers followed by the abandonment of the chat, as in the following little dialogue between a 16-year-old (his nickname is Nofear).

Nofear – I met him in chat, he’s thirty years old but is very strong, with him we do everything
Project – but always protected?
Nofear – that is?
Project – with condoms
Nofear – of course no condom, I don’t like such things, with a condom you lose the best
Project – do you realize what you say? Look, it’s dangerous
Nofear – those who are not risking don’t even win …
Project – wait … let’s try to reason
Nofear – if you want to preach, please go preach to somebody else, hi

In essence from the chats with the very young guys it is clear that they are completely abandoned by the adult world and that their sexual education, as a comparison with responsible adults on issues related to sexuality, homosexuality and in particular the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, practically doesn’t exist at all.

We now come to the second document, it is an email I received from a gay doctor on 11/27/2011.

“Hi Project, reading your blog I had a jolt of pride and it happens to me very rarely. I am 43 years old and experienced a lot of things that you would not like. I have been publicly declared for a very long time, or better I can say that I have been publicly declared and have passed through the complete succession of what you call, with many elegance, things labeled gay. Fortunately for me I managed to save my health and this comforts me because there are people who have been much less lucky than me.

When I was 18/20 years old internet practically did not exist yet, and I had made my own ideas, a little as you say, the frenzy of trying, believing that going into the circle would have facilitated things and in a sense it was true but from other points of view it was destructive, first of all the news that I was gay quickly spread throughout the city, a small city in the northern Italy where gossip and hypocrisy are always the masters. Fortunately, I was studying in another city and I finished my studies, but when I started the profession I had huge problems because everyone ran away from me (I’m a doctor) and I had to change city, I had to start all over again, not to mention the terrible recriminations on the part of my family that treated me like an idiot without remedy, which pushed me even more to leave.

In the new city, after a while I started going to clubs again, because it had almost become a drug. I met people out of mind that in some cases made me really scared and after five years I had to go again to a different, smaller city, here there were no clubs but I started with chats and even there it was a torment, just like a drug, I knew some guys in the chat, then we met, did a bit of sex and then they disappeared and were reckless guys that when I talked about condoms took me for crazy. I had the frenzy of sex, I was more than 30 years old, even almost more than 32, but I spent all my free time looking for contacts. I felt alone, and I was alone, the relations with my family were completely inexistent. My father and mother no longer made themselves heard after I left home, I called them but they did not answer me deliberately.

The only points of reference were the guys I knew only for sex, one in particular I had fallen in love with, he told me so many sweet things and was a very nice guy but he wanted to come to live with me, which I could not do because I would have ended up not to work anymore and to create a mess of problems with all the people I had around, then he disappeared, but before disappearing I vomited all the possible insults against me, that I was a worm, one who does not have the courage to be what he is and above all that I was a starving man, because he liked to make the good life and with me he could not do it for sure.

This story lasted three years and left me with a sense of rejection and very strong bitterness. Over the years, the young guys stopped contacting me and only the fifties were looking for me but they were people out of mind much more than me, depressed to hospitalize, who thought they were young boys and tried to behave as if they really were, even married men, even people with diseases with a religious background, a variety of humanity that I did not even think could exist. They arrived to offer me money in exchange for sex. One was sick, had a strong asthma and I convinced him to be hospitalized because he was a high-risk patient.

In August 2009 I said “It’s enough!” and deleted all the gay contacts I had.

I changed my mobile number and I threw myself completely into my work, practically I went back to university to do a very demanding and very long specialization that leads me now to deal with aids, I finished the first two years and started the third, it’s a thing very serious and I’m completely committed to this, now I work part time and I earn very little money and all I earn goes for specialization. I am really interested in my studies and I think for the first time that I have made the right choice. I don’t tell you what I see in the hospital, there is a really desperate need for people to take care of these things, I have been reborn and I have found my way. There is a lot to do and not so much in Italy or in Europe but especially in Africa where AIDS, without medicines and in the midst of total ignorance, is a real scourge.

Days ago I found “gay project” just looking for sites that deal with prevention and then I put myself to read also the rest. Project, don’t let the guard down! What you do makes sense. Life has a meaning and it is not in seeking sex but in giving love without conditions, I understood it late but fortunately I understood it. Being gay makes sense and I think that being gay and having experienced everything I’ve been through is the real spring of my underlying motivation. I told you my story in short, publish it if you want, I would like it. Permit me a professional notation, never abandon the discourse on prevention because they are very few to do it and there is a huge need of them. I’ll add the link to the hiv and aids page of the Ministry of Health:

http://www.salute.gov.it/hiv/hiv.jsp which remains a fundamental reference point for finding serious information, even for doctors (see the updating of the guidelines). I would like to devote some time to the forum but now I have other goals for which I ask you to keep my privacy
[signed letter]

The third document is particularly touching and, beyond the theme centered on the fear of HIV, it allows to understand the spiritual depths of gay guys and what it means to love each other. This is an email I received on July 4th, 2007 and I published the same day (in Italian) on the old Gay Project Forum.
The name of one of the protagonists of the story has been replaced with an X for reasons of privacy.

“First I met X through words. For me they were important, they made me feel good and I did not even understand why, I only read and reread them. I made sure to get some courage and ask his msn even if with an incredible difficulty because for the things that I really care about I am very shy and perhaps also of a crazy cowardice. Talking with him gave me so much! He has his own way of seeing things, maybe strange and difficult to understand but he always managed to get me out of my depression, in one way or another gave me a deep sense of serenity. I had a boulder inside, something that I had hidden inside me for years and that took everything away from me. I never thought I’d ever have the strength to tell it anyone. Instead, it came spontaneous to tell X about it and it made me feel good.

Being gay for me has always been an unacceptable and monstrous thing, not the feelings but just the idea of sex. I have a lousy family. They don’t care about me, I have always been the classic useless baggage, after their divorce I have been continually tossed about here and there. No affection, no attention, no dialogue. In reality it was as if I wasn’t there, if I’m away from home they even notice it and when I am taken into consideration it is only to impose, order, claim, offend or worse to beat be. For years I have been depressed and for two years it’s really worse, so that I have no more friendships, I dropped them all, I was rejected at school, I’m always home alone. No, they don’t notice it at all. I’ve always felt lonely, since I realized that maybe I was gay too, it was a crescendo. But now I’m also used to it, because you know when you live without hope, loneliness is not so bad anymore.

But this is not the boulder. What I confided to X is another thing: when I was 14 a guy much older than me, who sometimes attended the company of my cousin and that everyone knew he was gay has abused me. That’s why I hate gay sex. When I fell in love with a guy for the first time two years ago I thought it was for that abuse. I suffered too much. I felt as if something impure had crept into me. For me it was like a contagion. A curse that clung to me. But this is not the worst thing, the worst thing is the fact that one year and a half after what he had done to me I found out from my cousin that the guy was HIV-positive and I knew he had not used any precautions with me. I never saw him again and I didn’t speak to him anymore to know if I too could have become HIV-positive, but then I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do it.

I still perfectly remember what I experienced finding it out. It’s a bit like dying. I was holding the form for enrolling in a creative writing course that I was very fond of and it was the first time I had fought so hard to get something at my house, I started ripping it into smaller and smaller pieces and it was a bit how to tear up my future. Since then, the ice has not left me anymore. I continued to live but only on the margins because everything made me suffer too much.

The doubt I kept buried inside me, as deep as possible, was something I never thought of but that anyway stood there and poisoned everything. Since then I have always been inconclusive, defeatist and submissive throughout. I heard others talk about what they wanted to do and I did not say anything, I did not think about anything. Lately with some I had a little loose. I thought about what I really wanted to do, I did some programs, to a guy with whom I spoke on msn one day I also said that I would go to see him this summer. A little I believed, I hoped it but then my enthusiasm ended in nothing. Yes, in my heart it was like I was already dead.

Talking with X made me feel good. He has a boyfriend and they are very much in love, he is happy and fulfilled, but even if he did not know me at all, even if talking to me was always so difficult and painful, I think, he was looking for me and if he didn’t find me or it was me who did not make me available because I was too depressed, he still wrote me even just a few words that made me feel that at least one person was really interested. Yes, he always devoted so much time and attention to me, a constant and sincere thought, was the only one to really do it and in the most disinterested way possible, to give me a little of himself and without receiving or wanting anything in return. I thought a thousand times that it was very strange that a person could be like that and even more with someone like me. But he is special and UNIQUE.

In the end he also managed to convince me that I had to go and take the test. He did it telling me that he would accompany me. I waited to finish my graduation exam and immediately the next day we met through msn and he came to take me in the city where I live. When I saw him I could not believe it was really him, although I could see that he was really beautiful even from the avatar. Because X is very beautiful but the point is that there are a lot of guys I don’t say very beautiful but certainly beautiful, but X is a thing apart. And then he has incredible eyes, which one would think there could not be two eyes like that. Nobody after looking at them, even the most materialist, could ever be able to think that there is no soul. I fell in love with him immediately.

It’s hallucinating but as soon as I saw him, I no longer thought I was going to take the HIV test, that is, I thought it was a secondary thing. I was too busy with him. I immediately felt beautiful feelings and for me to try them was a natural and right thing. And yes, he also attracted me physically and very much, for me it was really too embarrassing but I managed to hide it well and for the first time it did not disgust me, even that was beautiful and natural and it was fine that way. To take the test we went to a rather distant city, because I wanted so, a stupid thing I know but it made me feel more anonymous and sure, he brought me there by car. I thought I had to go fasting for blood collection, when X knew it smiled to me, I was very pale for anxiety and agitation, he told me “It’s not that you go down right now?” And while we waited, he held my hand tight all the time, under a newspaper folded to the side so that no one could see and I was not embarrassed.

As soon as he got out of the clinic he put his arm around my shoulders and took me to breakfast. But after eating instead of feeling better I was very bad. I was struck in the harshest way by the image the nurse who was taking my blood sample, the latex gloves, the way he sat with his torso all the way back and how he barely touched me, just the indispensable, but above all by the vision of my blood. From that day on which I knew, the thought of my blood has always obsessed me. It was a nightmare that I sometimes did at night; my blood suddenly splashed on my schoolmates while I was in class, the terror of their gaze remained on my mind all day so that I thought I saw it in their eyes. I was afraid and disgusted with my blood. And now that I had seen it go out I felt crazy.

At that point I burst inside. I began to think only of the one thing that felt real to me, of what I could have inside me, of the fact that I had to accompany myself to this foreign and enemy thing for the time that remained to me to live, that I would be a danger, that I would continue to be alone until the end, that I would be kept at a distance but above all that I would have kept everything and everyone at a distance from me not to have to suffer even more. And all this at only 19 years old. Nothing behind and nothing in front. One passes graduation and should start planning his long-distance future. In my case, I felt it made no sense, never had a sense for me. X stared at me but I did not say anything to him and as we walked I moved away and moved further and further.

At one point he stopped me and hugged me without speaking any word and hugged me so tightly! I just said “You know, I always knew I was already dead.” X shook me strongly and made me sick and said “Don’t be silly!! Even if it were, life doesn’t end for this, only changes.” I don’t know how long he hugged me, I wanted to cry but I could not and it’s bizarre because I’m crying every single fucking day, yet at that moment I was dry and that dry was too bad for me. But at a certain point I began to feel X’s body, his breath against me, his warmth, his smell. I held my breath and focused on the beating of his heart to hear it with my ear but also with my skin. I felt an inexpressible yearning that rose from my stomach, something so beautiful and intense that it almost hurt and then, in short, I had an erection. Even if I continued to feel that I was HIV-positive, I felt even more strongly that I was wanting X with all my might and I felt that I was willing to do anything to have him close to me, even being HIV-positive.

I know it seems absurd but in these three months I have discovered that it is real life that is absurd, not that imagined. I tried to move away from him, but it was too embarrassing, and then I thought that rightly he could take it badly. But he did not let me go, and even told me “Do you see it? Your body knows that you are alive and you want to stay alive.” We were still embraced, someone looked at us badly, someone said something. I did not care at all, I would have liked to stay that way forever. X left me at some point and I felt a great emptiness inside, so I spontaneously told him that his boyfriend is the luckiest person on earth, he blushed, smiled and said “Believe me it’s me the one lucky to have him.” I thought he would take me back, in the end I had done what I had to do, instead X still wanted to stay with me. We walked around the city, we did not talk much but we simply walked, sometimes we sat somewhere. We went for lunch but my stomach was closed for him even though I lied to him and said it was still for the test.

X is so beautiful that I will never stop to look at him, has a smile of continuous light in the eyes and then he is sweet and affectionate in words but also in the gestures in a way that makes you feel protected and warm inside. While we were around, he often showed me things that I would never have seen on my own and surprised me and moved me in that way that he has all of his own to look at the world and be happy for certain things that never interest anyone. Every now and then he had a gesture toward me very sweet as touching my arm or a light squeeze of my hand, a separate communication with which he made me understand that he was there. In the evening he took me back to the place where we had arranged to meet.

I was all upset, X told me that he would come back with me to take the result of the test, because they give it to you after a few days and you have to go and pick it up. I felt very sad with that sense of emptiness that grew bigger and bigger. X looked at me, he was tense, worried and said “All right?”. Then I thought how bad all that could hurt him. I had glued on him weeks and weeks of anguish and depression, mine, and he had never avoided all this, but a wonderful creature like him did not even deserve the billionth part of it. I felt petty and selfish in the worst way. I tried to tell him that everything was fine, that I was better but it was evident that he did not believe it at all.

However, we said goodbye and in doing so he gave me a light kiss on the mouth. It was a kiss of a very beautiful sweetness, it had no sexual value, it just said what no words could explain. That he was not afraid of me even though I could be HIV-positive and that I would have had from him anyway the availability, affection and warmth of a true friendship. Nobody has ever given me something more beautiful. That kiss completely filled my soul, I think that I will always carry that feeling inside me. at that moment I thought, and I still think now, that at least I have a beautiful thing and no one can take it away from me, it will be mine until the end.”

At the end of this wonderful document, which I am particularly attached to because I knew the protagonists, I am happy to let you know that the analysis confirmed that the guy who wrote the email above was HIV-negative.

Questions and answers on AIDS and HIV (from the Ministry of health):

http://www.salute.gov.it/imgs/C_17_pubblicazioni_2005_allegato.pdf

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If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-gay-guys-and-prevention-of-sexually-transmitted-diseases

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I REALIZED I WAS GAY AT 26

Hello Project, I don’t know who you are and to send you this e-mail I opened a new e-mail account that I will use only to write to you, if you answer me. I know that maybe it’s an excess of prudence but that’s what I did. Call me Alex, although obviously it’s not my real name. I don’t deny that I don’t feel comfortable writing an email like this in which I tell things that nobody knows but I think it’s still worth writing them because Gay Project helped me a lot and my story can be useful to someone. 
I am 27 years old, since some months I live on my own, far from my family of origin. I have a permanent job that I like and I am economically autonomous, in fact the others respect me and have a good opinion of me. Let’s say that from the outside I look like one who has achieved his goals and in a sense it’s true but inside myself for many years I felt like a failure. I thought that in my life I would never have done what I wanted but always something else. I would have liked to study Physics but I studied Economics and it is thanks to that that I found a good job, I wanted to work in Milan where my parents live and instead I ended up living in Bologna where I found my personal autonomy, in short I always did the opposite of what I wanted but in the end I felt good. In one thing I felt like one who had failed to build anything and it was the emotional life. Reading your website made a lot of ideas clear to me. 
I considered myself 100% heterosexual until I was 26 and I had no reason to think otherwise, but none at all. I’ve never been with a woman but I did my fantasies on women even if they were never great things and sex for me has always been in a minor tone, I mean I have never had the mania of these things, I heard from others extraordinary things about sex that never happened to me. So sex for me was an unimportant thing and I did not understand what could be overwhelming in it but even the individual sex was something that didn’t excite me so much. I had also tried with the hetero porn sites but they seemed to me absurd things. Up to 26 years I never thought of a guy, but really never, the broadcasts on gays seemed to me things from another planet. 
Up to 25 years old I was practicing sports and with my team mates we took a shower together but the thing for me was completely indifferent. I really thought I did not have a sexuality. The girls told me that I was a nice guy but they did not fall in love with me, when I tried something they moved away from me and I was very disappointed. I don’t think I would ever be able to woo a girl and it certainly never happened. 
Things have changed for me since September 2008. I started working in another city, where I rented a little apartment near my workplace and in the place where I worked I met also a guy who was a year younger than me, let’s call him Max. Even he lived in a mini-apartment, but far from where I was, about half an hour by car. We were hired on the same day and I met him waiting at the door of the CEO to know his destination. I was there for the same reason. We waited more than half an hour, both him and me very timid and normal, and then we were both fearful of the new work environment, the first job for me and also for him. He enters first, I wait, after half an hour he goes out and they call me. I go in, they give me the letters of assumption and summarily explain that the next day I should take service, in practice, in a place very close to my house. I was happy. 
I go out and see that Max is in the antechamber. He was waiting for me. I liked it. He had no car. I ask him where they sent him, he tells me that they had sent him to the other side of the city, near his house, or at least not far away. I’m sorry, a bit. I tell him about my destination. We exchange mobile numbers. It was eleven o’clock, he proposes to have lunch together, I say yes, but it’s early. I invite him to my house but he prefers to take a walk, it’s a beautiful day and I don’t take it badly. We walk a lot, then lunch in a fast food restaurant. He asks me if I have anything to do. I say no. He asks me if the offer to go up to my house is still valid. We climb into my mini-apartment. There is a single double bed. He takes off his shoes and lays on the bed, I sit on the only chair and we talk. In practice he always talks about the fact that he was practicing sport, about how much he loved his grandparents, that he no longer has, about any songs he listens to, about what he expects from work and many other things. I listen to him with pleasure, he is nice, casual, then he says nonsense, he laughs, in short it is a pleasant company. 
After some time I realized that we never talked about sex or love, never, as if the subject didn’t exist at all, but then I didn’t notice such things. In the evening we took something at the fast food and then I accompanied him to his house but I didn’t go up. I was happy to have found Max. I didn’t feel alone even though I was in a city that I didn’t know at all. In short we have become like brothers. 
Ten days later it had become normal that we were always together until the evening or on free days, but the night we stayed each at his own home. After a month we also started to sleep in the same house and in the same bed but all without any implication of any kind at any level, we were just like two brothers, no mutual embarrassment and no sexual thoughts neither on my part, nor, I think, on his part. 
The first idea that the thing could have a different meaning arose in me when a colleague began to court Max. It was something that I could not stand, it bothered me, not that she did it but that Max could spend time with her. He treated her politely, probably he was not interested but I was afraid he was. One evening he tells me that the colleague had proposed to him to go out with her. I ask him: “And what did you answer?” He tells me that he said he didn’t feel like it. At that point I breathed a sigh of relief and I must have made a face very happy. Max looked at me and said: “Don’t worry, it will never happen!” At the time I made the face of the one who understood and I changed the subject, but that phrase started to turn around in my head in an incredible way. In the evening he stayed to sleep with me, I tried to resume the speech and he was evasive, he just told me: “Don’t ask too many questions …”. 
That’s when I wondered if Max had fallen in love with me. I completely excluded that I could fall in love with him, but I considered a possible thing that he could fall in love with me. I wondered what I should do, whether to cut off relations with him or simply not to sleep together anymore, even if nothing had ever happened between us. Anyway I did not tell him anything and everything, between us, went on exactly as before, we continued to sleep together in the same bed or at my home or at his and nothing happened. 
As the days passed I ended up putting away the idea that he was gay, it seemed absolutely impossible. I said to myself: if he’s gay, why does he remain totally indifferent? In the end we are together in the same bed. Is it possible that a gay guy in such a situation doesn’t try anything, even at a minimum level? However, judging by his behavior, it didn’t seem to me that he could be gay. In practice months have passed in which we have lived together and for his part there has never been a slight mention, never a speech, not even vague, nothing! A beautiful morning I wake up before the sound of the alarm clock, there was enough light in the room, he is asleep, I watch him carefully. He’s nice. I want to caress his face but I don’t, but he is just beautiful, serene, an image that I will never forget and that’s where I had the first physical reaction looking at a man. It had never happened to me before, it was the first time ever. I was disturbed. I said to myself: what’s happening to me? I got up and went to put myself under the frozen shower. 
At first I was convinced that it had passed. When Max got up, everything went as usual and I was very happy that it did not happen again. I was looking for every possible motivation to justify what had happened: the heat, the fact that I had had no sex on my own for a few days and things like that and the fact that my reaction had not been repeated made me feel comfortable. For the whole working day nothing happened. In the evening I had to go to his house but I made an excuse and I didn’t go there, I was afraid it would happen again. He did not tell me anything, after all I had been alone at home other times. I spent the night alone with the idea that it could still happen, I saw the TV, I was a bit on the internet, then he called me in chat to ask if everything was fine and it happened again even though we were talking only about work. I greeted him quickly because I did not want him to continue. 
I was really upset, I tried to distract myself but I could not and I did something I had never done before, I drank two cans of beer one after the other and, stunned as I was, I went to bed. I was beginning to think that I would have liked him next to me and at the same time that I would have to move away from him and that if I was at that point it was his fault, because his company had ruined me. In short, I hated him and loved him. Since then I started to remove him, probably for him it was a tremendous blow but he did not say anything and tried to do as if between us things had not changed. The more I walked away the worse I was and then I began to desire him, that is even at sexual level, with everything this implies. I told myself it would be over but I knew it would not be like that. The phase of removal, let’s say, lasted almost two months.
He was friendly with me when he met but it happened rarely and only when the company forced us to common activities, but at a private level we did not see each other anymore. The separation not only did not make me overcome my feelings for Max but put them clearly on a sexual level. By now I had totally renounced the idea of being straight but I had to keep just for me the fact that I was in love with Max, we were now like two strangers, or at least I thought so. It was during those days that I started looking online for gay sites and, after seeing things of incredible misery, that made me feel really bad, I discovered Gay Project and it was a fundamental discovery that really opened my eyes.
One day Max and I come together to a meeting, he asks me: “How are you?” But he asks me it in a very serious way, just worried about me. I tell him that I have problems, he looks at me straight in the eyes and squeezes my hand, from outside only a greeting, for me much, very much more. I tell him: “Do you want to go to my place in the afternoon?” He says to me: “Sure!” He comes immediately after work. I feel a terrible embarrassment, his physical presence puts me in a very strange state of mind. I feel very excited, even sexually, but I’m afraid to say things out of place, to hurt him, to offend him. Result: after hours of interview attempts I don’t say anything. 
He asks me if he can stay for the night to talk a little more, but I insist to take him back to his home. I take him back home, we don’t say a word all along the journey, the embarrassment feels very strong. I come back home. He calls me on the phone, a few words and long silences. We close the phone with nothing done. The situation has been going on this way for more than a month, but I could not take it anymore. An afternoon he comes to me, I had never seen him like that before. He doesn’t ask me questions, he only tells me: “Shut up and let me talk. . . ” I listen. He only tells me: “Alex, I fell in love with you!” I don’t know what I did at the time, I was happy but also upset, I did not expect such a thing, after several seconds I replied: “Maybe me too. . . ” But I added that such a thing had never happened to me and that I felt strange. 
It was the first time that we talked about us in a truly free way. Max and I had arrived at this point, now we knew each other even the most intimate things and everything had been absolutely simple. It seemed incredible to me that such talk could be made in such a direct way, but really it happened. He told me that when I had left him he had been very bad but he thought I had left him because I had understood that he was gay from the speeches he had made and he didn’t want to intrude into my life because basically even if he saw me as straight he loved me the same and he did not want to make me problems and so he had accepted to step aside. In short, he took me for straight and I took him the same way. 
We have confessed our mutual sexual interest but also the embarrassment about the possibility of having sex with each other. He too is rather inhibited. We decided to go very slowly. That night we just went to sleep holding hands. But even shaking his hand was beautiful, it was also a physical contact and transmitted a strong emotion. At a certain point I say to him: “Max, I feel excited” and he tells me: “Me too. . . but does it embarrass you?” I answer him: “No. . . and you?” He says to me: “Not at all, but just the opposite. . . “. Max had never been in love with a guy in his life, just like me. It was March 29th 2009 a day I will never forget. 
Project, Max and I consider Gay Project a bit like a second home, truly a unique thing on the internet, and in the way of seeing of these guys, Max and I find ourselves very well. Nobody knows our story, not even our families know it, because they probably would not understand the true meaning of our relationship, but we want the guys who read your sites to know it. Neither I nor Max would ever have imagined a life like the one we are now living and yet we really are living it. It is not easy neither between us nor on a social level but we have passed hard tests and we are here to testify that, if two guys love each other, happiness for them is possible. Thank you for what you do, Project, and never give up!
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GAY LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE OVER SEXUAL BIASES

Hi Project,
I would like to have your opinion on a problem that has kept me (for years) in a state of uncertainty. I try to describe the situation in summary. I am 45 years old, my ex-boyfriend (even if this expression is definitely unsuitable in the concrete case) is 29. He is my ex, of course, he had his stories after we broke up, but in the end he could not be comfortable with anyone; he is a guy who has had a very difficult past with moments of deep depression but from all this, or at least from the worst phases of all this he seems to have come out.
We constantly maintained a relationship even when we were no longer a couple. He is a bit neurotic (perhaps a lot) but between us there was always a special feeling that went far beyond sex. I think he is a person of superior intelligence, even if he has always underestimated himself. In studies he lost time for reasons related mainly to his depression and his neuroses, but in the end he obtained excellent results, anyway, apart from the results of the studies, 
I see that he has a profound interest in his field (typically scientific) and this causes him also anxiety because when he applies a lot to his studies and has the impression of not understanding exactly what he is reading or of failing developing the hypotheses on which he is working, he goes into crisis and in those moments is likely to nullify everything. Over the years, however, I have noticed that these crises are always less profound and that they don’t destroy him any more as they did a few years ago. 
I don’t know what he will do in his life beyond studying (which is the thing that seems most suitable for him); until now he has accomplished much more than what he himself would have imagined at the beginning. I want to emphasize that I love him deeply and that there is a communication between us that I have never experienced with any other person. When I stand next to him I never know how to behave, even if now I feel less conditioned. 
Among us there is also some sexual contact, it happens rarely but it happens, especially now that he has not had a boy for several months. I, by my nature, tend to create relationships that are first of all emotional and this happens above all with him who is so much younger than me. I often tend to reassure him, to tell him that I love him, which is very true and he knows very well, but the real problem presents itself on the sexual level, which for him is fundamental. 
He has always had the fear of being put aside because sexuality in him produces almost a kind of frenzy and he is afraid that all of this can put his partners in crisis, and sometimes it happened. I have asked myself many questions but then I realized that his attitudes towards sex are conditioned by his past and I ended up thinking that there was nothing to be really alarmed about. I also had the idea of moving away from him, but only in some very particular and very rare situations, but in the end everything has always been overcome and I think that our relationship, strange as it is, is still very strong. 
He asks me for sexual behaviors that would not come spontaneously to my mind, they are things that don’t upset me at all but a little contrast with my way of being. He says that I have to be authoritarian, hard, that I must use strong manners with him, that I have to humiliate him and it baffles me a bit, sometimes I try to do what he asks me for, but for me it is a game, because being with him inspires me an extreme tenderness and I feel led to embrace him and certainly not to be aggressive or to humiliate him. 
Sometimes he considers my attitude as if I didn’t want to understand the meaning of what he asks me for. We have talked about these things a lot and it is clear that when he asks me for harsh, punitive behaviors towards himself, the memory of his first experiences plays a fundamental role. I would like to remove him from the memory of those experiences and I would like him to enter into the dimension of sexuality made of tenderness and mutual affection, but I realize that the weight of memories for him is very strong and that his vision of sexuality, now at 30, is still deeply conditioned by his first experiences. 
Sometimes it’s like he wants to be punished for something that he has to see absolutely as a fault, for example, the fact that after the end of our relationship as a couple, he had had sex with other guys. I never thought that these things were a fault because I thought that finding a boy who loved him could be fundamental to his life. He is not my possession, he is only a person whom I love and who loves me and I am sure of that. 
The point is this, Project, what should I do? Follow him as he wants or keep an intermediate line, that is to do a little as he wants but without neglecting to tell him that I love him? And then I wonder if my trying to remove him from his memories is a right thing or if it’s just an attempt to force him to close a bracket that for him it is not closed at all. It’s a bit as if he wanted to relive with me, but clearly in a dimension also emotional, some of his old experiences, perhaps reliving them in a different way could free him from the obsessive presence of those contents. 
I would like to emphasize that he has had and still has problems because he has lived a difficult life, but he is not a pathological case. I am happy that he considers me important or at least really a friend and, frankly, if he disappeared from my life I would feel damned alone. Sometimes when he speaks to me about his studies he fascinates me even though he is always ready to point out that things are not clear as they seem. Now I see more self-esteem in him, even if self-esteem has never been his characteristic note. 
I am very fond of him because I feel him very similar to me, I am not a scientist and I lived a very banal life until I met him, but in many of his attitudes and in his ways of reacting I identify myself deeply. He never cheated me, he is generous, rough but also affectionate. I would not like anyone else next to me because we more than a couple are a family. When he calls me I feel happy even if I never know how to behave. 
Years ago we often argued and then we behaved as if nothing had happened, now we do not argue practically any more and the dialogue no longer seems a hard confrontation but a way of telling each other our emotions. I am enchanted by how he manages to manifest his need for sex in a simple and direct way; I don’t know how to do anything like that, but he knows very well that being close to him it is happiness for me and he knows that this is a certainty that will not fail.
I’m waiting for your response, Project, if you consider it appropriate, put this mail in the blog. I have attached my skype contact; I’d like to talk a little with you.
Leonard
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A GAY GUY IN LOVE WITH HIS PROFESSOR

Hi Project,
I arrived at the forum http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org through a link in one of your blogs. I congratulate you, because it is a very well done forum and there are many answers that cannot find elsewhere. It is a pity that search engines do not index it properly. I saw that the blog in Italian, however, is very indexed, but for someone who does not speak Italian, having a blog in English would be very important. Insist and try to move on, sooner or later you will succeed, at least I hope so.
Now I come to the reason for this mail. First of all you will ask me why an email (and a timed email address) and not a post on the forum. The answer to me seems almost obvious. I want to preserve my privacy as much as possible and I need to understand how things really work before trusting you.
I am almost twenty-three years old, I am a student of scientific disciplines in a large university in a city in Northern Europe, where I live. In my university there are also gay associations, the climate for gays openly out is rather favorable, but my problem is that I’m not out and I don’t want to come out because this would create some problems in my family (and not only) or maybe more than some problem would cause me some embarrassment. I know many gays who came out; here, in fact, coming out is not a problem, with several of those guys I get along very well but I would look for my way of being gay and soon you will understand why.
The university gay associations are quite serious and I have nothing against these things, but, there, sexuality becomes a social fact, a topic of conversation, something that must be shared and there are inevitably standards that I don’t fully recognize. I try to explain myself better, I don’t fall in love with my peers but with adult men, my classmates consider me hetero because with them I have classic friendships like those between straight guys, because my university colleagues don’t attract me sexually, while some of my professors are also a sexual interest for me and obviously a similar speech, in a gay university association, would sound rather strange. I did a little investigation among the gay guys I know and there is not even one who has interests similar to mine, so I preferred to leave aside gay university associations.
Needless to say, I feel very lonely, partly because I cannot talk to anyone about my true life. And then I stand aside and avoid getting involved directly. I study a lot, I have good results, but unfortunately I don’t have an affective-sexual life, I live only with fantasies and projections.
Last year I was included in a group of six students, coordinated by a forty-year-old professor who is not only very good but also beautiful. Sometimes we were in the laboratory for four hours at a time. Once we put on an experiment that was supposed to last for six days in a row and had to be monitored without interruption, day and night. My five colleagues only came in the morning, I offered to stay there and monitor the experiment and, in practice, I stayed in the Institute a week in a row, day and night. The professor often came in the afternoon and sometimes even stayed until after midnight. For me, seeing him was a real happiness, we talked almost exclusively about the experiment, I proposed a change and tried to explain the reasons for it, and he listened to me with the greatest attention and then decided to put into practice that change and this made me immensely pleased. The last two nights, he came to the laboratory and brought dinner for him and me and we had dinner together. At the end of the experiment he asked me to do a small publication with him to describe the experiment and its results. He told me that we would work together for three days and that it would not be a big deal.
The publication of the article with my name after that of the professor created a terrible situation of embarrassment with my colleagues who considered me an opportunist and a social climber, but in fact they too could participate in a much more concrete way to the management of the experiment.
My relationship with the professor was excellent, but obviously, as far as I was concerned, it was not just a collaboration of study and research, I had fallen in love with the professor, even though I did not know anything about him. He is not married, I certainly know that. He is often around both in Europe and in the USA. I saw him always go around alone, but I don’t know much more. With me he was perfectly at ease, but also very professional. In the many hours spent together we only talked about the experiment, there was never even a nod to the private life. Now the period of the research group is over, sometimes I see the professor going up and down the stairs of the Institute, sometimes I go to greet him in his office and a couple of times he also invited me to lunch at the cafeteria of the Institute, but there was never anything that went only one inch outside the perimeter of the professional relationship. On social networks he doesn’t have a profile, I have his email, but it’s the official one of the university. I don’t know what to do, Project, I’m in love with him but I’m afraid of making trouble. 
Very sincerely I think that he completely removed the emotional life and now has devoted himself totally to the science, but I have the vague feeling that science is just a way to avoid thinking. I have a vague feeling that he is gay and, despite all his ostentatious professionalism, I think that I’m also a great temptation for him. I had this feeling several times, I could not even tell you a specific reason that drives me to think so, but some small smiles, some sentences started one way and ended in another, too long pauses and certain ways of looking away, made me think a lot. Do I have to take the first step or I have to wait to be out of the university, if I ever get out of it, to do a peer-to-peer talk with him? I believe that something similar to what happens to me happens to him, but roles are reversed. I am too young for him according to the “standard model” and he is too old for me, but the standard model does not always have to be valid. There are many things that that model does not explain. 
Of course, at university a professor cannot be compromised with a student, because it would actually be too risky, and a student cannot declare his love to a professor.
Sometimes I’m tempted to risk everything and I think I could win my bet in the end, but I don’t want to put him in embarrassing situations. That’s why I keep going on like this. On the threshold of a relationship that could be beautiful, and in my opinion it is not only an abstract hypothesis, but we both lack the courage to take the first step without return, both for opportunity and above all for the fear of being answered with a refusal. It’s my first love and I’m afraid of burning everything in a hurry. Now you can understand how I feel and what I can experience. I dream of my teacher every night, but I don’t dream of him in the chair but in my bed, this has now become a kind of obsession … What should I do, Project? Has it ever happened to you to see situations similar to mine? If you think it is appropriate, please publish the email, because it is quite neutral. 
G.O.
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DO NOT JUDGE OTHER GAYS

Hi Project,
I read some parts of your book “Being Gay” and I was struck by the idea of gay morality, that is, the idea of distinguishing between good and bad or at least less good homosexuality. In this way, I believe that you want to highlight what is good about homosexuality, and I can only agree with you on this, but unfortunately, underlining what’s good, you end up also underlining what is or may be negative and here I could still agree with you, but with some significant limitation.

Project, you say you are absolutely secular and I respect you for this, I come from a rather traditional Catholic education, in theory I should have learned to distinguish good from bad but I also learned not to judge and not to underestimate the reasons of others, even those who have very different lifestyles from mine.

I am now close to 70 years and every time I happen to have a serious dialogue with someone who has lived experiences far away from mine I realize that if on one side I keep my tendency to judge, for the other I am strongly held back by the fact that the wrong things, when they are seen closely are much less strange and wrong than they appear when they are viewed only from a distance or are considered only in theory.

I was talking a few days ago with a guy who was not yet thirty and, as my old habit and my fault, I was for the umpteenth time trying to put myself in the chair, but fortunately I stayed and I left room for that guy. He spoke to me with great sincerity of his life experiences and I felt completely disarmed, I realized that my moralistic arguments made no sense when compared to hard experiences such as those experienced by that guy. I felt a total imbecile, one who deluded himself to understand everything without really having any knowledge of what he is talking about. My world seemed to me only a pile of empty talk.

What would I have done if I had found myself in the situations in which the guy found himself? What would I have chosen? And then, I would have had a real chance to choose? That guy was radically different from me in his attitudes because he had a life radically different from mine and much harder than mine. Years ago I would have misjudged guys like him, I would have said that they had the fixed idea of sex, but, after all, I saw more and more clearly the stupidity of these judgments.

The morality of my being gay, or at least what seems to me to be the morality of my being gay, if I want to tell the whole truth, probably comes to me from my Catholic formation, which has somehow preserved me from the hardest experiences, that is, the my being a Catholic made me a gay man in a very particular way, but beware, this is a more prudent, wiser, more controlled way, but perhaps even more hypocritical and less substantially participatory. I did what all the boys do, including sex, even if with caution, I’m not a saint and I reproach myself especially for not doing that little good I could do, then I stop to reflect and I wonder what turned me away, for example, from the search for unrestrained sex, and honestly, thinking about it, I don’t think it was Catholic education but fear, that is brutally the need to save face, which is still very mean, here the border between morality and meanness becomes much less clear.

The need to save face for me was valuable only because I was never really 100% myself and above all I was never put with my back to the wall from situations really stronger than me, as happened to that guy because in that case I would probably have behaved exactly like him. When we go to the substance of things, the morality of people, rather than an individual quality is the result of a context and the same concepts of merit and guilt lose their clear contours.

After all, Pope Francis himself said. “Who am I to judge a gay?” It seemed like an awkward phrase, which wanted to indicate an opening, but it is a phrase that has an extremely serious meaning. I tried to apply that phrase to myself and I came to the conclusion that I have no right to judge. Even those who go in search of desperate and almost neurotic sex can have their own moral and that moral is not worse than mine, and is only apparently different.

From the dialogue with that guy I understood that sex did not bring him happiness at all and that in him the need to be loved and respected for what he really is is very much alive, I would even say that it is much more alive than in me. We were talking for hours and we realized that there was a profound mutual respect between us, a mutual respect that was almost unexpected but absolutely real.

Project, allow me a digression, I, who am a gay man and I don’t want to lose contact with my faith, I greatly admire Pope Francis, because, in my opinion, he has brought Christianity back to its founding values, has not made controversy with modernity but he sought out people and their suffering, essentially he did not judge but tried to make his voice heard in favor of the last ones. Doing something good and concrete without judging anyone, this is his style.

In short, now I feel that my being gay can be truly reconcilable with my being a Christian, at least to a certain extent. I know you have argued the opposite, but you have argued it in other times, and I would like to understand what you think today, after Pope Francis gave a more evangelical reading of Catholicism. Excuse me if I allowed myself to provoke you with this mail but I respect you very much and I’d like to know if you’re always of the same opinion. I would like to emphasize that I really appreciate what you do.
Paul
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Hi Paul, I have read your mail with great interest. Yes: do not judge! It is an evangelical principle but it is also a secular moral duty. What you say about that guy, I have happened several times and put me in crisis several times. Now my tendency to judge has greatly reduced and I have recovered the awareness of my ignorance and of my incapacity. I think I still have a lot to learn and unfortunately, at my age, I will not have time to understand many things, but certainly I will keep under control the idea of judging.

As for Pope Francis, I cannot deny that, although I feel radically secular, I listen with the utmost attention to what he says and try to treasure it. I also have the impression that he has brought Catholicism back to more authentically evangelical values. Catholicism is not or should not be an ideology. I would say that he is a pope who has substantially secular attitudes that can be shared by many reasonable people even outside the Catholic Church, he has undoubtedly courage. I cannot deny that, especially in the last few months, I was very impressed by the fact that Francis never emphasizes the divisions but seeks the collaboration of men of good will to make all together something good and concrete. Indeed, Pope Francis did not judge but tried to pursue the good by committing himself to the peripheries of the world. I am only sorry that he is now an old man because his presence could be dismissed quickly after his departure from the scene, and I believe that, if this happened, it would be detrimental to everyone, Catholics and others. Well, I think you can understand pretty well what I think of Pope Francis.

Paul, I thank you very much for your “provocation”! I wish there were so many provocations like this!
Project

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GAY LOVE BEFORE AND AFTER

Hi Project,

I have read many articles on gay couples, from those of a scientific-sociological type to those of gossip, to those of couple sexology, in those articles we can find everything: sex, sexual fantasies, the possible accomplishments of those fantasies, social roles, tolerance and of course beauty and charm, etc. etc., but in my opinion we always lack the fundamental element, that is loving each other really. Loving will also be a matter of sex, I don’t deny it, but in my opinion it is much more.

I don’t know why with some people it happens and with other people it doesn’t happen at all, but loving each other means first of all to respect each other, to understand each other, also in one’s own diversity. The other is not another myself, in him I don’t love myself but something different that I feel similar, sure, but not identical, I love his freedom even when it pushes him away from me, I love his being different from me and his loving me in spite of everything, a love that enhances me and makes me feel alive, appreciated, gratified.

Couple is good only when you really love each other, when you want the good of the other, when his happiness matters more than yours, but to love each other it is not necessary to be sexual partners.

I had a beautiful story with a guy I loved so much and who loved me so much, we’re not together anymore, but we still love each other, because the respect, the affection, the understanding that existed between us have remained the same, sexual exclusivity has failed, and yet we continue to love each other, even if he has a new partner and then, who said that you can love only one person at a time? If my ex needed me, I would do anything for him, because I love him, and I’m sure his current partner would not be jealous and would be the first to push me in that direction, among other things we know each other and estimate.

The only thing that could have put in crisis the relationships between me and my ex-partner would have been the deception, telling one thing and doing another, but that’s exactly what has never happened between us.

Legal obligations cannot create feelings. I never understood the guys who hate their ex-boyfriends, if they hate them “after” it means they didn’t love them “before”. I always considered my ex a great person from all points of view, I totally trusted him. Now we are no longer a couple but I continue to consider him an excellent person, I have not changed my thought about him because we are no longer a couple. In my opinion, we all, and in particular we gays make ourselves fascinated from the traditional model of marriage, which contains objective absurdities.

I try to explain better: when a man and a woman get married, at least when they marry with a religious rite, they promise eternal love, meaning for love not only respect and dedication but even exclusive sexual involvement and in promising something of this kind they commit to guaranteeing something that is not in their power. I can promise respect and assistance in case of need, these are the things I can promise, as for the exclusive sexual involvement, which is not a choice but is something free and spontaneous, I can at most say that that involvement exists now, but since it is not a voluntary act, I cannot promise anything for the future.

But perhaps traditional marriage is independent of love, does not oblige me to love a person for life but only to abstain from sexual relations with other people, which means that it forces me to behave absolutely not spontaneously. Now, perhaps in the hetero field such behavior can make sense because there are the interests of the children to be safeguarded, admitted and not granted that it is better for the child to have a parent legally committed to sexual fidelity, which seems to me to be all absurd, or at least I consider it as an undue simplification because it aims to guarantee forcibly what is not coercible. But for a gay couple, with no children, the marriage model makes no sense, because the only thing that matters is love, which is different from sexual fidelity.

I am not a boy, I am 55 years old and my ex-partner is just a little younger. Two years ago I had a heart attack and I was in danger of ending up badly. I no longer had close relatives and I was entrusted in practice to voluntary associations. I had not said anything to my ex-partner so as not to create any obligations of any kind.

He came to know that I was in hospital from other people and he immediately came to see me at the hospital. It was summer and he was on vacation with his partner. They broke off their holidays and came to me right away, they both came, and they did the shifts so as not to leave me alone until I was discharged from the hospital, then they came to stay at my house, they just moved to my house, as long as I have been convalescing, that is, for about two months and returned to their home only when they saw that I could be self-sufficient and, even after, they came often to see me and still do.

I saw that my ex was happy and that his partner was a very serious man. I felt loved by them. I know that this is not the kind of love that generally people consider more important, yet for me, this kind of love was the only real push towards the exit from my problems, that is the only real push towards life. I add one thing: since then we spend the holidays together and I can only say that we are fine.

Thirty years ago I would never have imagined such a situation. Thirty years ago I had many models in my mind and I dreamed of things that seemed beautiful to me, but they were totally unreal and I was not able to value the things I actually had. Then, slowly , I began to realize and understand what it really means to love each other. I understood it, in practice only as an old man.

Think, Project, that when I decided to separate with my ex-partner, I thought we would not see each other anymore, because in my opinion, the alternatives were just two: or perfect love (the fable) or total indifference, if not even hatred. But it was not like that at all. I never felt betrayed or cheated, I never thought I had thrown away the years of my life, none of this, simply, I learned to understand how beautiful can be live a relationship that remains a relationship of love, of respect and mutual affection, even when sexual attraction fails.

I am not an advocate of free love in the sense of experiencing sexuality superficially with the first guy you can find and just after Bye-Bye! No, none of this, but love is free and, if it is true love, it doesn’t fail even when sexual attraction vanishes. I tried to tell my experience to young gay boys but they looked at me with suspicion, as if I were a pathological case, for them there are a lot of models and I think this is the reason that causes them so much dissatisfaction. If I deeply internalize the models of fairy tales and confuse them with reality, I will end up being always disappointed by reality.

Reality must be understood, we must learn to see its positive sides, which are many even if they are not so evident. It took me years to overcome the behavior patterns of the matrimonial type but I can say that now I feel much freer.

I must say, however, that I don’t believe that my experience is easily generalizable, because my ex-partner is really a special person; if I were in love with a superficial person, incapable of true feelings and conditioned to the point of having to react always and only in the standard way, probably in those schemes I would have become entangled too. I do not want to be a teacher, because I was extremely lucky, but I have to say that my out-of-scheme experience was not a failure and it was in practice the discovery of a new world, much less conditioned and much more authentic. If you think it’s appropriate, publish this email, maybe for someone it could be useful.
Laurence

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GAYS AND SPECIAL FRIENDSHIPS

This post is devoted to an often underestimated aspect of interpersonal relationships and in particular of gay interpersonal relationships, namely the value and meaning of deep gay friendships.

To introduce the topic, I quote a mail I’ve received by a thirty-two-year-old guy.

“I don’t have a boy, that is, I don’t have a couple story in the sense that this expression commonly has. I have had occasions but it was not exactly what I wanted. Bet just on one person, if things are fine, can lead to happiness, but if things go wrong or just don’t go good as hoped, it leads to long periods of stress when the relationship crises and slowly falls. I have experienced such things a couple of times and, frankly, I don’t intend to repeat it. I don’t know if this is a renunciation, a way to put apart the idea of finding love, but frankly I don’t think so. The myth of the ideal companion of the so-called blue prince does not convince me and frankly I think that my personal well-being depends essentially on me and on what I do more than on another person who should give me happiness, or rather the other person can be important, but if the relationship works, the story must be built together and one cannot expect everything to rain from the sky with the arrival of the blue prince.

At present, as I said, I don’t have a boyfriend, but I have a special friend with whom sometimes there is a bit of sex, but it happens rarely, we are essentially two friends who love each other, who appreciate and respect each other, who understand that they can very well have each one his own live, but first of all we speak clear to each other, we don’t tell lies, and I think it is for this reason that our relationship goes on. Since the last meeting when we had sex, two months passed, in these two months a couple of times we had sex by phone, I know it looks shabby, but it has never been so for us, it’s useful to confirm us in the idea that there is also that kind of interest between us, but I would like to emphasize that it is not for sex that we are, so to speak, together. Our relationship is based on other things, which, viewed from outside, may seem stupid and of no significance, such as our way of communicating security to each other about the fact that we continue to love each other, and above all, to speak clearly. When he felt the need to stay with another guy, he told me it the simplest way. I frankly knew that this fact would not crush our relationship, which went on, for a while without sex, but with the same mutual attentions, with the same emphasis on the idea that we are happy to be together. He has spent a long period of trouble with the university and has lost a couple of years, if I have to tell the truth, this fact has created me many more problems than the fact that he was with another guy, a very serious guy who really loved him. When he came out of the negative period and began to study, he made me know, without much emphasis, that things had changed for the better, because he knew that this would make me immensely happy. I believe that at the base of our relationship there is the certainty that we will continue to love each other, of course without any kind of constraints, but we will certainly continue. I know he will not forget about me and that there will always be our highest sincerity. When I hear him by phone, I really want to close the phone call pointing out that I’m very happy to have spoken with him, and I’m really happy, he is less expansive, but he knows I’ll always be fine with him. In fact, we’ve known each other for 10 years now and our relationship has never really gone into crisis. In short, we are a certainty for each other. I do not know if this means being a couple, in a way we are, but only in a way.”

Another testimony can highlight the central value of the so called small things.

“Dear Project, for me today it’s a beautiful day! A few days ago I had a chance to know a little closer a beautiful guy I knew even before but very superficially. We talked and he somehow surprised me. I asked him if he had a boyfriend and he told me no and added that he wasn’t looking for boyfriend but for something else, that is, he was looking for real friends. I don’t doubt that this answer has cooled my enthusiasm a bit, but then we talked about so many things and I appreciated a lot what he said. We talk many times on skype, we joke, we’re together for hours, but we always say that it’s just a friendship. I find it difficult to consider him just as a friend, for me he is much more, but he insists that we are only friends, although friendship is not at all trivial, certainly there are no sexual prospects but I realize that he in a way loves me really. He told me one thing that made me think a lot: “I’m gay, but I’m just looking for a true friend, you are a very good and affectionate guy, and I’m fond of you but I’m not in love with you, I’m just fine with you” I wondered what’s the difference. Is the difference in having or not having sex? I don’t know what to think. One night he comes under my house unexpectedly and we go for a pizza and then we stay in the car talking, I think we’ll have some sex, but it doesn’t happen, I tell him I’d be expecting it but he answers: “I told you, I’m just looking for a true friend, if you’re not ok with this, you have to tell me clearly.” I think I offended him and probably he wouldn’t call me again, but that’s not the case, after three days he comes another time under my home, I come down to him and he tells me, “Just friends?” and I tell him, “Ok!”

A third interesting testimony comes from a forty-year-old single who created a relationship of friendship with a fifty-year-old single.

“He’s ten years older than me and he did his experiences, but I also had my stories, and as a result we tried to avoid getting together like a couple just dreaming to realize what we hoped for, we chose to stay on low profile things, simple but real. We often call each other on the phone, we often talk about work, because we work in very similar areas, mostly when we feel in times of difficulty and when we need to vent a little. He has problems with his older parents and has to deal with them because he has no brothers or sisters. I see him rarely, I can hear him by phone every day, but we never end up in ritual or repetitive phone calls. We start from work problems and then talk about anything else. Occasionally I propose a pizza, but rarely we can go really to have a pizza because he is bound by the family and then we talk by phone only and sometimes talk just a little. We never talked about the possibility of transforming our relationship into a true couple relationship, first of all because it would not be possible for logistical reasons and then because it is a hypothesis that really does not interest either him or me. We just feel that way. So things work. There is the phone call at least once a day and occasionally there is a pizza, but when there are serious problems we always talk and even for hours. Perhaps it will be an attempt to remedy solitude, but somehow it works and we experience the positive effects of such things. He tells me that he feels quiet now, that he no longer has the feeling of having failed in his life, that he has recovered a prospect for the future so that he will not age completely alone. I tell him I feel comfortable with him, and that’s true. Certainly this was not my dream of so many years ago, but my dream had nothing real, while my friend (I do not even say my companion) really exists and is a fundamental point of reference.”

These three documents, which represent different but not standard ways of experiencing gay affection and sexuality, are quite common situations far beyond what people believe; are actually three different answers to the crisis of the traditional couple model. Relationship models inspired by traditional heterosexual marriage have been in crisis for many years in the same heterosexual field and the attempts to apply them to the homosexual field have proven to be functional in a relatively small percentage of cases: stable and rigidly monogamous homosexual couples exist and in the time of HIV it is certainly not a negative fact, but gays who no longer seek a couple’s relationship of that type are now very numerous. New models are being formed, as the three mails clearly show. Let us now try to understand what is behind these new models.

It is first noted that sexuality is not the determining factor of the relationship, in some cases it is present in a sporadic way, that is, it is not excluded a priori, in others it does not explicitly enter into the relationship and is indeed deliberately kept far away. The basis of these relationships is the affectivity, and the central value is always speaking with the utmost clarity, namely, not hiding anything from your friend-companion. Sexual fidelity is not a founding element, but the honesty in declaring one’s own feelings is it.

Secondly, the absence of formal ties is often stressed: the relationship is totally free, it resists precisely because it is wanted and renewed day by day. Paradoxically, stability stems from the absence of formal ties.

Third, affectivity is cultivated through a series of reciprocal attentions that show an interest to the person of the companion. That interest may be sexual, but it can also be simply affective, it can sometimes result in a love without sex, in a relationship that is an “almost family relationship”.

The apparent internal weakness of such relationships makes them more rare and more stable than almost matrimonial relationships based on sexual fidelity. In other words, in order to create affectivity-based relationships, you have not to conform to models but you must have a certain experience of affective life, but that is why, when these relationships arise, they are the result of a well-meditated choice made by people who have now gone beyond mythical visions of couple’s life.

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If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-gays-and-special-friendships