HOMOSEXUALITY, MASTURBATION AND SEXUAL PLEASURE – SCIENCE AND CONFESSIONAL PROSPECTS

I reproduce below, in my translation, part of a major study that you can read on the website of the World Health Organization: “Sexual Health for the Millennium. A Declaration and Technical Document “a publication of the World Association for Sexual Health.

http://www2.paho.org/hq/dmdocuments/2010/Sexual%20Health%20for%20the%20Millennium.pdf

The passage is taken from Chapter 8 “Achieve Recognition of Sexual Pleasure as a Component of Well-being” pp.135-138.

SEXUAL PLEASURE IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Throughout much of human history, passionate love and sexual desire have been viewed as dangerous, a threat to the social, political and religious order (Hatfield & Rapson, 1993). During the current historical period, religion and medicine have had powerful influences on societal norms for sexual health and sexual behavior (Hart & Wellings, 2002) and in some important respects these institutions have inherited and continued the tradition of viewing sexual desire, and by extension, pleasure with varying degrees of suspicion.

It is not possible to make tidy generalizations about the extent to which the major religions have held either “sex negative” or “sex positive” perspectives toward pleasure and sexuality. However, it may be said that in various historical periods, many religions, including Christianity and Islam have focused on the reproductive aspects and function of sexuality. Consequently, they have sought strict controls on sexual behavior particularly outside of marriage between a man and a woman, behavior that does not lead to reproduction (e.g., masturbation) and viewed sexual pleasure, particularly that of women and homosexual men and women, with contempt (For extensive documentation and analysis of religious perspectives toward sexuality throughout history see Bullough, 1980, Hawkes, 2004). Numerous scholars have documented the disdain for sexual pleasure expressed by Christian theologians and institutions throughout much of the church’s history (e.g., Pagels, 1988). Masturbation, in particular, has been a contentious topic as its primary purpose is to produce pleasure (Coleman, 2002). Research on masturbation has indicated that contrary to traditional beliefs, masturbation has been found to be a common sexual behavior and linked to indicators of sexual health. While there are no general indicators of ill health associated with masturbation, it can generate powerfully negative or positive emotions for many individuals. It can be powerfully negative or positive, depending on the interaction between the prevailing societal attitudes and individual attitudes and behaviors (Coleman, 2002).

In fact, research has indicated that masturbation begins early and is an important part of healthy sexual development (Langfeldt, 1981). It is often a marker of sexual development (Bancroft, Herbenick, D., & Reynolds, 2002). Many young people learn about their bodies and sexual responsiveness through masturbation (Atwood & Gagnon, 1987). Masturbation also continues throughout the life span. For example, many adults continue to masturbate even though they are married and have ready access to sexual intercourse (Laumann et al., 1994). Masturbation can also help older people who do not have an available partner to maintain sexual functioning and expression (Leiblum & Bachmann, 1988). It is also a safe alternative to behaviors that carry a risk of a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV. The benefits of masturbation are illustrated by its wide acceptance in sex therapy as a means of improving the sexual health of the individual and/or couple (Heiman & LoPiccolo, 1988; Leiblum & Rosen, 1989; Zilbergeld, 1992).

Addressing masturbation within sexual health promotion programming can be controversial. However the available evidence suggests that including masturbation as a topic within comprehensive sexual health promotion is important and necessary.

There is a need for more research, including theory development and hypothesis testing, on the impact of masturbation on self-esteem, body image, sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction and the effective incorporation of education about masturbation within sexual health promotion programs.

It must be noted that positive and progressive perspectives toward pleasure and sexuality are emerging from groups from a variety of religious faiths. Nevertheless, it must also be acknowledged that the legacy of a largely negative interpretation of sexual pleasure, particularly if it is experienced in a context contrary to particular religious norms for sexual conduct, by many religious institutions is still with us today and continues to hinder the recognition of pleasure in sexual health promotion efforts in many parts of the world. With respect to international efforts to promote sexual health, the alliance of the United States, the Vatican and conservative Muslim and Catholic states in opposing the recognition of diverse sexual rights, including those related to pleasure, is testimony to the continued influence of conservative religious forces in shaping polices related to sexual health (Ilkkaracan, 2005).

Since the latter half of the 19th century, medicine and medical science has, particularly in the Western world, exercised considerable authority over sexuality and here too we find that sexual pleasure was often seen as pathology. As Hart and Wellings (2002) suggest “The long tradition of representing illness as a punishment for sin was continued when sexual behavior was medicalized and transformed into morbidity” (p. 896). For example, masturbation, homosexual desire and overt sexual interest, particularly if expressed by women was until quite recently seen by medicine as symptomatic of psychiatric illness and perversion.

Although contemporary medicine and some religious institutions have turned the corner in recognizing the positive and beneficial aspects of sexual expression, many remnants of the propensity to focus on the negative outcomes of sexual expression remains with us. “Today’s public discourse about sexuality is almost exclusively about risks and dangers: abuse, addiction, dysfunction, infection, pedophilia, teen pregnancy, and the struggle of sexual minorities for their civil rights” (Planned Parenthood Federation of America [PPFA], 2003. p. 1).

Although, in most cultures, sexual desire and pleasure receive their widest endorsement within the context of a relationship, sexual desire and pleasure are increasingly coming to be seen as intrinsically positive and rewarding aspects of human experience. While a concern with pleasure is sometimes thought of as a decadent preoccupation of a secular Western culture, it is important to note that many diverse cultures have strong traditions of affirming sexual pleasure. For example, within Brazilian culture the concept of tudo or “Everything” refers to the world of erotic experiences and pleasures (de Freitas, de Oliveira, & Rega, 2004). Indeed, a contemporary discourse of pleasure can be found in many non-western cultures. For example, in Turkey, a country not known for its affirmation of women’s sexual pleasure, a grassroots program that emphasized sexual pleasure as a women’s human right was conducted (Ilkkaracan & Seral, 2000). Organizations such as the South and Southeast Asian Resource Centre on Sexuality (Patel, online) are raising the issue of pleasure in the context of sexual health. From their review of historical and cross-cultural perspectives on passionate love and sexual desire, Hatfield and Rapson (1993) conclude that the tide of history is in the direction of “….an increasing acceptance of passionate love and sexual desire as legitimate, expressible feelings” (p. 91).

Sexual leasure is necessary and contributes to well-being, happiness and health

Romantic love is a primary feature of couple relationships and is expressed through sexuality and sexual passion for the partner (Esch & Stefano, 2005). Although social, political and economic differences across time and place can markedly impact upon sexual attitudes and behavior, cross-cultural research has found that people in all societies place a high value on being with a partner for whom there is “mutual attraction-love” (Buss et al., 1990). Sexual desire and pleasure are embedded in and a fundamental aspect of the mutual attraction between partners.

The mutual sharing of sexual pleasure has been shown to increase bonding within relationships (Weeks, 2002). As Tepper (2000) writes with respect to the neglected rights of people with disabilities to enjoy their sexuality, “Pleasure is an affirmation of life…It can add a sense of connectedness to the world or to each other. It can heal a sense of emotional isolation so many of us feel even though we are socially integrated” (p. 288).

In sum, the enjoyment of sexual pleasure plays an important role in contributing to the establishment, maintenance and stability of couple relationships and, without doubt, the quality of couple relationships is fundamental to the health and well-being of individuals and families. While sexual pleasure can be seen as an end in-of-itself, for many, if not most people, sexual pleasure is intertwined with feelings of intimacy and affection for their partner. Sexual desire and pleasure not only facilitate reproduction, they function as a mechanism of social attachment for the couple relationship, an essential kinship structure in all cultures of the world (Fisher, 2002).

At the most foundational level, sexual pleasure is rooted in the most basic of human functions as has been recognized by evolutionary psychology. In the context of adaptive behavior and its necessity in evolution, it would appear that the pleasure generated by sexual stimulation, orgasm or intercourse would be selected-for evolutionarily. Consequently, pleasure can be seen as an effective and important adaptive mechanism, the function of which is to ensure the procreation and survival of the species (Esch & Stefano, 2005, p. 182).

To the extent that a society is concerned with the well-being and stability of families generally, and couples specifically, it is in the interests of policy makers to recognize the importance of sexual pleasure and to implement sexual health promotion programs that address sexual pleasure as fundamental to individual and couple health and wellbeing.

The recent Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors that examined various aspects of sexual health among a sample of 27,500 men and women aged 40 to 80 from 29 culturally diverse countries around the world offers strong evidence of the importance of pleasure and sexual satisfaction for the happiness and well-being of individuals and couples (Laumann et al., 2006: Nicolosi et al., 2004). The survey asked participants, among other things, questions about the degree to which they found their relationships to be physically pleasurable and how important sex is to their overall happiness. Over three quarters of men (82%) and women (76%) agreed that satisfactory sex is essential to maintain a relationship and the authors concluded from their findings that despite substantial cultural variation in sexual norms and values, subjective sexual well-being was associated with overall happiness in both men and women.

A White Paper published by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA, 2003) in cooperation with the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality extensively catalogues the scientific evidence demonstrating the health benefits of sexual expression. Taken together, the studies cited suggest that partnered sexual activity and/or masturbation can be associated with improved longevity, immunity, pain management, self-esteem and a reduction in stress.

In sum, sexual pleasure helps to cement the primary kinship structure of the couple relationship, contributes to the overall happiness in life of both men and women (whether they are in partnerships or not) and is associated with various aspects of good health. Seen in this way sexual pleasure is not frivolous or unnecessary: it is essential.

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GAY SEXUALITY AND ANXIETY

This article is aimed at defining the relationship between gay sexuality and anxiety on the basis of the experience gained in Gay Project.

The issues related to sexuality are dealt in general with specific categories different from that used for all other issues. The first reaction, or rather the first public reaction, is demonstrated by smiles, winks, jokes, all attitudes based on the apparent uniformity of the points of view, which is equivalent to saying that “everybody knows how these things go!”

It is difficult, in public, to go beyond the level of formal uniformity. Sexuality is almost always conceived as a private matter, or in public, as a matter of ideology. Precisely for this reason the serious comparison of experiences beyond the limits of formal uniformity takes place in practice only between two people or in very limited groups. There is still a fear of being judged when it comes to sexuality and that’s why speech is, in public, on a very general level, and only in private can start a serious and useful dialog.

I would say that sexuality is the area in which the uniformity is experienced at the highest level. In a group of one hundred people chosen at random, political and cultural elements of all kinds emerge through discussion, but when it comes to sexuality the group seems made up of uniformly heterosexual persons, you may question some external behaviors but not heterosexuality in itself. I cite a concrete example: in a school with a thousand students there are on average eighty gay guys but no one of them can be identified.

The heterosexuality “seems” to dominate the horizon, but in reality, when you start knowing each individual member of the group, you realize that things are not so, that homosexuality exists and that it is not a phenomenon related to minimum minorities. If, going into the specifics, we talk exclusively with that 8% of homosexual population, we realize that those people are actually not only very far from sharing the general idea to be straight, but also that sexuality is still considered by them as a kind of taboo to be experienced only in secret and guilt, in essence, you realize that gay sexuality is often experienced with anxiety.

While 67.97% of heterosexual guys responded to the survey of Gay Project that they had never lived with anxiety the issues related to their sexual orientation, only 20.45% of gay guys gave the same answer.

Which points of reference can have a gay guy in terms of sexuality? The answers seem obvious, first the parents, then the peer group, then the educational system, etc. etc. . In fact it is already difficult for a straight guy to talk about sexuality with his parents, but for a gay guy the problem is often unsurpassable, not only he wouldn’t probably find on the other side a competent answer but he would face a significant risk of being rejected by his own family. The same could happen with the peer group (classmates, friends, etc.).

The education system in most cases is totally unprepared to provide serious answers in these areas. There are notable exceptions in the countries of Northern Europe but in southern European countries, mostly the United States and in almost all other states, not only there is no form of sex education that includes seriously also homosexuality, but in practice projects are reduced to convey some notion of reproductive physiology leaving entirely aside the emotional dimension and the psychological problems related to sexuality. I had to consider some of the projects of sexual education presented in Italy, aimed at young people aged 16 to 18 years, and I found not only the total absence of any reference to homosexuality, but even the total absence of any reference to masturbation, which is then, today, still a taboo also in the straight field.

To get a detailed picture of the situation we can use the statistics of Gay Project.

The following table compares the percentage of gay guys and straight guys who have never used sex chats or have never used dating sites.

                                        straight            gay
never sex chats             80.47%        61.14%
never dating sites         84.38%        53.14%

It is clear that gay guys do more use of gay sex chats and dating sites than straight guys but the reason does not lie in a greater propensity toward sex as fun or toward quick sex, it is instead a reaction entirely predictable to the marginalization to which gays are forced.

Another significant difference is in the reaction of gay guys and straight guys to the discovery of masturbation:

                                    straight           gay
I didn’t tell anyone       58.59%      80.57%
I told friends                35.94%      15.43%

It is clear that for a gay guy to talk about sexuality is much more problematic. The confidence in the group of peers for a gay guy, on average, is less than half of that of a straight guy.

A similar situation is found with the question “Have you ever told anyone that you used pornography?”

                                      straight        gay
I haven’t told anyone    36.72%    64.00%
I told friends                  56.25%    25.15%

Very significant is the comparison of the number of those who have never had sexual intercourse

                                         straight        gay
I’ve never had sex          32.03%     46.29%
mean age                       26.23         26.25

The overall picture shows that a gay guy has a lot more problems than a straight guy in talking about sexuality with his parents, with peers and at school, and then turns to sex chats and dating sites much more than a straight guy the same age, and also that a gay guy has much less chance to have sexual experiences compared to a straight guy.

Unfortunately, even though it is disheartening, the first source of information on sexuality, for gay guys, is the internet, and especially pornography and the environments of erotic chats and dating sites, which provide images that are often very far from the reality of the life of the vast majority of gay guys. Internet affects gay guys much more than it affects the straight guys. All this makes sexuality a taboo subject for gay guys much more than for straight guys.

I often talk in chat with gay guys having a picture of reality derived entirely from the internet, which means almost exclusively from pornography, sex chats and dating sites. Often these guys are not absolutely at ease with the models they have learned from pornography or chats and end up considering their attitude as something abnormal and deviant to be corrected and for this reason they strive to change their point of view. But if they knew the reality of the lives of other gay guys, they would realize that there’s anything to fix.

Issues related to performance anxiety are still common among gay guys and in these cases the erectile deficit is often considered by the guys themselves as their own personal problem to be solved through the complete acceptance of a pattern of behavior that falsely they consider as the rule of the gay world, but that is far from reality and instead derives almost exclusively from pornography.

There are guys with excellent level of culture and remarkable intellectual gifts that are dominated by anxiety related to the idea of having a small penis or of having problems with sexual response, things that doesn’t exist at all, except as a result of an attempt to integrate at any cost, that is forcedly, in a particular gay scene that they consider to be the typical expression of homosexuality.

There are guys who never use the word gay and avoid all matters relating to physical sexuality. The idea that gay guys can talk seriously even about oral sex or masturbation is still very scarcely spread. In reality, these things should not be considered in any way as a taboo because sexuality is an essential part of life for all guys. A good guy is not a good student who will make his way in life but to be a good guy should not have sex or should largely suppress his sexuality, no! A good guy is obviously (and it would be absurd to think otherwise) a guy who has his sexuality and has every right to live it in any way he likes, with the only limit of the respect of the freedom of others. A good guy lives his masturbation and couple sex when he has a partner, and it is essential that he lives these things with confidence and in a relaxed manner, without stupid conditioning, because sexuality is one of the pillars of well-being. In sexuality, more than in any other issue, the restriction of freedom has an impact heavily negative.

The idea that sexuality is a normal reality of life for all, which is not nothing to be ashamed of and that we can speak seriously of sexuality as we speak of all other things, is almost completely lacking, especially among gay guys.

In situations of isolation, that is in a condition where it is not possible or is very difficult to talk about contents related to sexuality, the anxious reaction prevails and behaviors can become risky. The self-esteem itself of a gay guy is often heavily influenced by the perception of his own sexuality as something that he can’t even speak about.

Addressing seriously the issues related to sexuality, putting aside the anxiety, means regaining self-esteem, reducing problems and maintaining a peaceful contact with reality, that is, in short, feeling better about themselves and others.

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GAYS AND MASTURBATION BETWEEN SIN AND NORMALITY

This post is dedicated to a comparison between the positions of the Catholic Church on the masturbation and the reality of the phenomenon, as it appears through a simple analysis of the facts.

The definition of masturbation given by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Part Three, Section Two, Chapter Two, art. 6, n. 2352) (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P85.HTM) is: “deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure“. The English text uses  “sexual pleasure”, but the Latin one uses ”veneream voluptatem” (venereal lust). The use of the adjective venereal, now obsolete in everyday language and even in medical terminology where the expression “venereal diseases” has been replaced by the more accurate expression “sexually transmitted diseases”, is indebted to Thomas Aquinas, who, in the “quaestio” of Summa Theologica dedicated to lust (Summa Thelogica II^ IIae, q. 153), frequently uses expressions that refer to “venereal lust (ἀφροδισιαστικός)” such as “delectationes venereae”, “voluptates venereas”, “actus venereus”, “usus  venereorum”.

The Catechism is limited to a mere reference to the Declaration “Persona Humana” of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (end of 1975) that however treats the subject in a much more structured way.

The point n. 9 of the Declaration Persona Humana on masturbation is one of the most typical examples of closed dogmatic structure of Catholic morality.

The Declaration Persona humana approaches the topic “masturbation” recalling that: “The traditional Catholic doctrine that masturbation constitutes a grave moral disorder is often called into doubt or expressly denied today. It is said that psychology and sociology show that it is a normal phenomenon of sexual development, especially among the young.” The Church opposes these psychological or sociological theories only with its authority stating that “according to someone” that the Church considers certainly in error, in masturbation “there is real and serious fault only in the measure that the subject deliberately indulges in solitary pleasure closed in on self (“ipsation”), because in this case the act would indeed be radically opposed to the loving communion between persons of different sex which some hold is what is principally sought in the use of the sexual faculty.” Beyond the fact that the text expressly speaks of “persons of different sex,” it introduces a distinction, in the context of masturbation, between “heterosexual” affective masturbation and “ipsation”. The term “ipsation” (from the Latin “ipse” = myself) was coined by Magnus Hirschfeld and was used in the psycho-biological questionnaire to be filled from patients of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin founded by Hirschfeld himself in 1919.

The question. 35 of the questionnaire was as follows: “Do you ever let yourself go to ipsation, i.e. to the satisfaction achieved through onanism? When did you start masturbating? How did you contract this habit? Have you been encouraged by people of your age or of different ages? From people of your same sex or different sex? Up to what age? With what intervals and what mental representations and how did you masturbate? If you are a woman, by external caresses or through the introduction of foreign objects in your body? Have you ever struggled against this trend? If so, by what means (vows, prayers, etc.) “.

The document Persona humana uses the term ipsation (now very rarely used by sexologists) to indicate a “solitary pleasure closed in on self” that would be the reason for the immorality of this “only” kind of masturbation. Obviously the Declaration does not consider any psycho-sexual topic and merely judges morally irrelevant the distinction between “heterosexual” affective masturbation, which implies at least a projective couple dimension, and ipsation i.e. the non-affective masturbation, as if it was that there is a dividing line between the two, and as if the question of the moral legitimacy of masturbation was reduced to this. The document points out that masturbation is still and always condemned by the Church for constant tradition and that whatever the reasons that induce certain indulgence toward affective masturbation: “This opinion is contradictory to the teaching and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church. Whatever the force of certain arguments of a biological and philosophical nature, which have sometimes been used by theologians, in fact both the Magisterium of the Church – in the course of a constant tradition – and the moral sense of the faithful have declared without hesitation that masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act.

The Document specifies the reason behind this judgment: “The main reason is that, whatever the motive for acting this way, the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes “the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love.” All deliberate exercise of sexuality must be reserved to this regular relationship.” Whatever the value of the arguments to the contrary, the sentence is therefore bases its unfailing motivation on the teaching and tradition of the Church that legitimizes the use of the sexual faculty only in “normal conjugal relations“.

Very interesting is the evaluation of the significance of sociological research on the topic of masturbation, as proposed by the Vatican document: “Sociological surveys are able to show the frequency of this disorder according to the places, populations or circumstances studied. In this way facts are discovered, but facts do not constitute a criterion for judging the moral value of human acts.”

The Congregation in practice only paraphrases a document of Pope Paul VI, “If sociological surveys are useful to know the mentality of the environment and the concerns and needs of those to whom we proclaim the word of God, as well as the resistance that human reason could oppose in the modern age, with the widespread notion that does not exist outside of science, any legitimate form of knowledge, the findings of such investigations could never constitute in themselves a determinant criterion of truth.”(Paolo VI, Esort. apost. Quinque iam anni).

The Congregation goes to the identification of the causes of the frequency of masturbation as follows:

The frequency of the phenomenon in question is certainly to be linked with man’s innate weakness following original sin; but it is also to be linked with the loss of a sense of God, with the corruption of morals engendered by the commercialization of vice, with the unrestrained licentiousness of so many public entertainments and publications, as well as with the neglect of modesty, which is the guardian of chastity.

Then the document mentions the “modern psychology” although it is not clear to what it refers specifically:

On the subject of masturbation modern psychology provides much valid and useful information for formulating a more equitable judgment on moral responsibility and for orienting pastoral action. Psychology helps one to see how the immaturity of adolescence (which can sometimes persist after that age), psychological imbalance or habit can influence behavior, diminishing the deliberate character of the act and bringing about a situation whereby subjectively there may not always be serious fault. But in general, the absence of serious responsibility must not be presumed; this would be to misunderstand people’s moral capacity.”

It follows that masturbation is always objectively a serious fault but not always subjectively and it is for this reason that modern psychology can be useful to discern case by case. Clearly, modern psychology is regarded as legitimate as instrumental and compatible with Catholic morality. The Congregation provides also other criteria that go beyond the “modern psychology”:

In the pastoral ministry, in order to form an adequate judgment in concrete cases, the habitual behavior of people will be considered in its totality, not only with regard to the individual’s practice of charity and of justice but also with regard to the individual’s care in observing the particular precepts of chastity. In particular, one will have to examine whether the individual is using the necessary means, both natural and supernatural, which Christian asceticism from its long experience recommends for overcoming the passions and progressing in virtue.”

But let’s consider only the facts leaving aside moral prejudices.

That masturbation concerns basically all guys in adolescence, this fact is generally known and confirmed by all serious surveys carried out in this field. Masturbation in adolescence is very important:  gradually leads guys to the consciousness of their sexual orientation, determines the sexual archetypes, i.e. physical types of the people who induce a clear sexual response and sexual behaviors that will be considered to be more exciting all life long, creates and stabilizes the association between masturbatory fantasies and physiological reactions of erection and ejaculation.

Induce feelings of guilt related to masturbation in adolescents through moral prejudices means severely and negatively interfere with the maturation of their sexuality and with the formation of their moral sense, pushing them to neurotically react with a completely unnatural rejection of the masturbation, to consider masturbation as a vice which they must try in every way to get rid of, and to build a morality based on repression rather than liberty.

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STATISTICS ON GAY SEXUALITY

I am pleased to announce that now (January 24, 2013) Statistics on gay sexuality by Gay Project are finally available online. The statistics show the status of data at the time of interrogation. Since statistics are mostly about hidden gays, who clearly cannot be reliably detected, it is impossible to create samples that can be said representative in a statistical sense (Gay Project statistics represent the picture of those who have completed the questionnaire), the statistics are nevertheless very important because they are practically the only tool that provides an objective survey of gay sexuality extended to hidden gays.
The service is offered in both Italian and English language.
I invite you to complete and post the questionnaire to contribute to the development of the project (all indications are available on the page linked below):

STATISTICS ON GAY SEXUALITY

Here bellow you can read the complete questionnaire:

1) My age
Use integers only

2) My marital status
I’m single
I’m engaged to a girl
I’m married
I am separate
I’m divorced

3) Sons
No children
I have only one child
I have more than one child

4) Family pressures
My family has never affected me in matters related to my sexuality
I think that my family in the end would let me free to follow my emotional/sexual orientation without major problems
My family expects me to be straight
My family would not accept at all that I was not straight

5) Social expectations
The social context in which I live has virtually no weight on emotional/sexual choices
The social context in which I live I think that in the end would be entirely indifferent to my affective/sexual orientation and I would not cause big problems
The social context in which I live would not accept me easily as gay
In the social context in which I live, as a gay man I would have life impossible

6) Why are you doing this test?
I do the test because I have some doubts about my sexual orientation
I do the test because I’d find confirmation of what I already know in practice on my sexual orientation
I do the test out of curiosity

7) Anxiety and sexual orientation
I’ve never lived with anxiety the issues related to my sexual orientation
At the beginning I lived with anxiety the issues related to my sexual orientation but It doesn’t happen anymore
I still live anxiously the situations related to my sexual orientation
I think that the issues related to my sexual orientation are wrapping me from several points of view

8) Have you done before other tests concerning sexual orientation?
I’ve never done before other tests concerning sexual orientation
I’ve done other tests on sexual orientation but only for fun
I’ve done other tests on sexual orientation and I was not satisfied in the sense that I was not given any definite answer

9) Have you read books or specific articles on sexology or sexual psychology?
I have never read books or specific articles on sexology or sexual psychology
Sometimes I read specific books or articles on sexology or sexual psychology but only out of curiosity
I’d like to read specific books or articles on sexology or sexual psychology but I really don’t have time
I tried to learn seriously reading different specific books or articles on sexology or sexual psychology

10) Have you ever consulted a psychologist for reasons related to sexuality?
I have never consulted a psychologist for reasons related to sexuality
Once I consulted a psychologist for reasons related to sexuality but then I gave up because I thought it was not useful
Once I consulted a psychologist for reasons related to sexuality but then I gave up because it was too expensive
Once I consulted a psychologist for reasons related to sexuality but then I gave up because I did not feel at ease
I have consulted a psychologist for reasons related to sexuality but I haven’t gotten any results
I have consulted a psychologist for reasons related to sexuality and it was definitely useful

11) Have you ever consulted a psychologist for reasons other than sexuality?
I have never consulted a psychologist for reasons other than sexuality
Once I consulted a psychologist for reasons other than sexuality but then I gave up because I thought it wasn’t useful
Once I consulted a psychologist for reasons other than sexuality but then I gave up because it was too expensive
Once I consulted a psychologist for reasons other than sexuality but then I gave up because I did not feel at ease
I have consulted a psychologist for reasons other than sexuality but I haven’t gotten any results
I have consulted a psychologist for reasons other than sexuality and it was definitely useful

12) How do you perceive your sexual orientation
At the beginning I also had a straight period but now I feel much gay
I’ve always felt gay from the beginning
I’m gay, but sometimes I also feel straight impulses
I’am gay but I’m not sexually indifferent to the girls
I’m bisexual with a high gay prevalence
I’m bisexual with a slight gay predominance
I feel bisexual with no particular orientation gay or straight
I felt fully heterosexual or fully gay depending on the time
I’m bisexual with wit a light straight prevalence
I’m bisexual with a high straight prevalence
I’m straight, but the I’m not sexually indifferent to the guys
I’m straight, but sometimes I also feel gay impulses
I have always felt straight from the beginning
At the beginning I also had a gay phase but now I feel much straight

13) Openly/Hidden
I’m openly gay to everyone
I’m gay but only a few friends and my family know
I’m gay but only know a few friends know but at home no one knows
I’m gay but I act straight with my family
I’m gay but I act straight with everyone
I’m bisexual and everyone knows it
I’m bisexual but only a few friends and my family know
I’m bisexual but I only a few friends know but at home no one knows
I’m bisexual but I act straight with my family
I’m bisexual but I act straight with everyone
I’m straight

14) How other consider you in relation to the sexual orientation
My sexuality is not a mystery to anyone
All consider me 100% straight
I think my sexual orientation doesn’t interest anyone
I’m always on my own and other people don’t deal with me
Maybe others have some doubts about my sexual orientation but don’t talk about
The others have doubts about my sexual orientation but don’t talk about in front of me
I think that others think I’m gay
They think I’m gay, and they tell me it clearly

15) Affective orientation perceived
At first I fell in love with girls but now I tend to fall in love just with guys
I tend to fall in love just with guys
I tend to fall in love only with guys but I think I could fall in love with some girls too
I tend to fall in love only with guys but with some girls I’m just fine
I tend to fall in love almost exclusively with guys but also with some girls
I tend to fall in love with both guys and girls, perhaps more with guys
I tend to fall in love with guys and girls equally.
I tend to fall in love with guys or with girls according to the time
I tend to fall in love with both boys and girls, perhaps more with girls
I tend to fall in love almost exclusively with girls, but also some guys
I tend to fall in love only with girls but I’m just fine with some guys
I tend to fall in love only with girls but I think I could fall in love with some guys
I tend to fall in love only with girls
At first I fell in love with guys but now I tend to fall in love only with girls

16) Couple’s sexuality
I’ve never had sex neither heterosexual nor gay
At the beginning I had sex with girls but now I have relationships only with guys
I’ve only had sex with guys
I have sexual relations only with guys despite some straight fantasies
I have sexual relations only with guys but I’m also attracted to girls
I have sexual relations with guys almost exclusively, but sometimes also with girls
I have sexual relations mostly with guys but also with girls
I have sexual relations with guys and girls equally
I have sexual relations with either boys and girls according to the time
I have sexual relations especially with girls but also with guys
I have sex almost exclusively with girls, but sometimes also with guys
I have sexual relations only with girls but I’m also attracted to the guys
I have sexual relations only with girls despite some gay fantasy
I’ve only had sex with girls
At the beginning I had sex with guys but now I have relationships only with girls

17) My ideal couple’s sexuality
The ideal, for me, would be a stable couple openly publicly declared, marriage style
The ideal for me would be a stable couple declared only to family and close friends
The ideal for me would be a stable couple declared only to close friends
The ideal for me would be a couple with a minimum of flexibility but with a stable emotional relationship
I don’t seek a stable partner, I don’t even think it makes sense to try

18) My possible project of couple’s sexuality
I think for me it is possible to achieve a stable couple openly declared, marriage style
I think for me it is possible to achieve a stable couple declared only to family and close friends
I think for me it is possible to achieve a stable couple declared only to close friends
I think for me it is possible to make a couple with a minimum of flexibility but with a stable emotional relationship
I think for me it is not even possible to have a stable partner and not even tried to find

19) Orientation of masturbation
At the beginning I masturbated with straight fantasies but now I only do it with gay fantasies
I masturbate only with gay fantasies
I masturbate only with gay fantasies, sometimes I even have heterosexual fantasies but not connected with masturbation
I masturbate with gay fantasies but I think I could do it even thinking about some girls
I masturbate almost exclusively with gay fantasies, but very rarely also thinking about some girls
I masturbate mostly with gay fantasies but sometimes thinking about girls
I masturbate thinking is either the boys and the girls
I masturbate thinking about boys or girls depending on the time
I masturbate mostly with heterosexual fantasies but sometimes also thinking about guys
I masturbate almost exclusively with heterosexual fantasies, but very rarely also thinking about some guys
I masturbate with straight fantasies but I think I could do it even thinking about some guys
I masturbate only with heterosexual fantasies, sometimes I also have gay fantasies but not connected with masturbation
I masturbate only with heterosexual fantasies
At the beginning I masturbated with gay fantasies but now I do it only with heterosexual fantasies

20) Variability of masturbatory fantasies
My masturbatory fantasies are almost always the same
My masturbatory fantasies seldom change
My masturbatory fantasies are highly variable

21) Use of pornography
I never use pornography
Sometimes I go on straight porn sites t but just out of curiosity
Sometimes I go on gay porn sites but just out of curiosity
Sometimes I go on porn sites both straight and gay, but only out of curiosity
I use mostly straight porn sites to masturbate, I do it often, but I don’t feel affected
I use mainly gay porn sites to masturbate, I do it often, but I don’t feel affected
I use porn sites both straight and gay to masturbate, I do it often, but I don’t feel affected
I use only straight porn sites to masturbate, I do it often, but I don’t feel affected
I use only gay porn sites to masturbate, I do it often, but I don’t feel affected
I’m partially heterosexual pornography addict, I’m on all the time I can
I’m partially gay pornography addict, I’m on all the time I can
I’m partially both straight and gay pornography addict, I’m on all the time I can
Straight pornography for me is a kind of obsession, practically all my time on the internet is dedicated to straight porn sites and I cannot help it
The gay pornography for me is a kind of obsession, practically all my time on the internet is dedicated to gay porn sites and I cannot help it
All pornography both straight and gay for me is a kind of obsession, practically all my time on the internet is dedicated to porn sites and I cannot help it

22) Why I use pornography
I don’t use pornography
I use of pornography because I can’t freely express my sexuality and pornography is practically the only sexual outlet I have
Concrete occasions of sexual involvement in every’s life are few and pornography helps to live at least a virtual sexuality
I might as well do without it but I don’t see why I should, since if you do it with intelligence it doesn’t harm

23) How often do you masturbate using pornography?
I never masturbate using pornography
From 0% to 10%
From 10% to 20%
From 20% to 30%
From 30% to 40%
From 40% to 50%
From 50% to 60%
From 60% to 70%
From 70% to 80%
From 80% to 90%
From 90% to 100%

24) Have you ever gone on a pay porn site?
I’ve never been on a pay porn site
I went on a pay porn site only once
I went on a pay porn site from 2 to 5 times
I went on a pay porn site from 6 to 10 times
I went on a pay porn site more than 10 times
I often go on pay porn sites

25) How many porn sites do you visit regularly?
Usually I don’t visit porn sites
Usually I visit a single porn site
Usually I visit from 2 to 5 porn sites
Usually I visit from 6 to 10 porn sites
Usually I visit more than 10 porn sites

26) Sexual interest polarization
My sexual fantasies focus on a single person who has strong emotional meaning for me
My sexual fantasies focus on two people who have strong emotional meaning for me
My sexual fantasies focus on a small group of people who have strong emotional meaning for me
My sexual fantasies focus especially on people whom I know and attract me sexually
My sexual fantasies are mainly focused on episodes particularly exciting in terms of sex that I happen to live day by day
My sexual fantasies are mainly focused on past memories very exciting in terms of sex
My sexual fantasies are derived mainly from pornography

27) Frequency of masturbation and emotional state
The frequency of my masturbation is practically constant
The frequency of my masturbation tends to increase when I fall in love and to decrease when I’m depressed
The frequency of my masturbation tends to increase when I’m depressed and to decrease when I fall in love

28) What I think about masturbation
I consider masturbation something completely natural
I consider masturbation like a behavior that should go away if you really fall in love
I consider masturbation as a fact that eventually is accepted but is morally reprehensible because in fact exploits the image of another person
I consider masturbation a vice from which you should release because sexuality is a serious thing

29) Masturbation and affection
I consider masturbation and emotions are closely linked and when you fall in love you live in a different way
I think that masturbation and affection are two things that may also have something in common but generally masturbation is just a physiological outlet
I think that masturbation and emotions have nothing in common

30) How do I consider sexuality lived as a couple
I think that the couple’s sexuality is a manner to express love
I think that couple’s sexuality should be a manner to express love but in the end it trivializes the whole
I think that couple’s sexuality is still accepted but is morally wrong because in fact exploits another person for selfish

31) Attraction to the nakedness
I’ve never watched the nakedness of anyone, neither guy nor girl
I watched the nakedness of unaware girls
I watched the nakedness of other unaware guys
I watched the nakedness both of unaware other guys and of unaware girls

32) Causing sexually embarrassing situations
I’ve never done in a way that neither boys nor girls find themselves in sexually embarrassing situations
I acted in order to put other guys in sexually embarrassing situations
I acted in order to put girls in sexually embarrassing situations
I acted in order to put both other guys and girls in sexually embarrassing situations

33) Reactions in situations of collective non-sexual nakedness (locker rooms)
I’ve never been in situations of collective non-sexual nakedness
I made sure that I am not ever in a situation of collective non-sexual nakedness (locker rooms)
When I’m in situations of collective non-sexual nakedness (locker rooms), I feel embarrassment and try to be there for the shortest time possible
I like being in situations of collective non-sexual nakedness (locker rooms) but I try in every way to control my erection that is almost unavoidable
I like being in situations of collective non-sexual nakedness (locker rooms) but I try in every way to control my erection that is almost inevitable if there is any guy that interests me
I’m comfortable in situations of collective non-sexual nakedness (locker rooms) and if you get an erection in the end nothing happens
I’m comfortable in situations of collective non-sexual nakedness (locker rooms), I’m used to and I’m not any more effect
The situations of collective non-sexual nakedness (locker rooms), are for me totally indifferent

34) Heavy sex jokes made in group to other guys (e.g. forced stripping)
I never happened to be present at a heavy sex joke made in group to another guy (e.g. forced stripping)
When I happen to be present at a heavy sex joke made in group to another guy (e.g. forced stripping) I feel embarrassment
When I happen to be present at a heavy sex joke made in group to another guy (e.g. forced stripping) I get excited but I do not take part in the thing
When I happen to be present at a heavy sex joke made in group to another guy (e.g. forced stripping) I take part easily because, it’s just a joke
When I happen to be present at a heavy sex joke made in group to another guy (e.g. forced stripping) I take part easily because it is a sexual game and I like such tings

35) Do you talk about your sexuality with your friends?
My friends and I never talk about my sexuality
With my friends I act 100% straight
With my friends I try to avoid the subject and I don’t say to be gay but not even to be straight
My friends and I talk quietly about my sexuality

36) Do you go to sex chats?
I never go to sex chats
Sometimes I go to straight sex chats but just out of curiosity
Sometimes I go to gay sex chats but just out of curiosity
Sometimes I go both to straight and gay sex chats but just out of curiosity
I happened sometimes to go to straight sex chats because I was trying to contact girls but I never contacted any girl in person among those I met in sex chats
I happened sometimes to go to gay sex chats because I was trying to contact guys but I never contacted any guy in person among those I met in sex chats
I happened sometimes to go to straight sex chats because I was trying to contact girls and then I met in person some of those girls
I happened to go in sometimes to gay sex chats because I was trying to contact gays and then I met personally some of those guys
I happened several times to go to straight sex chats because I was trying to contact girls but I never met any girl in person among those I met in sex chats
I happened several times to go to gay sex chats because I was trying to contact guys but I never met any guy in person among those I met in sex chats
I happened several times to go to straight sex chats because I was trying to contact girls and then I met in person many of those girls
I happened several times to go to gay sex chats because I was trying to contact gays and then I met in person many of those guys
I regularly go to straight sex chats and I know this way many girls in person
I regularly go to gay sex chats and I meet this way many guys in person

37) Do you go to dating sites?
I never go to dating sites
Sometimes I go to straight dating sites but just out of curiosity
Sometimes I go to gay dating sites but just out of curiosity
Sometimes I go to dating sites both straight and gay, but only out of curiosity
I happened to attend sometimes straight dating sites because I was trying to contact girl but I never met any girl in person among those I met in dating sites
I happened to go sometimes to gay dating sites because I was trying to contact gays but I never met any guy in person among those I met in dating sites
I happened to attend sometimes to straight dating sites because I was trying to contact girls and then I met in person some of those girls
I happened to go sometimes to gay dating sites because I was trying to contact gays and then I met in person some of those guys
I happened several times to go to straight dating sites because I was trying to contact girls but I never met any girl in person among those I met in dating sites
I happened several times to go to gay dating sites because I was trying to contact gays but I never met any guy in person among those I met in dating sites
I happened several times to go to straight dating sites because I was trying to contact girls and then I met in person many of those girls
I happened several times to go to gay dating sites because I was trying to contact guys and then I met in person many of those guys
I regularly dating sites straight and I know so many girls in person
I regularly go to gay dating sites and I meet this way many guys in person

38) Have you ever been in a place openly gay?
I’ve never been in a place openly gay
Sometimes I was in a local openly gay but just out of curiosity
I happened sometimes to go to a local openly gay because I go there with friends
I happened sometimes to go to a local openly gay because I was trying to contact guys
I went several times to a local openly gay because I go there with friends
regularly go to the gay locals

39) Straight falling in love and masturbation
I’ve never been in love with a girl
When I fall in love with a girl I avoid masturbating
When I fall in love with a girl I masturbate thinking about her but after I have feelings of guilt
When I fall in love with a girl I masturbate quietly thinking about her
When I fall in love with a girl I masturbate thinking also about other girls but then I feel guilty because I seem to betray
When I fall in love with a girl I masturbate thinking also about some guy but after I feel guilty because I seem to betray
When I fall in love with a girl I masturbate quietly even thinking about other girls
When I fall in love with a girl I masturbate quietly even thinking about some guy
When I fall in love with a girl I masturbate just thinking about other girls, if I did thinking about her I’d feel guilty

40) Gay falling in love and masturbation
I’ve never been in love with a guy
When I fall in love with a guy I avoid masturbating
When I fall in love with a guy I masturbate thinking about him but then I feel guilty
When I fall in love with a guy I masturbate thinking quietly about him
When I fall in love with a guy I masturbate thinking also to other guys but then I feel guilty because it seems to me to betray him
When I fall in love with a guy I masturbate also thinking about some girls but after I feel guilty because it seems to me to betray him
When I fall in love with a guy I masturbate quietly even thinking about other guys
When I fall in love with a guy I masturbate quietly even thinking about some girls
When I fall in love with a guy I masturbate just thinking the other guys, if I did thinking about hit I’d feel guilty

41) Falling in love, sex chat and dating sites
When I fall in love I don’t go to sex chats and dating sites
When I fall in love I try to avoid sex chats and dating sites but don’t always succeed
When I fall in love I continue to go to sex chats and dating sites
I never go to sex chats and dating sites

42) Falling in love and pornography
When I fall in love I don’t need porn sites to masturbate
When I fall in love I try not to go to porn sites to masturbate but sometimes it happens
When I fall in love easily go on watching porn sites to masturbate
I never use pornography

43) Your first memories of episodes that had some sexual coloring for you
The first memories I have of episodes that had some sexual coloring are lost in the past, are distant and irrelevant in practice
The first memories I have of episodes that had some sexual coloring, for me, are not pretty
The first memories I have of episodes that had some sexual coloring, for me, are pleasant

44) The first episodes of your life that had some sexual coloring
The first episodes of my life that had any sexual coloring were about gays younger than me
The first episodes of my life that had some sexual coloring concerned girls younger than me
The first episodes of my life that had any sexual coloring were about gays almost my age
The first episodes of my life that had some sexual coloring concerned girls almost my age
The first episodes of my life that had had some sexual coloring concerned guys older than me
The first episodes of my life that had some sexual coloring concerned girls older than me
The first episodes of my life that had some sexual coloring concerned adult men
The first episodes of my life that had some sexual coloring concerned adult women
The first episodes of my life that had some sexual coloring were related to groups of only guys almost the my age
The first episodes of my life that had some sexual coloring were related to groups of only girls almost the my age
The first episodes of my life that had any sexual coloring were related yo mixed groups of guys and girls almost my age
The first episodes of my life that had some sexual coloring were related to groups of only guys older than me
The first episodes of my life that had some sexual coloring were related to groups of only girls older than me
The first episodes of my life that had any sexual coloring were related to mixed groups of guys and girls older than me

45) The first episodes of your life that had any sexual coloring
The first episodes of my life that had any sexual coloring were homosexual
The first episodes of my life that had any sexual coloring were heterosexual

46) At what age did you discover masturbation?
Answer an integer

47) How did you discover masturbation?
I discovered masturbation alone
I discovered masturbation by speeches of friends
I discovered masturbation with another guy
I discovered masturbation with a girl
I discovered masturbation through masturbation in common with friends
I discovered masturbation through pornography

48) How did you react to the discovery of masturbation?
After the discovery of masturbation I felt panic
After the discovery of masturbation I felt uncertainty
After the discovery of masturbation I tried to suppress it
After the discovery of masturbation, I found it immediately attractive but I lived it with guilt
After the discovery of masturbation I had no problem and I lived very quietly from the beginning

49) The fantasies of your first masturbations
The fantasies of my first masturbations were straight
The fantasies of my first masturbations were gay
The fantasies of my first masturbations were mostly straight
The fantasies of my first masturbations were mostly gay
The fantasies of my first masturbations were both straight and gay

50) Whom were your first masturbations dedicated to?
My first masturbations were always dedicated to guys I had met in real life
My first masturbations were always dedicated to girls I had met in real life
My first masturbations were always dedicated to guys I had seen by accident
My first masturbations were always dedicated to girls I had seen by chance
My first masturbations were always or almost dedicated to pictures of guys coming from pornography and sometimes to guys I had met in real life
My first masturbations were always or almost dedicated to pictures of girls coming from pornography and sometimes to girls I had met in real life
My first masturbations were dedicated both to guys and girls but mostly to guys
My first masturbations were dedicated both to guys and girls but mostly to girls
My first masturbations were dedicated both to guys and girls much or less the same way

51) After the discovery of masturbation did you talk anyone?
After the discovery of masturbation I did not talk about to anyone
After the discovery of masturbation I talked about with my parents
After the discovery of masturbation I talked about with a priest
After the discovery of masturbation I talked about with a psychologist
After the discovery of masturbation I talked about with some older friends
After the discovery of masturbation I talked about with some friends my age

52) At what age did you have your first contact with pornography?
Answer using an integer

53) How did you come to pornography?
I have never come to pornography
I have come to pornography to mimic the behavior of friends
I have come to pornography on the suggestion of friends
I have come to pornography just out of spontaneous curiosity

54) How did you react to the discovery of pornography?
After the discovery of pornography I reacted with excitement
After the discovery of pornography I reacted with feelings of guilt
After the discovery of pornography I reacted with uncertainty
After the discovery of pornography I reacted by trying to avoid it
After the discovery of pornography I found it interesting from the beginning but I was living it with guilt
After the discovery of pornography I had no problem at all and I used it very quietly from the beginning

55) Have you ever told anyone that you were using pornography?
I’ve never told anyone that I was using pornography
I told my parents that I was using pornography
I told a priest that I was using pornography
I told a psychologist that I was using pornography
I told friends older than me that I was using pornography
I told friends my age that I was using pornography
I never used pornography

56) At what age did you first had sexual contact with another person?
Reply 0 if it never happened

57) Who was the person with whom you had the first sexual contact?
I never had sexual contacts
The person with whom I had my first sexual contact was a guy younger than me
The person with whom I had my first sexual contact was a guy my age or so
The person with whom I had my first sexual contact was a guy older than me
The person with whom I had my first sexual contact was an adult man
The person with whom I had my first sexual contact was a girl younger than me
The person with whom I had my first sexual contact was a girl my age or so
The person with whom I had my first sexual contact was an girl older than me
The person with whom I had my first sexual contact was an adult woman

58) How did you get to have the first sexual contact with another person?
I got to have my first sexual contact in a situation that was as a game
I got to have my first sexual contact in a situation that was to me a strong sexual interest
I got to have my first sexual contact in a situations of physical or psychological coercion
I have never had sexual contact

59) Your first sexual contacts were completely episodic or were repeated?
My first sexual contact was entirely episodic, it happened only once
I would say that my first sexual contacts were sporadic, they only happened a few times
My first sexual contacts for a while have become a habit
I never had sexual contacts

60) Satisfaction of your first sexual contact
I really liked my first sexual contact
My first sexual contacts were like a game or so to me
I didn’t really like my first sexual contacts but I didn’t even feel unpleasant
As for my first sexual contacts, I was not displeased but I felt guilty, I said earlier to reject them but then I ended up accepting
I never had sexual contacts

61) Evolution of masturbatory sexuality
My masturbatory fantasies were and still are always gay
My masturbatory fantasies were and still are always straight
My masturbatory fantasies tend to become progressively more gay
My masturbatory fantasies tend to become progressively more straight
My masturbatory fantasies have always been more or less variable

62) How did you meet your current partner or your last partner?
I’ve never had couple’s partners
I met my current partner (or my last partner) at school
I met my current partner (or my last partner) at the university
I met my current partner (or my last partner) at work
I met my current partner (or my last partner) through friends
I met my current partner (or my last partner) via dating sites
I met my current partner (or my last partner) through erotic chats
I met my current partner (or my last partner) attending locals
I met my current partner (or my last partner) randomly through the internet

63) How many guys have you had sexual contact with during your life?
Indicate 0 if it never happened

64) How many girls have you had sexual contact with during your life?
Indicate 0 if it never happened

65) On average, how long endured your straight relationships? Indicate an average in months
Indicate 0 if it never happened

66) On average, how long endured your gay relationships? Indicate an average in months
Indicate 0 if it never happened

67) How did you behave when you weren’t engaged?
When I wasn’t engaged I tried to find a girl
When I wasn’t engaged I tried to find a guy
When I wasn’t engaged I didn’t try to find neither boys nor girls
When I wasn’t engaged I tried to find both boys and girls

FROM PERPLEXED HETERO TO HAPPY GAY

Hello Project,
From some months now I follow Gay Project that is practically unique throughout the network and allowed me to understand many things and gave a serious answer to many questions.

My name is Max, I am 29 years old, luckily for me I have a good job, which is a rarity these days, and I live on my own in a small town in the northern Italy. To accept my being gay it took me so long, I had two girlfriends, the first story was a thing of little weight, but the second was important. I needed a rest, I felt alone, I was 26 years old when it started.

I was used to let myself go with this girl, at least a little, then I realized the reason but I didn’t realize at that time. I had sex with her, but in a very strange way, I never took the initiative, such things didn’t event come into my mind, she had to do everything, I abandoned myself just passively and she brought me to orgasm as well. The first few times, that’s what I understood later, it seemed important to me to have an erection with a girl because this drove away the fear of being gay. When I reached orgasm I fell a sense of disappointment, as if it were something completely stupid and in fact for me it was just a physical reaction. She was used to give great importance to the fact that I had reached orgasm, she felt really proud of that.

Only a very few times I’ve been to stimulate her, but she had to basically teach me everything because I had no idea of how a woman could get excited. I think that in general a 26 year old guy knows very well what to do to a woman but I did not know. She wanted me to try penetration but I never did, a little out of fear that she became pregnant and a bit because for me it was not a spontaneous thing. So, according to her, things were going very well and I was just a little clumsy but I knew that it was not the case and that I was forced, as you say, I was “doing an experiment” on myself to see if I could eventually adapt to living with a woman.

The fact of having sex with her, however, gave me the feeling of not being gay and things went on like this, and here comes my discovery of your blog, in fact I had then also another sex life, I masturbated but always just watching gay videos or making fantasies about guys I met at the gym. Frankly these things, then, hadn’t any great significance for me, I said to myself that it was to make comparisons just like, I think, all the straight guys do and then, after all, it didn’t even happen so often.

I never made fantasies about girls but then it seemed to me obvious and almost meritorious because I had a girlfriend who had sex with me. With my girlfriend I had a very special relationship because her parents didn’t even know that we were somehow in love, or at least I had not ever wanted them to know because, I think, subconsciously I was afraid of getting bound, instead friends knew, both her and mine and, after all, that my friends knew it, for me, was an important thing. I had told her about a lot of strange things, about why I didn’t want to marry her and didn’t even want to have children, all these things seemed absurd to her and she was quite sure that she could change my mind.

Sometimes I thought that she considered me as a person of very little importance and that she was only interested in me to involve me into her life in order to complete her project of life, however, I can say that sex between us had become a habit, we were together also to have sex and I liked it, or at least tolerated it, but then when it was over I forgot the whole thing and did not think about until the next time and basically I didn’t want it really. I remember that when we were together she was totally focused on sex on the contrary I was thinking about something else and I was wondering why I was having sex with her.

We weren’t used to talk about us, but always and only about her projects that in fact did not concern us as couple but our being a couple in the eyes of other people, we were talking about going here or there, doing this or that, nothing more. I was surprised that nevertheless she felt in love with me but I think she really felt.

A couple of years ago I happened by chance on Gay Project and I began to read. The more I read, the more I opened my eyes. At one point I said: but then I’m really gay! I was used to think that the fact that I had never done those things that are said to be typical of gay guys was a clear evidence that I was not gay, and in addition I had sex with a girl. Then by reading more and more your blog, this reasoning was beginning to seem absurd, I began to think to the fact that sexual fantasies are a serious matter and slowly, I can say, I started living that things with more awareness, but at most I could consider myself bisexual, that was the idea I had formed of me, but then that idea has been shattered, but I didn’t like the idea of being gay.

The forum helped me a lot, but now sex with my girlfriend had become a habit and frankly I thought it would be still better to have sex with a guy whom I fantasized about but I thought it was absolutely impossible for me as a concrete experience. Let’s say that I had reached a balance, a compromise, certainly unstable but reassuring.

Then three months ago things have changed, I met by accident a guy 21 y. o.. He came where I work and had some work problems to be solved, things were rather complicated and he asked me if I could help him. The way he asked me and his appearance made me come to a heart attack. I was enchanted. I had other work to do but I invited him to sit down and I closed the door. He began to tell me about various problems and I tried to find the best solution concentrating at most. Not all problems could be solved immediately, for some things we needed our attention and time.

We met again in the following days. We were experiencing more and more a wonderful climate. I went to work just to see that guy. I asked myself a lot of questions and he did the same thing. Slowly the atmosphere became very pleasant, he called at home to get information and always we ended up chatting about things that with the work had nothing to do. Both were trying to prolong the conversation as much as possible. It took a little to start a conversation less formal and more friendly, then came the first pizza together and the first evening spent talking in the car, then he asked me how I figured out and accepted it, I told him that everything happened without any problem, all came very natural, and he told me about himself and even that he had spent long nights to read blog posts of Project.

The day when we told each other everything was beautiful, I think it was something absolutely unique and I felt very happy. When I looked into his eyes and I saw his smile I was the happiest man in the world, I wanted to hug him but I did not have the courage neither had he, I was afraid that even the slightest physical contact could break the spell. We met for almost three months, and then he told me that it was his first time and he wanted to make love with me, I told him all my fears, insisting that I had a girlfriend although frankly I wanted to be with him only. With him, I could also talk about my sexual fantasies.

Sometimes it seemed impossible that a guy like him could be in love with me, but things were just so. I felt a sexual attraction to him but also a strong total tenderness, I loved him just as a person, he made me feel loved, made me feel that he loved me, trusted me completely, we were happy together and we are still. Project, what you write about gay affectivity is absolutely true. Recently, I spent two days with him and I do not think I could do without it.

It is two weeks that I no longer see my girlfriend, I could not tell her anything and in the end I’m sorry but I do not think she would understand. When we had the opportunity to talk about gay people she replied as one who takes no offense but with “them” just doesn’t want to have anything to do.

I believe that I have never been so happy as today. It is not a matter of sex, it’s that I feel just totally in love with this guy. In everything he does and says there never was a discordant note and such a guy is in love with me! Guys, before meeting him, I was convinced that my life would have been to have sex with a woman without any real involvement and act like I was in love with her, I thought I’d never have a boyfriend, I took it for granted, and then at age 29 the possibilities decrease, but no! As you say, Project, when you meet the right guy, life changes. And I love my boyfriend totally, I like him in every way, just as a person because he’s truly a good person, a honest guy who wants to love and be loved. I want to tell everyone, do not put in your head that love does not exist and you will not find it because when you least are waiting for him, a guy looks into your eyes and your life changes! A hug to everyone! And one very special to Project (now I really understand the deep meaning of what you said!)

Max

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

GAYS AND SEXUAL MORAL

This post stems from a comment that a user has left on my posting on a blog in English of Gay Project. That comment was about guys who fall in love with other guys and crave them sexually but abstain from sex for religious reasons. I added my reply to his comment:

“I sincerely think that consider chastity as a simple abstinence from sex means to reduce and even change a bit its significance. Within a couple relationship the choice to abstain from sex for religious reasons made by only one of the two guys can be not really shared and therefore, in this case, is substantially imposed to the another. It would be like trying to fast for religious reasons by imposing fasting also to other people. Add that there are situations where shared sexuality has a so large affective value in determining the well-being of the other that refraining from sex for religious reasons ends to be identified with a lack of love towards those who really need it. I mean that sexuality is far from being just selfish and avoid it, sometimes, may be more a gesture of pride than an act of love. I will try to publish a post today about the meaning of the prohibitions on religious grounds, given according to a secular perspective and I’ll try to consider two concepts:

1) The sense of guilt and
2) How far obedience is a virtue and not a delegation of responsibility. ”

I shall now deal with concrete matters as always starting from the facts.

It is a fact that religions propose to believers rules to follow, some rules are moral codes that are shared by the majority of non-believers (such as “do not kill”, “Do not bear false witness”, etc..) and don’t need any justification because are considered pillars of civil life, while others doesn’t find any objective justification, so that precepts as monogamy that are considered essential by some religions are not at all by others. Some of these precepts derive from traditions and may have some historical very remote justifications that have been lost over the centuries, although despite this, the observance of the precepts remains mandatory. It is the assumed absolute and not historical dimension of religions which makes for them at least theoretically impossible to adequate to present historical situation.

Many rules about food and sex, seen from a secular point of view, are quite formal and apparently unmotivated. The prohibition of eating certain types of meat or fish that are food commonly used by other people does not find any reason except the fact that “it is mandatory”, and is accepted on the basis of a principle of authority and therefore its violation constitutes “formally” a fault. Let’s talk about faults in the sense that they are considered to be such by those who follow that religion, because for the others are facts entirely indifferent.

Certain requirements such as “not eating meat on Friday”, who were only formal, created, in times not very distant, considerable guilt. But I would deal mainly with prohibitions related to sexuality, that even today, and presumably for very long periods, will continue to affect human behavior and create suffering.

The moral, as well as historical religions conceive it, does not look at the “moral” substance of the facts but stops to assumptions and categories only formal and this happens especially in sexual matters. The prejudice becomes precept and shows the power of the authority in the name of which some behavior (or some omission), by itself completely meaningless or even harmful, is required. No one tries to explain the meaning of these precepts, because their sense comes only by the principle of authority. Rational analysis could weaken these precepts showing that are not needed and sometimes are inappropriate and even harmful. Obedience is usually presented to children as the highest virtue. The good child does what parents want, if he acts like this, he will be gratified, if he doesn’t he has to face a more or less serious guilt. Guilt creates psychological subjection and dependence and thus confirms the principle of authority by the need to be forgiven.

We go down in the concrete. Chastity, seen as abstaining from sex is considered a virtue and the exercise of sexuality is considered a vice, which is transformed into a virtue only when sexuality is exercised in order to procreate. These statements, which are theoretically shared by many people, are pure prejudice.

Psychology teaches that sexuality lived in a peaceful, spontaneous and uninhibited climate and then in a non transgressive way, is a key condition of well-being, despite this, chastity is considered a virtue and sexuality, if not for procreation, a vice . Why does this happen? The “rational” explanation (for those who believe of course it’s a nonsense) lies in the mechanism prohibition / transgression / guilt / need for forgiveness that strengthens the authority of those who support the prohibition and administer the forgiveness. If the prohibition is easy to comply with the guilt is quite rare and the authority cannot realy be reinforced, but if the prohibition or condemnation is about sexuality and it is an absolute prohibition, virtually and sometimes substantially “against nature” (e.g. the prohibition of masturbation), the transgression is unavoidable and through the mechanism of forgiveness the strengthening of the authority which imposes and manages the prohibition is very clear.

It is said by many that all religions lead to the repression of sexuality and the discourse seems realistic and could be summed up like this: a guy who would have a free sexuality if he comes within the orbit of a religion is conditioned and begins to repress his sexuality. Religion is the cause and the repression of sexuality would be the effect. But why if so many guys come to religion and only some of them end up sexually repressed remaining in that religion while others who approached religion then turn away? The answer is easily found if, instead of saying that the adherence to a religion is the cause of sexual repression, we invert the reasoning and realize that are the guys who are sexually repressed who eventually adhere to certain religions because within those religions their sexual self-repression is considered a merit if not a form of holiness.

It’s surprising that Christianity, that at the level of Gospel, is the religion of love of neighbor, that is the religion of “doing” good actions for the neighbor (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, etc..) is rather widely understood as the religion of “do not”, of “stay away” of “not be defiled”. In essence, unfortunately, instead of feel guilty when you omit to “do” the good that you can do, you end up feeling guilty when you “do” something that is prohibited only because it is prohibited, even if the prohibition has no other motivation beyond the strengthening of the authority who manages it.

If religion was lived within the personal conscience considered the supreme judge of the morality of the actions instead of being consecrated only by the subordination to an external authority, how many prohibitions would continue to exist? The level of morality would decrease? Frankly I do not think so. Why delegate the choices of our conscience to an external authority? Why are we so afraid of just being men? Why give up the freedom to think?

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

GAY MASTURBATION BETWEEN FALLING IN LOVE AND PORNOGRAPHY

This long post contains an exchange of emails between me and a guy, a 22 year old student, on the issues of gay sexuality. My partner has authorized me to publish the texts anonymously (Mark is a fictitious name), what I do willingly, because it is a very serious correspondence that also helped me to reflect on many aspects of gay sexuality.

By Mark to Project – Saturday, March 6, 2010 22:16:55 +0100

Hello Project, I didn’t get an email from you from about fifteen days … are you okay?

I wanted to know whether the considerations I expressed about your work were helping or not.

I saw on the website that you have responded to a guy about 20 y. o. who did not know if he was straight or gay.

I could not help but notice, again renewed in this case, your strong dedication to the consideration of the masturbatory sexual component as an essential component of the self-identification as gay guy … And, I tell you honestly … I felt bad.

I felt bad because for a moment I had the impression that you could have some hesitation in the answer (now that is quite a bit that I don’t receive your emails) just for the fact that I almost reversing your thinking, focused my attention on the emotional components rather than on the sexual ones (what seems the pivot on which you base your idea of sexual orientation) …

Please tell me that I thought wrong. I care a lot to be able to build this Project with you, and with anyone else who wants to join our strength to build a place for people to be able to call it “home.” In truth I tell you that I do this for the most part because I’m not belonging to anything in this world for me void of affection.

If you do not belong to any reality, to any person, and most do not even have a way to help others to feel part of something good (to have a “home” in which to return), you feel even more lost, weak, sad.

I do not know if you can understand what I mean. And a little I feel guilty because of all this so “noble” talking only for the salvation of my soul. But I am a human being limited as much as all the other men who tread this earth. I live for my desire to live and my happiness, even before that of others. I’m restless, I’m really afraid of what I might happen in the future.
I’m afraid of losing also that little feelings I live.

I’m afraid of not being able to financially support my family now that it’s needed. I’m afraid that I’m never going to be happy with another guy (even at the level of deep friendship). I’m afraid of tears that are streaking my face now, afraid of all the horrors and weaknesses that I hide.

Forgive me for these long complaints, but I need to vent to someone and you’re the only one with whom I can freely talk about these things. Forgive me if I use you. I did not want to write all these things, but in the end I did it to myself and to tell things clear and round.

Hello Project, please answer me. Even if you were mad at me for anything, because I appeared cold and arrogant in my technical speeches, or anything else, please answer me. Alone I cannot really take all this weight on my shoulders. Please.
Mark

By Project to Mark – Sunday, March 7, 2010 08:54:50 +0100

Hello Mark,
I’m not at all angry with you and would love to continue to work with you on the testing of the Project, it’s just that now I’m swamped with work, that I have a lot of things to do that I cannot even begin and I have deadlines coming and there is no procrastination. The email I posted on the blog is not recent, I got it when I had time to devote to these things. And I’d love to have some more. To the question about the relation between masturbation and affection, frankly, I do not see why the two should not go together. Physical sexuality and emotions are not separate things, masturbation is a way to live affective strong couple’s feelings when you cannot really live them in other ways. When a guy falls in love with another guy, he begins to masturbate thinking about that guy, and this thing has exactly the value of a deep desire for intimacy with that guy. It’s obvious that sexuality without feelings is meaningless and cannot be rewarding, a typical case is that of sex with strangers who you will never see again, but masturbation dedicated to a guy you love is a sign of deep involvement, sexual and affective together, towards that guy. I do not think at all that you’re wrong to base things on the affective dimension, I rather think that masturbation is the expression of a deep drive, emotional and sexual together, towards another guy, somehow it’s a concrete affectivity that is also expressed at genital level. Frankly I do not think that what you say is substantially different from what I say.

I am very sorry instead of reading the last part of your email, because you seem quite discouraged and I do not want that to happen at all. I’m not gone, and I’m not going to disappear but I feel crushed by the enormous amount of work that I have to do and I cannot postpone. I will try to be more present, but, I repeat, I’m not going to disappear, away.
A strong hug and be courageous! You must go on!
See you soon, Mark!
Project

By Mark to Project – Monday, 8 March 2010 00:11:58 +0100

Hello, I’m sorry for the discouragement that I have expressed in the email. It’s just that lately there are so many bad things happening all at once and I feel that I often lack the inner strength to cope with all the chaos of my life. I’m sorry I made you truly feel the weight of my tears, but unfortunately I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I felt the need of venting with someone who could understand me. Forgive me really, I did not even look so weak in your eyes, because I would be much stronger now to face not only my problems but also those of others (or at least that’s what I want). If by chance you ever need any help from me, or just want to take something out with someone, you can easily talk to me because I am here to listen. At least this is just to make it clear that this is what I really want. It’s something that goes beyond the fact of lending you a hand just for “sense of duty”.

As for the speech about masturbation I have to say that I agree with you that masturbation fantasizing of another guy is a sign of wanting to become more intimate with that guy, of wanting to love that guy. On the other hand, however, I perceive that something is wrong in this statement. It’s a perception that I feel, it’s not a kind of certainty that I’m convinced of, anyway I’ll try to explain. . . no doubt that a guy who likes another guy may live through the masturbation his affection for the guy he is in love with. But, besides the fact that I think that the masturbation comes from affection but affection never comes from masturbation, I want to expose my personal feeling: I could never masturbate thinking about the guy I love, because I feel that I would make him “dirty”, or at least it would seem to me that I’m diminishing the affection and the respect I have for him because I imagine him in sexually exciting situations. It’s like I’d put some partition wall to prevent sexuality to touch things I love, because I deify that things and do not want them “lose value” reduced to a sexual fantasies suitable to my simple physical satisfaction.

At the same time I see the idea of sex between people who love each other as something right and good, and I allow that starting from the affective feelings they could end up to step forward towards more explicit sexuality (but not lived to oneself through masturbation, like I said before).

I cannot describe my feelings better, but I think they are already quite understandable. What do you think? a) These ideas are just mine? b) Is there some truth in my speech? or c) I’m at some stage of rejection of sexuality or so d) Other?

Perhaps I don’t know how reality is experienced by other gay guys, or rather I am becoming more and more a aware of that. And based on what I see, I would say that there are guys who quietly masturbate thinking about guys they like, in full awareness of all the sensations you feel to masturbate thinking of the loved guy. [Is it so or not?]

For me sex is just an extension of the affection I feel for a person, it is not mandatory that there is, and it is by virtue of that that it seems to me to deflower the purity of the guy I love while I figure him in erotic situations. Such things are not necessary to convince me of the goodness of the affection I feel for that guy, but I also consider selfish in itself the idea of reducing at my mercy another guy (in the erotic fantasies of course) to reach orgasm.

I don’t know, what do you think about? Am I the only one who thinks so or there are many young people who think like me? If we were a lot of people thinking so, what element of truth to be learned may be found in our thinking? Or maybe in the end I’m just a person with a frigid sexuality? [Although I’m not so for various reasons that I don’t list here]

I await your response [maybe in a week. . . no, obviously I will not urge you to do things in a hurry. Simply I’d like to hear from you as soon as possible to be able to think about in turn and then * I think * that a week would be enough to think about what to say and find the time to tell me it] [I would also like to know what you think about what I said in my email regarding your future test on sexuality: whether you have criticisms to make, whether you share fully what I told you … always within the limits of your possibilities of time and energy that you can spend, of course]

Hello again and thank you very much for the loving care that you give me. I hope for you that the problems at work are not too heavy. I would really be friendly closer to you.
See you soon.
Mark

By Project to Mark – Tuesday, 9 March 2010 06:55:46 +0100

Hello Mark,
first of all you do not have to apologize for anything, we do not need formalities, I’m sorry to hear you a little discomforted, I wish you could feel another way. Not only you don’t create problems of any kind but in the end this exchange of emails is a bit a pause in the midst of the absurdity of social life and work, a rare moment in which I can be what I’m and I can say what I think. For me these emails have the meaning of the safety valve and are things that I live like good moments to which I’d like to spend more time.

But let’s get to the question of masturbation. It sounds crazy, but still in the twenty-first century we are on the subject of deeply rooted prejudices and conditioning. Physical sexuality today not only is lived without serenity but is loaded with many mythical meanings and is conditioned by many taboos. It is the legacy of centuries of Catholic culture, convictions and repression. There is little to do, the damage remains. Einstein said that it is easier to break an atom than a prejudice! The distinction affection/sex repeats the distinction soul/body: all that is noble comes from the soul (affectivity), all that is “dirty” comes from the body (sex). This suggests that sexuality intended not for procreative purposes is “dirty” and that a love interest ennobles the person you love, and a sexual interest degrades that person. In fact, the distinction between body and soul does not make sense, it is an indissoluble unity, and so it makes no sense the split between affectivity and sexuality. Beyond the divisions inherited from a bipolar culture (good/bad, soul/body) there is a unitary dimension to which should be given the right value. We agree about the fact that it makes no sense to think of a sexuality without affectivity, such things dig a rift between affectivity and sexuality, but in the same way does not make sense an affectivity without sexuality. When a guy falls in love with another guy, if between the two there is not and there cannot be any physical contact (typically the case of gay-straight relationships), this does not mean that the relationship is desexualized. Certainly it is not desexualized on the gay side, but, if sexuality is considered as a form of physical pleasantness rather than as a genital reaction, some sexual involvement also exists on the hetero side, this is the case of all forms of camaraderie, which are not read as something related to sex but as something related to friendship, but they probably have to do with sexuality much more than we think. So we can talk of relationships that do not have obvious sexual manifestations, but not of relationships that do not involve sexuality which is a ubiquitous reality that accompanies the life of an individual in all its manifestations.

Given the above, if making a mental operation we for a moment put in brackets preconceptions about physical sexuality, there is no reason to give it a negative value as it was something that can contaminate and destroy. The physical sexuality is one of the manifestations of affectivity and should not be demonized. There is still the idea that the sacrifice is good while the pleasure is bad, but it’s nonsense. Add that sexuality is too often suppressed in all its forms, and about masturbation, it resists the idea that it is a form of sexuality not emotional and not related to the couple’s life but almost exclusively selfish and for the individual pleasure. These concepts have no basis in reality.

Through the masturbation we tend to create mentally and physically the contact which in the reality cannot be created. This is certainly an activity that involves in an essential way the image of another person, which prefigures a sexual partnership or even tends to relive it in a less abstract form that that of pure memory. No one can be dirtied by the masturbation or by the fact of being part of masturbatory fantasies of another guy. In fact masturbation is a sign of deep both sexual and emotional involvement. You cannot deny that when a guy masturbates thinking of another guy at the base there is a strong emotional relationship, that is a dream of love (and sexuality) that is not reducible to pure physical outlet.

Mark, I do not want to add more. Try to stay calm, I tell you by heart although I understand that it is difficult. A hug.
Project

By Mark to Project – Tuesday, 9 March 2010 16:34:40 +0100

Hello Project,
first of all, before I forget it: I noticed that you’re writing with the same character in the same size. . . it’s not necessary if you do not like. Not that I have sight problems or something it’s just that I like writing more substantial, especially if the emails I write or read are particularly articulated.

That being said I thank you for reminding me of the deep emotional need that sexuality sublime, also through masturbation thinking about the guy you love. Not having had much experience of life in general I easily forget that sexuality is above all this. As you rightly say it is not true that the sacrifice can only be a good thing and pleasure on the contrary an evil thing. But I also wanted to let you know that my difficulty in masturbating in this sense does not come from a religious background [my religion does not meddle in my sexuality], but from my view of the moral values that briefly says “I do not want mix the physical to the spiritual for the simple fact that I want to think about that guy for what I really love of him, that is his soul. His body attracts me, it is true, but I feel in love with his spirit that for me is worth a lot more and do not want to draw attention away from the soul to look at a (physical) beauty that is naturally lower than the first beauty.”

Now, I imagine that you will easily emphasize that affection without sexuality is something of a trunk … and certainly the reality is exactly as you say. But I come up with an anecdote which I consider much more convincing than my own version of the facts to clearly explain: Have you ever read (or better do you remember) the Divine Comedy? Something very strange happened in the great book of Dante Alighieri, I have never been able to explain, to give it a meaning, a dimension of justice true and irrefutable. I am referring to Dante’s journey in the group of lustful persons. . . as we all know there dwell the souls of Paolo and Francesca. . . and I never understood why. I wondered why. They loved each other with a love pure and worthy to exist… but then why? Even my teachers never gave me a good explanation about that. It’s true that they were marked by the assassination of her husband, but the man was a horrible person and their souls still had to end up among the murders, right? But according to what Dante says I’m wrong. Even now I cannot understand why, but it happened to me a few years ago to see the reading of the passage by Roberto Benigni and he taught me that you shouldn’t look at the beauty of the body, but to that of the soul, the only true and eternal. If you remain watching enraptured for too long ephemera (here the beauty of the body), you end up losing sight of the true beauty that lies within all things: to be too materialistic leads to not being able to reflect on the beauty and rarity of a rainbow (as actually happened), not to look beyond how things look; for example: if a person is physically bad for us, it doesn’t matter if has a beautiful soul. If we don’t refine our soul by looking to the true spirit of things, that person will remain for us always a bad person, although maybe it is the sweetest person in the world. . . and also in the case in which we know that that person is a sweet person, we don’t stop, however, to take into account only and exclusively the physical appearance. It may seem impossible, perhaps, but this is the reality: I personally know people who think this way. They do not have the slightest idea of what beauty is.

I also add one thing that I really happened: there was a time when I was constantly drawn to the physicality of the guys. … and I invariably ended up not being able to see all the beautiful things that life offered me. All missed opportunities. All opportunities for growth as a person, as a human being with a valid level of humanity, relentlessly lost. Do you understand what I’m saying?

Let me be clear that I am not saying that sexuality is something “dirty” [despite the fact that I had mistakenly introduced this concept in my previous mail], but that I’m a guy who maybe also gives too much significance to affection reducing the sexual aspect.

More precisely, I masturbate easily on pornographic images I find on the net, but not thinking about the guy I’m attracted to: it is obvious that I do not feel affection towards the porn and then I have no problem to masturbate using the support they give me.

In conclusion of the speech I’m probably slightly sexually deviant (in the sense that it’s hard to restrain me to the normality and that my abnormalities arise from some difficulties between me and sex)

I close my speech leaving it open to all your considerations that will be warmly welcome.
I hope that in the future will be better also our problems for study, work and family.
Bye, see you soon.
Mark

By Project to Mark – Tuesday, 9 March 2010 18:09:14 +0100

Hello Mark,
well, I do not deny that reading your email I thought a lot about a form of sublimation of sexuality. This emphasis on the separation between the spiritual and the physical, and the idea of masturbation on pornography but not on the guys you’re attracted to, even if not immediately, come from religious education are inevitably affected by that climate of which there are still heavy traces even in places where we least expect to find them. You attenuated expressions, in the sense that you do not speak any more of “dirty” but of losing sight of the spiritual, but the substance looks the same. It makes me think that you said that when you were more attracted to corporeality of guys you missed opportunities. Frankly I do not understand why a physical attraction should end up to turn away from the spiritual-emotional contact with a guy. As you can read in many parts of the forum, there are many guys who use the word “dirty” when they masturbate thinking about a guy, and the more that guy is important for them the more they live with the guilt that they masturbate thinking of that guy. Although this thing appears to me at first sight as a consequence of a repressive form of education, I cannot deny that this mechanism is not at all uncommon. At the end pornography is something much more neutral and less addictive but I wonder if this way you do not end up removing all of the emotional dimension that masturbation should also have. I do not understand why physical sexuality cannot be a vehicle of emotions. At the end the use of pornography demeans masturbation because detaches it from real life and helps to create models of sexuality completely divorced from the experience and substantially devoid of emotions. Then when it comes to the couple’s life problems emerge connected right to the division between affectivity and sexuality. Living a couple’s life between two guys is to live in a perfectly integrated union of affectivity and sexuality. A guy needs an affective sexuality and being used to a non-emotional masturbation can create difficulties. It is clear that there may be many situations in which there can’t be any sexual outlet and in such situations perhaps the sublimation of physical sexuality and the confinement of masturbation to a purely technical activity on the basis of pornography may have very specific reasons, just because in those situations affectivity and sexuality must be distinguished.

Sexuality formed on a masturbation dependent on pornography has also another aspect that can create difficulties: it prevents the development of spontaneous sexuality, that is not conditioned by models. Because in the life of a couple the sexual satisfaction is linked precisely to the fact that we can fulfill at a greater or lesser extent fantasies already experienced during masturbation, it’s found that young people who have developed a spontaneous sexuality not affected by pornography, generally live couple’s sexuality with significantly higher levels of satisfaction, precisely because of their spontaneity. Between guys who grew up on pornography and those who never used pornography, sexual archetypes are quite different and this means that the couple’s incompatibility between a guy growing up on pornography and a gay stranger to pornography is much more pronounced. Reflecting more closely on the sublimation and the separation between affectivity and sexuality I come to the conclusion that, because it is a very real phenomenon and quite common, there must also be some very serious reasons that ultimately suggest a choice like that, at least in certain circumstances. Frankly, I’m inclined to think that it is the real impossibility of living the physical sexuality in a spontaneous way and free from taboos that leads to sublimation which essentially derives from the need not to dream of things that would not be possible to obtain. Probably things are more complex and deserve a more serious analysis from other points of view.

Mark, you never degrade. Your email has been pleasing me and I responded right away because I found the time to do it and especially because I was glad to do it. A hug.
Project

By Mark to Project – Saturday, March 13, 2010 00:45:35 +0100

Hello Project,
I’m sorry because I’m going to send my email just now, I hope you will not be worried about me or whatever. . . However, I thought a little about the speech on masturbation / sublimation / emotions / sexuality. Meanwhile I answer to your statement “It makes me think that you said that when you were more attracted to corporeality of guys you missed opportunities. Frankly I do not understand why a physical attraction should end up to turn away from the spiritual-emotional contact with a guy.” Maybe I was not very clear, but I did not mean by the words “lost opportunities” that I have removed some “spiritual-emotional contact with a guy”. The opportunities that I missed are those that I explain later, that I had lost the ability to value the good things we have / are-around. I was no longer able to understand their beauty because I was completely taken by something that took away the time and the desire to feel the presence of the rest of the world around me.

But beyond this I wanted to add a point to your talk about the division between sexuality and emotions. I wanted to say that as you say you should do a more thorough investigation to discover the nature of this psychic phenomenon (especially because I think that this “choice” that many guys make is not really one but there are several different choices from guy to guy). Also reflecting on the things I’ve written I feel compelled to make explicit my thoughts: in all honesty I had a bad start by introducing the concept of “sin” related to affective masturbation … because what I fill is really something larger, and I feel that a guy can get into trouble in front of this particular masturbation exactly because it “dirties” the other. In reality is that you cannot spontaneously masturbate thinking of the loved guy if the affection you feel towards the other guy has its origins in a genuine interest toward the personality of the other. In other words, “I have built a special relationship of friendship, trust and affection with the guy, and I realized to feel love for him. I want to live all the emotions I feel for him. My heart loves him desperately, I desperately want to love him and continue to love him indefinitely.” Be madly in love is an action that involves not only the continuous love, but also the desire to love above all. This love is a tyrant, in the sense that claims for itself all the emotional space in the mind of the guy, and this because feeling affection for each other takes here the connotation of maximum realization of our emotional fulfillment. So we can deduce that: feel affection = maximum happiness, so masturbation is excluded because it is not loving the guy’s spirit, but only want his body, this way we are diverting us from the aforementioned “greatest happiness”. If in such a situation of “falling in love” you should realize that your body (or rather your subconscious? / Es? / Instinct? ) Is not so much addressed to psychic satisfaction but, in turn, aims to find a vent, that’s where the needs of the person resulting from “emotional thinking” (love the soul) collide with the needs of the “physical attraction” (love the body) and it comes out quite a conflict of priorities. Could this be an explanation, despite its “sordid” aspect? Consider that my hypothesis could be corroborated from the obvious annoyance factor to a healthy emotional development represented by pornography and, more generally, by the commodification of sexual messages that is shown every day by the media and repeated by behaviors / attitudes / speeches made between the guys. This disorder can occur especially if you re-read the codes supplied to us by pornography and the media through the already secularized reading key of dualisms “good / bad” – “body / soul” – “purity – sin.” [Ergo: if you mix the message of pseudo-religious moralistic nature with that of debasement of morality provided by the “dimension of pornography” added to that of the “gospel of popular culture, according to the media” you definitely get a lot of people who find it difficult to give the due weight, natural and cultural, to their sexuality, or rather I say, to sexuality itself as definition and as fact].

There’s a sentence you wrote the meaning of which I have not understood: “It is clear that there may be many situations in which there can’t be any sexual outlet and in such situations perhaps the sublimation of physical sexuality and the confinement of masturbation to a purely technical activity on the basis of pornography may have very specific reasons, just because in those situations affectivity and sexuality must be distinguished.”

You have not explained why “… affectivity and sexuality in those situations must be distinguished.” Unless you tell me your point of view I cannot understand what you mean.
Greetings and thanks again for everything,
Mark

By Project to Mark – Sunday, March 14 2010 09:06:36 +0100

Hello Mark,
to be honest I noticed a delay in your reply and I was going to write but just opened the pc and I found your mail and then, as usual, I’m answering late.

I start from the end. There’s a thing I notice in chat with guys: the sublimation of sexuality often accompanies falling in love with a straight guy. A gay guy falls in love with his straight friend, in the end, apart from the very remote hypothesis that the friend could discover himself gay, he knows that his friend is and will be straight and that with him he is allowed to live at most a good relationship in affective key (What really happens, sometimes), but he also knows that with his friend there can be no sexual contact. In these terms, it is almost obvious that the physical sexuality is put in brackets, but I’m talking about couple’s physical sexuality. Frankly, it seems almost impossible that a gay guy in love with his straight friend sublime even the sexuality of masturbation,

I would say that in general what it is impossible to live at the level of couple can be lived through masturbation and the image of the friend will be the dominant sexual fantasy. Of course there is a dimension of frustration in all of this but it is accepted because of the fact that with his straight friend he creates a virtual physical relationship through masturbation.

You say that it’s impossible to masturbate thinking of a friend when the interest towards that friend is a genuine interest in his personality, well, frankly, it’s not what I see, because saying that “masturbation is excluded because it is not love the guy’s spirit, but only want his body” is a true removal / sublimation, dualism here comes again. Those conflicting priorities come just from thinking soul and body as two different things including the need to establish an order, but from what I see things generally follow other logics. Masturbate thinking about a friend and even more share with that friend a sexual intimacy is to feel a bond, a deep connection that cannot be reduced at all to the only physical involvement but also involves and very strongly the sphere of sentiments. I have seen many times gay guys deeply in love with a friend of theirs, which of course masturbated thinking about that friend or even had sex with that friend, who, when the opportunity came, have shown total dedication to that guy and there was nothing in the emotional level that was set aside or that has been lost because the friend was the subject of masturbation fantasies. I’m not inclined to think that physical sexuality may itself have a negative value but I think that I’d not say the negative value, but also the simple need to establish a hierarchy between sexuality and affection, as if they were separate things, is no more than the result of the culture of repression, which can be felt everywhere.

Think of the school, which is attended by guys aged 14 to 19 years, where teachers talk about everything from Greek tragedy to the theorems of mathematics, well in high school teachers never talk seriously about sexuality, which is a contradiction, and even less talk about masturbation, as if it was something that simply doesn’t exist, while these things are objectively fundamental for the guys are. It is clear that those who grow up with the idea that about some things it’s impossible to speak except in jokes, end up with the idea that the feelings and physical sexuality are different things but in reality it is not so, I’ll take an example, why do you think people fall in love so deep, with real forms of suffering and addiction, when they are young, 20/30 y. o. and these things do not happen when they are 50/60 y. o., or if happen, they happen so much more bland? The answer lies in the fact that the physical and hormonal substrates are different and in the fact that for a young man falling in love depends largely on his sexuality that is in his full power, sexuality and emotional entanglements follow the same curve over the years because are substantially the same thing.

Then there is the problem of religion, another powerful boost to dualism and the removal of physical sexuality, which, however, now has a weight not very high in a very significant percentage of cases.

The real core issue of sex education is that it is in practice totally entrusted to pornography, and this is clearly demonstrated by surveys of Gay Project, this fact means that the word sex will become almost synonymous with pornography. For a twenty year old guy today, think about an affective sexuality is less straightforward than in the past because for him the sex has little to do with friendship and love, and is strongly conditioned by pornography.

There are gay movies, not pornographic, with explicit sex scenes framed in a deeply emotional story truly engaging, these films are experienced by gay guys with deep emotion because guys see the emotional value of sexuality. The problem of pornography is not the fact of showing explicit sex scenes but the fact of showing “only” explicit sex scenes, as if the sexual intercourse between two people was just that. I wrote gay novels in which there are the lives of gay men, and where of course there is also room for physical sexuality among gay men because physical sexuality is a normal part of life. Well, of those novels I have published online several chapters, with cuts for reasons related to the fact that I have published them on a website without restrictions, that is open to everyone, in any case, the physical sexuality is strongly present. The guys who have read these chapters sent me emails to tell me beautiful things because they have read a love story, something they can dream about, which also involved physical sexuality, but a true love story, that has put “together” physical sexuality and feelings.
A hug Mark. See you soon.
Project

By Mark to Project – Sunday, March 14, 2010 22:19:37 +0100

But in fact, I’m sorry if I insist, Project, what I was trying to say in the first email is just that the dualisms “soul – body”, “sex [whose idea is borrowed from pornography [and that is seen as dirty] – love [pure, so full of feeling that makes us feel good about themselves and with each other]” are concepts really very popular. The destructive power they have on the emotional lives of many guys is disarming and can easily lead people to feel uncomfortable where it should not happen.

I have set the first case of a guy who likes another guy and considers masturbating on him as something “dirty” … and I think that goes for all the guys, if you love a guy you feel a certain degree of physical attraction to him, but at the same time if you feel that masturbating thinking about him is “dirty” then you suppress this desire. . . But inevitably it happens that the part of you that gets excited thinking about him begins to act against your conscious will of repression of sexuality. And this is the “conflict of priorities” that I mentioned before: the conscious yourself (as Freud would say the EGO) and the subconscious yourself (to quote Freud, the ES) fight each other … and the EGO will come out easily defeated in this war if para-moralistic conditionings derived from SUPER-EGO (a term coined also by Freud) meddle in the Battle. And this is what I mentioned earlier.

As for my personal situation, I tell you that I could not masturbate thinking about the guy I love because I cannot give the masturbation those affective meanings you underline so strongly. The truth is that you say that masturbation “should” have an affective origin, but unfortunately it happens that is not experienced this way by people, including myself.

I masturbate in my solitude, alone, because of my personal desire for sexual satisfaction. No one is there with me when I do it, and I never developed the desire to live that moment with someone else to give each other pleasure through mutual masturbation.

The core issue is that pornography is my only strong reference model to sexuality.
But also the lack of positive experience with a guy in terms of living masturbation with him and with affection makes me feel impossible to masturbate thinking of another guy, what I consider “empty in itself”, I would almost say “dirty” (because if you empty the practice of masturbation of affective values, the only thing you do when you masturbate becomes exploit the thought you have of that guy whom you love for your pleasure only selfish).

I repeat and I remind you that I understand your logical discourse on the fact that masturbating thinking of a guy you love is a sign of affection towards him. I understand that at the level of discourse, but for the reasons mentioned above it is impossible for me to live this situation. I am not able to feel anything that can lead me to affective masturbation (because I do not have a single affective memory associated with that person at the level of intimacy), but I aim only to my sexual satisfaction (because for me masturbation has only this meaning).

In addition, there is one thing that left me badly and I do not agree: you say that love is felt most powerfully by young 20/30 y. o. than in the 50s for natural reasons due to hormonal changes … I’m sorry, but I cannot share this idea with you. I do not doubt the fact that young gay men are more active on the sentimental level because of hormonal factors, but I do not feel right to give Mother Nature all this weight on less passionate loving ability in more mature men. What is the value of the various psychological and / or social conditionings? For example the fact that men aged 50 or more may have gained a certain experience in this field than that brought them to diminish the need of “falling in love” (because they have lived longer and have done a lot of bad experiences, or even only so many experiences and so have come to “be bored of love”), and I say instead that yes maybe young adults are more passionate, but perhaps adults are more aware of the meaning of “loving and be loved”, and that depends on the person’s inner experience and how the person acts and reacts during life? [Trivial example: the fact of being forever young even at advanced ages] … You have narrowed the individual capacity of falling in love to a mere function of the greater or lesser presence of hormonal storms in the individual … Your exact words: ” sexuality and emotional entanglements follow the same curve over the years because are substantially the same thing ” … Don’t you think this statement is excessive?

Sorry if I was a bit vehement in saying things, but the ideas came to my mind like a torrent. Think well on some of these, in particular those relating to the destruction and lack of emotional values that the pornography leads to and those about the fact that avoiding strong affective experiences can trigger mechanisms for “blaming the masturbation of being mere act of self-fulfillment.” I think it is very important to analyze these points in order to try to understand the patterns of affectivity and sexuality of gays, both young and mature.
A big hug to you too,
Mark

By Mark to Project – Monday, March 15, 2010 18:49:28 +0100

And just because I wrote my ideas without putting them in order and without meditating on them step by step, reading the mail, I noticed that I wrote some things badly …

1) Where I say that EGO is easily defeated I mean that the tensions that ES and SUPER-EGO create, between each other, contrasting tensions because the “moralistic reasons” of the second attempt to repress the impulses of the first, can lead the EGO, that is the guy with his impulses, to feel pain because he is behaving “so dirty”.

In other words, being divided between the desire to love freely (which includes masturbation) and the dualistic conception of “pure – unclean” is really overwhelming. It’s a thing that at opposite ends can lead to painfully stretch the psycho-sexual balance of a guy, or can be resolved more often in denying masturbation through moralism. In any case, the two are both wrong and deeply unfair.

2) When I say “masturbation is not lived in affective sense by people” it’s obviously a very big generalization. I am convinced that many people are able to feel that little bit more in this particular type of auto-eroticism.
But this does not diminish my belief that many other gay guys like me find rather serious difficulties in this regard.

Well, I just had to send the mail with these corrections … no, mostly because rereading what I had written before I said to myself “but if someone reads these things can consider me madman!”

Is it okay to express your point of view, of course, but surely we must be moderate and thoughtful in doing so. Be fundamentalists does not lead to anything, except perhaps if you are absolutely right (but perhaps even in those rare cases where you are absolutely right it is better to be moderate, for many other reasons)
Okay, I greet you from again. [And if you find other things that you consider outside the lines, wrong, or just have criticisms of various kinds, never hesitate to let me know, please. I want to maintain a relationship as more honest and productive as possible with you]
Bye.
Mark

By Project to Mark – Tuesday, 16 March 2010 09:06:36 +0100

Hello Mark,
I begin by telling you one thing. This exchange of emails is making me think about a lot of things I had not considered and about many that I had taken for granted. I must say that the level of analysis and comparison is extremely serious and eventually helps, and not a little, to understand things better. For this reason, I had thought that these e-mails, maybe suitably revised so as not to put absolutely at risk the privacy, could be published because they could really help many guys to understand more deeply the meaning and complexity of sexuality. I’d like to know what you think about. Of course, If you think for any reason it is not appropriate, of course emails will remain private.

As to your last email, I start from the end. Through Gay Project I happened to speak with many people of many different ages, but the vast majority were between 18/20 and 30 y. o.. If you look at the people who fill out and submit the form of the online interview on gay sexuality you can see that the average age is 24.76 years. People over 35 are few, the over forties are rare and I knew only three people over the age of fifty, in over three years of operation of “Gay Project”. Explain these data with the fact that more mature people are not used to using the internet is misleading. Basically the interest in sexuality and also in the affective dimension decreases with age. I could say that the more time passes the more decreases the interest in building an emotional and sexual life with another person. A gay man aged 40-45 years has lost in large part his enthusiasm and begins to grow in him the belief that in the end the loneliness, but we should say being single, it’s not something so tremendous, and that building stories solely to overcome loneliness is something to avoid. Of course on the evolution of emotional and sexual history of people weigh very much personal experiences and also the idea that in the end undermine the individual traditional way of life to try to build a little forcedly a story that may in fact appear like another complication, maybe not worth it. The question is similar to the problem of the classic ” You need to find settlement” that mothers say to straight guys who are not really inclined to marriage. At a certain age, the building of a relationship no longer has a really deep emotional and sexual motivation but is designed to meet abstract and rational and much less instinctual motivations, both emotionally and physically. Beyond a certain age, couples are essentially forms of mutual assistance, that have a dignity, all right, but with sexuality and sexual emotions have little to do. Not that I want to belittle the affective dimension that can be experienced when you are aged 50 years or more but it’s objectively different from that of a guy aged twenty. A twenty-something living in love feels deep feelings of enthusiasm and even shocking deprivations, for him sexual dimension is really fundamental to the point that imagine to deprive a guy aged twenty of a sexual dimension, even livable individually through the masturbation, would mean impose on him a heavy sacrifice. For a man over fifties it’s certainly not the same thing, sexuality gradually loses weight with the passing of years to the point that chastity is not even a sacrifice, given that in fact the drives to hold are very milder. A love story between two men fifty y. o. has little to do with an apparently similar story between two guys in their twenties. There is not only a different physical sexuality, but as a result of a different way of living physical sexuality, much more sporadic and far less compelling, even affection somehow degrades and is replaced by other values, most worthy, however, such as fidelity and mutual respect in a dimension of conservative rather than creative affectivity. A twenty y. o. who falls in love creates, begins an affair, experiments, compares, experiences, grows, a 50 y. o. must first put aside the habits, needs to adapt to upset at least a little daily rhythms of his life and it is not absolutely easy, the weight of established ways of life remains as a substrate beyond the emotional story that is built.

I began to write this e-mail before receiving your clarification in the night of 15, and even before receiving it the things you’ve written about masturbation seemed to me not only acceptable but definitely realistic. In fact, the emotional masturbation is a corollary of falling in love and its meaning is understandable only if you have experienced it directly. The absence of deep emotional experiences related to masturbation and the conditioning coming from pornography clearly removes from the masturbation its affective value as an experience that even if physically individual is at least mentally affective and related to the couples’ life. Gay couples, when they are forced to a temporary separation continue the couple’s relationship living it through masturbation that is useful to strengthen and not to weaken the sexual relationship of the couple. In a gay couple mutual masturbation is a normal part of sexual contact and also in this way strengthens the sense of masturbation as a couple’s experience, this time related to the couple’s relationship also physically. In these situations it is not the climax that matters but sharing a profound intimacy even sexually, having no more secrets for each other also physically. It is clear that so masturbation makes a sense eminently affective and this is what allows guys to live it as a real sexual experience, both physical and emotional.

According to the statistics, the correlation between emotional satisfaction and sexual satisfaction in masturbation is largely evident. The more intense is the level of emotional involvement in masturbation the greater is the satisfaction drawn from it at sexual level. In the absence of a genuine affective participation masturbation is not focused on a real guy, with his physique but also with his emotions, but on pornography. It is basically just the spread of pornographic model, which replaces the spontaneous and emotional masturbatory fantasies, which reduces the effect of masturbation to pure physical individual outlet.
A hug and see you soon.
Project

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