NON-POSSESSIVE GAY LOVE

We come now to the non-possessive love. Also in this case I will resort to a literary quotation and precisely to ”Another country” by James Baldwin, one of the most beautiful gay-themed books I have ever read. It is a masterpiece of American literature, but it is the gay side of the book that has always enchanted me. For Baldwin, homosexuality is a high value, it is a form of love with a capital A. The book has tragic implications in the initial part, which seems to follow a rather common direction in the previous gay literature: homosexuality as a tragedy. But the second part, which is the preponderant one, completely overturns things and homosexual love ends up imposing itself as a value capable of giving meaning to a life. 

The characters are many but the story that makes up the central part of the book is a wonderful gay love story born by chance between Eric, a young American writer, and Yves, a French boy younger than him. Their story is not a tragedy, it is not a story of loneliness, no! It’s a true love story and it’s a love story that ends well. Eric meets Yves shortly after the war, they both know very well that their life will no longer be the same as before. The atmosphere is of tenderness, of mutual respect, of profound love. Eric returns to America and Yves sends him a sweet letter and after a while follows him to the United States. Yves arrives at the Los Angeles airport and Eric waits for him. When the boy crosses the gates with the agitation in his heart, he knows that he has arrived in the city (Los Angeles) in which the inhabitants of paradise (the Angels) had set their home! And with this metaphor the book ends. But this love story is not a fairy tale, Yves loves Eric but knows that sooner or later he will need to feel free even by Eric, to be himself; also Eric is aware of all this, he knows that sooner or later, in a more or less distant future, Yves will leave, he will have to leave to follow his path, but this fact will not lead Eric to abandon Yves to his destiny to look for a another boy, Eric will love him in a total way even knowing that at some point he will lose it, because, as Baldwin says, in love there is nothing to decide but everything to accept. This consideration has always seemed sublime to me.

In practice, the relationship between Eric and Yves is an example of true non-possessive gay love. I would like to point out that very often gays have in mind a gay couple model derived from heterosexual marriage. In the case of the gay couple, since the law in Italy doesn’t contemplate gay unions, there are no strong legal guarantees of the stability, at least formal, of the relationship, but the double assumption remains that the couple must be destined to last forever and it must necessarily be exclusive, that is, in essence, it must stand on a real pact between two guys who are bound by mutual fidelity and the indissolubility of the relationship, this at least seems a priori to be the most desirable condition.

The story told by Baldwin is, instead, an example of a spontaneous relationship of love on the basis of which no explicit or tacit agreements of any kind are taken for granted, in essence of a true non-possessive love, without any external constraint. Demanding a guarantee of fidelity and duration means not realizing that at the base of every relationship of love there are feelings and feelings are not coercible or binding in any way.

Let us ask ourselves now what are the most typical manifestations of sexuality, which are based on a true affective dimension. Here the problem becomes complex and we come to the conclusion that in reality an affective dimension, however tenuous, always exists at the base of sexuality. It can be an absolutely equal and uncompromising love like that of Maurice and Scudder and even without any prerequisite of durability or exclusivity like that of Eric and Yves, but at the basically even the half-love of Clive for Maurice was born in a spontaneous way and implied, at least at the beginning, a real emotional involvement of Clive towards Maurice. Love, in itself, when it is born, is born with an enormous emotional potential, but sometimes on this basis, the reasoning, which is no longer emotional transport, takes over and so the logic of giving and having, the convenience, the balance of risks and benefits start to become the substitute for love and the emotional dimension goes into the background or ends up being completely canceled.

Gay love absolutely equal and unconditional exists in the novels, as an archetype, as an inspiring principle, but when you compare yourself with reality you understand that nobody is perfectly Maurice or perfectly Eric and that in all of us, in various ways and degrees, we hide a bit of Clive, and that true feelings always coexist, at various levels, with other motivations.

I would like to immediately say that the other motivations are not necessarily utilitarian and opportunistic as those of Clive and are often spontaneous and totally unconscious. Speaking with the guys, sometimes I hear expressions like ”I want to try to stay with a guy”, this expression is a sign of emotional immaturity, that is, of not being ready to understand the meaning of couple life. The speech needs to be deepened. A guy’s sexuality develops and structures itself through individual masturbation well before a couple’s relationship is reached. Masturbation, through the fantasies that accompany it, allows a guy to prefigure the future couple sexuality, but masturbation has the intrinsic limit of being a substantially individual activity even if projective, in which a guy confronts himself only with his imagination, it is precisely for this reason that masturbation is generally very gratifying, because one must compare with himself only.

A boy who arrives at the first experiences of falling in love can easily find himself in traumatic situations in which his sexual fantasy has to deal with the reality of confrontation with the other. The experience of falling in love is in itself completely different from that of masturbation, contains inherent the risk of a real emotional contact with another guy, which involves a whole series of problems that in masturbation are solved at the level of fantastic projections; whereas when the guy falls in love these problems must be dealt with on a real level. It is about declaring or not declaring one’s feelings, about uncertainty on the other guy’s sexual orientation, about the type of relationship that can be created, about the way to proceed, about the times and the limits of the relationship.

However, one thing remains clear, when one falls in love with another, the relationship is essential beyond any a priori conception of a couple life. Falling in love has a deep emotional dimension and, for a young boy, it has a fundamental formative value, it is an emotional involvement that touches all aspects of personality and brings a boy into a truly new dimension. For some elements, such as having an erection when you are close to the guy you love or simply when you think of him or masturbating thinking about that guy, falling in love develops in continuity with the feelings previously experienced in masturbation, and the masturbation itself is now used by the guy in love mostly to relive experiences and to project in his mind images all focused on the figure of the beloved guy, but falling in love also has an absolutely new and determining dimension non-strictly sexual: the presence of the beloved one is strongly felt and a strongly altruistic affective component begins to manifest, which is the essential component of falling in love.

You realize that you love another guy, that you want his good, that a single smile can be precious and that ultimately the affective interest is addressed to the person of the other as a whole. This type of experience greatly favors the maturation of a guy and makes him try, beyond the strict sexuality, what love is and indeed makes him see sexuality not as an end but as a means for the realization of the good of the other, respecting the times and the real needs of the other.

What does it mean to fall in love? Falling in love means finding in another guy some true deep consonances, not always and not only in the sense of finding similar interests or analogous ways of thinking but often, even if unconsciously, in finding analogous ways of suffering, analogous reasons of unease, similar attempts to escape difficulties, I would say analogous forms of despair when that level is reached. At the base of love there is essentially the sharing of discomfort and the possibility of finding a dialogue, even non-verbal, precisely on discomfort. If this dialogue is honest and we realize that it is equally important for the other, the prejudices fall and we question our ways of being, we are willing to change ideas, to follow the other on his way, to recognize the superficiality of our way of seeing things.

The speeches of principle, the assumptions taken for granted, the presuppositions that seemed obvious to us, leave the field to the idea of making the other feel good, beyond any condition and any assumption, we realize that the other has a his intimate coherence, that his reasons have a meaning that goes beyond our assumptions and even beyond our assumptions of principle, that his weaknesses are very similar to ours and that a serious comparison between people who love each other is not a comparison between ideologies or between abstract positions, it is not a comparison of presuppositions but a trying to understand the reasons of the other by accepting to put aside one’s own or those that are believed to be their one’s own.

Falling in love means understanding the reasons of the other, that is, going out of our own strictly individual dimension. Falling in love one must recognize the profound dignity of the other behind his behavior, that is he must understand the dignity and meaning of those behaviors beyond appearances. Understanding the other is not a question of intelligence but a question of love, because love leads to recognize the profound consonance between two people, which often manifests itself in their common way of suffering. If there is something in the other that you do not understand, it means that you are not in love with him.

When you fall in love, the other person’s way of being is transparent before your eyes so that you can understand its deep motivations and share them, you also feel them as they were yours and don’t judge them anymore. What does sex have to do with all this? Sex, by itself, can express a deep love, when even sex becomes a profound way of communicating. A hug communicates more than a thousand words. But sex is a form of love when it is really lived together, in conditions of perfect equality, I insist on this idea, I mean that the presence of attitudes of closure, of misunderstanding of the reasons and moods of the other, the attitudes of instrumentalization of the other, at any level, prevent one from experiencing a sexuality that is truly a form of love.

Having other reasons, besides those that are recognized in the other, means having prejudices, mental reservations, means setting conditions for an interpersonal exchange that should be without conditions. The basic presupposition of every form of love is the recognition of the authentic human dimension and at the same time of the ”fragility” that characterizes the loved one, because only in the context of this authentic human dimension and at the same time ”fragile” the apparent inconsistencies in the behavior of the other find a meaning and a positive value beyond any assumption and any theoretical model.

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GAY LOVE AND GAY SEX

Let’s start from the first point. To the classic question: “When a guy is gay?” I always reply that “A guy is gay if he falls in love with other guys”, this definition, which seems obvious, contrasts another widespread definition, according to which “a guy is gay if he has sex with other guys “, which is the most common definition of gay. The two concepts seem similar but in reality they differ as much as love differs from sex. It is not a question of terminology and has important implications in people’s lives. 
 
It is a fact that there are many guys who have sex with other guys without falling in love with them, these are gay only according to the common definition, but according to the conventions I followed, I should simply call them guys who have sex with other guys, the market for pornography for the great majority is addressed to them. I don’t mean that guys who fall in love with other guys don’t use pornography, such a statement would be ridiculous, I mean instead that the masturbation of guys who fall in love with other guys, very often is not related to pornography but to fantasy and to the re-elaboration of experiences and desires linked to real people in which affectivity plays a substantial role.
 
It often happens that guys who have sex with other guys without falling in love are people who also have a more or less satisfying hetero sex life. It is not really a question of bisexuals, precisely because towards  guys there is  no real emotional component, which is instead turned towards women and is often strongly frustrated. For these guys who have sex with guys, sex with a guy is essentially an adventure, a diversion, an escape from the frustration of hetero affectivity. These people naturally tend to bring into a gay relationship with a guy behavior patterns typically hetero, far from the spontaneous sexuality of guys who fall in love with other guys, that is, far from the parity that is typical of gay sex. When I talk about gay sexuality, I’m not referring, of course, to pornography or to what people believe to be typically gay but to what most guys who fall in love with guys, i.e. gays in this sense, live and above all want.
 
To explain the difference between this true gay sexuality and that of guys who have sex with other guys but don’t fall in love with them, I will use a concrete example taken from the “Maurice”, a wonderful novel by Edward Morgan Forster. When I read the novel for the first time I felt the thrill of having in my hands a book that would always remain on my bedside table. The book is extraordinarily addictive.
 
Maurice and Clive, one of his college mates, start a homosexual relationship, it seems a love story destined to be lasting and deep but Clive is a young ambitious aristocrat and chooses to sacrifice love on the altar of the political career. Not marrying and being considered homosexual would marginalize him, so he comes to pretend to fall in love with a girl and marries her. Maurice and Clive will continue to meet in a formal way but the first love story of the book is over.
 
Maurice, invited by Clive to his estate, meets Clive’s wife, but above all meets another guy, a gamekeeper from Clive’s estate, named Scudder, more or less the same age as Maurice and Clive. 
 
While Clive’s aristocratic friends treat Scudder as a servant and humiliate him by giving him orders and tips in money, Maurice treats him on an equal footing from the first moment and both of them understand that something new and important is beginning for them. I would like to strongly emphasize the fact that Maurice treats Scudder at par because this is the basic condition of a true gay love. When, during a heavy rain, dripping water comes down from the ceiling of a salon, the aristocrats call Scudder to clean everything and move the furniture to prevent it from getting wet and they go to another room, but Maurice takes off his jacket and stays with Scudder to clean up the room where it had rained. This and other similar behaviors by Maurice are spontaneous and are indicative of Maurice’s respect for Scudder and of the fact that Maurice tries to do something that Scudder would like and that is an opportunity to initiate a minimum of direct dialogue, without the concern of social rituality and of caste to be respected, and above all in a more direct and private dimension of human sympathy.
 
In a dark night Scudder climbs with a ladder from the garden in Maurice’s room and the two live together their first sexual contact, the moment is exciting but in the morning Maurice is assailed by the doubt that Scudder wants to blackmail him. Maurice and Scudder will end up explaining each other and realizing that they cannot do without one another. Scudder, pushed by his family, decides anyway to leave for America as an emigrant because he thinks that what happened between him and Maurice should not affect Maurice’s life, which could have a future in politics and in high society. Maurice is assailed by despair, he would like to see Scudder, he would like to talk to him, but he cannot, he goes to the pier where the steamer is about to leave but Scudder is not there, then he remembers that they had talked about the possibility of meeting in the boathouse of the estate of Clive, he goes there and Scudder is there, he did not leave for America, that is, Scudder eventually made an act of faith in Maurice, he believed in Maurice’s love and in the fact that Maurice would not have abandoned him in the name of political career or of the social position.
 
When Maurice sees Scudder in the boathouse he is so happy he cannot even speak and the chapter ends like this: And since Maurice did not speak, indeed could not, he added, “And now we shan’t be parted no more, and that’s finished.” –
 
One last chapter concludes the novel, if you want a chapter that has the bitterness of Dante’s contrappasso [The law of “contrappasso” (retaliation), from the Latin contra and patior, “to suffer the opposite”, is a principle that regulates the punishment that strikes the offenders by the opposite of their guilt or by analogy to it. It is present in numerous historical and literary contexts of religious influence, such as the Divine Comedy.]: Clive realizes that Maurice is happy, knows that Maurice has made the right choice and that he will love, Scudder for life while, loved in turn by him, while he, aristocrat ad social climber, will have to go to bed with a beautiful girl he doesn’t love and to which he will ruin life to follow his ambitions.
 
The novel presents two characters, one of them who embodies the gay morality, Maurice, who is a guy who falls in love with other guys, and the other embodies the gay immorality, Clive, who is a guy who only has sex with other guys but doesn’t fall in love with them. Maurice is the honest gay who, when he falls in love, falls in love without reservation and is not willing to trade his love in exchange for anything, his love for Scudder leads him to expose himself and to risk himself by putting aside any privilege of caste. Clive is the dishonest gay man who agrees to put aside his sexuality, behind which there are evidently no strong feelings, selling it in exchange for social prestige and political career. Every dialectic is impossible between these two characters who are the embodiment of good and evil under the gay perspective.
 
As for Scudder, who is certainly not a secondary character, I would be inclined to say that he represents for Maurice the opportunity, the unique opportunity to get out of the limbo of sublimations and enter the real world of sexuality, lived with passion. Scudder takes the first steps of an explicit sexual type and in doing so he risks a lot. Even Scudder has a high morality, a vulgar man could have used the weapon of blackmail to take advantage of Maurice’s feelings but this thought doesn’t even touch him and when he realizes that this is just what Maurice is thinking of him, he gives him a lesson of morality reproaching him for having nourished even the simple suspicion of being the object of such a low action on his part. Maurice will understand.
 
Maurice and Scudder experience sexuality as an expression of their deep love, and it is precisely in this way that sexuality acquires its highest meaning, because love is total transport towards the other. The gay sexuality of Maurice and Scudder on one side and that of the aristocratic Clive on the other are apparently superimposable but for the first two, sex is really love, for the last one it is just a game that has to give way to more important interests.
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A GAY GUY SAVED FROM REPARATIVE THERAPIES

Im 31 years old and, after a long struggle with myself, I started to live again, I have been destroying myself for several years and I think I have found happiness just a couple of years ago. I often hear people exalting family as if it were a beautiful thing, that is, as if it were the ideal place for a boy to grow up serenely but for me, and I’m only realizing it now, the family has been a terrible place. From outside my family seems a family like many others, a father who has a good job (very good), a mother who worked but then left the job after my birth to devote herself completely to me (unfortunately she did!). Both my parents are of a good cultural level. 
 
I have no memories of any of my grandparents, but I think that my grandparents have been the ruin of my parents, just as my parents have been my ruin and maybe even worse. Both my father and my mother are only children exactly like me. I have never once seen my father and mother exchange a gesture of tenderness so as I have never seen my father tired or unkempt or my mother not perfectly settled. My mother has always been a freak of order, cleanliness, etc. etc. … The fundamental value that has always dominated my family is social prestige. My parents are wealthy, we can say it, but they are not rich in the true sense of the word, certainly, for them, not feeling up to their world would be a great suffering. I grew up being alone or with people much older than me.
 
The school was an obsession for me since elementary school, I couldn’t be the second in my class, I had to be the first one and this cost me a lot. My mother sometimes asked me questions, questions like those the teacher asks at school, just to see if I was able to answer. My parents were very attached to the church, today I think it was more for reasons of opportunity and politics than for religion itself. In particular since I was seven or eight years old I often saw a priest in my house who could have been about forty years old, I will call him Don Luigi here. Today I say a “prete”, but then I said “sacerdote” [the two words mean “priest” but while “prete” in a common word, “sacerdote” is the official word, used by the Church itself ], because my mother was convinced that, under the word priest, said by me, there could be something quite derogatory. He was an important priest, very respected and then he struck me because he was a bit my father’s ecclesiastical version: short hair like Germans, perfect clergyman, always perfectly ironed, shiny shoes, etc. …
 
I understood only many years later how much this priest has influenced my life since I was very young. It was Don Luigi who, in practice, decided that I had to attend elementary school in an institute of nuns, but I don’t have a bad memory of the school or of the nuns, except for the fact that the environment was almost military and the study was really a torment for me. But that school had two big flaws that I didn’t see at the time, in the first place it was totally out of the world, that is it was all muffled, muted, the children grew up and didn’t realize they lived in a world completely separate from reality and then there was the fact that the children were addressed to religion beginning from 6-7 years old with a substantial brainwashing of which they could not absolutely realize the consequences because they lacked any possibility of comparison with the lives of other boys.
 
At seven years old the sisters prepared us for the first confession, but a seven-year-old boy has very little to confess, so I assimilated all external attitudes; clasped hands, kneeling, reciting penance, etc. etc., What the priest told me in confession at that age was always that I had to obey my father and my mother like I had to obey Jesus, who loves us if we do what he commands us.
 
Toward the end of the fifth grade I made my first communion, but I still didn’t understand anything about what I was doing. The sisters taught us catechism and I studied it like any school subject and I was also proud to know why God had created the world, etc. etc. … The choice of middle school, even this in a religious institution, was warmly sponsored by Don Luigi who said that for me a “serious school” was needed, serious for him was the same as religious, that would prepare me well for what life would have presented to me, implying that the public school was a very bad environment in which I could only have ruined myself. In the seventh and eighth grade the environment was quite similar to that of the nuns, even though there were no nuns but priests. The school sometimes, I would say quite frequently, organized a camping or a stay in the country for three days and I liked it a lot. They called them “retreats” and were used to prepare for the confirmation I received at age 12.
 
My life was completely quiet, confession and communion every Sunday, which for me was a obvious but also very mechanical thing, for the rest I had to study and to try to be the first in the class, at home I had to obey dad and mom, that was all.
 
Then, suddenly, at the beginning of the eighth grade, my world of child safety goes into crisis. One night, for the first time I have a wet dream and I remember perfectly that I had dreamed that I was spying on one of my classmates in the shower, or rather, before he undressed to get a shower, when I imagined that his underwear was down I had my first orgasm. The dream, I still remember, was really exciting and the physical sensation of my first orgasm was very intense and even the impression, vaguely embarrassing, that I felt later, feeling all wet and sticky, was very strong. I didn’t know what had happened because I knew why God had created the world but didn’t know that sexuality existed, or at least I couldn’t connect what had happened to me with that minimum of concepts about sex that I had been able to steal from the external world, in practice only from TV because the internet in my house had never existed except as a working tool for dad.
 
In short, it was the first time I felt embarrassed for sexuality. I didn’t know what to do: talk with dad or with mom? And then tell them everything? Even that I dreamed of spying on a friend of mine and of seeing him naked? Or would I have to go immediately to confess because dreaming of such a thing is surely not a good thing? And then what was all that sticky substance that I had found on myself. I decided to avoid my mother, because I thought she would not understand, I went to talk to my father who immediately understood what had happened, but I didn’t tell him that I had dreamed of seeing a naked boy. He told me that now I was growing up and that what had happened was the awakening of my sexuality and that it was not a dangerous thing but in order to have a serious advice on how I would have to deal with these things I had to talk to the priest.
 
I understood only many years after the absurdity of a similar speech, at that time the answer seemed to me clear and comprehensive. I went to confession in the afternoon with a priest I didn’t know because I was very ashamed, I found an old man who told me that those things are useful when you get married and have children and that until then you have to maintain purity, that is you have to preserve absolutely a gift so great that can make you a collaborator of God in spreading the gift of life. Then I told him, almost as if it were a banality, what I had dreamed of and he stopped and told me: “This is a serious sin because men are made for women and women for men”, and added that I had to pray much for Jesus to make me return to the right path, etc. etc., then he gave me the absolution. For me it was a tremendous shock. What had I done wrong? I really could not understand it.
 
However, I decided not to say anything to my father about what had happened in confession and to commit myself to the maximum so as not to think any more about those things that I had been said were a serious sin. Since then, maybe I was still 12 years old or I had just turned 13, my life became a continuous struggle against myself. I discovered masturbation after a few days, but with serious feelings of guilt and with even greater guilt feelings, I continued in my gay sexual fantasies. I went to confession every Sunday with a different priest telling him just that I had masturbated because for me the sin was that. From the priests I heard things of all the colors, always on the negative, clearly, but with many different degrees of negativity.
 
After the intermediate school, my fate was marked, and for the intervention of Don Luigi I ended up for the third time in a religious school, always of priests, like the middle school, even if of another order, there is no need to say that I was sent to the classic high school, the thing was obvious a priori. A mixed class with a predominance of girls, however, the guys were a dozen, not very few. Of course I had attended also elementary and intermediate school in mixed classes of boys and girls together, at the time such a thing seemed quite secondary to me, but entering the ninth grade I saw things in another way, that is I had begun to look at the boys, clearly with the maximum circumspection and with a thousand scruples of conscience, but I had begun to look at them. I knew I should not have looked at them but I couldn’t not help looking at them.
 
At school there was very little to do, surveillance was very strict and at most you could have seen smiles between a boy and a girl and also this with a lot of sense of limit. In practice, I experienced anguish all the years of gymnasium-Lyceum, not for school, where I was definitely not the first, with great disappointment of my mother, but for sex. Attempts to repress me have been really absurd because when I entered the Gymnasium I received as a gift my first computer and my first internet access with the warning on the part of my parents that “this must be switched on only for school and when we are at home”. But as the facts didn’t follow the words, I almost immediately started to go on the internet to look for gay photos and videos (which at that time were still few and very short). With internet the frequency of masturbation has increased exponentially, once a day and even more.
 
To this my very private sexual life corresponded the confessions in which I had begun to tell the priest that I had gay fantasies and in confession I was told by the priest and starting from the first time that in order to definitively solve this problem and to have a normal life one could resort to a psychologist, because there are very good psychologists who can help the boys to “get back on track”, I was then 16 years. That’s how I made the most absurd decision of my life, as if it were a heroic choice of which I had to feel proud: I would have gone to a psychologist to get out of this story of masturbation and homosexuality, but how? My parents should have known it. I thought to tell my parents that I didn’t sleep at night, that I felt very agitated and that I wanted to talk to a psychologist, in response I was told that Don Luigi was precisely a psychologist and that I could talk with him. Against such a proposal my refusal has been categorical. My mother tried to insist, I ended up convinced not to talk to Don Luigi but to contact a “serious psychologist” indicated by him. I knew that there was professional secrecy and I tended to trust.
 
After a few days I went to the first appointment with the psychologist, he must have been between 35 and 40 years, everything was very ritual, bed, notebook, low light, etc. etc., I was a little frightened, I told him of my problem: “compulsive masturbation and homosexuality, etc. etc.”. He tells me that a lot can be done but that my commitment must be total.
 
After the first sessions he makes me compile some tests and gives me a book to read about reparative therapies where there are terrible stories of homosexuals finished badly, I bring the book home and hide it because I don’t want my parents to find it, I read the book but it makes me sick, the psychologist tells me that my doctor should prescribe me anxiolytics but I don’t want to take medicines, then he sends me to a religious group that deals with these things and tells me that “operating on two fronts” things are much easier.
 
The group met in the evening, going there for me was an experience of a terrible self-inflicted violence. I resisted only the first two meetings, then I told the psychologist that I couldn’t take it anymore, he tries to insist on getting me back to the religious group saying it’s for my own good. But I had no intention of going back there, so he proposed a more gradual way …
 
In the meantime, I had practically stopped studying for school and I found myself with a debt in Greek that made my mother go on a rampage. I turn seventeen and I feel truly destroyed, a nothingness destined for failure. I spend a whole night crying, I cannot do it any more, I’m tired even of my live, I’m truly at the limit.
 
Talking to a classmate of mine, I come to know that she goes to a psychologist and that she is well with him. I tell my mother that I want to change the psychologist, she sees me right on the edge and does not object. I wait for the day of the first date.
 
The environment is Spartan, just reduced to the minimum, the psychologist is old, about sixty, white hair, sweater. We shake hands and he tells me to sit down in an armchair, he sits in a chair in front of me, I tell him my problem: “compulsive masturbation and homosexuality”, he asks me: “masturbation how often?” I tell him “Even once a day” that seemed to me very much, he smiles, opens his arms and says, “And with this? This is the norm!” I insist: “But with homosexual fantasies …” And he answers me:” So what? If one is gay it’s obvious that he thinks about guys and not about girls, these are normal things!” I told him: “I do not know what to do anymore, I can’t  go on, I’m just at the limit … “. Then he let me tell a little about my life and he told me: “We must simplify things, you don’t have to do the things that others tell you but what you want, you don’t have to live badly, because otherwise later you’ll have a thousand regrets, you’re a very young boy, a gay boy, so what? What’s the problem? The absurdity, for a gay guy, is to force himself to desire to be no longer gay or worse to commit to not being gay anymore! You must begin to become autonomous, to do what you think is right, the problem lies in the fact that you are worried for things that don’t concern you, for things that others want from you, but you must do only what you want. You will have problems because your family will not easily accept your freedom of doing what you want, but your autonomy you have to earn it day after day.”
 
When I got home I felt free, the feeling was very strange but I knew that the things that this psychologist had told me were basically those I didn’t have the courage to say to myself. It was not easy to build a real autonomy because actually my parents did everything to put me in trouble, and here the psychologist was really useful. Now I have a boyfriend for two years and I love him deeply, he also helped me a lot, he had an enormous patience with me. Now we live together! One day we were walking on the road and I told him: “Take me by the hand!” He looked at me questioningly as asking why, and I added: “There is Don Luigi!” And then he hugged me and kissed me in the street, that’s why I love him!
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HOW A GAY GUY CONFRONTS RELIGION

The blog is nice and definitely not standard, so I think I will continue to read it, I think it misses something, a topic that I think has affected the lives of many gay guys, me at the first place. I know that I’m about to throw a stone into the pond and I could raise a high wave, but I don’t think we should have any taboos. What are the relationships between gays and religion? Mh, pay attention, I don’t want to talk about gay priests and the like, a problem that deserves serious investigation even by the gay world, which instead withdraws in good order, I want to talk about the relationship between the majority of gay boys and religion, the thing from my point of view is fundamental but the taboo is so big that people avoid getting involved in similar issues. I don’t know about you, but I have lived it with a real anxiety. 
 
When I was a young boy I didn’t realize it, then between 13 and 14 years old, I discovered two new things together: one is religion and the other is that I was gay. I say immediately that religion seemed to me a beautiful thing for some of its contents, such as universal brotherhood, the idea of winning death, the idea of giving a deep meaning to life, and there is no denying that these things have a charm very strong, but from other points of view religion seemed very formal, legalistic, someway the opposite of what it should have been.
 
On the other hand the discovery of sexuality and of being gay, which was not at all a trauma for me, had other attractions, if we want less metaphysical and decidedly more concrete, especially for a growing boy. The other boys were also a sexual attraction for me and I could not hide it to myself. At that time I went to the parish church which, all in all, had their own dignity. There was a priest, regular meetings were held to talk about morals and even about sex. The priest was prudent, for example he had as a rule not to confess the boys, a very smart thing to avoid creating embarrassment. For more where I went the girls were very few, they were not excluded but almost excluded themselves. For a guy like me, going to a place like that meant going to a place that was good for my parents and at the same time being able to be in direct contact with many other guys, it was good, we played table football, we chatted, we talked to the priest, yes, yes, we talked to the priest and here I was beginning to feel out of place. We all saw each other in a room and then we began to chat and ask questions, even about sex and not too general, but the thing sounded strange to me, we were all boys and we spoke only about girls, in practice the priest was enough able to talk about straight sex and morals, but he never spoke about gays (sex or not sex), total taboo. Basically the taboo subject was not sex but homosexuality. I didn’t like all this.
 
And then there was another topic that was my real obsession of a few years ago: masturbation. [Note for project. If you want this part you can cut it, but I would like to insert it.] I say obsession because I did everything to avoid it, but since mother nature is stronger than us, I inevitably happened to masturbate another time and I had to go to confession and so on, practically indefinitely.
 
The story of masturbation actually represented in a very clear way the continuous oscillation of my interests between religion and sex, be careful, “gay” sex, detail that I omitted systematically. Sometimes I have self-imposed forms of scary self-discipline to try to resist, for a while I succeeded, to the limit, with titanic efforts, even for a month, but then it was impossible to go on that way.
 
Then, over the years, I asked myself the meaning of all this and honestly I didn’t find any serious reason for this, and then certain things of the religion seemed to me like a superstructure invented just to keep people under check more easily. For a few years I have still fluctuated so to say between heaven and hell, then I said to myself: but I have a conscience, the eternal Father gave it to me and not to use it would be a blasphemy, since then I began to reason in a different way, before acting I wondered if I was really honest to the end, but if the answer of my conscience was yes I didn’t pay any more attention to anyone and in terms of gay feelings the answer was almost always yes.
 
I would like to explain myself better. When I fell in love with a guy and I had to understand how to behave towards him, I followed two criteria, the first was that of spontaneity, I wondered: if I hadn’t thought too much and had behaved just instinctively, what would I have done? And then I wondered if that instinctive choice could be wrong for that guy, that is, I wondered if I had some hidden purposes towards him, sometimes I thought I had unconfessed purposes and therefore I felt urged to a choice that was very hard for me and I did what I thought “honestly” was the best for that guy and not for me, but most of the times the instinctive choices seemed to me even the most radically moral: in practice always tell the truth unless there it was the risk of hurting the other, but never for my own sake. This is not a stupid logic and it is not even a difficult moral to apply because if you love a guy you really want his good. So you understand how I think.
 
As for religion after certain positions taken by the Church I honestly think that being gay without hypocrisies is irreconcilable with what the Church says. I have read the official documents on “homosexual persons” and also those to forbid homosexuality in the seminaries, I read these things with great regret because they will only create more suffering, for example to the homosexual priests who surely are there and who are so further crushed. I wonder, and even here I ask honestly: but do they understand what they are doing? I heard a priest saying that those who make gay propaganda (which is absurd because being gay is not an ideological question and the propaganda in these things doesn’t make sense) has a “cauterized” conscience, which in the language of ecclesiastical moralists means that he has the conscience so burned that he can’t even realize his mistake. There is no need to say that “in all honesty” the thing seems grotesque. I could excuse these people if I thought they really don’t know what they are doing, but unfortunately I think they know it very well.
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A GAY IN LOVE

Hello Project,
I’m 22 years old, I think I have always felt gay, even if in practice it’s only three months now that I have definitively put aside the idea of being heterosexual. In this, your forum has played an important role in helping me overcoming fears, because my refusal came from the negative idea I had of homosexuality. In fact, gay project is a unique thing on the web and reading it every day I realized that I feel very close to the guys who write there and there is another thing, that I see that being gay in the end doesn’t mean being condemned to loneliness, that is to say it doesn’t necessarily mean to remain without friends, I speak of gay friends, nor without a love. My life, if I put aside the sex, it would not be so bad, in June I’ll take the first degree in a scientific discipline and then I’ll have to do the masterly degree but it seems a quite quiet road, maybe, afterwards, finding work will be much more complicated but, for a few years more, I just have to go on my way that is already defined.

I have two parents who love me and I think they are smart people. I never thought about coming out with them because until a few months ago I was not even totally convinced that I was gay and I didn’t like the word at all, then I got used to it and now it feels like a common word or even a nice word, at the limit, also a good thing because, I cannot hide it, I like guys, I don’t look at girls, it doesn’t come naturally, while a nice guy, especially a sweet guy, with a beautiful smile, sends me into ecstasy. As for sex my interests have always been directed towards guys even if until now in practice there has been no chance because I don’t even know how to behave, shortly, if about a guy you don’t even know if he’s gay or not, you have to be very careful about how you behave. Now, frankly, I don’t think I will speak about my sexuality with my parents and not out of fear or anything but because I think that such things are only my own things and that I must find my way alone.

Reading the forum I discovered that there are a lot of guys like me, I’m gay, of course, but I’m above all myself, I don’t identify with my being gay, or at least I don’t think that life can be reduced to a single common denominator . I’m a believer, but this is another story that creates many problems because I don’t like to keep a foot in both camps, but then, maybe, about religion we will speak in private (if you want to give me your msn). At the moment I still cannot think of sex in a totally positive way, that is, without feeling upset and without feelings of guilt, it’s a bit, I think, the consequence of my religious education and I don’t hide that reading what you write I thought that about this I’m still far behind and that I try to sublimate a lot, to take things a lot on an emotional level, eliminating as far as possible the most direct sexual implications.

Will I ever be able to stay with a boyfriend sexually? I really don’t know and I have to say that it is probably this that curbs myself, I feel bound, inhibited, still very conditioned. With my parents, even as a child, I have never had an opportunity to talk about sex, I have never seen them in an attitude of tenderness, they are very rational and at least apparently detached from these things, even with me no effusions, i.e. our family behavior has always been a bit cold. And then there are many other problems, that is I don’t know if I’m up to it and how to behave with a guy, I cannot even imagine such things but at the moment I avoid to find myself concretely in front of the problem.

I have been neither able to live masturbation without problems and religion has a lot to do with this, I have already said that I don’t like to keep one foot in both camps but I don’t want to throw away all my previous life because I feel it as a value but I don’t want to talk about such things now. In practice I’m a bit in struggle with myself: have I to be 100% gay? I’m not talking about strange things but just having a guy and living a real couple life, or perhaps my being gay must be just a matter of fantasy? Because, if, at the end, I don’t feel like at all of really throwing myself into a relationship that I don’t feel really mine, what can I do? And if it goes wrong? If I then find a guy who looks a nice guy but then everything is different? If I didn’t want to stay with him feeling myself pressed by him, then wouldn’t it be better to be alone? Apart from the fact that I’m terrified of the diseases and even if you do the tests, as you say, in the end you would never be sure that he doesn’t behave at risk with others, and anyway it is not even a thing of risky behavior I would not bear to be betrayed and instead I think that something similar sometimes really happens.

At the university there is a beautiful guy, I have no doubt that he is straight because when he comes close to some girl he behaves tenderly, smiles, makes a lot of cuddling (also beautiful to see) but for this reason I’m quite angry, when he talks to me (because we speak a minimum), he takes on another tone, a loose tone, yes, but deliberately distracted, and he does it also with other guys. He’s not the guy of my dreams, even if he’s beautiful and also sexy, but sexy in a natural way, the guy of my dreams is another that I had met in the parish but now it he’s very far away, occasionally we meet outside, unfortunately he left his studies, I think more for economic reasons than anything else.

When we talk, I always try to insist on the fact that he should try to go back to university, where he also was fine and in a very difficult faculty. I would feel happy if this guy would resume his studies, with a single year he could finish the triennial course, he is very tempted and I think the family would do anything to let him go on. Unfortunately it doesn’t attend my faculty, otherwise I could have been useful in another way but he attends one of those very hard, he has a very strong attitude for studying and is also very smart.

Now he is working but he told me that he has not completely left the study and that he is still preparing a very important exam that he would like to take if he ever resumes his studies. This sentence made me immensely pleased because it means that he has in mind to actually restart attending university.

We live in a country 40 km from the city where there is the university and I told him that I would accompany him, both on the outward and on the return journey, and that we could have lunch together at the cafeteria. I had the impression that this speech pleased him. We meet on average once a week but when it happens, we are talking more than an hour and I think it pleases him, of course I’m pleased, there is an exchange of smiles that I like very much, apparently the speech is disengaged because we speak only of university and prospects for the future, yet it is very well. I don’t know how much he feels involved, but I feel him as the guy of my dreams, I feel like we’re already building something together and it could even be true! What does sex have to do with all this? Well, for me sex has to do with it, I cannot deny it, being close to him makes me feel a very strong sexual involvement. When we meet, I always fear that he has other things to do but it doesn’t happen and we usually talk for a while in a very serious way. I want to say that he tells me what he thinks even if we are talking only about things of study and of the future, I believe that a serious relationship has been created. He’s gay? I don’t know, I cannot even say whether I would rather he was gay or not, now I feel good this way, he’s a special friend, and it really is, I’m not imagining everything by myself.

Time will make me understand where we are going. Can you fall in love with someone you only see for an hour a week without even know if he’s gay? It happens to me and then so I can sublimate this thing just as I like it, I don’t feel forced to make decisions or do things that I don’t feel ready to do yet, or rather I hope that slowly with this guy things change both for him and for me and that we can get to discover slowly and together that we love each other and that what we want is just to be close one another. I must say, however, that all this reasoning so many times puts me in crisis because there is no objective basis, there are only some impressions that could be completely misleading. Am I sublimating too much? That is, I’m running away from reality and I’m trying to take refuge in the world of fairy tales that are beautiful but have nothing real?

Frankly I don’t know, now my mood is this, I feel in love, it is the first time that the life of another guy interests me in a deep sense, I feel like to love him. I know that you say that serious stories always begin reciprocally, but could not his reactions hide a reality very similar to mine? He never talks about girls, he is happy to talk to me, he feels encouraged and above all he smiles at me like no one else has ever done. Project, if you want to have a chat with me my msn is [omissis], I feel a bit stalled, I’m happy but I would like so much an explicit answer even if I’m the first not to speak clearly, I even thought of coming out with him, to tell him everything even if I felt totally uncertain. Thank you for your patience in reading this whole novel up to here. I’m waiting for your response. A hug.

Laurence

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GAYS AND RELIGION

Religious prescriptions
 
It is a fact that religions propose to the believers the respect of norms, some are norms that belong to moral codes widely shared even by non-believers (for example:  not to kill and not to say false testimony, etc.) and don’t need any justification because they are considered pillars of civil life, others don’t find any objective justification, so much so that precepts such as monogamy that are considered fundamental by some religions are not at all for others. Some of these precepts derive from traditions and may have very remote historical justifications that have been lost over the centuries even if, anyway, the observance of those precepts has remained obligatory.
 
It is precisely the absolute and non-historical dimension of religions that makes them, at least theoretically, unable to adapt to the present historical situation. Many prescriptions regarding food and sex, seen from a secular point of view, are completely formal and apparently unmotivated. The prohibition on eating particular types of meat or fish, which for others constitutes commonly used food, finds no reason other than the fact that so it is prescribed; such precepts are accepted only on the basis of a principle of authority and therefore their violation constitutes formally a fault.
 
We speak of faults in the sense that they are considered as such by those who follow that religion, because for others they are completely indifferent. Some prescriptions such as that of not eating meat on Fridays, which were also exclusively formal, have created nevertheless considerable feelings of guilt in not very distant times.
 
But I would like here to deal mainly with the prohibitions on sexuality, which still today, and presumably still for very long periods, will continue to condition human behavior and create suffering.
 
Religious prescriptions and morality
 
Morality, as the historical religions conceive it, doesn’t look at the moral substance of the facts but stops at presumptions and formal categories, and this happens above all in the sexual field. The preconception turns into precept and presents itself with the force of the authority in the name of which certain behaviors or omissions are required, which in themselves are completely meaningless or even harmful.
 
Nobody tries to explain the meaning of these precepts, because they derive only from the principle of authority. A rational analysis would weaken these precepts by pointing out that they are not necessary, that sometimes they are inappropriate and even harmful. Obedience is already presented to children as the greatest virtue. The good boy does what his parents want, if he behaves like that, he is gratified, if he doesn’t, he lives more or less serious feelings of guilt. The sense of guilt creates a psychological subjection and therefore an addiction that confirms the principle of authority through the need to be forgiven.
 
Chastity
 
Let’s go down to more concrete contents. Chastity, seen as abstention from sex, is considered a virtue and the exercise of sexuality is considered a vice, which is transformed into virtue only when sexuality is exercised in order to procreate in the context of a legitimate marriage. These statements, which are at least theoretically shared by many people, are pure preconceptions. Psychology teaches that sexuality lived in a serene, spontaneous way, without taboos, and therefore in a non-transgressive way, is a fundamental condition of well-being, nevertheless chastity is considered a virtue and the exercise of sexuality, if not for legitimate procreative purposes, is considered a vice. Why does all this happen?
 
Prohibition-transgression-guilt
 
The rational explanation (obviously for those who believe that these are absurdities far away from the reality) lies in the mechanism of prohibition / transgression / guilt / need for forgiveness which strengthens the authority of those who support the ban and administer pardon. If the ban were easy to respect the sense of guilt would be rare and the authority would not come out stronger, but if the prohibition or condemnation concerns sexuality and it is a ban as absolute as basically against nature (for example the ban to masturbate), transgression is inevitable and through the mechanism of forgiveness the strengthening of the authority that imposes the prohibition is very evident.
 
Religion e self-repression
 
It is widely shared that religions lead to the repression of sexuality and the speech would seem realistic. It could be summarized as follows: a guy who would have a free sexuality, if he enters the orbit of a religion, is conditioned and begins to repress his sexuality. Religion would be the cause and the repression of sexuality would be the effect. But why of the many guys who approach the religions only some end up repressing themselves sexually remaining in those religions while others, after having approached those religions, turn away without many problems?
 
The answer is easily found if, instead of saying that the adherence to a religion is the cause of sexual repression, we exchange the terms of the speech and realize that they are instead the guys who are sexually repressed who end up adhering to certain religions because within those religions their sexual self-repression is considered a merit if not a form of holiness.
 
The religion from  “doing” to “not doing”
 
It is amazing that Christianity, which at the evangelical level is the religion of love of neighbor, that is, the religion of “concretely doing” good for others (giving food to the hungry, giving to drink to the thirsty, etc., etc.), is instead widely felt like the religion of “not doing”, of abstinence, of not contaminating oneself.
 
Basically, unfortunately, instead of perceiving with feelings of guilt the not doing the good that could be done, one ends up perceiving with feelings of guilt the doing something what is forbidden for the sole fact that it is forbidden, even if the prohibition has no other motivation beyond the strengthening of the authority of the person managing it.
 
If religion were to be lived within the personal conscience, considered the supreme judge of the morality of actions and not instead formalized through subordination to an external authority, how many prohibitions would continue to exist? Would the level of morality decrease? Frankly, I don’t think so.
 
Why delegate the choices of one’s own conscience to an external authority? Why we are so afraid of being simply men? Why give up the freedom to think?
 
Catholic Church and masturbation
 
A particular reflection deserves the condemnation of masturbation as a serious sin on the part of the Catholic Church [Catechism of the Catholic Church, art. 2396 “Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.” The formula used by the Catechism is without appeal. The boys who attend the Church, regularly tell the priest in confession of having masturbated, using fixed formulas, for example the classic: “I have sinned against purity”. The priest proceeds (often in a very mechanical way) asking how many times, whether alone or with others, then he repeats the usual formulas of condemnation of masturbation and asks the penitent (or presumed such) a commitment to avoid masturbating. The penitent shows himself repented and is acquitted.
 
In reality it is a false repentance, because in a short time the boy will return to masturbate and even to repeat masturbation as much as possible before the next confession (because now the purity is lost). Then the boy goes back to confession and the cycle repeats. The result is a strong push to hypocrisy on the part of the Church which, of course, knows very well how things are, that repentance is not repentance and that the mechanism only serves to surreptitiously induce feelings of guilt that keeps the boy in a state of subjection .
 
Many priests do not even consider masturbation as a sin, and in this way they get the result of keeping the boys connected to the Church. Others operate real crusades creating in the most sensitive youngsters situations of stress, deep feelings of guilt and conditioning inhibitions towards sexuality.
For many boys, the Church’s position on masturbation is a cause of profound suffering.
 
Catholic Church and homosexuality
 
The above, when it comes to gay boys, takes very different contours. Because the Church condemns not only masturbation but directly and without appeal homosexuality [Catechism of the Catholic Church, art. 2357 “ Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
 
A wider collection of condemnations of homosexuality on the part of the Catholic Church can be found in: 
 
Gay guys and confession
 
A gay boy at the time of confession has two problems, one is that of masturbation (shared with the straight boys) and the other is that of homosexuality. The overwhelming majority of gay boys feel their homosexuality as something so natural that they simply and sincerely doesn’t consider it as sin and continue to confess only impure acts without any specification. When, in a casual way, the issue of homosexuality emerges in confession, the answers from the priests, even if all in theory are aimed to condemnation, are actually very various and variously open. Even here, probably the idea that a drastic attitude would definitely detach a gay boy from the Church has a non-negligible part.
 
The real moment of crisis between a gay boy and the Church occurs when the boy comes to discover that the Church demands total chastity from him [art. 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”]. In other words, a homosexual to remain in the Church must  radically deny what he is because the Church considers homosexuality “serious depravity”, “fatal consequence of a rejection of God”, “lack of normal sexual evolution”, “pathological constitution”, “intrinsically bad behavior from the moral point of view” (see the link cited).
 
Gay guys and Catholic Church: possible options
 
Which options are possible for a gay? He may or may try to repress himself totally to conform to what the Church asks of him, with long-term destructive results, or play on an infinite series of false repentances and relapses as in the case of masturbation, or he may stop trying to reconcile what by definition it is irreconcilable. Often the boys try the first road, they feel it impassable, they reject the hypocrisy of the second and finally they reach the third, with the definitive removal of the Church and with the definitive overcoming of guilt feelings.
 
Reparative therapies
 
I conclude this chapter by addressing a very delicate topic that has repeatedly created doubts and perplexities in gay guys, I refer to the so-called “reparative therapies”. On December 23, 2007, a long article by Davide Varì appeared on “Liberazione”: “The story of a reporter who for months attended a course organized by an ultra-Catholic group” “I told him:” I’m gay “. They replied: “Your disease is a mild disease, we can treat it well …” “” Are you gay? Come to us, we’ll take care of you “” Diary of six months in therapy … “” “The road to my presumed salvation begins with a meeting to define times and ways of my entry into a therapeutic group to recover from homosexuality” ” “The story of a reporter infiltrated for months a course organized by an ultra-Catholic group”. Below is a link to the text of the article, now almost unobtainable but extremely interesting: 
 
In this article, the author doesn’t speak in the abstract of reparative therapies but tells in detail his experience. Pretending to be homosexual, is put in contact by a priest with prof. Tonino Cantelmi, president and founder of the Italian Association of Catholic Psychologists and Psychiatrists and professor of psychology at the Gregorian University, which starts him with a reparative therapy for homosexuality. The article doesn’t stop, however, to describe the practical experience of the journalist in contact with the team of Prof. Cantelmi, but goes in search of the roots of reparative therapies by analyzing the contents of the book “Beyond homosexuality” by Joseph Nicolosi who is commonly considered the father of reparative therapies of homosexuality.
 
World health organization and reparative therapies
 
To avoid sterile polemics and to give a clear and authoritative answer to the supporters of these therapies, I report below, a fundamental document of the World Health Organization [https://www.paho.org/hq/dmdocuments /2012/Conversion-Therapies-EN.pdf] where some points of extreme importance for homosexual persons are synthesized. This document of the highest scientific level is the synthesis of the work of thousands of specialists in all parts of the world. I invite you to observe how the contents of this document accurately reflect what Gay Project has always supported. I believe that there is no need to compare this document with other well-known documents of confessional origin.
_________ 
 
Pan American Health Organization
Regional Office of the
World Health Organization
 
“CURES” FOR AN ILLNESS THAT DOES NOT EXIST 
Purported therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation  
lack medical justification and are ethically unacceptable
 
Introduction
Countless human beings live their lives surrounded by rejection, maltreatment, and violence for being perceived as “different.” Among them, millions are victims of attitudes of mistrust, disdain and hatred because of their sexual orientation. These expressions of homophobia are based on intolerance resulting from blind fanaticism as well as pseudoscientific views that regard non-heterosexual and non-procreative sexual behavior as “deviation” or the result of a “developmental defect.” 
Whatever its origins and manifestations, any form of homophobia has negative effects on the affected people, their families and friends, and society at large. There is an abundance of accounts and testimonies of suffering; feelings of guilt and shame; social exclusion; threats and injuries; and persons who have been brutalized and tortured to the point of causing injuries, permanent scars and even death. As a consequence, homophobia represents a public health problem that needs to be addressed energetically. 
While every expression of homophobia is regrettable, harms caused by health professionals as a result of ignorance, prejudice, or intolerance are absolutely unacceptable and must be avoided by all means. Not only is it fundamentally important that every person who uses health services be treated with dignity and respect; it is also critical to prevent the application of theories and models that view homosexuality as a “deviation” or a choice that can be modified through “will power” or supposed “therapeutic support”. 
In several countries of the Americas, there has been evidence of the continued promotion, through supposed “clinics” or individual “therapists,” of services aimed at “curing” non-heterosexual orientation, an approach known as “reparative” or “conversion therapy.”(1) Worryingly, these services are often provided not just outside the sphere of public attention but in a clandestine manner. From the perspective of professional ethics and human rights protected by regional and universal treaties and conventions such as the American Convention on Human Rights and its Additional Protocol (“Protocol of San Salvador”) (2) , they represent unjustifiable practices that should be denounced and subject to corresponding sanctions. 
 
Homosexuality as a natural and  non-pathological variation
 
Efforts aimed at changing non-heterosexual sexual orientations lack medical justification since homosexuality cannot be considered a pathological condition.(3) There is a professional consensus that homosexuality represents a natural variation of human sexuality without any intrinsically harmful effect on the health of those concerned or those close to them. In none of its individual manifestations does homosexuality constitute a disorder or an illness, and therefore it requires no cure. For this reason homosexuality was removed from the relevant systems of classification of diseases several decades ago.(4) 
 
The ineffectiveness and harmfulness of “conversion therapies”
 
Besides the lack of medical indication, there is no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of sexual reorientation efforts. While some persons manage to limit the expression of their sexual orientation in terms of conduct, the orientation itself generally appears as an integral personal characteristic that cannot be changed. At the same time, testimonies abound about harms to mental and physical health resulting from the repression of a person’s sexual orientation. In 2009, the American Psychological Association conducted a review of 83 cases of people who had been subject to “conversion” interventions.(5) Not only was it impossible to demonstrate changes in subjects’ sexual orientation, in addition the study found that the intention to change sexual orientation was linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia, feelings of guilt and shame, and even suicidal ideation and behaviors. In light of this evidence, suggesting to patients that they suffer from a “defect” and that they ought to change constitutes a violation of the first principle of medical ethics: “first, do no harm.” It affects the right to personal integrity as well as the right to health, especially in its psychological and moral dimensions.
 
Reported violations of personal integrity and other human rights
 
As an aggravating factor, “conversion therapies” have to be considered threats to the right to personal autonomy and to personal integrity. There are several testimonies from adolescents who have been subject to “reparative” interventions against their will, many times at their families’ initiative. In some cases, the victims were interned and deprived of their liberty, sometimes to the extent of being kept in isolation during several months.(6) The testimonies provide accounts of degrading treatment, extreme humiliation, physical violence, aversive conditioning through electric shock or emetic substances, and even sexual harassment and attempts of “reparative rape,” especially in the case of lesbian women. Such interventions violate the dignity and human rights of the affected persons, independently of the fact that their “therapeutic” effect is nil or even counterproductive. In these cases, the right to health has not been protected as demanded by the regional and international obligations established through the Protocol of San Salvador and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. 
 
Conclusion
 
Health professionals who offer “reparative therapies” align themselves with social prejudices and reflect a stark ignorance in matters of sexuality and sexual health. Contrary to what many people believe or assume, there is no reason – with the exception of the stigma resulting from those very prejudices – why homosexual persons should be unable to enjoy a full and satisfying life. The task of health professionals is to not cause harm and to offer support to patients to alleviate their complaints and problems, not to make these more severe. A therapist who classifies non-heterosexual patients as “deviant” not only offends them but also contributes to the aggravation of their problems. “Reparative” or “conversion therapies” have no medical indication and represent a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons. They constitute unjustifiable practices that should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions and penalties.
 
RECOMMENDATIONS
 
To governments: 
– Homophobic ill-treatment on the part of health professionals or other members of health care teams violates human rights obligations established through universal and regional treaties. Such treatment is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.
– “Reparative” or “conversion therapies” and the clinics offering them should be reported and subject to adequate sanctions.
 – Institutions offering such “treatment” at the margin of the health sector should be viewed as infringing the right to health by assuming a role properly pertaining to the health sector and by causing harm to individual and community well-being.(7) 
– Victims of homophobic ill-treatment must be treated in accordance with protocols that support them in the recovery of their dignity and self-esteem. This includes providing them treatment for physical and emotional harm and protecting their human rights, especially the right to life, personal integrity, health, and equality before the law.
 
To academic institutions: 
– Public institutions responsible for training health professionals should include courses on human sexuality and sexual health in their curricula, with a particular focus on respect for diversity and the elimination of attitudes of pathologization, rejection, and hate toward non-heterosexual persons. The participation of the latter in teaching activities contributes to the development of positive role models and to the elimination of common stereotypes about non-heterosexual communities and persons.
– The formation of support groups among faculty and within the student community contributes to reducing isolation and promoting solidarity and relationships of friendship and respect between members of these groups. Better still is the formation of sexual diversity alliances that include heterosexual persons.
– Homophobic harassment or maltreatment on the part of members of the faculty or students is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.
 
To professional associations:
– Professional associations should disseminate documents and resolutions by national and international institutions and agencies that call for the de-psychopathologization of sexual diversity and the prevention of interventions aimed at changing sexual orientation.
– Professional associations should adopt clear and defined positions regarding the protection of human dignity and should define necessary actions for the prevention and control of homophobia as a public health problem that negatively impacts the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
– The application of so-called “reparative” or “conversion therapies” should be considered fraudulent and as violating the basic principles of medical ethics. Individuals or institutions offering these treatments should be subject to adequate sanctions.
 
To the media:
– The representation of non-heterosexual groups, populations, or individuals in the media should be based on personal respect, avoiding stereotypes or humor based on mockery, ill-treatment, or violations of dignity or individual or collective well-being.
– Homophobia, in any of its manifestations and expressed by any person, should be exposed as a public health problem and a threat to human dignity and human rights.
– The use of positive images of non-heterosexual persons or groups, far from promoting homosexuality (in virtue of the fact that sexual orientation cannot be changed), contributes to creating a more humane and diversity-friendly outlook, dispelling unfounded fears and promoting feelings of solidarity.
– Publicity that incites homophobic intolerance should be denounced for contributing to the aggravation of a public health problem and threats to the right to life, particularly as it contributes to chronic emotional suffering, physical violence, and hate crimes.
– Advertising by “therapists,” “care centers,” or any other agent offering services aimed at changing sexual orientation should be considered illegal and should be reported to the relevant authorities.
 
To civil society organizations:
– Civil society organizations can develop mechanisms of civil vigilance to detect violations of the human rights of non-heterosexual persons and report them to the relevant authorities. They can also help to identify and report persons and institutions involved in the administration of so-called “reparative” or “conversion therapies.”
– Existing or emerging self-help groups of relatives or friends of non-heterosexual persons can facilitate the connection to health and social services with the goal of protecting the physical and emotional integrity of illtreated individuals, in addition to reporting abuse and violence.
– Fostering respectful daily interactions between persons of different sexual orientations is enriching for everyone and promotes harmonic, constructive, salutary, and peaceful ways of living together.
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1  Human Rights Committee (2008). Concluding Observations on Ecuador (CCPR/C/ECU/CO/5), paragraph 12. <http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/co/CCPR.C.ECU.CO.5.doc>  Human Rights Council (2011). Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence Against Individuals Based on Their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (A/HRC/19/41), paragraph 56. <http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/AHRC-19-41_en.pdf > Human Rights Council (2011). Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health (A/HRC/14/20), paragraph 23. <http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.20.pdf>  United Nations General Assembly (2001). Note by the Secretary-General on the Question of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (A/56/156), paragraph 24. <http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/56/a56156.pdf&gt;
2  The human rights that can be affected by these practices include, among others, the right to life, to personal integrity, to privacy, to equality before the law, to personal liberty, to health, and to benefit from scientific progress.
3  American Psychiatric Association (2000). Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies): Position Statement. <http://www.psych.org/Departments/EDU/Library/APAOfficialDocumentsandRelated/PositionStatements/200001.aspx&gt; Anton, B. S. (2010). “Proceedings of the American Psychological Association for the Legislative Year 2009: Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Council of Representatives and Minutes of the Meetings of the Board of Directors”. American Psychologist, 65, 385–475. <http://www.apa.org/about/governance/council/policy/sexual-orientation.pdf&gt; Just the Facts Coalition (2008). Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel. Washington, DC. <http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/justthefacts.html&gt;
4  World Health Organization (1994). International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (10th Revision). Geneva, Switzerland. American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC.
5  APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009). Report of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. Washington, DC. http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/the…sponse.pdf
6  Taller de Comunicación Mujer (2008). Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos: Informe Sombra. <http://www.tcmujer.org/pdfs/Informe%20Sombra%202009%20LBT.pdf&gt; Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (2005). Tribunal por los Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales de las Mujeres. <http://www.tcmujer.org/pdfs/TRIBUNAL%20DESC%20ECUADOR%20MUJERES.pdf&gt;
7  See General Comment No. 14 by the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights with regards to the obligation to respect, protect and comply with human rights obligations on the part of States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
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ARE MY SEXUAL FANTASIES GAY?

Hello Project, I’m a twenty-two years old gay guy in practice I have always felt gay since I was a little boy, so to say, in a conscious and fairly accepted only for a few months now. I have had (so to speak) two girls, I haven’t even tried to have sex with them, I have been with them because everyone had a girl and basically if it is about going around, cinema and pizza with friends, I don’t mind having a girl, but some guys have a very strong appeal for me, talking without hairs on the tongue, I go into erection even if they are only close to me, with the girls nothing like that has ever happened. Ok, even if I know that being gay will make scorched earth around me, both in the family and with friends, in the end I cannot renounce sex to please my parents, and then the very idea of having sex with a woman I cannot even to conceive it, for me it is completely unnatural.

I think about guys very much in terms of sex, I masturbate only thinking about them, however, and here my concerns begin, I don’t have the courage to go further and try to fall in love, if it happens. I like sex and a lot, I imagine it, I work on sex with my imagination but I’m afraid of the guys. It’s obvious that they are almost all heterosexual and this hampers me very much because being put in public would put me in difficult situations and then there are diseases, and then, basically, I only have in mind my idea of sex, which doesn’t coincide with what I think most gays go looking for.

Here, this is the problem. I’m gay but the sex I find on gay porn sites is isn’t at all like the one I want and would experience, so I tell myself that maybe I’m not really gay because gays live sex in another way. If I can be clearer, for me the maximum of the sex with a guy is being together naked, being able to touch and masturbate each other, but spontaneously I cannot think of taking anything in the mouth (you understand) I think in the end I could do it but I’ve never had a fixed idea of such things, and then anal sex I don’t conceive it at all. Nothing ideological against those who practice it but it is something that not only doesn’t attract me but I think I would never get to do, neither as active nor as passive.

I collected a lot of porn videos (i.e. I stored the links) in which sexuality was exactly that one I like, but they are few, some videos are beautiful and I would like to relive it in reality, but the vast majority of gay videos are of a very different type and don’t excite me at all but I think they excite many other gay guys. Not having concrete experiences I don’t know how I would react in reality but I think I would need a guy who also resembled me from the point of view of sexual fantasies and I think I would not be able to have a relationship in which sexuality doesn’t match my fantasies . Do my fantasies have something unusual? I mean, do you think I’m not really gay? Please tell me it very clearly. Am I the classic white fly (or the classic black sheep) among gays? Do you think I have any chance of finding a gay guy with whom to build something really important? Sometimes I really fear that it will never happen and that my fantasies will remain only fantasies. If you want, publish this email, because I would like to know what the guys think about it.

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