GAY GUYS AND PREVENTION OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES

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

GAYS AND PREVENTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) that sexuality is not a game,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MACHIAVELLI HOMOSEXUAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[8] Niccolò Machiavelli a Francesco Vettori
Firenze, 25 febbraio 1514
Magnifico oratori florentino Francisco Vettorio apud S. Pontificem suo observandissimo. Rome.
Magnifico oratore. Io hebbi una vostra lettera dell’altra settimana, et sono indugiatomi ad hora a farvi risposta, perché io desideravo intendere meglio il vero di una novella che io vi scriverrò qui dappiè: poi risponderò alle parti della vostra convenientemente. Egli è accaduto una cosa gentile, o vero, a chiamarla per il suo diritto nome, una metamorfosi ridicola, et degna di esser notata nelle antiche carte. Et perché io non voglio che persona si possa dolere di me, ve la narrerò sotto parabole ascose.
Giuliano Brancacci, verbigrazia, vago di andare alla macchia, una sera in fra l’altre ne’ passati giorni, sonata l’Ave Maria della sera, veggendo il tempo tinto, trarre vento, et piovegginare un poco (tutti segni da credere che ogni uccello aspetti), tornato a casa, si cacciò in piedi un paio di scarpette grosse, cinsesi un carnaiuolo [cerniere], tolse un frugnuolo [lanterna da caccia], una campanella al braccio, et una buona ramata [strumento per la caccia agli uccelli]. Passò il ponte alla Carraia, et per la via del Canto de’ Mozzi ne venne a Santa Trinita, et entrato in Borgo Santo Appostolo, andò un pezzo serpeggiando per quei chiasci che lo mettono in mezzo; et non trovando uccelli che lo aspettassino, si volse dal vostro battiloro, et sotto la Parte Guelfa attraversò Mercato, et per Calimala Francesca si ridusse sotto il Tetto de’ Pisani; dove guardando tritamente tutti quei ripostigli, trovò un tordellino, il quale con la ramata, con il lume, et con la campanella fu fermo da lui, et con arte fu condotto da lui nel fondo del burrone sotto la spelonca, dove alloggiava il Panzano, et quello intrattenendo et trovatogli la vena larga et più volte baciatogliene, gli risquittì [riacconciare le penne agli uccelli] dua penne della coda et infine, secondo che gli più dicono, se lo messe nel carnaiuolo di drieto.
Ma perché il temporale mi sforza a sbucare di sotto coverta, et le parabole non bastano, et questa metaphora più non mi serve, volle intendere il Brancaccio chi costui fosse, il quale gli disse, verbigrazia, essere Michele, nipote di Consiglio Costi. Disse allhora il Brancaccio: — Sia col buono anno, tu sei figliuolo di uno huomo dabbene, et se tu sarai savio, tu hai trovata la ventura tua. Sappi che io sono Filippo da Casavecchia, et fo bottega nel tal lato; et perché io non ho danari meco, o tu vieni, o tu mandi domattina a bottega, et io ti satisfarò. — Venuta la mattina, Michele, che era più presto cattivo che dappoco, mandò un zana a Filippo con una poliza richiedendoli il debito, et ricordandoli l’obbligo; al quale Filippo fece un tristo viso, dicendo: — Chi è costui, o che vuole? io non ho che fare seco; digli che venga a me. — Donde che, ritornato il zana a Michele, et narratogli la cosa, non si sbigottì di niente il fanciullo, ma animosamente andato a trovare Filippo, gli rimproverò i benefici ricevuti, et li concluse che se lui non haveva rispetto ad ingannarlo, egli non harebbe rispetto a vituperarlo; tale che parendo a Filippo essere impacciato, lo tirò drento in bottega, et li disse: — Michele, tu sei stato ingannato; io sono un huomo molto costumato, et non attendo a queste tristizie; sì che egli è meglio pensare come e’ si habbi a ritrovare questo inganno, et che chi ha ricevuto piacere da te, ti ristori, che entrare per questa via, et senza tuo utile vituperare me. Però farai a mio modo; andra’tene a casa, et torna domani a me, et io ti dirò quello a che harò pensato. — Partissi il fanciullo tutto confuso; pure, havendo a ritornare, restò paziente. Et rimasto Filippo solo, era angustiato dalla novità della cosa, et scarso di partiti, fluctuava come il mare di Pisa quando una libecciata gli soffia nel forame. Perché e’ diceva: Se io mi sto cheto, et contento Michele con un fiorino, io divento una sua vignuola, fummi suo debitore, confesso il peccato, et di innocente divento reo: se io niego senza trovare il vero della cosa, io ho a stare al paragone di un fanciullo, hommi a giustificare seco, ho a giustificare gli altri; tutti i torti fieno i mia. Se io cerco di trovarne il vero, io ne ho a dare carico a qualcuno, potrei non ivi apporre, farò questa inimicizia, et con tutto questo non sarò giustificato.
Et stando in questa ansietà, per manco tristo partito prese l’ultimo; et fugli in tanto favorevole la fortuna, che la prima mira che pose, la pose al vero brocco, et pensò che il Brancaccio gli havesse fatto questa villania, pensando che egli era macchiaiuolo, et che altre volte gli haveva fatto delle natte quando lo botò a’ Servi. Et andò in su questo a trovare Alberto Lotti, verbigrazia, et narratoli il caso, et dectoli l’oppenione sua, et pregatolo havesse a sé Michele, che era suo parente, vedesse se poteva riscontrare questa cosa. Giudicò Alberto, come pratico et intendente, che Filippo havesse buono occhio, et promessoli la sua opera francamente, mandò per Michele, et abburattatolo un pezzo, li venne a questa conclusione: — Darebbet’egli il cuore, se tu sentissi favellare costui che ha detto di essere Filippo, di riconoscerlo alla boce? — A che il fanciullo replicato di sì, lo menò seco in Santo Hilario, dove e’ sapeva il Brancaccio si riparava, et facendogli spalle, havendo veduto il Brancaccio che si sedeva fra un monte di brigate a dir novelle, fece che il fanciullo se gli accostò tanto, che l’udì parlare; et girandosegli intorno, veggendolo il Brancaccio, tutto cambiato se li levò dinanzi; donde a ciascuno la cosa parse chiara, di modo che Filippo è rimaso tutto scarico, et il Brancaccio vituperato. Et in Firenze in questo carnasciale non si è detto altro, se non: — Se’ tu il Brancaccio, o se’ il Casa? —; « et fuit in toto notissima fabula coelo ». Io credo che habbiate hauto per altre mani questo avviso, pure io ve l’ho voluto dire più particulare, perché mi pare così mio obbligo.
Alla vostra io non ho che dirvi, se non che seguitiate l’amore totis habenis, et quel piacere che voi piglierete hoggi, voi non lo harete a pigliare domani; et se la cosa sta come voi me l’havete scritta, io ho più invidia a voi che al re di Inghilterra. Priegovi seguitiate la vostra stella, et non ne lasciate andare un iota per cosa del mondo, perché io credo, credetti, et crederrò sempre che sia vero quello che dice il Boccaccio: che gli è meglio fare et pentirsi, che non fare et pentirsi.
Addì 25 di Febbraio 1514.
Niccolò Machiavelli in Firenze
http://www.classicitaliani.it/machiav/mac64_let_06.htm Edizione di riferimento Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.

[9] Notoriously homosexual. Of Filippo Casavecchia, in Florence, the relationships he had with Niccolò Machiavelli are better documented, to which he was bound by strong bonds of friendship. The familiarity between the two, which dates back to before 1500, results in particular from a group of five letters sent by Casavecchia between 1507 and 1509, during the stays at Fivizzano and Barga, and by the references that appear in letters by Machiavelli to common friends.
 
[10] Niccolò Machiavelli a Francesco Vettori
Firenze, 3 agosto 1514
A Francesco Vettori in Roma.
Voi, compare, mi havete con più avvisi dello amor vostro di Roma tenuto tutto festivo, et mi havete levato dallo animo infinite molestie, con leggere et pensare a’ piaceri et alli sdegni vostri, perché l’uno non sta bene senza l’altro. Et veramente la Fortuna mi ha condotto in luogo, che io ve ne potrei rendere iusto ricompenso; perché, standomi in villa, io ho riscontro in una creatura tanto gentile, tanto delicata, tanto nobile, et per natura et per accidente, che io non potrei né tanto laudarla, né tanto amarla, che la non meritasse più. Harei, come voi a me, a dire i principii di questo amore, con che reti mi prese, dove le tese, di che qualità furno; et vedresti che le furono reti d’oro, tese tra fiori, tessute da Venere, tanto soavi et gentili, che benché un cuor villano le havesse potute rompere, nondimeno io non volli, et un pezzo mi vi godei dentro, tanto che le fila tenere sono diventate dure, et incavicchiate con nodi irresolubili. Et non crediate che Amore a pigliarmi habbia usato modi ordinarii, perché, conoscendo non li sarebbono bastati, tenne vie extraordinarie, dalle quali io non seppi, et non volsi guardarmi. Bastivi che, già vicino a cinquanta anni né questi soli mi offendono, né le vie aspre mi straccano, né le obscurità delle notti mi sbigottiscano. Ogni cosa mi pare piano, et a ogni appetito, etiam diverso et contrario a quello che doverrebbe essere il mio, mi accomodo. Et benché mi paia essere entrato in gran travaglio, tamen io ci sento dentro tanta dolcezza, sì per quello che quello aspetto raro et suave mi arreca, sì eziam per havere posto da parte la memoria di tutti e mia affanni, che per cosa del mondo, possendomi liberare, non vorrei. Ho lasciato dunque i pensieri delle cose grandi et gravi; non mi diletta più leggere le cose antiche, né ragionare delle moderne; tutte si sono converse in ragionamenti dolci; di che ringrazio Venere et tutta Cipri. Pertanto se vi occorre da scrivere cosa alcuna della dama, scrivetelo, et dell’altre cose ragionerete con quelli che le stimono più, et le intendono meglio, perché io non ci ho mai trovato se non danno, et in queste sempre bene et piacere. Valete.
Ex Florentia, die III Augusti 1514.
Vostro Niccolò Machiavelli
http://www.classicitaliani.it/machiav/mac64_let_06.htm Edizione di riferimento Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.

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

http://www.classicitaliani.it/machiav/mac64_let_07.htm Edizione di riferimento: Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.

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GAY LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE OVER SEXUAL BIASES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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GAYS AND SPECIAL FRIENDSHIPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A TRUE GAY BETRAYAL

Hello Project,
I was very impressed with our last night’s interview and I’ll explain why. You are older than my father and not a few years older, but you are serene, you are not neurotic, you have no angry shots, don’t panic as he does, don’t pretend to change people. I realized that you think in a way different from mine but you didn’t try to impose your point of view and in essence tended to resize the problems, make them become something normal, common things to deal with, but nothing special. You’re reassuring.
 
Tonight I tried to think about what we said last night: you think my doubts are unfounded and that with Mirco there is a solid relationship, that is, it is not at all a thing instrumental to sex. I tell you right away that I think you are right, though for me, to take my doubts out of my head is not easy, they are a bit like a trickle that creeps in depth and is likely to put everything to a crisis, although it is probably only one of my neuroses, a kind of fixed idea that wears me out and that I would like to completely overcome.
 
In fact, I have asked myself several times why he has always been looking for me, because I’m certainly not the best, with me he has always felt free to pull out all his neuroses because he knew he would be accepted anyway and then, especially in the most recent time, he has let go to some affectionate word, it happened seldom but it happened, he has always trusted me completely and this struck me and strikes a lot. He has never had inhibitory brakes with me, he has slowly come to accept that there are also different ways of seeing sexuality between us, he is much more hot, more carried by sex, I am much more for pampering and affection, at the beginning such two worlds seemed irreconcilable, then, step by step, we found  a balance, it was not the earthly paradise but it was something. If I reflect on what there has been between us, well, I cannot say I’ve ever felt frustrated, and presently I have some certainties, I cannot even hear him for a dozen days, but then he gets in touch. When we argue, what happens often, in a way very repetitive and almost ritually, we do not meet for a couple of weeks, but then he reappears, just as if nothing had happened, I tell him that I’m delighted to hear him, which in the end is true, he answers a bit embarrassed, because he doesn’t want to talk about affectivity, but I’m convinced that he is happy to know that he can count on something.
Over time I had learned something, or rather I had passed a block: in my adolescence I was convinced that to really love each other a monogamous relationship was needed and that the so-called betrayal would represent the last beach of a gay couple. I was just convinced, then I saw the story of a friend of mine, a hetero guy, Louis, who married and after a few years divorced but didn’t break his relationship with his wife, they continue to meet and every one has his own stories but they have remained in touch despite everything, they still help each other when it’s necessary and, in a sense, they are still in love. The thing at first seemed to me strange, contradictory, almost impossible. I had in my mind the myth of the exclusive couple, of belonging to each other all life long and so on, etc., and yet I had the sight of the fact that loving someone doesn’t mean exclusivity at all. I was looking for justifications in the idea that at affective level things might work even so, but at the sex level the exclusive relationship was indispensable. Then I ended up to talk about these things with Louis and he told me it happened that even after divorce he sometimes made love with his ex-wife. I asked him, a little puzzled, if the fact that she had another man made it difficult and he answered something I would never have expected, that his ex-wife’s companion knew how things were and left his wife free to behave as she wanted. I would never have imagined such a thing. Louis added that, clearly, both he and his ex-wife took all possible precautions, so as not to create problems as unwanted pregnancies or possible illnesses. I asked him if he often had intercourses with his ex-wife, and he told me that in a year it would have happened 4 or 5 times.
 
The reflection on Louis’s story had started my brain. I was wondering what I would do if Mirco told me he had a another guy … the idea frightened me, but I had been trying to get used to preventing the effects of any such eventuality. Then, a good day, in January 2016, I asked Mirco if he had ever had other guys and he told me that “now” (in January 2016) he had no other guy, but that word, “now”, put me in crisis, did that word “now” mean that he had had a boy before? I tried to ask him and he said that he had one while we were together and that then a thousand scruples had come to him, not because of infidelity, but because he could have been risking me, but he showed me the outcome of the test, one test done at that time and one very recent, both negative, and he told me that this was the only time he had had another guy. He didn’t tell me everything because he was afraid to lose me. I asked him if he was still in touch with that guy and he told me no, because that guy didn’t want to meet him anymore and left him because he said he was too neurotic. I asked him if that guy knew about me, and he replied that he knew I was his ex-boyfriend, but not that we were still in touch.
 
After this confession, I must say that I felt betrayed. I completely trusted Mirco and suddenly I found myself in a state of betrayal that I didn’t even imagine. He looked at me a bit worried and then told me: “It happened but I didn’t do it anymore.” I confess that I felt in a great difficulty. After all, he had really betrayed me, had betrayed my trust, it was not like Louis’s story, Mirco had played dirty. Yes, it was true that he had admitted it, though he could still pretend, but he had betrayed me. That evening we greeted differently than usual, I felt frozen, manipulated, I wanted to be alone, I didn’t want to know anybody anymore. 
 
After 15 days, the longest interval between two contacts with Mirco, I had no news of him, I was panicking, the rage for betrayal had abundantly diminished and I started to feel the void for the absence of Mirco, but I did not call him anyway. The third week without Mirco was really bad, I thought I was definitely alone. After 25 days he called me. He just said, “How are you?” I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t answer, I was silent but I didn’t  even close the phone. He said in a very hesitant voice: “I’m here at the door of your house, would you like to walk a bit?” I just said, “Come on.” He got up and we hugged very tight. Getting him back in my arms seemed to me like a miracle. We have been so at least ten minutes. Then we sat on the couch, he leaned on me and we have been there in silence for a long time to feel the heat of each other. I no longer cared about betrayal, in the end it was something that had made us stronger and I still had my Mirco, and saw his neuroses with tenderness, no need to talk, we understood each other even without saying anything .
 
Of this story I didn’t speak except with Louis, who heard and told me that the love that resists in time is the only true and that Mirco made a mistake, of course, but never stopped loving me. With other friends who are just talking about cheating and betrayal, I don’t even want to talk about my story, for them I would just be the idiot of “cheated and happy”!
If you like, post this mail on the forum. I’ll call you back in the next few days.
 
G.B.
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GAY BETRAYAL AND GAY LOVE

Hello Project,
I like your blog because there are so many things that have the taste of real life. Since reading the blog I have never felt any sense of rejection or even perplexity, I would like to tell you a part of my story that some years ago put me in a crisis and that ended in an absolutely non-standard way. This is to say that abstract behavior rules have no meaning.
 
The subject is betrayal. The story is simple, I had a boyfriend and we also had sex together, even though it was not that trivial, because we understood each other, we trusted each other, and over all we loved each other, then for various reasons he had his experiences but we were still in touch, we were not ex-boyfriends, because we never had been engaged, we just loved each other and it’s a very different thing.
 
At some point he was alone and we got together. I underline that he had always spoken to me very sincerely, I knew the guys he was attending and they seemed to me good guys, that is, guys who loved him. I do not say they seemed good guys because now I think they are not, on the contrary I’m even more convinced now than before that they are good guys. He has never interrupted the relationships (even sexually) with the guys who really had loved him, and I too am among them, I do not even have the presumption to be more important to him than others or more exactly than the two others.
 
When we got together, he was alone in the sense that those guys kept him away, because they would have liked him to have a monogamous behavior, but for him it is practically impossible. And here the alternative in theory is clear, or you really accept him as he is, or you have to go away. Well, that was what I was thinking, but I was really naive. Or rather, I thought I understood the rules governing the affective life, but I didn’t understand anything.
 
One night, at a very late hour, in practice almost in the morning, he comes to my house, with the risk of waking up all my gossipy neighbors, and tells me he wants to have sex with me, but also tells me that he has to tell me something immediately: “Before I came here I was at A.’s home (A. is one of the other two guys) and I had sex with him because I could not help it. Does it bother you?” I replied: “No, it doesn’t bother me, A. is a proper guy, he never played with you and loved you in the true sense of the word.”
 
Then I added that I didn’t I want to have sex with him because I was tired of the previous day. He got up to leave and said, “Okay … I understand.” But he was disappointed. I replied: “You have not understood anything and at this time I do not let you go with the car, otherwise I get a heart attack before time! I prepare you the room, at least you can sleep a little.” It was a speech he didn’t expect, he looked at me happily surprised, then told me:” I would like a cup of tea, tell me where are the things I need and I do it all.” We went to the kitchen, put the water to boil, and as he waited I went to arrange the room for him. Then I prepared the tea, he drunk it then stood up, approached me and embraced me and gave me a squeeze just there, saying, “Okay, it will be next time. I love you B.!”
 
The next morning we talked for a long time and very seriously about his studies, I saw him quiet, much less neurotic than usual. Then we started to meet more frequently, but always stressing that we are not a couple, that we are free and that there are no obligations between us. It was not the world of dreams I wanted at the age of 18, but in my opinion it had (and it still has) a deep sense and then it doesn’t matter to me that he is my boyfriend in the classic sense of the term, we have overcome these things for years, it only matters to me that he is happy, or rather that he feels better with me than if he were alone. He trusts me, he considers me a reliable person, he knows that I love him and this fact is not indifferent to him, although it was not enough to bring him to monogamy, or better to monogamy 100%.
 
When I tried to tell this story to my friends, even to gay friends, I found a reaction that made me very annoyed: they considered me stupid, weak, they told me that I had been fooled, that the rules must exist and those who don’t respect the rules must be removed without regrets. Only a girl understood the meaning of what I was saying, she didn’t give any judgments, but was inclined to think that if I had made such a choice it was not for naivety but for love, because I probably knew more or less unconsciously that he loved me even if in his own way. But the others were all aligned to the idea that couple means something very similar to marriage and those who do not accept such a thing must be marginalized without hesitation.
 
In their opinion I’m just a naïve guy who has been clutched by a guy without scruples, but for me, things are not like that. We love each other, I think we are really important for each other. I never regretted my choices and I would repeat them. They told me I’m throwing away life and serious occasions, but what does serious mean? Should I give up my boyfriend (maybe he is not even my boyfriend, ok) to look for another one? No! Absolutely not! It’s been almost 10 years since we’re “somehow” together, he’s neurotic, angry, and so on, all you want, but he is honest, he doesn’t hide anything, he does not fool me, tells me what he thinks, everything, even brutally, but he, with all his flaws, never really abandoned me, in moments of difficulty I found him close, he did not talk, but he was there and understood how I really felt.
 
Some of my friends have known him and avoid him because when they do their hypocritical discourses, he makes them notice it and so embarrasses them. Sometimes they invite me pointing out that I have to go by myself, sometimes they don’t invite me at all, but I don’t mind, I don’t really give up him to go to a party!
 
That’s the story, Project. He is not perfect, he has many defects, I know it well and then I have many defects too. They tell me that if I am with him I will never be happy, yet it is exactly the opposite. He went and goes  even now with other guys, actually only two and the only two who really loved him, but I cannot really see anything like betrayal, but betrayal of what? He needs sex and even affection, I understand it well and I don’t feel upset at all. We love each other in our own way, the rules of others don’t concern us, in their eyes we can also appear to be two poor naive people who will never understand anything, but for us what people say or think doesn’t matter at all. I add something before closing this mail, Project, I’m convinced that there are many situations like ours, although nobody talks about it. There are no rules when you love someone, feelings are the only possible reference.
What do you think, Project? Obviously you can post this email if you think it’s okay.
Lawrence
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