I’m 27, many years, in theory too many if I had to start thinking about happiness now. What have I done up to now? I tried to lay the foundations … now I can finally think about putting the roof over it. I got out of high school at age 19, I took the first degree at 22, there I lost one year, I told my parents that I had lost the year because an exam had gone wrong but in reality the reason was very different and you will understand soon how things went. Now I’m an Engineer in a big waste disposal plant. I started working last year just before Christmas.

I try to ask myself the questions you would ask me. How does the emotional life go? I reply that, all in all, during all these years, even if sex was a very rare reality, I had my gratifications. At the beginning of the university I had in mind that my goal was only to graduate as soon as possible. I never haunted locals, I don’t like spending the night out. My fixed idea was to shorten the times. I didn’t have the problem of coming out, I simply didn’t do it with my family or with my friends, with one exception, but you’ll understand in a bit. It was not an ideological choice, only a postponement of my emotional life after graduation and after finding a job. In fact at the beginning I was living strictly monastic, university and study and that was all.

Nevertheless my emotional life has found a sense and a turning point right at the university, when I least expected it, because I was going to university just to study, the idea of chasing guys seemed nothing more than a way of wasting time and delaying even further the solution of my problems. There were so many guys I liked but I deliberately put the topic aside. I liked in another way only one guy, his name is Camillo, a name that seemed strange but that now seems to me the most beautiful in the world. I looked at Camillo but nothing more. We greeted each other when we were in class, in the morning I took the place for him and he took it for me, but these things also happened with other guys.

One day the professor didn’t come and we chatted a bit. I kept myself at a distance and I was just talking about the university, at one point he asked me when I would give analysis, I told him in June and he told me: “Would you like to try to study together?” I immediately said yes, then I regretted it because I thought he would have made me waste time, I wanted to say that I had changed my mind but a little I didn’t have the face to do it and a little Camillo was just my type of a handsome guy. So we started studying together. Sometimes I wanted to take a break and have a chat and maybe he wanted it too but then we did without it and we continued to study. Studying with Camillo was productive and at the same time pleasant.

Practically for months we have only studied together, at the time of the exams we went together to get them and we took the same vote but there was no celebration, after the exam we immediately returned to study for the next one. However, even if we never talked, we were all right with each other. In practice there was only talk about how to schedule the deadlines for the examinations of how to condense the maximum study effort, but it was fine, it was damn fine. We used to see each other once in his house and once in my house.

His parents were a little nosy and wanted to know a lot about me, especially if I had a girlfriend. I played my part pretending to have a girl as if I was straight inventing everything in front of his parents and I acted so well that they believed me. When he took me back to my house, I asked him: “Do you have a girlfriend?” He shocked me saying while he laughed: ”Oh yes! Just like you! Today you have done well to say what you said to my parents because if they get too involved it is a problem.” I replied: “I think you’re right!” This was our mutual coming out, it didn’t last more than 20 seconds.

I wanted to talk a bit but he stopped me: “Now we know why we’re fine together, but together we have so many things to do and we don’t have to take missteps. The engineers first make the foundations and then build on them. We continued to work together like crazy. Then at the third year, at the time of the first level graduation he got sick. No one understood what it was, he always had a little fever, they admitted him for a while to the hospital.

He didn’t seem in bad condition, I used to go to see him to the hospital and I went out of the ward with him to walk in the garden. I went there every day, then he told me he didn’t want me to go so often, he said that if I wanted to make him happy I had to study and then I started going to the hospital no more than once a week. He has had a pneumonia in light form that took a long time, it has not had major consequences but he has been in hospital almost two months. The result of all this was that he failed to do the thesis and to deliver it on time and so he lost a year, I instead took the first degree.

If I have to tell the truth the day I graduated I felt terribly uncomfortable because even if Camillo came to see me, he couldn’t graduate and then I did something that he still scolds me, I stopped studying for a year to wait for him and to start studying together again. And it took a whole year because when he was ill he had practically not studied at all. I would have liked to help him with the exams of the last year but he didn’t want to. This fact put me in trouble but Camillo used to spend the evening with me practically every day and we used to go out for a walk together.

We resumed working together after he graduated. We took the second degree the same day and then I felt realized. Now he works in engineering department of the region and deals with large air-conditioning systems and I take care of the recycling of waste. We decided to take the big step, that is to go to live together but in separate houses … or almost. I try to explain …

Next Monday we have a meeting with the builder to buy an apartment, or rather two apartments, they are two apartments of two rooms each one neighboring one another. The builder will leave them communicating. Two houses and not a big one because now we are fine together but in case of necessity everyone would have his own. Honestly it’s only a theoretical possibility. It will seem absurd, but we have placed two shelves on the open partition so that you cannot see that the two apartments are actually connected. A carpenter will give us two false bottomless cabinets, one different from the other, two and ten meters high so nobody will see that the two apartments are actually a single apartment. It’s not really necessary, let’s say it’s a bit of a strangeness, but we don’t want to let anybody know about us. Yesterday morning his parents and mine came at the same time to see the apartments, they noticed that they were one next to the other but the thing stopped there.

Thanks for reading everything! Good luck!


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Hi Project,

here you have another mail of mine after 15 days of silence. I’m the 32 year old guy with whom you talked the night between April 13th and 14th. I don’t know what you may have thought that night but for me it was a strange experience, these days I wondered if I had to write another time or not, it took me a while but I decided to write.

When I called you on the night of the 13th I was very depressed. I don’t know if it’s something typical of gays, but I think it’s mostly something that belongs to me, my mood collapses and I see everything black. I really needed to talk because I cannot do it with anyone. As I told you I had tried several times to find friends on chat but with bad results and on the other hand the loneliness weighs and sometimes you get really bad ideas in your head.

I’m no longer a boy and I don’t feel like it, I think the best of life has gone by now, or rather I think I threw it away. I tried to be straight for years and to have a girlfriend but then I didn’t do it anymore and even though I knew I would be alone I told myself that it is better to be alone than to pretend to be what you are not.

As far as the coming out is concerned, I’m not even thinking about it, where I am, it would be destructive. In my family they still hope that the girl who will take me with her arrives. Where I work the word gay raises acid jokes and guffaws.

Sex until recently was reduced to masturbation, pleasant, I do not deny it, but in the long run depressing, because it is like continuing to dream about non-existent things. As I explained to you, my sexuality has slowly disappeared, but also the only emotional desire. In practice I never fell in love, that is, I never found such a guy that I could say that I wanted to be with him. And masturbation has also become an exception in my life whereas before it was a constant.

At the age of 20, when I forced myself to be straight, I masturbated with guilty about guys and so on, etc., but for me it was a very strong sexual interest that I could not really repress. So my problem was to avoid masturbating thinking about guys, and despite all the good intentions, I could not avoid it. Now that I have accepted myself one way or another, it is as if I have completely lost my sexual desire. I don’t need to repress anything, in fact I don’t get excited and even though it seems strange to me, for me it is absolutely spontaneous.

I saw that a guy from the forum wrote things that somehow resemble my experience and I also read the things you wrote. You say that in the end they are not problems but they become problems just because guys see them like problems, but certainly you feel a bit strange, the guy who wrote the post is much younger than me, but in practice from 27/28 years old I happen to think that I don’t even have a sexuality. Let’s say that if I commit myself to masturbating I can do it, but it’s not like before, before it had a strong sexual dimension, now it’s a bit like an ordinary thing, if you do or do not it it’s practically indifferent. Let’s say that I don’t find any motivation of a physical nature for the fact of having put aside sexuality but it is as if I had removed a part of my personality, or rather as if that part of my personality had fallen asleep.

For the rest things are fine, apparently I don’t feel depressed, indeed, at work I also get better results, a bit as if I had transferred the mental time that before I devoted to sexuality to other things. Of course, it creates a strange feeling to hear my friends, all straight, talking about sex as if it were the center of their lives, for me it is not at all and what leaves me more puzzled is the fact that I don’t even fall in love with guys who are objectively beautiful and who in other times would have attracted my fantasies like a strong magnet.

I don’t feel anaffective, but asexual, that is I like the company of guys (even that of girls) with them I’m fine, with my straight friends I go out a little but there is a relationship, practically as before, only now I have stopped already looking with another eye a couple of them that previously interested me even sexually.

Project, when we talked, you tried to encourage me in every way but I don’t feel depressed, I feel good, not at all frustrated by this thing, let’s say that thinking about it is substantially a form of intellectual curiosity. Here are three pages of my diary that could explain the situation better. If you think it useful, publish everything I sent you (I have already changed the names).

See you soon.


January 12th 2009
Work finished, and I think quite well. I have some free time what do I do? I’m going to rest for a while. Mh, I don’t think about sex for a long time, it’s been months since I’ve opened my last porn. I go to the pool twice a week, I see a lot of naked guys but I remain totally indifferent. Before I needed a titanic strength to control myself now it is as if I were in a female dressing room. I’m moving away from these things and it seems to me almost impossible.

January 13th 2009
This morning I saw Matthew, beautiful as the sun! But I really did not give a damn. We went down to get coffee, he was casual, nice, always behaved in the same way, I went to the bar but I felt distant, stranger, and yet Matthew has been my fixed idea for years. Maybe when you understand that he is not for you, the fantasy comes away.

January 21th 2009
Yesterday I went to see “The Reader” a tragic film about a German guy who goes with a woman much older than him and discovers that she was a kapò, film strong, beautiful, the protagonist is a handsome guy and I have also seen him completely naked. In other times it would have shocked me, but yesterday it didn’t make me hot nor cold, at most the idea of exploring the nudity of that guy, but just zero sexual involvement. But is such a thing normal? Boh! It’s just as if I didn’t care about it.

February 6th 2009
Matthew asked me to go swimming with him. In other times something like that would have sent me into orbit. I told him yes, but I don’t really care about it.

February 10th 2009
I’ve been swimming with Matthew and I saw him naked for the first time, he’s a nice guy, also well endowed, but he didn’t make me hot nor cold. He does not think that I can be gay, of course … zero reaction! But the fact is that I think that actually saying that I’m gay doesn’t mean anything. I’ve been, maybe, but I’m not anymore, of course I’m not straight, but if to be gay I have to have fantasies about a guy, then I’m not anymore.

February 21th 2009
In the pool there was a new guy, very young, 20/21 years old, I think, he asked me how the pool works and I explained it to him, then I invited him to the bar and we got a drink. He was alone, without friends, then he told me that he was going to get ready for the pool and he said to me: “Are you coming?” I told him that I would go shortly afterwards, actually I waited for him to go to the pool, then I went to change. I don’t know if I avoided going there when he was there for fear of erection, the fear that could happen was there, anyway when he was there I didn’t go. Perhaps I was afraid that it would “not” happen. At home I have thought about him several times, but with tenderness and nothing happened, at most a half erection, but so, spontaneously, just thinking of a guy, it had not happened to me for a long time. Perhaps next time I go to the locker room with him.

February 28th 2009
With the guy of the pool I think we will be friends. I’m very comfortable with him. I think I’m a bit taking advantage of him. He does not talk about sex, neither guys nor girls, he’s really a good guy, this time he invited me to the bar, then same scene when he went to the locker room, I waited and went there a few minutes after but then I felt very uncomfortable and when he came out I went out too and we ended up in two showers nearby, I was afraid that I would get an explosive erection but nothing happened and he too was completely flaccid, I think he is straight. But it’s a nice guy, naked more than dressed.

March 2, 2009
I know that something is starting to happen to me. I often think of Andrew, even in a sexual key, I would like to cuddle him a bit when he is more melancholic, I think a hug would please him. Thinking about him in a sexual key makes me strange, it’s too young for me and I feel like a maniac, I know that I like this guy, but just as a person.

July 14th 2009
Andrew went to Sicily with his family. But why? This thing crashes me, in the last five years he was the only guy who made sense to me. With him I was really good, there were moments of mutual beautiful tenderness and maybe I would even fall in love with him, I began to have a sex life, that is to masturbate, with so many feelings of guilt, I admit, a bit as if I were a thief of his youth, because I was beginning to fall in love, but now? What should I do now? Write to him? I have his cell phone, I don’t even know if he’s gay, just that I was fine with him. Andrew! Why don’t you contact me again?

July 26th 2009
End of the story! Andrew sent me a beautiful postcard signed also by his girlfriend. I’m happy for him and also because our story was taking a road that I could not control. I feel dry, I don’t want to write anything. That’s enough! I am 32 years old and I feel like a failure from all points of view.


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Dear Project,
I don’t know if you remember me, a few years have passed, but I still remember the strange effect that made me talk to you, because I realized that I didn’t know gay reality at all and that I had an infinite series of fears, practically almost all nonsense, and I didn’t realize what could be the real problems of being with a guy, then I was 25 (good times!), now I’m 31 and I must say that things have changed a lot. I don’t know if you remember, Project, but a few months after our first conversations, I sent you a picture with a dedication on msn, a picture that represented me and the one whom I was hoping, even with a thousand uncertainties, was my boyfriend. Well … we’ve been together for 5 years now, and we live together. Now I’m not a boy anymore but I see my dream come true, Project, I feel loved. Do you remember the night you were talking to me on the chat? When bad thoughts passed through my mind? You told me that my life could have made another guy’s happiness and it seemed impossible to me, but that’s exactly what happened.

I met Luke in a chat, not in an erotic chat, but in a chat where they talked about architecture. There was talk not only of architecture but also about how a young architect can look for and even find work. At that time I was not working yet, neither was he. In his answers I saw the tendency to leave space, to make me talk, he was never impositive or aggressive, but was conversational without falling in the banal. We continued to talk in that chat for several days, then we discovered that we lived in the same city and we decided to meet up to try to plan together the search for a job. When I saw him I was electrocuted, he was a beautiful guy. We spent the whole day together and it was just fine! We only talked about job opportunities and we decided to give ourselves to do as much as possible to look for work together because economic independence was our first desire. I didn’t know anything about him then.

He has come to my house many times, he met my parents and I met his, obviously we were just two friends looking for a job together but the atmosphere was very positive. At his house, in his room there were many photos of a girl and it was like a stab to me: Luke was beautiful but obviously he was straight! My mood collapsed from one minute to the next. He noticed it and immediately told me: “It’s my brother’s girlfriend!” And in saying so he smiled at me. I thought that his smile was his way to come out with me and I also answered him with a smile and a breath of relief. When we said goodbye, beyond the usual handshake there was also a hug that I didn’t expect and it was not a formality. Since then our relationship took a different way.

You know, Project, you always say that the real problem is knowing if the other is gay, but if he is, the problem remains to understand how he thinks, what he thinks, how he sees the situation, and it takes time to understand it. Note, Project, that we never declared ourselves explicitly and that starting a speech beyond work was really difficult. Then one evening, after going to get a pizza, we stopped to talk in the car. He asked me: “Do you think it would work?” I had no doubts about the interpretation of that phrase and I replied: “We have to do everything to make it work …” He told me: “All right! Then I start.” He told me about himself without reserve and told me that he felt happy next to me and that he thought of me a thousand times a day. I took his hand and kissed it. It started like this. I skip the details you can imagine. I was really good, sexual transport was very strong. His way of experiencing sex was practically identical to mine: enthusiasm, but also prudence: doing the test, absolute mutual loyalty and lots of cuddles. I always wanted to be with him, when the time came to part from him I felt really halved. When I saw him smile, in his eyes I saw heaven. He had beautiful, warm hands and when he was holding mine he inspired me so much trust. And then he was not neurotic like me, he was quiet and close to him I began to overcome all my neuroses.

But there was a huge problem: we could go and make love in my parents’ country cottage, especially in winter, because no one ever went there, it was cold, but we knew how to warm up: a double duvet and we didn’t need anything else, it was fine but we often wondered what our parents would say if they understood how things really were. In practice we did everything in secret. For all the rest, we met each other, either, at his house or at mime, but we had to be careful to talk only about work. Another underlying fear was related to the fact that one of us could find work in another city, because such a thing would have been shocking. We were looking for work hoping not to find it. And we even arrived to present ourselves together for job interviews, saying that we were very close and used to working together, even if it is not easy for two architects to be hired to work together.

After about six months of “cohabitation” we got a job offer for a six-month contract in Kazakhstan, which seemed very strange, but the proposal came from an important multinational for which we had already held job interviews, we thought about it a little and then we accepted. Our families were very worried, but the fact of going there together led us to accept. After two days we were on the plane. The work was in Astana, a very special city, without western-style buildings, but with huge neighborhoods made of small houses with small gardens, very well kept, even if the city is almost in the middle of the desert. We have been housed in a villa, with three bedrooms and a bathroom, with a delightful little garden. People were also a pleasant discovery for us, but our dialogue with the locals could only take place in English, and on the other hand any contact with our superiors (Canadians) was only in English. In Astana we were really good and our relationship become deeper. We have worked together and a lot but we got also great satisfaction.

After the six months in Astana, they told us that we would spend another six months in Vancouver to oversee the construction of a port building, of course we accepted. The city is incredibly multiethnic and between the mountains and the ocean it is spectacular, we have happened there in summer, a very mild summer, similar to the springs of southern Europe. We had an apartment with a wonderful view. In Vancouver, however, we experienced that our English was very rudimentary and we tried to improve it with a group of local friends, including a gay couple, but of gays over 60, something that is rare to see in Europe. In Canada, the work didn’t have the relaxed rhythms it had in Astana, and several times we had to work even at night to keep up with the demands of the construction sites. We have worked, we have gained well but the nostalgia of Italy was very strong. By the way, work had distracted us from our basic problem: “what to say to our parents and how to say it”. For our parents we were in effect only two work colleagues.

A month before departure from Vancouver our superiors let us know that they would send us back to Italy to Milan, which is far from our home, but it is still in Italy. The second of September we arrived in Milan, also this time they placed us in the same apartment, which however was not even the shadow of the one in Vancouver and had not the eastern grace of that of Astana. Once settled, we decided it was time to speak clearly with our families. We didn’t know what to expect or even if it was the case to speak first with my parents and then with his, or to create an opportunity to make a single speech that would be good for everyone, but we were determined.

We set a lunch at my house for September 6th. The day arrives, we do the usual compliments, then Luke immediately enters the topic: “Listen to me a little … so we got to know each other better by working together for a year and we understood that we want to spend our life together, because we love each other and it seemed right to let you know.” In our opinion, the most was done, but the reaction to the words of Luke was disconcerting. My father pretended not to have understood, just like that, Project, while he had understood very well, he made a perplexed face, followed by a strange smile. Luke preferred to immediately eliminate any possibility of misunderstanding: “We are gay … and we love each other.” His father and mother did not say anything, they were almost paralyzed and did not know what to say. It was evident that a completely unexpected atomic bomb had fallen on them. My mother tried to lighten the situation but in the wrong way: “Now it can be a difficult moment but then things can get settled …” Luke immediately stopped her: “There’s nothing to settle …”. The most radical silence fell, interrupted only by banalities, like “Now let’s think about eating … we’ll think about other problems later, a solution will be found …” Luke also tried to avoid misunderstandings: “Solution?” My father started the wrong way again: “These are things that can happen, maybe these are moments of fatigue …” Luke looked at me in a very questioning way and said to me: “What do we do?” I answered with one word: “Let’s go!” We got up from the table and left without saying goodbye, and on the other hand our parents didn’t even try to hold us back.

The feeling of bitterness was very unpleasant, we both realized that the relationship with our families was over. Fortunately we were economically independent and we were working permanently in Milan, so the relations with our parents were in fact already very reduced. We immediately returned to Milan, our parents did not even make a phone call for a whole week, then my mother called me to ask: “How are you?” I noticed immediately that that “you” was referred just to me, she had only asked how I was and had not asked anything about Luke like she was used to do before, because by now Luke was like the devil who had taken his son away from her. I answered her. “We’re fine! (underlining the “we”) And how are you?” The embarrassment was evident, after a few minutes of banality the call was over. In the evening Luke’s mother called him and the script was virtually identical. We were not shocked by this thing, after all “maybe” we expected it. Up to this point our story may seem like the story of a double family failure. Two gay guys who would have all the credentials to feel fulfilled, are on the contrary frozen by relationships with their homophobic families that end up radically disappointing their expectations, but in reality things have gone differently. My father sent me the e-mail that I transcribe here below:

“Hello, your mother and I realized that we behaved very badly with you (Leo and Luke) and this makes us deeply uncomfortable. Luke’s parents share this unease with us, we talked about it together several times and we realized that we had everything wrong. We cannot be without our guys, we are living days of bitterness, but I can swear that we understand that we have to change our attitude altogether. We were not in the least prepared to face a similar situation. If you and Luke agree, we could maybe come to Milan for a weekend, so we can stay a little together. And then, what can we do to get a little clearer ideas? Because we tried to search for news on the internet, but orienting ourselves is very difficult. We await your response by mail and we hope so much that it is positive.”

I read the email to Luke and we agreed the answer.

“Hello, I spoke with Luke and if you agree we can meet not the next Sunday, because we have work commitments, but the following Saturday and Sunday. To get a little clearer ideas you can read the Gay Project Forum, it is very easy to find it on Google and you could also talk with Project, with whom I had spoken several times, he is a very good person and knows the gay world from the inside. As for our relationships, well, we are very happy with your email. Now we must try to rebuild everything without hiding anything and without pretending anything. Problems, sometimes, exist only in our imagination. Common sense is needed, it is true, but we are not naive and our choices have been made with good reasoning.
We embrace you strongly.
Leo and Luke”

The recovery of relationships with our parents on the basis of clarity, was not so easy, but on both sides there was a willingness to understand each other and, after about a year, things really became normal. By now our parents consider us as a couple and have overcome all or almost all their resistance and their complexes.

Project, I told you my story and I would like to see it on the forum because I would like to tell all the guys who see their future gray, that for a gay guy life can be beautiful and that finding a serious partner is not at all an impossible thing, even if the difficulties are certainly not lacking. I’m attaching in my skype contact, I would like to talk with you again, maybe to meet you at the beginning of the summer.
We embrace you!
Leo and Luke


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Hi Project,

I’m the father of a gay guy and I read your forum several times together with my wife to understand how to behave with our son and undoubtedly it was useful. I will not tell you about our worries and doubts, and above all the uncertainties about how to start a direct dialogue with our son, but in the end we succeeded, and our relationships have always been good, or rather they would have always been good if there had not been a point on which our son’s attitude worried us a lot.

He is now 17, he has a special friend, let’s call him so. In the past I could not deal with my son in a direct way, since he did not, we often spoke of sex, especially of prevention, but my wife and I were always very careful not to intrude too much into his private things. The other guy, whose name is Steven, came to our house several times, and we talked a lot, he’s a mature and responsible guy, he had dinner with us and once he even went to sleep at our house. I also knew his parents who seemed to me very good people, until a few days ago I didn’t know what they knew about the son then Steven spoke with us explicitly and said that his parents know everything. I asked Steven if, according to him, it would have been useful for him and for my son that we would contact his parents and he said yes.

A few days ago, in the afternoon, my wife and I went to see Steven’s parents, Steven and my son were also present. At first it was a bit embarrassing, but then the guys themselves got us out of trouble. And here comes the sore point. My wife, Steven’s parents and I were all in agreement to advise the guys the utmost caution, and Steven agreed, but my son didn’t want to know reasons and made it a matter of principle. Generally he’s very reasonable but it seemed to me that in this case it was just an obstinacy. We tried to make him reason in every possible way. Steven reminded him of the example of one of their comrades who was put in serious trouble by the gossip of other comrades, some parents and even some teachers, because, even if it may seem incredible, the teachers who make stupid gossip and who address the guys in a homophobe and rude way still exist.

There was only one argument that made my son recede from his obstinacy. Steven told him: “Louis, look, for you the coming out is a fundamental thing and you say you will do it anyway, but for me it’s something to be avoided, not absolutely, but because today we cannot afford it. In short, if you want to feel free to come out, I cannot stop you, but I cannot even be forced to do something that I just don’t want to do. That is, if it is just as you say – an inalienable issue of personal dignity – well, then it is good that I put myself aside, because I don’t want to feel forced to do something like that.” This speech put my son in crisis, he who did not accept his parents’ prudent speech was sensitive to the idea of not forcing his friend to do anything against his will.

At the end of the evening, the weather seemed quiet and the three of us came back home, but evidently our son was not at all convinced. In the car he began a tirade, that no longer ended up, on courage, dignity, self-respect and so on, I told him that he knew what we thought and that we and his mother talked about it so much and we had reached the same conclusions. Then I added: “You have to deal with Steven first of all because you can put him in great difficulty.” He tended to minimize, trivialize, to do a moralistic preaching, but I closed the speech: “Obviously you are free to make your choices but we don’t follow you on this ground.”

The next day, after school, he came home together with Steven and, in front of us, he quarreled furiously with him, something I would never have believed possible, he called him “designated victim”, said he was “plagiarized by his parents” and other things that I avoid mentioning, Steven got up, greeted me and my wife (not my son), took the door and left. My son made a scene with us, he seemed like another person, he raised his voice, tried to verbally vent against Steven and also against us. My wife intervened to close the discussion, and we left for our room. Louis went into his room slamming the door.

My wife and I looked at each other very worriedly, we didn’t know this side of Louis at all and it troubled us a lot. The following morning Louis left the house early to avoid meeting us and didn’t come back home at the usual time after school, but around five o’clock in the afternoon. I didn’t know where Louis was and I called Steven, who replied: “Oh, hello, listen, I’m a little busy now, I’ll call you as soon as I can.” Such a conversation could only mean that Louis and Steven were together and I didn’t worry.

Shortly after five o’clock Steven called me back and told me that with Louis they had arrived at a “truce” but added that he thought he would be able to change my son’s opinion. When Louis came home he expected an underlining of the fact that he had arrived very late, but neither my wife nor I said anything but that lunch was on the table in the dishes, and that if he wanted to have lunch he could do it. My wife and I prepared to leave the house, we already agreed that we would leave Louis alone to avoid scenes like that of day before, but he stopped us.

“Where are you going? You never leave at this time!” My wife replied: “We thought maybe you’re better alone and we leave you your space …” He continued: “Enough with these stories! A minimum of prudence is fine … but as soon as the conditions are favorable, I will do my coming out all the way, because I don’t want to live in the sewers but in the light of the sun!” And so I said mine: “No! You still don’t understand something very important, as long as you stay with Steven you are not the one who decides but you have to decide together! Do you think that your mother and I always agree on everything? Sometimes she gave up and sometimes I gave up … otherwise you cannot go on!”

He looked at me in a defiant attitude, but also with a half-mocking smile: “Look, Daddy, if you’re in the mood for sermons you can even go for a walk, if I give up it’s not because you and mom and Steven’s parents made you get scared … I don’t want to lose Steven, I give up for this.” I remained silent and raised my eyes to heaven. My wife and I put our coats back on and Louis told us: “Order four pizzas at the pizzeria for tonight, because at eight o’clock Steven is coming, Neapolitan for me and capricious for him, ok?” “Ok!” I do not know if I can say that now we are out of danger but it seems to me that the worst is over! The story is basically trivial and at the moment it seems that it ended fine, but I think it can be useful to someone. Obviously you can publish the email, the facts are those, but there are no sensitive elements. Thanks for everything.

Danilo and Albina (invented names, of course)


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Everyone goes through school. I open this very classic discussion with an apparently banal reflection: for a gay guy, the high school is hell and heaven mixed together, you enter at age 14 and you get out at 19, now young adult. In practice almost all the sexual and above all emotional apprenticeship is linked to the school environment. If for a straight guy behaviors can be relatively free, a gay guy experiences at school the same sense of constraint and limitation he will experience for the rest of his life. It is literally, unfortunately, a school of life. Despite all the limitations that a gay guy feels on his skin, sexual curiosity is always vigilant and generally prevails over the sense of discomfort, among the older guys sometimes develop very strong affective relationships, friendships, amorous friendships and also true stories of love. You can see many stories of heterosexual love, you can never see gay love stories and in fact you never even see gay guys. Everything at school is rigidly straight, no one, neither a teacher nor a student is allowed to open up his speech to gays, the game is dangerous and sometimes, under the appearance of pedagogical and psychological care, some children can suffer latent homophobia in the institution. Here are a few pages from the 1976 school diary of Dario, a 16-year-old guy.


I would have preferred to be born ugly! … Mom…. why did you make me so beautiful? If I was ugly I was better … I cannot stand these (-omissis-) … They cling to me, they make me an endless series of unwanted cuddles. Cynthia always sits on my legs and pretends nothing … Paola even kisses me … But do you realize that I also have to endure you when you make the owl? … but go away to Christian because for such a thing he melts like an ice cream in the sun, so you can make him happy and leave me quiet …… but luckily for him he’s ugly … well … but that’s enough … but for how long has she to preach this (-omissis-) [the philosophy teacher]? And then she always slips towards politics and she says that she teaches philosophy … But what do you look at? … I’m writing … but what do you care about what I’m writing? … I’m taking notes of my cabbages … see … I do “yes yes” with my head as if I was listening to you … are you satisfied? … but I think she really looks a lot like mad Madam Mim!


What a anger!! I really have to eat that one!! You’re old, that’s ok! you have a protruding belly, that’s ok! you don’t even have hair on your head, it’s not your fault. But you’re anyway an asshole! … I wait for your two hours of physical education for the whole week because I have to see Emilio undressing … and you? You stay at home because you’re sick … and they send us the witch to do another two hours of philosophy … but fuck! .. I have to wait another week …


Today Madam Mim calls me … “What are you writing? … bring me the diary!”… I … to you … the diary … but I don’t bring you anything at all! I had to beg, I could not give it to her. Anyway she is a (-omissis-) … and then Paula, the gossipy by definition, she even told me that in her opinion Fabrizio is gay … Fabrizio! But he’s as ugly as hunger … if she had said Emilio it would have been very different … well …


Today we talked and he was the one who searched for me! … Oh well … there were only us because there was the assembly and there were just four cats … but he says to me: “Do you want a coffee?” I certainly did not wait for him to repeat the proposal … We have been talking from nine to noon. Emilio is fascinating … he is a poet, he says beautiful things, a bit melancholy, however, he says they have never loved him …. but how is it possible? For almost all the time we talked about the school, but this is the first time we speak. He’s athletic, he’s almost 17 and it looks like he’s got twenty! He shaves every day and has a beautiful facial skin. He’s really nice and then he doesn’t believe to be the charming prince … he has no boast … when he was there I would have (-omissis-) … I say it just to say, but not so much! … then Madam Mim went by and made me nervous: “What are you two doing there? … go to the assembly! … come on!” She put herself in front of the door of the classroom and waited for us to come out … and when we left she looked at us with a little grin that I didn’t really like. I told Emilio: “The witch thought who knows what…” and he told me something beautiful: “And let her think!” Very good, Emilio, good answer! At the assembly a deadly bore. There was a guy who was attending the fifth year who preached as if he understood everything … we of the fifth class here and we of the fifth class there …” … Oh! My beautiful! If the witch makes you a shriek, you piss on yourself! Emilio and I got on one side and we were chatting and at one point I leaned on Emilio’s shoulder … a dreamy feeling … then a guy passed and he made me eyes, I turned around and the witch was just behind me … she said only: “Eh! …” and I looked at her and said to her: ” Teacher, but here everyone is making out … but tell it also to the others! … ” And there the world has burst: “You are two rude guys!”… “If anything I’m rude guy … he has nothing to do with it!” … “Oh no! He has to do with it a lot … but where do you think you are?” Emilio turned to me: “Let’s go!” I was red with rage, under the eyes of the witch Emilio takes my hand and we move hand in hand. It was one of the best moments of my life! Then I got the fear because she usually takes revenge, but Emilio said: “We cannot let us be influenced by Madam Mim! …” I love him, first it was only a matter of sex but now I love him, I love him a lot! Emilio!!!


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Hi Project,

I am 50 years old, I am not gay, but I have a 25-year-old gay son and I would like to share my experience with other parents. I must tell you that I have been a regular reader of your sites and that your sites have been very useful for me the last two years. But let’s start from the beginning.

I was born in ‘68, I married young, in ‘90, my parents thought it was too early but I wanted to do it because I wanted to live with my wife and I never regretted that choice because my wife is a person who loves me really. My son, who I will call Diego here, was born in ‘92, when I was 24 and was a very young dad. As a child Diego was a very lively and curious of everything, he felt very much the puppy of dad and mom. I have beautiful memories of that period (6-10 years). Growing up he proved to be good at school and very responsible, at 14 he had the keys to the house. There has always been a good dialogue between us. My wife has never been a mother-hen and has tried from 14 years on, to put him in contact with sports so that he could be with other guys.

At 14, Diego was already very tall and played basketball at a good level, took his teammates home, invited them to lunch, my wife and I cooked and the atmosphere was very pleasant. Things have gone on like this until the age of 17. My son had never brought a girl home and had never talked about girls. At home we never talked seriously about sex. Diego saw me and his mother watching TV in the evening, hugging each other and it was completely natural for him. It had sometimes happened to talk a bit about some television broadcast that alluded to homosexuality. Both my wife and I have stressed that each is what he/she is and that only unintelligent people can have prejudices in this field.

I would like to clarify that our attitudes were not “politically correct” attitudes assumed because those who are on the left think like that. In my youth I had a gay friend a lot older than me, maybe he was in love with me, who was a second father to me, if he had not been there I don’t know what I would have done but I think I would have run a lot of risks and very serious. My wife also met him and was very impressed. I make it short, for me homophobia doesn’t exist at all because it would be the most radical contradiction of my life and my experience.

So Diego, at home, never breathed a homophobic atmosphere. However, when he was 17 years old, my wife and I began to ask ourselves questions, we were not biased towards homosexuality, but having an only child and knowing that he is gay is not a very easy thing to accept, at least because one asks himself how to behave in order to be a parent in the best way. We had noticed that Diego was very often with a guy whom I will call Dany, they were inseparable. Dany came home. Diego and Dany (“D & D” so they called themselves) went to the camping together and spent their Christmas and Easter holidays around Italy. Diego was happy and it could be seen. My wife and I never intruded, but we understood that there was something more than just a friendship between them. But Diego had not mentioned anything to us and we didn’t really feel like asking questions about it.

Dany was drawing very well, his drawings were real works of art, and slowly our house was full of Dany’s drawings. Meanwhile, Diego was 18 years old. The birthday party had not been an invasion of friends, like that of the 17, but had been all centered on a trip (Saturday and Sunday) with Dany. Sometimes Diego stayed at Dany’s house, we said nothing but in the background, however, we had some concerns, not for homosexuality but for the possible health risks and we also felt a bit of anxiety. I thought I couldn’t do without it and I decided to talk to Diego. We went out together one afternoon and went to the city park and I said to him: “I and your mother are fine with Dany, but we have some health concerns …” He looked at me straight in the eyes and said: “We did the test both … and anyway he had never been with anyone else, neither me.”

I asked him: “But Dany’s parents know how things really are?” and he replied: “No! And that’s the biggest problem, because they are not like you and mom … well, Dany fears them.” We talked a lot about this, Diego was really worried. Dany would have cut the bridges with his family, but it would have been a trauma for him. Talking with my son not only reassured me but made me realize that I have a golden son and that I can consider myself a happy father. At home I told my wife about my conversation with Diego and she looked at me puzzled and told me: “But you think we can do something for these guys?” she was referring to getting in touch with Dany’s family and exploring the situation a little. I told her that it was not only Diego but above all Dany who needed to be heard.

One day when the guys came home, Diego started the question, Dany already knew that we knew. But Dany was very hesitant, because nobody suspected anything at home. Basically none of us four had clear ideas. The guys had to finish the last year of high school and then they would go to university, obviously together and in another city, they would both do engineering and would even take a single apartment together. But the rock of Dany’s family remained an unsolved problem. The following year the guys went to the university, and as expected they shared a small apartment, we paid half of the expenses and Danny’s family the other half. Things seemed to go well, the guys were happy, and then Dany had the ill-fated idea of speaking clearly with his parents and from there the disaster started.

They threatened him, in practice they threatened to disinherit him, and it was not a trivial thing because it’s a family that’s doing well economically. I made clear to Dany that in any case the share of inheritance that was due to him no one could have taken it away, but he didn’t even listen to me, he wanted to cut the bridges with his family, evidently after the discourse of clarification, he must have been treated badly. The family has stopped paying tuition fees and the amount for the apartment to force Dany to come back home, Dany wanted to leave the university and get to work but we convinced him that it would be madness and that he would also have done a serious damage to Diego, because studying together they obtained excellent results, and he let himself be convinced. We paid all the expenses, which were not really a big deal after all. But Dany felt embarrassed about this and we didn’t know what to do to put Dany in a good mood.

Fortunately, then the guys were very busy in the study and these problems went into the second line. Every week or me or my wife were traveling to the guys’ house to bring them already cooked meals for the week, so that they didn’t waste time on these things. My wife washed and ironed so that the clothes were always in order, in short, we didn’t leave them alone and now they both graduated brilliantly and began to work, still small things, but this way they make themselves known and the prospects are widen. Unfortunately, Dany’s parents are gone, it seems incredible but that’s right, they are completely disinterested in their son, I never thought you could get that much, but that’s what happened. Dany has not seen them for years, and then now lives with Diego in the city where they studied and I think they have no desire to come back to the city of origin.

We visit them more or less a weekend a month and they welcome us with enthusiasm. Dany is very embittered by his parents’ behavior but now he has lost the hope that he can change something. Project, Diego and Dany also know you and you talked with them (first with Diego and then with Dany, after about a month, more or less a year ago), you are doing a very useful job! I would love that many parents would open their eyes and put aside prejudices because for a gay son to see that parents try to force his freedom and then disappear when they realize that their son has his own world, it means losing most of the positive vision of life.

Dany had found Diego and then he found us and all in all, for him the situation was not destructive, but if he had been alone he would have been forced to give up his studies and he would have had a violent resentment inside him, and all this absolutely without any serious reason. I have a gay son but he is a happy guy, neither I nor my wife have fears for his future, because he managed to achieve what he wanted and now he is an adult man we are proud of, he has a guy who loves and he loves him and he will not remain alone. I wonder how it is possible that even in the twenty-first century there are parents who are so out of the world that they think they can abandon their son because he is gay. All this is really absurd!


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

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

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

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

Such a union could not but arouse jealousy around them. Some young neighbors of whom the two guys had slaughtered the falcons, for play or revenge, kidnap Gérard and rape him. From here begins the sliding of Pierre and Gérard towards death. Their love is both joy and torture. They are both slaves and masters in satisfying their pleasure, they don’t tolerate any compromise and prefer to choose the death that suffer the wear and tear of the feelings and bodies caused by time. As we can see, it is not only a homosexual novel in the most explicit way, but a novel that is immensely distant from the vision of homosexuality typical of Green.
After the publication of “Les Mauvais Anges” Juordan lived in a very free way before being adopted by Green. After his adoption he settled in Paris and remained close to Green until his death. But we don’t know more than this. Francesco Gnerre interviewed Eric Joudan in 2007.[19] Jourdan had made the condition that there were no questions about Green, However, to the explicit question of Gnerre: “Why don’t you want to be asked questions about Julien Green?” Jourdan replies: “The fact is that very often we tend to make allusions to the story of my adoption to belittle my work, and I don’t like this. Of course I adored my foster father, but we never practiced the same kind of writing and our vision of life has always been poles apart. Juliern Green was a fervent Catholic, I am a pagan, an iconoclast. I am convinced that all the churches and religions, in the first place the monotheistic ones, are kept standing by people who exert their influence on individuals and on the community under the exclusive pressure of material interests. They blame the people for “making them pay”, both in terms of cash offerings and the removal of their drives.” Frankly, I don’t think that the relationship between Jourdan and Green can be seen as the relationship between the devil and holy water, things are certainly much more complex. Green and Jourdan met when Jourdan was 15 years old and all kinds of gossip were made about their relationship, but the two did not get destroyed by gossip and after a few years Jourdan’s parents died and Grenn adopted him and even on this the gossip spread. In “La Civiltà Cattolica”,[20] after the death of Green, Ferdinando Castelli published the article “Julien Green witness of the invisible – in memoriam”. Castelli’s article aims to emphasize the figure of Green from the point of view of faith, but in the article there is a direct reference to the problem of homosexuality in the work of Green. “What does Green think about sexuality and homosexuality, themes repeatedly taken up in his work? – “There was in me, in different periods, an element of terror before sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular [. . . ]. In 1958 I won (supprimée) sexuality. I heard a voice saying to me: “Or now or never.” I replied: “If You don’t help me, I cannot do it.” The help has arrived, but the experience has been excruciating. It lasted about two years, but now peace is back “. Homosexuality is a very large theme, it is a mystery that concerns the wider sphere of sexuality. Both homosexuality and heterosexuality fall into the struggle between the flesh and the spirit: the problem is this,”[21] 
I point out that Green doesn’t see a specific problem in homosexuality but tends to frame all the sexual morality in the dimension of the struggle between the flesh and the spirit. Radical dualism seems inevitable to Green, but a secular spirit, faced with these things, wonders what is the reason why sexuality should be suppressed and finds no other motivation than the blind obedience to a precept that is attributed to God. I can understand that in tracing the obituary of a homosexual and Catholic writer, “La Cività Cattolica” is concerned with giving God what belongs to God, but for a secular homosexual, like me, it is essential to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and highlight the elements of the life and work of Julien Green that make stand out the homosexuality, won or repressed as you like, but essential to understand the true torment of a soul torn by faith. The prohibition of homosexuality, I return to the point, as in general the prohibition of non-procreative sexuality even within marriage, has no other reason than the will to conform anyway to the alleged will of God, even at the cost of suppressing sexuality violently. God gives us sexuality and then forbids us to use it according to our freedom and without harm to anyone. The prohibition has no other reason than to measure the level of obedience and self-denial before the God’s request, a little like the request made to Abraham to sacrifice his son, but, to take back a bit of evangelical language, whoever of us, if he saw his son in a garden full of fruit, would forbid him to eat the fruits of a particular tree to test his obedience? If therefore we, as bad as we are, don’t forbid our children to eat any fruit of the garden, because should God, who is infinite goodness, show Adam the tree of knowledge to say: you will not eat the fruit of this tree? It will be possible to answer that this is a mystery of faith, but it is precisely because faith, through these mechanisms, creates suffering, that I cannot conceive how blind obedience can be made a principle on which to found life.
[1] Julien Green: Religion and Sensuality – By Anthony H. Newbury – p. 12-14.
[2] “Aucun désir charnel ne me tourmentait. Si le cœur brûlait, les sens étaient profondément endormis et j’étais d’une froideur exceptionnelle. L’idée de porter la main sur Frédéric m’eût paru tout bonnement monstrueuse, parce que rien ne me semblait beau qui ne fût pas pur, ce mot retrouvant dans mon esprit tout le pouvoir qu’il avait failli perdre.” – Partir avant le jour.
[3] “Une ou deux minutes plus tard, de l’autre côté du pont, je dis à Mark : «Je regrette, je ne peux pas.» Il me serra légèrement le bras et dit : «Je comprends très bien.» Une fois de plus, j’avais mesuré le risque de perdre à jamais son affection et l’avais jugé trop grand. Ai-je besoin d’indiquer que dans mon œuvre, Mark revient sans cesse, sous une forme ou sous une autre ? II est toujours le mystérieux beau garçon à qui l’on n’ose pas déclarer son amour. Eric Mac Clure, dans Sud, Praileau dans Moïra, Angus et Wilfred, les deux alternativement, dans Chaque homme dans sa nuit, Paul dans Le Voyageur, surtout le beau garçon de L’Autre Sommeil”. (Terre Lointaine, V, pp. 1257-1258)
[4] “Pamphlet contre les catholiques de France”
[5] «Les catholiques de ce pays sont tombés dans l’habitude de leur religion, au point qu’ils ne s’inquiètent plus de savoir si elle est vraie ou fausse, s’ils y croient ou non ; et cette espèce de foi machinale les accompagne jusqu’à la mort.»
[6] «On ne croit pas sans se livrer bataille, mais ils ne luttent pas avec eux-mêmes, et ils acceptent le catholicisme comme quelque chose de simple et de naturel ; ils finiraient par le tuer, si c’était possible.»
[7] «Cependant ils sont catholiques, puisqu’ils ont reçu la marque de l’Eglise, et ils le sont pour toujours, car l’Eglise ne fait rien que d’éternel, mais ces enfants soumis portent les germes d’une corruption puissante. Ne cherchez pas autre part les vrais ennemis de cette Eglise chrétienne dont ils se croient les défenseurs.»
[8] «On les a élevés dans le catholicisme ; ils y vivent et ils meurent, mais ils ne comprennent ni ce qu’ils représentent ni ce qui se passe autour d’eux, et ils ne pressentent rien du mystère qui les enveloppe et qui les sépare du monde.»
[9] «Ils vivent dans le monde comme s’ils étaient du monde ; cependant ils ont été mis à part en vertu de certains signes et de certaines paroles, et s’ils comprennent qu’ils sont marqués, et qu’ils se révoltent, ils n’en sont pas moins catholiques, et s’ils s’avilissent, ils demeurent catholiques dans leur chute et leur damnation.»
[10] «Ils lisent des prières dont chaque mot est d’une grande importance et ils les lisent comme s’il s’agissait, dans ces prières, de quelqu’un d’autre, de la vie de quelqu’un d’autre, du salut de quelqu’un d’autre. On dirait qu’ils ne savent pas qu’on y parle uniquement de leur condamnation à mort et de leur grâce ; on dirait qu’ils croient que le catholicisme a été fondé pour les autres et qu’eux-mêmes, s’ils en font partie, c’est par hasard ou par jeu.»
[11] L’Osservatore Romano, 27/28 August 2008 – “Storie di conversione: il duplice ritorno di Julien Green – by Claudio Toscani”
[12] “Salus extra ecclesiam non est”, Cyprian, epistle 72 to Pope Stephen
[13] François Mauriac, biographie intime, by Jean-Luc Barré – Fayard editor, Paris, 2009.
[14] Julien Green: The End of a World – As Germany occupied France, Green brought Paris to life in his superlative diaries.
[15] Passé pas mort, Grasset, 1983, re-edited in 2012.
[16] «Nous aurons traversé des orages sans que cesse ce besoin réciproque de la présence, faim que le temps ne rassasie pas. Pourquoi lui? Pourquoi moi? Pourquoi ce bonheur rien qu’à se sentir silencieux dans la même pièce?»
[17] Civiltà Cattolica 2971-2976, p. 353.
[18] … de porter à l’attention des lecteurs sérieux un des aspects les plus tragiques de la via charnelle dans notre monde moderne, tragique parce qu’il engage d’une façon parfois violente toute la vie affective et qu’il touche gravement à la vie spirituelle] [Introduction to Le malfaiteur in the Complete Works of 1955.]
[20] La Civiltà Cattolica, 1998 IV, 365-375.
[21] Taken from the interview reproduced in Le Monde on 19 August 1998, 17
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