Hi Project,

I don’t know if you are a real person or a group of people, I will do as if you were a person. Meanwhile, thank you for creating the blog, but I must tell you now that gay things for me have a strange taste, I’m quite full of complexes about these things and even now, as an old man, I’m upset by a lot of strange and absurd thoughts. I don’t know if I’m really gay, I don’t even know if I want to be gay, I’m sure that in the things of sex I lived the life of a pathological case, a neurotic man who never managed to find his balance. That said, you certainly didn’t understand anything, so it’s worth it to tell you what happened. I would like you to put my story on the blog, but if you don’t want it I can understand you. In any case I would like to receive your answer.

I was born in Northern Italy, in Veneto, and then there was really hunger in those places. My parents were farmers and I was the only surviving child. My older brother had died in the war and after the elementary school in the country, my parents had to decide whether to send me to the middle school (with Latin and aimed at the continuation of studies) or to the job placement school (allowing immediate access to work without continuing education). My parents had little money but they made a huge effort to send me to the middle school, to make me study and give me more possibilities. I thank them for this because my economic tranquility of today is the result of their choice.

I did the first and second class of the middle school in a town near my country. I had to get up very early in the morning to get the bus, my mother washed and stretched my shirt every day, because I only had two shirts and at school I had to go well dressed, she also polished my shoes, dad lined my books and made me find good things to eat, which were chestnuts or figs, according to the season. There was the Latin in the middle school and for me it was a big obstacle, but there was the parish priest, Don Antony, who gave me lessons in the afternoon and had me do all my homework. The other guys in my classroom were all from rich or at least middle-class families, but then I didn’t realize it. When there were meetings with the professors Don Antony went there instead of my parents, and I didn’t understand why, but my parents didn’t show up for fear of making me look bad, because they didn’t speak Italian well and their hands were ruined by the work in the country side. My dad had only finished elementary school and my mother hadn’t even finished it.

Despite everything, at school I did not have serious problems of adaptation, the professors were very demanding but I had a certain desire to study and with the help of Don Antony, who had half a mind to send me, later, in the seminar, I managed to I pass quite well.

In the summer of 57 I lost both my parents because of a typhoid fever that the doctor couldn’t cure and I found myself, at 13, practically alone in the world. I was entrusted to a brother of my mother, Uncle Battista, who lived in a small village in the mountains and had the animals in a mountain pasture. If I went to stay with Uncle Battista, who was also old, widower, and had no children, I could not continue to study. The uncle told me that I could either go to the seminary in Vicenza or go to boarding school in Rome, in a school that Don Antony knew. I didn’t want to go to the seminary absolutely and chose to go to Rome, where I had never been. They signed me to school and Uncle Battista took charge of paying the fee, which should not have been so low, because I would have eaten and slept in that boarding school.

Don Antony accompanied me to Rome and introduced me to the Rector of the school, to tell the truth a little shabby, but clean, it was a convent of friars, there was the church, but there were few friars, no more than seven or eight, all old. The boarding school was run by the prefect friar, who was hardly ever seen, all the internal organization was entrusted to young people, university students, whom we called little prefects, they were guys who were in college without paying because in practice they were working with us, paying attention to us, they were the ones who followed us during the hours of study and they made us do our homework, they watched us in the afternoon, during meals, and at night they slept in their small rooms, one next to each dormitory, to control the discipline. In general, they didn’t care so much about us because they had a lot to study for their university exams.

I was new in the boarding school, my comrades had known each other for two years. The school was not bad, all professors were laymen, basically retired teachers of state schools, they were all old but good and they spent their souls to make us learn things. I still remember some professors. The professor of mathematics to which I owe my interest in this subject, in which I was very good, the professor of Italian and Latin who told us the stories of Iliad and Odyssey reciting as in the theater and also the gym teacher who practically made us do premilitary gymnastics, as at the time of fascism. The first days I was fine and I wrote it to Don Antony, who sent me a letter every week, but as early as mid-October I began to see strange things.

There were some boys who disappeared from the study hall and no one knew where they ended up and then they came back half an hour later, I was totally naïve at that time, I didn’t know anything about sex, I had not yet discovered masturbation and they could tell me anything that I would have believed it. The other boys, who didn’t know me, tended to put me aside and keep me out of their secrets, but it did not take me long to realize that in the boarding school there was an invisible, underground life.

For an internal rule, the dorms were distinguished by years of school, so as to keep the children of different ages separate. We saw the students of the sixth and seventh grade only at breakfast, at lunch, at dinner and on special occasions, for example in church, but the recreation was done for separate groups, so in practice I could only get familiar with the boys of the eighth grade.

At the time I was a nice guy for my age, but I was very delicate and very polite. After the first weeks of school one of the boys, one of the most respected little bosses, began to call me “man-woman” and to make jokes that at first I didn’t even understand, like; “You are a man, not your sister!” Then the idea that I was the man-woman began to spread among all my comrades.

One day, during the hours of study, one of the boys approached the little prefect for an explanation of mathematics, the little prefect told him that he was studying letters and that if he wanted to, he could go to another little prefect who was studying engineering in his room. The boy came back to the study room after about half an hour all blushed and disheveled, it was there that I had the first suspicion that the half hours of absence of some boys were not dedicated to receive school explanations. But it was only an impression, I said nothing and everything went on as before.

One evening, before going to sleep, when the little prefect was not there, the little bully boss, who was called Silvan, approached me and gave me a caress and then put his hands in the middle of my legs and said: “it’s just to see if you’re a man or a woman!” I felt my face burn, I wanted to go to the little prefect to report it but Silvan told me: “Go go! So he also will give you a good check!” And laughed.

Over time they told me that one of the little prefects, the one of engineering, in practice the one of our dorm, had sex with the boys of the eighth grade. With me he never tried such things because I didn’t give him confidence, but according to the stories of others, with those who gave him rope he let himself go right. He was a nice guy, I wanted, maybe, that it happened with me, but at the same time I was afraid and nothing happened.

The first really bad things happened to me just before Christmas holidays. The boys were abandoned to themselves, the little prefects were almost all gone for Christmas holidays, except our little prefect, the one of engineering. I make it short because, even if so many years have passed, such things cause me a little repulsion. In short, four guys block me on the bed, they lower my trousers and pants, and Silvan tries to penetrate me, let’s say he makes the move, I scream, but they put a handkerchief in my mouth and then they are four guys and I don’t have the strength to oppose. There was no penetration but the humiliation was terrible. Silvan told me: “Now you understand what will happen to you if you don’t do everything we want!” At that moment, if I could I would have killed him.

After that I keep them at a distance, I show myself as little as possible, but things cannot go on like this. If I had not done anything I would have become the laughing stock of Sivan and his gang and the violence would have been repeated.

I think about it a lot, but in the end I have no other solutions, I take the courage in my hands and I go to talk with our little prefect (the one of engineering), who listens to me, he’s frightened above all by the idea that I go to speak with the Rector, and it’s evident, he tries to reassure me and then we come to a compromise that I never expected from him but that, at the same time, put me safe and exposed me to the worst insults from my classmates. In practice, the prefect would have slept in my dormitory bed and I in his, in his locked room. This whole thing happened, obviously without the true prefect of the college knowing anything about it and the boys had to tolerate everything, if they had not done so, what they had done to me would come out. Then, to keep quiet my comrades, who would kill me, I ended up accepting that the little prefect would come to sleep in his little room too. Of course, afterwards, my comrades considered me just as a whore.

About the engineering little prefect I heard the worst things: that he undressed the boys, was competing with them to see who had the biggest dick and used to beat them to get sexual performances and similar things and some guys swore it was true and that it had happened to them, but the little prefect, with me had never tried such things.

One day, while I was in his room I start to rummage and between the mattress and the bed base I find a package with some letters, I read them, they are directed to a guy but they are love letters and also hot. I think then that all my comrades say about him is true and I start to be afraid.

And here I did something I’m still ashamed of today, I told one of my comrades about the little prefect’s letters, and he tried to push me to steal the letters to have him in hand and maybe to take them secretly to the Rector. I didn’t do this thing, it seemed infamous and then I liked the little prefect and I didn’t want him to be fired or maybe I wanted to have him in my hand. But now another boy knew about the letters and soon everyone would know and the letters would have been stolen by others, then I entered the little prefect’s room, I took them, and I hid them somewhere else (in church).

When the little prefect came back I said I had to talk to him and I told him that the boys knew about his letters, I saw him paling at that thought, but I also told him that I had made the letters disappear and that they were hidden in a safe place, where no one would find them. He wanted them back but I didn’t give them to him and I told him I had read them. He looked at me petrified but I told him that he had nothing to fear because he had behaved well with me, then I told him about all the things I had heard about him and asked him if they were true. He admitted having done some sex games with the boys but only consensual things and he swore it to me. I told him about what Silvan and his gang had done to me and he told me that they didn’t do it for sex but only to inflict a terrible humiliation on another boy, and then he asked me if I liked guys, I thought about it and I honestly replied that I didn’t know it and he told me: What a pity! Then he realized that he had said something stupid and apologized and after many hesitations asked me where the letters were and I told him but I asked him to leave them there because they were safe, maybe he could go and see that there they really were, but I wanted him to leave them there and he did so.

The story of the little prefect however ended badly and perhaps it was my fault. The boy to whom I had talked about the letters, went to report the matter to the Rector. The little prefect denied everything, I was called as a witness, I swore the false and said that my comrade had invented everything. The facts were not proven, but the Rector didn’t want to know reasons and the little prefect was kicked out, or rather removed for reasons of opportunity, a few months before his graduation exams. Before he left, he secretly took up the letters and warned me that he had taken them.

The new prefect was an emeritus imbecile. In the last months before the exams I suffered from the gang of Silvan harassment and violence of all kinds, and this time, since they had to avenge on me that I had been the “favorite of the fag” I really suffered sexual violence by Silvan and another boy. [- omissis -] The feeling of repulsion was total, I will not tell you how I felt after, I still carry inside myself the memory of that scene because that was not sex but only violence like the beasts and even worse. My classmates were 14 years old and in the end I cannot hate them or wish them death, because they didn’t even understand what they were doing.

In short, afterwards I was obsessed with those memories for decades and my sex life was ruined. The memory of the little prefect instead was positive, then I understood: he was really a gay guy, and I liked him well, he had not behaved like an asshole, but the idea that I could be gay just because of the violent initiation I suffered, ruined my life. I’m not married and I don’t have a partner, I’m alone, and absurd as it seems, gay sex seems repugnant to me, but I don’t know, don’t really know, if this happens because of the violence suffered, but I think so.

Anyone who uses sexual violence on another person kills that person inside, kills the dignity, the certainties of that person, dirties his/her sexuality forever. The boys should receive a serious education and learn the true respect of others, but unfortunately, even if fifty years have passed, we are still very far from all this.

Thanks Project, at least I vented a bit.


If you want, you can participate in the discussion of this post open on the Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-homosexuality-and-sexual-violence-in-a-boarding-school



Hi Project,

we already had the chance to meet in person last summer, you made me have a wonderful tour of the city of Rome with two other guys, and it was a really important experience for me. Today I contact you again to tell you the latest news. It’s amazing how things can change quickly! When you’re 30, you feel like finished, you think no one can ever be interested in you, or at least no one you are interested in, and you think so because you have a particular way of being gay, that you think unique, and then, all of a sudden you are faced with another guy … Let’s start from here.

You had seen my blog, Project, you liked it, but many people considered it stupid, almost childish: a collection of thoughts and even photos of landscapes and animals. You told me that there was nothing explicitly gay and I wanted it to be so, it was neutral at least apparently neutral.

One day, when I come back from work, I open the blog and find a series of “like”, all of the same person, they are many and are not random, at least that’s how it seems. I don’t know who the anonymous commentator is, the nick is neutral, neither male nor female, the comments are short and it’s impossible to understand the gender of the author, I think it could be a girl, because from my blog it’s clear that I am a guy, so I avoid answering, both by email and commenting in turn the comments. I feel a minimum of pride but then I say to myself that it’s always better not to delude oneself.

The following day I find other comments from the same person, also completely neutral. I’m tempted to answer at least one and I do so, even in a very neutral way, but insisting on the idea that the fundamental thing is to love each other and that there are a thousand ways to love. The message was deliberately a little ambiguous.

The day after that person had added another comment, only one, and obviously answered what I had written the day before. The comment this time, however, was about twenty lines long and it was a comment with which I felt very consonant, but there was a feature that I could not explain, speaking of love relationships the author used systematically “he/she”, A very uncommon use, but also this time the message didn’t allow to understand the gender of the author.

In short, it began in this way an exchange of messages on the blog that went on for about twenty days, they were serious messages and all neutral and strictly with that strange “he/she” that I couldn’t understand.

Then we decided to go to exchange emails, first through the blog and then just exchanging addresses directly. Our mails were very prudent and formal: mutual respect, never intervene on the counterattack, always education, but also a progressively less reticent sincerity. I was fascinated by that person who, knowing only that I was a 30-year-old guy (the only information that could be deduced from my blog), continued to build an increasingly important dialogue with me.

After a couple of months of “neutral” mails one day he wrote me these words: “I would like to have a dialogue with you without reservation but I fear that you might not take it well and this holds me back.” I asked him why and he replied: “because maybe you think I’m a girl, but I’m a 26-year-old guy who has found so much tenderness on your blog.” I replied in just a few minutes: “I’m so happy you’re a guy! This exchange of emails is extremely beautiful and important for me!”

The dialogue went on like this for another week, then he wrote to me: “To the point where we are I cannot hide the thing that could be the most embarrassing: I’m gay and I dreamed so much to meet a guy like you. Don’t stay bad, please.”

I replied: “I’m gay too! And I’m so happy to meet you! I think it’s clear enough now that neither you nor I have a boyfriend, it would seem like a fairytale but there is a very huge problem, we don’t know each other personally and many castles in the air could collapse if we meet in person, that’s why we need to be very cautious.”

He replies that he thought a lot about it but that there is also another problem: “we could live perhaps a thousand kilometers from each other, so in the meantime I tell you that I am from the province of Milan.” I tell him that I’m exactly in Milan, and so we combine our first meeting in Piazza Duomo.

On the appointed day I’m there a quarter of an hour before, I put myself on the agreed point, which he knew well, and I wait. At 16.00 o’clock he appears with the agreed recognition signal: a large envelope of a well-known shop of Milan. I recognize him immediately, he smiles and approaches me, he’s really a handsome guy. I smile at him too, the embarrassment is great, after the first pleasantries I ask him: “Are you disappointed?” He replies: “Not at all! And you?” I smile and say: “You’re beautiful!”

He explains that he comes from (omissis) a small town 30 minutes by train from the central station of Milan, and that he lives a few steps from the train station of his town. In practice it is as if he lived in a district of Milan. All this seems extremely positive.

We go around the city, it’s a terrible cold, we enter a department store to warm up. He still studies and studies in Milan at the Polytechnic, so he comes to city center every day. I tell him that I work in the office of an accountant and I hope sooner or later to have one of my own, even if it seems very unlikely.

We study the timetable of our commitments and it turns out that from Monday to Friday we can have dinner together two nights: Tuesday and Thursday, not at my house because the times and schedules of the trains don’t allow it, but in a pizzeria enough easy to reach for both of us. But he can spend the Saturday afternoons at my house (I rented a small apartment of 30 square meters effective). On Sundays we can instead spend all the day together from morning to night. He cannot sleep at my house because he lives with his family and his parents are very suspicious and they fear he has “a girlfriend” in the city.

I can tell you, Project, that I didn’t imagine being able to find a guy so similar to me. We spend the whole Sunday in bed together, a narrow bed but enough for us. At first we exchanged only cuddles, even intimate ones, but only pampering, so to speak, nothing dangerous. Then we did the HIV test, even if it was absolutely the first time both for him and for me and now we take some more freedom, but among us there is no craving for sex, when we feel the desire of it, then ok, and it’s really beautiful, but sometimes we stay in bed to cuddle and it’s beautiful all the same. Some Sundays we were together outside Milan to see places that we didn’t know, other times we went to visit museums.

I don’t know whether to say that he is my boyfriend, because in fact he is a bit a lover, a bit a brother and a bit another myself. I try to make him feel good because he is about to finish his studies and they are difficult studies, so he must stay calm as much as possible.

Once I went to wait for him at the exit of the university, I saw him come with his bag full of books, with his padded jacket, the light trousers perfectly ironed and with the gold goggles, he looked more like a wearer than an engineer, some girls have stopped him, maybe to exchange notes of the lessons but maybe not only for that, those girls are enchanted by him because he is charming and has a smile that tears your soul, some of those girls, perhaps, fell in love with him. I stand on the sidelines without showing myself, I wait for him to be alone, then when he’s alone I approach him and take the heavy bag from his hands. I would kiss him there, in front of everyone, but we cannot and then we just exchange a smile.

I’m happy, Project, my world has really changed. Since his first comment on my blog, more than six months have passed and the more time passes, the more my certainty that no one can separate us is reinforced. It’s not a fable, Project, it’s all extraordinarily true!



If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-gay-guys-searching-for-tenderness


The problem of sources

André Raffalovich deals with Byron’s homosexuality in an extremely synthetic way, not to say reductive, but it should be kept in mind that Byron, more than a person, is an icon, a myth of English Romanticism, and that a myth is such as it is supported by a mythology, which, as is well known, is an enemy of history. Raffalovich was certainly not superficial when conducting his studies on homosexuality in history and literature, his succinctness derives from substantial reasons and not from personal assessments. Raffalovich on Byron had only very small and widely censored sources.

Thomas Moore, with his “Letters and Journals of Lord Byron” has for a long time been the only point of reference for Byron’s life studies. The work was published in 1830 but the collection began in 1814, when Byron himself sent Moore a first packet of letters and diaries so that they could be preserved and eventually published. By 1818 Byron began writing his autobiography, which Moore should have published, with additions taken from letters and diaries. Byron assumed that Moore could earn profits from the publication. Moore through Byron’s Letters and Diaries publishing intended to correct the idea that Byron was a vicious misanthropist, idea widespread in England well before the poet died, showing in the contrary his amiability. From the correspondence between Byron and Moore it is clear that both worked and in agreement on the project. Byron expresses concern for the fate of all that material, but at the same time invites to trust Moore, even though he knows that after his death Moore will still work a censorship, so to speak, a prudential censorship.

In 1830, just a few years after Byron’s death, most of the people mentioned in his letters were still alive, and the lawyers of those families would certainly read Moore’s biography. The people involved in Byron’s most or less honorable events were very powerful and influential, and it could not be surprising that Moore has acted censorship, but it is surprising that the biography has not been much more censored than it really was. The original memories of Byron, the core of the business, was destroyed by the will of Byron’s friends, and in particular by the executor, Hobhouse, who was largely involved in Byron’s affair with homosexuality, despite Moore’s protests. http://www.lordbyron.org/contents.php?doc=ThMoore.1830.Contents

Evidently, full publication would have created a great deal of embarrassment on many powerful people whose private life would have been put on the streets and would have heavily discredited Byron’s memory, supporting the allegations of homosexuality, sodomy, and incest that had been brought against him. It is not a moralistic censorship choice, as it is often presented, but an option without real alternatives, save perhaps the freezing of the publication for 50 or more years.

Byron biography books are many and also those who deal with the theme of the poet’s homosexuality are quite numerous. For me, in 2017, the greatest risk of trying to write a Byron homosexual biography is to be a “great translator of Homer’s translators”, that is to use rather than the sources, what others have written on the subject. The temptation is great and the work would be greatly facilitated, but when it comes to highlighting historiography more than documents, history becomes history of historiography and that’s exactly what I want to avoid here.

In the studies on Byron, a milestone is represented by the monumental and punctual philological work done by Peter Cochran (1944- 2015), who not only has rigorously transcribed an immense amount of Byron’s letters, documents, and texts but has opened to anyone free access to his archives. I have constantly referred to these archives in my attempt to reconstruct the facts, avoiding, as far as possible, deforming them on the basis of ideological assumptions.

The early years

George Gordon Noel Byron, was born in London, at Holles Street n.16, January 22, 1788, by John Byron and Catherine Gordon of Gight. A contraction of the Achilles tendon, found at birth, he made him slightly limp since he was a child. George Gordon spends his early years in Aberdeen at his mother’s home. His father, reduced to poverty from debt, retires to France, where he dies, probably suicidal, in 1791. At the time of his death, in 1798, George Gordon inherited his noble title and his property at the age of 10, becoming Sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale and then Lord. He leaved the Aberdeen’s maternal home and went to Newstead Abbey that was in abandonment at that time. He had inherited from his uncle great possessions but also many debts.


In October 1805, at age 17, nearly 18, he joined Trinity College in Cambridge, where he became acquainted with those who became his closest friends: Edward Noel Long, William Bankes, Francis Hodgson, Douglas Kinnaird, John Cam Hobhouse, Scrope Berdmore Davies and Charles Skinner Matthews are all among his close friends. At Trinity College, in October 1815, Byron also met John Edleston (then sixteen), a blond, beautiful boy, then Trinity College chorister. In 1816 Edleston gave Byron a spell of cornelian shaped heart. At the gift Byron writes:

No specious splendour of this stone
Endears it to my memory ever;
With lustre ‘only once’ it shone,
And blushes modest as the giver. (b)
Some, who can sneer at friendship’s ties,
Have, for my weakness, oft reprov’d me;
Yet still the simple gift I prize,
For I am sure, the giver lov’d me.
He offer’d it with downcast look,
As ‘fearful’ that I might refuse it;
I told him, when the gift I took,
My ‘only fear’ should be, to lose it.
This pledge attentively I view’d,
And ‘sparkling’ as I held it near,
Methought one drop the stone bedew’d,
And, ever since, ‘I’ve lov’d a tear.’
Still, to adorn his humble youth,
Nor wealth nor birth their treasures yield;
But he, who seeks the flowers of truth,
Must quit the garden, for the field.
‘Tis not the plant uprear’d in sloth,
Which beauty shews, and sheds perfume;
The flowers, which yield the most of both,
In Nature’s wild luxuriance bloom.
Had Fortune aided Nature’s care,
For once forgetting to be blind,
‘His’ would have been an ample share,
If well proportioned to his mind.
But had the Goddess clearly seen,
His form had fix’d her fickle breast;
‘Her’ countless hoards would ‘his’ have been,
And none remain’d to give the rest.

(a) The cornelian was a present from his friend Edleston, a Cambridge chorister, afterwards a clerk in a mercantile house in London. Edleston died of consumption, May 11, 1811. (See letter from Byron to Miss Pigot, October 28, 1811.) Their acquaintance began by Byron saving him from drowning. (MS. note by the Rev. W. Harness.)
(b) ‘But blushes modest’.

On February 23, 1807, Byron wrote from Southwell to Edward Noel Long, his childhood friend and added to his letter this post scriptum: “If possible I will pass through Granta, in March, pray, keep the subject of my “Cornelian” Secret.” (Granta is the original name, still in use locally, for the River Cam, this name indicates, by extension, the city of Cambridge). Thomas Moore, who deleted homosexual passages from survived diaries and letters, called Edleston “adopted brother” of Byron.

A short time before Byron left Cambridge on June 27, 1807 he sent to John Edleston a short note written in cypher characters and translated by Leslie Marchand with the help of an alphabetical key found in his papers.


D–R–T [Dearest?] —  Why not? With this kiss make me yours again forever.

[“Byron’s Letters and Journals” a new selection – From Leslie A. Marchand’s – twelve-volume edition – Oxford University Press, 2015. Page. 22.]

To that same Cornelian, donated by Edleston to Byron, the poet refers in the poem “The Adieu” (of which we do not possess the date) at the time of separation from Edleston.

The Adieu

by George Gordon Lord Byron

Written Under The Impression That The Author Would Soon Die.

Adieu, thou Hill! where early joy
Spread roses o’er my brow;
Where Science seeks each loitering boy
With knowledge to endow.
Adieu, my youthful friends or foes,
Partners of former bliss or woes;
No more through Ida’s paths we stray;
Soon must I share the gloomy cell,
Whose ever‑slumbering inmates dwell
Unconscious of the day.

Adieu, ye hoary Regal Fanes,
Ye spires of Granta’s vale,
Where Learning robed in sable reigns,
And Melancholy pale.
Ye comrades of the jovial hour,
Ye tenants of the classic bower,
On Cama’s verdant margin placed,
Adieu! while memory still is mine,
For, offerings on Oblivion’s shrine,
These scenes must be effaced.

Adieu, ye mountains of the clime
Where grew my youthful years;
Where Loch na Garr in snows sublime
His giant summit rears.
Why did my childhood wander forth
From you, ye regions of the North,
With sons of pride to roam?
Why did I quit my Highland cave,
Mar’s dusky heath, and Dee’s clear wave,
To seek a Sotheron home!

Hall of my Sires! a long farewell–
Yet why to thee adieu?
Thy vaults will echo back my knell,
Thy towers my tomb will view:
The faltering tongue which sung thy fall,
And former glories of thy Hall,
Forgets its wonted simple note–
But yet the Lyre retains the strings,
And sometimes, on Æolian wings,
In dying strains may float.

Fields which surround yon rustic cot,
While yet I linger here,
Adieu! you are not now forgot,
To retrospection dear.
Streamlet! along whose rippling surge
My youthful limbs were wont to urge,
At noontide heat, their pliant course;
Plunging with ardour from the shore,
Thy springs will lave these limbs no more,
Deprived of active force.

And shall I here forget the scene,
Still nearest to my breast?
Rocks rise and rivers roll between
The spot which passion blest;
Yet, Mary, all thy beauties seem
Fresh as in Love’s bewitching dream,
To me in smiles display’d;
Till slow disease resigns his prey
To Death, the parent of decay,
Thine image cannot fade.

And thou, my Friend! whose gentle love
Yet thrills my bosom’s chords,
How much thy friendship was above
Description’s power of words!
Still near my breast thy gift I wear
Which sparkled once with Feeling’s tear,
Of Love the pure, the sacred gem;
Our souls were equal, and our lot
In that dear moment quite forgot;
Let Pride alone condemn!

All, all is dark and cheerless now!
No smile of Love’s deceit
Can warm my veins with wonted glow,
Can bid Life’s pulses beat:
Not e’en the hope of future fame
Can wake my faint, exhausted frame,
Or crown with fancied wreaths my head.
Mine is a short inglorious race,–
To humble in the dust my face,
And mingle with the dead.

Oh Fame! thou goddess of my heart;
On him who gains thy praise,
Pointless must fall the Spectre’s dart,
Consumed in Glory’s blaze;
But me she beckons from the earth,
My name obscure, unmark’d my birth,
My life a short and vulgar dream:
Lost in the dull, ignoble crowd,
My hopes recline within a shroud,
My fate is Lathe’s stream.

When I repose beneath the sod,
Unheeded in the clay,
Where once my playful footsteps trod,
Where now my head must lay,
The weed of Pity will be shed
In dew-drops o’er my narrow bed,
By nightly skies, and storms alone;
No mortal eye will deign to steep
With tears the dark sepulchral deep
Which hides a name unknown.
Forget this world, my restless sprite,
Turn, turn thy thoughts to Heaven:
There must thou soon direct thy flight,
If errors are forgiven.
To bigots and to sects unknown,
Bow down beneath the Almighty’s Throne;
To Him address thy trembling prayer:
He, who is merciful and just,
Will not reject a child of dust,
Although his meanest care.

Father of Light! to Thee I call;
My soul is dark within:
Thou who canst mark the sparrow’s fall,
Avert the death of sin.
Thou, who canst guide the wandering star,
Who calm’st the elemental war,
Whose mantle is yon boundless sky,
My thoughts, my words, my crimes forgive:
And, since I soon must cease to live,
Instruct me how to die.

On June 30, 1807, Byron, while still in Cambridge, probably after a short absence (and after the farewell to Edleston), writes to his friend Elizabeth Bridget Pigot (1783-1866).

[Byron to Elizabeth Pigot, from Trinity College, Cambridge, June 30th 1807: (Source: text from Newstead Abbey Collection NA 948(j); LJ I 120-3; QI 28-9; BLJ I 123-4)]

LORD BYRON TO ELIZABETH BRIDGET PIGOT      Cambridge June 30th, 1807

. . . I am almost superannuated here. My old friends (with the exception of a very few) all departed, and I am preparing to follow them, but remain till Monday to be present at 3 Oratorios, 2 Concerts, a Fair, and a Ball. I find I am not only thinner but taller by an inch since my last visit. I was obliged to tell every body my name, nobody having the least recollection of visage, or person. Even the hero of my Cornelian (who is now sitting vis-à-vis, reading a volume of my Poetics) passed me in Trinity walks without recognising me in the least, and was thunderstruck at the alteration which had taken place in my countenance, &c., &c. Some say I look better, others worse, but all agree I am thinner, – more I do not require. . . .
I quit Cambridge with little regret, because our set are vanished, and my musical protégé before mentioned has left the choir, and is stationed in a mercantile house of considerable eminence in the metropolis. You may have heard me observe he is exactly to an hour two years younger than myself. I found him grown considerably, and as you will suppose, very glad to see his former Patron. He is nearly my height, very thin, very fair complexion, dark eyes, and light locks. My opinion of his mind you already know; – I hope I shall never have reason to change it. Every body here conceives me to be an invalid. The University at present is very gay from the fêtes of divers kinds. I supped out last night, but eat (or ate) nothing, sipped a bottle of claret, went to bed at two, and rose at eight. I have commenced early rising, and find it agrees with me. The Masters and the Fellows are all very polite but look a little askance – don’t much admire lampoons – truth always disagreeable.

The relationship between Byron and John Edleston continues until Byron leaves Trinity in the summer of 1807. Farewell takes place July 5, 1087, as we know from a Byron letter to Miss Pigot.

Byron to Elizabeth Pigot, from Trinity College Cambridge, July 5th 1807: (Source: text from Newstead Abbey Collection NA 948(k); LJ I 133-6; QI 29-31; BLJ I 124-5)


My Dear Eliza.

Since my last letter I have determined to reside another year at Granta, as my rooms, etc. etc. are finished in great style, several old friends come up again, and many new acquaintances made; consequently my inclination leads me forward, and I shall return to college in October if still alive. My life here has been one continued routine of dissipation – out at different places every day, engaged to more dinners, etc. etc. than my stay would permit me to fulfil. At this moment I write with a bottle of claret in my head and tears in my eyes; for I have just parted with my “Cornelian,” who spent the evening with me. As it was our last interview, I postponed my engagement to devote the hours of the Sabbath to friendship: – Edleston and I have separated for the present, and my mind is a chaos of hope and sorrow. To-morrow I set out for London: you will address your answer to “Gordon’s Hotel, Albemarle Street,” where I sojourn during my visit to the metropolis.

I rejoice to hear you are interested in my protégé; he has been my almost constant associate since October, 1805, when I entered Trinity College. His voice first attracted my attention, his countenancefixed it, and his manners attached me to him for ever. He departs for a mercantile house in town in October, and we shall probably not meet till the expiration of my minority, when I shall leave to his decision either entering as a partner through my interest, or residing with me altogether. Of course he would in his present frame of mind prefer the latter, but he may alter his opinion previous to that period; – however, he shall have his choice. I certainly love him more than any human being, and neither time nor distance have had the least effect on my (in general) changeable disposition. In short we shall put Lady E. Butler and Miss Ponsonby to the blush, Pylades and Orestes out of countenance, and want nothing but a catastrophe like Nisus and Euryalus to give Jonathan and David the “go by”. He certainly is perhaps more attached to me than even I am in return. During the whole of my residence at Cambridge we met every day, summer and winter, without passing one tiresome moment, and separated each time with increasing reluctance. I hope you will one day see us together. He is the only being I esteem, though I like many. . . . My protégé breakfasts with me; parting spoils my appetite – excepting from Southwell [i.e. leaving England altogether].

So far, the reader has been able to follow Byron’s homosexual history until the age of nineteen and a half: the resulting picture is still conforming to the Byronian myth: there is the love for a boy who was two years younger than the poet, but the border between love and friendship is very labile and the term “protector”, which Byron uses to designate Edleston without being too explicit, seems to emphasize more than a difference in age, a social difference, which is not overcome by feelings. Byron certainly will not give up on the Grand Tour, typical of high-ranking youth, to stay alongside Edleston, who will follow his way as a businessman. We must always keep in mind, however, that we are dealing with Byron’s homosexuality relying only on the little that has remained after the destruction of his Memories, wanted by his friends after the poet’s death. The beautiful youth surrounding Byron had little to do with the heroes of Foscolo and Alfieri heroes, they were young guys, who belonged to aristocratic and very rich British families, and for them the university life in Cambridge was certainly not limited to the study. Byron himself, as we have seen, highlights the festive aspect of university life, especially in the summer, but student life could not be reduced to ritual parties and entertainments, or rather ritual parties could be interesting occasions for heterosexual students, certainly not for homosexual ones. There was, then, as there is now, an underground university life linked to homosexuality, and Byron was not alien to all this. We cannot hope to find out such things in Moore’s Biography, but clues and evidences exist anyway. We have fortunately a letter from Charles Skinner Matthews to Byron, London, June 30, 1809, on the departure of Byron for the Grand Tour, of this letter will be discussed in detail below. Matthews, the author of this letter, was born on March 26, 1785 and therefore nearly three years older than Byron, was elected a fellow of Downing College in Cambridge (this fact is mentioned in the letter) and unfortunately died drowned in the Cam, while bathing, August 3, 1811, at age 26. When Matthews, defined by Moore as “the libertine friend of Byron,” wrote the mentioned letter, he was at the beginning of his 24  and Byron was 21. The letter highlights many interesting facts: at least three people (Byron, Hobhouse and Matthews) used to convey homosexual content a “mysterious” style, so they define it, “that style in which more is meant than meets the Eye”. Matthews found the reason very simply in the fact that “should the tabellarians [postmen] be inclined to peep”. In a time when homosexuality was a serious offense and sodomy involves the death penalty, a cryptic language imposed itself as an indispensable security condition. We’ve already seen that Byron and Edleston in the college exchanged encrypted messages, but here we are not talking about short messages but about real letters with encrypted and unencrypted parts. The “mysterious” style was recently inaugurated and was in the process of being routed because it was designed to keep long-distance correspondence between guys involved in the Grand Tour and guys in England. The likelihood that Turkish police could inspect letters sent to England from very wealthy foreigners was certainly far more than a theoretical hypothesis and the encrypted text was not to be recognized as such. The use of expressions in French, of words to be understood according to French reading or the identification of coded words, among others, with the addition of one “e” at the end, were artifices unlikely to be recognizable to an unknowing eye. Thus a true brotherhood was created, the brotherhood “de la Methode” (in French) (Methode (ending with “e”) = homosexuality) and the adepts were the Methodistes (with “e”), who obviously had nothing to do with the Methodist Church. We can talk about Methodiste desires, other Methodistes, apostles of religion, and so on. Hunting for boys is encrypted with the botanical metaphor of collecting flowers and flowers have significant names: Hyacinth (which alludes to the boy loved by Apollo) represents the homosexual partner available; but the metaphor goes even further, because according to the legend, Hyacinth died during a launch of disks or rings because the wind let go back the disk that struck Hyacinth violently. In English “coit” is a variant of “quoit” = ring of iron, plastic, rope, etc., used in the game of quoits. Therefore Hyacinth died for a “coit”, a word that alludes openly to “coitus” = sexual intercourse. To indicate a complete sexual intercourse, the Methodistes (with “e”) used the acronym pl&optC = “plenum et optabilem coitum” (full and desirable sexual intercourse), an expression used by Petronius in his Satyricon. Some traits of Matthews’s letter remain nevertheless obscure. Beyond the Methodistes Sect and their cryptic language, Matthews’ letter contains another very important element in Byron’s homosexual biography. Matthews talks about an “Abbey Hyacinth” (with reference to the fact that Byron had lived the first adolescence in Newstead Abbey), the “Abbey Hyacinth” is Robert Rushton ( 1793-1833), a boy who was about 16 years old at the time of Matthews’ letter. Robert Rushton was the son of William Rushton, one of the most important tenants in Newstead estate. In 1808, at the age of about 14 to 15 years, Robert was in service at the Abbey as a Byron page, Byron took the boy with himself on the journey to Europe in 1809, but then sent him back home from Gibraltar and paid the expenses for his education in Newark; however, we will have the opportunity to deal again with Rushton later, let us here just note that among Byron’s friends Rushton is considered as one of the complacent boys whom Byron could enjoy. We will see that Byron showed friendly attitudes towards Rushton, even in very embarrassing situations for the poet. A reflection should be made on a very important point: the “loves” or perhaps more banally Byron’s homosexual interests are not directed towards its peers but towards boys of very different social condition. Raffalovich, at the end of the eighteenth century, will blame John Addington Symonds for similar attitudes, but Symonds, while being a wealthy man, was certainly not a lord and his attitudes show a substantial affection for young men (non-adolescents) whom he falls in love with, Byron, perhaps because he is still very young, seems to swing between romantic and goliardic attitudes, where homosexuality becomes argument of social play and hot speeches between mates.

On June 25, 1809, just before embarkation, Byron communicated to Henry Drury that one of the reasons for his trip to the eastern Mediterranean was the ambition to contribute to a book proposed by Hobhouse [Byron’s Letters and Journals, ed. Leslie A. Marchand, 13 vols, John Murray, 1973-94; I 208.]]

“… a chapter on the state of morals, and a further treatise on the same to be entituled “Sodomy simplified or Pæderasty proved to be praiseworthy from ancient authors and from modern practice.” – Hobhouse further hopes to indemnify himself in Turkey for a life of exemplary chastity at home by letting out his “fayre body” to the whole Divan.(a)” (BLJ I 208)

(a) The Divan is a Turkish reserved room, meaning, obviously joking, that Hobhouse wanted to prostitute with all those present.

Byron, Hobhouse and Matthews’s interest in boys is very evident in a letter written by Byron and Hobhouse to Matthews from Falmouth just before their departure for the Grand Tour on June 22, 1809. Byron and Hobhouse use this in this letter the code “mysterious”. Hobhouse writes:

Byron and John Cam Hobhouse to Charles Skinner Matthews, from Falmouth, June 22nd 1809:

(Source: text from B.L.Add.Mss. 47226 ff.6-7; BLJ I 206-7) [(in Byron’s hand): Falmouth June twenty-two / C.S.Matthews Esqre / 13 Bunbury Court / Strand / London / Byron]

Falmouth June 22

My dear Matthews Under  – omissis – As to the journey of Byron & myself to this port I have little or nothing to inform you of, except that nothing happened worthy of notice. I should not however forget to inform a Methodiste,(a) that by a curious accident we overtook Caliph Vathek(b) at Hartford Bridge; we could not obtain a sight of this great apostle,(c) he having closed the shutters on the out-side. By another strange coincidence, we heard at Salisbury, that a noble namesake of a Trinity Friend of your’s(d) was upon the road for his Devonshire seat.

These things do not happen without some intention of the gods, & are certainly ominous of either something very bad or very fortunate – Besides all this, the Cornish air is so exceedingly favorable to complexion, that the roses of the genus andron(1) are the most universally blooming you ever beheld, so much so, that our conversation here, pupis pars non minima fueris,(e) has generally turned on that interesting topic – … – omissis –

Byron writes: My dear Mathieu, – I take up the pen which our friend has for a moment laid down merely to express a vain wish that you were with us in this detestable region, as I do not think Georgia itself can emulate its capabilities or incitements to the “Plen. and optabil. – Coit.”(g) the port of Falmouth & parts adjacent. – –

We are surrounded by Hyacinths & other flowers of the most fragrant [tear: “na”]ture, – & I have some intention of culling a handsome Bouquet to compare with the exotics we expect to meet in Asia. – One specimen I shall certainly carry off, but of this hereafter. – Adieu Mathieu! — —

(a) Codeword for “homosexual”.
(b) William Beckford, author of Vathek, B.’s favourite book.
(c) At BLJ I 210 (letter to Francis Hodgson, June 25th 1809) B. refers to Beckford as “the great Apostle of Pæderasty”. See CHP I st.22, especially its first version.
(d) Trinity friend unidentified.
(e) Male gender.
(f) Latin expression that should mean “You were not a negligible topic for kids” but the term “pupis” seems rather unlikely in Latin
(g) Petronius, Satyricon, par. 86.

But let’s come to Matthews’s letter.

Charles Skinner Matthews to Byron, from London, June 30th 1809:
(Source: National Library of Scotland 12604 / 4247G)

London. Saturday June 30. 1809
In transmitting my dispatches to Hobhouse, mi carissime βυρον (a) I cannot refrain from addressing a few lines to yourself: chiefly to congratulate you on the splendid success of your first efforts in the mysterious, that style in which more is meant than meets the Eye.(b) I shall have at you in that style before I fold up this sheet.

Hobhouse too is uncommonly well, but I must recommend that he do not in future put a dash under his mysterious significances, such a practise would go near to letting the cat out of the bag, should the tabellarians(c) be inclined to peep: And I positively decree that every one who professes ma methode do spell the term w ch. designates his calling with an e at the end of it – methodiste, not methodist; and pronounce the word in the French fashion. Every one’s taste must revolt atconfounding ourselves with that sect of horrible, snivelling, fanatics.

As to your Botanical pursuits, I take it that the flowers you will be most desirous of culling will be of the class polyandria,(d) and not monogynia (e) but nogynia.(f) However so as you do not cut them it will all do very well.

A word or two about hyacinths. Hyacinth, you may remember, was killed by a Coit.(g) but not that “full and to-be- wished-for Coit.” have a care then that your Abbey Hyacinth (h) be not injured by either sort of coit. If you should find anything remarkable in the botanical line, pray send me word of it, who take an extreme

interest in your anthology; and specify the class & if possible the name of each production.

Tomorrow morning I am going to Cambridge to invest myself with the magisterial hat, to drink ale, &, eventually, to play at Coits. It is not auditable (though from it’s auricular qualities it might almost be called so) which I am so eager to obtain, but some which comes from a more northern part of the kingdom. You who are so well acquainted with the topography of our cellar will immediately comprehend the sort I mean, when I tell you that I mean to broach one of two butts which I have often pointed out to your notice; not the tall one. And of the pl&optC, (i) should I be so happy as to obtain one, or of the progress towards it, you shall be fully informed.

I have not yet seen the hero of that Treatise on the Bathos which you promised me, but were too much engaged to execute; But, in another point, I have been admitted behind the scenes & was very much disappointed on a rear inspection of the Palma.

I admire the stoical unconcern & Christian resignation with which both of you seem to bear your disappointment of the Packet; & the consequent prolongation of your stay in this country. From which I readily infer that there must be something in Falmouth not a little delectable, and deplore my lot that I am not sharing your delights. I enclose with this the frontispiece to the Trial of Cap. Sutherland: which I bought yesterday thinking that it might contain quelque chose de la methode: but nothing of the kind appears. The face & right thumb of the negro are the principal features in the picture: which I send you on account of it’s oddity: and think that you, Hobhouse, & M.

l’Abbé Hyacinth (l) might represent the scene with much effect, taking the parts of the Captain, the negro, & the cabin boy, respectively.

I cannot conclude without exhorting & beseeching you, as I have besought Hobhouse, to oblige me with frequent favours in the epistolary way both before & after your leaving England.

Adieu my dear Lord; I wish you, not as Dr Johnson wished Mr Burke, all the success which an honest man can or ought to wish you, (m) but as grand founder and arch-Patriarch of the Methode I give your undertaking my benediction, and wish you, Byron of Byzantium, and you, Cam of Constantinople, jointly & severally, all the success which in your most methodistical fantasies you can wish yourselves.
So sail along with happy auspices & believe me.
Your’s very sincerely

(a) “Byron” (Greek).
(b) Matthews refers to the coded style of B.’s letter of June 22nd.
(c) Postmen.
(d) “with many males”.
(e) “with a single female”.
(f) “nogynia” is Matthews’ coinage: “with no females”.
(g) Hyacinth was killed when a discus he with which he was practising in a contest with Apollo, his lover, was flung back at him by the jealous West Wind.
(h) Robert Rushton.
(i) “Coitum plenum et optabilem” – “full and highly satisfactory sex”. From Petronius’ Satyricon.
(l) Robert Rushton.
(m) “When the general election broke up the delightful society in which we had spent some time at Beconsfield, Dr. Johnson shook the hospitable master of the house [Burke] kindly by the hand, and said, “Farewell my dear Sir, and remember that I wish you all the success which ought to be wished you, which can possibly be wished you indeed – by an honest man.’” – Piozzi’s Anecdotes, p.242

If Matthews’s letter stopped only with goliardic gossip about homosexuality, it would just be another manifestation of the desecrating livelihood of a group of homosexual young people, after all, nothing at all disruptive, but Matthews’s letter presents another element, not immediately obvious, but that needs to be clarified to understand the mentality of these guys more closely. The three Methodistes follow the English press carefully. Matthews’s letter is dated June 30, 1809, and refers to the trial of Captain Sutherland, who had been hanged the day before, on June 29, at the strength of the capital executions on the banks of the River Thames, used for the judgments handed down by the Admiralty. On November 5, 1808, Captain Sutherland (captain of a British shipping vessel on the Tagus, one mile from Lisbon) had killed with a dagger William Richardson, a 15-year-old boy. A black sailor, John Thompson, testifies to the trial in a way that could suggest that the captain had taken the boy in Lisbon about a month earlier because he was sexually concerned with him: the guy often went to the captain and the captain sent all sailors to the ground and stayed on the ship with the boy only. This testimony was not read by the Admiralty as a sign of sodomy, but after a brief process, Sutherland was sentenced and hanged for murder. It is amazing that on such a recent and so objectively terrible story, Matthews can make the spirit with his friends, but that’s just what happens. Matthews obtains a record of the process to look for Sutherland homosexuality, but he does not find it, sends out some drawings published in the papers to his friends and suggests that the three of them may represent the scene of the assassination. Matthews’s behavior shows some disturbing element of perversion, which goes far beyond the banal gay goliardery.

Accompanied by his valet Robert Rushton and by John Cam Hobhouse, Byron sailed from Falmouth on July 2, 1809 to Lisbon, then to visit Seville, Cádiz and Gibraltar. In Gibraltar, Byron decides to send back home Rushton and writes to the boy’s father:

Byron to Mr Rushton, from Gibraltar, August 14th 1809: (Source: NLS Acc.12604/ 4219A or C; LJ I 242-3; BLJ I 222)

Gibraltar August 14th 1809 Mr. Rushton, – I have sent Robert home with Mr. Murray, because the country which I am now about to travel through, is in a state which renders it unsafe, particularly for one so young. – I allow [you] to deduct five and twenty pounds a year for his education for three years provided I do not return before that time, & I desire he may be considered as in my service, let every care be taken of him, & let him be sent to school; in case of my death I have provided enough in my will to render him independent. – – He has behaved extremely well, & has travelled a great deal for the time of his absence. – Deduct the expense of his education from your rent. – Byron

Arrived in Malta on August 19, Byron and Hobhouse stay about a month before leaving for Preveza, the port of Epirus, reached September 20, 1809. From there they move to Giannina and then to Albania, to Tepelenë, where they meet Alì Pasha. They then settle in Athens, except for some months in Constantinople. On May 3, 1810, Byron crosses the Dardanelli’s narrow swimming. That same May 3, 1810 he writes to Henry Drury:

Byron to Henry Drury, from the frigate Salsette, off the Dardanelles, May 3rd 1810: (Source: text from Wren Library R2 40a , Trinity College Cambridge; LJ I 262-9; QI 63-7; BLJ I 237- 40)

… I see not much difference between ourselves & the Turks, save that we have foreskins and they none, that they have long dresses and we short, and that we talk much and they little. – In England the vices in fashion are whoring & drinking, in Turkey, Sodomy & smoking, we prefer a girl and a bottle, they a pipe and pathic. [A passive partner] …

It has long been credited to the news according to which John Cam Hobhouse recorded in his diary on June 6, 1810: “messenger arrived from England – bringing a letter from [Francis] Hodgson to B[yron] – tales spread – the Edleston accused of indecency.”

But Paul Elledge [[In “Lord Byron at Harrow School: Speaking Out, Talking Back, Acting Up, Bowing Out”] [The Johns Hopkins University Press, Beltimore and London, 2000]] showed that the annotation involved a collection of Hobhouse’s poems, considered obscene, the word “Collection” was confused with the word Edleston. Poor John Edleston was in fact not accused of anything.

During the voyage, Byron rejects the love offerings of Donna Josepha Beltram in Seville, Constance Spencer Smith in Malta, and Teresa Macri (or rather Mrs Macri on behalf of Teresa) in Athens. In a letter dated July 29, 2010, sent to Hobhouse from Patras, Byron tells about the first encounter with Eustathius Georgiou, the first boy to fascinate him in Greece:

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Patras, July 29th 1810: (Source: text from NLS Acc.12604 / 4123A; 1922 I 10-12, censored; QI 74-7; BLJ II 5-8) Patras. July 29th . 1810

… At Vostitza I found my dearly-beloved Eustathius – ready to follow me not only to England, but to Terra Incognita, if so be my compass pointed that way. – This was four days ago, at present affairs are a little changed. – The next morning I found the dear soul upon horseback clothed very sprucely in Greek Garments, with those ambrosial curls hanging down his amiable back, and to my utter astonishment and the great abomination of Fletcher, a parasol in his hand to save his complexion from the heat. – However in spite of the Parasol on we travelled very much enamoured, as it should seem, till we got to Patras, where Stranè received us into his new house where I now scribble. …

On August 16, however, Byron is already tired of Eustathius and tells Hobhouse that he has sent him to his home because the boy is epileptic.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Tripolitza, August 16th 1810: (Source: text from NLS Ms.43438 f.15; 1922 I 12-13, cut; QI 77-82; BLJ II 9-11) Byron’s account of his meeting with Veli Pacha. Tripolitza August 16th. 1810

I have sent Eustathius back to his home, he plagued my soul out with his whims, and is besides subject to epileptic fits (tell M. this)(a) which made him a perplexing companion, in other matters he was very tolerable, I mean as to his learning, being well versed in the Ellenics.You remember Nicolo at Athens Lusieri’s wife’s brother. – Give my compliments to Matthews from whom I expect a congratulatory letter. – – I have a thousand anecdotes for him and you, but at present Τι να καμυ? (b) I have neither time nor space, but in the words of Dawes, “I have things in store.” –

(a) Why should Matthews be especially interested in the fact that Georgiou waseplieptic?
(b) “What to do?”

The “Nicolo” to which Byron refers, the boy whom the poet loved the most during Grand Tour, was actually called Nicolas Giraud and was born in Greece by French parents. The name Nicolo is a name coined by Byron. From what Byron himself says, Nicolo would be the brother-in-law of John the Baptist Lusieri, a Roman painter and swap agent of Thomas Bruce, the 7th Count of Elgin, Lord Elgin. But things were more complicated; Demetrius Zoggrafo, Byron’s guide, informed the poet that Lusieri, now sixty years old, was not married but cuddled two women at the same time, pointing to both of them who would marry her. The link between Lusieri and Giraud seemed very solid and it is not unlikely that they were actually father and son. In the Cappuccini Convent of Athens, Byron succeeds in realizing his dream of a homosexual community similar to Harrow’s, with some extra erotic adventure. On August 23, 1810, Hobhouse wrote in a mixed English language of abundant approximate quotations in Italian, not without a hint of Greek and French:

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Athens, August 23rd 1810: (Source: text from NLS Ms.43438 f.1; 1922 I 13-17; BLJ II 11-14) Byron’s account of his life at the Athenian convent. The Convent. Athens. August 23, 1810.

… – I am most auspiciously settled in the Convent, which is more commodious than any tenement I have yet occupied, with room for my suite, and it is by no means solitary, seeing there is not only “il Padre Abbate” but his “schuola” consisting of six “Regatzi” all my most particular allies. – These Gentlemen being almost (saving Fauvel and Lusieri) my only associates it is but proper their character religion and morals should be described. – Of this goodly company three are Catholics and three are Greeks, which Schismatics I have already set a boxing to the great amusement of the Father who rejoices to see the Catholics conquer. – Their names are, Barthelemi, Giuseppe, Nicolo, Yani, and two anonymous at least in my memory. – Of these Barthelemi is a “simplice Fanciullo” according to the account of the Father, whose favourite is Guiseppe who sleeps in the lantern of Demosthenes. – We have nothing but riot from Noon till night. – The first time I mingled with these Sylphs, after about two minutes reconnoitering, the amiable Signor Barthelemi without any previous notice seated himself by me, and after observing by way of compliment, that my “Signoria” was the “più bello” of his English acquaintances saluted me on the left cheek, for which freedom being reproved by Giuseppe, who very properly informed him that I was “μεγαλοσ”(a) he told him I was his “φιλοσ”(b) and “by his beard,” he would do so again, adding

in reply to the question of “διατι ασπασετε?”(c) you see he laughs, as in good truth I did very heartily. –

But my friend as you may easily imagine is Nicolo, who by the bye, is my Italian master, and we are already very philosophical. – I am his “Padrone” and his “amico” and the Lord knows what besides, it is about two hours since that after {informing} me he was most desirous to follow him (that is me) over the world, he concluded by telling me it was proper for us not only to live but “morire insieme.” –

The latter I hope to avoid, as much of the former as he pleases. – I am awakened in the morning by these imps shouting “venite abasso” and the friar gravely observes it is “bisogno bastonare” everybody before the studies can possibly commence. – Besides these lads, my suite, to which I have added a Tartar and a youth to look after my two new saddle horses, my suite I say, are very obstreperous and drink skinfuls of Zean wine at 8 paras the oke daily. – Then we have several Albanian women washing in the “giardino” whose hours of relaxation are spent in running pins into Fletcher’s backside. – “Damnata di mi if I have seen such a spectaculo in my way from Viterbo.” – In short what with the women, and the boys, and the suite, we are very disorderly. – But I am vastly happy and childish, and shall have a world of anecdotes for you and the “Citoyen.” [[another name for Charles Skinner Matthews, suggesting his democratic politics]] – – Intrigue

flourishes, the old woman Teresa’s mother was mad enough to imagine I was going to marry the girl, but I have better amusement, Andreas is fooling with Dudu as usual, and Mariana has made a conquest of Dervise Tahiri, Viscillie Fletcher and Sullee my new Tartar have each a mistress, “Vive l’Amour!. – –

I am learning Italian, and this day translated an ode of Horace “Exegi monumentum” {into that language} I chatter with every body good or bad and tradute prayers out of the Mass Ritual, but my lessons though very long are sadly interrupted by scamperings and eating fruit and peltings and playings and I am in fact at school again, and make as little improvement now as I did then, my time being wasted in the same way. – However it is too good to last, I am going to make a second tour of Attica with Lusieri who is a new ally of mine, and Nicolo goes with me at his own most pressing solicitation “per mare, per terras” – “Forse” you may see us in Inghilterra, but “non so, come &c.” – For the present, Good even, Buona sera a vos signoria, Bacio le mani.

(a) “a great lord”.
(b) “friend”.
(c) “Why did you embrace him?”

On August 24, 1810, in an addition to the letter dated August 23, Byron adds:

I have as usual swum across the Piræus, the Signore Nicolo also laved, but he makes as bad a hand in the water as L’Abbe Hyacinth at Falmouth, it is a curious thing that the Turks when they bathe wear their lower garments as your humble servant always doth, but the Greeks {not,} however questo Giovane e vergogno. – omissis – I have been employed the greater part of today in conjugating the verb “ασπαζω”(b) (which word being Ellenic as well as Romaic may find a place in the Citoyen’s Lexicon) I assure you my progress is rapid, but like Cæsar “nil actum reputans dum quid superesset agendum”(c) I {must} arrive at the pl&optC, and then I will write to ——. …

(a) Sheridan, The Rivals.
(b) “to embrace”.
(c) Lucan, Phars. II 657 (“… believed nothing had been done while anything was left to be done”).

In his diary of July 17, 1810, Hobhouse had annotated, speaking of an unidentified Greek boy:

Hobhouse’s diary for July 17th 1810 reads, “Took leave, non sine lacrymis, of this singular young person on a little stone terrace near some paltry magazines at the end of the bay, dividing with him a little nosegay of flowers, the last thing perhaps I shall ever divide with him”.

[https://petercochran.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/byron-and-hobhouse-11.pdf  pag. 14, footnote 44.]

On October 4, 1810, Byron wrote to Hobhouse from Patras. In the letter, the “M” refers to Charles Skinner Matthews, their fellow of Cambridge, the Grand Master of the Methodiste Sect. The reference to the flower bouquet is to be interpreted through the botanical metaphor of the Methodistes.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Patras, October 4th 1810: (Source: text from NLS Ms.43438 f.18; LJ I 301-5; QI 85-7; BLJ II 21-3) Patras. Morea. October 4th. 1810.

… Tell M. that I have obtained above two hundred pl&optC’s and am almost tired of them, for the history of these he must wait my return, as after many attempts I have given up the idea of conveying information on paper. – You know the monastery of Mendele, it was there I made myself master of the first. – Your last letter closes pathetically with a postscript about a nosegay, I advise you to introduce that into your next sentimental novel – I am sure I did not suspect you of any fine feelings, and I believe you are laughing, but you are welcome. – Vale, I can no more like Ld . Grizzle144 – y rs . µπαιρων

Beyond the goliardic letters exchanged between the Methodistes, it is difficult to understand what kind of relationship Byron really had with the guys he talks about and with Nicolo Giraud in particular. I prefer not to venture into hypotheses and I limit myself to what the documents say. Nicholas Giraud cared for Byron when he took the fever in Patras and traveled with him to Malta when Byron was on the way back to England in 1811. In his testament written in August 1811, Byron left Giraud 7,000 pounds, but later the legacy was canceled.

Return to England

Byron returns to England on July 14, 1811. The first of August his mother dies. He lives in London at St Jame’s Street no. 8. Edleston’s sister, the sister of the boy who had been the poet’s first youth love, told him that his brother died in May of that same year. It is a terrible blow for Byron. Edleston was only twenty-one years old when he was worn out by illness. Byron, deeply touched by Edleston’s death, produces at least seven moving elegies in his memory, including “To Thyrza”, “Away, away, ye are notes of woe!”, “One fight more, and I am free.” They are dead, as young and fair”, “On a Cornelian Heart Which Was Broken” and a Latin elegy recently discovered and published in 1974, the only poem that uses masculine gender “You, you, care puer!”. Although Byron dedicates to the death of Edlaston several poetic texts, we will limit ourselves to examining three of them. Let’s begin with “A Thyrza”. Byron takes the name Thyrza from the poem by Solomon Gessner: “Abel’s death,” in which Thyrza is Abele’s wife. This is obviously a female name, but that does not mean anything. Byron was repeatedly required to reveal who was the person whose death his poem talked about but never answered this question. It is interesting to note that here (as in other poems, dedicated to Edleston), the poet strictly avoids any gender connotation of the character in question; in the text there are never personal pronouns like he, she, him, her, instead of the pronouns the word “form” is used, and the text is almost always in second person. It is significant to note that the Italian translation by Carlo Rusconi, published in 1853, takes on the assumption that it is about the death of a woman. At that time, a text without gender connotations was automatically read to the feminine (George Gordon Byron. Opere complete – Volume V. Traduzione di Carlo Rusconi. Torino, Giunti Pombe e comp. Editori, 1853, pp. 238-240).


Without a stone to mark the spot,
And say, what Truth might well have said,
By all, save one, perchance forgot,
Ah !    Wherefore art thou lowly laid?

By many a shore and many a sea
Divided, yet beloved in vain;
The Past, the Future fled to thee,
To bid us meet — no — ne’er again !

Could this have been — a word, a look,
That softly said, “We part in peace,”
Had taught my bosom how to brook,
With fainter sighs, thy soul’s release.

And didst thou not, since Death for thee
Prepared a light and pangless dart,
Once long for him thou ne’er shall see
Who held, and holds thee in his heart?

Oh ! Who like him had watch’d thee here?
Or sadly mark’d thy glazing eye,
In that dread hour ere death appear,
When silent sorrow fears to sigh,

Till all was past?   But when no more
“Twas thine to reck of human woe
Affection’s heart-drops, gushing o’er
Had flow’d as fast — as now they flow.

Shall they not flow, when many a day
In these, to me, deserted towers,
Ere call’d but for a time away,
Affection’s mingling tears were ours?

Ours too the glance none saw beside;
The smile none else might understand;
The whisper’d thought of hearts allied,
The pressure of the thrilling hand.

The kiss, so guiltless and refined,
That Love each warmer wish forbore;
Those eyes proclaim’d so pure a mind
Even Passion blush’d to plead for more.

The tone, that taught me to rejoice,
When prone, unlike thee, to repine;
The song, celestial from thy voice,
But sweet to me from none but thine;

The pledge we wore — I wear it still,
But where is thine? —  Ah !  Where art thou?
Oft have I borne the weight of ill,
But never bent beneath till now !

Well hast thou left in life’s best bloom
The cup of woe for me to drain.
If rest alone be in the tomb,
I would not wish thee here again..

But if in worlds more blest than this
Thy virtues seek a fitter sphere,
Impart some portion of thy bliss,
To wean me from mine anguish here.

Teach me — too early taught by thee !
To bear, forgiving and forgiven:
On earth thy love was such to me;
It fain would form my hope in heaven !

The short Latin Elegy “Te, te, care puer” (You, you dear boy) entitled “Edleston”, shows a deep pain, though enclosed in classical forms:

Me miserum! Frustra pro te vixisse precatum,
Cur frustra volui te moriente mori? –
Heu, quanto minus est iam serta, unguanta, puellas
Carpere con reliquis quam meminisse tui?

Oh woe! I prayed in vain for having lived for you
Why did I want to die in vain at your own death?
Alas, how is less important to enjoy the laurel wreaths,
the scents and the girls, than to remember you!

Byron sadly communicates Edleston’s death to friends who knew him.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Newstead Abbey, October 13th 1811: (Source: NLS Ms.43438 f.35; BLJ II 113-14) Another letter filling four sides. It’s clear that Byron knows Greece and Albania better than Hobhouse does. Byron alludes casually to the death of Edleston. Newstead Abbey. Octr . 13th. 1811.

At present I am rather low, & dont know how to tell you the reason – you remember E at Cambridge – he is dead – last May – his Sister sent me the account lately – now though I never should have seen him again, (& it is very proper that I should not)107 I have been more affected than I should care to own elsewhere; Death has been lately so occupied with every thing that was mine, that the dissolution of the most remote connection is like taking a crown from a Miser’s last Guinea. – – – – – –

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from King’s College Cambridge, October 22nd 1811: (Source: NLS Ms.43438 f.37; BLJ II 117-18) [Cambridge October twenty third 1811 / Capt . Hobhouse / Royal Miners / Enniscorthy / Ireland // Byron]

… The event(a) I mentioned in my last has had an effect on me, I am ashamed to think of, but there is no arguing on these points. I could “have better spared a better being.”(b) – Wherever I turn, particularly in this place, the idea goes with me, I say all this at the risk of incurring your contempt, but you cannot despise me more than I do myself. – I am indeed very wretched, & like all complaining persons I can’t help telling you so. – – …

(a) The Death of Edleston.
(b) Shakespeare, Henry IV I V iv 104 (adapted).

Byron, who, before departing for the Grnad Tour, had entrusted to Miss Pigot the heart of red cornelian that Edleston had given him, he now feels the need to have that object back again and writes to Mrs. Pigot asking her to solicit her daughter to send it. It is interesting to note that in the letter there is no gender connotation that can make it clear whether the dead person is a man or a woman. Byron speaks of “a person” or “the giver”.

Byron to Mrs Pigot, from Cambridge, October 28th 1811: (Source: text from Newstead Abbey Collection NA 48(n); BLJ II 119-20) Cambridge, Octr . 28th 1811 Dear Madam, – I am about to write to you on a silly subject & yet I cannot well do otherwise. – You may remember a cornelian which some years ago I consigned to Miss Pigot, indeed gave to her, & now I am going to make the most selfish & rude of requests. – – The person who gave it to me, when I was very young, is dead, & though a long time has elapsed since we ever met, as it was the only memorial (almost) I possessed of that person (in whom I was once much interested) it has acquired a value by this event, I could have wished it never 1:2 to have borne in my eyes. – If therefore Miss P should have preserved it, I must under these circumstances beg her to excuse my requesting it to be transmitted to me at No. 8 St . James’s Street London & I will replace it by something she may remember me by equally well. – – As she was always so kind as to feel interested in the fate of [those?] that formed the subject of our conversations, you may tell her, that the Giver of that Cornelian died in May last of a consumption at the age of twenty one, making the sixth within four months of friends & relatives that I have lost between May & the end of August! – Believe [me] Dear Madam yrs. very sincerely BYRON

P.S. – I go to London tomorrow.

In the last months of 1811, the references, obviously covered, to Edleston’s death appear several times in Byron’s poems and with heartfelt accents. I just quote two texts.

Away, away, ye notes of Woe!
Be silent, thou once soothing Strain,
Or I must flee from hence—for, oh!
I dare not trust those sounds again.
To me they speak of brighter days—
But lull the chords, for now, alas!
I must not think, I may not gaze,
On what I am—on what I was.
The voice that made those sounds more sweet
Is hushed, and all their charms are fled;
And now their softest notes repeat
A dirge, an anthem o’er the dead!
Yes, Thyrza! yes, they breathe of thee,
dust! since dust thou art;
And all that once was Harmony
Is worse than discord to my heart!
‘Tis silent all!—but on my ear
The well remembered Echoes thrill;
I hear a voice I would not hear,
A voice that now might well be still:
Yet oft my doubting Soul ’twill shake;
Ev’n Slumber owns its gentle tone,
Till Consciousness will vainly wake
To listen, though the dream be flown.
Sweet Thyrza! waking as in sleep,
Thou art but now a lovely dream;
A Star that trembled o’er the deep,
Then turned from earth its tender beam.
But he who through Life’s dreary way
Must pass, when Heaven is veiled in wrath,
Will long lament the vanished ray
That scattered gladness o’er his path.

December 8, 1811.
[First published, Childe Harold, 1812 (4to).]

One struggle more, and I am free
From pangs that rend my heart in twain;
One last long sigh to Love and thee,
Then back to busy life again.
It suits me well to mingle now
With things that never pleased before:
Though every joy is fled below,
What future grief can touch me more?
Then bring me wine, the banquet bring;
Man was not formed to live alone;
I’ll be that light unmeaning thing
That smiles with all, and weeps with none.
It was not thus in days more dear,
It never would have been, but thou
Hast fled, and left me lonely here;
Thou’rt nothing,—all are nothing now.
In vain my lyre would lightly breathe!
The smile that Sorrow fain would wear
But mocks the woe that lurks beneath,
Like roses o’er a sepulchre.
Though gay companions o’er the bowl
Dispel awhile the sense of ill;
Though Pleasure fires the maddening soul,
The Heart,—the Heart is lonely still!
On many a lone and lovely night
It soothed to gaze upon the sky;
For then I deemed the heavenly light
Shone sweetly on thy pensive eye:
And oft I thought at Cynthia’s noon,
When sailing o’er the Ægean wave,
“Now Thyrza gazes on that moon”—
Alas, it gleamed upon her grave!
When stretched on Fever’s sleepless bed,
And sickness shrunk my throbbing veins,
“‘Tis comfort still,” I faintly said,
“That Thyrza cannot know my pains:”
Like freedom to the time-worn slave—
A boon ’tis idle then to give—
Relenting Nature vainly gave
My life, when Thyrza ceased to live!
My Thyrza’s pledge in better days,
When Love and Life alike were new!
How different now thou meet’st my gaze!
How tinged by time with Sorrow’s hue!
The heart that gave itself with thee
Is silent—ah, were mine as still!
Though cold as e’en the dead can be,
It feels, it sickens with the chill.
Thou bitter pledge! thou mournful token!
Though painful, welcome to my breast!
Still, still, preserve that love unbroken,
Or break the heart to which thou’rt pressed.
Time tempers Love, but not removes,
More hallowed when its Hope is fled:
Oh! what are thousand living loves
To that which cannot quit the dead?

[First published, Childe Harold, 1812 (4to).]

Love and betrayals

At the end of 1811, something new happened in Byron’s life. A Byron letter to Hobhouse, dated December 25, 1811, informs us that the poet had “at least a bit” fall in love with a Welsh servant, Susan Vaughan.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Newstead Abbey, December 25th 1811: (Source: not yet found in NLS Ms.43438; BLJ II 151)

… I am at present principally occupied with a fresh face & a very pretty one too, as H will tell you, a Welsh Girl(a) whom I lately added to the bevy, and of whom I am tolerably enamoured for the present. But of this by the way, I shall most probably be cool enough before you return from Ireland. – …

(a) Susan Vaughan.

Susan Vaughan will betray Byron the following month by seducing Robert Rushton, the Byron page, who had accompanied him to Gibraltar in the Grand Tour. In a letter dated January 20, 1812, Susan Vaughan suggests to Byron that Rushton, then about nineteen, was seduced by Lusy, another Byron servant who, according to Ralph Lloyd-Jones, might have been the mother of one of Byron’s sons.

However, Byron’s letters to Rushton (BLJ II 158) and Susan (BLJ II 159) clearly show that Susan, not Lucy, had a story with Rushton. Byron forgave Rushton (“I am sure you would not deceive me, though she would”), but did not forgive Susan. The affair bothered Byron’s servants: Rushton treated aggressively Susan, Byron rebuked him with great firmness, pointing out that Susan had to be treated with the utmost civilization. Rushton had to accept the reproach but answered with great dignity. Byron tried to keep a positive relationship with the boy.

Byron to Robert Rushton, from 8 St James’s Street, January 25th 1812: (Source: Ms. not found; text from LJ II 94; QI 130-1; BLJ II 158) 8, St. James’s Street, January 25, 1812.

… If any thing has passed between you before or since my last visit to Newstead, do not be afraid to mention it. I am sure you would not deceive me, though she would. Whatever it is, you shall be forgiven. I have not been without some suspicions on the subject, and am certain that, at your time of life, the blame could not attach to you. You will not consult any one as to your answer, but write to me immediately. I shall be more ready to hear what you have to advance, as I do not remember ever to have heard a word from you before against any human being, which convinces me you would not maliciously assert an untruth. There is not any one who can do the least injury to you, while you conduct yourself properly. I shall expect your answer immediately. Yours, etc., BYRON

On January 28, 1812, Byron gave final leave to Susan.

Byron to Susan Vaughan, from 8 St James’s Street London, January 28th 1812: (Source: BLJ II 159) 8. St. James’s Street. January 28th. 1812 I write to bid you farewell, not to reproach you. – The enclosed papers, one in your own handwriting will explain every thing. – I will not deny that I have been attached to you, & I am now heartily ashamed of my weakness. – You may also enjoy the satisfaction of having deceived me most completely, & rendered me for the present sufficiently wretched. – From the first I told you that the continuance of our connection depended on your own conduct. – – All is over. – I have little to condemn on my own part, but credulity; you threw yourself in my way, I received you, loved you, till you have become worthless, & now I part from you with some regret, & without resentment. – I wish you well, do not forget that your own misconduct has bereaved you of a friend, of whom nothing else could have deprived you. – Do not attempt explanation, it is useless, I am determined, you cannot deny your handwriting; return to your relations, you shall be furnished with the means, but him, who now addresses you for the last time, you will never see again. BYRON
God bless you!

On October 18, 1812, Byron wrote to Rushton in a completely different tone:

Byron to Robert Rushton, from Cheltenham, October 18th 1812: (Source: Ms. not found; text from LJ II 177; BLJ II 232) Cheltenham, Oct. 18th, 1812.

Robert,—I hope you continue as much as possible to apply yourself to Accounts and LandMeasurement, etc. Whatever change may take place about Newstead, there will be none as to you and Mr. Murray. It is intended to place you in a situation in Rochdale for which your pursuance of the Studies I recommend will best fit you. Let me hear from you; is your health improved since I was last at the Abbey? In the mean time, if any accident occur to me, you are provided for in my will, and if not, you will always find in your Master a sincere Friend. B.

Wedding stories and incest

Byron had an half-sister, Augusta Maria, born on January 26, 1783, five years older than him. Augusta was the daughter of the first wife of the poet’s father. Augusta married and had seven children; she only met her half-brother when he was a student at Harrow School, and kept with him an exchange of letters focused on Byron’s conflicts with his mother, but she met him very rarely. Throughout the travel period in the East, the exchange of letters broke down. When Byron came back to England, Augusta sent condolences to him on the death of his mother and from July 1813 the two became lovers. Augusta, however, was married, had children and was not planning to put her family in trouble for Byron’s sake. In April 1814, Augusta gave birth to a little girl, Elizabeth Medora  Leigh (April 15, 1814 – August 28, 1849), a few days later, Byron went to his hald-sister’s house to see the little girl. The conviction that Medora was the daughter of Byron became the subject of much talk, and still today the question is unclear. Byron on January 2, 1815, also to silence gossip about his relationship with Augusta, marries Anne Isabella Milbanke, nicknamed Annabella, an heiress learned and passionate about Mathematics, and goes to live in London with her. Byron had not only to silence gossip about his relationship with his half-sister, but also on his homosexuality, that was beginning to move insistently; marriage seemed, among other things, a propitious opportunity to take possession of his wife’s belongings. In December 1815, his daughter Augusta Ada was born, but Byron resumed her relationship with her sister Augusta, and Annabella on January 15, 1816 asked for separation. Byron was accused of incest, adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, free love, and so on. The situation quickly became unsustainable, and the risk of moving from gossip to criminal charges was real and heavy. Byron on April 21, 1816, signed the separation document from his wife and decided to voluntarily exile from England, where he no longer came back.

In Switzerland Shelley

He embarked for the continent on April 25, 1816. Before leaving England, Byron had started a relationship with Claire Clairmont, step-sister of Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft (wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley). With Shelley, his wife and her step-sister, Byron spent a lot of time in good company. From Byron’s relationship with Claire was born Allegra, in January 1817.

In Italy

In October 1816 Byron moved to Milan where he met Silvio Pellico, Vincenzo Monti and Stendhal, then in November 1816 he settled in Venice, where he stayed for three years. Here he learned Italian very well but did not neglect amorous adventures, he boasted of have had sex with more than two hundred women, and he had two important relationships, the first with his hostess’s wife, Marianna Segati, and the latter with the twenty-two years old Margarita Cogni (the Fornarina). Byron’s house on the Grand Canal became a fixed reference point for all the Englishmen who went to Venice, here the fame of tombeur de femmes that accompanied Byron for decades grew. Shelley had been able to see closely Byron’s home in Venice but probably he was not very impressed by all this, some Shelley’s statements, which were very friendly to Byron, seemed generic and referred to the English in general rather than to those who attended Byron’s home. So Shelley writes in the sixth letter to Peacock:

Peacock’s Memoris of Shelley – With Shelley’s Letters to Peacock – Edited by H.
F. B. Brett-Smith – London – Henry Frowde – 1909 – Oxford : Horace Hart – Printed to the University.


Milan, April 20, 1818.

Lord Byron, we hear, has taken a house for three years, at Venice ; whether we shall see him or not, I do not know. The number of English who pass through this town is very great.

They ought to be in their own country in the present crisis. Their conduct is wholly inexcusable. The people here, though inoffensive enough, seem both in body and soul a miserable race. The men are hardly men ; they look like a tribe of stupid and shrivelled slaves, and I do not think that I have seen a gleam of intelligence in the countenance of man since I passed the Alps.

In April 1819, Byron knew the 18-year-old Teresa, wife of the rich sixty-year-old Count Guiccioli: the woman soon became his lover and the two settled down to the end of 1819 in Ravenna, where Guiccioli lived. The young woman has a very positive influence on the poet, who finally adopts a less franyic lifestyle. Between 1820 and 1821 Byron entered Carboneria (a secret society that conspired against Austria for Italian independence) through the contacts of Teresa’s brother, Count Pietro Gamba. He wants his daughter Allegra to be educated as a Roman Catholic, and he accompanies her in March 1821 in the boarding school run by the Sisters of Bagnacavallo, in Romagna. Allegra will die on April 21, 1822 and July 8 of the same year will also die Shelley, drowned together with his friend Edward Elleker Williams, ten miles from Viareggio.

The Greece and the death


In 1823 Byron, induced by his friend John Cam Hobhouse, joined the London Philoellenic Association in support of the Greek Independence and against the Ottoman Empire. Byron organizes an expedition with the utmost care. He convinces Teresa to come back to Ravenna and on July 16  1823, Brigantine “The Hercules” leaves Genoa for Greece. They accompany Byron, Pietro Gamba, Trelawny, a young Italian doctor, as well as eight servants five horses and two dogs. In Livorno climbs to the brigantine a young Scottish, Hamilton Browne. On August 3 the brigantine stops at Kefalonia. On Greek island Byron knows Lukas Chalandritsanos, a Greek boy 15-year-old, and falls in love with him insanity, but his sentiment is not reciprocated. Byron is no longer the lovely boy of Edleston’s time, he is fat, loses his hair and has teeth in a bad state, yet he seeks at least gratitude if not love, spending over a period of six months enormous sums of money to satisfy the boy’s whims. Byron realizes that he is no longer physically a desirable person, but nevertheless he is animated by a love at the limit of madness, the more acute and painful the more rejected. Finally, in December, the poet seems destined to take up the part of Prince Mavrokordato, who more than others guaranteed a serious possibility of establishing a stable authority, and sails for Missolungi, where he came January 5, 1824. Here, in a three-story house occupied by Colonel Stanhope and by a group of Christian Albanians who Byron had hired in Kefalonia, resumes with unremitting obstinacy to work to strengthen the Greek resistance. The main tasks were two: to form an artillery brigade, to assault and conquer Lepanto leading forces whose core should have been constituted by his Albanian guard. Unfortunately, Byron does not get any results. Meanwhile, the story with Lukas became for Byron increasingly destructive. The sign of the terrible despair of that impossible love story (Byron had never experienced anything like this with a woman) can be read in a poem dated January 22, 1824, the thirty-sixth birthday of the poet.

January 22nd 1824. Messalonghi.
On this day I complete my thirty sixth year.

’Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move –
Yet though I cannot be beloved
Still let me love!

My days are in the yellow leaf(a)
The flowers and fruits of Love are gone –
The worm – the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!

The Fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some Volcanic Isle,
No torch is kindled at its blaze –
A funeral pile!

The hope, the fear, the jealous care
The exalted portion of the pain
And power of Love I cannot share,
But wear the chain.

But ’tis not thus – and ’tis not here –
Such thoughts should shake my Soul, nor now,
Where Glory decks the hero’s bier
Or binds his Brow.

The Sword – the Banner – and the Field –
Glory and Greece around us see!
The Spartan born upon his shield,
Was not more free!

Awake! – (not Greece – She is awake! –)
Awake my Spirit! think through whom
Thy Life=blood tracks its parent lake,
And then Strike home!

Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy Manhood; – unto thee
In different should the smile or frown
Of Beauty be.(b)

If thou regret’st thy Youth, why live?
The Land of honourable Death
Is here – up to the Field! and Give
Away thy Breath.

Seek out – less often sought than found –
A Soldier’s Grave – for thee the best –
Then Look around and choose thy Ground
And take thy Rest!

(a) Macbeth, V iii 22-3: My way of life / Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf …
(b) Refers to Loukas’ indifference. Compare B.’s confession of his inadequacy as a Stoic, at Don Juan, XVII, stanza 10:

If such doom waits each intellectual Giant,
We little people, in our lesser way,
To Life’s small rubs should surely be more pliant;
And so for one will I – as well I may.
Would that I were less bilious – but, Oh fie on’t!
Just as I make my mind up every day
To be a “totus, teres” Stoic Sage,
The Wind shifts, and I fly into a rage.

It is as if Byron was now looking for a heroic death as an alternative to a life without love, almost the search for a martyrdom, caused by a violent and rejected love. In the next few days Byron writes two more poems always dedicated to Lukas, the last of his life, in the first he confesses to be crazy for love facing boy’s rejection, and recognizes that the boy’s magic power is mighty while the poet is so much weak; in the second he surrenders to his destiny:

Thus much and more; and yet thou lov’st me not,
And never wilt!  Love dwells not in our will.
Nor can I blame thee, though it be my lot
To strongly, wrongly, vainly love thee still.

(Bloom, Harold – Poets and Poems – Bloom’s 20th anniversary collection, Chelsea Hose Publishers, pag. 115-116)

February and March pass between rebellions, rains, raids, telluric shocks, incompetence demonstrations, repatriation requests by British blasters, betrayals. When the Turkish fleet appears on the horizon it is now clear that the city is not defensible, the poet tries to personally organize the few troops and encourage the terrorized citizens. In the evening, after a mile ride in the rain, Byron has a violent fever attack. On April 10 and 11, he wants to go out on horseback again, but his fiber is surrendering. Doctors are beginning to be seriously worried and they think they will embark him for Zante if the sea conditions allow it. On Day 15 Byron’s condition worsens. William Parry, in The Last Days of Lord Byron (The Last Days of Lord Byron), reports:

He spoke to me about my own adventures. He spoke of death also with great composure, and though he did not believe his end was so very near, there was something about him so serious and so firm, so resigned and composed, so different from any thing I had ever before seen in him, that my mind misgave me, and at times foreboded his speedy dissolution.

(William Parry, “The last days of Lord Byron”  – Paris – A. and W. Galignani, 1826, pag. 95.)

His speeches began to get disjoined. Among other things, he stated that he wanted to return to England to live with his wife and with his daughter Ada. On the 18th day, in Italian and English, imagining perhaps the attack on Lepanto, he shouted, “Come on! Come on! Courage! Follow My Example!” And in delirium he repeatedly named his sister, wife, daughter, children’s places. His last words were: “Now I have to sleep.” He died the next day, Monday 19 April 1824, at six and a quarter of the afternoon. That same evening, Lukas ran away taking the money from the garrison. The funeral saw an endless procession of forty seven carriages mourned but empty, with the just the driver: it was the last vengeance of the aristocracy against the rebellious poet.


If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, on Gay Project Forum:

Section 1: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=111

Section 2: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=112



Dear Project,

I’m very happy to have spoken to you last night. I have found confirmation that the situation of gays is objectively changing and that the idea of ​​homosexuality as normality is slowly breaking. I thought I would summarize in a short writing my experience on this subject, which then I think is not at all a rare thing.

After graduating from a university in the South of Italy, I I changed my university to attend higher level courses in one of the North. In the new university I found that didactic and research are of medium level, I actually expected something better, what literally shocked me was the level of normal life of gay guys within the faculty, something really unimaginable in a southern university. Here where I am now, being gay is no longer a taboo, the guys are not hiding, or at least there are many that do not hide and they are not just the extreme defenders of the gay movement, here do not even hide the normal gay guys” (it looks like a strange association of words). I was determined to safeguard my privacy, but then, without the need to admit or declare anything, a little group of guys (at least a dozen) has been created who were mutually sympathetic and understood each other at another level. After about six months I had a clear evidence that the guys in the group were all gay and here, dear Project, I have to say that it was far beyond the classic 8% that you consider the percentage of gay guys on the total population. Our graduation course was attended by 51 guys, and more or less from about twenty girls, out of 51 boys 11 are gay! More than 20%. And I’m sure they’re gay because they told me that. I wonder how these abnormal gay concentration could be possible in a specific degree course, which is of a purely technical-scientific orientation. Perhaps  the explanation is that gay people are far more than 8% and that their number is largely underestimated just because, apart from the gay friendly environments, gay guys do not go out? I wonder if, in other gay friendly contexts, there are percentages close to 20%, that is, essentially the same of my faculty.

But there is another thing to note: gay dialogue is becoming more and more free and spontaneous. The burden of erotic chat and dating sites, at least at the highest cultural levels, tends to decrease, slowly, it is true, but progressively. For so many good hetero guys, the fact that a friend is gay does not devalues the friendship, But there is something else, in the surrounding social environment there is no gossip about homosexuality, here at least, the topic of homosexuality is perceived as absolutely neutral. The gays themselves have the pleasure of being together but do not lock in a ghetto. Their being together comes from sharing their experiences and feelings in some way homogeneous and is not aimed at sex. Gay friendships last in time. Gay couples last in time. The break of a gay couple relationship does not diminish the relationship of esteem and friendship; solidarity is perceived very strong. I also can see something else, within the gay group of our degree course, the boys talk very little about sex, not for embarrassment or self-repression, but because they consider sexuality a private dimension to be preserved, but if we don’t talk about sex, we talk about love using typical categories of affective life and couple relationships. Today a gay guy, at least in my faculty, does not feel embarrassed when talking about gay love. I met several couples, and were couples who, at least at the origin, were born as couples destined to last. Relations with the hetero world are here, at least, never in terms of contrast, and the strong friendships between a gay and a straight guy is by no means a rarity, and I speak of friendships in which the straight guy is aware that his friend is gay. Even relationships with girls are very quiet and it happens quite often that a girl does not matter if her boyfriend frequents a gay friend. I have the impression that the person is evaluated as such, and without any reference to general categories such as heterosexual, gay or bisexual. Another thing struck me too much, here almost a half of my group, 5 out of 11 gay guys came out with their parents and, more surprisingly, they did not find any obstacles on the part of their parents. In my city of origin gays are completely invisible and the coming out in the family is an absolute rarity. In these things the North is actually at another level. Being gay for so many guys is not a problem. Living for many years in the South I did not realize how much the situation of gay guys was different in different regions of ​​Italy and I did not even think that there could be so favorable situations for gays. Here the places labeled gay are very few, I didn’t imagine such a situation, there is no separate gay subculture, but among the elderly people there is still the apparent tendency to ghettoize gays as a group, I say it’s apparent because elderly people make strange talk but only occasionally when they feel more or less compelled to do so, that is, when there is social expectation in that sense, but also grandparents who make statements of greater closure about gays, in the end have gay nephews, love them and no problem is created for that, but in public it’s hard to avoid the homophobic comedy. Among the guys in my group (the eleven gay guys in my course) I did not even find one objectively concerned or distressed by his being gay, but for the truth I did not even find one special proud  of being gay, they are all absolutely quiet guys and they live in a very natural way. One of these guys, when I still did not know he was gay, had sent me an email that I think is very interesting. I copy it down here in full with his permission:

Hi A.,

I was very happy to talk to you this morning, I would bet you were a smart guy, as well as a phenomenon in the studies. There are so many universities in the South but, seeing you, I guess they are not so bad, you have a very theoretical and scientific training, we are much more engineers, you tend split hairs over and build precise mathematical models, we linearize everything, and at most we do some laboratory tests. I (Fabio, called Failed genius), Andrea (called the Minister) and Marco (said the 1st Thin) began to study together and we are very well. If the thing for you is fine we could even study in four rather than three, they all agree. We are all gay guys, but we do not have any prejudices against intelligent straight guys. Let me know what you think about.

Fabio (Failed genius)



Hello Project,

about a month ago, while surfing the internet, I found gay project which surprised me because it is something unique. At first I was impressed by the simplicity of the sites and by the absence of erotic advertising, then I started reading and I was amazed by the fact that I was reading a lot of things very similar to those that have happened to me and this, for me , was very important. That’s why I decided to write overcoming so many doubts and resistances. My life does not have anything very important, I’m an engineering student, I come from a normal family after all. My father and my mother more or less get along, my sister got married last year and no longer lives with me. My parents do not know anything about me, and I’ll absolutely avoid to tell them how things really are because for them I think it would just be a trauma, I do not think they would be able to understand, they are good parents, not too invasive, according to the their way of seeing, nor too selfish to care only about their own business. I will not speak with them in order to avoid them to stress uselessly, the idea that children should adapt to be the image and likeness of their parents is too deeply impressed in their own head. I cannot say whether or not they are believers, and to what extent, they go to church on Sunday and I’m going with them as if it were a natural thing because they expect it, my mother goes to confession every so often and receives communion, daddy never, but at least they have the common sense not to put pressure on me about such things. Luckily for me I’m still young and they think that I should hurry to graduate and so the fact that I do not have a girlfriend takes second place, because it would be a distraction from the fundamental purpose. My father and my mother have attitudes toward gay people that make me very angry but I have to tolerate discomfort for a quiet life: they know nothing about such things but they believe they know and understand everything, they are sympathetic to gay people just as priests are, they are inclined to forgive the vice for the weakness of the flesh because “also gays are people” (what a great concession!) but they would never admit that two guys can love each other because “it’s so nice to follow nature” and “between two men or between two women love does not make sense.” I let them talk because they need to be convinced that they are right. By saying so I mean that practically the relationship with my parents doesn’t exist at all but they don’t even realize it, for them it’s much more important to be right. Breaking away from the mentality of my parents and beginning to think with my head it was not so easy. At age 18 I went to confession for the last time, I told the priest that I was gay and I was in love with a guy, the priest didn’t even conceive the idea that it could be a true and deep feeling, and started to repeat certain things that offended me deeply, and I thought that what he said was patently false and immoral so much that I got up and I went away. I do not accept the idea that a feeling that I consider the most important thing in my life can be outraged by those who don’t even understand what they say and think they are speaking in the name of God. I have not had second thoughts, sometimes in church, I hear homilies that I cannot stand absolutely but I act as if I was just thinking of something else, exams, university, etc.. In high school I still had many doubts, not doubts about what I was, but doubts about how I had to behave. I remember a specific fact, the penultimate year of high school the Italian teacher assigned us as a task to compose a short essay on violence. I thought of speaking about violence against women, racism and the usual things and also about homophobia, but then gave up the idea completely, when the teacher gave us back our works classified in the commenting on one of them said to a student: “You have considered many aspects of the problem: religious intolerance, violence in stadiums, homophobia, violence against women …”, at the word homophobia I felt myself freeze and the eyes of all the guys have focused on the student with whom the teacher was talking and there have been mischievous smiles. That guy is definitely not gay but the word homophobia caused a particular reaction among my classmates, for them it is only an allusion to homosexuality, something more or less ridiculous that they only know from jokes and has been interpreted just as a joke. Obviously I had been right not to talk about homophobia. I don’t think that my classmates were homophobic, for them the problem did not even exist, for them gays were a kind of tribe on the edge of reality, for them a gay guy had to have many characteristics that are recognizable, they didn’t even realize that someone could be hurt by the fact that they were laughing at the word homophobia, in the end they were not homophobic, they were just superficial (stupid) and had no need to understand, because it was something that they weren’t absolutely interest in. Instinctively I have always kept away from groups, from too close friendships and from the gossip and this helped me to finish my high school, maintaining the my reputation of fake straight. In high school I supposed that one of my classmate was gay, but my assumptions were totally wrong. In college I found myself immersed in a completely different world. I had gone to the classical high school, with a strong majority of women (more than 2/3 of my classmates were girls), in the Faculty of Engineering there was instead a strong male predominance, and in particular in my courses. For a gay guy who came from the experience of classical high school, being in an engineering classroom was just like being a child entering the pastry: a huge temptation, an environment that created a community almost entirely male. Some guys were very handsome. If ever I had some little doubt about the fact of being gay this doubt vanished soon after I begun to attend engineering classes We went to classes together at the canteen together, to the study rooms in the library together, we spent together intervals between classes, and inevitably there we would agree to spend free time together as well. I should add that the environment was not gossipy and the guys were not talking only about tits and asses, on the contrary, when it occurred, rather rarely, some speech that touched even homosexuality there weren’t giggles, jokes and things like that but serious talk very far from the stereotypes, nevertheless, despite the high number of guys who attended the faculty there was not even one openly gay, a sign that those who were there did not trust to come out of the closet, exactly what I did. After the first few days began to form stable study groups. The basic element of aggregation was the level of knowledge and skills of individuals. Those that were obviously ahead of the others tended to congregate together and so the selection was made, so to speak, on academic merit. After a few days, and after the results of the first tests of profit, the number of students has decreased quite dramatically, in practice about 40% changed their courses of study and two groups were formed, one of the geniuses always in the front pew during lessons, always with maximum scores, but we are talking about a dozen boys in all, highly motivated but in practice these were young people who lived exclusively for the study, and a second group, let’s say mid-level, with more or less twenty students, and then the group of those who took it for granted that they would not have finished their studies without losing at least one year. I was at the boundary between the first and the second group, I was coming from the secondary school of classical address and at the beginning it was very hard for me but then I went ahead well. Prior to joining the faculty I thought it would have been so much easier, then I realized that to stay afloat at a good level I had to struggle a lot. Those in the first group did not send a shot wide, sometimes I tried to enter their group but I didn’t held the pace and, objectively, they were at levels far more advanced than mine. There was another thing, those guys lived for the study, admitted that they had a girl, they probably saw her for up to an hour on a Sunday afternoon and, because I felt like the a child entering the pastry, I did not want to end up like them, I don’t say that I wanted to make a feast of sweets, but at least I wanted to taste one. In practice I was there certainly to study, but certainly not just for that. I decided that I would be among those to intermediate level, because with them the afternoons were not exclusively to study, there was even talking. I have read on the forum something about gay radar, well, in fact, when one is, or better when a gay guy is in an environment like that one where I was, the first thing is to go by eye, that is, look for the guys who are more attractive, but if this were the only guideline it would be easy to miss the target. And there began, about four or five guys, the exhausting game: is he gay or not? And since the first purpose was just studying and no one used to speak about different things, it was extremely difficult to give an answer about the gayness of my colleagues. At this point there has been an unexpected phenomenon. A guy who didn’t belong to the group of geniuses nor to that of handsome guys and not even to that of supposedly gay guys asks me for my notebook of class notes. I would not have given my block of notes to anyone for all the gold in the world because my notebook was my lifeline and I used to handle it with maniacal care, but that guy was asking for my notebook, I show it to him, then he asks me if he can photocopy it and I say yes, he smiles at me and says something complimentary, more or less that I would get them back the next day. At that time I thought I was wrong to give him my notebook, but I was also happy because it was the first real opportunity to hook a guy, I started to wonder how it would have been if that guy had been gay, but he was not one of the handsome guys, yes, he had a beautiful smile, but it was all there, I just lent my notebook to a guy who had a beautiful smile! Project, now you might think that that guy is now my boyfriend, but no, because he gave me an appointment for the next day to give me back my notes and then showed up accompanied by his girlfriend! I was like an idiot, my brain had begun to go on his own, but fortunately the situation became evident almost immediately. Project, in essence, the child entering the pastry, with his mouth watering has been left empty-handed! According to statistics of gay project among my colleagues there should be at least five or six gays, one is me, then let’s say four or five but they are well hidden, I wonder if they too are like children in the pastry or already have decided to devote themselves exclusively to the study. I would not exclude that some of those geniuses who know everything, then underneath are gays terribly frustrated. Then the second year came, we are further decreased in number and hierarchies based on the results of the examinations are now well established, I stay in the second group, I go forward, but I’m not the new Einstein and frankly I don’t even want to be. My dream is to live a love story, I do not know if I would be able, however, it is certain that I’d try. Until now it has not happened. Project, that’s all, it’s trivial, I know, no overwhelming loves, neither depressing disappointments, so many dreams just too big and a lot of very small achievements. Post this e-mail if you want. I think I’ll send you another e-mail tonight with three or four things that I did not understand very well. You are a great, you did a monstrous job that is really useful!

Gay Hunter (but in a good way!)


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


This post is dedicated to analyze the connection between play and sexuality and aims to highlight the different meanings of sexual play in relation to sexual orientation of the people involved.

A large number of guys, if not all, sooner or later take part in or attend to episodes of play with a more or less evident sexual background, that is episodes of play which involve more or less overtly sexual content or content concerning nudity.

The play usually begins with only the verbal content, for example playing “truth or dare” when it comes to “truth phase” about sexual content, then passing through physical contact not specifically genital, as in the wrestling for fun, that, for example, when you are on the beach and wrestle with only the swimsuit on, involves a very direct physical contact, sometimes also embarrassing, and can also end up with sexually explicit play that also includes the possibility of touching the genitals, or implicates that one of the participants is expected to remain naked at the end of the play (strip poker).

The sexual play can be simple, that is it can arise without any explicit sexual purposes, but can also be programmed precisely in order to create a sexual involvement. In some cases, the sexual play verges on the edge of violence, when it comes to group play imposed on an unwilling victim. This is the case of “pantsing/de-pantsing”, a play that sometimes involves also behaviors of sexual violence and is practiced in schools or universities against freshmen or in military environments. The “pantsing” usually consists in yanking down quickly and unexpectedly the underwear of a guy in order to leave him exposed in front of everyone, but sometimes the “pantsing” means stripping a guy in group, obviously against his will, blocking him and preventing him from defending himself, often the others may touch the genitals of the victim even if in a playful way.

The violent meaning of this play is considerably reduced because the rite is performed as if it was a joke and those who have been “pantsed” can change role the next time. It should be emphasized that this sexual play is characteristic of environments dominated by men (male barracks and classrooms). Today, with the obligation of mixed classes (male and female together) and also of mixed teams of physical education, the “pantsing” has almost gone and only remains in college dorms only for guys.

Among the games that are on the border between play and sexuality there is the tickling, that starts trivially as a play but allows two guys to familiarize with themselves, with mutual physicality and especially lowers the threshold of the defenses and makes the behavior less controlled. When the laugh becomes uncontrollable, physical contact is accepted in a dimension of play and fun. It is not unlikely that a gay guy gats a hard on being in a similar situation, which doesn’t happen just as easily not even in explicit sexual contexts.

The laugh is the Trojan horse of sexuality that allows a guy to accept in this way, what explicitly he would not accept. Through the tickling and through sexual play often occur early signs of gay sexuality in young people who have been deemed always straight.

However, participate in sexual games between persons of the same sex does not mean being gay. In an all guys class “pantsing” was a typical straight play. I emphasize that it is not the participating in the game that determines sexual orientation but, according to sexual orientation, participation in sexual play is experienced in different ways. The straight guys, participating in a sexual play with friends of the same sex, see it as a game, as the most uninhibited game, but not as a sexual activity, on the contrary gay guys, participating in a same sex sexual play, consider it precisely as a sexual activity.

The difference in the way to participate is reflected in the fact that a straight guy who is involved in a sexual play with other guys will not load the memory of that episode with sexual meanings, what on the contrary a gay guy will certainly do. The gay guy will transform the memory of that episode, which for him is clearly a sexual experience, into a strong masturbatory fantasy and that episode will be printed indelibly in his mind.

The difference in experiencing the participation in the sexual game between a straight guy and a gay guy can create big problems in the event that the gay guy falls in love with the straight one and between the two guys the atmosphere is so uninhibited to actually allow sexual plays, what is quite common.

Each of the two guys projects his own personal view of the sexual play on the other guy, so the straight guy thinks that for his friend the sexual game is just a game with no real sexual significance, therefore feels uninhibited because assumes that the other guy is also straight. The gay guy sees the participation in sexual plays by his straight friend as if it was a real gay sexual activity and begins to fantasize about the hypothesis that his friend is not really straight but in reality is a latent gay guy who sooner or later will realize that he is really gay because “if a guy participates in sexual activities with another guy clearly cannot be straight.”

Understandably these types of projections can create sexual expectations, hopes and, later, bitter disappointments. Sexual play is often used by gay men, consciously or unconsciously, as an attempt to involve their friends in a sexual dimension. For a gay guy is actually very difficult to understand that a straight guy is going through a sexual play in a completely different way. In this sense, try to involve a friend in a sexual play is definitely not a sensible system to verify his possible being gay. To find out if a guy is really gay there is only one way, that is, talk to him explicitly, what is often very difficult, if not impossible. To use various substitutes of the explicit direct speech means to choose unreliable methods.

A common feature of sexual games in which a gay guy tries to involve his friend to test his homosexuality or to lead him to homosexuality (what is absolutely meaningless because or you’re gay or you’re not), is the “graduality” which is a typical characteristic of not spontaneous but planned sexual play. In this situation, a gay guy who does not know the sexual orientation of his partner tries to involve him in forms of sexual play in which the sexual dimension is only just visible, if the participatory response of his friend is spontaneous, after a while the gay guy experiments a play in which sexual contents are more explicit, only if also in this case the participation of the friend is spontaneous it becomes possible to program another step towards an even more explicit sexuality.

From the point of view of the gay guy, when his friend has accepted an openly sexual play, doing so he has clearly shown his homosexuality. This strategy of small steps moves ever forward the limit that separates the play from sexuality.

There are rare cases of straight guys who are willing even to be masturbated by their friends supposed to be straight. Such a thing is automatically interpreted by a gay guy as a manifested admission of homosexuality on the part of his friend. This conclusion derives from an assumption, namely, that what matters to identify a gay guy are external behaviors, i. e. that there are “behaviors” typically gay that a straight guy would never put into practice. In fact, experience shows that to identify a gay guy you must know his own interpretation of his own behaviors and of those of others. In other words, it is not the behavior itself that defines a gay guy but the interpretations that he gives of that behavior.

If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-sexual-play-and-gay-sex


Hello Project,

I’m Maurice, I’m 24, I’m going to finish my studies and I hope to find work soon, I’d say within a couple of years. I am writing this email because I am in a situation that I do not know how to handle or perhaps know.

I know I’ve always been gay, I never had any doubts about it and not even special psychological problems, I considered being gay something absolutely natural. I knew that with my family I could not speak out in any case and in the school and then in the university I had to be very careful not to talk too much about my things. I never had true friends, classmates, sport mates, certainly yes, but never friends with whom to confide, I must say that I was so armored that this not caused me any problems.

I’ve always been shy even though I practiced sports since I was very young. I mean not that I am ashamed of being seen naked or anything like that but I think that sexuality is a very private thing that one should keep to himself. The idea of having sex with a guy always embarrassed me a little.

Until a few months ago I had never had sex with anyone and had never suffered from this fact, I was living my sexuality just masturbating and letting my imagination roam free. Maybe I was also unprepared for a couple exeprience because in practice, for fear of diseases, I had always considered the idea so far away from me that I had deleted it from my horizon.

I want to emphasize that I don’t restrain myself from having my sexual fantasies about some guy, however, between the dreams and the real sexual experience with a guy there is a great difference.

Ok, I also used the cam to have some virtual sex with guys, with one in particular. It lasted more than a month, then he disappeared into thin air. However this is only the introduction.

Six months ago I met a guy at university, his name is Maurice like me, which is rare, he is handsome and inspires me tenderly, seems uncomfortable and out of place in any situation, even his voice is hesitant but warm, deep. I get lost in his eyes. In short, I fell in love with Maurice, but in a classic way I didn’t know if he’s gay and I tried to find out. With the girls he was very easy, joking a lot with them, but I knew him too little to understand what he had in mind.

I started a prudent approach maneuver, he didn’t run away, never wanted to be prayed to be close to me, to talk on the phone or on msn and eventually also to pass together on Sunday. At the end I tell him that I’m gay, obviously he had already understood it, he tells me that he is gay, I think that this is the premise to go ahead but he tells me to be madly in love with another guy that also I had knew. I tell him that I think that that guy is straight and he tells me that he’s perfectly aware of that but is literally addicted to that guy. He had already told him that he was gay and in love with him, but the guy responded brutally that he had better look somewhere else.

After that evening Maurice often called me on Sunday on the cell phone but always and only to talk about that guy and to tell me that he felt uncomfortable. Some evenings he was deeply depressed and said things that put me in anxiety and that made me feel bad too. We went on like this for quite some time, then he began to court me. I liked seeing how much he wanted me and he showed me really his involvement and his tenderness but I had to overcome my problems with sex that I had thought I would never overcome.

Slowly we began to embrace, to caress. For me it was something totally new, that’s why I told him I did not want to have sex with him because I was afraid of diseases, he told me that he had never had sex with anyone but I told him that I wanted to be sure and he said: “Let’s go for the test tomorrow if you want .” And we did really. Three days later I had no more excuses.

I must say that I never thought about having sex with a guy in a so sweet way. I felt his love very strong and also his sexual involvement and slowly I let myself go and I knew that having sex with a guy is really a beautiful thing: spontaneity without bias.

Then when we were going home he begins to cry and I do not understand why. I do not know what to do, I try to comfort him but it’s impossible, he cries violently, then he calms down a bit and tells me he was thinking about that guy, he was fine with me, but he wanted to be with that guy. I repeat that the guy is certainly straight and that he could not build any relationship with him as he imagined. He tells me that he’s aware of that, but that’s all wrong, that he had had sex with me but he was not in love with me.

He feels inconsistent, lost in his thoughts, unable to reason and just prey of a passion that’s eating him inside. He tells me that he certainly deluded me, that he made me believe that he loved me but he is not in love with me. I tell him that I do not feel upset and that I love him, that I will love him even if he will go away with another guy. He says that sex is important to him and that I made him to forget that he cannot love anyone but this feeling always comes back, and I was able to make him to forget it just for a few hours. I shake strongly his hands in mine and he calms.

In the days after that evening the university life continues as usual, as if nothing had happened between us. He is again lost in his fantasies for the straight guy and I can see it very well. Maurice does not think of me, but just of that guy, or at least it seems that way.

Then he calls me un a Saturday night and tells if I want to see him. Also this time we lived together a wonderful sexual experience, the real experience of love. In those things we understand each other. I never thought that such a thing would happen.

Then we talk very seriously and I begin to understand what thoughts Maurice always carries within himself, he tells me about his melancholy and that he tries to stay out of his house as much as possible. In those moments I could almost imagine the soul of Maurice and what he lived as a child. I had never spoken to anyone at that level of depth. When we said goodbye, he was quiet.

Since then we have been together for a long time. He kept saying he was fine with me, completely at ease but that was not in love with me but the more he repeated it to me the more I felt in love with him. His happiness, or at least his serenity was basically my only thought, he would never got what he wanted but I needed to be at least his lifesaver his second choice, and not just because he was in love with a straight guy. if he were in love with a gay guy and had sex with that guy I would have loved him anyway.

In recent times we meet less frequently but when it happens I perceive his very strong presence and his very strong sexuality. I can’t foresee the future but I and Maurice have something that will keep us somehow in love, even though perhaps each of us will go his way. Is this love? Frankly, until a few months ago I would have considered these things absurd and incredible but really happened and now I think that are true forms of love. I learned from Maurice what it means to love, now I’m no more able to worry about myself, I just think I would see him happy!


If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-a-true-gay-love