Dear Project,

I’m a guy not too much young, over 35, all in all I’ve been lucky enough in a number of ways: I have a job, I live on my own and in a sense I found my accommodation at least economically, that is, I do not have much anxiety for the future.

My underlying problem is loneliness. I did not and I do not want to come out publicly, but I have some gay friends, not very few, all in the closet, like me, and with them I’m fine, we are more or less the same mindset, we come from very similar social environments, shortly we understand each other well. And here, with my gay friends, my bigger problem is born.

I’ve seen that you have repeated many times that the “gay + gay = love” theorem does not work, does not correspond to reality and I can say that I’m the living example of your statement. When I met my gay friends I expected that theorem to work but it did not work. I often see them, I’m fine with them, but I never lost my head for any of them, maybe it just happened once and very superficially with a guy, but when we met “a little better” (and still very superficially), the interest has just vanished completely and when I did not hear him anymore I pulled a breath of relief. I also have straight friends, but I have never fallen in love with a straight guy, and I have never even had theoretical hypotheses on them. So far you can tell me that my situation is quite common, and so on, and that if I’m not susceptible to the affectivity, this is a problem of mine.

Okay, it might be true, but here’s the real problem. How do you behave when you realize you are in the interest of another guy but you do not have a felling for that guy? That’s exactly what happens to me at this time. I have noticed for a couple of months that one of my gay friends is interested in me, I understand it from his embarrassed behavior, from his always giving up, from his approaching me as often as possible. When these things happened at our group meetings, well, I did not take much notice, but then that guy started contacting me privately, sending me mails and messages. I tried to pretend, not to understand and answered in a banal way, but obviously my message, which was a “no, thanks” was not properly interpreted and he is continuing his approach maneuver.

He looks like a good guy, but very fragile, I think he’s living a love story with me that does not make any sense because I’m not interested. Let’s talk about it, I’m not interested because he does not attract me physically and I think nothing can be done. As a friend he’s fine. It’s not like a person that I reject him, he’s honest, correct, whatever you want, but I do not see him in any way as a hypothetical guy with whom to build a life together. When he calls me, what happens quite often, I try to stay on very neutral arguments and never go into personal issues, but I see that he remembers what I say, he always asks me for explanations and especially does not realize that I’m not interested.

Honestly, Project, I’m afraid of really hurting this guy by telling him brutally how things are, but also by pretending nothing, remaining in the vague and postponing the moment of clarification forever. I thought of possible solutions: cutting relationships with the group, that is, just disappearing from the circulation, which is, however, very complicated to accomplish, to tell him or to make him understand that I have another guy, and other things even more absurd. He is not overly insistent because he is controlled and limited, but I see that this behavior for him is not totally spontaneous.

He is younger than me, a few years younger, he is 31 years old, but is an adult man, I know, I understand, I see he needs love, more than sex, he needs a stable affection on which to count but his point of reference cannot be me, because it is not spontaneous for me. Sometimes he makes me little gifts, which I never return, but he keeps doing so. They are not objects of value but objects that have something personal, particular objects that he has sought on the basis of something I said and he did not forget, for example I had talked about the old Neapolitan aluminum coffee makers, those of the years ’50, and he gave me one. What should I do? Would you give him back gifts and tell him that there was no point in insisting on those things? I have not been able to do it.

When we talk I try to stretch the pauses, and he waits for hours too, I see that he is still there, that he has not gone and then I resume the conversation, which is not unpleasant, but on my side is forced, or at least a little forced. I’m afraid he’s developing a dependency and I do not know what to do, because I would not really hurt him. Time ago he used to send me good morning and good night messages, a little like lovers do. The first times I answered, then I started not answering and he stopped, but I had the obvious feeling of doing a bad thing. It did not cost me anything to go on with the messages, but those messages for him meant something else.

I thought maybe the best thing would be to speak clearly and tell him that I see him as a friend, what I have already said many times more or less explicitly, he thinks that friendship can turn into something else but I know that nothing will change. Project, perhaps it would look brutal, but if you do not like a guy physically, if you often hear and see him and have never made fantasies about him, how can you think that he can become your boyfriend? Physical appearance is very important. Staying with him and making fantasies about other guys would be just the worst way of staying with him, but I think that would happen just that. I cannot force myself to try a relationship that I do not feel instinctively mine, he would notice that it is something not spontaneous and it would be even worse.

I have to confess to you, Project, that the idea of trying anyway came to me because I think he would do anything to get close to me, somehow he would suit me, he would end up accepting anything but I do not want such things to happen, there would be no equality within the couple, what I think is absolutely crucial. In short, it’s just a critical moment, I know I cannot go on for a long time with postponements, I know I have to decide and I have to decide soon. I feel split in two, I know he’s a good guy, but I cannot pretend to be in love with him and I cannot even start a totally unbalanced relationship because in the end I would hurt especially to him.

He is also a nice guy, although he is not my type, and there are some common friends who would probably want to draw his attention, but he only thinks of me and every other hypothesis is totally impossible for him. I’m not in a good situation. I do not want to hurt that guy, but I did not fall in love and I do not know how to get out of this situation without making damages. I would be grateful if I knew what you think. If you want to post the mail, certainly you can, basically I think my problem is widespread and maybe reflecting on these things can also be useful for others.

I greet you and look forward to your mail.


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I’m 42, I’m gay, no need to say, I have had my own experiences, really few, only one meaningful that lasts for a couple of years and is still going on. Before this my being gay was limited to gay porn and a bit of fantasy. I had never had concrete opportunities. I met some gay guys through dating sites, actually a few guys, they seemed pretty reliable, we became friends, but it was a superficial friendship, they had their own group, their world, far away from mine. I slowly lost contact with those guys and I did not even notice it. I spent years working from morning till night to save some money and finally buy a home. Two years ago I bought a mini-apartment in the city center and I spent everything I had set aside and I still have to pay the mortgage, though not very heavy. From this point of view I felt satisfied, but my black hole was the affective life that, until two years ago, had never taken off. I am a very common type, I have nothing outstanding in any field, I’m physically a normal person, I do not think I’m particularly ugly, but at 42 I’m certainly not a nice guy and on the other hand I’ve never been. From the economic point of view I have a stable job, but nothing remarkable. I’m not a brilliant guy, I do not go to gay clubs or of any other kind, I spend my time working even when I’m home, because I connect with my office even from home, so I do not know what boredom is, while I certainly know what are fatigue and stress.
But now I come to the real reason for my mail. About two years ago I met through a meeting site a 26 year old guy (much younger than me). We exchanged some mail, we chatted a bit, he looked like a good guy. After a few days we met in person, and we went to have a pizza together, then we had some sex in the car, but only touching each other because I did not want to risks neither did he. Things of that kind had happened to me some other time and generally everything ended there, and we did not meet again. With him it was not like that. In fact, the next day I had already forgotten him because I took it for granted that everything was over, but that was not the case. He called me and told me that for him it had been a very important experience, he perceived my respect, the fact that I was trying not to make things difficult for him, that I did not want him to do anything that was not good for him as well, etc. 
He asked me if we could meet again and I told him yes. Frankly it seemed odd that he was looking for someone like me, 14 years older, and I felt a little agitated. When we met for the second time it was Sunday and we went to the sea together, it was summer, it was hot and we spent the whole day together, we had also some sex this time, I thought things would go further, but instead stopped at the same point of the previous time. I confess that such a thing not only did not upset me but for me it was a reassuring element. Being there with that guy was really nice, seen in swimsuit he was really a nice guy, and was standing there at sea with me … Was he there to have sex? Maybe, but it did not seem to me his real purpose. 
Between us, we created an almost familiar environment of mutual attentiveness, remembering all the words of the other, underlining that it was nice to be together and that a day like that was really important. Sometimes he looked almost absentminded and then smiled at me, he spoke little, silences were long, the facial expressions and the eyes were strongly communicative. At the end of the day we came back to the city. He did not want to be accompanied at home but only at the subway stop. When I got home I felt happy, oddly happy. What could I expect from that guy? Objectively little or nothing, yet it was also for me an absolutely unique Sunday. 
Within the next three days I did not hear him and I started to feel nostalgic about his presence, but I decided not to call him anyway. On the fourth day, at five o’clock in the afternoon, he sent me a message: “I’m under your house, would you like to walk a bit?” I replied, “Ok!” And I went down. As usual he spoke very little, but he asked many questions, he wanted to try to get a clearer idea of my life. He asked me if I had a boyfriend, if I had had one in the past, how I meant the couple’s life, what value for me had the sex and so many things of this kind. I first answered his questions but then I told him I did not know anything about him and he just said, “You’re right, sorry, I’m inappropriate and intrusive.” But he did not speak to me about himself. 
There have been moments of embarrassment, we did not know what to say, then he looked in my eyes for a few seconds and said, “Are you sure you want to know something about me?” And I said, “I think so.” He started with the latest times: still studying, lives at his parents’ home who do not know anything about him and they do not even suspect that he is gay because he has so many female friends and brings them home too. Through dating sites he met several guys, in fact, only 5, with whom he tried to build a relationship, but it was not possible because they were just looking for sex, so there were 5 disappointments. None of those guys were interested in building something or understanding how he really was. He tells me he feels comfortable with me, free, not crammed. 
Then he started another argument I did not expect, he told me that he had been raped at age 19 by a guy who then was known to be HIV positive, but luckily there were no consequences because that guy in all probability was not yet HIV positive at the time. He told me he did the test several times and that it always was negative. Then he told me that anal sex is an intolerable thing for him, because that practice reminds him of things he does not want to remember. He told me that the fact that I did not insist on doing things he didn’t want to do was greatly appreciated and asked if anal sex for me was very important. I told him that I have never had fantasies of that kind and that for me being gay is essentially an emotional issue, there is certainly sex, but as a form of tenderness, certainly not of aggressiveness or of dominance, which I would consider awful. 
The afternoon passed this way. Then he told me he had to study because he had to take an exam after about a month and we greeted. I thought that such a speech was a prelude to a separation of about a month but it was not so. The next day he called me and asked me if he could stay at my house because he needed tranquility to study. I was puzzled but then told him yes and after a couple of hours he joined me with a bag full of books and his computer. I had prepared the room, with the bed just made, the desk and the armchair, it was almost four in the afternoon, he settled in the room and then started studying, we exchanged only a few words. I went to my room to work. 
At about eight o’clock, I went to the kitchen and I prepared dinner, I put the plates for him on a tray and brought all to him in the room, he looked at me and made a wonderful smile. I said, “Be quiet, later I’ll bring you a coffee.” He studied until about 23 o’clock, then opened the door of the room and let me in, sat on the armchair and lay on the bed, he said we did not have to say a word and I did so. After a dozen minutes he told me, “Are you sorry if we do not do it today? … because I’m very tired and I need to sleep.” I told him that I just needed to see him smiling. He hugged me tight, then I asked him what time he wanted to be woken the next day, he said “At seven o’clock.” And I went to sleep in my room. 
The next morning I got up at 6.30 am, I went to the bar and took the breakfast for myself and for him and then brought it to him in the tray. I greeted him, told him that everything was ready for lunch in the fridge and went out to go to work. In the afternoon I found him very busy studying. He had not eaten, then I cooked something very quickly, he stopped studying and we had lunch together though it was advanced afternoon. In the 30 days before the examination there were also sexual contacts, always very light but desired by both sides, exchanges of reassuring tenderness. 
We talked very little, he was totally absorbed by the study, when he did not understand something he filled out pages of calculations to try to overcome the problem and if he could not he felt very depressed. The closer he approached the day of examination, the more he was anxious. The night before the exam we slept together embraced, but without sex. In the morning he went to the exams and I waited for the written test to finish. He seemed quite satisfied, but the anxiety was not completely vanished. The following day he sent me a message to tell me that the written test was fine and that he would have the oral examination the next day. Even that night we slept hugged. 
The next day I received another message: “All OK!” I came home after 6pm, he slept and I did not wake him up. I sat on the armchair beside his bed and I was there to see his rest. When he woke up he said, “I love you!” And I felt happy till the seventh heaven! There is also sex between us, but what I appreciate most is that love itself is fundamental to him. there was no formal statement of any kind between us, now he is at my house, also because it is close to university, he studies, I see him motivated, between us exists a very nice relationship that I never thought could be realized. Two years have passed and now I can no longer stay without him. The thing I like most is when he falls asleep in my arms. I’ve never experienced moments of deeper tenderness.
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I received a mail today that contained an excerpt of conversation between two gay guys. The conversation took place at the time of the end of their relationship. I have been asked to post the conversation on the forum, I do it gladly. Some little changes have been made in order to preserve privacy.

Actually, even though it is a conversation that concludes a relationship, the atmosphere is very quiet and sincere dialogue has not failed, even on the most thorny topics.

ESTEBAN: .. hello …
MARCO: There is some noise because I’m on the bus, tell me.
ESTEBAN: … sorry, if you cannot talk, call me at another time.
MARCO: No no, I hear you, tell me everything.
ESTEBAN: I’ve been a bit sick these days, nervous, I’m just sleepy, distracted, yesterday I also packed a car!
MARCO: I’m sorry.
ESTEBAN: I called you because I want to ask you a last favor, please do it, I have to understand the meaning of our path, what happened, because at some point I became a ballast for you! Tell me what you did these three days since I left your home. Did you feel alone, bored or calm?
MARCO: Quiet, you have to be quiet, I’m peaceful!
ESTEBAN: What did you do?
MARCO: … usual things, nothing particular or important …
ESTEBAN: tonight what will you do for your birthday? You deserve some fun …
MARCO: Well, if weather keeps nice I go to the theater! I don’t know, I have to decide, Lucy and Rose cannot accompany me, I think I’ll take Matthew, I know he will agree!
ESTEBAN: … Matthew … How about Mattew?
MARCO: Well, well, I told you I’m fine with him! What I have to say, it’s all so new, I don’t know, … you know I’m not sure of anything! Anyway yesterday we stayed together at his home!
ESTEBAN: … Together …?
Did you already do that?
MARCO: what???
ESTEBAN: Yes, I wanted to ask if you did it already?
MARCO: Do you care if we did?
ESTEBAN: Yes, please, I need to understand!
MARCO: Yes, we did. But it was not even programmed, that is, I would never have imagined that a guy like him could be with one like me. We were walking around, then he asked if I would go to see a movie at his house … Eh eh eh, what a nice excuse eh!
ESTEBAN: How was it?
MARCO: Well, strange, special, maybe I was expecting a little better, I do not know what to say. I was very much involved, however, with an involvement that with you I didn’t experience for a long time!
ESTEBAN: So why would you come with me as you had already started thinking about him?
MARCO: No, but, look, it is not over for him, it’s over because I did not feel anything anymore!
I was with you for affection. Perhaps I’ve always seen you more like a brother, a confidant, it’s normal, we’ve always been fine-tuned, it was always spontaneous for me to tell you everything, there was an exceptional understanding!
ESTEBAN: Did you enjoy it?
MARCO: Yeah, but he was a bit sheepish, he’s 20, he’s still a kid, and I too I do not have so much experience … You definitely were better than him! However, we did more or less the same things I did with you!
ESTEBAN: But at this point I ask you, in six months have I ever enjoyed you? Have you ever been attracted to me?
MARCO: Yes, please, you enjoyed me a lot! Attracted I think no or just a little, I was attracted a little just early in the way!
Tell me, you think a guy can he be attracted to me?
You know I think I’m ugly, I want to know what can be interesting about me …
ESTEBAN: Well, I can tell you what I’ve seen in you! Then you have to give yourself the same answers to me!
MARCO: All right!
ESTEBAN: I have been attracted by you sweetness, by your brain, by the fact that you document, you care about everything, by your smile, and then by the fact that you talk, I do not know how you can say you are shy and closed!
MARCO: Thank you, we are both sweet. And physically?
ESTEBAN: well, physically you know, the answer is in the poem I sent you this morning for your birthday!
MARCO: … yes, so much stuff!
ESTEBAN: For me you are beautiful, I adore your skin, the blond of your hair, the hairs, the robust feet and the slender legs. Your big eyes .. And then yes, even your penis I like it very much, damn! How it swells! I still remember the last time we were together, you got up to go to the shower, you looked like a Watusi with this penis still perfectly upright …
MARCO: And after having done it three times, huh, you know I’m just 23!
ESTEBAN: Now it’s up to you!
MARCO: Well, let’s see … You’re definitely sweet, you have not always been, at first not so much, then yes. It’s not that I liked your character, but lately you’ve been able to give me some serenity. At the beginning of our story I saw that there was something wrong in you, you looked angry, sad, suffering. You absolutely have to laugh more. You have a wide mouth! And then open it to laugh, anyway yes you have a good smile! Look, you do not have to be serious because when you are, you’re really ugly! I also have to say you were too shy, then the fact that during Christmas you brought me to dinner with your friends and did not say anything about us I did not like it! Sincerely, I would appreciate more effort on your part. You’ve decided to just come out now and it’s a shame!
ESTEBAN: But I still have all my life in front!
MARCO: Then try not to go back or get lost! Anyhow I like it when you sing, you have a nice voice so you should do it! I’ve heard you in Spanish and I have to say that you change your voice, you’re wasted to speak Italian, but when you speak Spanish you get a nice voice! But did you always have that voice? And you look like a South American!
ESTEBAN: But you know that since I went to school I always presented myself as Stefano, I did not use my real name, it seemed to me that calling me Stefano they could accept me more easily.
MARCO: But why?
ESTEBAN: Then it seemed to me so.
MARCO: But I say that it’s such a beautiful name, exotic, and then it’s just beautiful … well, anyway, let’s go ahead. Your features are particular, I have to say, I do not even know how to define them … Surely they aren’t so common in Italy, there is little to do, you are not and you will never be like an Italian guy! You have a strange skin, which is hard to get used to, and the dark color speaks clearly! You have a beautiful body, I like your legs, massive, muscular, sure, a bit of belly, but ok! However, you have to give more value to yourself, you overlook yourself a lot, you dress badly, maybe this last period you have been slim and you have found yourself in large clothes without having time to renew the wardrobe. But you have to do it. We are not beautiful and this is why we need to be careful to enhance our strengths. Well, don’t put on sweatshirts because they’re bad for you, because you’re low, they shorten your shape and flatten you. Penis, I just do not like it circumcised, perhaps because I had never seen a circumcised penis before, anyway I like it not circumcised, just like mine. I doubt you’ll be able to reconstruct a foreskin, but listen to the other tips!
ESTEBAN: Of course you did not like me, the attraction was not reciprocal!
MARCO: But be patient, you have to think that for the first time you sent me a picture with a bad resolution in my opinion. Sure, you told me you were South American, but I expected maybe one with a Brazilian body. That is, if I think of South America I think of Brazil, I don’t know where your country is and how its inhabitants are. Even after we saw each other, I had always in mind the image of your body that I had made, and when we were together it happened that I had one thing in mind, but then I found myself near a body that did not match. With Matthew it was different, I saw him and I was immediately attracted to him, but I did not fall in love with a telephone voice like it happened with you, you at the beginning were a projection of my mind! There is little to say about the dick, I never thought about asking you if you were circumcised or not, and it did not seem to me that I should ask for a photo. There it is what happens when you meet someone on internet”
ESTEBAN: Sorry, that means I was lucky, you on the contrary got a bad surprise!
Okay, that’s enough for me. I renew my wishes and … I don’t know, if you like to take a walk or have a coffee, you know that I come to M ***** once a week to see the psychologist. If you like, let me know …


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I would like to try to illustrate how women fallen in love with gay guys are trying to cope with the situation.

Below, with the author’s approval, I quote an email of a woman who has realized that her boyfriend had behaviors that are not typically straight.

“I’m writing to you because I need to clarify my ideas a bit, or maybe because I need to talk to someone.

I am a 25 year old girl and I fell in love with a guy a year older. He is a very nice and very sweet guy. I had previously been with other guys but a bit snooty and full of self and sometimes I was nervous, I thought that with such types I would never agree, then I found him and it was a completely different thing, he listened to me, talked a lot with me, behaving differently from other guys, being a friend, not hitting on me, and even if it seems absurd, I liked this behavior a lot. We have become intimate friends, let’s say so, so much cuddle some kissing but of tenderness, not of passion, almost it wasn’t not real to me.

He never talked about himself, but made me talk, I did not mind this at first. We met every day but I did not know if he had a girl (obviously no) or had had one before, it seemed that these topics did not exist. Then I tried to make the first step to loosen him up a bit, I do not like the expression but, in short, it was not just a friendship for me, and there I saw his fear, I did the math and I thought that he could be gay but I did not say anything to him.

With the passing of months we have known each other better and I even offered him to go live together, and in the end he told me that he was gay. I told him stupidly that it would not make any difference to me and that we had to live together, because I wanted to stay with him anyway, but he looked at me and said, “Silvia, do not get angry, but a gay guy can only be good with another guy.”

After this talk I felt very ridiculed, I wanted to get away from him because I interpreted what he had told me as a rejection, but I could not, I continued to see him, to console him when he was melancholic but he began keeping to himself more and more. I knew from other people that he probably had found a guy but I had not seen him for a long time and I resigned to the idea of not hearing him anymore. After experiencing the story with him, I think I will not fall in love with another guy, I’m stupid, I know, it makes no sense to fall in love with someone who doesn’t want you because he’s gay, but that’s exactly what happened to me.

Do you think that I can recover some relationship with him, I say just like a friend, of course, or do you think that he prefers to stay away? For me, if he has a boyfriend, is fine anyway, that would not create any problems, but maybe I’m still dreaming like a stupid woman, I think I don’t understand what kind of relationship a gay guy can have with a woman, that is, I understand it, but I do not want to understand it, I know that I still see him too much in the straight way to get along with him.”

This is a typical mail of a woman in love with a gay guy but of a woman really aware of reality. The story with the gay guy is over and she realizes that this guy will never be her boyfriend. She still wants him well, but she understands that in the name of that wanting well there is no sense in claiming a role that does not follow spontaneously and shared. If the guy goes away means he has to go his way and it makes no sense to try to hold him. After all, in this story, the guy never “deludes” the girl, does not objectively cross the boundaries of a simple but profound friendship, which means that his behavior does not cause misunderstandings.

The following mail is of a completely different content, but it is perhaps more interesting especially for the different way of acting of the guy who, voluntarily and guilty, causes the girl to err and eventually causes her reaction to resentment.

“Gays … nice people! I say it very ironically! But why I tell you so? So you’re convinced they’re all good guys. It is not true that just straight guys tease girls, the gays do much worse, and I, unfortunately, run completely into it. I came from a bad story with a little prat … I liked him very much physically but he was just gross and at the same time immature, in short, a real little prat! I was really angry.

I go to the disco once with my friends and there they introduce Marco to me, I do not like him either, Marco seems to me a little bit without character, the other one was rough but Marco seemed even slippery, he didn’t even inspire me at the sex level, and when it comes to guys I’m not one for subtlety. In practice, I do not care about him at all, but I notice he keeps an eye on me, when I try to look into his eyes, he turns his gaze, but keeps looking. I wonder, “But what is he searching for?” I decide and ask him. He only answers me: “You are cute!”

You know how it is, girls like such things, and then I say, “You are cute too!” But so, just for compliment, because he did not attract me at all, then we danced and in practice I lost my group and spent the evening with him who stayed in the disco alone! Yes he was there just alone, without friends! With my usual generic logic I thought that if one goes to the disco alone he goes there just hunting for girls and he, in fact, was courting me. The following week we continued to exchange messages.

Seen by day, in the sunlight he was less slippery than he seemed in the dark of the disco, he was not a great deal, a bit too plump, chubby, but, in short, he could still work. After a few days I got bored of this guy and I did not call him anymore, but he kept sending me messages as he was half in love, and provoked me saying that he was impressed and often thought of me and so many other things, but I was not really interested and I did not answer, or maybe only rarely, and only for education, but I was trying to keep myself in the neutral.

One night he calls me and tells me he is very bad and absolutely needs to talk to me about something very important. I tell him that if he has to vent he can do it with a friend or with a psychologist, but he insists, as if it were a very important thing, but does not tell me what it is, in the end I can’t do it anymore, I’m stressed by his insistence and I’ll tell him, “Okay, see you tomorrow.” He insists that it must be immediately, but I tell him it’s late and I do not know what to tell my mother and then he says it’s okay for the next day. The next night we meet and go to talk in the car.

I expect a clear and direct speech but it starts talking about generic things, I cannot figure out where this is all going down, I ask him explicitly why he wanted to talk to me, but instead of answering he insist on generic chatting. I ask him, “But are you kidding me?” I confess that I thought he might be one with some mental problem, maybe a maniac. I was just angry, I asked him, “What do you want from me?” And he took my hand, then I said, “I know, I understand! But you are not my type …” and there the contact between us took another way and we kissed, that is he was kissing me, I did not like too much but I was there.

When we broke away he said to me, “Do you think we could get together?” I said, “I do not know.” He said, “You are the first girl I really fell in love with” I took it as a compliment. After a couple of days we went to have some sex, that is to say, just to touch us because he proceeded very slowly in these things. He had a way of doing all his own, I would say above all contemplative. He told me that I was beautiful that is not true because I am a very ordinary girl but he looked at me with admiration, caressed me, but did not take the initiatives that usually guys take.

Anyway, we got together. Typically, guys tend to stay away from the girl’s family, he does not! He wanted to know my mother, my father, wanted to come to my house, a bit like a long time ago when there was the official engagement. He came to my house several times, my parents often invited him to lunch and his parents did the same, in a few months we become engaged in the classic way. All in all, it was all pretty nice, he was serious, he did not bother with the other girls, he was finishing his studies, and he would have found a good social position, even though these things were more interesting to my dad than to me. After a year of this kind of engagement in which we had also come to have sexual intercourses, always and only on my own initiative and insistence, finally we began to talk about marriage. My parents were happy and all in all I was happy too. We were always going around with friends on a Saturday afternoon and we were now an ironclad couple.

One day he tells me that he must unfortunately leave because he has an aunt who is very bad and cannot come with me the next Saturday, I tell him that it is fine and I do not mind. On Saturday, because there was a gay guy among our friends, this one proposes to go to a gay disco but where everybody can go for some fun, we decide and go. I feel like a fish out of water in that environment and I’m not going to dance but I sit a little defiled with two old friends. At some point I have the impression of seeing Marco on the dancefloor, dancing with another guy, the lights are hellish and it’s hard to recognize people, but in the middle of the flashes I guess he is, I’m still upset, but I’m not sure and on the other hand there are too many people and too much smoke to see well staying away, and certainly I would never get close enough to be recognized. I say to my friends that it is too hot and I have to go out a bit.

The disco is practically in the countryside and around there is a large parking lot for customers. I leave, I run into the parking lot and Marco’s car is there. I felt like breaking out for anger! I came back, I told my friends that I was sick and I wanted to go and we went home. They did not seen anything and had absolutely no idea that Marco was there.

The next morning Marco sends me the usual good sms, I ask him how his aunt is and he tells me she is “better”. Well, I was so mad I couldn’t see straight! I replied, “I saw where you were really last night. Get out of my face because if I see you again I’ll poke your eyeballs out!” Despite all he continued to lie and accuse me of homophobia! I did not answer him anymore and the story was over. I do not tell you the messing up at home, I could not tell them what happened, otherwise I would have been considered stupid all my life, so my parents gave me all the blame “because he was a very good guy”, and so on. That’s what a gay guy did to me!

Let’s see if you have the courage to publish such a mail! However I’m not angry with you, it’s obvious, but you do not imagine how slippery can be a gay guy who wants to use you as a screen woman, it’s just something hateful.”


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Dear Project,

I have seen that lately the activity of the forum is very low. I hope you have the opportunity to answer me because in your forum I have read many interesting things about gays, things that are very different from what I had heard for years and that I still hear.

I’m 23 years old, I’m a gay guy, I have no doubt, in practice I always knew, at the beginning I did not know that my way of being was what people call homosexuality, I was aware of it a few years ago, more or less at 15. Currently I study Engineering, studies are fine and I’m not very far from graduation. Finding work will be a problem, but in my sector, luckily, there are few people and some possibilities still exist, but these are all things I will have to face later.

I am not publicly out, in fact I would say that I am not out at all and this affects me a bit. Anyway, I cannot risk either at university or at home. At the university it is only about study or girls (but little), I have never heard anything gay, not even jokes, the argument does not exist. In my course we are really few, at most a fifteen, and it is not the right environment to look for friends, the collaboration among students is only formal, although no one explicitly admits it, there is a race to stand out and everyone has its unspoken but evident aims because the environment of our faculty is very much tied to industry and professors are in fact an excellent launch pad for high-level work. We study a lot, faculty is considered among the best and it is really, but the human environment is competitive and in essence very unfriendly.

My parents are under 55, they married young. But I do not have much dialogue with them. In practice, I keep them afar off, when the opportunity to talk a little comes I prefer to talk about stupid things or university things that do not matter to me at all. I do not know if they ever wondered why I never had a girlfriend, since all my so called friends have a girl.

Anyway, my parents don’t ask questions. From a bit of phone conversation between my mother and my aunt I can deduce that according to my mother I have postponed after graduation the idea of catching a girl, however, this means that she noticed something abnormal but not only, that also means she talked about me with her sister, which makes me really bother. My dad is a bit different but he is succubus of my mother and, maybe I’m wrong, but I thought this was one of the reasons for my homosexuality: I do not want to be succubus of anyone. My father’s dependence on my mother, in my opinion, has something excessive, pathologic. Nevertheless, it does not make sense to try to make a clear speech neither with my father nor with my mother, so the problem does not exist at all.

I have passed my phases of interest in pornography, even exaggerated, but then interest has dropped. More than sex I needed a true friend looking a bit like me, I’m talking about a gay friend, if it was not just friendship, it would certainly be better, but it did not seem to me an indispensable condition. At the university I do not even try, because the risks are too many and there we are just reciting as in the theater. I tried the chats, those a bit hard but they were really a squalid.

After a while, practically by chance, on a Sunday morning I accompanied my parents to Mass. Time ago, let’s say up to three years ago, I was in the parish circles and the environment was quite familiar to me. My parents have known the parish priest for years and were talking to him. I sat on a step waiting for them and saw a group of guys playing football, more or less a dozen guys, but they were not kids, they could have had more or less my age. One of those guys immediately caught my attention, he smiled, indeed laughed very directly, was a handsome, tall, thin guy with light brown hair, smooth, short but not too much short, for a moment we crossed eyes and for me it was like a lightning strike. He had beautiful eyes, just looked like a happy guy. But the thing ended there, my parents came and we went home, but I kept thinking about that guy. Then the study week resumed and I ended up thinking about something else.

On the following Sunday I offered to accompany my parents to Mass, just because I was hoping to see that guy again. After the Mass I looked into the yard and the guy was there, he was sitting on a step talking to other guys, he saw me and gestured with his hand, I responded the same way, he obviously remembered me. Then I left and another week passed.
In short, I went every Sunday to Mass and after a few weeks I started exchanging a few words with that guy, whom I will call Luca. I was comfortable with him, he was very direct and at the same time non-intrusive and then he was a smiling guy. We started to greet us with a handshake, and he held my hand tight and it was a nice feeling.

One Sunday, and I will never forget it, we had to go to Umbria at my grandmother’s house and went to Mass at 7am at the first Mass. I almost got a heart attack when I saw him come out of the sacristy with the dresses on him, coming to say mass. Luca is a priest, I did not suspect it at all. There were few people in the church and Luca made a brief sermon that I still remember. The basic idea was to not judge because we just see the appearances and not the heart of people. That preaching, however, applied to Luke, led me to wonder what the appearance was and what was in his heart.

Of course, seeing that Luke was a priest I was shocked. I kept going to Mass but I avoided looking for him. In the end, after a few days, he was looking for me. Frankly I was afraid he would try to take me back to the sheepfold, but I did not have the impression that the purpose was such, slowly, very slowly, a true friendship was born, of course I carefully avoided talking with him about personal matters but I realized he was comfortable with me and was looking for my company. He lived in the parish, cared for the activities with the boys, and the parish priest trusted him very much but also kept him under control, he told me he would like to have a pizza with me one night but that he could not because he felt controlled and it was a strange speech.

One day he calls me and tells that his grandmother is very bad and he has to go to see her in a country in the province of Varese. He asks me if I am willing to go with him to Milan. I tell him yes and I tell him that we had to get there by car, because getting to Milan by train is easy but getting from Milan to the village could be very difficult. I told my parents that I could stay away for a couple of days and left with Luke at eleven in the morning. The journey was long and in the car we were alone, and so it was almost inevitable that we came to talk about our private. He did not ask me if I had a girlfriend. I just told him: “I have to tell you that I’m gay.” And he replied, “Me too.” Then followed a long silence. We talked a lot, he told me about his life, that he wanted to do something good and that he was not a priest to escape from something but to find something, he told me that he was happy.

In seminary he had talked about homosexuality with his spiritual father who encouraged him to move forward and do not abandon the road undertaken. He also told me that he was very happy to talk to me and that for him it was like a liberation, because he could be himself as never happened to him. I refrained carefully from telling Luca that I had fallen in love with him, because I would have put him in serious trouble, within me I do not deny having experienced some bitterness and I asked myself many questions. Was Luke really thinking what he was saying or was he saying that things because somehow he ought to do so? Certainly he seemed happy to be a priest and I think he was really, but sometimes even having a close friend or something more can be crucial, especially when the years begin to pass. I told him about me, practically everything, just omitting that I had fallen in love with him and I think he also told me pretty much everything, omitting that he had fallen in love with me. But in a similar situation what could we do?

We arrived in Varese in the evening, we did not go to the village because his grandmother had been hospitalized in the city. We went to see her. Luca brought her the Holy Communion, but she was better and the doctors thought she would leave in a few days. We had to come back, I would have liked to stay at the hotel to talk a little and start the next morning, but I ended up proposing to leave immediately because I did not want to create problems. We left. The journey was very nice, we looked like a gay couple, we were fine, but in the end we both chose to omit the fundamental thing, that is, the “I fell in love with you” that could have upset our lives. I drove all night and early in the morning Luca was back in the parish. The parish priest saw that we were back right away and now he trusts me.

Every now and again, more or less once a month, I’m going to have a pizza with Luca. Of course the situation is strange, but I see him happy and every other thought goes far away from me. We have also talked about gay things, sometimes, but always in a very abstract way and above all we have never talked about us. This story is very strange and I can tell you that among the many hypotheses I had made for my future I never took into account such a situation. Now I go on so, I just need to see Luca serene, even though I’m so afraid that things can change from one moment to the next.

If you want, post my mail on the forum. (Obviously the country was not in the province of Varese!).

C. C.


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I am deeply grateful to the reader of Parma who wanted to transcribe for Gay Project, authorizing the publication, some letters found in an attic of a farm he owned in the province of Parma. It is a touching document, a homosexual love story at the time of the great war and the od Spanish flu of 1918-1919. Text notes, that I added in order to make reading immediately understandable, are in square brackets. Homosexuality comes out of these letters as a value. There is also an absolutely exceptional figure in the panorama of the era, a heterosexual lawyer of Brescia, former captain of the army at war, who regards homosexuality as an absolutely natural thing and helps two gay guys, one of whom had been at the front with him, to realize their dream.

To make the non-Italian reader able to understand the climate in which events took place, I remember that the Kingdom of Italy completed its territorial unification only in 1870, with the annexation of Rome. Before 1866 Venice belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in 1866 it was annexed to Italy, which since 1861 had organized into a Kingdom around the King of Sardinia Vittorio Emanuele II. The city of Trieste remained an Italian language enclave in the Habsburg Empire until 1918, when was annexed to Italy after the end of World War I.

In October 1917, the Kingdom of Italy suffered the heavy defeat at Caporetto by the Austro-Hungarian army. The Austrians invaded Veneto to the River Piave. The commander in chief of the army, General Luigi Cadorna, was replaced by General Armando Diaz, who managed to stop the Austrians on Piave.

Vittorio Veneto is a city which assumed the name of Vittorio in 1866 in honor of the first King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II. From Vittorio Veneto started the great Italian counter-offensive that forced the Austro-Hungarian army to surrender.

Quinto is a village in the province of Treviso, not far from the Piave front.

I translated the letters of the protagonists into English. Letters were written in a rather correct Italian, a sign that the protagonists, while being peasants, had a minimum of instruction, which at that time was not common. Venetian dialect expressions are scattered here and there.

“Quinto, Sunday, May 25, 1919.
Dear Joseph,
finally, thank goodness, I can write you something good. It seems that this curse is slowly going [This is the Spanish flu, the most terrible pandemic flu that history remembers. In the world about 20 million people died of “Spanish”, at least 375,000 died in Italy, but if the aggravating effects of Spanish flu on other pathologies are considered, the number rises to 650,000. In some countries, in that terrible 180 days between the end of 1918 and the early 1919, some 70% of the population disappeared], I lost all my family, my dad and my mom, my two brothers and my sister, Antony of Aunt Bepa, has rescued because he went to Valdobbiadene before the start of this plague and stayed there. But here in the plain they have buried so many dead that the graveyard was not enough. I was still in the army and when and I was dismissed, my dad just ordered me not to go back to Quinto, that there were fevers and many people died, and sent me to Aunt Bepa and I was there for four months, but there too the fear was great, we didn’t even go to mass on Sunday. Every family with the beasts in the middle of the countryside and to speak, in the voice, just from afar. What happened in Quinto we knew from the parish priest who buried them next to each other. Then, about month ago, no one died anymore and the doctors told us that we could come back. And then Antony remained with Aunt Bepa and I went down to Quinto, but there was no one, I was in the graveyard to see the crosses, crying desperately that there was no one of my relatives, and even the beasts, there was nothing. The parish priest gave me some money that my father and given him for me. Joseph, for us the war was not enough, we had even to face this other disaster; we, born in 95, we had to fight throughout the whole war and, thanks goodness, we pulled our feet out of this curse. But now we are still alive and we still have the strength to go on. Do you remember the 15 (year 1915) when hell this began? We hoped to go to war together, but what could we know about war? They had told us so many stupid things, but we believed in those things and then to the front we had to get out of the trench praying all saints because they fired at us with the machine guns, Joseph, we survived the hell of Isonzo and Caporetto and be blessed Diaz be blessed Diaz because he was the one who saved our homeland, because we were fighting just for despair because Veneto, our land, just that of our own house, we already saw it in the hands of the Austrians. But when Diaz arrived for us it was terrible, you were sent on one side and I on the other, but these assassins who hanged Battisti [Cesare Battisti, Italian irredentist patriot, hanged from the Austrians in Trento on July 12, 1916] we threw them out from our homeland. We were on the Isonzo at the end of the 16 [1916] and do you remember when we were told that Cecco Peppe had died? [Dialect name commonly used for Francesco Giuseppe, Austrian emperor, dead on November 18, 1916] we all lifted the flag and thought the war would be over soon but it was not over. How I thought of you in the trench and I could not even write because letters were just for family, and I prayed God from morning to night to save both of us and if one had to be taken it would have been better to take me, because without Joseph I could not live. They have been bad years, Joseph, without you, and then in the evening of November 4 of the past year, they made us all arrayed and the colonel read the victory telegram, I just burst crying like a little child but all were crying, the war was over and we were alive! I was just thinking about you, praying to God that I could see you again. I tried to give me courage and went to the telegraphist and asked him for news of the soldier Joseph B. but he told me that the confusion was such that no one could have heard of a single soldier. I thought that they would dismiss us and let us go immediately and I would come to look for you but I did not know where and then I wrote to the parish priest to know news about you and he told me that you had written to him after the armistice and that you were alive and were at Vittorio and we would be soon back at Quinto but dismissing was delayed week by week and in the whole disaster it was a good thing, just in those days mom died and dad wrote to me that I did not have to go back to Quinto if fevers did not pass, then in five days they all died. When I read the letter from the parish priest I was so desperately crying that the captain saw me and sat next to me and I made him read the letter and he hugged me. Now I have only you and I know from the parish priest that you are still in Vittorio, fortunately the Lord did not take your mother even if he took your dear father. The war took away poor Angiolino, I knew this months ago, and also for you still remains only mom. I cannot wait to hug you, but you will not even recognize me because the war has made me ugly, I was wounded on my left arm but I move it well, I still have a big scar of a splinter and it’s already a great thing that I survived, so the surgeon told me, because it was a bad wound. I cannot wait for the moment that I can re-hug you, if God has done this miracle that we are alive, he has done this as a sign that we must love each other well. I love you, Joseph, like a brother and more than a brother.

“Vittorio, Friday, June 6, 1919
My dear Antony,
I had your letter yesterday and it would come much earlier if you had brought it to me on foot. You know well the happiness I’ve experienced, now we are alive and of those who no longer exist even the count is lots. Antony, how much I want to hug you, but I have to be here with the regiment, they say that they are finally dismissing us. Put a flower on my father’s cross and give a prayer to Angiolino because he does not even have a cross and who knows where he is, my poor brother, he died at 21 years, certainly he can look at us from paradise. What I passed was ugly but it was not really terrible, but what I saw was really terrible. I served a much earlier much earlier s a nurse and saw guys dying, they came with a wound that seemed a little thing, we did as much as possible but you can imagine the conditions, the wound was infected and the guy died, almost half of the wounded soldiers died in a couple of days. If I remember those things I lose the desire to live, I cannot forget such things. We went to war without understanding anything and we saw hell, the real hell. Antony, now I would cheer you up and kiss you because I do not want to think about the dead that I will not forget forever but I want to think of my Antony. The medical captain told me that as a civilian I could work in a hospital in Treviso because if you has been in the army in health services the place is up to you, but I want to go back to Quinto and I want to be embraced with you the rest of life, you have a beautiful big farm, mine is just nearby and this is the sign that we too must be one. What will people say we do not know, but we should not be afraid of anyone and then to you only Aunt Bepa has remained in Voldobbiadene and to me it was only my mother who is almost sixty years old. My mom can stay with us, the other relatives are far away and they are all old, or we can sell everything away, yours and mine, and go to another place even though my mom always says she wants to die here. We are only two and in addition we have my mother but we are young and we like to work, and then you at your home and I at mine with my mom but all day we’ll work together, there is a little money for a few beasts and I think that we could live well. But there is one thing that makes me feel bad, the parish priest has written to me that there is Gina’s daughter, who is twenty years old and who would like so much to know me, and wrote me just so “if it is not she will be another, but be sure we’ll find you a wife.” And this thing worries me, it is something that should not happen, and here in the country there are few men, and in particular few young men, or there aren’t at all, and there are a lot of women. I do not like this story, if I want a woman, I choose her and if I don’t I’ll remain single without marrying, it is not a duty to have a wife and I’m not going to get married.
If I sell everything away and go far away from Quinto, what will you do? I thought about going near Parma and buy some land there, then we could work hard with beasts and we know how to do it. Please answer me as soon as you receive this teller because I’m too eager to wait. I love you as a brother and more than a brother. I give you my wishes for your name-day that is in eight days! I think I can be at Quinto at the end of June, now it seems certain.
Your Joseph.”(2)

“Fifth, Friday, June 13, 1919.
Dear Joseph,
Thanks for the wishes I can only receive from you because now you are my whole family. I thought about the things you wrote and, from some things that he says and that make me understand his thoughts, it seems to me that the parish priest aims to find a wife for me too, so we really have to go because we would not be able to live here. I cannot wait for the time and the moment I can re-hug you. As soon as you come here we have to get advise by a captain I met at the front, who is lawyer in Brescia, I wrote to him and he told me he will help us for all the legal problems of the contract, he is a good person and I trust him, he said he does not want to be paid because when you saw war and death close, when you are dismissed, things are no longer as before. We will not say anything to the parish priest as you come to Quinto, first of all we have to write to the captain, we go to Brescia and give him all the documents and he will care about, and then I think there is already a wealthy man who wants to buy the land, because he already has a great piece of land on your border and mine, he is a rich man and we cannot deal directly with him, he has already made me hear the voice from the parish priest. However, we have to sell the land, we do not have to throw it away. Joseph, then, God be blessed, we’ll meet in to two weeks at most, what a beautiful thing, I can hug you, I want to keep you close to me! Blessed God we are still alive!

“Brescia, Tuesday 4 November 1919.
Dear Joseph,
today is a great day for us. And do you know what price we sell? We had said no less than 30 thousand lire mine and no less than 20 thousand yours, but the captain did everything very well and we got exactly one and a half, 45 thousand lire mine and 30 thousand yours. But now I tell you all about it. The captain wrote to Mr. F. telling him that he was aware of his intention to buy our land, but with a paper printed as a lawyer, and told him that had been commissioned by us to handle the sale. Mr. F. answered him asking him for the price but he did not tell him and invited him to Brescia at his studio to meet me too. That’s why he got me telegraphed to go running. Then he explained to me all I had to say, gave me a beautiful dress and the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen, sent me to the barber, and they also cared for my hands and nails, I looked like a great lord. Then we went into the living room with carpets on the ground and paintings on the walls and the waitress brought us the coffee when Mr. F. arrived. We presented ourselves, the captain said that we were friends even before the war and that our families had been attending each other for generations, in practice he did everything himself, then after a while we got to the point, we sat at the table and the captain said that our proposal was a hundred thousand lire for both lands together, they had to be sold together because I would go with my partner to open a farm in Parma. Mr. F. widened his arms and said that at that price he just did not feel like buying it, and here came the master shot of the captain, the maid came and told him that lawyer T. was on the phone for the sale of land of Quinto and he raised the phone and replied that as the other possible buyer would not buy the deal could have been concluded in a couple of days. When he put down the phone, Mr. F. felt caught in a counterattack and demanded what price lawyer T. was willing to pay but the captain replied that negotiating with lawyer T. was something between us and lawyer T., it was up to Mr. F. make his proposal and the vendor would evaluate the best conditions. Then Mr. F. said 70 thousand in all. I would have told him ok right away but the captain took time and told him he would let him know. Mr. F. would stay in Brescia one more day to get the answer. Then Mr. F. left, and the captain explained to me that lawyer T. was a friend of his and they agreed that he would call him at that time, but lawyer T. had nothing to do with the land, in short, was a combined thing. In the afternoon the captain called Mr. F. at the hotel and told him that he might agree for 75 thousand and Mr. F. eventually accepted and we met again in the evening and the lawyer made him sign a card, not the contract itself, but a commitment to buy, and there was also a deposit of 15 thousand lire and Mr. F. made a check to the captain of 15 thousand lire. The final act will be signed in November, meanwhile the captain has tried to see for a great piece of land in Parma, a bit on the hillside and it seems we have found it and that it’s a very good pasture. We have to go see it in two days. Then you have to know that another thing happened, I told the captain about the two of us, you have understood me well, and he told me we’re proper people, and if he can do something for us, he’ll certainly do it. I asked him how we could repay but he said that what he did, did as a friend, otherwise he would not have been a friend. He is married and has two girls about ten-eleven years old and said that the fact that the Spanish flu did not take away any of his family makes him feel in debt to those who were less fortunate. Joseph, good Lord willing, at the end of November or at most at the beginning of the year, we will really be together. And with 75 thousand lire we can set up a beautiful farm and we can start a new life that belongs only to us. I think of you every moment! Joseph I think no one feels better than I feel at this time. I love you so much.
Today is exactly one year since the day of the victory, Live Italy!

(1) Quinto, Domenica 25 di Maggio 1919.
Carissimo Giuseppe,
finalmente, ringraziando il Signore, ti posso scrivere qualche cosa buona. Pare che piano piano questa maledizione se ne sta andando [Si tratta della febbre influenzale spagnola, la più terribile pandemia influenzale che la storia ricordi. Nel mondo morirono di spagnola circa 20 milioni di persone, in Italia ne morirono almeno 375.000, ma se si conteggiano anche gli effetti aggravanti della influenza spagnola su altre patologie, il numero sale fino a 650.000. In alcuni paesi sparì, in quei terribili 180 giorni, tra la fine del 1918 e i primi mesi del 1919, circa il 70% della popolazione], ho perso in pratica tutta la mia famiglia, mio babbo e mia mamma, i miei due fratelli e mia sorella, Antonio di zia Bepa s’è salvato perché era andato a Valdobbiadene prima dell’inizio di questa piaga ed è rimasto lì. Ma qua in pianura han portato via tanti morti che non bastava il camposanto. Io ero ancora alle armi e quando m’han congedato babbo mi ha proprio ordinato di non tornare a Quinto, che c’eran le febbri e moriva tanta gente a mi han mandato anche me dalla Bepa e son stato là quattro mesi, ma anche là la paura era grande, non s’andava neanche alla messa la domenica. Ogni famiglia colle bestie in mezzo alla campagna e per parlare, alla voce, da lontano. Quello che è successo a Quinto lo sapevamo dal parroco che li sotterrava uno appresso che l’altro. Poi un mesetto fa ha cominciato a non morire più nessuno e i dottori ci han detto che si poteva tornare. E allora Antonio è rimasto con la zia Bepa e io sono sceso a Quinto, ma non c’era più nessuno, son stato al camposanto a vedere le croci e mi sono messo a pianger disperato che non c’era più nessuno, e anche le bestie, non c’era più nulla. Il parroco m’ha dato un po’ di soldi che eran di mio babbo e lui glieli aveva dati per me. Giuseppe, a noi non ci bastava la guerra, anche quest’altra sciagura ci voleva, noi del 95 la guerra ce la siam fatta tutta e grazie di Dio che ne avemo tirato fora i piedi e poi quest’altra maledizione. Ma adesso siamo ancora vivi e la forza ce l’abbiamo ancora. Ti ricordi il 15 quando è cominciato l’inferno, che speravamo di andare alla guerra insieme, ma che si sapeva noi della guerra, c’avevan contato tante balle, ma noi ci credevamo e poi al fronte a uscire dalla trincea a pregare tutti i santi che ci sparavano a mitraglia, Giuseppe noi siamo sopravvissuti all’inferno dell’Isonzo e a Caporetto e benedetto sia Diaz che la Patria l’ha salvata lui, che noi ormai combattevamo proprio per la disperazione perché ormai in Veneto, la terra nostra, proprio quella di casa nostra, la vedevamo già in mano agli Austriaci. Però quando è arrivato Diaz per noi è stata tremenda, tu da una parte e io dall’altra ma a questi assassini che hanno impiccato Battisti [Cesare Battisti, patriota irredentista italiano, impiccato degli Austriaci a Trento il 12 luglio 1916] li abbiamo cacciati fuori dalla nostra Patria. Noi stavamo sull’Isonzo alla fine del 16 e te lo ricordi quando ci dissero che era morto Cecco Peppe [Francesco Giuseppe, imperatore d’Austria, morto il 18 novembre 1916 ] abbiamo tutti alzato la bandiera e pensavano che la guerra sarebbe finita ma non è mica finita. Quanto ho pensato a te nella trincea e non ti potevo neanche scrivere che le lettere erano solo per la famiglia, e pregavo Dio dalla mattina alla sera di farci salvi tutti e due e se uno se ne doveva prendere che si prendesse me, che io senza Giuseppe non ci potevo vivere. Sono stati anni brutti, Giuseppe, senza di te, e poi alla sera del 4 Novembre dell’anno passato, che ci hanno fatti mettere tutti schierati e il colonnello ha letto il telegramma della vittoria, son proprio scoppiato a piangere come una creatura ma piangevano proprio tutti, era finita la guerra e eravamo vivi! Io pensavo solo a te, pregavo Dio che ti potevo rivedere. Mi son fatto coraggio e sono andato al telegrafista e l’ho pregato di chiedere del soldato Giuseppe B. ma mi ha detto che la confusione era tale che nessuno avrebbe potuto avere notizie di un singolo soldato. Pensavo che ci congedassero subito e ti sarei venuto a cercare ma non sapevo dove e allora ho scritto al parroco per sapere tue notizie e mi ha detto che tu gli avevi scritto dopo l’armistizio e che eri vivo e stavi a Vittorio e ci saremmo rivisti a Quinto tra poco ma il congedo ritardava di settimana in settimana e nel disastro è stata una cosa buona, proprio in quei giorni è morta mamma e papà mi ha scritto che non dovevo tornare a Quinto se non fossero passate le febbri, poi in cinque giorni sono morti tutti. Quando ho letto la lettera del parroco mi son messo a piangere disperato che m’ha visto il capitano e s’è seduto vicino a me e gli ho fatto leggere la lettera e m’ha abbracciato forte. Adesso ho solo te e so dal parroco che sei ancora a Vittorio, per fortuna la tua mamma non se l’è presa il Signore come il tuo caro babbo. Angiolino poveretto se l’è preso la guerra, ho saputo anche questo, e pure a te ti resta solo la mamma. Non vedo l’ora di riabbracciarti ma non mi riconosci che la guerra m’ha fatto brutto, sono stato ferito al braccio sinistro ma lo muovo bene però m’è rimasta un grossa cicatrice di una scheggia e già è molto che sono sopravvissuto, così m’ha detto il chirurgo, che era una ferita brutta. Non vedo l’ora e il momento che ti posso riabbracciare che se Dio c’ha fatto questo miracolo che c’ha fatto campare questo è segno che noi ci dobbiamo volere bene. Ti voglio bene, Giuseppe, come un fratello e più che un fratello.

(2) Vittorio, Venerdì 6 di Giugno 1919
Carissimo Antonio mio,
la lettera tua l’ho avuta ieri che facevi prima a venire tu a piedi a portarmela. La felicità che ho provato la sai bene, adesso noi siamo vivi e di quelli che non ci stanno più se n’è perso il conto. Antonio, quanto ti vorrei abbracciare ma io devo stare qua col reggimento ma dicono che tra poco ci congedano definitivamente. Metticelo tu un fiore sulla croce di mio babbo e dilla una preghiera per Angiolino che lui non c’ha manco la croce e chissà dove sta, povero fratello mio, lui è morto a 21 anno, possa guardarci dal paradiso. Quello che ho passato io è stato brutto ma non è stato proprio terribile, quello che ho visto invece è stato proprio terribile. Io facevo l’infermiere e ne ho visto di ragazzi morire, arrivavano con una ferita che sembrava poca cosa, noi facevamo il possibile ma puoi immaginare le condizioni igieniche, la ferita si infettava e i ragazzi morivano, quasi le metà dei feriti moriva in un paio di giorni. Se mi ricordo di quelle cose mi passa pure la voglia di vivere, non me le potrò più scordare. Noi siamo andati alla guerra senza capire niente e abbiamo visto l’inferno, proprio l’inferno. Antonio adesso t’abbraccerei e ti bacerei perché non voglio pensare ai morti che non me li scorderò più ma voglio pensare a Antonio mio. Il capitano medico mi ha detto che da civile potrei lavorare in ospedale a Treviso perché se hai fatto la guerra in sanità il posto ti spetta, ma io voglio tornare a Quinto e voglio stare abbracciato con te il resto della vita, tu hai un podere bello grosso, quello mio sta attaccato e quello è il segno che pure noi dobbiamo essere una cosa sola. Che dirà la gente noi non lo sappiamo, ma noi non dobbiamo avere paura di nessuno e poi a te è rimasta solo la zia Bepa a Voldobbiadene e a me è rimasta solo mia mamma che è vecchia e ha quasi sessant’anni. Mia mamma può stare con noi, poi gli altri parenti sono lontani e sono tutti vecchi, oppure si può vender via tutto, il tuo e il mio, e andare in un altro posto anche se mia mamma dice sempre che lei vuol morire qui. Noi siamo solo due e in più dobbiamo pensare a mia mamma ma siamo giovani e la voglia di lavorare non ci manca e poi tu a casa tua e io a casa mia con mia mamma ma tutta la giornata si lavora insieme, un po’di soldi per compare un po’ di bestie ci sono e io penso che si potrebbe vivere bene. Ma c’è una cosa che mi fa stare male, il parroco m’ha scritto che c’è la figlia della Gina, che ha vent’anni e che ci terrebbe tanto a conoscermi, e m’ha scritto proprio così “che se non è lei è un’altra, stai sereno che ti accasiamo.” E questa cosa mi fa stare male, non ci voleva proprio e qui in paese di uomini specie giovani ce n’è rimasti poco e niente e di donne ce n’è tante. Non mi piace mica questa storia, se la voglio io una donna, me la scelgo io e se non la voglio sto senza, non è mica un dovere e io non ne ho nessuna intenzione. Se io vendo via tutto e me ne vado da Quinto tu che fai? Avevo pensato di andare dalle parti di Parma e comprare un po’ di terra lì, poi ci si potrebbe dare da fare che noi con gli animali ci sappiamo fare. Ti prego di rispondermi appena ricevi questa mia perché sto troppo in ansia ad aspettare. Ti voglio bene pure io come un fratello e più di un fratello. Ti faccio tanti tanti auguri per il santo tuo che è oggi a otto! Penso di poter stare a Quinto alla fine di Giugno, ormai sembra una cosa certa.
Tuo Giuseppe

(3) Quinto, Venerdì 13 di Giugno 1919.
Carissimo Giuseppe,
grazie degli auguri che ormai posso ricevere solo da te che sei la mia famiglia. Ho pensato alle cose che hai scritto e, da certe cose che dice e che lascia intendere, mi pare che il parroco abbia pensato ad ammogliare anche me, quindi ce ne dobbiamo proprio andare perché qua non riusciremmo a vivere. Non vedo l’ora e il momento che ti posso riabbracciare. Appena tu vieni qua ci facciamo consigliare da un capitano che ho conosciuto al fronte e che fa l’avvocato a Brescia, gli ho scritto e mi ha detto che ci aiuta lui per tutte le cose degli atti, è una brava persona e me ne fido, ha detto che non vuole essere pagato perché quando hai visto la guerre a la morte da vicino quando torni civile non è più come prima. Noi al parroco non diciamo niente, quanto tu vieni a Quinto, la prima cosa scriviamo al capitano, andiamo a Brescia e gli portiamo tutte le carte e ha detto che ci pensa lui e poi io penso che ci sia già uno che la terra se la vuole comprare, perché ce ne ha già un pezzo grande al confine tuo e mio, è uno ricco che non ci possiamo trattare noi, lui già m’ha fatto arrivare la voce dal parroco. Comunque la terra la dobbiamo vendere, non la dobbiamo buttare via. Giuseppe, allora, benedetto Iddio, ci vediamo da qui a due settimane al massimo, che cosa bella che ti posso abbracciare, ti voglio tenere stretto a me! Benedetto Iddio che siamo ancora vivi!

(4) Brescia, Martedì 4 Novembre 1919.
Carissimo Giuseppe,
oggi è una giornata grande per noi. E sai a quanto la vendiamo? Noi avevamo detto non meno di 30 mila lire la mia e non meno di 20 mila lire la tua, ma il capitano ha fatto tutto lui e ci facciamo esattamente una volta e mezzo, 45 mila lire la mia e 30 mila lire la tua. Ma adesso ti racconto tutto quanto. Il capitano ha scritto al sig. F. dicendogli che era sto informato della sua intenzione di comprare i nostri terreni, ma colla carta stampata da avvocato, e gli diceva che aveva avuto mandato a trattare per nostro conto. Il sig. F. gli ha risposto chiedendogli il prezzo ma lui non glielo ha detto e lo ha invitato a Brescia al suo studio per incontrare anche me. Ecco perché m’ha telegrafato di andare di corsa. Poi mi ha spiegato tutto quello che dovevo dire, m’ha dato da mettere un vestito suo bellissimo e delle scarpe che non ne ho mai viste così, m’ha mandato dal barbiere, e mi hanno sistemato pure le mani, sembravo un figurino. Poi ci siamo messi nel salotto, coi tappeti per terra e i quadri e la cameriera ci ha portato il caffè, quando è arrivato il signor F. ci siamo presentati, il capitano ha detto che eravamo amici anche prima della guerra e che le nostre famiglie si conoscono da generazioni, ha fatto proprio tutto lui, poi dopo un po’ di convenevoli siamo arrivati al punto, ci siamo seduti al tavolo e il capitano ha detto che la nostra proposta era di cento mila lire per tutti e due i terreni insieme, che dovevano essere venduti per forza insieme perché io sarei andato con il mio socio ad aprire un’azienda agricola a Parma. Il sig. F. ha allargato le braccia e ha detto che a quel prezzo non se la sentiva proprio, e qua è venuto il colpo da maestro del capitano è entrata la domestica e gli ha detto che c’era al telefono l’avvocato T. per la vendita dei terreni di Quinto e lui ha alzato il telefono e ha risposto che siccome l’altro possibile acquirente non se la sentiva di procedere all’acquisto la cosa si sarebbe potuta concludere. Quando ha messo giù il telefono, il sig. F. si è sentito preso in contropiede e ha chiesto che prezzo era disposto a pagare l’avvocato T. ma il capitano ha risposto che la trattativa con l’avvocato T. è cosa tra noi e l’avvocato T, che lui facesse invece la sua proposta e poi si sarebbero valutate le condizioni migliori. Allora F. ha detto 70 in tutto. Io gli avrei detto subito sì ma il capitano ha preso tempo e gli ha detto che gli avrebbe fatto sapere. F. sarebbe rimasto a Brescia un giorno in più per avere la risposta. Poi F. è andato via e il capitano mi ha spiegato che l’avvocato T. è un suo amico e che erano d’accordo che lo avrebbe chiamato a quell’ora, ma l’avvocato T. con i terreni non ‘entrava per niente, insomma era una cosa combinata. Nel pomeriggio il capitano ha chiamato F. in albergo e gli ha detto che si sarebbe potuto concludere per 75 e F. alla fine ha accettato e ci siamo rivisti tutti e tre in serata e l’avvocato gli ha fatto firmare una carta che però non era il contratto, ma un impegno ad acquistare, e c’era anche una caparra di 15 mila lire e F. ha fatto un assegno all’avvocato di 15 mila lire. L’atto definitivo si farà entro Novembre, intanto il capitano ha cercato di vedere per un pezzo di terra grande a Parma, un po’ in collina e pare che lo abbiamo trovato e che deve essere pascolo ottimo. Dobbiamo andare a vederlo tra due giorni. Poi lo sai che è successa pure un’altra cosa, ho detto di noi due al capitano, hai capito bene, e m’ha detto che siamo persone come si deve e che se può fare qualcosa per noi lo farà certamente. Gli ho chiesto come potevamo sdebitarci ma ha detto che quello che aveva fatto lui un amico lo deve fare se no non è un amico. Lui è sposato e ha due bambine grandine e ha detto che il fatto che la Spagnola non si sia portata via nessuno della sua famiglia lo fa sentire in debito verso chi è stato meno fortunato. Giuseppe, se Dio vuole, alla fine di Novembre o al massimo all’inizio dell’anno venturo noi possiamo stare veramente insieme. E con 75 mila lire possiamo mettere in piedi una bella fattoria e possiamo cominciare una vita veramente nostra. Ti penso ogni momento! Giuseppe io penso che nessuno si senta meglio di come mi sento io in questo momento. Ti voglio un bene immenso.
Oggi è un anno dalla vittoria, Viva l’Italia!


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The History of Italian Literature has for centuries presented Torquato Tasso as the incarnation of the scruples and obsessions of the Counter-Reformation, Giacomo Leopardi, who knew very well the work and the soul of Tasso, found in him a poetic affinity and I would say a very deep moral affinity. If you look for substantive affinities between Tasso and Leopardi and do not stop at the surface, you come to the conclusion that one of the stronger contact points, if not the strongest is represented by homosexuality. The “Liberated Jerusalem” is the poem of the impossible love; the final duel between Tancredi and Clorinda make you think to the famous phrase: “everyone kills the one he loves” in Querelle de Brest of Fassbinder on Jean Genet’s novel.

Tasso’s official story is already complicated in itself, few characters have such a frantic life full of anxieties and upheavals. Tasso was a man of court, of course, the typical jar vase between iron vases, a man who suffered the violence of court life in all its forms, until the forcible hospitalization in St. Anna’s madhouse. Mind illness? Segregation for political reasons? Or something else? We will never know.

But besides the official story of Tasso there is a secret story that is good to know and in this secret story homosexuality has a fundamental role, but be careful not to assimilate the homosexuality of Tasso to the modern concept of homosexuality.

In order to understand Tasso’s homosexuality you have to enter the spirit of his time, in a counter-reformist environment where heterosexuality was already a taboo and homosexuality was violently repressed at least in public. At that time the expression “internalized homophobia” would have had a pregnancy that is now largely vanished. There was no talk about homosexuality except in a lesser tone with regard to classical literature. Understanding to be homosexual could be really traumatic and the idea of coming out in public was sometimes equivalent to suicide.

I intend to dwell here on a short period of Tasso’s life from May 1576 to January 1577. I remember that Tasso in 1576, to the usual feelings of frustration for his poor life to which he had been forced, although he was already a famous poet, had added another cause of concern: the idea of being spied.

Caused by the courtier Ercole Fucci, he had slapped him and Fucci had replied giving Tasso some stick shots. A servant had revealed to Tasso that in his absence Ascanio Giraldini, another courtier, had tried to force the door of his room to try to seize some Tasso’s manuscripts.

So Tasso wrote to Scipio Gonzaga:

“Now, Monsignor Luca, may even tell me that I’m too suspicious! I cannot help but tell you one of Brunello’s works. Each time I went out of the Ducal Palace, he asked me for the key of my rooms, telling me that he wanted to use it for love affairs, and I gave it to him, but locking the room where I kept the books and the writings. In that room there was a box in which, beyond my compositions, I kept most of the letters from your Lordship and from Monsignor Luca, and especially those containing some poetic advice [omissis] As I suspected something, I started hunting news, and in the end I came to know from a servant of my neighbor Luigi Montesucoli, that, while I was in Modena during Lent, he saw, when it was already night, that with Brunello also came into my rooms a smith. Then I went looking for that smith and found him, and he confessed that he had been to the Ducal Palace to open a room of which, who brought him there, said he lost the key. Your Lordship can infer the rest. This is one of Brunello’s frauds, but there are others, no less beautiful, and I think there are some more important, but I cannot prove it. It is my consolation that I destroyed all the letters from your Lordship and from Monsignor Luca, in which something was said freely, except those in which the details of the Sperone affair are concerned. For now I close here my letter and kiss with every affection hands to your most illustrious Lordship. Letter sent by Ferrara.”(1)

Monsignor (a term at that time also used for lay people) Luca, of whom Tasso speaks is Luca Scalabrino, a high-ranking cultural character of whom I was unable to find the exact date of birth but more or less coetaneous of Tasso. Scalabrino had fallen in love with Tasso and was kind enough to mention such a thing to the 21-year-old Horace Ariosto (descendant of the author of the “Orlando furioso”) who, in turn, had reported the news to Tasso himself, who at first reacted badly.

On May 9, 1576, Tasso writes to Scalabrino:

Luca Scalabrino. – Rome. 1576

“You are absolutely wrong and you cannot be disturbed by this. Writing to me is wrong in substance and form, but I only blame myself.

This is Just enough to answer a part of your letter, to which I will answer in more detail after having read not the Greek alphabet one time, but all the Psalms ten or twenty times [after careful evaluation]. Be sure, however, that I have always loved you and sincerely love you. I am not so crazy, that loving you as I love you, I cause your shame with my great ardor. I’m completely master of my secrets and I can, without offending anyone, reveal what I want and to whom I want. Of the secrets of others I speak only so much as it is pleasing to those who entrust them to my discretion. And if I have talked to your father about your disease, against your will, I have done it only because I’m worried about your health, of which I am determined not to worry more than you like; but, for the love I have for you, so that I am satisfied with you, never hiding any of my thoughts, please do not use with me any particular secrecy on some of your affections or projects that are well known to others, do not be angry with me, if anything, by accident, is reported to me, or at least, please, show your disdain jut to me without manifesting it to others, because you cannot do such a thing without showing that you love me just a little and consider me of little value. I said more than I wanted to say: forgive me, because the hand, driven by just pain, has gone beyond will.
But now let’s move on to another topic.
From Ferrara on the 9th of May.
Loving brother and servant the Tasso.”(2)

Scalabrino was afraid of the language of Tasso and sent to Ariosto a letter in which he accused him of having gossip with everyone, and in particular with Tasso well known for not being able to keep the tongue in place. Scalabrino already considered himself in very difficult situations but, shortly after, the fears were set aside and the dialogue between Tasso and Scalabrino became explicit.

To Luca Scalabrino, – Rome. 1576
“Your Lordship, with his last letter, asks me for forgiveness for not making me aware of his concupiscible love, and with the letters he has written before, has always shown me to believe that I was angry with him for the fact that he did not reveal to me his carnal desire, and gave me a very honest explanation of his secrecy and silence kept with me. I, who wanted to confirm the decision I made many years ago, that is, to consider Your Lordship not only as a dear and cordial friend, but as the dearest and closest of all friends, that is, as part of my soul, I no longer want to leave you in this mistake and in this deception: and if you don’t deceive yourself, but only want to show so, I don’t want to leave this possibility, nor can I endure that at least in my things and in what belongs to me, you don’t match my naivety, whether silly or philosophical. Know therefore that I did not despise you because Your Lordship had not shown me is love (because you had no obligation), but because you were driven to such an injury as to let Ariosto notify me the question. Not only did you get angry, but you wrote to Ariosto in a way that manifested that you had felt seriously offended by him. Then you wrote to me a letter full of contempt on which I add nothing. You had a good reason to think that Ariosto had revealed this secret to me, who don’t keep my secrets; but you certainly did not have any reason to say so openly with so bad words to him and me, against my reputation. The friend must hide the defects of his friend, and I, who consider myself the most polite man in the world, have never said anything that could displease you, either in this or any other occasion, except that I said of your infirmity to your father and to Monsignor Antenore, for the great concern of your health. And God testifies to me that I did not say anything about you, except for what I knew and believed it was according to your desires. But here I quit my complaint. I will remember only the many kindnesses and loving-kindness I have received from you, and of this banality I will not keep memory, but I will forgive the impetus of those letters and your nature, as I pray to forgive my nature the bitterness of some letters, in which, exhorting you to correct yourself, I used tones too harsh and vehement.

We are equal, as it is said, I begin now, and since the love and confidence I have for you have not diminished at all, I will carefully avoid to provoke your anger. I ask you forgiveness for my previous letters. You do not need to ask forgiveness to me as to a superior, because in nothing I’m superior and in many things I am after you. But if you want to do so, do it without hurting me in the act of giving me satisfaction, because the reason that you are asking me for forgiveness is not for the superiority of my person but for that of the cause; and I grant you my pardon, and you give it to me and let it over! … and stop talking about these things … I mean, I’m all yours.” (3)

These are probably the letters the courtiers were looking for in the rooms of Tasso!

In mid-December of 1576 the confidence between Tasso and Scalabrino is such that Tasso confesses to Scalabrino that he has fallen in love with the 21-year-old Horace Ariosto, whom Tasso simply calls the Lord omitting the name.

To Luca Scalabrino – Rome, Date December 14, 1576

“I saw the Lord’s letter, it’s very good, but what? I never doubted his wit, and now I am sure of this and wish him every success. But you admire in him the aptitude to eloquence, and I the disposition to be courtier, for he has learned more about this art within a few months in the schools, than I did in many years in the court.

In the end, I do not deceive myself, and speak for the sake of science, not by suspicion or by conjecture; you can believe what you like; but if you were here or were present at one or two of our reasonings, you would clarify in part your ideas; because he treats me so that he doesn’t care to leave me satisfied; for him it’s enough that I cannot be able to make the others understand that he offends me. I love him, and I love him for a few months, because love impressed in my soul an emotion too much strong, that cannot be removed in a few days, by an offense of any gravity; and I hope that time will medicate my soul for this loving infirmity, and will make it perfectly healthy.

Certainly I would not love him, because the more his wisdom is loving, and his way of doing towards everybody, the more his particular way of doing towards me seems hateful to me, this particular behavior has just begun, coming from I don’t know what affection, if not from emulation, or from the desire to satisfy others, what I believe most. I call this my love, and not benevolence because, in sum, it is love: I had not noticed it before, because I did not feel waking up within me any of those appetites that love uses to bring, even in bed where we were together. But now I clearly realize that I have been and I am not a friend, but a very honest lover, because I feel great pain, not only because he matches me little in love, but also because I cannot talk to him with the freedom, I was used to, and his absence is squeezing me gravely. In the night I never wake up that her image is not the first to come to my mind, and rethinking in my soul how much I have loved and honored him, and how much he has mocked and offended me, and what is most important to me (since it seems to me very resolute in his decision not to love me), I’m so afraid that two or three times I have cried bitterly, and if I’m saying the fake, God will not remember me. I would hope that if he was certain of my soul, he would have to love me, but how can he be certain of it, being certain of his thought, and judging ex aliorum ingenio (according to the reasoning of others)? And if you, to whom no affection of my soul was ever concealed, and that should have known so long how I can pretend, you doubt it, it is right that he who has less knowledge, doubts it. That’s enough about him.”(4)

Tasso and Scalabrino exchange letters on Horatio Ariosto even if the language is not always understandable because we don’t possess Scalabrino’s letters.

A Luca Scalabrino. – Rome.

“But keep your beliefs (if you believe what you write), that it is good for me to keep my certainty; in fact, I don’t like it, but it hurts me, that I would, if it were possible, don’t know so much inside as I know about this particular.

You, however judicious you are, will never be praised for that. That magnanimous courtesy, and that suffering of my overwhelming suspicion, real voices, sonorous and witty concepts, where are they born, and where do they come from? In response, I will just say that, in the future, I will be very careful to give myself in prey to a friend, so that it is not only difficult, but boring, to escape him. Now I approve what I said in other times inhuman, that you should love in such a way that it is easy to stop loving. The counsel you give me, I accept it as dictated by love, although it was first given to me by those who didn’t love me very much; when my bosses, who love me well, sought to create in me that confidence, of which my soul, at the beginning of this affliction, was completely full. I don’t know whether I will use it or not, but because men are not faithful, and I am poor in wealth and value, may God guard my innocence, and here is the end of these speeches. Be healthy.
Of Modena on January 6 [1577]”.(5)

This last letter is of January 1577. Tasso, disappointed with Ariosto, begins a turbulent relationship with the young courtier: Horace Orlando. Tasso fears that the thing may become of public domain and tries to appear heterosexual as far as it is possible. On June 17, being spied on by a servant, launches a knife against him.

Of course, many other elements of a personal nature such as stress for Jerusalem’s composition, the frustrations for the misunderstandings he faced, and the obsessive fear of being spied, besides possible reasons of religious, political and diplomatic nature, have influenced in a very complex way Tasso’s biography, but, of course, there is also homosexuality among the elements which have determined his life.

(1) “Ora dica M. Luca ch’io son troppo sospettoso. Non posso tacer una delle prodezze di Brunello. Egli sempre, ch’io andava fuori mi dimandava la chiave delle mie stanze, mostrando di volersene servir in fatti d’amore, e io gliela concedeva, serrando però la camera dov’io tenea i libri e le scritture. Nella quale era una cassetta, in cui oltre le mie composizioni, io riserbava gran parte delle lettere di V.s. e di M. Luca, e quelle particolarmente, che contenevano alcuno avvertimento poetico [omissis] Con questo sospetto cominciai ad andar pescando, e intesi finalmente da un servitor del Conte Luigi Montesucoli mio vicino, che quando io era in questa Quaresima in Modana , vide entrare col Brunello, essendo già notte, un magnano [fabbro] nelle mie stanze. Tanto andai poi cercando. che trovai il magnano, il qual mi confessò d’essere stato in corte ad aprir una camera, della quale diceva il conduttor d’aver perduta la chiave. V.s. argomenti il resto, quella è una delle sue frodi, ma ce ne son molte altre, non men belle: e credo che ve ne siano alcune di molta maggiore importanza; ma io non me ne posso accertare. Mi consola che io stracciava tutte le lettere di V.s. e di M. Luca nelle quali era detta liberamente alcuna cosa, trattone quelle de i particolari dello Sperone. Altro non mi occorre per ora, se non che a V.s. Illustr. bacio con ogni affetto le mani. Di Ferrara.”

(2) A Luca Scalabrino. – Roma. 1576
“Avete il torto in mille modi; e sia detto con vostra pace. Scrivendo a me, peccate in materia ed in forma; ma io non ne incolpo se non me stesso. Tanto mi basta di rispondere ad una parte de la vostra lettera, a la quale risponderò più a lungo come avrò letto non una volta l’Alfabeto greco, ma dieci o venti volte i Salmi: frattanto siate sicuro che io v’ho sempre amato, e vi amo svisceratamente; non sono ancora tanto pazzo che, amandovi com’io fo , debba con tanto ardore procurare la vostra vergogna. De’ miei secreti sono signore, e posso senza offesa altrui, rivelarne quella parte che mi piace a chi voglio. De gli altrui, tanto ne dico quanto piace a chi li commette a la mia fede; e se io altre volte ho discoperto, contro vostra voglia, a vostro padre il vostro male, l’ho fatto per soverchio zelo de la vostra salute, de la quale son risoluto di non volere aver maggior cura di quella che voi vogliate che s’abbia: ma ben vuo’ pregarvi, per l’amore che vi porto, che se io rimango sodisfatto di voi, a cui nulla ascosi mai de i miei pensieri, che non usiate meco estraordinaria secretezza di alcuni vostri o affetti o disegni che a molti son palesi, né dobbiate poi sdegnarvi contra me se alcuna particella a caso, non la cercando io, me n’è riferita; o almeno sfogate meco tutto questo sdegno senza dimostrarlo altrui; che ciò non potete fare, che non diate insieme a divedere che poco m’amiate e nulla mi prezziate. Ho detto più di quello ch’io voleva: perdonatemi; che la mano, spronata da un giusto dolore, è trascorsa mal grado de la volontà.
Ora passiamo ad altra materia.
Di Ferrara, il IX di Maggio Amorevol Fratello e S. (servitore) Il Tasso”

(3) A Luca Scalabrino, – Roma. 1576
“Vostra Signoria per l’ultima sua mi dimanda perdono di non m’aver palesato il suo amor concupiscibile; e per l’altre sue, che prima m’ha scritto, ha sempre mostrato di credere ch’io sia sdegnato con esso lei, pereh’ella non m’abbia rivelato questo suo desiderio carnale, e rende assai onesta cagione de la sua segretezza e del silenzio usato meco. Io, che ho deliberato di confermar quella deliberazione ch’io feci molt’anni sono; cioè d’aver Vostra Signoria non solo per caro e cordiale amico, ma per lo più caro e per lo più intrinseco di tutti gli altri, ed in somma per parte de l’anima mia; non voglio più lungamente lasciarla in questo errore e in questo inganno: e se pur non s’inganna, ma vuol mostrar d’ingannarsi, non le voglio lasciar questo pretesto, né posso soffrire c’almeno ne le cose mie, e in quel c’appartiene a me, ella non corrisponda a la mia ingenuità, o sciocca o filosofica che sia. Sappia dunque, ch’io non mi sdegnai perché Vostra Signoria non mi scoprisse il suo amore (c’a a questo per nessuna ragione voi eravate obbligato); ma mi sdegnai perché voi vi recaste a cosi grande ingiuria che l’Ariosto me n’accennasse un non so che. Non solo vi sdegnaste, ma a lui scriveste in modo che ben si poteva comprendere che vi riputavate offeso da lui gravemente. A me poi scriveste una lettera piena di tanto disprezzo, che nulla più. Confesso c’avevate occasione di dolervi fra voi stesso, che l’Ariosto avesse palesato questo secreto a me, il quale so mal tacere i miei propri secreti; ma certo nissuna ragione voleva che, per cosa di si poca importanza, cosi apertamente fosser da voi dette parole cosi acerbe e a lui e a me medesmo contra la mia riputazione. L’amico deve ricoprire i difetti de l’amico; ed io, che sono il più loquace uomo del mondo, non ho mai detto cosa alcuna c’a voi possa spiacere, né in questa né in altra occasione; se non solo che palesai a vostro padre ed a m. Antenore la vostra infermità per soverchia gelosia de la vostra salute. E Dio mi sia testimonio, che di nissun altro vostro particolare ho io ragionato, se non in quel modo ch’io ho saputo, non che creduto c’a voi fosse caro. Ma sia qui il fine de le mie querele. Io mi ricorderò solamente le tante cortesie ed amorevolezze ch’io ho ricevuto da voi; e di questa baia non terrò memoria, ma perdonerò l’impeto di quelle lettere a la vostra natura; si come prego voi a perdonare a la mia l’acerbità d’alcune lettere, ne le quali, esortandovi al purgarvi, usava luoghi troppo aspri e veementi. Siam patti e pagati, come si dice: da ora inanzi io, non iscemando punto né de l’amore né de la confidenza che ho in voi, mi guarderò di provocar la vostra collera. Io vi dimando perdono de le lettere passate: a voi non occorre dimandarlo a me com’a superiore, peroché io in nessuna cosa vi sono superiore, e in molte vi cedo. E se pur volete usare questa creanza, usatela senza offendermi, mentre volete sodisfarmi: che non la superiorità de la persona, ma la superiorità de la causa mi fa meritevole che da voi mi sia chiesto perdono; ed io vel concedo, e voi concedetelo a me, e brindisi!… e più non si parli di queste co… In somma, io son tutto vostro.”

(4) A Luca Scalabrino – Roma Datata 14 dicembre 1576
“Ho veduta la lettera del Signore, bella certo, ma che? De l’ingegno suo io non dubitai mai, ed ora ne son certissimo e spero di lui ogni gran riuscita. Ma voi ammirate in lui l’attitudine a l’eloquenza, ed io la disposizione a l’esser cortigiano, perché ha più appreso di quest’arte in pochi mesi ne le scole, ch’io non ho fatto in molti anni ne la corte.
In somma io non m’inganno, e parlo per iscienza, non per sospetto, per congettura; voi credete quel che vi pare; ma se qui foste o vi trovaste presente ad uno o due de’ nostri ragionamenti, vi chiarireste in parte; perciocché egli tratta meco in modo, che non si cura di lasciarmi soddisfatto; gli basta solo ch’io non possa far constar ad altri ch’egli m’offenda. Io l’amo, e son per amarlo anco qualche mese, perché troppo gagliarda impressione fu quella, che l’amor fece ne l’animo mio, né si può in pochi dì rimovere, per offesa quanto si voglia grave; pure spero che il tempo medicherà l’animo mio di questa infermità amorosa, e ’l renderà intieramente sano.
Che certo io vorrei non amarlo, perché quanto è amabile l’ingegno suo, e la maniera in universale, tanto dee a me parer odioso un suo particolar procedere verso me, cominciato da poco in qua, e nato non so da qual affetto, se non forse da emulazione, da desiderio di soddisfare altrui, il che più credo. Chiamo questo mio amore, e non benevolenza perché, in somma, è amore: ne prima me n’era accorto e non me n’accorgeva, perché non sentiva destare in me nessuno di quegli appetiti che suol portare l’amore, anche nel letto, ove siamo stati insieme. Ma ora chiaramente mi avveggio ch’io sono stato e sono non amico, ma onestissimo amante, perché sento dolore grandissimo, non solo ch’egli poco mi corrisponde ne l’amore, ma anche di non poter parlar con esso lui con quella libertà, ch’io soleva, e la sua assenza m’affligge gravissimamente. La notte non mi sveglio mai che la sua immagine non sia la prima ad appresentarmisi, e rivolgendo per l’animo mio quanto io l’abbia amato ed onorato, e quanto egli abbia schernito ed offeso me, e, quel che più mi preme (parendomi troppo indurato ne la risoluzione di non amarmi), me n’afliggo tanto, che due o tre volte ho pianto amarissimamente, e s’io in ciò mento, Iddio non si ricordi di me. Spererei che se egli fosse certo de l’animo mio, sarebbe costretto ad amarmi, ma come ne può essere egli certo essendo consapevole del suo, e giudicando ex aliorum ingenio. E se voi, al qual nessuno affetto de l’animo mio fu mai celato, e che ’n tanti anni dovreste aver conosciuto quanto io sappia fingere, ne dubitate, ben è ragione ch’egli, che n’ha minor conoscenza, ne dubiti. Tanto basti intorno a lui.”

(5) A Luca Scalabrino. — Roma.
“Tenetevi pur voi la vostra credenza (se pur credete quel che scrivete) ch’a me giova d’attenermi a la mia certezza; anzi, non mi giova, ma mi noce, che vorrei, se fosse possibile, non saper tanto a dentro quanto io so di questo particolare.
Voi per giudizioso, non sarete giammai per questa ragione laudato. Quella magnanima cortesia, e quella pena del mio soverchio sospettare, voci in vero e concetti sonori ed arguti, ove nascono, ed onde vengono? Per risposta altro non dico, se non che per l’avvenire, mi guarderò molto di darmi così in preda ad alcuno amico, che mi sia poi non solo difficile, ma noioso, il ritormigli. Ora approvo quel detto che altre volte riputai inumano, ch’in guisa si debba amare, che sia facile il disamare. Il consiglio che mi date, accetto da voi come amorevole, se ben m’è stato prima dato da coloro che non molto m’amavano ; ove i padroni, che ben mi vogliono, cercavano di generar in me quella confidenza, de la quale l’animo mio, nel principio di questa briga, era in tutto pieno. Non so però s’io l’userò o no, ma perché ne gli uomini non è fede, ed io son povero di fortuna, e di valore, custodisca Iddio la mia innocenza, e qui sia fine a questi discorsi. State sano.
Di Modena il 6 di Gennaio [1577]”.


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