GAY PAMPERING VERSUS GAY SEX

Hello Project,
I’m twenty years old and study engineering and all in all I’m pretty happy about my life. After some hesitation, I decided to write to you because reading for a long time your sites, I have been struck by the fact that you talk a lot about the affective world of gays rather than about the sexual one. By browsing the internet, I find a huge amount of gay sexual content or that looks gay, but in practice I do not find references to the gay affective world, which for me is very important. 
I confess that I considered myself as a sui generis  gay and asked myself several times if there was something wrong with me, since for me the idea of sex without love is inconceivable, that is, I cannot understand sex as a game, like something that can be done with the first cute guy passing and that is available. Until about a year ago I saw a lot of pornography but somehow I censured it by myself, I saw the part I was interested in, the most affective, then when the video went through the penetration I changed video. I feel 100% gay, I never fell in love with a girl, not even at minimal levels, but, I tell you clearly, I never had fantasies about anal penetration, which is something I cannot even conceive. 
I think of sex with a guy as something extremely sweet, tender, affectionate, with no script to be respected, I see it a little bit like a free and disinhibited being in two, a thorough reciprocal knowledge even from that point of view. For me, the fundamental thing would be to see my boyfriend’s convincing participation. Some gay friends whom I have spoken about these things have puzzled me because they told me that my sexuality is immature, almost childish more than adolescent or adult, they think that I’m very inhibited, that I’m afraid of certain sexual practices, but in principle I have nothing against anal sex, if someone likes it, do it freely, but it certainly is something I don’t feel mine and frankly I don’t feel less gay because of this. 
As you say, there are so many ways of being gay and my is much more affective than sexual, I need a guy who loves me, who wants to pamper me and get pampered by me, and, dear Project, a guy can be pampered in a thousand different ways and not just in bed. I always dreamed of meeting a gay guy who would love me among my fellow students to be able to study together, but I often thought that if my boyfriend was studying other things, I would let him study quiet but at six in the afternoon I would take him a cup of tea with some sliced bread with a bit of butter and jam. This means also pampering for me. Pampering means taking care of the loved guy, trying to make him feel good. It is not trivial, loving a guy cannot be reduced to a sex issue, it takes a dimension of intimacy, mutual trust, credibility. 
I like sex, too, but it has to come all out of my mind spontaneously. And then hugging each other naked in bed is a way to have sex, is a direct and intimate contact with your boyfriend, a way of perceiving his warmth, her breathing, the beat of his heart, is just the shared intimacy that is beautiful and I really like it a lot. I understand and desire a true intimacy even without sex, but sex without affectivity, that is, without love I will never understand it. I’m romantic inside. I happened to find guys who made explicit suggestions about sex, but by saying that it was only sex for them, I replied: “No, thank you!” And they looked at me with astonishment, maybe it was the first time someone was saying them “No, thank you”. 
I dream of being in bed with my boyfriend, embracing him and seeing that he is good with me and that he wants to stay there, that our thoughts go in unison, that there are no mental reservations, double bottoms, and unambiguous motivations. I dream that we can caress, that we can huddle each other and then also do a bit of sex, but always in a reciprocal way, I dream to be able to intimately touch my boyfriend, to masturbate him and see that he’s is happy to be with me, obviously he would have with me the freedom to do spontaneously what he wants, the only limit must be what is good for me as well. This should be the only true limit of individual spontaneity: respect the limits of the other, never try to impose something. 
I have often found guys convinced that they had understood what sex was, who assumed that their way of seeing things was not only good for them but was the only way to see gay sexuality. Frankly, I do not think there are two gay boys with the same behaviors and the same sexual and affective desires. Cuddles are not something just for kids, and then there is a reflection that comes to my mind now: also animals like cuddles. My neighbor has a big white dog that people leave because they are afraid of him, but that dog when he sees me starts to wag his tail, then he falls to the ground and I start to caress him and he closes his eyes and I see that he is satisfied. The desire for pampering is so ancestral to be even common with animals, a bit like sex, because pampering transmits safety, tranquility, heat, in short, helps to be well. I think that many gay people like me really exist, though I have not met them so far. I greet you, Project, if you put this mail in your forum, maybe some gay lover of pampering will feel less alone and encouraged to go on.
David
__________
If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-gay-pampering-versus-gay-sex
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GAY LOVE WITH LITTLE SEX

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.
__________
If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=139

AFFECTIVE GAY SEX

Dear Project,

reading here and there on the Gay Project sites I felt comfortable and I did not feel the same way reading other sites that talk about gay sexuality. I often felt embarrassed in talking with guys about sex and came to think that there was something wrong with me, something that did not work as it should have been.

I’m 26 and I have never had sex with anyone. Sometimes, but in practice only a couple of times, I thought that with the guys I met in chat we could even get to have sex, but the impression was quickly denied when I heard what they meant for gay sexuality. Maybe I dream too much, maybe I’m infantile in my way of conceiving sexuality, but I have the impression that with a guy, let’s say better, with the majority of the guys I would feel uncomfortable. I’m not sex phobic, I do not have nudity-related psychological complexes, I’ve been a team-mate for years, and I’ve never had problems with changing rooms and showers, I do not have religious complexes, I masturbate as all the guys do and I don’t have complexes even on this. Physically I think I’m a guy I do not say handsome but at least normal, but from a sexual point of view I feel a little disadvantaged.

I try to explain to you how I mean gay sex, or rather I try to explain how I would have sex with a guy.

First of all, I dream of love and not of sex, and it is not a matter of words, I dream of loving and being loved, I dream a true, deep, mutual love. I know that so many people would say that these are just fantasies and that reality is very different but with a guy who does not really love me and I really do not love him, I would feel absolutely uncomfortable, it would be a mutual instrumentalization. My purpose is not to have sex with a guy but to create a love relationship that can last in time, which can make us feel like a couple to help us in the real difficulties of life and then that is stable and faithful. I want a guy I can trust not one who speaks in one way and acts in another, he must be my boyfriend and I his, that is, our love must be exclusive, otherwise it is better to be alone. With my guy there should be a perfect consonance, a total complicity to understand each other without saying even a word.

But I come to sexual fantasies: first I dream about pampering, because I see it as a sign of tenderness, affection, physical proximity, sharing without reservations even physicality. I dream of sleeping together naked, feeling the warmth of my partner, I dream of being able to join him with my whole body, I dream of caressing him and of course I dream that he also does the same with me. I never, absolutely never, thought of sexual roles, my relationship with a guy must be absolutely equal, in the utmost spontaneity and in total agreement. Never and ever impositions, not even veiled, nor even repeated requests. Relationship must proceed in a totally spontaneous way. It is of particular importance to be embraced for a few minutes, to exchange heat, then, of course, kisses, caresses, hands moving into the hair and hugging tight, naked body with naked body.

Then I think also of something more strictly sexual and here I feel very strongly my distance from the mentality of so many guys. You may think it’s incredible, but I have never had sexual fantasies about anal penetration and, I would say, not even about oral sex. Pornography is full of these things but I cannot understand such things because they have never been part of my fantasies. Instead, I think of a sexual intimacy based on intimate genital caresses, to understand the physical sexual reactions of the partner, always under conditions of total reciprocity. I dream of having a partner with a dick very similar to mine, because I would somehow know it already and would know how it reacts. Then I think we would easily get to masturbation, but always having a long time, with long pauses, that is, without considering sex something separate from the rest of life, but on the contrary integrating it with everything else in a totally spontaneous way. And then the relationship would not end with ejaculation, but it would go on afterwards, staying close, hugging, cuddling even afterwards.

I would like to add something that might sound stupid but I think it is very important. I have often thought that my way of seeing gay sex would radically reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and, in my opinion at least, would not reduce the pleasure of having sex with a guy.

You can imagine the reactions when I talked about such things chatting with guys. Being considered a Martian was the least, many guys often considered me an unrecoverable psychopath, then when I came to Gay Project, I found your article on anal sex and I was shocked. I was not a pathologic case! But not only, there are so many guys who think more or less like me though unfortunately it is not easy to find them.
Project, I quote below the mail I received from a guy after we had talked a bit on chat. I think it may be indicative.

“But are you kidding me? Cuddles? How old are you? You have to start getting some real experience, you have to wake up! If you like, [Sorry, Project, I apologize for the vulgar expression] I’m available to fuck you and I think you’ll like it. So many guys act like fussy persons, but then, when they understand what sex really is, they don’t stop anymore.”

Perhaps another guy’s mail is even more interesting.

“Alt! Stop! If you’re out of your head I’ll leave you right away. I have enough psychopaths, I’m just looking for sex, I told you so clearly and I do not have time to lose, so bye and I block you right away.”

I also received a serious email and I have to say the truth, I thought he was the right person. I thought a lot about what I should have answered and in the end I sent my long and meditated email. Obviously I didn’t get any answer and that user disappeared from the chat. I think that falling in love and feeling the love of the partner it’s really beautiful, but to me it never happened. I do not know if it will ever happen, but I still do not give up on my dreams to find answers, which would not be what I’m going to look for. At least on Gay Project I feel I’m not alone.

If you want to post this mail do it, maybe my letter can help somebody else not to feel alone.

L.V.

__________

If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, open on the Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=127

LORD BYRON HOMOSEXUAL

The problem of sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

The early years

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

Cambridge          

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

THE CORNELIAN(a)
1.
No specious splendour of this stone
Endears it to my memory ever;
With lustre ‘only once’ it shone,
And blushes modest as the giver. (b)
2.
Some, who can sneer at friendship’s ties,
Have, for my weakness, oft reprov’d me;
Yet still the simple gift I prize,
For I am sure, the giver lov’d me.
3.
He offer’d it with downcast look,
As ‘fearful’ that I might refuse it;
I told him, when the gift I took,
My ‘only fear’ should be, to lose it.
4.
This pledge attentively I view’d,
And ‘sparkling’ as I held it near,
Methought one drop the stone bedew’d,
And, ever since, ‘I’ve lov’d a tear.’
5.
Still, to adorn his humble youth,
Nor wealth nor birth their treasures yield;
But he, who seeks the flowers of truth,
Must quit the garden, for the field.
6.
‘Tis not the plant uprear’d in sloth,
Which beauty shews, and sheds perfume;
The flowers, which yield the most of both,
In Nature’s wild luxuriance bloom.
7.
Had Fortune aided Nature’s care,
For once forgetting to be blind,
‘His’ would have been an ample share,
If well proportioned to his mind.
8.
But had the Goddess clearly seen,
His form had fix’d her fickle breast;
‘Her’ countless hoards would ‘his’ have been,
And none remain’d to give the rest.

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

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

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

LORD BYRON TO JOHN EDLESTON  May, 1807

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

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

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

The Adieu

by George Gordon Lord Byron

Written Under The Impression That The Author Would Soon Die.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LORD BYRON TO ELIZABETH BRIDGET PIGOT  Trin. Coll. Camb. July 5th, 1807

My Dear Eliza.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Falmouth June 22

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

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

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

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

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

But let’s come to Matthews’s letter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to England

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

A THYRZA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P.S. – I go to London tomorrow.

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

AWAY, AWAY, YE NOTES OF WOE!
1.
Away, away, ye notes of Woe!
Be silent, thou once soothing Strain,
Or I must flee from hence—for, oh!
I dare not trust those sounds again.
To me they speak of brighter days—
But lull the chords, for now, alas!
I must not think, I may not gaze,
On what I am—on what I was.
2.
The voice that made those sounds more sweet
Is hushed, and all their charms are fled;
And now their softest notes repeat
A dirge, an anthem o’er the dead!
Yes, Thyrza! yes, they breathe of thee,
dust! since dust thou art;
And all that once was Harmony
Is worse than discord to my heart!
3.
‘Tis silent all!—but on my ear
The well remembered Echoes thrill;
I hear a voice I would not hear,
A voice that now might well be still:
Yet oft my doubting Soul ’twill shake;
Ev’n Slumber owns its gentle tone,
Till Consciousness will vainly wake
To listen, though the dream be flown.
4.
Sweet Thyrza! waking as in sleep,
Thou art but now a lovely dream;
A Star that trembled o’er the deep,
Then turned from earth its tender beam.
But he who through Life’s dreary way
Must pass, when Heaven is veiled in wrath,
Will long lament the vanished ray
That scattered gladness o’er his path.

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

ONE STRUGGLE MORE, AND I AM FREE.
1.
One struggle more, and I am free
From pangs that rend my heart in twain;
One last long sigh to Love and thee,
Then back to busy life again.
It suits me well to mingle now
With things that never pleased before:
Though every joy is fled below,
What future grief can touch me more?
2.
Then bring me wine, the banquet bring;
Man was not formed to live alone;
I’ll be that light unmeaning thing
That smiles with all, and weeps with none.
It was not thus in days more dear,
It never would have been, but thou
Hast fled, and left me lonely here;
Thou’rt nothing,—all are nothing now.
3.
In vain my lyre would lightly breathe!
The smile that Sorrow fain would wear
But mocks the woe that lurks beneath,
Like roses o’er a sepulchre.
Though gay companions o’er the bowl
Dispel awhile the sense of ill;
Though Pleasure fires the maddening soul,
The Heart,—the Heart is lonely still!
4.
On many a lone and lovely night
It soothed to gaze upon the sky;
For then I deemed the heavenly light
Shone sweetly on thy pensive eye:
And oft I thought at Cynthia’s noon,
When sailing o’er the Ægean wave,
“Now Thyrza gazes on that moon”—
Alas, it gleamed upon her grave!
5.
When stretched on Fever’s sleepless bed,
And sickness shrunk my throbbing veins,
“‘Tis comfort still,” I faintly said,
“That Thyrza cannot know my pains:”
Like freedom to the time-worn slave—
A boon ’tis idle then to give—
Relenting Nature vainly gave
My life, when Thyrza ceased to live!
6.
My Thyrza’s pledge in better days,
When Love and Life alike were new!
How different now thou meet’st my gaze!
How tinged by time with Sorrow’s hue!
The heart that gave itself with thee
Is silent—ah, were mine as still!
Though cold as e’en the dead can be,
It feels, it sickens with the chill.
7.
Thou bitter pledge! thou mournful token!
Though painful, welcome to my breast!
Still, still, preserve that love unbroken,
Or break the heart to which thou’rt pressed.
Time tempers Love, but not removes,
More hallowed when its Hope is fled:
Oh! what are thousand living loves
To that which cannot quit the dead?

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

Love and betrayals

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

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

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

(a) Susan Vaughan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wedding stories and incest

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

In Switzerland Shelley

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

In Italy

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

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

LETTER 6

Milan, April 20, 1818.

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

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

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

The Greece and the death

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A GAY FACES A CHOICE

Dear Project,

I briefly summarize the facts. I am 39, many, too many, up to 36 years, gay experiences absolutely zero, a bit of porn, a bit of fantasy, but never a real guy, a little for the fear of the illnesses and mainly because I did not even found one with whom it was worth trying. Clearly, I’ve known many good guys at a level of simple knowledge, but sympathy is not enough and if it does not start something even at the sexual level, it doesn’t even worth to start. Three years ago I knew a very young guy, 20 years old, a nice guy, I was very attracted to, but he was too young and I felt him far away, therefore I let him go as I was used to. But he did not do the same, did not go further, in fact he got closer and closer, put the squeeze on me, told me that he was gay and asked me explicitly whether I was gay or not, I honestly said I was, I tried to slip  because I did not want to get involved but then things changed, we talked a lot and I realized he was not a kid but a real man. I tried to resist a bit but then we ended up having sex, it was the first time for him and also for me, and I have to say that I was on the top of the world, I would never have expected such a thing. Nevertheless here were a lot of problems: the age difference was too much, he had a group of friends where I would stay neither here nor there. We met quite often, but always in absurd times and always secretly. Anyway with him I knew that sex is an important thing, because I did not think it was so until I was 36. Thinks went on like this for a couple of years, and I have to say that they were beautiful years I’ll never forget, then I began to see that after sex he was sad, almost outraged, he was nervous and did not want to talk, our meetings have become less frequent but continued. One day, after sex, I see him disturbed and I try to understand why and it comes out that he has another guy for months who does not know about us, and also that my friend tries to focus his attention on that other guy but his attempts fail. He tells me that it would be better if we cut ties and do not meet anymore, he tells me such things sadly, it’s obvious that he’s trying to build a serious relationship with the other guy. We greet each other with the commitment not to meet anymore and things go on like this for a dozen days, then he calls me newly and tells me that he wants to see me. I know that “see me” means really having sex. The sex we do is not dangerous, in practice only intimate pampering and mutual masturbation, but I feel deeply embarrassed because of the other guy. He tells me that the other guy does not know about me and will never know. Tells me: “I cannot stay away from you!”, that is without having sex with you, he insists that I do not have to say no, because he really needs it, and he states it with the utmost seriousness, I don’t know what to say, and now I am in uncertainty. What should I do? It is obvious that in theory the best thing would be to cut ties and let him free to stay with that other guy, who is almost his boyfriend, and fundamentally that would also be the right thing but for him (Sandro) to feel rejected by me would certainly be a very bad experience. He insist, and wants to engage me, I know he would have been bad if I told him no. He explicitly asked me to tell him no, in order to let him go, but I think this is just a rational attitude, emotionally, being sexually rejected by me, the more after all that there has been between us, for Sandro, would be really humiliating, and on the other hand, I’m fine with him, I’ve always been fine and I think I would also be now, in spite of everything, because for me, sexuality and love (true love) have only one name: Sandro. When I hear his voice I melt, I do not think he is just looking for sex, because a guy like him, if he wants, can find one hundred of guys. Between us there is a special feeling, but he understands that if there was a tighter connection, like boyfriends (an expression I do not like at all), he would feel in the cage and therefore rationally tries to set me aside. On one side I know what I should do but on the other side the temptation to meet Sandro is very strong. In the end, if he was really fine with the other guy, Sandro would not look for me. I think of him very much, I cannot deny that I feel deeply involved because the only guy I fell in love with and who really loved me wants to stay with me, and for me he is the only important guy. Would he really feel good with his boyfriend, I would set aside without blinking if I could see him really happy, but he kept looking for me, non for other guys but just for me, and this makes me melt completely.

Andrew

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GAYS AND ANAL SEX: FALSE MYTHS AND PORNOGRAPHY

1) GAYS AND HETERO SEX

If we take into consideration the epithets with which homosexuals were and are still now commonly harangued, we realize that the most common and widespread representation of the homosexual world is dominated by the idea that homosexuality is a sexuality devoted to promiscuity and anal sex, dominated by active-passive roles, a kind of substitute of male-female roles, that is, in practice, a grotesque copy of heterosexuality, in which a man assumes a passive role, typically considered feminine, in a penetrative anal intercourse. Such a concept of homosexuality, clearly deforming, derives from the old idea of homosexuality as the vice of the only possible sexuality, the hetero one, or as a pathology and not as a normal variant of human sexuality as defined by the World Health Organization. This deforming vision of homosexuality is unfortunately still a serious obstacle to the recognition of their homosexuality by younger boys. It is awesome to see how many pseudo-scientific studies still today, especially in the United States, associate homosexuality with the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, in particular AIDS, and focus on analyzing the most degraded conditions in which homosexuality can manifest itself, accrediting more or less directly the association between homosexuality and social degradation, drugs, violence and mental illness.
But besides the studies spoiled in the root by ideological assumptions, there is also a serious sociology. In 2007, for the editions “Il Mulino”, come out a book by Marzio Barbagli and Asher Colombo, entitled “Modern Homosexuals – Gay and Lesbian in Italy” (“Omosessuali moderni – Gay e lesbiche in Italia”). The book offers a picture of homosexuality in Italy and, on the basis of scientific research, comes to dispel old myths and new metropolitan legends that paint the homosexual world with the lively colors of promiscuity and free sex, dominated by active-passive roles.
In November 2011, has been published a study jointly conducted by researchers of Indiana University and George Mason University, on the Journal of Sexual Medicine, titled ” Sexual behaviors and situational characteristics of most recent male-partnered sexual event among gay and bisexually identified men in the United States” by Rosenberger JG, Reece M, Schick V, Herbenick D, Novak DS, Van Der Pol B, and Fortenberry JD (Journal of Sexual Medicine (J Sex Med) 2011;8:3040–3050)
The study has been conducted using forms compiled and collected through the internet from a representative sample of the homosexual-bisexual population of 24,787 men identified as gays or bisexuals, of course they are only openly gay or openly bisexuals, between 18 and 87 years old. The sample respects the distribution of the general population by age classes and by ethnic composition. The average age is 39.2 years. 79.9% of the sample consists of homosexuals and 20.1% by bisexuals. The sample is white for 84.6%, Latin American for 6.4%, and African-American for 3.6%. The people involved in the research had been asked to indicate what sexual behaviors they have put into practice in the last sexual intercourse. The most common sexual behavior was kiss on the mouth (74.5%), followed by oral sex (72.7%) and mutual masturbation (68.4%). The anal penetration was present only in 37.2% of the cases and was found to be most common in the 18-24 age group (42.7%). It is important to keep in mind that these data are only about openly gays or openly bisexuals.
The study, in agreement with other recent studies that examined sexual behavior among heterosexual men and women, shows that gay and bisexual men have a repertoire of sexual behaviors that is very different from that of heterosexuals. Joshua G. Rosenberger, professor of the Department of Global and Community Health at the George Mason University, Fairfax, said that “Of all sexual behaviors that men reported occurring during their last sexual event, those involving the anus were the least common,” Rosenberger concluded: “There is certainly a misguided belief that ‘gay sex equals anal sex,’ which is simply untrue much of the time.”[http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news-archive/19977.html]
These conclusions, which refer to the United States, are essentially confirmed for Italy by a study: “The Sexuality of Italians” by Marzio Barbagli, Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna and Franco Garelli published in 2010, for “Il Mulino” editions. This study states about anal sex: “It is likely that in the male homosexual population the use of this practice has decreased in the course of the twentieth century.[Shorter [2005, 129-131]]
It is certain, however, that for some time now, in Italy, this is the less widely used erotic technique in this population.[Barbagli e Colombo [2007-2, 118-119]] It is equally certain that today there are few differences between homo and heterosexuals in our country. 49% of the former had at least one anal intercourse with a man versus 44% of the last who experienced it with a woman.” It is to be underlined that 49% of homosexuals are not said to practice anal sex, but that 49% had at least one anal intercourse with a man over their lifetime, which is completely different. The US study to which I referred also points out other elements that allow to overcome false myths about the promiscuity of sexual relations between homosexuals and bisexuals and their alleged affective deficiency. “We found it particularly interesting that the vast majority of men reported sex with someone they felt ‘matched’ with in terms of love, meaning that most people who were in love had sex with the person they loved, but that there were also a number of men who had sex in the absence of love,” Debby Herbenick [Co-director of the Sexual Health Promotion Center and of the Public Health School at the University of Indiana-Bloomington, and co-author of the essay on Sexual behavior of homosexuals and bisexuals] said. “Very few people had sex with someone they loved if that person didn’t love them back.” ” This “matching” aspect of love, she said, has not been well explored in previous research, regardless of sexual orientation.”[1]   “Given the recent political shifts around the Defense of Marriage Act and same-sex marriage in the United States, these findings highlight the prevalence and value of loving feelings within same-sex relationships,” said lead investigator Joshua G. Rosenberger.[2]
The study about sexual behavior of openly gays and openly bisexuals, just because it refers to openly gays and openly bisexuals, that is, to the emerging tip of gay iceberg, is unfortunately affected by an inherent limitation because its results cannot be automatically extended to the vast majority of gays and bisexuals who are closeted. From the experience of Gay Project, as I have said many times, from what I can point out through a direct dialog with homosexuals of all ages, almost always closeted, I find that about 20% of homosexual couples, including of course couples made up of closeted gays, usually practice anal sex, in most cases with interchangeable roles, these couples are almost always stable and monogamous, so they are less afraid of sexually transmitted diseases. Another 20% practice anal sex because one of the partners requires it and the other does not subtract, even if for him the performance is indifferent or really slightly unpleasant. About 60% of homosexual couples (obviously including undisclosed homosexual couples) do not practice anal sex. I have found that even among gays and bisexuals there is a big difference in the repertoire of sexual behaviors. Bisexuals have a repertoire much closer to that of heterosexuals, because, regardless of their degree of heterosexual propensity, they in most cases practice much more the heterosexual sex than the gay one. An experienced gay man can figure out whether his partner is gay or bisexual on the basis of his sexual behavior, even if the bisexual partner, in an occasional intercourse with a gay, generally does not qualify himself as bisexual but as a gay.
Elements emerging from Gay Project, extended to closeted gays, are not far from the data coming from the aforementioned study about sexual behaviors of gays and bisexuals in the US, and from those reported by Barbagli and others, related to Italy. The US study shows that 62.8% of the gay-bisex not closeted group don’t practice anal sex, while 37.2% practice it. From the Gay Project surveys, the percentages were around 60% and 40%, respectively, but in a half of that 40% of homosexual couples practicing anal sex, only one of the two partners really likes this practice. In conclusion, outside the couple, for example in individual masturbation, fantasies related to anal penetration concern about 30% of gays, for the other 70% anal penetration is not a subject of masturbation fantasies. As it’s obvious, the values measured in the surveys and the values obtained through Gay Project do not define rules without exception, but only tend to provide an undistorted image of the phenomena in their entirety, though local variability can be considerable.
It should be pointed out that at the beginning of the twentieth century there was yet a clear understanding among scholars of the idea that sodomy was not a prevalent dimension among homosexuals. Albert Moll,[Author of “Conträre Sexualempfindung” published in 1891, a fundamental work on sexual inversion. The title itself became an expression to indicate homosexuality.] speaking of the act so often accredited to homosexuals, says: “It is commonly assumed that the sexual intercourse between Urning[3] is this. But it is a big mistake to suppose that this act is so frequent among them.” [A. Moll, of “Conträre Sexualempfindung”, 139.] Krafft-Ebing[4] treats sodomy as a rare thing between the true Urning, albeit quite common among the old vicious men and debauched ones of more normal temperament, those who are not exactly homosexual.[“Psychopathia Sexualis”, Seventh Edition p. 258.] Edward Carpenter [One of the fathers of the homosexual liberation movement.] cites Moll and Krafft-Ebing’s views in appendix to his “Intermediate Sex” and shows that he shares their ideas.[Mitchell Kennerley, New York and London, p. 151-152.] Havelock Ellis, in the third edition (1927) of his treatise “Sexual Inversion” After clarifying that the term “pedicatio” (or pædicatio) is the most widely accepted technical term for the sodomy, intrusion of the penis into the anus, underlines that this term is usually intended as derived from the Greek “pais” (boy), but some authors assume that it comes from pedex or podex (ano). Ellis adds that the terms “pederastia” and “pederasta” are sometimes used to indicate the act itself and its agent, but considers this an undesirable use and recommends limiting the use of the word “pederastia” according to its proper meaning as a name of the special institution of Greek love for boys.
In Chapter V of his treatise, in the section dedicated to “Methods of Sexual Relationship”, Ellis writes:[Studies in the Psychology of sex, vol. 2 “Sexual Inversion” by Havelock Ellis, third edition, revised and enlarged – 1927, cap. V, Methods of Sexual Relationship] “Taking 57 inverted men of whom I have definite knowledge, I find that 12, restrained by moral or other considerations, have never had any physical relationship with their own sex. In some 22 cases the sexual relationship rarely goes beyond close physical contact and fondling, or at most mutual masturbation and intercrural intercourse. In 10 or 11 cases fellatio (oral excitation)—frequently in addition to some form of mutual masturbation, and usually, though not always, as the active agency—is the form preferred. In 14 cases, actual pedicatio—usually active, not passive—has been exercised. In these cases, however, pedicatio is by no means always the habitual or even the preferred method of gratification. It seems to be the preferred method in about 7 cases. Several who have never experienced it, including some who have never practised any form of physical relationship, state that they feel no objection to pedicatio; some have this feeling in regard to active, others in regard to passive, pedicatio. The proportion of inverts who practise or have at some time experienced pedicatio thus revealed (nearly 25 per cent.) is large; in Germany Hirschfeld finds it to be only 8 per cent., and Merzbach only 6. I believe, however, that a wider induction from a larger number of English and American cases would yield a proportion much nearer to that found in Germany.” From what Ellis found in the cases he examined, about 25% of homosexuals practiced anal penetration at least once in the life but only 7 out of 57 (just over 12%) considered it the preferred method of Sexual satisfaction.
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[1] http://info.publichealth.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2014/01/gay-sex-love.shtml

[2] [https://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-02-unique-tied-sex-gay-bisexual.html]

[3] German term corresponding to the English “uranist” with which homosexuals were indicated. The term “Urning” was created in 1864 by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, supporter of the thesis that homosexuals were a true third sex. The term “homosexual” is introduced by Karl-Maria Benkert, who was a proud supporter of the full masculinity of homosexuals, and to point out that this is not a third sex, he prefers not to use the word Urning at all but to create a word entirely new.

[5] Author in 1886 of “Psychopathia sexualis”, a work that has been vast resonance for decades, in which he identifies various degenerations of sexuality such as sadism, masochism, fetishism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frottage, nymphomania, zoophilia, necrophilia, gerontophilia, compulsive masturbation and pedophilia, in particular, emphasizes the very serious risks for the victims. It should be noted that Krafft-Ebing does not include homosexuality among the degenerations of sexuality.

2) HETEROSEXUALS AND ANAL SEX

Sexual behavior of openly gays and openly bisexuals, despite its limitations, is somehow easy to analyze, because it is highly unlikely for an openly gay to have hesitancy to admit to have had anal sex. A search of the same kind, with direct questions, aimed at groups of less disinhibited people, such as closeted gays or heterosexuals, who were sampled by the general population, would face significant levels of reticence. Since anal sex is a classic taboo, the data found in this field are certainly underestimated. Women participating in a survey on sexuality admit more easily abortion rather than having anal sex [Smith, Adler, and Tschann, 1999]. Voeller (1991) noted that in the context of direct interview surveys, anal sex aspects never emerged at the first interview, but only later, when the interviewee manages to set aside the reticence. In the heterosexual sphere it is noted that the incidence of anal sex, which is definitely limited in the less recent surveys, tends to increase over the years, the opposite of what happens in the homosexual population. A study by Mosher, Chandra and Jones (2005), conducted on the basis of large-scale surveys, found that 38.2% of men between the ages of 20 and 39 and 32.6% of women of between 18 and 44 experienced heterosexual anal sex in the course of life. It should be noted that since 2005 (Mosher, Chandra, and Jones, 2005) to 2011 (Rosenberg and others, 2011), percentages for men have increased considerably. An analysis of the state of the research on heterosexual anal sex can be found in Kimberly R. Mc Bride’s Heterosexual Anal Sexuality and Anal Sex Behaviors: A Review and J. Dennis Fortenberry of the University of Indiana. Men who have had stories with partners of the same sex relate more easily about anal intercourse (Foxman, Aral, and Holmes, 1998a, 1998b). But I have to underline that here we are talking about anal sex practiced on a female partner by men who have also had homosexual partners, in other words this means that men who feel heterosexual but also have male partners are significantly more likely to anal sex, more likely than the average of heterosexuals, but because the gay propensity towards anal sex is similar to that of the heterosexuals, more likely than the average of gays. These “heterosexuals” who also have gay experiences form the category of so-called bi-curious. So far, the bi-curious category has been introduced in relation to concrete homosexual gay experiences, but the vast majority of bi-curious people do not come to have sexual intercourse with men and are content with the use of pornography that is male nude, male masturbation or sexual intercourse between men.

3) SO-CALLED GAY PORNOGRAPHY

When it comes to pornography, we have to distinguish between heterosexual pornography, or rather pornography with heterosexual content which shows intercourses between a man and a woman, gay pornography, or rather pornography with gay content, which shows intercourses between men, male nude and male masturbation, and lesbian pornography or rather pornography with lesbian content, which shows intercourses between women, female nude and female masturbation. This distinction, which concerns the content, is fairly clear, in principle, although there are certainly situations that cannot be exclusively covered in any of the three categories. This distinction is overlapped by another, based on the users of pornography. Generally people uses the expression “hetero pornography” to denote pornography enjoyed by men and women, uses the expression “gay pornography” to indicate pornography enjoyed by homosexual men and uses the expression “lesbian pornography” to indicate pornography enjoyed by homosexual women. The two classifications, the one on the basis of the content and the other on the basis of the users, make use of the same synthetic terminology (hetero porn, gay porn, lesbian porn) and this leads to wrong convictions, that is, it implies that pornography with hetero content is only to be enjoyed by hetero men and hetero women, that pornography with gay content is only to be enjoyed by male homosexuals and pornography with lesbian content is to be enjoyed only by homosexual women. Let us now consider only the pornography with gay content. Different interesting facts emerge from Yahoo Answers. First of all, many women declare that they normally access sites with gay content rather than sites with heterosexual content, because pornography with hetero content, enjoyed essentially by heterosexual men, focuses on women neglecting the male element, and also because in pornography with gay content there are no women. Thus, a certain percentage of gay content traffic is represented by heterosexual women, for whom penetrating sex is the rule. In Yahoo Answers, especially in the section in English, there are thousands of questions proposed by heterosexual guys who see gay porn and ask if this is normal. The question is put in all possible ways, but it is always essentially the same. There are also a lot of messages from hetero girls who are very worried about finding out gay material in the computers of their boyfriends. From these messages we can understand that men who consider themselves heterosexual but use gay pornography are not bisexuals in the specific sense, because they do not fall in love with guys but only with girls; these guys are the so-called bi-curious. Obviously, bi-curious may stop at the level of pornography with gay content but may also have more or less frequent homosexual intercourses but without real affective engagement, otherwise they would be bisexual. Let us now consider some aspects of pornography with gay content and compare them with similar aspects of pornography with hetero content. Searching on Google “straight site” it is noted that the related results are 506,000,000; looking for “gay site” the related results are 420,000,000; the gay/hetero ratio is about 0.83.
Looking for “straight porn” the related results are 55,100,000; looking for “gay porn” e 43.9 million, the gay/hetero ratio is about 0.8. Looking for “straight porn video” the related results are 45,400,000; looking for “gay porn videos” are 59,600,000, the gay/hetero ratio is about 1.31. These data indicate that the frequency of pornography with gay content on the web is more or less equivalent to that of pornography with hetero content. It is objectively impossible to access first-hand data on the use of pornography that belong to the managers of these sites, and in this area you can only get approximate estimates but it is commonplace that the gay-content pornography business equals or even exceeds that of hetero-content pornography. And here comes the first apparent incongruity. If male homosexuals are about 4% of the general population and male heterosexuals are about 46%, that is, if there is on average a single gay male every 11.2 heterosexuals males, and hetero-content pornography is more or less quantitatively equivalent to gay-content pornography, assuming that gay-content pornography is to be enjoyed only by gays and that of hetero-content pornography is to be enjoyed only by male heterosexuals in large majority (about 72%) it would come to the paradoxical conclusion that gays uses pornography 11.2 times more than an male heterosexuals, which is far less credible. If, on the other hand, an equal propensity to use pornography for gay and hetero people was assumed, we should ask who are the consumers of gay-content pornography not consumed by gays. And here the answer is spontaneous: they are the bi-curious and they are really many.
The fact that bi-curious are the main gay-content porn consumers is confirmed by the fact that gay-content websites, when they represent sexual intercourse, end up almost always with anal penetration, which, as seen, is not a dominant interest in the gay world while it is among the bi-curious. Many gays wonder why gay porn sites give so much room for anal intercourse, and the answer is that the main users of gay-content pornography are not gay but bi-curious and secondly heterosexual women. In this sense, for a gay young man, the image of gay sexuality offered by gay pornography is misleading because it is a pornography created essentially for the needs of a not gay but bi-curious audience. A bit of pornography does not hurt anyone, but if pornography shows an hypothetical gay sexuality that is very different from reality, it becomes deeply harmful. The representation of true gay sexuality would be far less spectacular and therefore less suited to the pornographic market but would allow so many homosexuals to identify themselves in that representation rather than be tempted to imitate behaviors that have nothing to do with reality.

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GAY LIFE IS CHANGING

Dear Project,

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

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

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

Hi A.,

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

Fabio (Failed genius)