HISTORY OF A DOUBLE COMING OUT

I quote below, translated into English, an email published in the Italian Blogs of Gay Project on December 27, 2007.

________

Hello guys,
nice blog and nice posts. My name is Andrew, 24 y.o., central Italy. I tell you my experience of coming out. My parents didn’t know anything about me until 19 years even though I at that age had done my experiences and had a boyfriend (of my own age), the same that I have now and that I think will be the partner of life for me because I don’t think we could live one without the other (Hi Andrew!) [he has my own name!]. 
We met at school, he was not my classmate. More precisely we met at a school trip. He was very timid, almost more than me, that’s all to say. I omit the details: hesitation, uncertainty, gay or not gay, etc. etc., all during the tour, then one day he takes my hand, I feel like a thrill, we look into each other eyes … Our story started like that.
On April 15, 2002, the last night of the school trip, we slept together (we had double rooms), we were not very convinced, neither he nor me, nevertheless the idea attracted us a lot but I thought that the day after I would have lost him, I don’t know, as if sex could ruin everything between us, but he who never considered himself a nice boy was afraid he could disappoint me, and instead we were fine, hugging tight each other under blankets now completely abandoned one in the arms of the other. 
I think you know what I’m talking about, it’s not just something related to sex, but also to tenderness, a very sweet thing. After, we had a bit of trouble saying that such a thing could not remain a single experience, but we talked about it … and there was no embarrassment. When we got home we were both very sad, it had been the first experience both for me and for him and now we were again separated. We had to find a way to meet and to be together, we could not help it. 
We started studying together but we were in different classes and it was difficult. We met in the afternoon once at my home and once at his, it was a nice thing, but at best we could exchange a caress, people could go in and there was not even a minimum of freedom and of privacy, and then being close, even just touching each other hands, erection came, between us it wasn’t certainly a problem, but when we had to get out of the room it was really a problem. We’ve spent nearly a month this way, we met every day but we could never embrace each other, and even less make love. But we wanted to do it. 
I think you can understand, when you have been in bed with the guy you love and then you cannot make love anymore with him it’s a torture, as far as the physiological problem is concerned you masturbate thinking about him, but you miss him badly, I mean that fantasy can be enough when with a guy you didn’t really make love, but we knew what it meant to embrace hugging each other under the blankets. I mean that making love became an absolute necessity, we only thought of that, we had to find a way to realize our dreams. 
Complicated things like going to the hotel were not conceivable because where we live, in a small town, it is dangerous to do such a thing, going to another town would have been too much complicated … the only possible solution was going to a little house my parents had in the countryside (I cannot tell exactly where), which was the house of my grandparents. Nearby there is a great forest and the pretense of a naturalistic walk was all in all plain. We could go there at most once a week, really too little for two guys like us who were (and are) inseparable, but we went on doing so for two months but it was complicated, the car ride of nearly 70 miles, the chilly home, the need to bring everything cooked, because on Sundays there is nothing there. One night together yes, and then at four in the afternoon all the hustle and bustle of the coming back. 
Then he proposed the idea of telling our parents how exactly things were. For me, in fact, I had never had any particular problems and I thought they would accept it well. He was much hesitant. But we were 19, we were unaware of the consequences and we did that madness. 
My parents seemingly did not react very badly … they were a little cold, however, didn’t embrace me, nothing like that, but at least apparently it was not a disaster. But, on the other hand, for my friend things went wrong. In the house full of frost, parents wanted to send him to the psychologist, he didn’t want and the world collapsed. He was desperate, when we met he was weeping in anger all the time and when he was going to go home for him it was a real torture. 
At some point I talked to my parents because there was the room of my great brother, and Andrew, in my opinion, could have settled there. Probably I was terribly naive then. My parents didn’t want to know about taking Andrew in our house, and for me hell started. Andrea was exasperated, he came out of his house early in the morning, and returned very late in the night to not meet his father and mother. He didn’t even come to my home because he felt rejected also by my parents and spent the day in the cold as a tramp. I brought him food to eat and he spent the day like that. 
At school the exam period was approaching, he didn’t do anything, he was convinced that they would reject him, nevertheless he continued to go to school, at least in the morning he was indoors and hot. School was open until 6pm and we spent our time there, but there were people, a lot of noise, you could not separate yourself from others, it would have seemed strange, and then you have to defend yourself even at school. It was a terrible period. 
Then we took the examinations, the commission was very easy and everything went well. Andrew had applied for a job and I did the same even though I did not think about giving up at university, then found on the Internet that they had called us from the first of August near Bologna. 
Andrew would have gone because he could not survive at his home, even at the cost of abandoning his studies. I did not know what to do, it was the first time I was in great trouble. I told myself that if I really loved Andrew, I could not leave him go alone, and I really loved him. 
Meanwhile, my parents had already digested the bitter bite and they had found a place for me where I could stay (a mini apartment) in a city in Central Italy where I would study Engineering. After all, it was our project, because where I live to study Engineering you have to go out to another city, but I don’t deny that I thought that my parents wanted to send me elsewhere, not to keep me far away from them, but from our town and especially from the gossip of Andrew’s parents. 
Then I went to my parents and said, “I’m not leaving Andrew … I’m going to work with him.” My dad stayed a bit puzzled then told me: “We can give you a maximum of 800 euros a month, we pay you the apartment … then you can share it with whoever you want, you don’t have to tell us … “. And my father embraced me and then told me to make Andrew come home, he did not want to come but then he came and my father told him, “I know you love him … but you have to be cautious … there more than here…”. That’s all. 
Andrea with his parents has had no more relationships and we now live together in a small apartment for students in a small city in Central Italy. In the coming year we should take the specialist degree. We made not just love, we even studied like crazy. Saying family does not mean anything, you have to see what that means in real life, but I and Andrew really feel that we are a family.
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If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-history-of-a-double-coming-out

 

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GAY LOVE DESPITE EVERYTHING

Hello Project,
I am writing to you because I am very tense and I do not know who to talk to.
I am 31 years old, my ex-boyfriend is almost 29 years. We’ve been together for three years when we were both much younger, our relationship ended a few years ago, or at least it seemed to end, because he met other guys and he tried to build a story with some of those guys, but nothing has ever ended up between us, we kept talking on the phone and even meeting from time to time, sometimes there was a bit of sex, especially when he was very sad and discouraged. 
Project, we still love each other, we don’t even tell it because we don’t need to make any declarations between us, no matter if he is no longer my boyfriend, what makes me suffer is seeing him sad, discouraged, disappointed with life, because he is a great guy, outspoken up to being almost brutal, unable to hold a grudge, absolutely not selfish. He never betrayed me, even though it might seem, looking at things from the outside, as he has never betrayed any of his guys. 
Sometimes he feels so depressed that I’m scared a bit. He says that all the guys he met had made great statements of love that were then denied in the facts. He says he is now completely indifferent to affective relationships and looking for sex only, but that’s not true. If he was looking for sex, he could find out what he wanted, because he’s also a handsome guy, and then what could he try to get from me? A bit of sex in moments of black melancholy, but I don’t really believe that this is his real purpose, I believe he is looking for a stable affective relationship on which to count. 
He says that all the guys who made him magnificent statements of love, went away, that he wanted to keep with them at least a friendship, but those guys vanished at all. We never really separated, I think there is another kind of affection between us. When he’s very depressed he calls me and we talk for hours, or rather we’re on the phone for hours almost always in silence. And yet, even if I try not to call him, in the moments of bad discouragement, when he calls me, I let myself go and talk to him of all my melancholies and I feel his presence. We don’t encourage each other, the first times I tried to do so he became nervous because he felt that I wanted to make a sermon. Now there are fewer words between us but there is not less heat. 
Honestly, I “almost” don’t feel any more towards him the sexual interest I had before, but in reality I have no more such feelings for anyone, nevertheless making love I feel free only with him, now it is rare that among us there are some real moments of sex, but when it happens it is a very intense thing because it is very well understood that the sense of sex is to confirm an affective continuity, to say that we still are there and that we still love each other, even if in words we say it no more, for fear of being denied by our own behaviors. We have learned to contain speeches, to eliminate loving chatter, to talk a little not to say nonsense. 
Sometimes, Project, I’d like to be close to him, to be his boyfriend again, although I know it would not work, as it didn’t work the first time, I flatter myself that I could get him out of his melancholy, that is, from his depression, the problem is just that. I think I would not repeat the behaviors that made him angry, I would talk much less and try to listen to him a lot more. The fact that he trusts me and that our dialogue is without taboos makes me feel proud, I feel that for him I’m still important, in the end it is not sex that matters but the fact of being understood and loved for what we really are with all our problems and our psychological complexes. He is a guy who has suffered a lot, who says he is cynical but he’s really capable of having a strong affective participation, and especially has feelings that often cause him to suffer deeply. 
We are not a couple in the classical sense, but between us there is above all but not only that kind of relationship that can be created between brothers who feel perfectly comfortable together, and then there is also a very special sexual harmony because we have a real affective relationship. I never thought that the relationship with him was really over, maybe it could be suspended, but did not disappear, I knew that in the backdrop of our souls it would remain as a calming element, as a basically unshakable certainty. I cannot think of myself without him, and I think that it is more or less the same to him. He had several guys, I only had him, but in the end we came to the same conclusion that we can feel ourselves only when we are together, because for us alternatives don’t have anything realistic. 
There have also been moments of misunderstanding but we have never hated each other and we have maintained an affective bond capable of overcoming any difficulties. There have been matters of principle, but then we have overtaken them on both sides, because we realized that beyond abstract arguments and reasoning only few things are really important, first of all people, then confidence, the fact that the other is there and you know he will be there, that he will never turn his back on you under any circumstances. 
When I talk to him, I fully understand that what we are saying has a meaning, that it is not a way of wasting time but a way to look for an affective response and to look for it where it is known that it will be possible to find it, is a way to tell each other our weakness and seeking comfort for the evils of life, a way to enjoy the attentions of the other, his respect, his affection, and a way to verify that despite everything, nothing is lost in the very basic things. 
A hug, a kiss, a bit of desired and spontaneously sharing sex are the true foundation of happiness. We do not belong to each other, the concept of possession has nothing to do with love, we love each other and I think we will continue to love in any case because certain forms of solidarity, and it would be better to say of love, last a lifetime.
_________
If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-gay-love-despite-everything

GAY FASCINATION

Hello Project,
I am a twenty-year-old dreamer, who unfortunately has already had big bangs and still continues to fall in love with nice guys he comes in contact with. I also know that among those guys there is someone from whom I’d better keep away. Project, I have not done anything with these guys yet, but I feel attracted to them, and end up with them with seductive behaviors, in short, I court them, and I don’t even know if they are gay, some reject me and keep me away, but someone goes on talking to me and I perceive that he is also interested in me, and I don’t court a single guy at a time, but two or three, because, although differently, I like all of them. I know I should be much more attentive to what I do, because my behavior can expose me to risks, but I cannot hold back, I see a nice guy, I come near, we exchange two words and then I try to extend the conversation and sometimes I succeed. Before all this, I was in love with a guy at a time, I was willing to do anything to capture his attention, and it happened a couple of times, now I can only say that I like some guys who attract me because they are physically beautiful, are just my type of guy, but I don’t think I’m really in love with them, it’s kind of like I’ve had an evolution, I might even say at worse, from a single guy at a time to two or three at the same time, and from falling in love to being infatuated. I especially like the tenderness of these guys together with a very good male body, my ideal is a very virile guy but also very gentle, very sensitive. I don’t know if such two things can be together, in theory I think so, but the experiences I did would seem rather no. Then there are the intermediate situations: that of a beautiful guy but a bit rough and that of a sensitive guy but with a poorly cared or not strong body. In short, Project, I dream of these guys, in the drowsiness I imagine to be with them and to pamper them. I also exchange glances with strangers, and inside of me something wakes up, and I think something wakes up inside them as well, because sometimes they turn their eyes awkwardly embarrassed. Sometimes I think I have a power over men, that is, I think to fascinate them, especially the gay ones obviously, is like there is a kind of tacit understanding between us that does not manifest itself outside. With some guys there are some forms of extreme complicity, one can understand the other immediately, it is as if in their eyes I read a shy statement of love, or rather we can say, of interest, it is as if they were asking me not to go away, to stay alongside them. I’m not crazy, Project, I really think of attracting some guys very strongly, it’s a feeling I’ve been experiencing for a few months since I stopped to be afraid and desperately looking for the affection of someone who didn’t want to give me that affection. Will I become a very superficial gay guy? I don’t know. Of course I’m just having fun catching the guys just by glancing, and I can tell you it works! How do you choose a guy if you like three or four? Each one of them has something special and I don’t know who I should devote myself to. And then, Project, there’s also a negative side, since I started all these fantasies I also started studying less, I skipped two exams and I’ll have to try to stop fantasies not to stay behind whit University. I like more daydream than studying, and I like even more walking around looking for guys to fascinate. Sometimes I feel stupid but I also feel happy.
Hello Project, if you like, let me know what you think.
Henry
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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.

__________

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

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

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

TEMPTATIONS OF A GAY GUY IN VACATION

Project,

I have to try to understand what to do because if I don’t I go crazy, my name is Marco, a simple but true name and I’m not ashamed to use it here because it is very common, so at zero risk. I’m twenty, almost 21, I live in a city in central Italy. I have always had two strong passions, since I was a little boy, one are guys and the other is the sea.

Nobody knows about me, no one at home, no friends, no one at all. I do not pretend to be straight and my friends, who have all a girlfriend, never made themselves into my own facts. Since the high school till now at university I have three friends, let’s call them Luca, Carlo and Enzo, we all study at the same faculty and we study together, there are no stupid jealousies for questions of school grades or things of this sort even if we have to pass the same examinations. They are good guys and I trust them except on a single point that I do not even want to consider with them. We spend a lot of time together both in the morning and in the afternoon to study, for the rest each one has his own life and practically we never talk about it. This year, for the first time, my parents allowed me to leave on holiday for my own and I agreed with my three friends and rented a little apartment, just a single room and kitchen in front of the see, near [omissis]. The place is gorgeous, for a sea lover like me it’s the best. The house was cheap, indeed I would say very cheap, and that’s why we got it immediately, it had some problems, but at the end we had to stay there for only 5 days and so it did not even make sense to look for another. It had only one room and we were four, then it was exposed to the south, the sun warmed it in full from dawn to sunset, in the evening, the temperature reached 33°C and there was only a single window that by the way had a dense mosquito net, so it could be opened only in a very relative way. All this should give the impression of an unbearable torture but for me it was not like that at all. In the center of the room, there was a table, because the kitchen was so little that two persons standing couldn’t even get into. In the evening we moved the table in one corner and added two camp beds because there were just two single sofa beds on both sides of the room. There was not even a fan, just nothing! The heat was such strong that the sweat poured on drops on our face. The first day we arrived at eleven o’clock in the morning, we only thought about getting ready to go to the sea, we did not even have the problem of cooking because we had brought lunch from home. We have spent our time in the water, between low water and swimming, practically until eight and a half in the evening and we were fine there, or better divinely, there were very few people although it was the week before August 15th, we were sitting in the low water to talk, then we were engaged in swimming race, then in a little race between us, in short, it was fine and the time was flying, then sunset came and with it clouds of mosquito (there was a cane thicket nearby) and we had to run into the house, we told each-other that fortunately there was the mosquito net. When we entered, we had the impression of getting into a furnace, a disagreeable feeling, we opened the single real window and the two half windows in the bath and in the kitchen, but the three windows were all on the same wall and had dense mosquito nets, and no air stream was moving. First instinctive solution: the cold shower, 5 minutes each one. The bathroom was small, no key to the door, shower in a corner without box and no curtain, but it did not create the least problem. One went in the shower, it was just for 5 minutes, then the others knocked on the door because they could not wait to cool them as well. We were all shirtless after the shower, but after ten minutes, the heat again became unbearable and then another shower was needed. We ate that little bit of dinner we had brought from home that had been baking on the table, because there was not even a fridge! Then Luca tried to turn on his PC but there was no internet connection, so no PC was available. There was no TV, just a half-broken radio, we heard it for a while but it was an old archaeological device that warmed up like a stove and that could not stay switched on for more than a minute because it croaked a lot. Luca and Carlo at one point said that they could no longer resist within their shorts, they pulled them off and remained in their underwear, or rather in their briefs, those classic white ones. Enzo has resisted for a while, then he too followed them. I did not know what to do, I kept my bermuda shorts on that were a real torture because they were all wet and glued to the skin. I had in front of me in a few square feet my friends in briefs who were still sweating like fountains. We opened the camp beds. From left to right we were: Enzo, I, Luca and Carlo. I had a good time because Carlo is a bit overweight and frankly does not attract me. Enzo is not bad, a handsome guy, but he is not exactly my type, but Luca has always been my secret dream. Project, I’m still one of those gays, so to say, stupid, who fall in love with their straight friend even though they know very well that he is straight. In short, we went to bed and turned off the light. Near the window there was a street lamp and the light filtered the same and once you were used to seeing in that weak light, you could see everything quite distinctly. Carlo noticed the rather strong light of the street lamp and said, “Guys, I close the window because there is too much light”, but I stopped him right away and said, “No! Come on! There is already an unbearable heat here!” And Carlo left the window wide open. After about ten minutes he collapsed like a chunk, Enzo turned and turned on the bed, but then began to collapse. Luca went to pee, then threw himself on the camp bed, he seemed very agitated, pulled his briefs down without saying anything, put himself belly down om the vamp bed and slowly fell asleep. I frankly did not really sleep at all. I had Luke sleeping completely naked at 30 cm from me. In practice, I did not take my eyes off him the whole night long. Of course he did not sleep all night belly down and for me it has been a show absolutely unique and amazing, he had also the morning erection, but in practice I was in constant erection from the evening before. At about seven o’clock in the morning, when Carlo rolled over a little, before getting up, Luca put on back his briefs in front of me, but with the utmost naturalness, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, then he took the phone and went out to call the girl because there was no signal inside the house. Sometimes I think that his girl is really lucky! Wow, let’s go on! I was shocked by the fact that for Luca to sleep naked in the room with his friends was a very normal thing. That’s why for a straight guy the locker room is neutral and does not produce any effect. In practice for a straight guy being naked with friends is not something that has to do with sex neither has something to do with the idea of ​​being naked with a girl. In the following days, he came out naked twice from the shower and wiped out in front of us and no one did a wrinkle, of course neither did I! Eh eh! He is a sportsman and you see that he does not have any conditioning in these things. In fact we stayed in that house for only four nights and for four nights Luca slept close to me completely naked without any embarrassment. You can’t even imagine what a shocking effect this thing did to me, or perhaps you can, rather… certainly you can. But how can a straight guy be so uninhibited? It’s just something I  can’t understand. But why all the straight guys take it for granted that all their friends are straight? In the days we’ve been there I did not hear a gay joke, not even minimal. We were friends, we were fine with us, we did not even talk about girls. Who knows what the value it could have for them that holiday all for men! Maybe every five minutes they thought of their girls, but to me it seemed they were fine without having to think about their girls. I was fine, certainly, because I was with Luca and “that way”, but they also, in my opinion, were all fine. I think, although without sexual intercourse, because such things were absolutely impossible there, even straight guys like a short “only male” vacation. Every day we stayed there I pretended to be totally disinterested in these things, by day, “but not by night!” To use Arbore’s [an Italian showman] words. Since I did not sleep in the night; in the morning I was completely upset and my friends told me I seemed really upset, but I said I had not slept because of the heat, although the reason was Luke. Now the white-nights period is over, we’re back in town, for them nothing happened, did you understand, Project? Nothing happened! But for me it happened in a shocking way! Project! I’m really upset! Perhaps I do not get it from my head anymore! Even though I found him sleeping naked near me for four nights one behind the other, I know very well that he is straight, and now I know it much better than before! What a desperation! What happened to me has really upset me! Before this vacation, I fantasized about Luca, you understand when, but now it has become my total obsession! Project, what should I do? I cannot avoid thinking about Luca! I have him in my blood! If you want, you can post this mail on your forum, because my friends will never open a gay site!

GAYS AND SEXUALITY EDUCATION

In recent days I have had the opportunity to carefully examine a very interesting document of the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (Federal Centre for Health Education), entitled STANDARDS FOR SEXUALITY EDUCATION IN EUROPE.

The document was published in 2010 and, after presenting an overview of sex education in Europe, defines the standards that should be followed for sexuality education as they went through the maturing of sex education activities already in operation in Europe and throughout the scientific contributions of the many disciplines involved.

Reading this document has led me to reflect on the enormous need for sexuality education and the response of public institutions, essentially nothing, at least in Italy. Sexuality education is effectively delegated to the peer group, religious institutions, and even now on a large scale, to pornography.

A serious sexuality education, built on the basis of information coming from specialists in various disciplines, independent from religious teachings and respecting sexual rights of people is one of the pillars for the improvement not only in the situation of homosexuals but for the increase in personal and collective well-being of all. I emphasize that sexuality education should be compulsory and independent from religious teachings, in the sense that parents should not be allowed for any reason to ask for exemption of children from participation in educational activities, because this would be a violation of the rights of children in the name of parents’ convictions.

Many young guys, gay guys and not only ,have got to experience the absolute lack of preparation of teachers in imparting a serious sex education and even the presence of prejudices and discriminatory attitudes. Contents of sexuality education are often conveyed through other disciplines on the basis of personal feelings of teachers and with no scientific basis, many have found that religion classes often result in areas of indirect sexuality education. A serious sexuality education could have a strong social impact, not only in reducing sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and teenage bullying, but in improving the sexual and emotional relatedness of people in enabling them to make their own choices on the basis of objective scientific information, promoting an attitude of serenity toward sexual pleasure, to increase self-esteem and sense of responsibility. The fact that sexuality becomes, for groups of teenagers and sometimes also adults, an object of ridicule and jokes is a sign of immaturity in dealing with these issues.

The document to which I have referred, precisely because it is open to all, prepares a draft of a general nature.

This post is a concrete proposal. I invite you to read the document and report your past and present need for sex education. You can add a comment to this post or send a mail to gayproject@ymail.com

In particular, I invite you to report on:

1) the sexuality education you received and from what sources.

2) the sexuality education ay school.

3) what did you miss most in terms of sexual education.

Of course you can write what you think better even beyond these indications. I will try to summarize what gradually emerges from the discussion to define guidelines for sexuality education useful to non-heterosexual and to avoid discrimination.

The intention is to define standards for sexuality education related to non-straight people.

As a first contribution, I reproduce below the cap. 2 of the mentioned document, from which I extract three definitions that can be the basis for the next job.

_______

2. SEXUALITY. SEXUAL HEALTH AND SEXUALITY EDUCATION – DEFINITIONS AND CONCEPTS

The concepts of sex, sexuality, sexual health and rights, and directly related concepts are to some extent interpreted differently in different countries or cultures. If translated into other languages, they may again be understood differently. Some clarification of the way these concepts are used here is therefore needed.

In January 2002, the World Health Organization convened a technical consultation meeting as part of a more comprehensive initiative, which aimed at defining some of those concepts, because there were no internationally agreed definitions. This resulted in working definitions of the concepts of sex, sexuality, sexual health and sexual rights.

Although these definitions have not yet become official WHO definitions, they are available at the WHO website, and they are increasingly being used. In this document, they are likewise used as working definitions.

“Sex” refers to biological characteristics that define humans generally as female or male, although in ordinary language the word is often interpreted as referring to sexual activity.

“Sexuality” – as a broad concept, “sexuality” is defined in accordance with the WHO working definitions as follows:

“Human sexuality is a natural part of human development through every phase of life and includes physical, psychological and social components […]”.

A more comprehensive definition suggested by WHO reads as follows.

“Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.”

For a number of reasons, this definition is very useful. It stresses that sexuality is central to being human; it is not limited to certain age groups; it is closely related to gender; it includes various sexual orientations, and it is much wider than reproduction. It also makes clear that “sexuality” encompasses more than just behavioural elements and that it may vary strongly, depending on a wide variety of influences. The definition indirectly indicates that sexuality education should also be interpreted as covering a much wider and much more diverse area than “education on sexual behaviour”, for which it is unfortunately sometimes mistaken.

“Sexual health” was initially defined by WHO in a 1972 technical meeting, and reads as follows:

“Sexual health is the integration of the somatic, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love”.

Although this definition is rather outdated, it is still often used.

During the WHO technical consultation in 2002, a new draft definition of sexual health was agreed upon. This new 2002 draft definition reads:

“Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

This draft definition emphasizes not only the need for a positive approach, the essential aspect of pleasure, and the notion that sexual health encompasses not just physical, but also emotional, mental and social aspects. It also alerts the user to potentially negative elements, and for the first time it mentions the existence of “sexual rights” – two issues which were almost absent in the 1972 definition. Also, those potentially negative elements are not focused upon as is often the case in HIV and AIDS literature on the subject. In short, it is a balanced definition.

Sexual health is one of five core aspects of the WHO global Reproductive health strategy approved by the World Health Assembly in 2004. It should be stressed that WHO has, since the early 1950s, defined and approached “health” in a very broad and positive manner, referring to it as a “human potential” and not merely the absence of disease, and including not only physical, but also emotional, mental, social and other aspects. For these latter reasons, it is felt that the WHO definitions are acceptable and useful starting points for discussing sexuality education. Thus in this document the term “sexual health” is used, but this includes the meaning and notion of ”sexual well-being”. Sexual health is not only influenced by personal factors, but also by social and cultural ones.

Sexual rights – embracing especially the right to information and education. As mentioned before, the 2002 WHO meeting also came up with a draft definition of sexual rights, which reads as follows.

“Sexual rights embrace human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus statements. They include the right of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, to:

 the highest attainable standard of sexual health, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services;

 seek, receive and impart information related to sexuality;

 sexuality education;

 respect for bodily integrity;

 choose their partner;

 decide to be sexually active or not;

 consensual sexual relations;

 consensual marriage;

 decide whether or not, and when, to have children; and

 pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life.

The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others.”

Although this is only a draft definition, it is used as a starting point in this document, because it is felt that the elements included here have a broad support base throughout Europe. Furthermore, it is important to note that in this definition the right to information and education is explicitly included.

A note of caution is needed here, however. Clearly, some of the rights mentioned have been conceived with adult persons as the point of reference. This means that not all of those rights are automatically applicable to children and adolescents. For example, it is clear that issues like consensual marriage or right to decide on childbearing do not yet apply to children or young adolescents.

The right of the child to information has also been acknowledged by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was conceived in 1989 and has since been ratified by the vast majority of States. It clearly states the right to freedom of expression and the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds (Article 13); Article 19 refers to States’ obligation to provide children with educational measures to protect them, inter alia, from sexual abuse.

__________

In summary, we can adopt the following definitions that conform to the recommendations of the World Health Organization:

DEFINITIONS OF KEY TERMS

“Sex” refers to biological characteristics that define humans generally as female or male, although in ordinary language the word is often interpreted as referring to sexual activity.

“Human sexuality is a natural part of human development through every phase of life and includes physical, psychological and social components […]”.

“Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.”

“Sexual health is the integration of the somatic, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love”.

“Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

“Sexual rights embrace human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus statements. They include the right of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, to:

the highest attainable standard of sexual health, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services;

 seek, receive and impart information related to sexuality;

 sexuality education;

 respect for bodily integrity;

 choose their partner;

 decide to be sexually active or not;

 consensual sexual relations;

 consensual marriage;

 decide whether or not, and when, to have children; and

 pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life.

The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others.”

__________

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