Ten years after my coming out, after years of gay prides, of meeting people of different sexuality, of friendships of all kinds and studies on the subject, I still find it somewhat difficult to understand people who have gone through phases of doubt and uncertainty about their sexual orientation, people who maybe went through heterosexual relationships for years, before “discovering” they were gay at a later age. It’s difficult for me to understand this, because for me it has always been clear-cut and very obvious. I could have noted down the precise moment when, at the age of 11, puberty struck, and for the first time I had a homoerotic fantasy. In fact, should I ever decide to carry out an archaeological investigation, I’m pretty sure that, from the television programming of that year, I would actually be able to dig up the precise day and time it happened, because I remember what film I was watching on TV that night. The odd thing is that I remember having genuinely intense feelings for girls of my age before that. However, it must have been feelings of a more affective or “
Platonic” nature, which had nothing in common with the thirsty carnality of the desire that emerged – unrequired, unexpected, unforeseen – that remote evening. And that desire was there to stay.
That night was also the beginning of an inner human journey and struggle against myself, as I found myself caught in an environment that prized me as the champion of a received ideology, of a mindset that, at the periphery of town at the periphery of a province at the periphery of a country at the periphery of the civilised world, didn’t seem to leave any alternatives to anyone who wanted to feel loved, respected and integrated.
It is not true, as at times I was telling myself, that during those difficult teenage years before my coming out I was confused about my desires. I’ve always intimately known that I would never have been able to feel attracted by the opposite sex, in the same as most heterosexual people are convinced – and most often do not even need to question – that they will never find the same sex attractive. What confused me, rather, was the fact that my obvious desires went in a direction that was the opposite of the image I had of myself and according to which I wanted to live, in the light of a desire to feel appreciated and respected in my community. The situation was further complicated by the fact that I had a brain. To be consider the best in my class had some benefits, because this earned me the respect of my mates, who never discriminated or poked fun at me, despite my “expressive” behaviour, but at the same time condemned me to a de facto state of isolation, as I was set on a pedestal, seen as an unapproachable and mysterious person, one you can maybe interact with, but with whom you cannot share anything at a true, intimate level. And that suited me perfectly. I encouraged this kind of dynamics. This, unfortunately, prevented me perhaps from having significant encounters that may have broken the shell of my psychology. If by any chance I happened to be called a faggot, I would laugh with them wholeheartedly, and I wouldn’t feel any discomfort, partly because nobody seemed to even consider that possibility seriously, but also because my brain was truly disconnected from my feelings, living an inner lie.
This is what most enraged me after my coming out; the fact that I had to re-educate myself to rediscover my own feelings, to bring them back to life after ignoring, suffocating and stigmatizing them for so long. During my adolescence I had embraced, consciously, a way of thinking and acting that was highly ideological, and this had shredded my very capacity to feel and listen to myself, to live my affectivity and sexuality naturally. For a long time I tried to patch up this psychological tear, but a deep scar will always be impressed in my mind. I will never stop thinking that as a teenager sexuality would have had a meaning and an intensity infinitely higher than any experience I can easily have today, and I accuse – yes, I accuse! – the institutions, and school in particular, for the execrable brainwash that since childhood has been sold to me as education. School is supposed to help kids open up their minds to diversity and to the discovery of the self and their own body, especially in a social context where it is rare that such education can be provided by culturally unprepared families. On the contrary, throughout my compulsory education, I have never heard a single word on a subject that was so relevant to me. It is silence that bears an awful lot of responsibility, and to this silence I ascribe the nine years of my life that were stolen from me. Nine years: from that night in 1989 when puberty struck, to that night in 1998 when I unilaterally decided to grab the phone and remove once and for all that awful weight that suffocated me, by speaking out for the first time about myself with another person.
October 21st, 1998, was a point of no return. From then on, one after the other, I started reviewing all my personal relations, with different degrees of embarrassment or difficulty [as in most cases, the hardest bit was dealing with parents], but the amazing and exciting thing is that, from day one, extraordinary events started to unravel. For instance, at the library, determined to talk openly about myself with everybody from that day on – if just to see what it felt like – I was approached by a classmate who asked me if I had a girlfriend. Perfect! I replied with feigned nonchalance that I wasn’t interested in girls. At that point I witnessed an amazing event. The guy pulls me to a corner and confesses to me in tears that he is also gay, that he has never told anyone, and that he would never have thought to find somebody he could tell. I couldn’t believe I was the one supposed to give advice!* The second person I talked with on the same day, a flatmate, took two weeks before he also found the courage to come to my room and tell me exactly the same thing. As a domino effect, I lost count of how many friends and acquaintances started revealing their homosexual identity to me from that day. I was basically moving from a world where I felt trapped in a solipsistic taboo, to one that was changing around me in a way that more and more looked like me. Now that all the circumstances have changed, I only feel slightly stupid for all the unnecessary complications I used to make up at the time. One thing hasn’t changed, and that is my drive to keep trying my best in order to change the world around me, and I’m convinced that my musical and artistic experience will contribute in this sense.
* Unfortunately it all quickly went wrong, when the guy started insisting that we immediately put the fortunate coincidence to good use, which I was highly disinclined to do, as he was not exactly of my taste…