I was asked repeatedly to speak in the most simple and at the same time most explicit way about psychological problems related to the various stages of sexual development of a gay boy. I’ll try to do so taking into account only two topics: sex identity and masturbation, with the premise that I am not a doctor or a psychologist, although I spend my days talking and chatting with gay guys of all ages and often we talk about issues related to sexuality, then I will appeal only to my experience in this activity.
THE DISCOVERY OF MASTURBATION
The masturbation is the voluntary act of touching yourself in order to give you pleasure and reach orgasm.
The age of first fully aware masturbation in the vast majority of cases is between 10 and 15 y. o.. Although in many cases the boy knows of masturbation by the stories of fellow schoolmates and friends, many boys still discover masturbation incidentally, that is quite random. The boy starts getting comfortable with his genital organ in several ways: he observes the erections, and touches it, initially just to wash or to pee. With the habit of manipulating his penis he finds that he can easily give himself pleasure. The manipulation of the penis, which is pleasant, proceeds automatically until the discovery of orgasm.
At 15 y. o. almost all the boys practice masturbation. Between 13 and 17 boys masturbate more than once a day. The frequency of masturbation falls slightly with age, for kids who do not have a sexual partner, and rarely falls below 20 times per month.
There is no difference in masturbation technique between heterosexual and gay boys. There is instead a profound difference between heterosexual and gay boys regarding the sexual fantasies that help to maintain the erection during masturbation. Heterosexual guys think intensely to girls, gay guys think intensely to another boy. It is precisely for this reason that masturbation leads gradually to gay boys awareness of being gay.
Generally boys feel masturbation as something very pleasant and at the same time forbidden, to be done with the utmost secrecy and of which they can’t talk at all. For a boy, be caught by his parents while masturbates is one of the most terrible humiliations. These attitudes, often complicated by moral formalism and religious influences, contribute, unfortunately, to spread negative ideas about masturbation. But masturbation is an important manifestation of sexuality that will accompany a boy for life and will not be set aside, however, when other kinds of sexual intercourse will appear, but will interact with them. Learning to know your body and its reactions can give you many ideas to live better the couple sex.
The condemnation of masturbation as a grave sin by the Catholic Church deserves a particular reflection [Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2396 "Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity, should be cited masturbation, fornication, pornography and homosexual practices."] The formula used by the Catechism is without appeal. The boys who attend church regularly tell the priest in confession that they masturbate, using usual formulas, one classic: "I have sinned against purity." The priest proceeds (often in a very mechanical way, to ask how many times, whether alone or with others, then repeats the usual formulas of condemnation of masturbation and requires the penitent (or alleged such) a commitment in order to avoid it. Penitent proves repentant and is acquitted. In reality this is a false repentance, the boy will quickly return to the masturbation and will do it as much as possible before the next confession (because “now purity is lost”). Then the boy goes back to confession and the cycle restarts. The result is a strong push toward the hypocrisy from the church who knows how things are, that repentance is not repentance and that the mechanism aims only to surreptitiously induce feelings of guilt that keep the boy in a state of subjection. Many priests do not even consider masturbation a sin and thus get the result to keep the boys linked to the Church. Other priests fight real crusades and so create for the most sensitive boys situations of enormous stress, feelings of guilt deep conditioning and inhibitions against sexuality. For many boys the Church's position regarding masturbation is a cause of deep suffering.
What we described above has quite different contours when the boy is gay.
Because the Church not only condemns masturbation but directly and without appeal homosexuality [Catechism of the Catholic Church, Art. 2357 Homosexuality designate relations between men or women who experience sexual attractive, exclusive or predominant, towards people of the same sex. It is manifested in very different forms over the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Building on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'acts of homosexuality are intrinsically disordered ". They are contrary to natural law. Prevent the sexual act from the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances they can be approved.] (A more complete collection of condemnations of homosexuality by the Catholic Church can be found in the post
A gay boy in confessional has two problems, one is the masturbation (common toheterosexual boys) and the other is homosexuality. The vast majority of gay boys consider his homosexuality as something natural that so simply and sincerely not consider it as sin and continues to admit only "impure acts" without any specification. When randomly, in confessional emerges in the theme of homosexuality, responses on the part of priests, although in theory all convictions, are actually variously flexible. Even here, probably the idea that a drastic attitude would definitively detach gay boys from the Church, has a not negligible signification.
The real moment of crisis between a gay boy and the Church occurs when the boy comes to discover that the Church expects from him total chastity [art. 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church]. That means that a homosexual to remain in the church must radically deny himself because the Church considers homosexuality "serious depravity", "baleful consequence of a refusal of God", "lack of normal sexual development", "pathological constitution", "conduct intrinsically bad from the moral point of view "(see the post above). What options are possible for a gay guy? He may or try to fully repress himself to comply with what the Church calls, with destructive results in the long term, or play on an endless series of false repentance and relapses as in the case of masturbation, or he could avoid at all reconciling what by definition and irreconcilable. Often boys try the first way, feel it unrealistic, reject the hypocrisy of the second way and finally come to the third, with the definitive separation from the Church and the final storage of the senses of guilt.
You can’t talk about masturbation without mentioning two important issues that are closely linked to it: pornography and masturbation fantasies.
Often masturbation is linked to search for pictures or video content explicitly sexual. The thing itself is not negative, if the guys that make use of pictures or videos for masturbating do so with the knowledge that it’s a fiction, not reality. See video porn generally doesn’t upset boys, but when the thing is loaded with too many valences in replacement for a real poor affectivity, pornography can be experienced as a model of sexuality. Of course these things will not happen if kids who use pornography for masturbating are ripe in emotional terms, but when it comes to very young or not ripe boys, pornographic model is likely to be internalized as a model of real life, which can produce many influences of which it’s difficult to get rid, the first of which the idea of sexuality as "performance".
The sexual arousal that leads to masturbation in most cases is not derived from pornography but by the so-called masturbation fantasies. Masturbation fantasies are fantastic reconstructions of situations considered to be particularly exciting in sexual terms. In the vast majority of cases the masturbation fantasies doesn’t come from pornography but from images of real erotic situations also very distant in time well imprinted in the mind. The masturbatory fantasies usually change very little during life and are the archetypes and units of measurement of sexuality in the sense that a sexual content of real life is often considered more or less sexually exciting according to the compliance with the model represented by masturbatory fantasies. Masturbatory fantasy being a manifestation of absolutely free sexuality of a boy, is strongly indicative of dip sexual orientation of that boy. In some cases the masturbatory fantasies doesn’t keep stable all lifelong but instead change their content more or less rapidly. Approximately one quarter of guys who end up considered definitively gay have lived in advance stages of heterosexuality, which lasted years, with a true heterosexual sexuality. These guys experienced the first elements of emerging gay sexuality from the drifting in gay direction of masturbatory fantasies. However, there are guys that, at least for some periods of their lives, masturbate with both heterosexual and homosexual erotic fantasies. Normally these things are transitory and sexuality ends to go spontaneously toward gay or hetero orientation. [I can't to masturbate any more thinking of a girl]. Sometimes masturbatory fantasies may be upset as a result of traumatic sex events. When masturbatory fantasies change over the years, usually start as heterosexual fantasies and become gay fantasies (the opposite is in fact very rare, I have personally seen only one example) and represent the emerging of deep sexuality repressed from education, from environmental situations or negative experiences. The repression of masturbatory fantasies by a boy is a sign of discomfort, low self-esteem and psychological dependence.
GAY OR NOT GAY
As it’s obvious, the successive stages of sexual development involve a complex psychological development that leads to adulthood. But let's go step by step.
During pre-adolescence, sexual curiosity of boys is very strong. The period from sixth to eighth grades. (11-13 y. o.) represents a delicate moment of psycho-sexual development of a boy. At about 13 y. o., and sometimes 12, the interest of the boys for the male sexual organ increases significantly in relation to their sexual development. It is the age of the comparisons, they want to see the penis of other boys, both same age and older. It is the age of "if you show me yours I’ll show you mine".
All this has nothing to do with homosexuality. Comparisons help boys to assess their sexual development over time and help them feel in a category of normality. However, there are gay boys who experience for the first time their sexual orientation in these occasions because they realize that they live it differently from other boys, that for them it’s not only a moment of confrontation but a true satisfaction of sexual desire.
For boys gay sexuality becomes so often embarrassing, at 14/15/16 y. o. the erection becomes a problem not easy to manage. In situations where other kids do not have an erection, a gay boy not only has but he cannot control it. His excitement is visible in situations where the other boys do not stir. The masturbation of a gay boy, as I said earlier, is done using typically gay fantasies, sexual content linked to the nakedness of other boys that deeply imprints in the memory of a gay boy, what heterosexual boys is not the case, a gay boy realizes that talking about girls stirs the other boys and doesn’t stir him at all.
I won’t touch here the problem of boys who have at this age their first heterosexual relationships and then discover themselves to be gay at distance of years, I will stop instead on boys living in this age, very early , their first sexual gay contact and this is not a small minority.
The first concept to keep in mind to consider adult sexual behavior is linked to the "performance". Let me explain better, often, even among fully adult people the idea of performance ends up dominating the sexual relationship. Performance means to show that you are up to the situation and you are able to do something that is valued only like performance. In the language of adolescents, performance means "being adult" or better "demonstrate that you are adult." Who cares to prove to be adult obviously is not and needs a very elementary vision of sexuality, such as "technical", which is much easier to confront. Older guys 18/19 y. o. and over, usually have a clear idea of sexuality as a emotional contact and not as performance, they fall in love in the truest sense of the word and seeking essentially a deep emotional contact with guys they love, because they really love them. Younger boys, or are already on this line and then are emotionally already adults, or tend to move across sexuality in terms of performance.
I often talk to young boys, aged 16 years or less, which literally "boast" of their sexual performances and are self-considered adults for that sexual performances. I listen often in chat to young guys, even very serious guys, that over the idea of performance know nothing else, boys who consider only "what they do" at sexual level and not with whom or why. In some cases boys who consider themselves gay because they assume their sexual behavior as a typical gay behavior, even if they are completely wrong, reveal incredible inconsistencies. For example: a very young boy, who dealt with a very cavalier attitude every type of sexual practice, refused to kiss the boy with whom he had sexual intercourse, and reacted aggressively to forms of attention from his companion, considered by him not virile things coming substantially from a weak person. These behaviors are obviously immature. Guys (usually older) that are involved with these young boys in a sexual relationship, at the beginning feel satisfied because for them the path to sexual intercourse is facilitated and it’s even possible to get there in the same day in which they know each other, but then, slowly, older guys realize that something isn’t working well and that the center of the relationship consists of the sexual performance, of doing this or that. In other words a older boy realizes the emotional immaturity of his companion and suffers greatly, feels finally unpleasantly the same strong sexual character of the relationship that had initially seemed very gratifying and, even worse, understands the unreliability of his companion who is looking for experiences more than for a person.
It should be borne in mind that he real sex education is essentially affective education and that a boy will live well if his sexuality has reached a generally satisfactory emotional condition. To promote the emotional growth of gay boys we can do many things:
1) Demythologize sexuality avoiding representing it as something intended to shock and prohibited but talking about it as a reality of ordinary life of all persons.
2) Speaking of sexuality in the easiest and most direct possible way, with sincerity and without taking roles in order to help boys understand really what this is all about and grow from the emotional point of view.
3) AVOID EVERY SEX DOGMATHIC namely avoid creating false categories and defining a rigid sexual behavior, in this sense should bear in mind that you must:
b) set aside the most absolute way the catalogues of sexual behavior, that is avoid to define in the most absolute way which conduct is heterosexual and which gay, both in terms of sexual behavior and in terms of more general affectivity;
c) avoid to underline problems and aim mainly to clear up false problems that generate unnecessary anxiety, insisting on the idea that real sex life of gay people has in the vast majority of cases very little standards. Experience shows that in many cases the boys are taken from anxiety basically for non-existent problems or small problems, common to many boys, and that vanish with the psycho-sexual development.