STORY: At the age of 19, I began to realize that something was wrong with my soul.
I live in Turkey, a Muslim country with a long secular tradition. But, even in its supposedly modern social environment, male homosexuality isn’t accepted. Turkish society makes exceptions for it when it involves rich and successful artists. But, for the rest of us, it’s forbidden. Plus, I studied at a French high school that instilled strong Christian doctrine, which taught me that my growing attraction to other men was forbidden.
The first time I was aware of having any homosexual desire, was when I bought a magazine containing straight porn (At the time, viewing porn online wasn’t yet easy). I came home with my prize, laid down on my bed, and started turning the pages. I leafed through scene after scene of men fucking women. Then, on one page, a dark, mustached guy, looking like a 70s pornstar, rammed his hard dick into a blond, hairy guy sitting on his lap. They were both sweaty. I couldn’t forget the image of them looking at each other with such ardent desire. It was so powerful that I had a spontaneous orgasm.
I immediately convince myself that I’d come on that page because I’d stored up an excess of precum while viewing the previous straight sex scenes. I wouldn’t let my brain understand what my heart already knew.
In the following months, I kept returning to that segment of the magazine to pleasure myself. It became an obsession, a sticky habit that left an odor of sex all over my body. It wasn’t long before I discovered the Internet, which provided me with regular access to sexual content. In both Muslim and Christian doctrine, what I was doing was damned. My obsession quickly became both the gateway for me to discover my true feelings and a path to hell.
I knew I needed to repent. Somewhere, I’d discovered a short stiff leather whip, which I kept hidden in the back of my closet. Each time after I jerked off, my entire body tingled with pleasure. But, then, I would lash my back with the whip to relieve my burdened soul and assuage my guilt from the sin I had just committed. The pain from my self-flagellation was almost unbearable, but over time, as I got used to it, the intensity lessened.
It became a vicious circle that I couldn’t avoid repeating. When I got horny, I’d go insane, dreaming about being in an orgy full of sweaty, salty, moaning men. After my orgasm, though, I felt like I was in Dante’s Inferno. My guilt led me back to those snakes of repentance and real physical pain.
Eventually, I started going to the mosque to pray for forgiveness, as my internal agony began to impact my external behavior: I was on edge and always tense. I was getting to my university classes late and earned the lowest grades I’d ever received. The battle within me was proving costly.
Whenever I met my straight friends, I listened to their stories and laughed at their boring jokes. But, I could feel my sore back throbbing the entire evening. I soon realized I needed to stop changing clothes in front of others, lest they see the results of my self-flagellation.
Once an old high school friend gazed at me and shared that I no longer laughed as I’d done back in high school. I denied it. As I kept on watching the porn movies and whipping myself afterward, my endless solitude grew. This went on for about ten years. I became accustomed to the pain and accepted it because it relieved my overriding guilt.
It took a long while for me to come to grips with the idea of being gay and to accept my desires as deserving. Perhaps, it was the greater access to information on the Internet or the fact that homosexuality was slowly being discussed even in Turkish society without the traditional vitriolic disgust. Whatever the reason, the hold my guilt maintained over me slowly weakened and I began to accept that I deserved my gay pleasures. Eventually, I would let down my guard and meet a taxi driver, which started me on a path towards a more fulfilling emotional and sexual life.