I’ve recently been carrying out research for a new story which is partly about gay sex in the Italian city of Florence. I’ve never been there but a quick look at some items on Google suggest that it’s not one of the gayest cities on the planet. There are few gay bars and only one sauna. However it was a different story back in the fifteenth century, the time of the Renaissance. It seems that around two thirds of the boys and young men were involved in gay sex. There was a firm protocol; the younger boys (in their teens) were the passive partners and the older men (usually in their twenties) were the dominant fuckers.
Florence during this period was famed for its beautiful boys and although parents were warned to lock up their sons, their daughters could walk the streets without fear of molestation.
However many of the clerics of the time were not at all happy about the situation. A mad friar, Bernardino of Siena, claimed that the ‘sodomites’ of the city had brought down upon them God’s vengeance in the form of the black plague and that they were responsible for the very low birth rate. Finally the city authorities paid heed and formed the Office of the Night to investigate charges of sodomy.
Back in the fourteenth century the punishments for gay sex had been pretty ferocious. One fifteen year old boy, Giovanni di Giovanni was convicted of opening his legs for many older men. He was made to ride naked through the city on the back of an ass. Giovanni was then publicly castrated and had a red hot poker shoved up his arse.
Some men in Florence during the Renaissance undertook homosexual ‘marriage’ in which the men swore fidelity to each other over a bible on a church altar. The Office of the Night regarded these men as being legally married to each other.
Much of the gay sexual activity in Florence during the Renaissance took place in and around a popular tavern called Buco (the hole). It seems that many of the boys dressed appropriately for gay sex, wearing doublets that not only had flaps in the front secured by buttons but in the rear as well. Research suggests that they would have lowered their pants to take a dump but if they wanted a quick and discreet fuck in a park or in places like the Buco without undressing then the rear flap was very handy.
Bernardino was very critical of parents who allowed their sons to dress too stylishly, however many of the fathers of the time encouraged their sons to go out fucking with older men in the hope that it would benefit their careers in later life. (Shades of the ancient Greeks.)
On a rather morbid note Bernardino advised parents to search their sons’ clothing for gold coins after they’d returned from a night out. The mad friar told mothers that if they held these coins that would have been earned by their boys selling their arses up to their ears they would have heard the souls of unborn babies chanting ‘To the fire. To the fire!’