This article originally appeared on VICE Italy
I have a chronic illness – asthma. Not deadly, but definitely very annoying and it means I'm constantly dealing with medication. Drugs that keep my symptoms in check, those that fight the side effects of the first medicine, and those I have to take when I really get in a bad state. The fact that I depend on medicine doesn't really bother me – I have a deep faith in them. They always work for me and make me feel better, so I'm all for drugs.
I've been a lesbian since long before I found out I had a chronic illness, and although some people consider homosexuality an illness, I've been having a wonderfully gay time of it. I don't feel it's something I should or could find a cure for. Any cures that are out there on the market usually involve a lot of fasting and prayer and re-education in the hope that gays reach their full heterosexual potential, and that seems not only deeply offensive to me but also pointless.
But then, a few weeks ago, I read about a homeopathic solution – Dr.Reckeweg R20 Glandular Drops for Women. It's not new, but a pharmacy website authorised by the Italian Ministry of Health was recently criticised for selling it. That's because this "homeopathic remedy to support, stimulate, and regulate the female endocrinal glands" claims to include Ovaria among its components, which is supposed to "treat the failure of a female to respond to sexual stimulus (frigidity), lesbian tendencies, congestion and faulty circulation". Following the public criticism and a mass appeal to Italian health minister Beatrice Lorenzin, many websites selling the product removed the reference to "lesbian tendencies". But it can still be seen on some cached pages, and other sites still have the mention up, like this Indian web shop for homeopathic remedies.
I don't have the best experience with homeopathy, but R20 claims to treat asthma, lesbian tendencies and faulty memory – all of which I have. This just seemed an opportunity I couldn't pass on, so I decided to order it and test it myself. Maybe it would take some of my lesbianism away, or maybe it could just make me a little bit less asthmatic.
Dr. Reckeweg R20 doesn't come with an information leaflet, but it does come with a useful hand moisturiser sample. And the packaging offers enough information – it says I should just take as many drops as I've been prescribed. I know my asthma is severe and I've self-diagnosed online and concluded I have a very serious case of lesbianism, so I prescribe myself the maximum dosage – 10 drops, four times a day.
Tuesday is not only the first day of my treatment, it's also the first day I go to the gym in months. The gym is the perfect place to awaken my latent heterosexuality, because it's is packed with half-naked, sweaty men. Society has always given me to understand that that's what should interest my heterosexual side. On my way to my yoga class, I check out all the men around me. Most are sweaty and wearing skimpy outfits, while some are even grunting. But noticing them does just as much for me as remembering that I suck at yoga. There's a "Hm!" but that's about it.
The only guy in my yoga class is standing behind me, and what I do notice about him is that he has blisters on his feet that were clearly burst quite recently.
Outcome of Day One: Still gay.
Over the course of the day, I develop a habit of checking out all the men that appear in my line of vision – on the tube, in the street, while queuing for a cash machine. I haven't stared at so many men since I was a kid and searched for Wally in my book for hours on end. I stare until my eyes hurt, but I'm still not sure what I'm looking for exactly.
I've decided that if I really want to see if I can be hetero, I need to go out every night. If I stay in, there's only one way to test just how perfectly gay I still am and it involves my girlfriend and it's not something I'm comfortable with writing about here.
So after a workday of diligently taking all my doses of R20, I leave the office and head to a bar where my main concern will be drinking beer and checking out the guys. I bring my friend Simone, who I can point out guys to and ask whether they're hot and what it is I'm looking for exactly, when it comes to male hotness. Simone is an expert, he knows.
Sadly for my experiment – and for Simone – the bar I end up in is full of girls. Lesbian girls.
Outcome of Day Two: Still convinced that tits > anything else, so still brimming with lesbian tendencies.
On the third day of faithfully following the treatment, I'm not any less forgetful (today, I forgot to bring money, my supermarket loyalty card and lunch to work), I can't deal without my inhaler and my lesbian tendencies don't seem to have lessened a bit.
But never fear – this week is Milan Fashion Week. That means crazy traffic and, more importantly, lots of parties. Parties involving models and semi-celebrities, who, according to the latest science, are at least 50 percent more attractive than normal people. If there's a crowd that could cure me by just existing around me, it's one at a party where everyone is stunning and not at all interested in me.
I convince my girlfriend and a friend to come along and we spend a good part of the evening stuck in the kind of queues only open bars can generate. My girlfriend takes advantage of the waiting to remind me that, if Dr. Reckeweg R20 works, we lose the money that we put down as a deposit for our civil partnership. She also suggests I might have to pay her some form of compensation if I, after a relationship of 10 years, suddenly turn straight.
The bits of the evening between the queuing are nice and all, but turns out it's hard to focus on becoming hetero when you're slamming Negronis with your lesbian lover, whether you're surrounded by models and B-list celebrities or not. On our way home, I remember that we also bought a really lovely car together that I don't think I'm ready to give up.
Outcome of Day Three: Still quite gay and convinced I'll never have another Negroni again.
Something weird is going on – I spend the day much more composed than usual. I don't cough like I'm on my deathbed, I'm not bumping into things around me all day. I like to think that I have exactly the kind of grace with which straight girls move. Is it because I went to the gym this week, or because of Dr. Reckeweg? I'm not sure what it is, but I do take the R20 with renewed faith today and search the internet for beautiful men to develop feelings for.
Today's big test will be a party by/for/with/about lesbians. If the R20 has really kicked in, it should be as exciting as filling out my tax reform.
At 3AM I find myself singing along to "You wanna see cunt, you wanna see pussy" with someone else's lipstick on my face, so it's safe to say today has been another failure.
Outcome of Day Four: As gay as this week has been long.
I go to the gym again – partly to have some guys to look at, partly so I justify having a gym membership. The Saturday morning guys at the gym look a bit less sweaty than the Tuesday evening ones, but still very into grunting and lifting weights. I don't feel anything. Nothing. No shivers, no hot flashes. Knowing I have failed, I go home sad and gay.
On Saturday evening, I have a dinner with mostly lesbians and later go to a club filled with other non-straights. Even the gay men do nothing for me.
Outcome of Day Five: Totally gay.
I think it's safe to say Dr. Reckeweg does not cure lesbian tendencies. I don't have a high regard for homeopathic remedies to begin with – I tried many over the years and none of them have done anything for me. But even if the "ovarian extract" that's in this treatment had been so highly concentrated you could cut it with scissors, I highly doubt it would have made a difference.
At the end of the week I'm just as filled with lesbian tendencies as I was when I started. The only thing that's significantly different about me are my hands – which are much softer thanks to the moisturiser that came for free with the R20.