As I may have written before, I just don't trust men, plain and simple. To have that burden lifted from me, I would pay any sum of money or sacrifice whatever it took. Therapy has been beneficial, but fear this embedded and pervasive does not give up easily. The process of desensitization required is like throwing the person with a fear of drowning into the deep end of the pool. The instant one can safely head to shore, one does. Over the course of my life, I think I have had a grand total of three close male friends with whom I've spent any degree of time. That degree of comfort did not arrive overnight and I worry that I am shortchanging myself by refusing to take part in male bonding.
What causes me the highest amount of frustration possible is my simultaneous desire for and phobia of male company. Men wishing to befriend me over the years have previously suggested such things as lunchtime meetings, ballgames, and other typically masculine pursuits. Not wishing to be rude, I follow through on the request, though I am notably not eager to keep it going. I wish I could without the effort required to push through a major phobia. Though I have always been possessed of a mind that processes information and finds interest in things much more feminine than masculine, I do wonder if I am limiting myself somehow not for better.
This anxiety goes beyond just simple friendship. Like some men who identify as queer, it is difficult for me to manage otherwise ordinary, human feelings of desire. As I think about heterosexual attraction, I have enough experience and comfort with it to know the boundaries present and the unwritten rules that govern it. That is also my comfort zone. Within homosexual attraction, however, one of my worst fears possible is the mere thought of expressing desire towards any man who would be not receptive to it. Homophobia is still unfortunately present among us. Second to that is the act of being actively and plainly wanted by another man. Walking the streets last night, a man smiled at me flirtatiously. Instantly uncomfortable, I glared back at him, though underneath that gesture was a recognition that I appreciated it but yet had no clue how to handle it.
In that way, I've always felt a bit like Dirk Bogarde's character in the film Victim. Melville Farr is a successful barrister (lawyer) on his way towards greater recognition. However, he finds himself running afoul of a group of blackmailers who have been threatening to expose the homosexuality of certain men, unless, of course, they pay. Farr makes a mistake by engaging in a relationship with another man, which, though it is never consummated, still has a emotionally sexual quality to it. The barrister is himself bisexual and married to a woman, though his past nonetheless contains shadowy evidence of a same-sex relationship or two. The wife assumes that the homosexual part of her husband has long been pushed aside and forgotten, an explanation her husband pushed and she believed, perhaps because she wanted so desperately to believe it.
In a emotionally wrenching discussion with his wife, Farr finally comes clean with his own role in the proceedings. Why was he in contact with the other man? In dramatic fashion, he proclaims, "Because I wanted him. I WANTED him!" Those two lines could not be more pertinent to my own situation. While most, if not all of my friends know about my own bisexuality, including my girlfriend, the degree of secrecy and discomfort I feel I must adhere to nonetheless is immense. It is quite taxing to be both attracted and repulsed by something, so I stick to private, secret feelings that almost never go beyond mere fantasy. These days, being that I am in a relationship, I do not crave something else, but I do know what it's like to feel something that causes an equal measure of revulsion and pleasure.
I have to say I'm not sure how long it will take things to really change. Therapy takes years sometimes, particularly in situations like these. But I do know that I have a lot of interlocking feelings present that complicate what should be a straightforward matter. Unlike the title of the movie, I don't feel like a victim. Instead, I feel jumbled up like a jigsaw puzzle, the top of the box missing, not knowing what the picture is supposed to look like upon completion.