In the course of my lifetime I have twice made the mistake of falling in love – or perhaps I should say, in lust – with men whose value as objects of affection was, to say the least, problematic.  In both cases they were men who publicly proclaimed themselves to be heterosexual, even while carrying on lengthy, albeit covert, flirtations with me.  In neither case (much to my dismay) did any sexual activity occur between us.  What developed instead were relationships of a much more curious nature, consisting namely of a series of cautious allurements and sudden retreats.  That is to say, these men, once they had perceived the nature of my sexual inclinations, would at first evidence a great attraction to me, enticing me to the point at which I would feel compelled to make it clear that I was a willing reciprocator to their overtures; and then they would withdraw, acting for all the world as if I had completely misunderstood their intentions.  Feeling hurt, insulted, and abused, I would turn cool – at which point their flirtations would begin all over again.

In both cases this cycle of flirtation and withdrawal was repeated many times.  This eventually caused in me a frustration so acute that I was driven to remove myself bodily from all association with these men; physically distancing myself from them was the only means I had of preserving my psychological integrity.  It was either that, or else go a little insane.  "Insane" I say and "insane" I mean, for I was made to feel as if I could no longer trust my own perceptions of what was happening around me and thus was led to believe that my ability to interpret reality had somehow gone astray.  And yet, was I really to suppose that it was a common practice among heterosexual men to cast a wandering eye up and down the lengths of each other's bodies, to rest a warm, lingering palm upon the lower part of one another's backs, or to flush with pleasure when seeing one of their friends again after only a day or two spent apart?  You may not think so, and neither did I; however, were I to return these insinuations of affection, assuming that they indicated something beyond a merely platonic interest, it would soon be made clear to me that I had assumed too much.  In short, the other man would begin to avoid me – worriedly even, with many a wary, watchful glance, as if suspecting that I might at any moment lose all control and make a sudden attack.  And so I would leave them be.  For a time there would be no further interactions between us; then, generally within the space of only a few days and always much to my confusion, the other man would begin to pay me the same little flattering attentions all over again.

Were I to contrive some plan whereby we might spend some time together alone (though always in public settings, engaged in some activity of the most banal, socially acceptable kind), I was looked at askance, or turned away from with embarrassment.  Once again I had, apparently, presumed something I had better ought not.  And yet the flirtations continued.  Frustrated desire on my part was the most consistent and perhaps the only natural outcome to result from these bizarre fluctuations in my relationships with these men:  my curiosity was being forever piqued, but its satisfaction perpetually denied; thus did my libido become inflamed.  The problem was further exacerbated by the fact that their heterosexuality was a matter of public record, while my homosexuality – and their interest in it – was not.  Eventually I was reduced to feeling a sort of lurid pity for these hapless fellows:  their evident desire to explore the wider realms of sexual possibility which I represented, and their continuing failure of nerve to do so, made them seem somehow all the more thrillingly, dangerously appealing.  Yet no matter what tactic I took with them – and I tried them all, from feigned indifference to genial friendliness to confessions of outright adoration – their answer to my attempts at seduction was always the same:  No.  And yet still their flirtations continued.  It was all most perplexing.  What was I to conclude?  Had I been made the object of some weird heterosexual sport, the goal of which was to lure me into a state of expectation so that they could enjoy my disappointment over its lack of fulfillment?  Perhaps; and yet, could that game have provided so much entertainment that it was worth their while to stretch it out not only over the course of hours or days or even weeks, but over many long months?  Or, alternatively, was it that they were in such desperate need of male camaraderie that they felt compelled to solicit my affection as a sort of substitute for it, even going so far as to return the favor, though never with the intention of following such mutually expressed admirations to what was, to my mind at least, their natural conclusion?  Did they suffer from some sort of performance anxiety, fearing that I, who was privy to so much knowledge which they did not share, might find their sexual ineptitude during a physical encounter to be laughable?  I could not, of course, make so bold as to ask them outright which of these possibilities might be true; I could only hazard my awkward guesses and try to shape my behavior in accordance with them.  To no avail, unfortunately:  I was finally forced to concede that I would never be able to find out what motivated these men.  Coming at last to believe that I had no other recourse but to sever all contact with them, I determined to do so.  In one instance, this required me to quit my job; in the other, to move from the apartment house in which I was living.  In both cases my imminent departure was greeted with signs of what appeared to be sincere regret, though never with one single overtly stated acknowledgment of any desire to retain my presence.

Why?  Well, it's true that our society is, at this point in time at least, profoundly neurotic when it comes to the subject of sexual diversity – or indeed, to diversity of any sort.  Differences between people abound, of course; but we don't appear able to handle them very well.  I suppose that in order to embrace difference in another it's necessary first to embrace the possibility of difference within oneself; yet the truth is that we are all strangers in this world, and consequently always seem a little strange to one another.  People are generally loathe to recognize the strangeness that others see in them, and so strive to mask any hint of it with the appearance of conformity.  To blatantly divorce oneself from the norms of society – that is to say, from those tenets of belief and forms of behavior practiced by the majority – requires a strength of character many seem not to possess.  It requires real courage to go against the behavioral and ideological stances promoted by our culture, for to do so often results in a life of privation and loneliness; and this is a price few are willing to pay.  It also requires persistence of effort, and for most people the ties of family and career, or the necessities of simply earning a living and taking care of their daily needs, makes such effort too much work.  Then too, laziness – that natural dislike of giving up such comfort as is to be found in adhering to the status quo – is another difficult hurdle to overcome.  Also required, or at least helpful, are insights not only into one's personal psyche, but into the human psyche in general, encompassing both its philosophical and historical contexts.  Many people are simply not intellectually equipped for the endeavor.

Having said all this, I guess I can see how some young men, lacking the power of introspection and eager to find acceptance among their peers, might begin to flirt with young women and, being endowed with the normal amount of desire for some tangible form of sexual expression, as well as finding receptive young women both more abundant in number and more socially acceptable in kind, might eventually come to the conclusion that regardless of their true inclinations heterosexuality was their only motivating power within the sexual arena.  I suppose I can even see how such young men might eventually begin to develop certain, shall we say, neurotic tendencies because of this conclusion, resulting in some very odd behaviors . . .

Yes, I suppose I can see all that.  But it's hard for me not to see it as dumb.


I never thought myself better than anyone else
Until you chose one so blatantly inferior.

But then
You never did love the real me –
Only my mask, suffering's description:
Its swollen beauty,
Its sorrowing insight,
Its mournful compassion.
This was the mask you forced me to wear
So that you could debase yourself
Before it, with her, you in her arms
Murmuring lies more terrible than
Those terrible truths you'd learned from me.
It let you spurn me so I couldn't spurn you first, but
Darling, if only you had thought
A little more
Or a little less
Of me (I swear I wouldn't have cared which) . . .

Instead, you left me as I was and am:
Alone.  Alone – but not ungrateful


well maybe it's true
i'm just a fading flower
but i've seen what you've been going out with lately
and all i can say is
you must have a really low opinion of yourself

me too

well i don't want morality anymore
i just want to fuck anything that comes along

especially you