Doctor's Notes: Lindsay Peterson (LP) is a striking 32 year old woman who has known BK since college. She is the biological mother of his son, and shares parenting duties with her life partner, Melanie Marcus. The two women went through a commitment ceremony just over one year ago. Lindsay has a quiet, patrician composure, and speaks in a soft voice, that is not for effect. She projects a calm that the turbulent BK must have found soothing. I asked BK to wait in the anteroom so that I could talk to Lindsay privately.
Excerpt from transcript:
Doctor: Are you nervous about coming here, Lindsay?
LP: Not at all. I'm thrilled that Brian is seeking help for his emotional issues. I'll be glad to help anyway I can.
Doctor: Why don't you tell me about when you first met Brian?
LP: (Laughing) We were in an art history class together at Penn State. I was an art major, but he was a business school student. He was only taking the course for what he thought would be an easy elective credit.
Doctor: What was your first impression of him?
LP: (Coloring slightly) Well, he's absolutely gorgeous, isn't he? I guess that was my first impression of Brian. The same one everyone gets when they first meet him. He's beautiful. Wasn't that your first impression?
Doctor: Brian is very handsome, yes. And your second impression?
LP: He had a wicked sense of humor. He was not like the other boys, who were all hands and sexual pressure. I never suspected he was gay, at first, but then I didn't suspect I was either.
Doctor: You became friends?
LP: (Squarely meeting my gaze.) We became more than friends for awhile.
Doctor: You were in love?
LP: We were lovers.
Doctor: Are you making a distinction?
LP: Oh yes, I think so. I adored him, but there was always that barrier between us, a gate that kept us from going too far, emotionally.
Doctor: What was that?
LP: We were both gay.
Doctor: Yet you had a sexual relationship?
Doctor: Had you admitted your sexual orientation to each other before you became intimate?
LP: We hinted at it. Look, it was lovely. Brian was a thoughtful and tender lover. I thought he was divine. I even permitted myself to fantasize that I might have a future with Brian. Although he never intimated such a possibility. But I was young and relatively inexperienced. One afternoon, he said he couldn't have sex with me anymore. It wasn't fair to me, he said. He told me that he was gay, he was certain of it. No offense to me, but even though he thought I was wonderful, he knew who he was, and he didn't intend to live a lie. He also said I should examine my own orientation, without fear.
Doctor: How did you feel about that?
LP: At first, I was hurt. But later, I was glad. His honesty allowed me to be honest with myself.
Doctor: So you stopped having sex?
LP: Yes, but we remained great friends. I think I understand Brian more than most people. He's been able to show me his sweet side, perhaps because I'm a woman, and thus non threatening. I don't wear blinders, I know his faults, but he can also be a loving, giving man.
Doctor: Is that why you chose him to be the father of your child?
LP: When Mel and I decided to have a baby, we hotly debated who the father should be. She has never liked Brian.
Doctor: Why is that?
LP: Frankly, she's jealous. It's silly, but she is. She dislikes other aspects of Brian's character, but the jealousy is her main driver. Anyway, there's no other man I even considered. Brian has great genes, he's tall, beautiful and smart. He's also ambitious and driven. I think I smooth out some of his worst traits, just as he smooths out mine. Perfect genetic match.
Doctor: Was he enthusiastic about it?
LP: (Laughed.) At first he acted as if I asked him to donate one of his balls instead of a little goo. But I wore him down.
Doctor: So now you have a son.
LP: A beautiful wonderful son.
Doctor: What kind of father is Brian?
LP: He loves Gus very much.
Doctor: I'm sure, but what kind of father is he?
LP: It varies. He tries to do the right thing, but he can be irresponsible. He's always supported him financially. And when he's with Gus, he's quite loving. He's just absentee, so it's hard. And he signed over his parental rights to Melanie, so he has no real claim on Gus.
Doctor: Did you ask him to do that?
LP: It was very important to Melanie. Brian finally decided he wanted Gus to have two parents who loved him and who loved each other. So he signed.
Doctor: But you've permitted him to remain part of Gus's life.
LP: Of course! Gus loves Brian! I'd never keep them apart. The other is just a legal technicality.
Doctor: Do you know Brian's family?
LP: (Wrinkled nose distastefully.) I've met them, yes.
Doctor: Tell me about them.
LP: His father was an old letch and a drunk. He was horrible to Brian. His mother is a cold and remote religious fanatic. She acts as if she couldn't care less if he lived or died. She can't accept his homosexuality. His older sister, Claire, is an hysteric, and is very bitter about life. My parents are less than sterling, but compared to what Brian went through as a kid, I was lucky.
Doctor: What do you think is the greatest general misconception about Brian, held by others?
LP: That he's unfeeling, uncaring. He's truly very sensitive. He just shows his emotions in non-traditional ways, hiding behind his sarcastic bravado.
Doctor: And his best attribute?
LP: Loyalty. Brian is fiercely loyal to his friends.
Doctor: Lindsay, since your brief affair in college, have you been lovers with Brian?
LP: ( Smiled wanly.) Never. And we never will again.
End of excerpt
Doctor's Notes: BK seemed remote, withdrawn as he followed LP into the session. He was slow to begin. I had to prod him to start talking at all.
Excerpt from transcript:
Doctor: Brian, what's on your mind today? You seem preoccupied.
BK: Do I?
BK: Tired, I guess.
Doctor: Sleep disruption?
BK: Yeah, it's called caring for a two year old terror.
Doctor: I see. How did your visit go?
BK: Mostly good. It was great to spend time with Gus. He's grown a lot, changed.
Doctor: How is it going with Justin sharing your space?
BK: Hectic, but calming down. Moving in is traumatic. (Stared out window at rainy day, paused.)
Doctor: Traumatic in what way?
BK: Just so much clutter. I guess I remember how it was when he moved out before. All his clutter went with him. I felt stripped. I'm still not one hundred per cent sure about this whole thing. I don't want to be on pins and needles with him. I know I shouldn't be thinking about the end at the beginning, but I don't ever want to feel that way again.
Doctor: So, if you hold back some of what you're feeling for him, it is less likely he can hurt you so badly if he decides to leave. Is that the plan?
BK: (Smiled wanly.) I don't know. It sounds so lame when you say it.
Doctor: It's not at all an unusual reaction in a reconciliation, Brian. The person wants their lover back, but at the same time, fears the pain of the rejection that broke them up. You just have to recognize that's what's happening, and we'll deal with it.
BK: Okay, I guess that makes sense.
Doctor: Is there something more, Brian?
BK: (Paused.) No, I guess not. Well, maybe...
Doctor: Tell me.
BK: I met this guy.
Doctor: I see. Trick?
BK: No, not a trick. I was out with Gus and he was out with his kid and we just started talking. We walked through the museum together, had coffee. It wasn't sexual.
Doctor: What troubles you about that meeting?
BK: (Frowned.) I don't know, really. But...something does. I've found myself thinking about him often. He's a pediatric oncologist. Can you imagine that? Works everyday with kids dying from cancer.
Doctor: Why does that fact interest you, Brian?
BK: I guess it made me wonder what the hell I've contributed with my own fucking life. Nothing. We're about the same age, but he's so much more the grown up. His daughter lives with him, he has this incredible profession...he saves young lives. He made my problems appear so high school and trivial.
Doctor: What's his name?
BK: Jeffrey, as in no relation to Dahmer. (Smirked at his joke.)
Doctor: Is he gay?
Doctor: Are you attracted to him?
BK: (Met my gaze.) Would I fuck him? Sure, I'd fuck him. He's hot.
Doctor: That's not what I asked.
BK: I don't know any other way to answer your question.
Doctor: Have you seen him again?
BK: Not yet.
Doctor: But you plan to?
BK: He called me. Wanted to have lunch tomorrow. I said no at first, but he persisted. He knows I'm in a relationship with Justin, he's not interfering with that. He just wants to be friends. Nothing wrong with that, is there?
Doctor: Are you feeling unfaithful to Justin?
BK: (Chuckled.) Straight world values, Lydia. I don't think in those terms.
Doctor: Tell me what you're thinking.
BK: I don't know. I guess I'm thinking I had friends in Pittsburgh as well as Justin, so I should be able to have friends in New York, too. I like Jeffrey. Why shouldn't we have lunch together?
Doctor: Yet you seem apprehensive.
BK: It's funny, isn't it? I've been on my own in New York for over a year. Lonely, bored. Justin finally comes back into my life and almost on the same day, I meet this guy. My life is a continuing source of humor for the powers that be.
Doctor: Did you tell Justin about Jeffrey?
BK: No, and before you ask, I don't know why. I think I just preferred to keep him to myself for awhile. Are you going to tell me I shouldn't see him?
Doctor: Of course I'm not going to tell you that, Brian. You have to run your own life. I have no intention of interfering in decisions you make concerning your friendships. I can only help you have some insight into those decisions.
BK: (Smirked.) That's a shrinkish kind of cop out.
Doctor: I'm a shrinkish kind of person.
BK: I don't even want to worry if I see Jeffrey or not. It's my decision. I'm not some suburban husband, pondering whether he may be tempted to cheat on wifey. I don't need this overhang of guilt or whatever it is. I'm Brian Kinney. I'm free to make my own choices.
Doctor: Then why are you so defensive about Jeffrey?"
BK: (Changed subject.) So what did you think of Lindz?
Doctor: She's a lovely woman. How do you feel about her?
BK: Lindz? Oh, I totally love Lindsay.
Doctor: Why is it so easy for you to say you love Lindsay and even Michael, but not Justin?
BK: That's a very good question.
Doctor: I know. What's your answer?
BK: Different implication, I suppose.
Doctor: Which means you don't view your feelings for them in the same way. Correct?
BK: Of course that's correct! Justin is my lover, not Mikey or Lindsay. I don't even feel the same way about Mikey and Lindz. Is it wrong to compartmentalize feelings?
Doctor: Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They are just what they sound like, feelings. Acting on certain feelings is often wrong, but what you described is essential to society, Brian. We have to compartmentalize love. We don't love our parents the way we love our spouse, or our spouse the way we love our children. It's healthy. What I'd like you to think about is how you can believe the "L" word is overexposed and meaningless when you use it so easily to describe how you feel about certain friends. And yet, not at all to describe what exists between Justin and you.
BK: (Paused, wove his fingers together over one knee in a thoughtful gesture.) I see your point.
Doctor: Any immediate reaction?
Doctor: Fine, just think about it, Brian.
BK: I will.
Doctor: So, tell me about your relationship with Lindsay.
BK: (Looked cautious.) Why? What did she say?
Doctor: Doesn't matter what she said. What do YOU say?
BK: We have as good a relationship as two people can have when the partner of one of the people despises me.
Doctor: Why does she despise you?
BK: Jealous that I had Lindsay, and that Lindsay still feels something for me.
Doctor: What does Lindsay feel for you?
BK: (Winced.) I don't know. I think she just...has fond memories of... we're good friends.
Doctor: What are your memories of Lindsay?
BK: I sat next to her in some dumb art class when we were at Penn State. She was hot. All the men on campus wanted her, so her remote attitude intrigued me. We laughed together a lot, and eventually, we slept together.
Doctor: Why did you sleep with her, Brian? Were you unsure about your orientation?
BK: No, that was a given.
Doctor: Then what motivated you?
BK: I was younger. I was curious. Girls had been coming on to me my whole life. I wanted to know. Lindz wasn't my first woman, but she may as well be. The others were just experiments in groping and coming. She's a great beauty. It wasn't difficult.
Doctor: Were you in love with her?
BK: (Smirked) Your favorite word again. I love Lindsay. Loved her then, love her now. Nothing's changed. Except we don't fuck each other.
Doctor: Why did you stop?
BK: What did she say?
Doctor: This is no time for gallantry, Brian. I'm not asking out of prurient curiosity.
BK: I felt like Lindsay was getting too deep in the affair. I viewed us as loving friends. I think she was beginning to look for more.
Doctor: More than you were willing to give?
BK: More than I could give, Lydia. I'm gay. I never wanted to live some closeted straight life with wife and kiddies while hunting for dick in the clubs when I traveled. I'm not that hypocritical. And so it wasn't fair to her. She didn't really want it either. She's gay too. But she was less certain at that time.
Doctor: So you let her down easy.
BK: I tried.
Doctor: What was your reaction when she asked you to father her child?
BK:( Laughed.) At first, I was appalled. I had no intention of being saddled with a child, and I never wanted to fuck her again. Especially not with her mate hanging over me with an ax aimed at my cock.
Doctor: Why did you change your mind?
BK: Lindz can be more wearing than water over rocks.
Doctor: So you donated sperm?
BK: With the explicit understanding the spawn was all hers, not my responsibility.
Doctor: And in fact you signed over legal rights to Gus?
BK: (Frowned.) That was a tough decision, but it was the right thing for Gus.
Doctor: It sounds as though you've remained actively engaged in his life.
BK: Yeah, as much as I can from New York. I support him, but everything I do is voluntary.
Doctor: Do you enjoy being a dad?
BK: You know, I have it easy. The munchers do all the hard work with Gus. I just swoop in, feed him, entertain him, take him out and drop him off when I'm done with him. They make it easy for me, and yeah, I like it fine.
Doctor: Do you want more children?
BK: Depends on Lindsay. No, not really. But if she asked me, maybe.
Doctor: What about a child that you would raise yourself? Perhaps with Justin?
BK: (Shakes head.) No, that's not my dream, Lydia. I don't need that, don't want that. Gus is enough on a part time basis.
End of excerpt
Doctor's notes: LP and BK share a child, and thus a lifetime link. Their underlying relationship is multi-faceted, complicated by a youthful sexual involvement. I infer that LP is more attracted to the idea of that involvement today than is BK. BK is conflicted about his attentions to his son, whether they are sufficient, and yet he is wary of forming a strong bond with no role model of a father in his own life. His own father was abusive, and his father substitute, his coach, abused him sexually. Therefore he is uncertain how he is supposed to act and feel with his own son, although he appears determined to try. BK is also continuing to experience insecurity about the permanence of his relationship with JT. He wants to allow himself to commit, but he lives in fear of being rejected by JT, again, and that fear creates significant barriers between them. The timing of his attraction to a man named Jeffrey, may well be an attempt to shatter his relationship with JT before they get started. Not only would he free himself of the fear of abandonment by JT, but he would resolve the issues encountered in pursuing this relationship. This is an early critical juncture in that relationship.
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July 25, 2004