Doctor's Notes: BK arrived on time, as usual. He appeared distracted, twisting the shell bracelet he always wears. I used that as a tool to draw him out.
Excerpt from transcript:
Doctor: Did you know that the cowry shell has an historical meaning to Africans?
BK: No, what is it?
Doctor: It symbolizes fertility, the halves of the shell mimicking the labial folds of a vagina.
BK: (Winced.) Great, I've been wearing pussies around on my wrist. There's some irony in that.
Doctor: Does that imagery repel you?
BK: I might as well wear a twat. I'm certainly living with one.
Doctor: You want to elaborate on that remark?
BK: Justin is being a child over my friendship with Jeff.
Doctor: Stop there for a moment, Brian.
BK: (Looked surprised.) What?
Doctor: D0 you realize I've had as many sessions with other people or with you and another person as I've had with you alone?
Doctor: At our last solo session you told me a very personal remembrance of when you were thirteen and attempted suicide. Then the barriers came out. You have your friends running interference for you, Brian. And you have Jeffrey running interference in your relationship with Justin. This is your defense mechanism. You are a master manipulator of people. That's one of the reasons for your professional success. Advertising is all about manipulation. But you use it in your private life as a shield. Were you an athlete?
BK: I played soccer.
Doctor: Defense or offense?
BK: Defense. I was a stopper.
Doctor: You learned your game plans well. But here's the deal with us: you can't do this, Brian. It's not helpful to you and I can see straight through it.
BK: Look, Lydia, you said you wanted to talk to those closest to me. Justin and Lindsay both fit that description.
Doctor: I do and they do, but I also want to talk with you, Brian. You're the patient. If you don't want to do this, stop coming. Don't try avoidance. It won't work. Just stop.
BK: (Smiled.) You're always trying to get rid of me.
Doctor: Not so.
BK: Am I that much of a challenge?
Doctor: I'm a woman of color of a sufficient age to remember bad old times, and I have a professional job traditionally peopled by white males. Challenges R Us.
BK: So, you don't want me to talk about Jeff?
Doctor: I do want you to talk about Jeff, if Jeff is paramount in your present anxiety.
BK: It isn't Jeff. It's Justin's reaction to Jeff.
Doctor: Do you consider his reaction unreasonable?
Doctor: Why is that?
BK: Because I'm not fucking Jeff.
Doctor: Which means what?
BK: He's no threat to Justin.
Doctor: Why does one follow the other?
BK: (Exasperated) Because it's not cheating if you don't fuck.
Doctor: That's a remarkably na´ve statement for a man with your sophistication, Brian.
BK: Why do you say that?
Doctor: Because you use sex as a sedative and a stimulant and a band aid. Sex is meaningless to you in almost every context. You couldn't list your lovers. You couldn't describe a thing about them, for the most part. For you, sex is one of the least intimate methods of interaction with another person.
BK: You don't know that.
Doctor: Tell me where I'm wrong.
BK: Well, with Justin, for one thing. Yeah, he started off as a trick, but the sex between us changed as the relationship changed. It's very intimate now. I do things with him I'd never do with a trick.
Doctor: That's Justin. Name another.
Doctor: Think of someone you've been intimate with in the last decade.
BK: (Frowned.) I don't know. Some are more memorable than others. Ok, what's your point?
Doctor: My point is, Brian, Justin would probably fear sexual intimacy with Jeff less than he fears an emotional connection, because you don't do emotional connections very often.
BK: I don't know why people say that about me. I have plenty of emotional connections. Mikey, for instance. We don't fuck, yet we're close.
Doctor: When did you first meet Mikey?
BK: I was still thirteen, and he had recently turned fourteen.
Doctor: Was he new in town?
BK: No, I was the new kid. I went to parochial school before that. Catholic. I got kicked out.
Doctor: For what?
BK: (Smiled.) Let's just say one of the nuns rapped my knuckles once too often with a ruler.
Doctor: What did you do?
BK: I super glued her fat ass to her desk chair. It's a little trick I've used more than once for mild revenge. Anyway, the Bishop had no sense of humor, so I was exiled to be educated with the heathens.
Doctor: Was it difficult, coming into a new environment at that painful age?
BK: Most of the students had gone to school together since first grade, so yeah, it was a little tough. It was also the first time I went to school with girls.
Doctor: How did you cope?
BK: (Shrugged.) I was a big kid. No one was trying to smack me around. I was good looking enough that the girls chased me. And I was a very good soccer player, so the coach scouted and protected me.
Doctor: The same coach who later molested you?
BK: It wasn't like that with him. It wasn't child molestation.
Doctor: Sure it was, Brian. Consent doesn't change that fact.
BK: I started it.
Doctor: You weren't of a sufficient age to make the decision to "start it" with a grown man, Brian. The law is very clear about that.
BK: Anyway, I coped.
Doctor: How did you make friends with Mikey?
BK: (Smiled.) Mikey's cute now, but he was a total geek then. Hornrims, bad clothes, short, well, he's still short, totally uncoordinated on any playing field. He was pathetic. Worshipped comic book heroes like a first grader.
Doctor: Then how did you two put it together?
BK: One day after soccer practice, I was walking home, and I passed this music store on my way. I noticed Mikey is in the doorway, with a bag from the store, and these two assholes from school were hassling him, pushing him around. They called him a faggot and took his tapes out of the bag andf threw them back and forth. One of them took off Mikey's glasses and smashed them under his heel. Mikey was crying that he couldn't afford new glasses, and I thought what the fuck.
Doctor: You intervened?
BK: (Shrugged) I walked over and leaned in the doorway, asking the biggest one of the two what was up. He tried to fuck with me so I dropped him with a punch. I learned how to punch from my old man. I also learned how to take a punch from him. This guy fell like timber and they split. I helped Mikey retrieve his tapes and his glasses, and told him to stop sniveling like a girl and learn how to defend himself.
Doctor: (laughed.) That was sensitive.
BK: (Smiled.) Jesus, he was such a mess. He asked if I would walk home with him in case they were waiting for him. Since it was on my way, I said yes. Mikey loves to hear himself talk, so on the way, I heard the whole Mikey Novotny story. `Dad killed in Vietnam before I was born, Mom is a waitress in two different places in order to support us, and my uncle Vic is a famous pastry chef in New York City. I collect comic books and my fave is Captain Astro, who I am convinced is gay.' (Laughed.) What a loser! I asked him, "What are you? Some kind of homo?" He looked right at me and said "Yes." I knew then, for all my tough guy shit, Mikey was one of the bravest people I had ever met.
Doctor: Did you have thoughts about your own sexual orientation by then, Brian?
BK: Not just thoughts. I knew. But I was convinced I was the only person on the planet who felt that way. And I would never tell anyone, even myself.
Doctor: Did you tell Mikey?
BK: Not at first. Not in so many words. But I did kind of befriend him. I protected him and tried to make him a little cooler than he was. I convinced him to work odd jobs in his neighborhood to pay for contact lenses and I helped him pick out some clothes that were a little less lame than his then-current wardrobe. However, I consider Mikey a failure on that front. He still has no taste in clothes.
Doctor: What drew you to Mikey?
BK: Besides the gay thing? His sense of humor. But also, he was so obviously, unreservedly and openly crazy about me. That fed my ego. No one had ever felt that way about me before.
Doctor: Not even a girl?
BK: (Shrugged.) I never got close enough to a girl for that to happen. I kept them at arm's length.
Doctor: Why, Brian?
BK: Because, even then, I knew it was going nowhere. I didn't want to play that game.
Doctor: What game is that?
BK: The let's go steady and let her wear your letter jacket game.
Doctor: How did the girls react?
BK: It seemed to me, the more disinterested I acted, the more interested they became.
Doctor: Why do you suppose that is?
BK: Because people always want what they can't have.
Doctor: What did you want at that age, Brian? Did you know?
BK: I just wanted peace and quiet and some stability at home.
Doctor: Things were that bad?
BK: (Winced, shrugged, finally nodded.) Yeah.
Doctor: Mikey became a haven?
BK: I guess. I spent a lot of time at his house. His mom worked a lot so we had it to ourselves most of the time.
Doctor: What is his mother like?
BK: (Laughed.) Picture a big, frowsy drag queen, in full over the top regalia, then slap a red fright wig on him and some bad clothes and unfunny badges and you have Debbie. She's a drag queen trapped in a woman's body.
Doctor: Is she gay?
BK: Debbie a dyke? No, she likes dick, just like the rest of us. But I think she'd love to be a gay man. She has her nose so far up our culture, she may as well be.
Doctor: So she was tolerant of Mikey's orientation?
BK: Tolerant? Shit, she worshipped it! Her brother is gay, and, as it turns out, Mikey's real father is a drag queen, not a Vietnam war hero. Of course, her son is gay. She's like the Good Witch of HomoLand. Everyone she touches turns rainbow hued.
Doctor: I sense some tension.
BK: Debbie and I have a love/hate relationship.
BK: She says when Mikey first brought me home, she thought I was trouble. She could see that he had a crush on me and I guess she sensed I wouldn't return his affection in that way. So she believed he was set up to be disappointed. She thinks I'm promiscuous, irresponsible, cold.
Doctor: Where does the love come in?
BK: She sheltered me and fed me and never quizzed me about my situation at home. She understood about my feelings for Justin before I did, and she called me on them. She made me face up to them. More than once, she reminded me of priorities and she has come around to believing that I do love Mikey and want the best for him. It was my gift to him that funded his comic book store. I was right about that asshole chiropractor she thought was so fucking perfect for him. And when Justin left me, Debbie showed up alone at my place with chicken soup and a soft shoulder. She's the closest thing to a mom I've ever had.
Doctor: That's quite a testimonial.
BK: She's quite a lady.
Doctor: When you were a boy, was she affectionate with you at all?
BK: (Sighed) Once, when I had known Mikey for about six months, I went over there late one night and Debbie intercepted me in the living room before I could sneak up to Mikey's room. She turned on the light and was prepared to bitch me out, until she saw I had a black eye. And there was blood on my shirt from my nose. She sat me down and washed it off and put an ice pack on my eye. "Who did this?" She asked. I made up a lie. She shook her head and said, "Your father did this, didn't he?" I wouldn't confirm. She sat beside me and tried to convince me to tell the authorities, but I told her I would lie. I would never tell the truth. I would never let them break up my family, as weird and dysfunctional as it was. She offered to kick his ass, and she was mad enough that she may have been able to do it. But I wouldn't let her confront him. I assured her it would make things much worse.
Doctor: All the classic signs of an abused child protecting an abusive parent, Brian. Then what?
BK: She hugged me. I grew very tense. I wasn't accustomed to any overt affection. She said...(hesitated as he struggled against an emotion) She said I always had a safe place in her home. And that I wasn't a bad kid. My father was the bad one, not me. No matter what he said, the problem was his, not mine.
Doctor: How did that make you feel?
BK: Like I had a place to go. Can we talk about something else now?
Doctor: Not yet, Brian. Hang in there. How did your relationship with Debbie mature?
BK: Deb always viewed me as her other son by a different father, and oh yeah, by a different mother, too. But I made really high grades and she saw a potential in me that no one else seemed to notice. She encouraged me to get a college scholarship. She said I could have an unlimited future. Mikey was never a high achiever. Debbie couldn't love him more, even if he were Bill fucking Gates, but she held out hopes for me that she didn't realistically have for her own son. When it all derailed, it was Deb who stuck up for me.
Doctor: What happened?
BK: I was a senior in high school. I had an almost straight A average, and high SAT scores. So, I had been offered a scholarship to Penn State. But in the last six week grade period, one of my teachers was threatening to give me a failing grade because he claimed I made a stink bomb in my advanced chemistry lab class.
Doctor: Did you?
BK: (Shrugged.) Not exactly. (Ambiguous smile.) Anyway, if he failed me, I'd lose my scholarship. I was moping around Mikey's room, waiting for him to come home, when Deb came in instead. She pulled the story out of me, and then she said she was getting an appointment with the teacher. I told her she couldn't do that, and she said, "Watch me."
Doctor: And did she?
BK: Oh yeah. Next afternoon, after classes. He was this supercilious little fag who hated me for being tall, handsome and smart. Maybe he sensed I was gay and that I would be the kind of gay man he could never have. He asked Debbie who she was and how she was related to me, and she said, "I'm someone who cares what happens to this kid. Isn't that supposed to be your job, too?" (Laughed.) Anyway, she ripped him a new one. No matter how dumb a prank it was, she said, it did not warrant destroying a young man's future. No one got hurt, it was silly and immature, and punishment was called for, but not to this extreme. I had A's on every test and every assignment. I should get detentions, but not a failing grade. She didn't think it was `legal'.
Doctor: I like Debbie. What did the teacher do?
BK: He told her tough shit. In so many words. She said she would take it to the school board. He said go ahead. She said they might like to know how one of their teachers is spending his spare time on Liberty Avenue picking up boys for sex. I stared at her in wonder, and he turned as white as a sheet. She worked in a diner in the Pink Ghetto, so she knew everything. She was totally into gay rights and yet she was blackmailing him with his homosexuality. For me. He backed down and I got an A in his class. When we left the school that evening, Deb whacked me on the butt with her purse. When I asked why, she said I made her act like a fucking bigot and torment this man with his personal behavior, and that made her mad.
Doctor: What did you say?
BK: I asked why she did it, if she felt that way about it. She said my future was worth more than her ideals, and besides, he was a cheesy old chicken hawk who didn't tip worth a shit! (Laughed.) That, in a nutshell, is Debbie.
Doctor: And you love her very much.
BK: (Shrugged.) As crazy as she makes me, I would do anything for her, I guess.
Doctor: Including sparing her precious son from the evil Brian Kinney sexual machine?
BK: (Laughed.) I don't think that's why we never...why Mikey and I haven't...
Doctor: Become lovers? Ok, Brian, I'll bite. Why have you never have sex with Mikey?
BK: It wasn't any big monumental decision. In fact, we almost did, once. We were kids, and we got hard looking at a picture of Patrick Swayze. We were going to jerk each other off.
Doctor: What happened?
BK: His mom walked in on us. After that, we've played around a little, kissed each other a lot, flirted, but it never feels quite right. Mikey's more like a brother to me. He held onto the sexual attraction a lot longer, but I managed to give him a dose of reality not too long ago, and that seems to have smoothed things out between us.
Doctor: What did you do?
BK: I pressed in on him. I made it clear that if he really wanted to do it, I would.
Doctor: What happened?
BK: He backed off. You see, it's not what he really wants, either.
Doctor: What if he took you up on your offer?
BK: (Shrugged.) Who knows? He didn't, so why go there?
Doctor: Brian, do you feel you can't have sexual feelings for someone you really love? That the two are mutually exclusive? That one contaminates the other? Do you think that may be one reason you are having problems reconciling your feelings for Justin?
BK: Because I want him?
D0ctor: Because he's the first person you've loved, romantically, but also wanted sexually. And acted on those desires.
BK: (Contemplative.) I don't know.
Doctor: What is it you don't know?
BK: I don't know...I just don't know.
Doctor: If you love him?
BK: (Staring hard at hands. Nods.)
Doctor: What do you think love is, Brian?
BK: Frankly, I have no fucking idea what love is. What it means to other people.
Doctor: What does it mean to you?
BK: I...I'm not sure.
Doctor: What would you LIKE love to mean?
BK: Tranquility. Emotional tranquility.
End of excerpt.
Doctor's Notes: BK has transferred many of his needs for maternal nurturing from his own cold, unfeeling mother to Debbie, the warm and ebullient mother of his best friend, Michael. He has assumed the role of the older, high achieving brother in that family dynamic even though he is younger than Michael by several months. He portrays Debbie Novotny as a woman who loves him, but who is not blind to his faults. His relationship with her seems to be grounded outside of his relationship with Michael. He has a fear of disappointing and disillusioning her. I suspect one of the barriers that has prevented him from pursuing an intimate relationship with Michael is this sibling dynamic that they have perhaps subconsciously developed, although BK openly describes his feelings for Michael as fraternal. He presented additional evidence of physical abuse at the hand of his father, and of his pointless efforts to protect his family from the justice system. Much of his internalized rage and feelings of worthlessness can be traced to his father's abuse. Significantly, he describes love as "emotional tranquility". BK is a man in desperate search for a safe haven and until he finds it, it will be difficult for him to fully realize his emotional completion.
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July 25, 2004