Do you ever do this? You’re walking down the street, cute man is heading in the opposite direction, meaning you will pass each other face to face. At the last minute, you avert your eyes?
Is it some sort of subtle guilt? If you were raised in the Norwegian Church like I was, this is a distinct possibility. My very gay great-uncle Robert to refers to this church as the frozen chosen. Sometimes it takes a really, really long time to thaw out. Unfortunately for he and myself, we didn’t only grow up in the Norwegian Church, we grew up in Norwegian families…which means the great thaw becomes a life’s work.
Aside from guilt, it is equally possible that it is self defense. If you’re a slightly built guy like me, then you tend to do whatever you can proactively to keep from being attacked. I have so far managed to get myself out of every scrape I’ve had forced on me (and they have been numerous), but considering how often I am a target, it is inevitable that there will always be another one in my future. I think I am selected for gay-bashing precisely because I am so slight. I’ve never once seen a straight, macho-mother fucker pick on someone bigger than him. It is a habit of bullies (ie, cowards) to go for the runt in the litter.
By avoiding eye contact, I can limit the chance for some reactionary homophobic basket case to get in my face and yell, “Are you checking me out, faggot? You wanna get fucked?!” (Yes, friends, I’ve heard it all). This avoidance technique has the distinct hindering effect of meaning I don’t get to flirt on the streets too often; though I suppose still having a pretty face makes less flirting a minor inconvenience.
The third possibility I am proposing is a lack of confidence. Do I not feel strong enough within myself to make eye contact with a stranger on the street? Am I worried about what to say if he looks over, smiles and says, “Hi.” What would I say? The only guys who ever said, “Hi” to me on the street either follow it up with, “got any spare change?”; or are so utterly creepy that finding my tongue is not an issue.
Granted, I don’t live in a shell, and I make plenty of eye contact on the street and say hello more often than not. But this consistent habit has me always curious. If I knew exactly why I did it, I guess there would be no need to send this post off into the ether. Perhaps sitting here and writing it, in preparation of leaving my house to meet a friend for a drink will lead to a realization as I pass a cute guy between here and there, meet him eye to eye, and say…?