I never learned how to show interest.

When the chemistry is strong, when the performance is strong, between two actors playing people in love, you can put yourself in it. You feel them fumbling emotionally. You feel them exuding affection. You feel them get frustrated. You feel their tenderness. You feel their projections as they try to peel off the surface tension and find the people they are underneath in a scant two days. You feel the empty spaces between them fill up with a cocktail of lust, love, and impossibility. You feel them feeling the stares.

And here, it's painful to watch. Their relationship is shaped by their environment in ways that confine them, as Glen points out, cements them in. Temporally, it is confined to a mere two days. Socially, it is confined by the homophobic slurs, sneers, stares, and slights that surround them. Geographically, it is confined by the space between them, which is as distant as Portland to England eventually, or as near as two bodies can be, for a little while. Personally, it is confined by their personal histories, by Glen's experiences with John and by Russell's experiences in the straight world. Narratively, it is confined by their separate trajectories and characters; there is no way Russell doesn't go there, there's no way he isn't supportive.

Here, it's painful to watch, because the chemistry is so strong, you feel their sweetness and their sorrows. And because I, who have never learned these basic tools of connection, feel their sweetness as bitter, as something denied to me. The gentleness of their relationship, masked by Glen's slight combativeness and Russell's reservation, boils in the way they look at each other, the way they touch, the way they get so close. And I realize how I've never been quite able to do it. Awkwardness and directness have been how I've stumbled into the few relationships I've had, but there have been so many whom I've liked, whom I'd've liked the chance to tell or show or say that I liked them, and never knew how.

Somehow, somewhere, I got the idea that showing interest was bad, because all the ways boys and men show interest have so often been dark, ugly, toxic, and the rare examples otherwise are drowned out. And I wanted to believe so hard that I was one of them for so long when I am not, and admitting that I ever looked for my lessons there is causing me dysphoria even as I write this. But what was the other side? Our understanding of how women show interest is warped by rape culture and an insistence on passivity. I'm interested. How do I show it? How do I say it?

So seeing people show it and say it almost feels alien, but also appealing, so appealing. I could not help but think of half a dozen people for whom I have affection as I watched this and wonder what it would be like to be caressing them gently, to be standing near them, to feel their breath, their body, their look upon me. Specific faces flickered past in a haze, and every moment Glen and Russell were together I felt more alone.

It was incredible.

Pride month: 14/30

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