I made some comments about the over-sharp division between sex and romance in the dream. He was surprised when we disagreed that his Internet dating and visits to gay saunas were not regarded by me as manifestations/symptoms of his self-loathing, his sabotaging himself–his pathology. In a somewhat puritanical way, he expected himself to stop having sex outside relationships, yet he had no relationships. He also imagined that the outcome of the analysis would, amongst other things, mean that he would no longer go out cruising. I acknowledged his desire in the dream for an intimate and loving relationship but also suggested that it seemed more of a problem that he felt guilty about casual sex and more importantly that he seemed to engage in it in a way that prevented pleasure, enjoyment and a potential conversation with other men. I knew that I was taking a position, was sounding educative and perhaps having an argument with a psychoanalytic establishment that regards this aspect of gay life as a further example of ‘the disturbance and alienation in the mind of the homosexual’ (Bollas 1992: 144). Thus we discovered that D could not enjoy the sex he has and can have, for very specific reasons. I carefully avoided his desire to be given some overarching theory of why so many gay men cruise for sex. For D, any men he met in this way were as defective as he was. He looked down on them and engaged in consensual bullying/SM scenarios in which, this time around, he was the abuser. He could penetrate them, throw a few homophobic insults at them, reach an orgasm himself and then walk away. He could be in control.

‘So you express your masculinity in an exaggerated almost caricatured way?’ I said. ‘Perhaps–don’t know about masculinity, but I guess yes, for a few moments I don’t feel gay–those guys behave as if I’m not gay–just someone who happens to be passing.’

‘Passing’ I repeated.

He laughed, ‘Passing by, passing through, I mean’.

‘You believe they think you are straight really and had just stumbled across a gay sauna?’

He protests, ‘They want me to be like that, that’s all they want, to be abused, to be disrespected. That’s all I can offer.’