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As a professor of public speaking, I have come across more than my share of students who are terrified a the prospect of facing a crowd. The source of this fear usually stems from fear of rejection by an audience of their peers. They’re haunted by Images of children laughing at silly mistakes made in past speeches.

I try to reassure them by explaining that such images are residue from a far-off time, with an audience of children not adults. Most adult audiences, I add, are sympathetic to the speaker and only wish for success.

As a gay man slowly getting reacquainted with the dating scene following a failed relationship, I have to plead guilty to hardly being overly enthusiastic with putting myself out there for potentially more adversity and rejection. In my own interactions with potential suitors (or at least men of interest), I try to charm them, as it were, with a positive frame of mind and a clear purpose -- similar advice to what I give my students.

Staying positive in the gay dating scene isn’t exactly easy. In interviews with men for an upcoming book on the subject and concomitant work with the New York City Board of Health’s Gay Awareness Campaign, I often hear gay men express an as-yet unfulfilled desire for a long-term relationship. Typical remarks: "Gay men are fickle." Or, "it’s hard to find a guy who really wants a relationship."

So naturally, the question arises, why do many gay men have such a difficult time finding Mr. Right? Could it be that we are being just a little to picky in our criteria? One of the premises of my planned book is that that we are simply not satisfied with our potential choices until we find that "perfect guy." But at the same time, we all know the perfect guy doesn’t exist In this world. Hence, the disconnect between whom we see in our mind’s eye and who we see in the real world.

I can still vividly recall sad memories of my old cruising days, when guys would stay in a bar all night without finding anyone or ultimately "settle" for a less-desired man simply to avoid going home alone. A note of desperation permeated the evening, leaving the pursuer feeling as little satisfied with himself as with his "second choice" partner -- especially if (or, more likely, when) he realized he was just a second choice.

Most perplexing of all, the "cruiser" often ended up feeling less than successful with his results, primarily because he lacked the confidence to approach the men he most, ironically, out of fear of rejection. For many readers, this may seem about casual sex than romantic love. But for many of us, hasn’t that causal pickup often resulted in a successful long-term relationship?

Your inability to approach and introduce yourself to that man you are most attracted to may have already resulted in the love of your life passing you by. The next time to see the potential Mr. Wonderful, simply approach him and introduce yourself.

What do you have to lose compared to what you might gain? Just like my students who complete their presentations with success and personal satisfaction, approaching and succeeding in getting the man you desire will have the same sense of satisfaction and personal fulfillment.

In addition, confronting and dispelling your fears will only enable you to look at yourself as the success story you know in your heart that you have the potential to be. Also, it helps in disproving the statement, "I fear I’ll end up alone," that many in the straight community -- even sometimes our own parents --warned us about after we came out to them.

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