How does one happen to be gay?
A bad haircut happens. A drug problem happens. A monsoon happens.
Being gay does not happen. It’s a curse from birth. Or a blessing. I don’t know. It all depends on what kind of mood I’m in.
There’s no choice about it. We’re gay poets.
If you pretend you’re something else, you’re doing something bad.
To be a homosexual in America is to be part of a nation that wants to kill you. What else can you do but privilege your queerness above everything else?
Think about all the suicides. Gay-bashings. Murders. Proposition 8. A proposition that denies gay marriage, tells us what people think of us. This is what they think of us: we do not exist, we do not matter, or quite simply: Get away from us, you cocksuckers.
At the same time, people hate poets. “Have you ever been published?” they always ask. Trying to make us feel bad about ourselves. Delegitimize us.
It’s like when I told someone I was gay in college. “So you have had sex with a man before, right?” As if I needed to cross everything off a checklist before I could say I was. Of course, I must have tried out homosexuality. What eighteen year old hasn’t?
This was the truth: I hadn’t. Touching another guy scared me a little. I got nervous. It seemed gross. I took my time. What can I say?
Here’s another truth: young straight jocks, my friends, who later got married, tried out homosexuality before me. They thought it was OK. But it didn’t change their lives.
I still think homosexuality is just OK. What can I say? I always hope a pleasant amount of self-loathing is a kind of maturity.
There are some things I hate about poets who happen to be gay.
Poets who happen to be gay think there are a lot of other interesting aspects of their identity. And they don’t want to hide any of them by highlighting one in particular.
Trust me: no one is that interesting. Poets especially. That’s why they write. To create something that transcends their dull minds.
They also always say: I don’t want to appear in a gay male-only anthology. I don’t want to get pigeon holed.
My advice: Put your poems in whatever anthology you can. In this economy, no one is getting ahead. And definitely not poets. Or gay men. Even the cute ones who will never sleep with me no matter how much I beg. We’re all in trouble.
I’ve heard a poet who happens to be gay say: My sexuality is fluid.
That’s gross. Coca-Cola is fluid. The Erie Canal is fluid. The water from your busted toilet is fluid. Let’s face it: Everyone wakes up some days and realize they don’t want to be who they are. Because who they are pretty much sucks. That’s not fluidity. That’s called being human.
The idea of sexuality being fluid is leftover from the 1990s. When people started giving a damn about homosexuals. Those academic culture wars. When sensitive people were nervous about possibly hurting another sensitive person.
All of that is gone now. So we have no choice but to use the other leftovers. Like out, loud, and proud. Like I am a gay poet. That’s the truth. If we say that, there’s no way we won’t win in the end.
Voices Carry reading on Oct. 24
1 month ago