Nick Verne (nverzeanu) wrote,
Nick Verne

With yuriverse's permission,

By Yuri Hospodar, 1989

To You In Your Closets
To all you unemerged, unconfessed, unavowed, unadmitted,
to you who have better things to do, don't have it so bad,
  don't need to proclaim, never felt put down personally,
to you in your closets awaiting a miraculous bestowal of
  respect and acceptance,
to you in your closets hiding in side vision waiting for the
  intolerant to turn their own heads,
to you in your closets refusing to come out until they're
  good and ready for you,
to you in the offices, administrations, planning rooms, and
  garbage trucks,
to you safe and sequestered in the homophobe industry of
  church, cowering amid cowled clergy where your
  virtual majority is stifled by singular bigoted
to you in the homophobe industry of state, hiding in
  bureaucracy where rocking the boat is bad for your
to you in the homophobe industry of the military,
  bootcamping it up to make real men and women of
  yourselves in the image they tell you to be,
to you entertainers who teach us what we want, are told what
  we want and how we want it, and how we want you,
  you sexy symbols who won't say what sex you really want,
to all you athletes convinced persona means more than
  performance, that what you do ain't done by the likes of
  swimming stars afraid to make waves,
  football players patting ass in public but sneaking out
  late night to express affection,
to you entertained, too, who dance the world away, who
  refuse to hear when the words are spoken,
who hop to a vapid disco chanteuse and ignore the truths
  of a same sex song,
who take the little offered and never work for more,
  who awaken in the morning with a deeper voice and say
  "hello" to the boss and not much else all day,
to you in the streets, in the fields, in the law firms,
  and libraries, all furtive glances and backing down and
  not saying Nothing,
to you proclaiming "it's none of their business", "they
  didn't ask", "why cause scenes",
to the insecure putting on superior airs chiming "well they
  wouldn't understand",
to you in cover marriages, marriages of convenience,
  marriages to cure, to pretend, to forget,
  in cover jobs, cover careers, cover friendships,
to you clutching religion to save you from yourself and turn
  you into God-knows-who,
to you holding office and holding your breath, hoping late
  marriage or confirmed bachelorhood are phrases palatable
  to public belief,
to you holding office by the skin of your public image,
  doing nothing to help, fearing rumors will spread and
  lids will fly off,
to you with your arms crossed, pursing your lips, insisting
  you're the same as everyone else except for what you do
  in bed behind locked doors, closed windows, silence,
  lies, and defiance of several states' sodomy laws,
to you lying alone and awake all night wondering who knows,
  who'll tell, who suspects, and does it show,

don't worry, don't fear, your secret is safe with me;
I will not force you from your comfortable shadows.

It shall be said that the silence you claim as effect may
  also be called cause -
you are welcome to remain, huddled in your own
the skin you bruise won't be your own:
your saved hide will in shine safety bought off with future
  strangers' broken bones.

Let others bleed from briars you might have cleared,
let others stand in empty lots
  where you might have built confident temples;
let them stand in the rain thinking
  this is all the weather there could be,
let them learn one language thinking
  these are all the words there could be,
let them be taught they are evil and alone
  just yards from where you are,
  bitter in the same presumptions.

Though we rarely produce our own kind directly
we still have children of our own to look after;
the young among our numbers must anticipate haven,
  must know there is a heritage, and strong faces to find.
Though we rarely emerge from the same gene house,
we still have a history, tradition of our own -
a tradition never inherited
  but constantly self-created,
a non-genetic line of voice and action
  made stronger by the bond being willfully forged -
the unrelated as one,
  diverse combination clasping in;
union by experience, not where we emerged -

our achievements and losses,
  our blessings and curses,
erupt from who we are when we are ourselves,
not bodies we were born from
  but the entities we are -
traditions tread upon for two thousand years,
  bypassed, burned, beaten, belittled,
untouched by acknowledged historical pen,
  subjects unsuitable, cloud-shrouded, "undocumented" -
not enough written records to justify claims
  and authorities refuse to write it down still -
or the ones who run the presses find no paper,
and sociologists' eyes close a hemisphere away;
  yet we know.
A method older than theirs
  keeps older facts alive.

The greatest oral traditions - no pun intended -
our self-preservation which couldn't be written,
that which we know and others dismiss -
the manuscripts they burned to purge fact
  we keep and speak in tongues,
we pass secretly, directly,
our truth their rumor,
  and histories tribal and clear and honest -
of the priests and the bards serving golden Apollo
  who lay by the side of his beloved Hyacinthus,
of the warriors on islands now buried
  under Westernized names,
colonized, homogenized, shamed into seeing the
  missionary's position,
of the berdache crossdressed transcontinentally,
  from Siberia to the Black Hills to Hawaii and beyond,
called by names as varied as his/her peoples:
  mahu, hijra, yirka la-ul,
  winkte, nadle, admired and proud,
carving out roles and keeping them,
  not backing down, standing their ground
  in the planetary daylight demanding respect -

and when the going got tough
  the queer got clever -
the priests became poets,
  the berdache, drag queens;
from speaking with the gods
  we learned to look from the gutters
as the Christian curtain came ringing down -

as a solipsistic fever swept through Europe
  with its songs of crosses and fire,
intolerant of those who ignored its condemnation
  and went on with the ways that powered their lives,
a fever racing through the cities, forcing into the forests
  to where the pulse of the planet allows all rhythms,
a fever burning fourteen centuries,
a charred blueprint for future Hitlers,
  consuming cultures and continents, tribes, nations, arts
  and islands,
and a people once praised as part of the patchwork
  now found the thread unbound
  and their pieces thrown on the flames,
torn from the life tree, become discarded twigs, become
  faggots, queer millions who wouldn't shut up,
whose words kept coming out and cocks kept coming in,
tossed on the fires holding hardwilled women
  the bishops wanted gone, women nine million strong.

When the fever cooled down the damage was done,
  this bed was burning, brain cells gone;
a dazed depleted species wandered about
  in its forest-fire fog.

These burning times were our first learning,
  that of all the hideous genocides waged
  those against us are the most futile -
we are not a nation, begetting itself:
  we emerge from everywhere;
and as the culture that killed us produced us anew
  amidst all its denial,
we kept within the limits, the shadows,
  word-of-mouth wisdom reminding of the fires
  and the stronger days before them.
Through signals and slang, we struggled for survival,
  cultural guerrillas, the sexual resistance,
a diasporic three centuries' charred silence.

But this Western woodwork's getting old,
  too worn to fade into
  without rotting, ourselves, anymore -
it's an old wooden wall and the writing is on it -

From Magnus Hirschfeld standing up in a Germany
  which huddled in the rubble of one world war
  and was building up to the next,
to Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society
  meeting drawn-curtained, daring to speak,
  that first courage of acknowledging each other
  and not looking away,
to the big yell of Stonewall  1969
  where the cops made on raid too many
  and found themselves fleeing before the bottles
  and the bricks of the ones alleged law forced to fringes
  and edges,
to the White Nights of San Francisco '79
  when a merciful jury gave blessing to assassination
  and San Francisco burned with a queer riot fire,
to 1987, the Great Lawn of Washington:
  in action, not reaction,
  over 800,000 asserted their strength
  and came calling to mourn as a Quilt was laid out
  commemorating too many who could help
  found too many other things to do -
the largest civil rights march yet to be held
  cut to a third in police reports,
  ignored by a press claiming Sunday deadlines,
yet their silence couldn't silence a voice so strong,
  such a big splash in their stagnant pond,
and the ripples grew larger, kept reaching out,
  to the Boston State House, to St Patrick's Cathedral
  to the Washington DC FDA -

Hey you in your closets
  we've been murdered in the churches and burned at the
  stake and still we are here!
  Bullet-riddled, beaten in Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen
  and still we are here!
  Castrated in China, electrocuted in Cuba
  and still we are here!
  Massacred by the Right, mutilated by the Left
  and still we come, still we are here!

And if you hide now and blend in with them
  while yet again they watch us die,
  waiting, wondering, salivating as the AIDS statistics
  unfold, watching as we hold the hands of fading lovers,
you are no better than the bashers that jump us
  in the parks, the bigots that pounce in the courtrooms
  and capitals.
For now we know we are in our hands.
Only our voice can tear down the wall,
  remove us from the rubble we are consigned, resigned
  and accustomed to.

It has happened, will happen again, and will continue until
  all passive cooperation stops -
all your inactions, all your silences,
all your waiting for the next man to stand
  to make your rising easier -
what has happened shows us what is, what must be ended -
this wall is written on and you have read it,
  you now have no excuse,
                            no excuse -

from this moment
any man beaten and thrown from a bridge is thrown by your
any child exiled from a disowned home is kicked out with
  your quiet boot
lovers cut from legacy are lost by your lack of will
and each city supervisor assassinated
  dies with your hushed hand on the trigger.

You in your closets, I call through your door,
we are in our hands,
hands not to fold or to cover lone faces,
but hands to reach, to wave, to hold,
to caress the bodies of lovers who desire it,
to flip the finger to the fools who deserve it,
to intertwine on public streets
  and kiss goodbye before the subway stop,
hands not to block a basher's blow
or grope for crumbs of tolerant respect
but hands to demand our heritage and place,
our partnership in the tending of this planet,
and the cosmos that awaits us all, its prodigal child.

And should anyone ask why you flaunt it so,
  must you be so blatant and appear so obsessive,
if anyone asks as they wear their wedding rings,
  holding spouse's hand at the family reunion
  two seconds after showing you pictures of their children,
if anyone asks you by the television glow,
  irradiating rooms with American myth
  where all male role models get or lose the girl,
if anyone asks don't you regret this lonely life,
  and you think of your friends and their lovers
  and employers and neighbors and shopowners down your
  of the emperors and artists and explorers of the past,
  of presidents and poets and garage mechanics' cousins,
  this lost tribe that knows its own,

and you wonder what would happen if all the queer dead
  and all the queer living
would thunder in one voice "We are here
  have been here, beside you all along",
and you know how that won't happen,
  and how many silent and silenced voices
  those who dare to speak must speak for,
of the covered past and the cowering present,
  of graveyard Europe and silent America,
at such queries you need only reply
  in your own voice,
     your fully human voice:

It is related to us
  by someone else
that an old legend goes
God created our kind
  and walled us in,
telling us it's enough of an Eden
  don't dare the outer world -
it is not our place,
  stay where we're told.

But I've been to that barrier,
and on that segregating wall
  a queer hand has carved:


Did I mention how proud I am of my husband? Well, I am.
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