The Yuriverse  

"I am more famed in Heaven for my works than I could well conceive. In my Brain are studies & Chambers fill'd with books & pictures of old, which I wrote and painted in ages of Eternity before my mortal life; & those works are the delight & Study of Archangels. Why, then, should I be anxious about the riches or fame of mortality."
    - William Blake


 
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
infallibility,
to you in the homophobe industry of state, hiding in
bureaucracy where rocking the boat is bad for your
budget,
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
You,
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
embarrassment;
the skin you bruise won't be your own:
your saved hide will shine in 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
silence
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
street,
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:

THIS WALL IS WRITTEN ON AND YOU HAVE READ IT.
THIS WALL IS WRITTEN ON - TEAR IT DOWN.


originally published in "To You In Your Closets & Other Poems" by Yuri Hospodar, 1990 Stone Soup Press, Boston

  posted by Yuri @ 4/13/2007


Friday, April 13, 2007  
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