Restored to Banality

Restored to Banality

it was a piece of mine

about the awakening of my

queer sensibility

of being twelve years old

seeing the bared stomach of a classmate

& wanting to see more

I was taken to task

by a listener

for being insensitive

to those who had been sexually molested

at the age of twelve years

of being indifferent to the suffering

that has haunted them ever since

I was told

that I should know better

show a greater sensitivity

to men and women in my audience in future

this person also found

a piece in which expressed pleasure

in sucking cock & having mine sucked

to be a clear sign of sex addiction

& yes another example of my

insensitivity to those who have

been traumatized by past trauma

I did not point out redundancy

I did not apologize

as they clearly expected me to do

I’d rather be thought insensitive

that waste my time proving I’m not

I will not be silenced

your past pain does not

trump my experience

does not make yours more


more morally sound

I will not be silenced

I was silenced enough

in my past about being open & out

by ‘normal’ people

offended by sexuality

I’m not going to let happen

by ‘alternative’ people

offended by sex

I will not waste time

figuring out what trigger warning

I have to use

because I can’t predict what may offend

when it seems

my rather banal childhood

my fumbling discovery of gay sexuality

is offensive enough

This piece, inspired by the thumbscrew Law 33, arises from a real incident. One of things I set out to do decades ago when I started back into writing & performing poetry, was to treat the realization of one’s queer sexuality with a romantic sweetness. There is a whole genre of straight poetry about a lad’s first kiss, a girl’s first crush but I wasn’t reading much in queer poetry about those experiences. It was as if writing about it might come across pedophilia-ish.

So when queers write about early sex awareness it had to be angsty or, better yet, come from being abused and in dealing with abuse to have a deeper sense of their self. This wasn’t my experience & I wasn’t going to treat mine as not being authentic enough to be worth writing about.

I have a piece that starts ‘I have a new boyfriend/ he’s only fifteen … ’ I take a long grinning pause, then continue ‘year younger than me.’ Often in that pause there are gasps of dismay in the audience. The piece directly challenges judgements based on age.

This one challenges judgements based on sensitivity – whose emotional context is most deserving of respect & how responsible am I as a writer/performer for guessing what will trigger? I have sexual pieces I wouldn’t present in a high school session – but if I’m appearing at a lgbtq event how much self-censorship do I have to apply? It sometimes seems the expression of rage & anger at the oppressive culture we live in is the only acceptable road of self-expression.

I’ve discovered that many politically progressive, articulate, gender questioning people are using their perspectives to be sex-a-phobic. Considering how mundane my sex life life & how banal process of my  awareness of my sexuality is I am amused at how triggering that banality can be.



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