Saturday, 16 August 2014

G-A-Y, An Incredible Journey

My class of 1959 was once challenged by a teacher to sum up the meaning of life in one word.

People gave various answers; ambition, achievement/s, sport, family, friendship, music, survival... 

For me, it had to be love although I was only 14 years-old at the time and still coming to terms with my emerging sexuality, so the best was yet to come.


A gay love blessed can hurt,
its wounds fester, let in snake venom;
jealousy, bitterness, hate even
in a dark, lonely, wretched, heaven
as a great sadness creeps in,
killing off its angels one by one;
in a weepy twilight all of love’s own,
a so-broody, bitter-sweet pain

Yet, listen! Birds, flowers,
friendly ghosts in the clouds, singing
of life and hope, fair sunsets,
sunrises, faery mists, summer kisses
autumn leaves, shades of red
and gold, stories at winter fires told
of love eternal, no self-pity, but thanks
for making its incredible journey

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005]

Saturday, 9 August 2014

G-A-Y, No Token Trophy for Glass Houses

A former work colleague, unaware at the time that I am gay, once boasted that he had gay friends, so no one could accuse him of being homophobic.

Okay, so far, so good…

He went on to tell me that, 'To be honest, gay sex disgusts me, but ‘you have to cover your back these days, don’t you, what with all this equality and diversity rubbish?’  It was as if his gay ‘friends’ were notches on his belt meant to show everyone he was no homophobe. His obvious distaste for and discomfort with the whole gay ethic made me see red. When I mentioned that I am gay, he beamed, seemed to think I was making his point (which was what, I am still not sure) and said, ‘See, I am talking to you as an equal aren’t I?’

This conversation took place in 2008, the year I retired. Maybe I am being over-sensitive, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth whenever I think about it.


It seems like only yesterday we’d play
at hide-and-seek as butterflies looked on;
happy days, gay lovers feeling our way
into red-and-golden hours of autumn

By Christmas, gossips had left us for dead
(memory’s embrace enough to surf the swell)
nor winter’s cold, but lies covertly spread
conspired against us while wishing us well

Old prejudices, they (still) threaten us,
cast their nets as at moths and butterflies;
collectors, like minds, and the curious,
sure to excuse the means, relish the prize

Though the world’s hypocrites, theyabuse us,
we’ll fly free, no token trophy for glass houses

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

Thursday, 7 August 2014

G-A-Y, Prelude to a Coming of Age

This poem takes me back to when I was about 13 or 14 years-old, and it struck me for the first time that I was (far) more attracted to boys than girls.

Those adults, especially parents, inclined to assume that children and young people don’t know their own minds regarding sexuality (and much else besides) need to think again, and think through what it means for a young person to acknowledge he or she is gay.  

As for parent-child relationships, gay or straight, is it not, after all, no more or less than a question of love?


Saw a boy and girl kissing
under a blossoming cherry tree,
and wished it were me

I longed for such an embrace,
to hear words of love in my ear,
and wiped away a tear

Oh, for those lips on mine,
fuelling this frantic desire in me
to be yours, to be free…

They made a fine couple,
pink confetti blowing in a breeze
driving them to their knees

I could only turn away,
but imagine lovemaking divine
and wish it were mine

Saw a boy and girl kissing
under a blossoming cherry tree
and wished she were me

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

I and I OR A Feeling for Sexuality

For the benefit of any new readers, I should perhaps explain that I also some upload historic as well as current blog posts to Google Plus. I regularly add and remove these so readers can access up to about 30 poems without having to trawl 1,000+ poems on my blogs. It seems to work well, and feedback has been very encouraging so I will continue:

Regarding my You Tube channel, it appears that some viewers have not realized they should keep the sound on to hear the poems I read over the later videos nor that the poem is also included in the description that accompanies each video. Hopefully, this information will add to your enjoyment as Graham and I have a lot of fun shooting the videos and writing the poems. We don’t have a state of the arts video camera, though, so don’t expect a BBC level production:

Today’s poem was written in 1976, the year my mother died, and a time when I was  in and out of the closet like a jack-in-the-box, and only ever open about my sexuality to certain people in certain places at certain times in my life.  

My mother was OK about my being gay, but felt it was best kept under wraps and my brother and father should be kept in ignorance, although I would be very surprised if they had not already guessed. Since I’d had an appalling relationship with my father since childhood and my brother (at the time, anyway) was openly homophobic, I sensed she was probably right. It would take a severe nervous breakdown three years later before I finally came ‘out’ to everyone in the early 1980s, and to stay.

Re-reading this poem, I think it gives a sense of my confused torment at the time. It is a harsh indictment on the twenty-first century that there are countries and pockets of democratic societies, too, where gay boys and girls, men and women, are experiencing much the same torment. We can but hope common sense and humanity will prevail and the whole world will, in time, become a more gay-friendly place.


Don’t wax lyrical about loneliness
                                                says the Man
tell’em just what it can do,
                                       how it will
kill the eye, give the lie
to that so-smooth brow
scrubbing at;

Don’t make out
                       it doesn’t pain you
to prepare for another day
                                      no different
from yesterday, unless
that face you’re

Okay, run a comb through your hair
                                                    says the Man
and straighten your tie
                          just so...
Here’s your jacket,
maybe we’ll
                    make it?
Come, come...

No, no, don’t throw it
                          at the cat
or rip your throat
                         like that,
you’ll tear my shirt.
Now we’ll be
for work

Don’t swear at me
                           says the Man,
it’s not my fault
                       you can’t
stand the closet
any more. Now, get off
                           that floor.
Yes, now!

Oh, and blow your nose, you’re getting
on my nerves…

[From: Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001.]  

Friday, 25 July 2014

G-A-Y, Eyes Wide Shut OR Running a Virus Check for Cloning

It took me years to shrug off the worst stereotypes (still) perpetuated by the less enlightened among the heterosexual majority.

One day, a straight friend accompanied me to a gay bar because he ‘wanted to understand gay people’. Later, I asked him what he had learned. He shook his head and replied,’ What can I learn from a bunch of clones?’

I was angry and upset, but began to wonder if I wasn’t replacing one set of stereotypes with another…?

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the argument, I began to realize that I was not (as I’d thought) reasserting my personal identity, but going along with a social identity that threatened to take away the personal freedom I had longed for after years of growing up in a gay-unfriendly environment. Sexual expression is only a part of who we are, and I was risking the rest of me.

Now, I am not knocking the Gay Scene; it gave me some good times, none of which I regret. At the same time, it was a learning curve for me, and in the end I turned my back on it. I am a gay man, yes, but I do not need to make a public statement about it; I am just an everyday Joe who also happens to be gay and people (gay and straight alike, whatever their socio-cultural-religious persuasion) are as free to accept me or reject me as I am free to accept or reject them.

Life is about being who not what we are. We cannot expect everyone to accept or even like us any more than anyone can or should expect others to accept or even like them simply because of what or whom they represent. We can, though, respect others for who and what they are and for whom and what they represent.

Well, can’t we?


I met a (very) ugly man
in a trendy gay bar, and confess
I wondered what on earth
he thought he was doing there,
but we got chatting,
and after a while I realized
he had a lovely smile,
his voice (a dreamy lilt)
returning me to days long before
I lost faith in love songs

He offered a firm hand
and told me his name, his touch
sending electric shocks
through me as (shyly) I gave mine;
his conversation was fun,
no dull small talk or the usual
chat-up lines although…
he grinned (winking) as he asked
if I’d care to come back to his place
for a coffee, or whatever

Later, sex as pure art form
filling my sad self with a passion
I’d never known before,
this ugly-beautiful man I met
in a trendy gay bar,
sense and sensibility colluding
with feisty frog-princes,
re-working happy endings,
and reminding me why I so missed
listening to love songs

Eyes wide open advised to shut down,
and run a virus check for cloning

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised (e-edition) in preparation]

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

G-A-Y, Winning Hearts and Minds

Fortunately, there are more people in the world with open hearts and minds than most socio-cultural-religious bigots would care to admit.

Of course, we will never win over everyone to an enlightened view of same sex relationships. The hope is, as history suggests, that even in those societies where obsessive, repressive, leaders continue to undermine and threaten our personal and public freedom, gay men and women are likely (in time) to win the war, transgender folks too.


Branded a child of Satan
(just for being gay)
I felt myself drowning in sin
but (finally) managed
to master the breaststroke
and swim away
to a (far) safer, kinder, shore
where the bigots
can have their say (of course)
but any person
of any colour, creed, sex
or sexuality
is more likely to take a pride
in a humanity sworn
to uphold the finer principles
of true democracy

Declared a child of Satan
by ‘betters’ who know
no better (it’s their nature)
than hounding folks
left free by (far) better people
than they to walk down
everyday streets anywhere
without anyone turning
to stare or pointing the finger
at how I walk, talk, dress,
don’t even practise a religion,
invariably given to mean
no sense of everyday propriety
or even spirituality,
presumably a suspect sexuality,
but not necessarily…

Copyright R., N. Taber 2014

Saturday, 19 July 2014

I, Legend OR G-A-Y, Centre Stage

I am appalled when I think back at how I used to see myself as a youth and young man, growing up during a period when gay relationships were a criminal offence here in the UK.

A civilized society should be above such bigotry and prejudice, surely? Yet even in the so-called ‘liberal’ West young gay people are still growing up and having to fight their corner in gay-unfriendly home and ‘educational’ environments. As for those societies in the world where various socio-cultural-religious antagonism towards gay people persists, they are a disgrace to those same socio-cultural-religious origins.

History belongs to the past; we all need to learn from its lessons, move on, and make a better future for everyone. Now, that’s progress.

There is nothing unnatural about being gay, of course, any more than there is (or ever was) anything extraordinarily ‘liberal’ about either being gay or feeling positively disposed towards gay people; we are all born with a sexual identity which is as natural as breathing.


G-A-Y is sinful, I was taught
during formative years,
inner self preparing me to out
a bully ethic to its peers

I used to hate my reflection,
for exposing all I’d see,
engaging me in conversation
about life and sexuality

I’d confess shame and guilt,
couldn’t help how I feel,
world shoveling me its dirt
for being me, getting real

No need, said my reflection,
you’re as good as them;
bigots posing every objection
to being gay, their problem

I came to love my reflection,
for showing me to you,
engaging in a conversation
about nature running true
Now, no longer feeling guilty
or a loser from the start,
but love to inspire me, legend
on my gay lover’s heart

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title ‘Mirror, Mirror’ in 1st editions of Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; 2nd (revised e-edition in preparation.]