Wednesday, 26 August 2015

G-A-Y, Going Public OR So What's Wrong with Kissing...?

This poem was written in 2002. Now, there was strict Equal Opportunities/Diversity policy where I used work. Even so, a (straight) colleague once commented that he did not like to see two men kissing in the street or, indeed, anywhere in public.  I asked if he would object to kissing by way of a greeting or an impromptu gesture of affection? He insisted, 'Gay men have no right to impose their sexuality on others,' and went so far as to call it obscene for 'setting a bad example, especially to children and vulnerable young adults.' 

Photo: from the Internet

Yes, children and young people are naturally curious, and may well ask questions, but any suggestion that the sight of two men kissing is going to corrupt anyone has to be a complete nonsense. 

I asked my colleague how he felt about two women kissing in public. He replied that was different because 'women often do and one cannot assume they are lesbians'.  When I put it to him that his feelings about men kissing were therefore purely homophobic, he simply shrugged and walked away.

I have to admit I don't particularly care for couples - straight or gay - engaged in heavy kissing in public (especially if I happen to be sitting opposite them on a train or bus) but it's supposed to be a free country and I am, after all, free to sit elsewhere...or even close my eyes and surrender to some wishful thinking.


We kissed, quickening footsteps
rushing by like overflow
from a gutter… and heard voices
mutter,  ‘It’s not right to do that
in a busy street, would be different
if they were normal, for heaven’s
sake!  It’s a fine modernity permits
promiscuity in full view
of people going about their business,
anxious to cause no offence, 
setting an example to our kids, 
sure to keep a weather eye 
on their peers...getting paranoid
about tabloid whistle blowers,
wondering whose head next will fall,
Big Brother at school, on TV,
at the office, busy making mischief
while Heads, bosses, terrorists, 
are poised to mark our cards if only 
to make a point unless we, in turn, 
make a stand, prepare to deal ourselves 
a winning hand…’

‘So much to do, think about, without
having to look at gay folks kissing
in the street as if they had as much right
to be there as we everyday consumers
doing our damn best to rig share prices
and put the world straight.’

We kissed again, quickening footsteps
rushing past like overflow from a gutter,
and multicultural voices muttering…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2015 

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original version as it appears - under the title 'The Kiss' in 1st eds. of The Third Eye, by R. N.Taber, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 24 August 2015

G-A-Y, Have Faith...OR L-I-F-E, Measuring Up to Love

Among my DVD/ video collection I have a number of gay movies that I started building up in the 1980s; all have storylines that I find engaging if not uplifting. Now and then I have mentioned one or two that I particularly enjoy watching again, and some readers have asked me to recommend others. This selection (in alphabetical not order of preference) is a very personal choice, of course; all are available on DVD:

A Year Without Love; Alive and Kicking; Beautiful Thing; Beauty (Afrikaans/ with subtitles); Brokeback Mountain; Eyes Wide Open (Hebrew/ with subtitles); Shut (Get Real; Juste une Question d’Amour (French/with subtitles); La Cage aux Folles (French/ with subtitles); Latter Days; Maurice (based on the novel by E. M. Forster) My Beautiful Launderette; Prick Up Your Ears  (Biopic of Joe Orton); Queer as Folk (BBC series from the Channel 2 series, 1999); Rock HavenShelter; Time to Leave (French/ with subtitles);  Stranger by the Lake (French/ with subtitles); Torch Song Trilogy; Total Eclipse (in English, about the French poets Verlaine & Rimbaud; )Undertow (Spanish /with subtitles); Wild Side (French/with subtitles);

As regular readers will know only too well, I cannot relate to religion, but have no problem as such with any religion except where it has a problem with me for being gay. In Rock Haven, the mother of a gay character suggests - by implication - to the mother of her son’s boyfriend (whose religious beliefs condemn gay relationships) that any faith in denial of human love is unfit for purpose. My sentiments exactly.

If God IS love, how does anyone of any religion reconcile that with an intrinsic homophobia? 

This poem is (yes, another) villanelle.


I have faith in a growing spirituality
fuelling my completeness,
reassuring, reasserting my sexuality

Depending on the inner eye to see
the light of true happiness,
I have faith in a growing spirituality

No affinity with religious identity,
I wear nature’s battle dress,
reassuring, reasserting my sexuality

Where dogmas hound my obstinacy,
place me under duress,
I have faith in a growing spirituality

It’s an open heart that let me go free
(of a caged mind in distress)
reassuring, reasserting my sexuality

A selfhood responding no differently
to any other with flaws to confess,
I have faith in a growing spirituality
reassuring, reasserting my sexuality

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

G-A-Y, Getting It All Together OR An Aspiring Maturity

Coming out to family, friends and the world in general as a gay person is never easy even in a gay-friendly environment where the perception others have of us may well be in for some re-assembling, to say the least. In an environment hostile to the gay ethic, the need to come out can be a nightmare, just as it was for me many years ago.

There are no quick fixes, especially in countries where gay relationships remain a criminal offence, even punishable by death.

Coming out as openly gay, as I have said many times, is a very personal decision. Any failure to do so should not be held against someone. At the same time, there is a lot to be said for the art of gentle persuasion. Nor should compromise be seen as a weakness; it is not always a bad thing. For example, coming out to a few people who really care about us can more than compensate for the contempt in which an ignorant majority - unable or unwilling to separate stereotypical fiction from fact – (still) persist in holding us.

Some countries (like some people) like to boast a policy of Equal Opportunities, but let’s not be completely fooled; political correctness (so-called) is often but a smokescreen for a lesser morality. Not always, of course, but we need to remain alert to the possibility. Homophobia is alive and kicking even in the (so-called) ‘liberal’ West.

What’s, that you say? Me, a cynic…?  Well, yes, in many respects, but one can, of course, only speak from personal experience.

This poem is a villanelle.


Desperate to go free,
captive for years,
this ‘other’ self in me

An aspiring maturity
drying my tears,
desperate to be free

Need to let them see
(who fan my fears)
this ‘other’ self in me

Homing in on bigotry
(as its hurt clears)
desperate to be free

No separate identity
(as named by peers)
this ‘other’ self in me

Person and sexuality
(a natural harmony);
desperate to be free,
this ‘other’ self in me

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Trial Run OR G-A-Y, More Sinned Against Than Sinning

A few years ago, a young man studying in London emailed me and asked to meet up, ostensibly to discuss art and poetry. I was delighted to oblige and we met up at a bar in London of my choice; it just happened to be a gay bar. After a a meal and few drinks, he said he thought he was gay, but had never tried gay sex because he was a Catholic…and could he try it with me because he felt safe with a poet.

Poets, I pointed out, are but human, and we should never make sweeping assumptions about people, especially strangers. (Hypocritical of me, I dare say, having done just that many times in the past.) He insisted I did not feel like a stranger because he had been reading my poems for several years. Even so, I told him bluntly, I don’t do sex any more.  Since being diagnosed with prostate cancer, I have all but lost interest, which is just as well since I can barely get an erection. That didn’t matter, he assured me, as he just wanted to learn the finer points of making love that made it more than just sodomy; kissing, foreplay etc. Why, though, I was intrigued to know, with a man in his sixties? He said he had watched some of my videos on You Tube and ‘quite liked’ the look of me. Oh, well…

I wasn’t so much taken a-back as surprised since he was a very personable young man; not handsome, but good looking in a a cheeky kind of way that suggested a self-confidence in which (in this respect at least) he was clearly lacking. Anyway, I agreed. We went back to my flat whereupon I set about seducing him. He was a quick learner. We enjoyed an extended romp on my bed in the course of which he orgasmed not just once but twice. I have to say, he also proved to be a great kisser, and still experience shivers down my spine when I relive the experience in my imagination. He left London after graduating and we lost touch, but not before I learned that he now has a steady boyfriend, also a Catholic; I was pleased to hear they both attend church regularly since their religion is plainly important to them. (I may not be religious myself, but I respect other people’s religious beliefs… so long as they are not used against me.)

This poem is a villanelle.


Body, unfreezing slowly,
signalling a lessening  apprehension;
heart, beating frantically

Hidden scars, oh, so shyly
opening up to a diminishing tension;
body, unfreezing slowly

Submitting to fingers gently
stripping away decades of deception;
heart, beating frantically 

Lips parted, oh, so anxiously
to enjoy the fruits of sexual attraction;
body, unfreezing slowly

Rites of sex applied patiently,
expunging the dogma of self-delusion;
heart, beating frantically

Kindred spirit, admitting (finally)
sex and sexuality to its own dimension;
body unfreezing slowly,
heart beating frantically

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Reconciliation OR G-A-Y, Manning up to Love

The pressures on any relationship from critical outsiders can be harsh, even heart-breaking; sufficiently so sometimes to weaken even the ramparts of love.

There are bound to be times when one or other of us in a relationship cannot withstand these pressures.

Breaking up is tough on anyone. We need to be strong, and man up. Not always easy.

Oh, but the joy of reconciliation once we join forces and prepare to repel all invaders threatening our shared private space where (gay or straight) love rules ok…


In the water, ugly face looking up at me,
bags under the eyes, tramlines on the brow,
mouth crooked (the queerest expression)
firing questions that passed over my head
to join songbirds providing a free display
of nature’s grace and splendour, yet cannot
move me to tears of joy where but wistfulness,
echoes in dark halls of mind and spirit

In the water, a told-you-so sun mocking me,
bags under its eyes, reeling from a freak storm
that struck without warning as a beast might
stalk and surprise its prey. Shivering now despite
the afternoon’s clammy heat. Scared, yes,
paralysis inviting the beast to circle and tease,
whites of its eyes curiously familiar, threatening
the worst, but move on, leave me alone

In the water, your face smiling up at me,
bags under the eyes, tramlines on the brow,
mouth crooked (the queerest expression)
putting answers to me that whirl in my head,
join seabirds in a free display of nature’s
grace and splendour, a feisty summer spray
in my eyes depositing its passion on my tongue,
lyric of an all-time favourite love song

Reconciled, we strolled a lake’s leafy shore,
scared of being gay and in love no more

Copyright R. N. Taber, 2005; 2013  

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.] 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

N-A-T-U-R-E, Underwriting Love OR G-A-Y, Finding Peace

Sadly, there are still (and probably always will be) certain  people in this world that condemn gay relationships, continuing to see life as a Theatre of Threat, played out by their own shadows on blinds pulled down by this or that socio-cultural-religious way of seeing it. 

We can (gay or straight for that matter) but take every opportunity to raise the blinds and at least try to live out our lives according to our own better nature and sense of common humanity, not by any points of view that may mean well but remain, by their nature, intrinsically alien to both…


Sat on a hilltop, you and I,
just as we had done for years,
watching clouds drift by
and green slopes rolling away
into a fine patchwork of art
as only Earth Mother creates
(much the same, yet new)
at each dawn’s rolling into dusk,
to stars lighting up dreams
where even no-hopers dare go
in safety, no fear of sexuality
being drawn out by fair Apollo
for the whole world to see

Among falling stars, you and I,
and I wonder if you are making
a wish anything like mine
as I watch it roll away like a ball
of silvery twine into a mist
harbouring dreams and desires
of gay lovers for centuries,
ebb and flow of day and night,
nature and human nature
confusing issues, darkening minds,
moulding poor humanity
into ways of a shadowy world
played out on closed blinds

Wrestling silence, you and I,
each unspoken word finding fists
clenched against everything
left unsaid, as we had always done,
yet this time, differently,
as your body, mind and spirit
plead access to mine,
each unspoken word entering me,
coursing through my veins,
reawakening growing pains I thought
put down long since,
now red hot needles penetrating,
demanding a quick response

Sweet surrender, you and I,
unspoken words finding a voice
if silence left unbroken
in a frenzy of feeling contributing
to as fine a patchwork
of nature and human nature
as Earth Mother creates
(much the same, yet new)
at each dawn’s rolling into dusk
to stars lighting up dreams
where even no-hopers dare go
in safety, no fear of sexuality
being drawn out by fair Apollo
for the whole world to see

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Love, Common Denominator OR G-A-Y, Bridging the Divide

A reader has emailed, ‘I enjoy many of the poems on your blogs but there are too many to browse easily, and too many about love.’  Well, I ask you, can anyone post too many poems about love? Whatever,new readers may be interested to know that I regularly add - and remove - a mixed selection of new and historical gay-interest among other posts/poems @ Google Plus, usually on a daily basis:

Now, if the world so loves a lover, as songs and poems have implied if not affirmed for centuries, on whose say-so are the same world’s gay and/or star-crossed lovers to be anyone?

‘Judge not, that ye be not judged…’ - Matthew 7:1 [Those Christians (and others) who are quick to judge gay people, please note.]

So why am I, a non-religious person, quoting The Holy Bible?  Well, why not?  After all, this isn’t just religious sentiment but plain common sense not to mention as plain an expression of humanity as found anywhere….

Gay or straight, love is love ...and don't (ever) let anyone tell you differently.


A summer breeze in the hair,
fishes hugging a nearby stream,
birds composing sweet, leafy, music,
cue for a beautiful dream

Suddenly, change stalks the air,
hints of stormy weather coincide
with lovers determined to make light
of nature’s darker side

Last patch of blue turning black,
low hanging clouds as sure to pour
acid rain on a dreamy summer’s day
as dare its dreams endure?

Yet, same storm clouds may pass,
same fishes frustrate human schemes,
same leaves as inspiring to gay lovers
as love to acting out dreams

A summer breeze in the hair,
fishes inclined to hug a nearby stream,
birds composing sweet, leafy, music,
(no matter whose the dream)

Copyright R N. Taber 2015