Queer and Beyond
“Queer and Beyond” is a series focusing on the LGBTQ community. Its content spotlights LGBTQ activists, organizations, artists and writers, while additionally including personal opinions and information about current issues. Follow Grace on her quest to spread awareness and positivity for the LGBTQ community.
In the LGBTQ community, coming out is a beautiful thing that is celebrated and encouraged, but the real difficulties of revealing a queer identity are often overlooked or underestimated by those outside the community. In the poem Queer, Frank Bidart describes how LGBTQ people struggle to gain the acceptance of society, but also struggle to accept themselves. Bidart was born in 1939 and grew up Catholic in a farming town, so his poetry really helps readers to understand why it was so difficult for him and his town to accept his identity. One thing I found particularly interesting about this poem was that when I first read it, I assumed it was the writing of a young person– someone in the “millennial” generation, because of the content and the fact that it was written in 2013. Bidart’s descriptions of his experiences when he was young seemed to mirror the experiences of the young LGBTQ community in the present. This revelation, to me, was both enlightening and upsetting, because it illuminated the problem that queer youth (including myself) often fail to recognize the battles and achievements of our LGBTQ elders. We tend to assume that the elderly are all against us because we think they simply can’t understand enough to accept us, and we forget that we have progressed this far because of the efforts of many of them before us. Overall, I felt that this poem needed to be shared because I think it can be an eye-opener for both those who have never struggled with accepting who they are and those who have.
Lie to yourself about this and you will
forever lie about everything.
Everybody already knows everything
so you can
lie to them. That’s what they want.
But lie to yourself, what you will
lose is yourself. Then you
turn into them.
For each gay kid whose adolescence
was America in the forties or fifties
the primary, the crucial
forever is coming out—
or not. Or not. Or not. Or not. Or not.
Involuted velleities of self-erasure.
Quickly after my parents
died, I came out. Foundational narrative
designed to confer existence.
If I had managed to come out to my
mother, she would have blamed not
me, but herself.
The door through which you were shoved out
into the light
was self-loathing and terror.
Thank you, terror!
You learned early that adults’ genteel
fantasies about human life
were not, for you, life. You think sex
is a knife
driven into you to teach you that.
Grace Guildener ’19 || Art Staff