Tag Archive | Religion

A Triumph For Humanity In Spite Of The Greatest Of Obstacles As A Poet Asks The Questions On The Topics That Won’t Go Away (A Review Of The Other Side Of The Flood By David Lee Morgan) 

As regular readers will no doubt be aware due to my lack of posts on the topic, my Edinburgh fringe was a wee bit late in kicking off this year. This was due to the after effects of a leg injury taking longer than expected to sod off and so it wasn’t until the Tuesday of week three that  I finally got off and running but when I did I hit it with a vengeance As I got to the Banshee which is and ever shall be my Edinburgh local I settled in , having my first of many Diet Coke’s before going to see my  first show of Edinburgh 2017. 

The show of choice was The Other Side Of The Flood by David Lee Morgan (pictured below) This play in six voices set in the year 2035 was a beautifully constructed piece of theatre in which Morgan an accomplished poet , and musician narrates the story of a world on the brink of a global socialist revolution. Fighting has broken all out all over the world and all communication has stopped. To add to this the American government has used nuclear weapons on it’s own people most noticeably the Los Angeles Socialist Revolutionary Commune which has been decimated by this attack. 

Picture David Lee Morgan rocks the Banshee Banqueting Hall 

During an action packed 50 minutes Morgan explores the themes of socialism, internationalism, love,  cross cultural boundaries, death, hopes, fears, and mental health through Jesse a young Mexican-American , and his lover Sultana who comes from a traditional Pakistani Muslim background.

 As our story begins the world is on the eve of the revolution but this development is not welcomed by everyone and is being  fiercely opposed by those forces who have most to lose. The Los Angeles commune has been attacked and many of the revolutionaries killed whilst Jesse lies on a life support machine. There is only one way to save humanity from an impending Armageddon and that is to place the brain of a fighter for peace in to the computer drone which could change everything and Jesse is the perfect candidate for the task. Through still alive, he has no chance of making what we would call a full recovery and is living out his last days determined to do what he can for the cause he believes in with every fibre of his being

During this time a void is needing to be filled as people lose faith in organised religions and the old order is on the verge of collapse. This depending on your viewpoint can be seen as crisis or opportunity and the global socialist movement view it as an opportunity to create a new belief system to benefit humanity. The old order however will not go quietly in the night and resistance to change will be sharply defended.

On the eve of what would surely be the war to end them all, a young couple think of the coming days as the great battle for a better world. Though from very different backgrounds Mexican-American and Pakistani Asian there is no doubting the strength of their beliefs or indeed their love 

With her passion running as deep as her principles Sultana calls her mother to tell her of her plans to stay in America with Jesse as something wonderful was going to happen but the fight will begin soon. Her mother reminds her that is there is  also fighting in her homeland and pleads with her to return home. Sultana however is headstrong and in love and has no intention of leaving Jesse behind for her mother or anyone else. This causes tension between Sultana and her mother though the familial bonds of love and loyalty remain strong across both cultures and generations. 

At this point Sultana reminds her mother that though she lives in the west she still attends mosque and prays five tines a day and that Jesse understands the importance of her faith. Her mother however reminds her that she cannot  marry outside the faith. Frustrated by rules and regulations Sultana reminds her mother that it was fine for her brother to marry a non Muslim and asks why her it’s different for girls Meanwhile Jesse’s condition is deteriorating as we hear flashbacks from his past conflicts and computerised voices telling young men to man up whilst other voices relate the tragic tale  of a soldier having a break down and this forces upon on us the grim realisation that for some former combatants the war never ends and the permanent potential threat of post traumatic stress disorder stalks them like shadows in the middle of the darkest time of night. 

 Tackling these issues with the sensitivity they deserve David Lee Morgan asks much needed questions about both conflict and the role of masculinity within it. These are questions which need asking and cannot be ducked. These are questions which it a brave writer and performer to ask. Luckily David Lee Morgan is exactly that type of  artist. He is an outstanding poet and musician who relishes challenging convention and saying the kind of topics I talk about are real and will not go away. He enjoys holding authority to account not by shouting  or stamping his feet but opening your eyes to new possibilities such as the potential for a real global socialism to take root and as he showed with the ending of this play where he presents us with two roads and leaves the decision to us as to which will be the destination of our choice.

In this show as in all of Morgan’s work he shows the  human spirit is capable of overcoming even the greatest of the obstacles as it triumphs in spite of itself and the barriers it so often puts in place to hinder the path to progress . That to me is the true mark of an artist of genuine substance and David Lee Morgan  is such an artist.

Till next time. 

Gayle X

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The Day The Phoenix Rises 

This poem draws on the stories of my ancestors who told me about the importance of the phoenix in guarding the laws of Scotland and Ireland and the belief that our countries will finally be free of British rule on the day the phoenix rises. It is for that reason I have given it the title The Day The Phoenix Rises. I hope you enjoy the read. 
The Day The Phoenix Rises

Outsiders

we were scorned on arrival 

in a cold uncaring place 

 locals claimed we were not the same as them 

using language and religion as excuses to label us 

boasting of their achievements

as part of an empire

they were unaware their own culture was scorned 

Scots or Irish a Celt can never be 

reborn as a Brit

when they were told this 

the new order got angry 

they were beyond unhappy

when the Irish community formed a football club 

which would be open to those of  all faiths and none 

when trophies were won we were feared and hated 

the angry brigade felt threatened 

that their fragile identity had been questioned 

there were suggestions we should go home 

as those with blood on their hands

conveniently forgot  it was they 

who did the clearing 

which left us dispossessed 

the victims of cultural genocide

in the Celtic heartlands from which I am descended 

 I’ve always known my blood is the blood of twin tribes 

both of which were marginalised 

the Irish  and the Islanders share 

a history of oppression

with stolen lands taken from the people 

and given to those who would obey colonial orders

without questioning why 

in Culloden and Atherny 

the pain lives on  in the lyrics of our songs

and the hearts of those who know 

the history the oppressers tried to ban 

along with our culture and traditions 

that however was a big mistake to make

in their determination to break us 

they inspired a spirit of resistance

they will not quell 

hell will freeze over before we ever accept 

the label outsiders 

It is not who we are nor will it ever be 

our freedom will come on the day the phoenix rises 

to take us home from the ashes of a ruined estate 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

My Thoughts On The Manchester Terror Attack

​ Last night the people of Manchester were the victims of a cruel and barabic attack as another misguided individual used religion to justify evil. 

I first heard of the attack as I scrolled down my Twitter feed to catch up the events of the night. On doing so I imeadiately switched my television on to the BBC news channel to catch up on the latest developments on this breaking story. As I did so , I was stunned and heartbroken to hear there had been both injuries and unfortunately fatalities. 

Now those who know me well will know I family in Manchester and though my cousins who are a fair bit older than me would be nowhere near the Ariela Grande  concert where the bomb blast took place, there is a possibility that their grandchildren could have been in the crowd. However, strange as it may seem it wasn’t my biological family who were foremost in my thoughts last night It was my blogging family and one member of that family in particular. 

Yes you did hear me correctly I do have a blogging family and that family are a very diverse crowd who come from far and wide. My blogging family is like my poetry, traditional music families,  a family which is both local and global and in that tight knit clan, I know and count as friends, many younger bloggers from the North of England who are shall we say of the age appropriate demographic to be attending the event themselves or taking a younger sibling along to see their favourite pop star. 

Now due to the interactive nature of Twitter blog chats it is possible to form friendships across the miles and I have developed a number of such friendships with a demographic young enough to have been my children had I been able or lucky enough to have any. It was due to one of these friendships that I gave a Twitter shout to one younger blogger who I know to be from the Manchester area and asked her to contact me to let me know she was safe. Naturally I was delighted and relived to receive her tweet telling me she was safe though she told me had been in the area and it was very scary. 

On hearing her news we had a short conversation and she said there was a sadness about the city today. This is I think underestandle in such horrific circumstances but from both mainstream news and my social media feed there seems to be  a determination not to let the terrorists win nor to scapegoat the local Muslim community.

That is as it should be, and I hope during these difficult days people  remember to cherish the diversity for which their city is known and stand proud of the multi cultural melting pot that is modern Manchester. It is by doing this that they can and will defeat the forces of prejudice and hate no matter where they come from or what disguise they wear.  

Till next time

Gayle X

A Little Town Laments (The Story Of Christmas In Bethlehem) 

In my  23rd  Blogmas post  I honour a promise to the Scottish Palestinian Society which I made on a trip to Edinburgh last month when supporters held an information session in the chill of a November afternoon as on en  route to the Scottish Poetry Library for an all day  Women’s poetry symposium.  

As I chatted to one of the volunteers who was staffing the stall he gave me a Christmas card and asked me to put it up alongside the others I would get.  Needless to say I promised I would and not only that I promised I would I write a poem on the information it gave me and this is that poem I’ve given it the title A Little Town Laments I hope you find it an enjoyable and thought provoking read. 

A Little Town Laments 

It was in Bethlehem a child was born in stable 

laid in a manger to rest on hay

fast forward to the present 

ask what would Jesus say 

about the fact there are 22 illegal settlements 

where people stay in fear of their lives 

there, are barriers to movement 

no room for inclusion or improvement 

for those branded terrorists

ordinary Palestinian citizens

 are hemmed in by fortresses and walls 

bombs could drop on them 

at any time of day or night 

Isreali air strikes a permanent reninder

of the occupation of their lands 

Christian and Muslim both understand

 they cannot worship openly 

practising their faith is almost impossible 

restricted as they are 

by a rule which is in many ways similar to Herod’s 

at the time of Christ’s arrival 

when survival was the name of the game 

It’s sad to think the story’s still the same 

as a little town laments the causalities of hate 

In another bleak mid winter 

@ Gayle Smith 2016 

A Double Shift Of Discussion And Dreams And A Journey From Page To Stage Had Everything A Woman Could Want On A Very Cultural Saturday

Hey Readers

As you know I like to keep myself busy and on Saturday I managed to do exactly that by attending not one but two separate events. Not only that, these events weren’t just in separate locations they were in different cities. The things I do in the name of poetry.

I started my day by travelling to Edinburgh to the Scottish Poetry Library to an all day symposium on Scottish Women’s Poetry. Me being me it I missed the morning session in which there were excellent seasions which included poet and freelance writer Theresa Munoz who gave her take on Minority Women Poets in Scotland: A Rhetoric of Difference. This was followed by  Greg Thomas from Edinburgh University who presented his thoughts on the Concrete Poetry Movement and Scottish Women’s Poetry. I also missed the first round table discussion of the day on Poetry in the Community which was led by Claire Askew and Jane McKie which I must admit I was gutted about as this is a topic on which I would have raised a few points some of which may have sparked a degree of controversy. Well I tend to be honest on issues like this perhaps too honest for my own good. That said I would sooner be honest than lie for popularity as a false popularity can only ever be temporary.

Controversy over, the ladies had lunch before resuming for the afternoon. The first session was on Daughters, Mothers , and Others in Contemporary Women’s Poetry. I arrived at the Poetry Library just as the first speaker in this session Richard Price was finishing his poetry reading so I went up to join the gathering just in time for a very interesting talk by Glenda Norquay on Negative energies not being our being mothers. During her presentation, Ms Norquay who is based at John Moores University in Liverpool looked at poems by Kathleen Jamie, and Liz Lochhead to illustrate the complex dynamics of the mother – daughter relationship which show that this relationship works best when viewed through the prism of indifference. The speaker made this point to suggest that because every daughter will in some ways mirror her mother ambivalence in this relationship, isn’t so much desirable as necessary to allow the daughter to grow and become her own woman. Speaking as someone who very clearly recognises the indisputable fact that I am getting more like my mother with every passing day I find this slightly uncomfortable and disturbingly accurate.

This was followed by a short discussion before moving on to the next topic entitled If you don’t get caught Islands, Isolation, and Entrapment in Contemporary Scottish Women’s Poetry. This talk presented by Peter McKay from the University Of St Andrews was extremely enjoyable as Peter explored the idea of the islands being inclusive and exclusive. romantic and remote. During his talk Peter who himself is a native of Skye talked about the concept that living on an island could at least for some voices and especially women’s voices result in entrapment as to a significant extent the island narrative has already been written and it’s been without women and with a distinct geography of religion running through it. Peter provided evidence of this on hinting that certain islands featured more prominently than others. On listening to this I noticed that there no mention of the largely Catholic islands of South Uist or Barra. When I asked if social and religious conservativism was presenting a Protestant and unionist view of the islands I was told that there was a strong possibility of this and good old fashioned sectarianism may be a factor in it. Now I don’t know why but I didn’t find this surprising. I found it shocking, and insulting, but I wasn’t surprised by it. Nor I was surprised by the fact that the islands with their male cultural and social dominance were such difficult places for female poets to make their voices heard.

At the end of this session, we adjourned for a well deserved coffee /wine break and it was good to catch up with friends such as the brilliant Claire Askew, and Theresa Munoz, and three of the fierecest women I know Elizabeth Rimmer, Janet Crawford, and the force of nature that is Lesley Traynor. Yes it must be said that Fierce Women may only have been on the go since August but we have become a tribe and the bonds of friendship made on that day ensure that we will always go team handed to events.

After mixing and mingling with the other women during it was time to go back for the final session of the day. This was a round table discussion about poetry in the field where we heard excellent contributions from Jane Goldman a poet and reader at the University of Glasgow Helena Nelson a poet and founder of Happenstance Press , and Jennifer L Williams a poet and the programme manager of the Scottish Poetry Library. In the picture below you can see our esteemed panel

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Picture (1) From left to right Helena Nelson , Jennifer L Williams, and Jane Goldman.

This was an interesting discussion in which Jane informed us about the course she runs at Glasgow University what’s involved in it, and why it would be worth taking. Helena told us why Happenstance was set up and the rationale behind it which was to get more female poets in to print and Jennifer reflected on her poetic journey which has taken her from the USA and brought her to Scotland the place she now calls home and for one hope she always will.

After a final short break it was time to enjoy some top quality performance readings and the first reader to entertain the crowd was Lila Matsumoto

Picture (2) Lila Matsumoto at The Scottish Poetry Library

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Picture (3) Shows our next reader Jane McKie

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Picture (4) Jane was followed to the stage by the excellent Helena Nelson.

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Picture (5) Sees the brilliant Theresa Munoz holding court and her poem Animals was my favourite poem of the day.

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Picture (6)Sees Jane Goldman reading from her collection as she entertains an audience who were eager to listen to her carefully crafted words

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We concluded the readings and the symposium with a reading from Jennifer L Williams who was curating her last event as events organiser at Scottish Poetry Library and I have she signed off in spectacular style giving us an event we can be proud of. Trust me , replacing Jennifer (pictured below) will not be an easy task as she has big boots to fill so finding a successor will be no easy feet.

Picture (7) The outgoing events organiser at the Scottish Poetry Library Jennifer L Williams.

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At the end of an eventful day I had one final chat with Janet and Lesley before grabbing a quick single haggis from Bene’s my favourite Edinburgh chippy before heading to Waverley train station to get the first available train back to Glasgow in order to attend Nellie Bly for a feminist poetry reading at the Old Hairdressers at which I was billed to appear.

At a packed Waverley station there was a real party atmosphere as members of two tartan armies were travelling homewards. Both our football and rugby teams had been in action and both had lost to England and Australia respectively but this did nothing to dampen the spirits of their fans who were as they have always been fantastic ambassadors for our country.

On arriving at the Old Hairdressers I was warmly welcomed by our host Alex Kampfer who I believe is without doubt one of the finest young compares anywhere in Scotland and has an energy about which let’s you know something good is going to happen. This was my first appearance at Nellie Bly and I can guarantee you it won’t be my last. In fact I fully intend to become a regular as this varied and inclusive night. 

As I listened to a variety of acts performing a range of poetry, comedy , and music I couldn’t help but think that I had almost by accident stumbled upon a goldmine of talent all of whom I have every intention of introducing to Words and Music sooner rather than later.
Since I arrived later than planned I regret to say I missed some of the acts but I got chatting to them during the break and they were a very friendly and welcoming crowd.

As I prepared my set, Alex informed me she had put on first after the break so I was mindful to get my set prepared and selected three very feminist poems which to me show what the power of being a woman really means. I started my set with a poem on politics and why women need to make our voices heard and I have to say that I think A Woman’s Voice got probably the best reception it has had to date at any venue. 

I followed this with an equally passionate poem and A Story To Tell let the audience share the journey I’ve been on since transition. I finished my set with a poem which I knew would play well to this young mainly female audience and 16 Cinderella’s certainly did the trick. I think the fact I described it as the day a female guerrilla movement stormed the poetry library to read our fierce words went down well with a crowd appreciated the seriousness of my message and the humour contained within it.

The pressure now off, and my debut as a Nellie Bly girl over I could now sit back and enjoy the rest of the show. This was the perfect way to end a brilliant day of poetry and proved if proof were needed that a double shift of discussions and dreams and a journey from page to stage had everything every a woman could want on a very cultural Saturday.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle XXX

The Day I Stopped Protesting And Admitted I Was One Of The Girls I Had To Tell The World My Truth And Fly My Flag With Pride

Hey Readers.

You can always trust the Huffington Post to make you think before breakfast. Yes even on a Sunday morning this still holds true and on this Sunday morning I couldn’t help but notice one particular story in my favourite online journal which just screamed read me.
So you will not be surprised to know that is exactly what I did .

The story concerned research carried out in to homophobia at three separate universities in Germany, the United States, and Essex which suggest that this fear and loathing of being gay or though they don’t mention it lesbian, or trans may be due to those concerned having same sex attraction themselves.

Now I can almost bet there will be a number of testosterone fuelled homophobic males who on
being told this information will no doubt be muttering aye that’ll be right under their breath, however on closer examination this information should come as no surprise to anyone and it certainty doesn’t come as a shock to me.

The picture below shows the rainbow flag flying at half mast from Glasgow City Chambers on the night when our city held a vigil to remember the victims of the Orlando massacre. Far be it for to suggest that this image could be a metaphor for some people to take a far closer look at themselves than perhaps they’ve been used to but believe me someone has to do as it and as a transsexual woman who comes under the LGBTIQ umbrella I feel I am in a stronger position than most to make the case.

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I state this point because as someone who is very much in the rainbow rather than over it, I can say both with pride and at pride that I am not only a friend of Dorothy I’m one of her besties. This however was not always the case, for more years than I care to remember I attempted to live a lie. I tried as hard to fit the traditional male stereotype and where I grew up part of that involved being homophobic in public when in the company of male friends and acquaintances.

The fact that in my private time I was  dressing as a girl and longing for the day when I could be the woman I secretly knew myself to be was according to the world around neither here nor there and fact my mother knew about my secret was written off as just one of those things. You see according to our very uptight society that was Scotland/Britain in the 1970’s, this kind of behaviour was always written off as just a passing phase even though I know nothing could be further from the truth.

Believe me I hated being homophobic in any way shape or form. I knew what I was saying was wrong not just about the individuals concerned but about myself you see I  knew I could never be a straight man or any other kind of man for that matter I knew with every ounce of my being that I wanted and needed to be a woman before I would ever be truly happy and at ease with myself.

In the Glasgow of the 1970’s  I was trans before most people had ever heard of it. To deny this may have been the safer choice at the time but it was also mind numbingly claustrophobic as I was having to deny myself the right to be who I was.  Well how many straight boys do you know who would be a member of the Osmond’s Fan Club and have pictures of Donny all over their bedroom wall and then move on to The Bay City Rollers,  collecting
copies of  Jackie every week and having secret outfits up to and including lingerie. Though I don’t think I had a dress far less lingerie as glamorous as those in the pictures below. I don’t think my mother would ever have let me be so daring no matter how much I may have wanted to be.

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So as you can see, my homophobic language was due to the institutionalised homophobia of the state and the internalised homophobia/transphobia which can only come from fighting a war against your natural instincts. You see I’ve always liked my men and now living as the woman I’ve always known I was I am in no mood to deny it. However growing up in a more socially and culturally conservative country, and that can apply to both Scotland and Britain did have an impact on how I viewed others and when you are encouraged to see difference as being negative through the press and media it should surprise no one that you perceive people in this way and develop the notion of other. Believe me when I say your teenage years are not called your formative years for no reason.

Fortunately, the world has come a long way since the days of my 1970’s youth and now members of the LGBTIQ community have the same rights as our straight sisters and brothers we can even get legally married should we find Prince or Princess Charming, and this generation of trans teens can leave school on the Friday afternoon in their birth gender and return on Monday morning in their acquired one. How I wish I had been given that chance when I was in my teens because believe me I would have grabbed it with both hands.

Alas however that was for a future generation rather than mine. The world of 1970’s Scotland was shall we say a lot more prejudiced and narrow minded than is the case now and far less rainbow friendly. Most people I knew growing up would refuse to acknowledge that they had ever known a gay man, far less a lesbian or trans person and would probably say that it was restricted to showbiz types. This is a world away from the self confident Scotland of 2016 with rainbow flags and pride marches in all our major towns and cities and yet there are still some people who would sooner hide their true selves than attempt to come to terms with their sexuality or gender identity.

Speaking as someone who has had to overcome her own barriers with regards to this issue I can understand all too clearly why certain individuals may wish to conceal their real feelings. One reason could be that they were brought up in a religious family and don’t think they would be able to come out to family and friends. Another issue often used by those who indulge in homophobic behaviour is that they don’t want to be a disappointment to their parents and the wider community and fear a loss of respect amongst their peers. There could also be other factors at play which are too many and varied to go in to and I can totally appreciate that I know how difficult it was for me but to me when the choice comes down to living a lie or a happy and rewarding life there is in end no other choice to make.

Speaking as someone who has come out as a trans woman I know the journey is not an easy one but believe me it is easily the best decision I have ever made. I say this because I know the improvement it has made to my quality of life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. You see I know how much I’ve grown in confidence since I finally made the change and decided to transition and live my life as the woman I had always known I was. It was the perfect way to celebrate my 47th Christmas in December 2008 and every day thereafter by giving myself the one present no amount of money could buy. That present was the right to be me.

Now the shrewd amongst you will have noticed that I’ve kinda given my age away in that last paragraph. Well I am 55 tomorrow and believe me this woman is having more fun in my mid fifties than I did in my teens and early twenties. Well it has often been said that a woman is like a good wine she matures with age and I hope I may be proof of that saying.

I make no secret I am enjoying my womanhood, I’ve waited a long time to live my life as my true self so you can be sure I’ll be making the most of every chance I get to be the best I can be. The reason I mention my age is to illustrate that many trans people and particularly trans women wait a long time before finally coming out and that is to a large extent due to the added pressures society puts on us to fit in their nice binary gender norm. Eventually however there comes a point when you realise you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole because try as you might it doesn’t work, it never has and it never will. It is when that realisation finally dawns you know you have to be yourself. You see despite all your protests that this can’t possibly be you deep down you realise that you can’t fight your nature and begin to learn the truth of the old Shakespeare quote which I will paraphrase by saying methinks thou doth protest too much and it finally dawns on you that only one you’re fooling is yourself. You see if there is one thing we are loathe to admit it’s the fact that our real friends know a lot more than we ever give them credit for.

It has to be said that any coming out or transitioning will have risks and you may lose some friends and family along the way. As for my own experience I have been reasonably fortunate and though I have lost contact with a small number of people who for reasons best known to them have been unable to cope with my transition I have actually gained more friends than I’ve lost since making the change. As for which friends will stay with you and who will walk away let’s just say that though I could have called it right about 90 percent of the time there were a few surprises on both sides which are best summed up by these words from one of my favourite songs and that of course is Caledonia. ‘ l lost some friends I needed losing, found others on the way ‘.

So to anyone who is trapped in the cycle of internalised oppression my advice would be simple get yourself down to your local rainbow friendly bar and enjoy yourselves. You never know you might just like it more than you think. Well I’m sure many of you will have heard of the well known rap star Eminem. This was a man whose lyrics to some of his raps were so homophobic that many people including myself called on him to be banned from Britain. That however is in the past and the man who was also known as the real slim shady is out and proud and identifies as a gay man. So if Eminem can come out and be honest with himself believe me anybody can.

So broadly speaking I agree with the findings of the research and I do that to some extent at least those who shout the loudest are more often than not the ones in the largest closets. Now it is true to say that there will be exceptions to the rule, but I have always believed that who protest too much have usually got something to hide.

So you’re still insisting you’re straight are you? if you are then maybe it’s time to go to the mirror and take a long hard look at yourself. I remember the night i did. I knew straight away I was a woman whose time had come. You see I realised that the day I stopped protesting and admitted I was one of the girls I had to tell the world my truth and fly my flag with pride.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Faithful Daughter

Hey Readers.

My good friend Johnny Cypher has certainly selected a topical subject for this month’s Extra Second which takes place at The Blue Chair on the third Thursday each month. The topic of choice is religion and this is my poem which has been specifically written for this event. I have given it the title Faithful Daughter I hope you enjoy the read.

Faithful Daughter

I am one of the faithful
on a Sunday morning
you will find me in the pews
listening to the good news of the Bible
Presbyterian I may be but I am not wee free
I do faith without intolerance
am Protestant but not orange
I am loyal and true not to the red white and blue
but only to those I call family
biological or not this Scot says
they are the ones who matter
I won’t be bought
by the puritanical patter merchants
who preach fear of those they don’t understand
their attitudes are against the commandments
as I relate to them in scripture
I can’t stand bitterness
and knowledge of other faiths
was learnt early
as my mum and dad came from different branches of the Christian tree
my mum mission hall kirk
my dad RC from Irish ancestry
I loathe bigotry that’s why it was important to say
I am Protestant but not Orange
I cringe in the marching season
preferring to look in the other
direction
I feel a tension when they march
that I don’t have on other days
but I refuse to engage
to rant or rage
I have discovered a better way
I pray rather than shouting at others
I am more like my mother than I thought
sometimes I feel my church constrains me
from saying what I think
though I have to confess
this isn’t always a bad thing
I know what I can be like
but belief is nothing without compassion
I hope my faith comes from a good place
If some people think it strange
a trans woman attends church
I remind them I belong to a reformed tradition
which has to keep reforming
or face oblivion
within a generation
you can’t speak for a nation
if you don’t represent it
resting on laurels of contentment
is not the Christian way
when we have something to say
It should be said in faith and with power
my personal faith is based on
a vision for a better society
not on the pompous sobriety
of those Burns called Holy Willie’s
or the red white and blue of Rangers and the union
so loved by those this Celtic supporting yes girl
would call the less enlightened
I am not frightened to ask the question
what would Jesus would do
who would he accept in to his family
how would he treat those with alternative gender identities, non conforming sexualities,
disabilities,  different ethnicities from the dominant population
I believe he would view them with more kindness
than many who speak in his name
and refuse to the take the blame
for their hurtful behaviour
rebuking them not with malice
but with sadness
and prayers for their souls
faith should not be seen
as a crutch for the old
it must be a force for change
a living breathing mission
for a better world
and that’s why this woman
who was born to be but wasn’t raised a girl
is now a faithful daughter of the church

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@ Gayle Smith 2016