Tag Archive | Sexuality

Tapestry

In my final poem for this year’s pride I bring my story up to date by relating the events from the 1990’s to the present day. I’ve given it the title Tapestry as it completes my story so far. I hope you enjoy the read. 
Tapestry

It’s been a long journey to get to where I am 

though from the 90’s onwards 

attitudes began to get better 

slowly at first, but they speeded up 

when we reached the millennium bell

things had been improving bit by bit

as more people began to be open 

to say without fear I am what I am

a friend of Dorothy who walks the yellowbrick road

in red shoes of whatever style I like

the T was finally included 

in what had been thought of as LGB rights

for me the journey would take just a few more years 

with smiles and tears along the way 

now in my 50’s I can safely say

I’m having the time of my life 

I’m more daring than I ever believed I could be 

yet at the same time respectable 

when the occasion demands 

no longer content to bury my head in the sand

I face the world and say 

this is me take it or leave it

but you won’t change me 

I only go back to the past

to collect memories which I join together 

crafting with care the tapestry of my story 

© Gayle Smith 2017

No Room For Rainbows

In my latest poem I look at what it meant to be a young trans woman in the very conservative 1980’s. To set the context to this work I should perhaps explain that as we started this  decade homosexuality wàs still illegal in Scotland and though this changed in 1981 bringing the law in to line with England and Wales where this had been the case since 1967 it was at a time when there was a climate of fear against the LGBT community and when homophobia and transphobia as we know them today didn’t exist and merely thought of as normal everyday behaviour. 

Seriously, that’s how it was back in the day.Thankfully times have moved on since those dark days and now living permanently as the woman I’ve always known I was I’ve taken a retrospective look at that part of my story and I think I’ve gained a better understanding of my mother’s issues with my trans identity by doing so. I honestly believe that my mother was a good woman who was probably afraid for my safety and that’s what shaped her views on it. 

As is the case with some poems I had difficulty in deciding the title because I had thought of more than one potential option for it. Bearing this in mind I asked my virtual villagers to make the choice for me  and it was Michelle Campbell SNP councillor for Erskine And Inchinan who was first up with her suggestion of No Room For Rainbows which I think is the perfect fit for a poem written about darker days than now. So I’ve to run with it and I hope you enjoy the read.  
No Room For Rainbows 

In the 80’s I danced to Madonna 

and sometimes to a bit of Donna Summer 

well much to my mother’s consternation 

there were some things from the 70’s 

I just couldn’t give up.  

 I wanted a bit of hot stuff 

well though this material girl enjoyed her freedom years 

dancing in my fishnets and body suit 

in the peace and quiet of my room

was the closest I could get to being me

in the days when myths and misconceptions 

were par for the course if you were LGBT

due to the climate of the time 

anti gay hate crime was worse then than now

and trans women were figures of ridicule 

so I can understand my  mother’s attitude 

in trying to wish my identity away 

write it off as a phase

but all the wishing in the world 

wasn’t going to make me straight 

at least not in the male sense of the word 

the very idea of it is completely absurd 

though I get why she hung on to it 

tighter than any child clings to a comfort blanket 

the 80’s were uncomfortable times 

for anyone considered different 

she was probably scared I’d be attacked 

as Thatcher used force 

to unite her Britain under a union flag 

made of second hand rags and material concerns 

with no room left for rainbows 

© Gayle Smith 2017

Ten Days

As pride gets ever closer this poem looks at the story of a princess and a trans girl. Only ten days separated me and Princess Diana. Ten days, and different world’s.Though never a royalist it would have been impossible for a trans girl only ten days younger than Diana not to gush over her glamorous lifestyle not to mention wardrobe but sometimes fairytales are not  quite what they seem and at a time when I was struggling to confront my gender identity issues,  her life appeared to be less complicated than mine It is fair to say that perhaps I didn’t  realise how much pressure she was under or how lucky I actually was. As is often the case when I’m finding it difficult to select a suitable choice of title I let a friend make the call for me. On this occasion the friend in question was a member of the Blue Chair poetry family Molly Frawley who agreed with my original choice of title Ten Days as this shows both the few  similarities I had with Princess  Diana and the even greater differences between us. I hope you enjoy what I think you’ll find a thought provoking read. 

Ten Days 

I was never a fan of the Royal Family 

but as a young trans woman coming to terms with my sexuality 

I was subliminally influenced 

by Princess Diana who was only ten days older than me 

you see I  liked the way she carried herself

even though one of her dresses 

would cost ten times my family’s combined wealth

if everyone put all our money together

getting engaged to a Prince on Valentine’s day

seemed like the most romantic fairytale ever 

till I remembered that fairytales only happened in panto 

not to 19 year olds from forgotten housing schemes 

in remote parts of Glasgow 

and to be honest I never fancied her man 

well I couldn’t be doing with a guy

who spent more time talking to plants 

than he did getting in to my pants

no matter how rich he was 

that kind of man could never be my type 

he was more Mr Wrong than he could ever be Mr Right

now I don’t why but I always thought the marriage was a sham

It was too great a contrast 

like David Attenborough meets Wham 

and that it was never going to work in the long run 

Diana knew the meaning of girls just wanna have fun

not just the lyrics 

while his stiff upper lip made him typically British 

and I do mean sexuallly repressed 

when she got married I focused on her dress 

and how I would love to have worn it

for my  wedding to the groom of my choice 

she gave me the strength to admit to myself 

I fancied boys not girls

well I was too busy wanting to be one 

to look at them in that way 

of course, in those days 

If I aired those thoughts folk would have just have assumed I was gay 

nobody even considered girls like me could exist 

so I transported myself to the dream world 

of a girl who was just 10 days older than me

when her death came I was saddened 

though not as surprised as some 

I thought it best to say nothing

play dumb and watch Blair hijack her death 

cry fake tears for the queen of hearts

the people’s princess 

the girl who made another girl smile 

as she showed me style and high fashion

the kind of outfits I would have loved to have worn to the dancing 

if only I had the chance 

but the princess who was only ten days older than me 

was the girl who had everything

until she realised that sometimes princes turned in to frogs

and not every fairytale has a happy ever after 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

Secret Cinderella

With Glasgow Pride coming up next weekend it’s no surprise that this month’s edition of Extra Second is focusing on sexuality. As I’ve been billed to perform I thought I had better get cracking and write some poems on the topic. In this one I travel back in time to the summer of 1974 and recall the day I  started secondary school and the first real stirrings with regards to boys and being aware of being a socially awkward trans teen before I knew the term for it. I’ve given it the title Secret Cinderella, I hope you enjoy the read .

Secret Cinderella

It was the day that Nixon resigned 

and the Bay City Rollers made number one on Radio Clyde 

when I started high school

I tried so hard to fit in and be cool 

it didn’t work 

I wanted skirts not the trousers that were my fate

I hated being made to be a boy 

I couldn’t play the part 

my heart wasn’t in it 

there were limits to my acting skils 

I tried to play football but would sooner hang out with girls 

talk about what really mattered 

make up, boys, and teenage dreams 

the centrefold in that week’s Jackie magazine 

but when you lived in the schemes 

these stirrings had to be calmed if not completely quelled

Catholic or Protestant both guilt trips 

had the same destination 

a one way ticket on the road to hell 

and a child of a mixed marriage would be condemned to it twice 

secretly I would wear tights and dresses 

when nobody else was watching 

well Scotland was a different place back then

where men were men and no boys were ever allowed to cry 

even if denying the truth would have them climbing bedroom walls 

the secret Cinderella’s who never even made it 

to the school disco let alone the ball 

and wouldn’t kiss Prince Charming till their 40’s 

© Gayle Smith 2017

Stiff Upper Lipstick 

Hey Readers  In this post I share a poem on the topic of mental health from highly personal perspective which is that of identity  in particular relating to gender. As  a trans woman, I do not believe nor have I ever done that my gender identity is a mental health issue, but I do believe  where an identity is repressed it can trigger this type of issue and I will openly admit that coming out and living as my real self probably saved me from not only an episode but from a complete meltdown. It is with this in mind I have written this poem on pressure to conform to what society sees as the acceptable cultural, social, and political norms and why sometimes you have to defy them to be truly happy and live the best life you can. I’ve have given the poem Stiff Upper Lipstick as challenges the dangerous and potentially damaging myth that people in the UK are not allowed to show emotion and must remain controlled at all times. I hope you enjoy the read 
Stiff Upper Lipstick 

you must keep a lid on emotions

it’s for the best 

you understand 

you were raised in the British school of thought 

Scottish identity suppressed 

deemed unworthy of recognition 

by those and such as those

who fantasise that a united kingdom 

can be anything other than a fairytale 

these people ignore reality 

any discussion of sexuality 

would be bound to make them blush 

god help them with gender identity 

to them  it wouldn’t matter

if you knew from an early age 

your body didn’t match your  brain

preferring pink to blue

tights to socks

and skirts to shirts and ties

a conservative society tried to downsize your dreams 

as parents, teachers, and youth leaders 

focused on  reinforcing the dominant cultural theme 

boys were boys and girls were girls 

you couldn’t be somewhere in between 

let alone change sides

someone born a boy 

couldn’t dream of a big white wedding

let alone being a bride 

this was something you had to hide 

and you couldn’t complain 

you had to  wear stiff upper lipstick 

whilst reading secret copies of girl’s magazines 

you kept hidden under your  bed 

and only you knew why your face went red 

when you saw that boy you liked 

and had to keep the door to your heart closed 

even if you wanted to open it 

and show the world 

the girl you knew was real 

feelings ignored but never quite crushed 

you blushed as you went in to your room 

dressed yourself in your mum’s old clothes 

and wore stiff upper lipstick 

as your heart cried tears 

and you longed for a kiss from a prince.

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

Game Changer 

Hey Readers. In this my latest post for LGBT history month I look at football from the perspective of a community often stereotyped as not being interested in the game or for that matter any form of team sports. This of course is complete nonsense and I speak from the experience of being a transsexual Celtic fan who cares passionately for her club. The idea that there are no LGBT football fans is about as ludicrous as saying that we should return to the days when children were working down mines Among my friends I count gay men, lesbians and fellow trans women who support both  Celtic and Rangers  as well as a number of   other clubs and they have every right to support the team of their choice  without fear ,  prejudice , or discrimination. It is with in mind I have written this poem  which chronicles the gradual shift in social and cultural attitudes which has made it easier for us to support our teams with pride and at pride.  I have given it the title Game Changer I hope you enjoy the read. 

Game Changer 

It’s a West of Scotland Saturday 

sexuality or gender identity 

are the last things on the minds

of many friends who ready themselves 

to go to football games

and faithfully support their sides

as kick off time approaches 

I ask myself the question

from which they can run but never hide 

will we ever see footballers at pride 

the way we do at anti racist events 

surely this would be a game changer 

as to how fans view the rainbow 

I speak from the heart on this issue 

as an out trans woman I proudly wear 

My Celtic scarf around my neck 

In a way which would not have been possible 

30 years ago or even 15

when cheering our team no matter  who 

 would have been a far more  difficult ask 

the mask of respectably 

would have deemed it a game we couldn’t win 

we’ve travelled a  long journey since then 

those were  the days 

when football was or so we are told 

the  preserve of macho voices 

on terraces and stands 

 our community the silent fans 

who supported our clubs in all seasons 

 now openly express affection 

when goals are scored and trophies won 

but will rocks melt with the sun 

before a big name player comes out 

during their glory years 

is there still a culture of fear in the beautiful game 

 which lives on through talk which links football

with ships and whisky 

and  after match drinks in bars 

in bars perceived too risky 

for women to enter 

as men said no surrender 

to the ways of the grand old team 

Is scheme nostalgia still alive 

in homes with middle class salaries 

a football fan’s sexuality or gender identity 

doesn’t mean an automatic penalty 

for the opposition

 in every game we play 

we can watch sportscene  and match of the day 

talk tactics and debate substitutions 

just as well as any straight white man can 

and many cases better 

it’s time to blow the whistle 

on this homophobic and transphobic agenda

and give the red card to the last unspoken prejudice 

our fans wear all colours 

cheer their teams through thick and thin 

we don’t just go for glamour clubs

or sing when we’re winning 

maybe if players came to pride 

or attended LGBT history events 

it would kick off a new game

with respect as the goal to be scored 

then no longer marginalised or ignored 

we would have our game changing moment 

with every club included in the rainbow. 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

 

 


Boys Can Cry Men Can Weep And Be Free To Hug If They Want To. 

Hey Readers

It is with disgust and revulsion that I read that Daily Mail has attempted to tarnish a well deserved gold medal won by two young male British divers Chris Mearns and Jack Laugher by suggesting that their gold medal hug was somehow less manly than the Chinese Bronze Medal Winners pat on the back.

This comment sparked outrage from the members of the LGBTI community and other people who are decent human beings Being in both groups a trans woman who I hope conducts myself with dignity and has a genuine warmth towards other people (right wing nut jobs not included) I am angry beyond words with my not so favourite newspaper.

This last comment should surprise nobody. To be fair I am often outraged by the Daily Mail for a multitude of reasons and far too many to mention in one post. This however has taken levels of offensiveness to new depths of depravity.  It is made worse by the fact the Daily Mail shamelessly promotes itself as a paragon of British Values but let me say this loud and clear the Daily Mail version of Britishness is not the kind of Britain I want to live in.

To question the masculinity of two talented young men of whom Britain should be (and the sane non Daily Mail reading parts of it are ) very proud is in my view completely and totally vile and an insult to the good name of journalism.

Speaking as a from a personal perspective the view that someone’s masculinity is compromised by giving someone a hug rather than a pat on the back is a joke and a pretty tasteless one at that. It is attitudes like these which have messed up the emotions of generations of men who have been labelled effeminate or queer (a word I don’t like and will never reclaim) for such ridiculous ‘ crimes ‘ as  crying at a movie or when they’ve fallen and skint their knees as children.

This boys don’t cry nonsense is exactly that, nonsense. It is this kind of stiff upper lip drivel which has made Britain the most emotionally backward nation in Europe and possibly even on earth.  It is I think no coincidence that Britain has the most suicides of any country in Europe when people have to live in a climate where men are not allowed to demonstrate any signs of emotion. 

Now forgive me for being controversial but I believe this attitude is at best outdated and at worst pre historic. No doubt the diehard chauvinists in certain working class communities will say it will make men out of boys and some people may actually buy that argument but why people whose sons are more likely to see the gravel pitches of Easterhouse than the playing fields of Eton can be so staggeringly stupid defies both description and belief. 

It is this kind of testosterone fuelled garbage which can and  does do considerably more harm than good.These stereotypes as to what is and isn’t masculine are an insult to all decent men everywhere and fan the flames of prejudice which can and does result in homophobia. To me masculinity, is not about throwing your weight around it is about being confident enough in yourself to let your feelings have free reign as and when required. It’s about taking your daughter to her football training, it’s doing your share of household duties, its about helping your friends,like Chris Young, and Jim Monaghan, and Steven Tierney to name but three  have done for me on many occasions and not being afraid to be who you are and show real emotion when you feel you need to do it. 

That to me what being a real man is all about and if that’s not what the Daily Mail thinks masculinity is about then maybe it’s the Daily Mail, that needs to change rather than those two young men who just achieved their greatest ambition and couldn’t hide their joy on doing so. The fact that I even have to say this is a 21st century scandal so maybe just maybe it’s time for the Daily Mail to man up, and face the fact that boys can cry, men can weep, and be free to hug if they want to. 
Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle XXX