PVPromts: Queer Bodies

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Queer individuals are rarely permitted to own their bodies. The most extreme cases of injustice are still happening to trans and nonbinary individuals, who do not yet legally have the ownership of their bodies. Besides the NHS with its engrained transphobia gatekeeping their needs, the government is still supporting violence against trans and nonbinary individuals via re-enforcing the illusion that a gender apartheid can be affected by the policing of the genitals. Public figures and the media, including the BBC, have brought up and normalised trans and nonbinary lives as a topic up for populistic debate. “There are two genders in the world” is not a personal statement. It is a statement generated with full knowledge that “Other” genitalia, “Other” gender expressions, “Other” gender identities, “Other” bodies exist and that they should not! “There are two genders in the world” is an invitation to “purification” of society, and a complete purge of queer bodies from social and political spaces. It is a statement of legalised hate and sanctioned violence.

Amongst queer womxn the situation is doubly aggravated compared to queer men. They have to carry the burden of womxnhood, whose sexuality is never taken seriously, whose body is extremely policed, and the burden of queerness in addition to that. On the one hand they are exotified and eroticised by the male gaze, on the other hand they are not allowed to work outside that eroticized male gaze. Queer womxn also experience systemic homophobia and exclusion by heterosexual womxn. In the majority of white feminist circles, parliamentary feminist talks, and public health forums, queer womxn rarely make it to their topics of conversation, and when they do, they are being targets of exclusionary motivations. The experience of queer womxn with police brutality, street harassment, rape, and assault, is always disproportionally higher than heterosexual people. When it comes to bars, clubs, and pubs, queer womxn rarely can enjoy their nights without being assaulted.

Black queer bodies experience widespread violence and life-threatening exclusion. Not only are they targets of anti-LGBT+ hate by their own communities, but also victims of unexceptional exclusion and vitriol by public bodies such as the healthcare, criminal and justice systems, as well as the police, where anti-Black racism meets anti-LGBT+ ideologies. The average life expectancy of a black trans person living in 2020, according to many LGBT+ organizations, is estimated to be between 30 to 35 years.

Queer bodies have been stigmatised for far too long with detrimental effects on queer people and their own perception of their bodies. Queer bodies also remnants and memories boards: reminders of moments of mockery, harassment, assault, exclusion, and violence. A queer body is never an Other through its innate nature, but a violently Otherified entity through its lived experience.

This is why we have called for submissions on Queer Bodies. Please send your poems via email to info@poetsversus.com, subject line “PVPrompts: Queer Bodies”.

Submissions

Pride by Holly Jackson

The first time I fell for a woman I was eleven years old;
Miss Fisher, our classroom assistant.
My Dad and I both had a crush on her- it was awkward.

When I was fourteen a friend came out to me;
after kissing a girl at our church youth camp.
I hid my jealousy from myself.

At seventeen I kissed a girl, during a game of truth or dare;
My boyfriend called me “his little lesbian”
I pretended it was funny.

At twenty-two, after years of heterosexual monogamy;
punctuated by lesbian porn,
I finally accepted myself- but told no-one.

Eventually I shared myself a little, to the unquestioning support of my husband;
and some friends, to whom I blurted out my drunken truth one night,
(at the Market Tavern in Durham).
And to others over the years- with mixed results.

But never to a single member of my family;
Always so careful what I said, where and to whom.
In case it got back to someone, who knew someone, who knew someone-
who might tell my father.
Afraid of loss, and Leviticus quotes.

But the loss I was afraid of happened anyway;
and now I’ll always wonder, if he would have surprised me.
I’m still afraid, but now it’s less of what they’ll say-
and more of living hidden away.

So here goes;

I’m bi- have a nice day. 

Holly Jackson is a thirty-three-year-old writer of poetry and short fiction from County Durham, UK. Her debut collection: 'Banana and Salted Caramel' is upcoming form Austen Macauley Publishers and you can follow her on Facebook or Instagram at @hjacksonwrites.

It’s just good manners to wait for the coffee by Tim Kiely

After, I tried to make you live

in a mouthful of coffee; to make it you

in my tongue’s grooves, your shoulders smoking

out of the shower as I drank you,

our hands on one another’s shafts,

filling the darknesses I spent

a lifetime denying. You lay on me

like stormclouds over starved hills.

That morning, the breakfast table groaned.

Your own cup (I made two)

curled its steam over your seat.

I drained mine and waited for

the notes of caramel and orange peel

to reveal you; to fill my whole mouth.


Slouch by Andrew Talbot

Could it be the eyes?
Some newly discovered shade of blue
they are piercing me
and I feel seen.
I stumble through my order
my tongue tripping over every single syllable
and I’m not quite sure it’s got anything to do with the fact I’ve been day drinking rum like it’s going out of style.

Could it be the nails?
Painted on in public
between tending to the pumps
and pouring pints for the parched patrons.
I envy them, It’s such a power move and they need to know I feel this way.

If you’ll allow me to get slightly off topic,
the music in here is always memorable
Its the only reason I have shazam downloaded on my phone….
Bloc Party
Mansun
Hendrix
The Doors
the list goes on

I don’t know
maybe it was the company
maybe it was the alcohol
maybe it was my mood
or maybe I was just feeling it
but the music in this place always did something to me.

Between every round I would
talk my friends ear off about it
about those nails
and those eyes
and that smile 
until eventually 
I find the courage
likely Dutch
but courage none the less
and I find my feet
and I find myself at the bar
and I find myself
finally
finally
telling him

a weight lifts 
we slip into casual conversation
and the night rolls on.


A Queer Body by Robert Garnham

I’ve always been passably handsome

When viewed through frosted glass, 

(Frosted glass slightly concave

Acting the same as ‘skinny mirrors’

In fashion boutiques,

Or are they just an urban myth?).

Anyway, passably handsome

At a quick glance.

Though this queer body,

Structured as it is like the

Centre Pompidou with all of its

Accoutrements and pipes on the outside,

Has, on drunken nights,

Momentarily convinced a member

Of the same gender that it might be right

For voracious osculation, you know,

Ironically, the night not a total waste.

There’s no accounting, my mother

Would say, for taste.

But last year it started to

Stand up for itself, (excuse the pun),

And developed a lump that had to be

Swiftly removed, like an edited comma,

Erroneous punctuation,

And then this year decided on a whim

To do the obvious thing and

Get that trendy flu that everyone’s been

Raving about, you know, like a hat,

Or that winter eight years ago when

All the trendy kids wore jumpers that said ‘Geek’

When they obviously weren’t.

Ay, ’tis a queer body, wrapped

Around a queer man who has the lusts of a

Queer man and the abs of a panda.

I know, I thought, let’s shave of all of my

Body hair (I was bored) and look beach ready,

Ended up looking like a chicken, oven-ready,

A butterball plucked and my chest hair

Itched like a bastard for weeks.

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