This is one of my favorite issues of the year: Pride in Pictures. So many smiles and faces and signs and causes; all coming out and being seen. And, though there generally aren’t many words to accompany all the pictures, this year I am taking the opportunity to step aside and not suck any air out of the room by presenting a poem called “we” that was written by several hundred people during the Twin Cities Pride Festival. As a special project by the Queer Voices reading series and IntermediaArts, “we” captures the time just after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the recognition of same-sex marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed by our Constitution. It is a piece of history in poetry.
With you and with thanks,
like the night
stars dancing in a crazy wind
we shine at the beach
and sing in one voice, ticking like a joyous metronome
like a thousand divas
moving forward in vociferous vibration.
to turn back time and do it all again.
we sing like Miriam at the Red Sea
celebrating our international friendships
hanging out and sharing hugs
družim in delitev objemov.
we sing for our children and their friends
for David (lost and sadly missed)
for sunny days and summer skies
for a nation as it celebrates love.
we sing so we have music to dance to.
and faces surround us –
faces of joy and inclusion
beaming like little lights of the world
as fear and hatred dim and flicker and fade
we are one
a myriad of volatile voices
speaking in harmony
sprouting like young green leaves
all around us.
there is thrill in completion
in having come this far after walking for so long
our steps, heavy and weary.
but here we are
a community glowing, surrounded by affection,
strong and beautiful and authentic
in our gender
and in our love.
there are flags and kites and feathers
of future generations
majestic in their colors
majestic in their flight
floating in unison
as minds and hearts open
and love (equally)
our brothers and sisters
in this, our Garden of Eden.
we say yes to love,
yes to always
yes to unity and acceptance
and, after long last,
to loving openly.
we say no
to shame we don’t deserve.
like Vonnegut we hate this war
– this fight against oppressive swords.
yes, the battle was necessary
to honor those who came before
and those who have yet to come.
our guide is this brilliant sun
a sun of intuition
reflecting blues and greens pride of years long past,
reflecting back to the grass where love first started,
where love took root and grew as roots so often do.
our guides are those heroes who taught us
to love who we are
to fight with the strength of a diseased tree
to stand against hatred and injustice
and to remember where we came from.
love is always the answer, says the Court
let her in. let her in now.
love is the answer. the answer is love.
and now we can find comfort in our own skin
and not hide our love within
and like roses we grow
graceful despite our thorns.
in the end we are a proud
rainbow of traditions and colors –
a community that has learned to love
in the midst of hate.
faith is our pride.
we have learned to love a queer love
an awesome, beautiful, powerful, political,
strong, unique, colorful, big, bold, queer love
that, when tossed away by others,
like a boomerang always manages to come back.
and who expected this sun to shine?
who expected love to flow,
hugs to abound
and kisses to flow without fear?
who expected us to be here
brilliant as the first sun just after the first rain?
who knew we would win 5 to 4?
who knew ours would be a rapid flight,
that feathery clouds would take wing,
that the Court would spawn such inspiration and passion and love?
who knew freedom would taste like this?
that our bellies would expand so with such joy?
that fifty states would now be mandated
to recognize love equally.
we shine despite the darkness
we sing despite the silence
we love despite the hatred
because love wins.
it is so ordered.
thus sayeth the Court.
Several hundred people added lines and images to the poem; John Medeiros edited the final version. Many thanks go to John Medeiros and Andrea Jenkins, co-curators of the Queer Voices reading series and to the volunteers of IntermediaArts who contributed to the project. If you are a writer and would like to read with the Queer Voices Reading Series, please contact IntermediaArts at [email protected].