Tuesday, 18 June 2019

@50 (June 18, 2019)


From anger
To love
In Pride.

Fiftieth anniversary
Of Stonewall Riots
(June 28-July 3,1969).

Never the need
(For understanding
And love)
Greater than now.

Hostilities renew
LGBTQ+ community.

Ignorance based hate
Dominates narrative.

Human rights
Blotted out words
On torn paper tossed
Into the flames
Of hostile contempt.

Trump administration
Self-righteously blames
Detention detainees
For own deaths.

Not private corporate contractors
Operational rules
Overcrowded facilities
Or political dogma.

Johana Medina Leon's dies
(HIV+ El Salvadoran transwoman)
On June 1, 2019
Paroled from ICE detention
At an El Paso hospital.

Basic medical care
Torturous journey
Long delays and denials.

Nazi concentration camps
Given other detainees
And staff's LGBTQ+ hostilities.

Another name added
Already too long
Transgender death scroll
Regardless - ethnicity/skin colour.


Months earlier
Toronto, Ontario
Canada's largest city.

Scabs are forming
Over Bruce McArthur's
Conviction and sentencing
As a serial killer.

(He's one of us

Earliest parole
Twenty-four years
When 91.

Killing 8 (2010-17)
Primarily marginalized South Asian
And Middle Eastern men.

Racism echoes
Haunt village's silence.

Andrew Kinsman
Prominent local AIDS activist
(And white man).

After Toronto's Pride 2017
Sparking village's action
For the missing.

Police search
Missing persons records
Dating to 1970.

Police Chief Mark Saunders
(First non-white Police Chief)
Denies serial killer fears
Before arrest
No justifying evidence.

Any real change
From Toronto Police Service Board
And Mayor John Tory inquiries?

Given racial profiling history
And handling of LGBTQ+ file.

Decade of negotiations
Accepting single recommendation
Under more "liberal" councils
From raids' judicial review.


On November 20, 1999
Boston and San Francisco
Observed first
Day of Transgender Remembrance

Honouring Rita Hester
Boston area
African-American transwoman.

Chest stabbed 20 times
In own apartment
On November 28, 1998.

Rushed to hospital
Only to die
From cardiac arrest.

Still unsolved.

Had Boston's LGBTQ+ community
Same emotional response
To Rita Hester's death
As for Matthew Shepard's.

(Gay white man
Brutally beaten tortured
And left to die
On October 6,1998.

(Before succumbing
To his injuries
October 12,1998.)

Would we
Be observing DoTR?

Want to say no.

But remembered
Toronto's gay village
Seven years non-response
To McArthur's murderous way.


Date selected
Close to Rita Hester's death
Avoiding conflict
With American Thanksgiving.
Fourth Thursday
In November.

November 20th
For DoTR.


Gwendolyn Ann Smith
Early San Francisco transgender
Digital activist and archivist.

Noticed Massachusetts' murdered
African-American transwomen
Becoming forgotten and unmourned
By own community.

As news cycle moves
To the next story
If covered at all.

When covered
Lack of dignity and respect
With proper pronouns
And systemic discrimination
Part of daily life.

Like the Washington Post's
Reporting on Tyra Hunter
Who died August 1995.

After first responders
And ER doctor
Withdraw medical treatment
Being pre-op transgender.

Or CNN’s post
LGBT Rights Milestones Fast Fact
Charitably calling it
Accidently transphobic.

Ignoring transcommunity
Beyond Renee Richards mention
(Mid-1970s transwoman tennis pro).

As if
Stonewall Riots
Only gay (men) revolt.

And not
A LGBTQ+ effort.

One wonders
Is CNN appeasing
Transphobic viewers?


United States
Believing the myth
LGBTQ+ vanguard leader.

First LGBTQ+ riot
Cooper Do-nuts
(Los Angeles: May 1959)
And 7 years later
Compton's Cafeteria
(San Francisco: August 1966).

Overzealous police
Morality enforcing
First open opposition
From local LGBTQ+.

Turning the other cheek
To harassment.

With Stonewall Riots
Six fate filled days.

History tells us
American LGBTQ+
Fighting uphill battle.

Other countries reach
LGBTQ+ rights milestones
Years and decades ahead
Of the United States.

Republican controlled
State legislatures
Pass draconian laws
Against its LGBTQ+ citizens.

Legal discrimination
Like removing medical definition
(Gender dysphoria)
From public record.

Never mind
Trump administration
Systematically stripping
Federal LGBTQ+ protections
Special target: transpeople.

Ironically Trump boasts:

"...Has done the most
As US president
To protect the LGBTQ+..."

Removing federal protections
From previous administrations
Like forcing military personnel
Into a difficult decision.

Remain hidden
In the closet
Serving their country.

Or leave
And transition.

Yup totally supportive.


When celebrating
This historic anniversary
Please take a moment
Of silence.

Honouring those deaths
Never reported or recorded
By homophobia/transphobia
Around the world.

Many of you
Struggle with dæmons
Of pain and sorrow.

From society's rejection
Of who we are
Family members lovers friends
And neighbours.

We live
New age of demagogues
And autocratic dictators
Whose rhetoric been silent
Since mid-1950s
When McCarthyism died.

Our very existence
Mortal threat
To national morals
And survival.

So they claim
No evidence
Beyond religious/personal beliefs.

Before you go
Wherever you disappear
For the night/weekend
Remember this:

Battle for true acceptance
Never ends
Until the last person dies..

Know that
You're loved
For who you are.

Therisa © 2019

Author's note: In writing this poem, I had my eyes opened to the horrific racism that lays
hidden, just behind the surface of the LGBTQ+ community. Am not naive to think that
racism doesn't exist. All I have to do, is turn on the TV news, and watch it unfold before
my very eye. I hope this poem, will help to reduce this. Even if, it's a single person. I would
consider it, a huge victory.

Monday, 17 June 2019

When Seeking Healing (June 11, 2019)

Behind this veil
My darkness hides.

Rather forget
When hatred/fear ruled
With an iron fist.

Nights filled
Tortured visions
Of another life
Haunting me.

An abused prisoner
Inside a cell
Awaiting Fate.

Praying to Kali
Seeking release
From living nightmares

For inner freedom
So long denied
I've forgotten
What it feels like.

Therisa © 2019

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