perversions, 1958, 2016 with introduction

i posted this poem about three weeks ago. i am re-posting it because of the massacre in orlando this past weekend.  i would like to make sure that no reader will misconstrue what i try to say in this poem. the word  “perversions” in the title refers to the prejudice and hatred suffered by folks in LGBTQ community.

because i am older than many of my readers, i wanted to describe what i witnessed as a high school freshman in 1958: hatred propelled by fear.  i also remember reading in the newspaper about the LAPD raiding bars where gay men congregated, beating them with batons, providing what the cops saw as “street justice,” i suppose.

i think that our society has made some progress in our acceptance of LGBTQ  folks, but the recent “bathroom” controversy and now this massacre shows we have a long way to go. i join the family and friends of the victims in their grieving. i continue to grieve for our society that harbors such hatred.


perversions, 1958, 2016


in high school, 1958,

we heard

rumors about homos,

and warnings not to wear

green and yellow on thursdays

supposedly a code for the homos

whoever they were.

guys at our school got

bullied and even beaten

just for wearing glasses

or for being small and quiet

so we feared what would happen

if the bullies labeled us as


whoever they were.

and then we saw in the newspapers

photos of bloodied men

men who needed the company

of other men

hauled out in handcuffs

from nightclubs into

police vans,

arrested for


whatever they were.

in 2016 the same bullies

some wearing suits

still nurture the

bacteria of fear

spread the infection into restrooms

and onto the children

while hiding their own perversions.

and we know what they are.


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I've been writing mostly poetry for many years and have gotten a number of works accepted in publications and anthologies. I'm most interested in communicating with poets for whom craft is a high priority. I enjoy finding and commenting on poetic gems in other people's work. For my own work, I welcome polite comments, whether positive or critical.

13 thoughts on “perversions, 1958, 2016 with introduction”

  1. Very appropriate to re-post this poem! As an older person I remember some of the hatred of the past and things are better today but there is still an undercurrent of hatred there. Orlando has shown that it is real. My heart aches for those lost and the family and friends left behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a powerful poem, very well stated. I went to high school in the 70s and it was pretty much the same thing. Likewise, I am in total sadness for those people who lost family and friends in that horrible ordeal.


  3. Very powerful, Michael. Thanks for reposting it. The repetition you used throughout really nails in the fact that this ‘hatred propelled by fear’ has been repeating for decades. I went to high school in the late 2000s and witnessed not arrests but other forms of hatred directed towards LGBTQ peers, such as innuendo, mockery, and social exile. It didn’t happen all the time, but it still was something that happened. Orlando was an absolute tragedy. Here’s hoping that we can break the cycle soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. millie, i’m sorry for posting such a late reply. i very much appreciate your comments from your perspective of someone about 50 years younger than i. the orlando tragedy was probably a culmination of “the other forms of hatred” that you saw as student. and the fear that people feel comes from a perspective of ignorance.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for re-sharing this poem, this glimpse into what was, what is, and how far we still have to go. This whole recent episode — and all like it — is heartbreaking. I would like to think our hearts, individually and collectively, have room enough within them to acknowledge that Love is Love is Love, and all that draws lines around that truth is human construct.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for posting this. We must be witness to what is and what has been. Under the name of tolerance, sometimes we wipe away reality, become historical revisionists. But we are not all treated equal. Period, now or ever. I am so happy that my kids’ reality is different than the one I experienced when I was young, but obviously everything is not ok. It is a long way from ideal. A loooonnng way. And being a witness reminds everyone what is really at stake. So thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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