Anthem for Fags
for Sylvia Rivera
I pledge allegiance to the fags,
the ignited state of gender-benders,
and to the sensibility which we demand:
I am a radical, a revolutionist, I am still
a revolutionist. Hell hath no fury like
a drag queen scorned,
like a queer or trans woman scorned,
like the one forgotten paramour in a bar full of fags.
My mother never did like
to admit who I was. Am. She, the pretender,
the dissembler, the closeted mother still
trying to decide how to demand
space for both of us in this world, demand
herself to love me whole. Instead, she scorned
what she couldn’t have been ready for, still
thinking white wedding, AIDS comes for fags,
God hates gays and money-lenders—
not admitting she and I were just alike:
different. Black sheep. Not liked.
Doesn’t play well with others. The demands
of society force us to remember
the humanity of people who have scorned
us in this way. Me, I love being a fag.
I love lying still
in my bed, quivering with anticipation still
as I wait for every lover, efficient like
a bagel punch card, like a phone book of fags,
like a list of demands
that I make to myself with the scorn
that needing to wipe yourself constantly
of lubricant engenders.
Faggotry is never surrendering
to the Puritan morals still
plaguing our country. It’s the scorn
of And I’m here to remind you, like
the best karaoke you’ve ever screamed.
Like the thing that will get them to call you a fag
and you don’t act offended, like
you still only demand
respect on the days you haven’t scorned yourself first.
I pledge. I pledge allegiance. I pledge alleg-
edly. I pledge.