Carol Ann Duffy

Artifact: Gay Love by Carol Ann Duffy

This writer is gay,
and the priest, in the old love of his church,
kneeling to pray.
The farmer is gay, baling the gold hay
out in the fields,
and the teacher, cycling to school each day.
The politician is gay,
though he fears to say,
knotting his tongue, his tie;
and the doctor is gay,
taking your human pulse in her calm way.
The scientist is gay,
folding the origami of DNA,
and the judge, in his grey wig, is gay.
The actress is gay,
spotlit in the smash-hit play;
the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,
our children, are gay.
And God is gay.

Identification: This poem was published on June 16, 2016 in response to the Orlando shooting that killed 49 members of the LGBTQ community four days before. Duffy is openly gay and has discussed her sexuality through poetry before, but often in the context of love poetry, not tragedy. The poem gained notoriety through celebration of the LGBTQ community as well as through criticism for her last few lines, “our children, are gay / And God is gay.” While many of speculated her theology and ideology, the majority seem to agree that sexuality is a critical part of our societal identity and should be considered when responding to discrimination, hate crimes, and the backlash of non-privileged groups.

Annotation: Much like Richard Blanco, Carol Ann Duffy is the first openly gay poet laureate within her domain, Britain. She is also the first female and individual of Scottish descent to hold the position. She was appointed in 2009 and has continued making poets since, as evidenced by this June excerpt. The conceptualization of this poem is simple: we are one and we are gay. Even if we ourselves do not identify as non-heterosexual, we are surrounded by those who are and are still influenced by them. By making broad generalizations like our children are gay and our God is gay, it forces us to consider the entirety of the human experience. As far as her last line, I don’t think saying “God is gay” is sacrilegious. Many people believe we were made in our “God’s” image. I believe he encompasses all identities and he is many things at once– including variations of gender, race, disabilities, and sexual orientation. It’s a utilization of language that makes people react. It makes people feel. I think that’s especially crucial in the wake of tragedy.

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