Monthly Archives: June 2022

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Rainbows

Pic of the Day

Pic of the Day

Pic of the Day

Hanging in there!

Wednesday Update

For the past two days, I’ve been suffering from a major migraine, so I’m going to have to make this a brief post. However, I wanted to address something from Monday’s post about my date Saturday night. I read everyone’s advice about not making a judgment based on a first date. Though we don’t seem to have much in common, I am open to the possibility of a second date. With that said, I will say there were a few red flags, maybe they were caused by nervousness or just minor quirks. There were several things I did not say in Monday’s post because I think they are too personal to discuss on my blog, but suffice to say, I will tread carefully. I’m continuing to converse with him over text, though I did not text much yesterday because I stayed in bed in a dark quiet room most of the day.

Pic of the Day

I, Lover

I, Lover
By Elsa Gidlow – 1898-1986

I shall never have any fear of love,
Not of its depth nor its uttermost height,
Its exquisite pain and its terrible delight.
I shall never have any fear of love.

I shall never hesitate to go down
Into the fastness of its abyss
Nor shrink from the cruelty of its awful kiss.
I shall never have any fear of love.

Never shall I dread love’s strength
Nor any pain it might give.
Through all the years I may live
I shall never have any fear of love.

I shall never draw back from love
Through fear of its vast pain
But build joy of it and count it again.
I shall never have any fear of love.

I shall never tremble nor flinch
From love’s moulding touch:
I have loved too terribly and too much
Ever to have any fear of love.

About the Poem

Today’s poem is by the early 20th century poet Elsa Gidlow, who famously came out as a lesbian in her autobiography. “I, Lover” originally appeared in On a Grey Thread (Will Ransom, 1923). In this poem, we see the speaker acknowledge the risk of love. But we also see her courage to commit to risking her heart again and again, no matter what the consequences. While it is a lesbian poem, I think it is universal for all LGBTQ+ love. It is an inspirational poem about not fearing who we love and shows Gidlow’s openness with her sexuality. I think it is a goal of all of us to “never have any fear of love.”

If you read “I, Lover” aloud, as poems are meant to be read, it would not work unless you started with the words, I, lover. It converts a shout into the void into a personal promise. A beloved is swearing fealty to love, to enter into a relationship unafraid of stinging reprisals of heartbreak. It is a weighty vow we are witnessing, and as we recite it, we become part of it.

About the Poet

Portrait of Elsa Gidlow, circa 1970s.
(GLBT Historical Society)

Elsa Gidlow, known to many as the “poet-warrior,” was unabashedly visible as an independent woman, a lesbian, a writer, and a bohemian-anarchist at a time when such visibility was both unusual and potentially dangerous. Gidlow was born on December 29, 1898, in Yorkshire, England. She was the eldest of seven children and immigrated with her family to a town near Montreal when she was six. Gidlow grew up in poverty and was largely self-educated. Throughout her career, despite often surviving on a meager income, she would struggle to support her family, including three siblings who suffered with mental illness, while maintaining her commitment to writing. 

In 1920, after spending some time in Montreal’s art circles, Gidlow moved to Manhattan. Gidlow began her career as a freelance journalist and co-published the first North American newspaper that openly celebrated and discussed LGBTQ+ lives and issues within the community. After moving to Manhattan in the 1920s, she became poetry editor at Pearson’s Magazine. Six years later, she moved to San Francisco, where she befriended several poets, as well as the journalists and activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin—the first gay couple to be legally wed in California. 

In the early 1950s, Gidlow was investigated as a suspected Communist, though she identified as an anarchist, and was forced to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). At the time, Gidlow lived openly in a relationship with Isabel Grenfell Quallo, a biracial woman. Her cohabiting in an interracial, lesbian relationship may have provoked the investigation as much as her politics. Indeed, when she was questioned by the HUAC, she had nothing good to say about Communism, since her own political sympathies lay with the anarchists, who considered Marxism just another oppressive ideology.

Gidlow published around a dozen books of poetry and prose, some of which were self-published and released with a limited number of copies. Many of her works are currently out of print. Her poetry book, On a Grey Thread is, historians believe, the first collection of openly lesbian love poetry published in North America. Her autobiography, Elsa: I Come With My Songs (Booklegger Press, 1986), was the first lesbian autobiography not published under a pseudonym.

In 1954, Gidlow purchased a ranch at Muir Woods, north of San Francisco, called Druid Heights, which she used both as her personal residence and as a retreat for artists, bohemians, and feminists. Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder were among the ranch’s various famous guests and residents. In 1962, Gidlow co-founded, with British philosopher and writer Alan Watts, the Society of Comparative Philosophy. In 1977, she appeared in Peter Adair’s 1977 documentary Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives, which featured LGBTQ+ individuals from a range of classes, ethnicities, and professional backgrounds. 

Gidlow died at home on June 8, 1986. Her ashes are interred near the Moon Temple at Druid Heights.

Pic of the Day

Dinner Date

Saturday night, I had a date. I’d been chatting with this guy that I met on one of the dating apps, and we’d been chatting for about a week or two. He finally asked me out for dinner Saturday night. I agreed and we went to dinner at one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Normally, I order the Linguine Al Pescatore (scallops, mussels, and shrimp in a white wine tomato sauce), but it’s rarely a good idea to order something with linguine, spaghetti, or any other long noodle when you’re trying to look graceful while eating. So, I opted for a new item on the menu that I’d never tried before, Salmone Cucina (wood roasted salmon with artichokes, red peppers, lemon, and capers in a white wine sauce served with risotto). I love risotto and it can be eaten quite gracefully. I mention the food because it was the highlight of the date. Nothing else is really worth discussing. It turned out that we have little in common, and we just didn’t seem to go together very well at all. In fact, I was glad when it’s over. I don’t think he felt the same way, since he texted most of yesterday. I’m going to have to tell him though that I don’t really want to see him again. I just don’t think we are compatible. While sometimes opposites attract, this is one where there seemed to be no common ground except we both like cats and dislike dogs, and we are single gay men. That is not enough to build a relationship on; I’m not even sure it’s would be worth pursuing a friendship.

Why can’t I just find a nice, normal gay (or bi, I have no problem with a guy being bi) who I get along with and conversations flow easily? Snow White sang “Someday My Prince Will Come,” but while her prince did come, it was a fairy tale. My life has never been a fairy tale.