Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

Category Archives: LGBTQ

Poetic Asides had an interesting challenge: “A World Without ____________.” Yeah, go figure how this one came to mind (wink)! Amy

A World Without Gay Men (what a bore)

No Dr. Kildare
Nor “Night and Day”
No “Pillow Talk”
‘cause Rock was gay

No Sistine Chapel
Virtruvian Man
No Mona Lisa
No inventions grand

No Karloff’s Monster
(James Whale’s work of art)
No Benjamin Britten
Johnny Mathis, my heart

Gershwin, Sweet
Embraceable You,
the Man I Love
is a classic, it’s true

Greg Louganis’
diving perfection
Leonard Bernstein’s
symphonic direction

The list could go on
til night turns to day
but what a dull world
without men born that way

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also posted at my NaPoWriMo home, Writer’s Island, and at Poets United.

At Sunday Scribblings, we were asked to create a poem around the word “befuddled.” Not “bewitched,” nor “bothered,” nor “bewildered,” unfortunately… but then, that one was already written! (That’s for my music buddies.) A little gender-bender limerick for y’all. Amy

The Right Stuff?

A man with whom I often cuddled
Confessed to becoming quite muddled
Our sex was okay
But he told me today
With Bradley, he’s far less befuddled

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Poetic Asides, the prompt was, Celebrate. Could not think of a better celebration than the day two of my dearest friends were united in love and dignity. Amy

Celebrate Today
(For Christopher Kennedy and Jimmy Ricketts)

Christopher and Jimmy
both in tuxes, Dapper Dans.
Not the groomsmen,
but the grooms.

I’m running around in
a dress tight as Saran Wrap
(and just as pliable).
My heels click click click busy busy…

So light the candles!
Bring on the guests!
Family and friends;
Amy’s taking requests

at the baby grand with candelabrum
As I sing, I meditate on the wax
slowly slinking down the tapers.
This is real romance.

The pastor was beautiful;
the buffet, sublime.
Every state should have gay marriage –
their catering businesses would thrive.

I sing the song I wrote for their wedding,
“The Best I Have To Give.”
Then Jimmy yells, “Do the Santa song!”
I grin and launch in.

It’s my rendezvous with Kris Kringle
Naughty but nice. The glasses clink
and the newlyweds share a little peck.
Nothing gross like at straight weddings.

A tasteful affair from beginning to end,
all couples dancing, bubbles in the air.
I remember Mom saying that true love
is marrying your best friend. Amen.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This takes some explanation.  To begin with, my generation has a problem with the word “queer.” It ranks up there with the “n” word and the 6-letter “f” word in our sense of disparagement of people who have to work much harder in this world, controlled as it is by white, straight men.

Joseph Harker, one of my favorite poets (see his blog on “Poets I Love”), posted to a prompt to “answer” a poet of yore. He chose Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We So Cool” with an interpretation that included the word “queer.” My daughter, Riley/Laura, taught me that I am the first to chide people for “not changing,” and that since she identifies as “gender queer,” I will have to adapt. So my understanding of the queer world (and well as the “Q” word) has indeed expanded. Parents, it’s not always YOU teaching your kids – it goes both ways!

Then someone posted a homophobic rant about “Village People” and damnation, so I replied in a poem, riffing off Joseph. Long explanation – loaded with controversy – I welcome any and all comments on this one.

You Are Queer (with love to Gwendolyn Brooks and Joseph Harker)

You are queer. You
are dear. You

live free. You
please me. You

speak out. You
whisper, shout. You

are loud. You
are proud. You

were dates. You
find mates. You

live longer. You
grow stronger. You

catch hate. You
know fate. You

are shoved. You
are loved.

(c) 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Not your typical Christmas offering, and yet I feel called on this, the Solstice, the longest night of the year, to think about different paths. I’ve spent the day reflecting on what Jesus means to me, as I await his birth again in my heart with the calm and preparedness of a midwife. But this season excludes many, and counting agnostics and atheists in my circle of friends, I figured I’d offer up some food for thought!

The Atheist and Me, the Lay Minister

Try to explain to a fellow Christian
why atheism is acceptable

Try to explain to a deaf man
why the radio’s undetectable

One man’s meat is another man’s candy
One woman’s faith does not fit all

Every journey has pitfalls and triumphs
There is not one true, right call

I know my call is to Jesus, to God
My soul is filled to the brim

But if my friend thinks otherwise
That’s his right – up to him.

If he doesn’t believe in the Bible
and God’s not his only light

Yet he does good things in this bleak world
I won’t shove God down his throat tight

I’m called to be the best Christian I can
so I will not presume to oppress

my friend disillusioned, let down by his church
’cause he’s going from pants to a dress

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At Sunday Scribblings (glad I’m back on course after a break), we were given a one-word prompt: LIMITS. Click the Scrib link and then on the poets’ names (which are linked to their blogs) to check out other folks! Peace, Amy


I’ve had it up to here
‘cause my daughter, who is ‘queer’
is not welcome in my sister’s home

I’ve taken all I’ll stand
from all those who would demand
that I discard my kid like a dead battery

I’m telling all the world
she is perfect, she’s my girl
If you don’t love her, please don’t waste your prayers

On Riley or her mom
because we know we are BOMB
and anyone who doesn’t get it can get stuffed

I tried to make this rhyme
to some extent, it is fine
but I couldn’t rhyme “battery” with “flattery” because that concept is entirely absent from some people’s hearts. But at least it’s truthful!

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

SHE DIDN’T CHANGE (for Laura/Riley)

She was brilliant
Head of the class, sassy
Audrey-Hepburn beautiful
Powerful sense of justice
Rhythmically gifted
Constantly questioning authority
Doodling in the margins of her homework
Nose glued to a book or
to Japanimation on the tube

One day she decided
to tell me the truth,
that she is not straight
She calls it “queer”
(“Lesbian sounds like I emigrated.”)

And that’s the day I knew
My daughter is
Destined to illustrate a graphic novel

In no particular order, these qualities
And guess what?
In my eyes
In the eyes of her family
She didn’t change
She adjusted her horizon
and we adjusted with her

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
previously posted at Poetic Asides


It started off like usual, boy and girl meet,
make the trip to City Hall, marry.
Start a family with a beautiful boy.
Then Mom relapses, synapses lost to
crack addiction come back to haunt her
like Jacob Marley, chains and all.

Dad bails, few details known of his whereabouts,
so Mom goes to work and leaves Gregory in the house.
When the State workers came, they found him,
three years old, still in a crib, pillows packing him in
“to keep him safe,” mutters Mom, as she is
taken into custody (so is her son).

A year passes; Gregory waits for foster parents,
but he is no poster child for adoption. First,
they see his bright blue eyes and big smile…
then ask, “Why doesn’t he walk around?”
Workers explain that he just learned to crawl;
crucial development of muscles was delayed by the crib.

All potential parents pass him up like a misfit toy
until one day, the right couple comes along.
They see him as a creation of God, worthy, worth the fight
to take him to therapy, get him walking upright.
Take him to worship – he’s the church’s bright, shiny penny.
Pastor says, “You can’t spell ‘congregation’ without ‘Greg’!”

Finally, the big day, the whole church goes to court
to support the new family, to make it legal. Gregory looks
regal in his little suit and tie, smiling, smiling…
The joy on his face, applause when the papers are signed.
Gregory was put on this earth by a sick mom and a deadbeat dad,
but he knows he can always count on his two moms.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Another Poetic Asides take on “forget what they say,” this one with no holds barred!


Call me too tolerant for
respecting those of other faiths.

Call me a bad Christian
for saying that God created us all equal, including Jews and Muslims and Taoists and Buddhists and non-believers.

Call me a bleeding heart
for wanting everyone to get health care.

Call me an alarmist
for insisting that hydrofracking is dangerous.

Call me an n***** lover (and they have)
for supporting an African-American president.

Call me anti-civil rights
for wishing to disband self-styled militias.

Call me anti-Constitution
for insisting semi-automatic weapons are not needed to hunt.

Call me a coward
for being a steadfast pacifist.

Call me a moron
because I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth.

Call me a bad mother
for not trying to talk my daughter out of being lesbian.

Call me a bad American
for pointing out that “under God” was added during McCarthy’s reign of terror and anti-Communist hysteria.

Call me a bad liberal
for listening to Rush and Glenn at least once a week.

Call me unbalanced
because I’m a responsible mental health consumer.

Call me a socialist
for wanting the rich to pay more into the kitty.

Call me a snob
for encouraging kids whose only adjective is “fuck” to dig deeper in their brain pan.

Call me a traitor
for believing a former president should face charges for ordering waterboarding and lying about WMDs… and laughing about it publicly.

Call me a bra-burning bitch
for having the temerity to insist on equal pay for equal work.

Call me naive
for wanting undocumented aliens to be granted citizenship (hey, if it was good enough for Reagan, it should be good enough for the Tea Party).

Call me whatever you want.
I stand by my values, no matter the consequence.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Never one to take instruction
well, welcome to

That’s me, going to hell.
Hand-basket by Longaberger.
So say the Bible thumpers

Because I insist my daughter’s
Divinely made, perfect…
and, yes, she loves women

If all she did daily
was love women,
I’d be worried, but fortunately,

she does other things, too:
art, music, movies;
she has a full life.

“I’ll bet you and Lex
do stuff besides
hanging in bed being straight!”

That’s right, baby, it’s true
We get up
sometimes for breakfast, lunch, dinner…

(c) 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Thanks to Riley for permission to use her experiences for this poem.