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

Tag Archives: LGBTQ

“…to get a drink?!”
Connie Lee Francis
Rollie was funny as hell but
in those days, ‘queer’ jokes were
all the rage (except around me)
But Rol never made fun of local queens
or butch girls who beat the pavement
in biker boots back in Bingo

Walking Manhattan with Rollie and Jo
and tomorrow morning’s groom
(later, my ex-husband)
All my fave boys were there
We took my family for
a walk on the sparkly side

Drag show, which bar?
We walked in to claim our
Night Before Wedding toast
(most men have bachelor parties;
I’ll give my ex credit for that)
Drag star, Connie Lee Francis

Finished “Where the Boys Are”
Stood at bar, waving glove at
bartender, then a flirty falsetto,
“What does a girl have to do…”
Thirsty girl, she dropped to baritone

We didn’t have a proper laugh
until later – the whole thing
The setting, the show
Her range of voice; she had
no choice. Like I said…
Thirsty girl

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

The second of three consecutive poem/stories about my late brother-in-law, Rollie Newton.

Matt and Casey, this one’s for you. Bet you didn’t know your dad rolled this cool. Love you guys.  I will link this up with an Open Post this week as well.  Peace, Amy

How To “Recruit” Straight People

Pink is for girls
Blue is for boys
Girls should be passive
Boys make the noise
Straight Children 001
Girls given dolls
Boys given trucks
Girls are called “pretty”
Boys are young bucks

Betsy gets yelled at
if she steals Bill’s stuff
Billy, a whoopin’ if he
sneaks powder puff

If Billy weeps
while getting the switch
He’s told “boys don’t cry”
and there is the hitch

Billy’s a sweet soul
who dresses in pink
Betty plays hockey
at the local ice rink

Much to chagrin of their
parents who shudder
Their kids are not from
the right cookie cutter

Forward to adults
Billy married, by force
Goes ‘out’ at night
His wife ponders divorce

Bett moved to SoCal
She broke her folks’ charge
On the beach playing volleyball
Smiles – livin’ large

© 2014 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Illustration also by Amy; please feel free to use it for stereotyping examples.

I hear all about “homosexual recruiting” all the time from “Christians” and FOXophiles; nothing I say can convince them. Societal convention steers kids the “right way.” We are conditioned from birth, which is why so many LGBTQs suffer years of guilt and shame in silence. Some children of the “very Christian” commit suicide.

Support kids when they have the courage to come out of the closet – we did, and our reward is an incredible relationship with Riley. Peace, Amy

Memo To Shrinking Churches

Hear the cries of today’s church:
“Where are the people?”
“We have a choir, we sing the hymns.”
“We have casserole suppers and Bingo.”
“We founded this church. They should come.”
“Your skirt is too short, young lady.”

Hear the whispers in the pews:
“Why is that gay flag still out in front like an ad?”
“Don’t talk to (so-and-so). You’ll get in trouble.”
“Because we’ve ALWAYS done it that way.”
“Is that a He or a She?” (muffled laughter)
“He smells bad. Is he homeless? Move over here.”
…and my personal favorite:
“Where did all these (insert minority) people come from?
We certainly didn’t invite them to worship here.”

The Greatest Generation has a problem adapting.
Yes, change is HARD. But so is sticking…
…to your ground
…to outmoded ideals
…in the mud

If you’re reading this, you are, at this moment:
on a computer
connected to the Internet
through a cable TV provider.
You may even print off copies to pass out
among “your people” in church on Sunday.

Just a reminder,
computers and printers
cable TV
and the Internet
were NOT around when “Father Knew Best,”

So are you really doing things “the way we always have?”

Or are you only comfortable updating
your acceptance and needs
when it’s conveeeeeenient?

With love from The Church Lady

Just a reminder to Christians who have forgotten we follow a man who was homeless by choice and preached unconditional love. This post may not seem loving, but I do mean it as a loving wake-up call to those who thing stale-bread-cube worship, within four walls of a church on Sundays, is the only way to follow Christ. Worship is great; I get a lot from it, but I grow weary of “cafeteria Christians.”  You can’t grow a church until you expand your hearts to include everyone – and quit bitching about change.

For Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Open Link Monday and dverse Open Mic Night. ALSO, Roger Green is adding this link to ABC Wednesday, where the letter is J – for Jesus. Thanks for watching my back, Roger! Peace, Amy

Video by Matt Logan, used by permission. Worship at the Edge
Lake Edge United Church of Christ, 8-11-13


It’s clear we’re here
for PRIDE celebration
To lift up all living –
Jesus’s exhortation

To love without boundaries
and love all we meet
Good news evident, everywhere
we happened to take a seat

For if there’s not love
in each person’s heart,
what good are the Gospels?
Why even start

to work hard for all people’s
true dignity
Extending to all this
expression of glee

I was born this way
That’s what Gaga sings…
We joined in the dance
and our souls sprouted wings

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Lake Edge United Church of Christ has a “Worship at the Edge” service at 11 each Sunday morning here in Madison. Sometimes, it’s worship WITH an edge… as in this PRIDE Sunday, when Chris, Jennie, Hayley, Peter, and a bunch of co-conspirators flashmobbed the church with Lady Gaga on the overhead! Talk about real ecstasy, a true and lively expression of the Holy Spirit amongst us.

Ray, your talk had me in tears, and bless you for speaking the truth in love. Thanks, Matt Logan, for filming and editing so fast! And Lex, you rock. Not just because you’re my husband… because you’re a pastor who presents God’s extravagant welcome with a rainbow ‘round your shoulders!

This is for E at ABC Wednesday, as well as in the sidebar at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and Poets United. Peace, Amy

An Activist’s Fourth of July Vacation Agenda

Celebrate my reproductive freedom (oops)
Go to an LGBTQ marriage in Wisconsin (oops, no license)
Celebrate “one person, one vote” (oooooops… Citizens United)
Celebrate American Union rights (oops)
Call Edward Snowden, invite him over to relax (is he still at that airport?)
Eat “brats” and drink beer (except I don’t eat pork, oops)
Guess it’s down to beer.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

As always, Mama Zen at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads wants ‘em short and sweet, and she asked for vacation themes. Since activists are NEVER on vacation, this is as close as I’ll come! Peace to all, and prayers for the troops… and I stand by my comment on Edward Snowden. I strongly disagree that he leaked security dox that would “compromise national security.” The American, Iraqi, and Afghan people are suffering national INSECURITY, and any info we can get from the “transparent” Obama administration about this (insert expletive here) war is like gold. We are being taken for the same ride that Bush started, and I don’t appreciate it, not one little bit. If I had my own country, I’d offer Mr. Snowden sanctuary, a free condo, and drinks on the house. Amy

The Couple at the Altar

They stand before the altar
Penitent and sure of their love
Pastor eases them through vows
Rings, unbroken circle of commitment

Pews on the bride’s side are empty
because relatives disapprove
damaging Cathy’s feelings
on her wedding day

Friends move across the aisle
to ease her distress
Her fragile ego soothed
by their kindness

Final moment: Pastor
pronounces them married
They kiss; the congregation
goes wild, whooping, cheering

Cathy and Mariana Smith-Lopez
had to visit Iowa to receive a
legitimate marriage certificate,
but this is the real wedding

Mari’s mom, Aida, smothers Cathy,
“my new daughter-in-law,” con besos.
The four Lopez brothers lift their
new sister aloft, like the World Cup.

They parade her around the hall.
DJ spins Indigo Girls and Regina Spector.
Their first dance, “You Do Something to Me,”
a duet by k.d. lang and Tony Bennett

“Tough luck for Mom and Dad,” whispers
Cathy, “they looooove Tony Bennett!”
Mariana holds her new wife closer
as they snicker and dance on air

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Our church is UCC (United Church of Christ), the first mainstream Christian denomination to recognize “same-sex marriage,” although I prefer “marriage equality,” more descriptive of the struggle for civil rights LGBTs and their Allies wage. I’ve been an Ally since age 5! While equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people is not yet recognized in Wisconsin, our church performs blessings for LGBT couples. Ray and Oscar, paz siempre a su casa.

Three Word Wednesday gave us Damaging, Ego, and Legitimate. This is also “in the margins” at my two poetic homes, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and Poets United. Peace, Amy

Before the poem, an announcement:  IT’S OFFICIAL!  I AM A TOAD!  The site where I spent most of April, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, invited me to be one of their circle of 20 poets.  I am extremely flattered and thrilled to be included in the Garden with so many wonderful poets.  Like Poets United, one must be invited to join, so that’s my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT for, like, the year!  Now, on we go…


She’s queer and
wants me to
refer to her as
gender queer,

I could do no less
than confess:
My generation has
problems with Queer,
hearing it said in
locker rooms and
school, in sports
and retorts spat at
the skinny boys.

‘Queer’ meant
wrong, bent.
Now it means
the whole LGBT
‘Queer’ has found

She told me that
I must embrace change,
dangerous as it seems.
She dreams of
a day when ‘Queer’
simply means
‘Not Straight.’


© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For ABC Wednesday and also to be found on my non-homophobic hangouts, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and Poets United.  It’s a generational thing. I remember gay pride movements in the 70s and 80s, and the cry, “We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get Over It!” Then, the word was still used as a pejorative by straights and closeted LGBTQs. The new generation, those who remember coming home from school on 9/11 like we remember coming home from school the day Pres. Kennedy was shot, have taken that word back, flipped it like a coin, say it with pride.

And I say, “Good on them!” Peace, Amy

UPDATE:  This was just reblogged by The Real Cie at The Cheese Whines.  Thanks, Cie!  Click the link
to check out more Cie-mantics!

No Blame, No Shame
(a different kind of coming out)

The LGBT tradition of admission
(sometimes to family derision)
is called, “Coming out of the Closet”

The closet, a cloister of treasures
like Jimmy’s high heels and
Ellen’s bow ties: Sanctuary

Once declared, closet is aired,
fairly cleared, faintly scented with
lavender or motor oil, and shame

Mental disorders, the discordance
of synapse each to the next, need
same mother/father confessions

Nowadays, they call it “coming out,”
but why steal a feeling so specific,
resulting in either terrific or horrific.

I call it, “NO BLAME, NO SHAME”
when I get around to telling confused
but Amy-supportive family, friends

Once, we were “possessed by demons,”
the spectre of exorcism (still practiced
by propagandist sects, ignorance exalted)

Later we were ruled by La Luna,
hence, Lunatics, Loony, Moon-tuned
with no room for self-love

Then we were Frankenshocked
thru electric sockets into submission
A rotisserie for the hotheaded

Now we are diagnosed, presupposed
unless war and gore have inflicted
all-too-visible, invisible wounds

No blame, no shame. Nobody can
tell us anymore that we are “less than”
To hell with stigma, guilt, and hiding

I’m simply seeking help to become
the most authentic Amy I can be,
more in control of the blogroll

No blame, no shame. Say it loud,
I have manic depression and PTSD,
but they don’t have me.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Went to the Wisconsin State Conference of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Did you know NAMI started around a kitchen table, as some moms discussed their children’s problems and diagnoses? Once again, proof that I am in a good place. Geographically speaking. Peace, Amy

The Best Bits

Howard’s to be married Saturday
Family watches the Oscar show
Hometown winner claims he’s gay
Howard becomes the town floor show

He insists his loafers are heavy
Sweet, slim bride, a fellow teacher
Media stalks the little town
Finally, before the preacher

He says he’s gay; bride belts him and
his dad says, “Was it that Streisand?”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Izy asked us for a ten-line “Cliff’s Notes” version of a favorite movie, book, or play. One of my favorite movies of all time is a little comedy called, “In & Out.” Kevin Kline is the groom, Joan Cusack (an amazing physical comedian, sister of John) is the befuddled bride-to-be, and Tom Selleck plays a reporter with a secret… Debbie Reynolds and Wilford Brimley are his folks.

Best moment: After being jilted at the altar, Joan Cusack emerges from her hiding place and yells at the congregation, “Do you have ANY IDEA how many times I’ve had to watch “Funny Lady”? Loads of Streisand references, great for little “fruit flies” (LGBT allies) like me. See it. Glenn Close almost steals the show with a single scene.

National Poetry Writing Month, Day 25, still going strong! Amy

How to Raise a Valedictorian
Study together.
She, homework.
You, Woolf.

Release her from school for
antiwar protests and call it
civics lessons

Ban video games

Tell her God gave her beautiful,
but smart takes work

Love unconditionally

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Trifecta’s Weekend Challenge was 33 words of advice. This worked for my daughter Riley, who is currently a top student at Laguna Beach Institute of Art and Design. Did I mention she doodled in the margins of her homework?  That she came out to the entire student body’s parents during her speech?  (She was already out, “gender queer,” to all her friends, and didn’t lose one of them.)  Can you tell you much Lex and I love this young woman?

The picture was taken by Lex as we were being goofy after the ceremony.  Silver becomes her, but her heart?  Pure gold.  Peace, Amy