I always thought
That I was prone to losing them right
After I came out or
At some point along the journey
(But growing up, everyone knew who I would be.)
My church saw
Only condemnation of our love
It promised to me a
Life of holy celibacy.
(Because we don’t deserve to be happy.)
To feel that unloved by every soul
That they demand my pain
— suffering – and call it just reward
(Only they deserve happiness and love.)
When she wrote
The Well of Loneliness, Radclyffe Hall,
She knew we all would crash
Why do people hurt the Other ones?
(One group defines itself by hatred for the outsider.)
Never felt more
Truth in her plea for mercy, for love.
Humans tend to harm those
already burdened and blame them-
(As if all people get exactly what they deserve.)
to them that we did wrong and deserve
punishment, and anguish.
Didn’t Christ say of the blind man that
(Christ, do you love me?)
Did not sin,
Nor his parents, but that his healing
Would show the great glory
Of God, and even the woman
(Can I be healed?)
Sinned was not
Condemned and their hypocrisy was
Known to all for they were
Greater sinners for their judgement.
(How ironic to be condemned for my love for her.)
I look at
Her face my joy is all unbounded.
In daytime and nighttime
Her face shines from the well’s water.
(Can you try to feel as I feel?)
My heart screams
Radclyffe. Don’t drown, we will save you now.
Reach out your hands to mine.
Light beams sparkles on the water.
(In our embrace are we healed.)
Sean Heather K. McGraw is a historian and adjunct lecturer and received a doctorate in European History from the University at Albany. She has worked as a public librarian and as an NPS Tour Guide. She has published a middle-school textbook, How the Irish Saved America, the forthcoming After Stonewall and a children’s book, Fiona and the Dragon. In her spare time, she plays her harp, rescues animals and serves as a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.