I wrote a poem this month, about this issue in my own life. Although I am not gay, I have loved people who are. And I want them to be safe. I have also been thinking a lot about the issue of what safety in sexuality means, for women, for pregnancy, for relationships which lead to parenthood. I want people to have relationships based on mutual respect and affection. It frightens me to think that so many people have built relationships on being drunk and taking advantage of someone. I am worried about date-rape, and variations of power over the partner, which have been talked about since Ibsen wrote "the Doll's House". I think there are a lot of people who have never experienced the joy of consensual sex. We need to work on teaching healthy sexuality, and healthy self-care, as the foundation for healthy relationships.
Here is my poem, thinking about a very dear friend I have had since I was very young.
"I WANT YOU TO LOVE ME LIKE YOU LOVED ME THEN"
I want you to love me like you loved me then;
When we were 30, at the opera,
watching the last trio in Der Rosenkavalier;
you were holding my hand and we were caught in the passion,
Our hearts in our throats, singing in silence with them,
Breath for breath on rising notes of heartwrenching beauty,
Joyful and overwhelmed,
Aware that we really understood each other,
And even though you were gay, and I didn’t understand that,
You loved me in the way in which we loved the opera,
In the way we had brought ourselves through all that
growing up, together;
Holding hands and knowing so many things we loved at the same time,
In our eagerness to love and understand all we could about the world,
All the art and music, and the tenderness and scent of silver roses,
waltzes in gilded rooms under glittering chandeliers,
and the past
We almost could touch with our fingertips;
Sitting in the red plush velvet seats,
Watching the Marschallin give up to Sophie
The very love of love; in the most graceful
And powerful flourish of generosity.
Quin-quin singing the words of not understanding why
The fine gift she is giving makes her seem even greater,
Even grander, as he turns from her to go to Sophie
And happily ever after—
While we are sitting there, holding hands tightly and not breathing,
and moving apart in the same way,
and almost for the same reason.