Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

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Viannah Duncan '07

Six Works by Viannah Duncan '07

Moonrise

 

Before moonrise,

the world was still...

scarcely a whisper

in that first hour of night.

 

The rim of the pale

yellow moon

began to rise,

advancing swiftly

in a blue-black sky.

 

Soft golden radiance

swallowed all darkness,

danced across the ground,

filled the earth with

ghostly shadows that

seemed alive, yet

never made a sound.

 

I strained to hear

past thick, dark pines,

echoing footsteps

that never walked by.

 

 

Neck

 

feel my spine at the nape,

one bone after another.

the flesh on top moves with pressure.

there is a small mole on the skin in the center.

move around to the front --

long and smooth.

collarbones protrude just slightly and

the hollow between them dips invitingly,

hands trembling.

my throat hums with voice

slowly curving into shoulders.

 

 

the Violin

 

waiting

for you to play with me

the music I have so

much potential of

making

 

if only

you would learn with me

discover my curves,

cherish and delight in

my body

 

singing

and I, loving your touch

and I move your soul,

winging

 

 

Water Brother

 

Light spilling through the cracks is silver.

I watch him intently, my water brother,

And wait patiently for the night

To embrace the sunlight and drink

It in completely. Outside, the snow

Has become golden strands of his hair.

 

I run one gentle hand through his hair

Slowly and let the waxing Moon grow silver,

Illuminating the banks of ice and snow.

He still sleeps, but whispers, Little Brother,

Unconsciously, and I cannot speak, but drink

Deeply his loving words in the night.

 

The clock next to bed says three after midnight.

Outside, the green trees whip their hair

In the lonely wind, who only wants one drink

Of their sap that sings in their roots like quicksilver.

The Moon is on duty tonight; her brother,

The Sun, can only melt the snow.

 

She sings lullabies to the snow

In the quiet, still, and dark night

Just as I sing softly to my brother

And brush his tousled blonde hair

From closed eyes made of pools of silver

From which, to survive, I drink.

 

He stirs. I whisper, Here, have a drink.

Upon his lips is newly fallen snow,

Cold, and he reaches for the chain of silver

Around my neck, shimmering in the night.

He sips the water, his stubble catching my hair

But neither of us notice. Once a brother,

 

We know, always a brother.

After him, I also drink.

We both dream. My long, dark hair

Slides easily across the snow,

Barely contradicting the night,

And spills through the cracks, still silver.

 

Silver water flows through the hands of my brother

And in the shadowed moonlit night, we both drink

Until snow white becomes the colour of our hair.

 

 

 

The Funeral Procession

 

It was an interesting funeral procession, and a strange one, at that. Not many people knew what to make of it. They came out of their houses, shops, and stores to watch as the long dark snake-like train of cars made its way down the main street of the town. It wasn't odd in the sense that someone had not died or the procession was not bathed in black. Someone had certainly died; there was no doubt about it. It was quiet the whole street down as soon as someone noticed the unusual stream of cars and their passengers. And frankly, it was difficult not to notice; the whole procession seemed to beg attention.

It was peculiar because of four things. First, the people were sitting on top of their cars, rather than in them. Their cars were all convertible, so the tops were down and they all sat on the back out in the air (excepting the driver of each car, of course). Secondly, all of the mourners sitting on top of the cars were wearing long billowing black clothing, men and women alike. The translucent black drifted behind each car and created an eerie effect on the perceptions of the people standing by the side of the road to watch. It looked as if the procession was a long black river in the middle of the street.

"Go inside, Mary," one of the shopkeepers said to his wife and their son, "and take Timothy with you." Many of the other men agreed. This funeral parade held ill in the hearts of many of the townspeople, as if someone of great evil had just died and his or her demons had come out of hiding to mourn for their loss.

Thirdly, it was just after dusk. The sun had just finished setting when the line of cars had first been spotted. And lastly, the townspeople had heard of no funeral. Usually, the whole city, however small, came out for one of their own who'd died. Lord knows their city was small, but most of the folks liked it that way. For this funeral procession, there had been no announcement, no memorial (as far as anyone knew, anyway), and certainly no graveside service was planned.

What kind of an interment was this? Who was it for? The end of the procession was nearing the end of the main street, and many of the men and women had gone back to what they had been doing before, trying to push the eeriness from the air.

Then, a little girl ran up to her father, her favourite doll in hand. "Daddy, daddy!" she cried lightly, not understanding the meaning of death at her young age, "Why were those people in the black cars all smiling?"

 

 

Sexual orientation is not a choice.

 

Sexual orientation is not a choice. Why would it be? If it were, there certainly wouldn't be as many gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in the world today. Think about it. Do you know anyone who would choose to be gay? I don't know anyone who's chosen it. It would create unnecessary hardship in his or her life... and I don't know anyone who would choose to take the harder way rather than the easier way. I say life is already hard enough.

First off, let's talk about what "it" is. "It" is sexual orientation and sexual identity. According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary (as of 2 May 2003), "sexual orientation" is "being correctly aligned with one's own personal sexual identity". Sexual identity is a "specific piece of your identity... [and] describes whom you are attracted to" emotionally (with your feelings) and physically (with your body) (Everything You Need to Know About Sexual Identity, Donaldson-Forbes, p.7). There are between five and six million gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people in the United States today (Finding Your Way, Terkel, p. 132). And, as Richard Mohr says in Gay Ideas: Outing and Other Controversies:

"Either being gay is okay, or it isn't. To accept the closet is to have absorbed society's view of gays, to accept insult so that one avoids [physical] harm. Life in the closet is morally debased and morally debasing. It nearly always requires lying... Allowing homosexuality to take place as a normal part of the human sexual spectrum requires ceasing to treat it as a dirty little secret." (p. 133).

But what about the Bible? Doesn't it say that being gay is a sin? The first creation story in the Bible is seen in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3. It describes that God's stated plan was for humanity to "Be fruitful and increase in number." (NIV, Genesis 1:28). There are number of people who aren't included in this direct order from God, and it seems that only gay people are discriminated against for it. This group of people also include those who are sterile and couldn't conceive children even if they wanted to, people who choose to remain celibate (such as members of the Catholic clergy), women who marry beyond conceiving age and are unable to bear children, and people who have genetic diseases and will not have children because their disease may transfer to the child.

Leviticus 18:22 reads, "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable" (NIV). Here is a commonly accepted interpretation to this verse, besides the obvious being that homosexuality is a sin.

"The status of women in ancient Hebrew culture was very much lower than that of a man and barely above that of children and slaves. When a man engaged in sexual intercourse with a woman, he always took a dominant position; the woman would take a submissive posture. When two men engage in sexual intercourse, one of the men, in effect, takes the position of a woman. When a man takes on the low status of a woman, the act makes both ritually impure." (www.religioustolerance.org, 4 May 2003).

Think about it this way. The Bible permits slavery, and the laws in the first five books of the Bible (not including the Ten Commandants) include requiring ritual killing of animals and prohibiting hair cuts, getting tattoos, charging interest on loans, and wearing clothes that are made from more than one type of cloth (such as a cotton-polyester blend) (NIV, Leviticus 19:27-28, 22:19, and 25:37-44). Christians are free to wear tattoos, wear polyester-cotton blends, charge interest on their loans to others (and expect interest on loans from others), and get their hair cut. But homosexuality is somehow taboo.

Also, there are three prominent examples of same-sex relationships in the Bible that seem to be condoned by those who wrote it. The best recognised is the relationship of Ruth and Naomi. Ruth 1:16-17 and 2:10-11 describe their close friendship. Ruth 1:16-17 is, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me" (NIV) and is often read at heterosexual marriage ceremonies and gay and lesbian union services. Ruth 1:14, referring to the relationship between Ruth and Naomi, mentions that "Ruth clave onto her" (KJV). The Hebrew word translated here as "clave" is identical to that used in the description of a heterosexual marriage in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (KJV). However, there is no proof that this relationship, or the others mentioned in the Bible which are considered consensual homosexual relationships, was sexually active.

Genetics likely plays a role in why so many people just aren't attracted to members of the opposite sex. In Homosexuality: Debating the Issues, edited by Robert M. Baird and M. Katherine Baird, it is argued that as a result of a weak (or nonexistent) relationship with their fathers, some young boys will "grow into" homosexuality because of a lack of a masculine role model (p. 51). This, however, is easily disputed because it doesn't address how lesbians "grow into" homosexuality, how bisexual people aren't straight or gay, and the fact that not all young boys with weak (or nonexistent) father figures grow up to be gay. According to Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard, "... research has shown that... sexual orientation is substantially genetic" and that, in contrast, "research on social factors has been fruitless. Despite many attempts, there has been no clear demonstration that parental behaviour, even a parent's homosexuality, affects children's sexual orientation. Cultures tolerant of homosexuals do not appear to raise more of them than do less permissive societies" (Homosexuality, ed. Baird, p. 83).

Some people justify their prejudice of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people by alleging that bi- and homosexuality is contagious -- "that young homosexuals become that way because of older homosexuals" (Homosexuality, ed. Baird, p. 83). In "Undercover Love" from Heartbreak and Roses by Janet Bode and Stan Mack, Seth discovers he's attracted to his best friend, Zach. He doesn't know anyone else who is gay, and he doesn't know anyone who thinks it's okay to be gay, including his parents, who tell him, " 'We don't want to see [gay people] on the street having a parade. And we don't want to see them teaching our kids at school.' "(p. 92). He writes, "I'm angry. I don't want to be gay... I want these feelings to go away and leave me alone" (p. 91). Seth admits to having negative feelings about gays, too (p. 92), but at the end of the story, he realises he must accept himself and writes, "I wish I could tell straight teenagers: Don't judge other people. Gay and lesbian teens are no worse -- and no better -- than you are... It's easy to say, 'No one close to me is homosexual.' Well, do you really know what goes on in everyone's heart?" (p. 96).

Other people assert that homosexuality is a mental illness. However, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed "homosexuality" from its list of mental disorders, and in 1975 it stated, "Homosexuality, per se, implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capacities." Although several "ex-gays" have become prominent in the mainstream media in recent years, very few gay people desire or are able to change who they are. Even many "ex-gays" admit that they continue to have attractions to people of the same gender; they just don't act on their feelings. Helping gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to develop a greater level of self-acceptance is a more effective therapy.

Knowing that genetics affect sexual identity is important because it explains why some people are gay, lesbian, and bisexual, and others are not (Everything You Need to Know About Sexual Identity, Donaldson-Forbes, p. 11). As Jeff Donaldson-Forbes writes in Everything You Need to Know About Sexual Identity, "If you are straight, you probably have never felt that you chose to be attracted to people of the opposite sex. It just happened automatically. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people feel the same way" (p. 12).

To say that sexual orientation is a choice is to say that literally millions of people are choosing to be discriminated against. Many gay, lesbian, and bisexual people fear for their jobs and lives, their children and their parents. Many gay teens are thrown out of their homes and face prostitution, disease, and death fending for themselves on the streets. Gay and lesbian people are not allowed to legally marry in all but two states (Hawaii and Vermont) and in many, they aren't allowed to adopt children. In the United States military gay people can be discharged if they do not hide who they are, under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Outside of the United States, many countries don't even recognise that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people even exist, and the only way to deal with someone who is not straight is to put that person to death. All because of their sexual identity. Only because of their sexual identity. Sexual orientation is not a choice. Why would it be? How could it be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baird, Robert M. ed, et al. Homosexuality: Debating the Issues. Prometheus Books, New York, 1995. pp. 51 and 83.

Bode, Janet, ed, et al. "Undercover Love". Heartbreak and Roses. Franklin Watts, New York, 2000. pp. 91-92, and 96.

Donaldson-Forbes, Jeff. Everything You Need to Know About Sexual Identity. Rosen Publishing Group, New York, 2000. pp. 7 and 11-12.

Genesis, The Bible, King James Version. 2:24.

Genesis, The Bible, New International Version, 1:1, 1:28, and 2:3.

"Leviticus 18 and 20", Homosexuality and the Hebrew Scriptures. May 4, 2003, http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibh.htm.

Leviticus, The Bible, New International Version. 18:22, 19:27-28, 22:19, and 25:37-44.

Mohr, Richard. Gay Ideas: Outing and Other Controversies. Beacon Press, New York, 1994. p. 133.

Ruth, The Bible, King James Version. 1:14.

Ruth, The Bible, New International Version. 1:16-17 and 2:10-11.

"Sexual Orientation". Merriam-Webster Online. May 2, 2003. http://www.webster.com.

Terkel, Susan Neiberg. Finding Your Way. Franklin Watts, New York, 1993. p. 132.