New Poem: Coat Tails

marsha-p-johnson

Years ago I was told by a white, cis, gay male friend that the trans community had to stop riding their coat tails. The subject still comes up now and then. (Yes I am a white trans woman, and realize that my sisters of color have it so much worse.

Coat Tails

“You have to learn
to stand
on your own.”
You tell me with your well manicured
concern.

“We have carried you
for forty years.”
And I cannot help
but laugh
at the fact
that you believe that lie.

You tell me
not to ride
the coattails
of a movement
that we started.

Let me tell you
I do not fuck
with weaklings
that wrap themselves
snug and safe
in suburban comfort,
pretending they have any idea
what their sisters walk through.

And you roll your eyes
and laugh
when I talk “ghetto”
when all I do
is remember
where I come from,
but you use that
like a baseball bat,
swinging away,
and calling me dramatic,
and naming me “attention whore.”

Yeah, I code switch,
cos I have to survive,
something you have forgotten
because you have that luxury now.

But I can speak your language fluently,
dazzling you with the lexicon of academia
and laying bare
your inadequacies
and leaving you adrift in the miasma
of your dishonor.

Or I can just be me,
and call you out,
literally and figuratively.

Because you say
I ride your coattails
when we both know
it is you
who surf that clothe
so deftly.

Carried along by the blood sacrifice
of the dykes,
of the trannies,
of the queer folk of color,
you have got yours now
so we might as well break up the band.

Well we have news for you:
it is our movement,
it always has been,
and your approval has never been necessary
or wanted.

So throw us in the trash again,
under the bus,
and out to dry,
because we have earned our scars
we wear.

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2 thoughts on “New Poem: Coat Tails

  1. Christine, a very difficult read here. The amount of privilege enjoyed by white cis gay men like me is overwhelming. I am so very sorry for the very hurtful and ignorant comment made by your friend. You have done an extraordinary beautiful job of unpacking it here in this poem. With much love, Michael.

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