Where Faith, the Real World & Gay Life intersect!

8 for 80: Honoring LGBTQ Pioneer Poet Louie Crew Clay on his 80th Birthday

Celebrating the 80th birthday of LGBTQ Pioneer and Poet,
Louie Crew Clay.

Forty years ago, when the Church laughed at the idea that homosexuals could be included in the community of faith, Louie Crew penned the words that now seem self-evident and commonplace: “All Christian wholeness demands affirmation of God ordained sexuality.” Seeking to secure a safe place and inclusion in the Episcopal Church for gays and lesbians, in 1974 he and his husband, Ernest Clay, founded IntegrityUSA, the international ministry of LGBTQ Episcopalians/Anglicans. Thanks largely to the trail-blazing work of him and other faith-rights pioneers, this generation of LGBTQ Christians now experiences the greatest amount of acceptance and religious freedom than in any other time in Church history. In 2000, he was the recipient of the Bishop’s Cross from the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong.
IMPACT Magazine is honored to recognize Louie Crew Clay as a Pioneer and Poet, and in celebration of his 80th birthday, offer a selection of his poetry from across the decades.

Happy Birthday, Louie!

Ave

I had a vision
of who I might have been
had I not declared myself
one of my Church’s queers,
House Faggot
for the English profession:

A quiet, arthritic Episcopalian
winked at me from his pew
where he knelt before Mary,
having come from tea
after his lecture
on the Rhetoric of Bleak House.

I thanked him for his self-sacrifice.
My shrill declaration had kept him
only a figment of my imagination.

(1980)

 

Telling

My hand keeps hitting the subtotal,
as if by design,
though each time seems an accident.

Last week, for a lark, I said to a student,
“Son, this comma should go over there,”
and he did not blink as he emended.
Suddenly I realized that his dad could be 5-8 years
my junior. I had thought him and me fellow bachelors.

Dad called Thursday to complain
that Mother twice last week
arose at 2 or 3 a.m. to cook supper.
Fifty years ago she was head bookkeeper at the bank.

Even after I jog seven miles in the snow,
sometimes my arthritic index finger
can’t steady a pencil.

A sociologist I read last summer
gives me only 8 more days of middle age
–“Young, 21-32; Middleaged, 33-44; Old, 45+”–
arbitrary trifurcation of the laboring years.

It’s not the novelty but the frequency of “S” that troubles.
For years and years after I balded early, at 23,
I got only very infrequent subtotals. Just now,
they plop up almost daily, as I soak in the tub
or drowse through the news.

Of course, the really scary diacritic is not “S” but “T”.

(1981)

 

The American Speech-Act
Which Survives as a Cupped Whisper
from Centenarian Ms. Liberty

Huddle, huddle.

(1988)
(on November 8, 2016, this was rededicated to valiant Hilary Rodham Clinton)

 

Gay Reformation Hymn

Tune:  Ein’ feste burg

Two thousand years we feared our love,
condemned “unnatural sinners.”
Now stepping forth from heaven above
Christ makes gays special winners.
This world is filled with hate.
It seems almost too late
for God to interfere
again to bring love here,
but that’s what God is doing.

No more can foes God’s plans decide,
nor obfuscate God’s choosing.
God’s love for gays they cannot hide,
their puppetry is losing.
The God of heaven and earth
affirms gays’ priceless worth.
Our ransom has been paid:
joint heirs with Christ we’re made:
let homophobes take notice!

The Church once asked to have us killed:
our blood has writ this witness.
All ignorant minds must now be filled
with sexual truth and fitness.
The pressures still are strong
to work on gays much wrong.
We’re called to persevere,
endure our holy fear,
for Christ commands our army.

Our strength is not in guns or laws.
Our weapon is but Meekness.
We can forgive our foes their flaws:
Gay Might is just such “weakness.”
More friends will join this fight
because the Lord is right.
Gay bodies house God’s Spirit,
but only through Christ’s merit.
God’s love will triumph through us.

(1976)

 

God did too create Adam & Steve!

plus Eve & Margaret,  Adam,  Eve,  Adrian & Andrew,  Anno & John,  Kim-Ming, Austin,  Barbara,  Bernie,  Beryle & Edna,  Betty,  Bill & Michael,  Bob,  Bron & Bruce,  Caryl,  Catherine,  Charles & Cheryl,  Clarence & Clifton,  Conrad,  David & Joseph,  Jim & Jo Ann, Irl & Sharon & Jack, Ana & Tawanna, Tim & Tom, Kim & Scott, Chris,  Mae Del & Clifton, Ed & Patty, Flo, Joe, Kit, Nan, Ned, Ric, Zou, Wan-kan, Anthony & Evens, Win-win, Eula & Bubbah, Lula & Erman, Bets, Horace, Annakali & Susan, Ronald, Rasalind, Bryan & Luc, Susan, Eliana, Lazaro, Libby, T. C. & Ted, Joyce, Marcela & Marge, Nancy, Linda & Liz, Gordon & Grace, Mike & Mildred, Connie,  Hale, Jane, Eugenie & Eunice, Peter, James, Ernest & Louie, Janet, Geoffrey, Wilfred, Sergio, Douglas, Ruth Ann, Michael, Richard & Robert, Kathleen & Kay, Fifi & Fletcher, Marie, Juliette, Regina & Rhoda, Maxine, Monique, Doris, Louis, Louise, Judith, H. J., Nick & Barnet, Jack & Christine, Jack & Linda, Mark, H. K., Parker, Earl & Edgar, Paul & Victor, Neil & Ethel, Neil, Nella & Nicholas, Hillary & Bill, William & Winston, William, Guilio & Jesus, Thomas, Raymond, Inan & Elizabeth, John & Jon, Gwen, Jean, Joan, Francis, Ewing & Fernando, Zhang & Wu, Dennis, Frank, Avinash, Saunders, Cynthia & Beckie, Orris, Marcy, Tilly, Chad,

Archie, Derrick, Juan, Beulah, Cheryle, Huntington, Carlos, Cornelius, Derek, Claudia, Rollie & Michael, Odoric, Ginette & Sallie, Demitrio & Alex, Glennes, Grant, L. P. & Andrew, Lavinia, Leopold & Adolph, Edythe & Kathy, Carolyn & Dr. Jay, Rand, Devon, Dorothy & Dot, Lorraine, Deirdre & Julian, Warren, George, Gloria, Patrick, Sharon & Shujan, Henry, Russ, Luis & Lynn, Otis & Pamela, Cassandra, Marshall & Martha Luz, Judson, Justin, Milton, Victor & Wantu, Shiuanan, Zhouyi, Gervais, Steven, Melvin & Merritt, Lloyd, Luo-Zhang, Adam & Eve, Lutibelle, Li Min Hua, and absolutely everybody.

She loves them all too!  Joy to the whole world!

(1995)

reVisit

Imagine the five minutes before your mother
learned that she was pregnant with you.

Imagine the five minutes before your father
found out.

Let those minutes tick slowly by.
Fill in any blanks with your best guesses.

Connect intimately with their world
before you were.

Imagine the five minutes after they knew,
their readjustments, their expectations.

Then reconnect intimately with your gestation,
when you were becoming,
when you were a presence and a promise.

Celebrate your wholeness.
You are a presence and a promise still.
Gestate anew.
for this is your day.
reJoy it.
reJoice in it.

 

A Cyber Prayer Wheel for the Inventor of Computers

Convicted in 1952, for loving another man,
he accepted chemical castration
as an alternative to 18 months in prison.

In 1954 he committed suicide,
16 days before he would have turned 42.

On his birthday I copied “Alan Turing…..”
into the memory of my word-processor.
Then, with Ctrl-V I pasted it again and again
into a new document, one pasting at a time,
after I read each sentence in the lectionary
for Morning Prayer.

It helped me re-Member him.

Elizabeth II was a new queen in 1954.
She pardoned him in 2013; who will pardon her?

Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..
Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..
Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..
Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..

Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..
Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..
Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..Alan Turing…..

Amen. Ah, men.

 

Message Anonymous Left Susan on Her Answering Machine
or
As The Twig Is Bent

Hey, Susan, I’m gonna kill you.
I listened to your program, you Lezzie.
I’m gonna beat your fucking face
if I ever see you.  You hear me!?
I ain’t no fucking faggot.
I kick your junky fucking ass.
Goodbye.

(1980)

Crew-LouieLOUIE CREW CLAY, an Alabama native, is Professor Emeritus at Rutgers.  He and Ernest Clay, his husband for 42 years, live in East Orange, NJ.  In November 1974 the two of them founded Integrity, the international ministry of LGBTQ Episcopalians/Anglicans.

As of today, Clay has written 2,640 published manuscripts.   The most recent is Letters from Samaria: The Prose and Poetry of Louie Clay, 1974-2014, with a foreword by Phyllis Tickle and an afterword by Bishop Mary Glasspool (Morehouse, 2015).

In addition to his PhD, Clay has received honorary doctorates from three Episcopal Seminaries.  He has been a fellow at the Ragdale Foundation and at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation.

See his bio on Wikipedia.  You may also contact Clay via email.

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