Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Poem: Battle at First Holy Communion

Lesbian poet Audrey Lockwood was forced to wear a frilly veil and dress at her first communion in 1966

Nations around the globe mark the end of World War I today, but another battle is still being fought -- the struggle for LGBT equality in the church.

"Battle at First Holy Communion" by lesbian poet Audrey Lockwood is posted here today, which is Veterans Day in the United States. Many LGBT people get caught in the conflict between religion and queer identity. This poem comes from the front lines of a new kind of holy war.

Battle at First Holy Communion
By Audrey Lockwood

Battle at first holy communion,
Date May 1, 1966.

Rigid gender roles rewarded and fawned
over. My Waterloo was the prayer book.
Girls were required to carry white prayer books
boys got black ones.

Humiliation over having to wear the frilly
White dress was just too much for me; the
battle over the missalette was one I thought
I could win.

Older, I was a bit older than the other girls
different from the other girls, more athletic
hating sex roles of that era.

Mom got me a black missalette; I was adamant!
This little butch girl was not going to give in
on this point. It was a book, it would last forever,
the white dress would be lost to oblivion later.

The battle over the white dress was long lost;
the book worth fighting for.

My Mom, ever the diplomat, compromised and
made a white cover out of a pillow case.
I marched down the aisle with my “white” book
knowing that the black prayer book was hidden
underneath; protective coloration.

May 1, 1966, black was beautiful that year.

Now Audrey wears a top hat whenever she wants


Audrey Lockwood's poetry has been featured at Homocentric, Writers at Work, and the My Life is Poetry events of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Her inspirations include butch identity, mermaids and ambivalent church attendance. She and Kittredge Cherry were united in a "Holy Union" wedding in 1987 at Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco.

Related links:

December poem: What if the Sea Told Us by Audrey Lockwood (Jesus in Love)

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