I never used to notice gay couples, remarked Brassie. Twenty
years ago, people were not ‘out’ when they were out, if you see
what I mean.
You used to see them at art galleries, I replied. That was the
place where I first became aware of men being ‘together.’ I suppose
a lot of us were naive then. I once went to a Private View…
…and wrote a poem about it, no doubt, laughed Brassie.
And here it is:
It’s a Tate Private View, at l’heure bleue,
with earnest, shaven-headed male couples,
hip-joined, dressed in black, affecting ear-rings;
sharing an Exhibition Guide, as Friends.
There’s an occasional hermaphrodite:
self-contained, apparently orthodox.
Some linger by Simeon Solomon’s
Love in Autumn; study flagellation
of shivering Cupids, with detachment;
whisper about Redon’s castration theme,
look puzzled at an enigmatic Sphinx.
They pause before the liminal figures.
Politely, they wait for me to step back
so they can see Sidonia von Burk,
with her snake-knotted overdress and filet;
Macdonald’s spermatozoaic princess;
Salome’s necrophilia. Climax
by Beardsley is received rather limply.
They almost link hands before Lamia,
while my heterosexual girl friend
hyperventilates over architraves.
Self-obsessed I spot inaccuracies
in the labelling. Pluto, not Neptune,
you fools. And who is Gabriel Fabre?
Decadent afternoon over, we walk
to Waterloo’s surreal ‘normality.‘
The escalators do not tolerate
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: everyone must
enter the turnstile with their own ticket.
Curiously, the ear-rings have vanished.