Anything But Gay

Juleus Ghunta

Back then, boys were allowed to be anything but gay. 
We lost our virginity before we learned to read. 

When I was 8, I saw older cousins forcing two 5–year–olds to do it
They opened the girl’s legs, pushed the boy’s flaccid penis on her vagina, 
                                              told him to stiffen up, 
threatened to do to him what God did to battyboy in Gomorrah. 

When we congregated in the square, 
                         the men judged each girl who walked by: 
Me giving Lisa breast dem one more year.
Marsha young but her body ready
We were ordered to sample dem before they come of age       or size. 

The young sisters were the reason we slithered 
into the Church of God. 
On the way home from late night worship, 
           our only eloquence was sex. 

At baptism, before we surrendered to Christ, 
                we scrubbed our pricks in the river. 

Juleus Ghunta is a conflict engagement practitioner, Chevening Scholar, and a leading advocate in Jamaica’s adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) movement. His poems on childhood adversity have appeared in several journals including The Missing Slate,MokoSpillwayAnomalyChiron ReviewPittsburgh Poetry ReviewCordite Review and In This Breadfruit Kingdom. He was awarded the Catherine James Poetry Prize by Interviewing the Caribbean (IC) in 2017, and was shortlisted for the Small Axe Poetry Prize in 2015 and 2016. His picture book, Tata and the Big Bad Bull, was published by CaribbeanReads (CR) in May 2018 and launched in June 2018 at Bradford Literature Festival, UK. His second book, Rohan Bullkin and the Shadows—a picture book for professionals who work with child survivors of ACEs—will be published by CR in 2020. He is the co-editor, with Professor Opal Palmer Adisa, of the December 2019 issue of IC Journal (UWI Press), which is focused on Caribbean children’s literature and the challenges and hopes of children in the region.

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