“Kids are everything. Poetry is my passion, but PYPM is my purpose,” says our guest, poet PERRY “VISION” DIVIRGILIO, referring to his work with the Philly Youth Poetry Movement. The third part of our PHILADELPHIA INNOVATORS series drums, acts and slams into the creative arts community. Divirgilio, musician ALEX SHAW and co-founders of Kensington’s Walking Fish Theater, MICHELLE PAULS and STAN HELEVA, are all arts educators in the Delaware Valley. We’ll hear how our guests are keeping their art alive and relevant, and how they are sometimes a young person’s first introduction to poetry, acting and music.
Photo by Flickr user Brian Gurrola
by Perry “Vision” Divirgilio
There will be a time
My future son looks back on the decisions daddy made to judge what type of man i was.
My unborn daughter will appraise my actions against the gallimaufry of lessons i’ve imparted upon her.
They will look back at my past with rose colored scopes.
And believe their daddy was a moral man.
My children will read articles about poems l’ve penned
They’ll see clips from a CNN documentary
And beam with pride.
They won’t see the stories forced into a wiredrawn margin by revisions of an umbrageous past.
This is an attempt to show my future children their human father wasn’t always on the right side of history.
My name is Perry “Vision” Di Virgilio
And l’m homophobic
l never gave thought to why the way others love has any affect on me
But for years i wore homophobia like a unsheathed broadsword on my back
The people me and my friends preyed on are un-named
And have unmarked memorials on their tombstone scars
They won’t remember our faces,
Only the way we made them feel.
For me it’s been mostly through inaction
But sometimes through emblazoned words spoken with a pitchforked tongue
l’ve syphoned the humanity out others with each utterance of the word faggot
Fag sprung off my tongue like ineffable artillery from a trebuchet
l have stoned my brothers who love brothers.
So my brothers who love sisters know l’m one of them.
Flagitiously feasted on the insecurities of males we deemed too garish to be men.
Like we are men,
and you are not like us, so you are not a man.
l’ve sat cactus next to men whose wrist weren’t quite as limp as my excuses to prejudge their feminine traits.
Sat mime as a friend threw a bottle at a man we deemed too flamboyant to exist
We laughed like enjoying his pain was a prerequisite for masculinity
Like we knew what masculinity really was.
Like l thought all gay men were ostentatious
Until l unknowingly went into a gay friendly bar
And saw men who looked, dressed and talked like me
dancing with men who looked, dressed and talked like me.
l left because “l don’t do that gay shit!’
i was afraid being there was a reflection on me.
There was a time l was proud to be that guy l now despise.
There are times, l am still that guy l now despise
Times l still sit mute amongst men who make jokes about men who love other men
Times l still sit mum amongst women who beg down low men to come out of the closet so they can browbeat them back in.
l’m a silent co-conspirator too afraid they’ll question my sexuality because l’ve defended another’s.
i’ve been that guy who’s been part time prejudice around straight peers
Then find solace in the basement of my morals saying, “l’m not a bigot. l have gay friends.”
l have gay friends who l can’t look in the eye sometimes knowing there was a time l judged the way they’ve made their lover’s smile
What type of ally am l
When l was almost too coward to attend a friend’s poetry feature at a gay arts festival.
When l was afraid to share a hotel room with a gay friend while on tour.
When l didn’t defend a transexual woman on the bus when she was called “lt”
l am still the homophobic boy who sometimes participates in oppression through inaction.
By not saying the things l see wrong.
By not defending someone’s right to be themselves.
Oh the audacity of wanting to be yourself.
l pray my friends don’t cast the same judgments upon me that i’ve casted on others
l am a recovering homophobe.
Fighting unfounded fear one day at a time.
There will be a time,
My kids will question why all heterosexual people didn’t stand up for gay people.
They will ask if their father was a homophobe
l will tell them there was a time daddy judged before he loved.
l will beg them not to repeat the sins of their father.