By Ian Eagleton
First of all, let me say, I am not professing to be a writer or poet at all! However, I took some time off over Christmas and wrote a poem to try and encapsulate and make sense of my experiences as a young gay man and the homophobic bullying I endured for eight years at secondary school. It really serves as recognition that I made it through, scarred, scared and a complete mess, but I still I made it through! The poem also serves as a ‘sorry’ to my younger self – I never fought back, just shut down and I really do regret that. It also reminded me of hiding away in the library most days and the safety and calm our libraries can provide.
Please feel free to use the poem in your classroom setting and do let me know if you do!
This poem is a dedication to anyone who is being bullied, or struggling with their identity or sexuality. It is also a huge ‘Thank you’ to all the brilliant people, educators, charities and organisations involved in fighting for our rights, championing diversity and supporting everyone in the LGBT+ community. I wish you nothing but the best. Keep going. Keep fighting. Keep shining.
by Ian Eagleton
There once was a boy who shone like the sun.
He sparkled and laughed with glee and with fun.
He was the colour of a rainbow and marbled in love,
but soon life came crashing down from above.
Every day they would gather like wolves in a pack:
“You’re weird, you’re wrong, that’s not how boys act.”
“They don’t dance and read and they don’t cry or sing!”
Then terror rained down as they lashed out at him.
He would beg and he’d cry and he’d sob and he’d plead.
“I’ll go to a teacher – they’ll know what I need!”
But Sir muttered and stuttered and spluttered and coughed:
“You’re wrong, no it can’t be! Go on… be off!”
Still, they continued to tease and to jeer.
What was it about him they so desperately feared?
So he thought and he pondered and concocted a plan,
on how he could be ‘A Typical Man’.
He acted and tried, but life felt off key,
“I no longer feel happy – I no longer feel ‘me’.”
His colours had dimmed, now where had they gone?
Something had changed; they no longer shone.
Into the library he’d retreat and he’d hide,
a book in his hands, safely tucked by his side.
And from there he’d travel the world in a page,
searching for someone to show him the way.
Then one day it happened, he could take it no more.
They circled around him, but he stayed and he roared:
“You can kick me and hit me and mock me, then beat me,
but I cannot be stopped, no I won’t be defeated.
For I’m strong and I’m brave and I’m kind and I’m wise,
I dance with the wind and I swim with the tides.
I am lit up by love, I am fierce and I’m free.
Your taunts and your sneers, they cannot harm me.
Many have suffered by your hands and your words.
They have cut and they’ve hurt, they have bruised and they’ve burned.
You have taken my colours, my voice you have stripped,
bound me and caged me, my wings you have clipped.
So listen to this and please listen well.
Come gather close, there’s one last thing to tell:
If ever you touch me or hurt me again,”
he looked in their eyes, yes each one of them,
“then I’ll fight back and rise up by just being me,
for I’m lit up by love, I am wild and I’m free.”
Mouths open wide, they stopped and they stared,
at the Rainbow Boy shining, his soul finally bared.
Then they whimpered and shuffled, they turned and they ran.
“And if you come back, I am ready. I am!”
And that is the story of a boy who stayed true,
of the brave boy lit up by rainbow hues.
ALTERNATIVE ENDING: Which do you prefer?
There are many ways to live, love and be
It’s when we accept this, that we are finally free
So, that is the story of a boy I once knew,
And for all of the brave ones who fight to stay true.
This poem may be printed and used in classrooms but may not be reproduced in any other format without the permission of the author.