Will Vigar

poet. writer. imposter.

Learning Shame and Anger in the Midst of a Moral Panic.

I’m often asked why I don’t write more about being queer. I find this to be an odd question. As far as I’m concerned, all of my poetry is queer poetry. From my perspective, it can be nothing else. All of my thoughts and observations are queer ones. In only the second overtly queer poem I’ve written, I recount an event that happened when the full-on HIV panic of the mid-80s took hold.

Picture the scene: A group of students arrive for the weekly GaySoc meeting…

Learning Shame and Anger in the Midst of a Moral Panic. 

The doors were locked and we were informed by a hastily scrawled not (paper crumpled)
 and stuck to the pane, with hard and hairy blu-tack, to wait for instructions. 

We stood for too long in the winter drizzle, watching as uniformed men wiped 
the reception desk, frenziedly rubbing disinfectant into the veneer as if their lives 

would be forfeit. They placed the keys on the table and opened the door remotely
from the safety of the office. Watching from behind beige blinds. 

With the feeling free falling lift pulling at our stomachs we saw what they were thinking. 
It was written in fear, trembling on every wrinkle and soaking the brow with a coward’s 

sweat. Shaken we took the keys and the blinds snapped shut;  in a callow game 
of peek-a-boo. The meeting room seemed alien, cold, unwelcoming. The  astringent 

pine stench of disinfectant (green slicks accumulating in between tiles) made our 
eyes run. The meeting was muted, devoid of the usual salacious gags, the scheduled 

movie night – “Cruising,” with Al Pacino since you ask - and rambunctious hilarity, 
replaced by an impromptu discussion that tried - but failed - to answer the bewildered 

question ‘is this what life is going to be like, now?’  As the end of the meeting 
approached, the fire alarm sounded. We picked our coats and bags and left. 

The alarm was just for us; an underhand and craven way to alert us that security 
were ready to usher us from the building. The other meetings had been informed 

that the alarm was a test and should be ignored. Neatly printed leaflets 
in every room but ours. In previous weeks, we had shared many a ribald 

joke but they had decided, without mandate or provocation, that we were now 
an unacceptable risk and that humiliation was the only answer to the moral panic 

choking the country. Waiting for us on the reception desk was a large glass jar 
filled with bleach and a message instructing us to:

“drop the keys 

in the jar 

and leeve.” 

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This entry was posted on July 30, 2022 by in creative writing, Poem, poem of the day, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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