Dr. Robinson-Dukes is a Professor of English at the City Colleges of Chicago. She teaches African-American Literature, Women’s Literature, Introduction to Poetry, and all levels of English Composition. In addition, she is the editor of the annual poetry anthology Brownstone Barrio Bards. Finally, she has been published in The Carolina Quarterly, Atlanta Review, Meridian, Salamander, and other journals.
I was raised with house music in the gay clubs of Chicago
by Rochelle Robinson-Dukes
On the north side, LaRay’s Disco
hidden like a pimp in the shadows
next to a Pepper’s Waterbeds
that offered not one penny down
to purchase a bed of buoyancy
for your sex life.
Those of us who had fucked standing up
didn’t see the need for water or extra motion.
We moved like a pride of pride
dressed in neon and black, wearing suede bucks
or leather penny loafers, which were better for dancing
but horrible for snow, which lasted for three months,
minimum. We sashayed through the doors after paying
one whole dollar to dance to the melodies, melodies, melodies,
to bring down the walls, to move as one big sexual wave
of blackness and brownness, straight and gay
because baby wants to rise for love,
wants to be the godfather of house music
while gyrating around sweat-drenched strangers
and closeted friends who wore Wham’s Choose Life
sweatshirts because gay men didn’t have children back then,
couldn’t get married, but could dance and sweat and fuck
in the bathrooms that security monitored sporadically
like teenagers babysitting siblings. Then, at five am,
before sunrise, between the clear line of black codes and white people,
we filed out like exhausted zombies, felt the cold Chicago
hawk hit us face first, reminding us that we were still black
and queer and had to drive home quickly to our southside,
to our barrios, to our ghettos, to the other places that taught us
we were loved way before the music claimed us,
we were loved in the marginalized silences of color and sex.
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