Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

11 July

'I'm rejoicing because I saw the possibility of our Lord being vilified. Now it's been shown that it won't be.' _ Mary Whitehouse

July 11, 2009
4 min read

On this day in 1977, the Gay News was found guilty of blasphemous libel after publishing the poem, The Love that Dares to Speak its Name by James Kirkup. The case was brought as a private prosecution by Mary Whitehouse on behalf of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association.

The Law Commission’s description of the poem read: ‘The poem recounted the homosexual fantasies of a Roman centurion as he removed the body of Christ from the cross, in which he described in explicit detail acts of sodomy and fellatio with the body of Christ immediately after His death and ascribed to him during his lifetime promiscuous homosexual practices with the Apostles and other men’.

The Love that Dares to Speak its Name

By James Kirkup

As they took him from the cross

I, the centurion, took him in my arms-

the tough lean body

of a man no longer young,

beardless, breathless,

but well hung.

He was still warm.

While they prepared the tomb

I kept guard over him.

His mother and the Magdalen

had gone to fetch clean linen

to shroud his nakedness.

I was alone with him.

For the last time

I kissed his mouth. My tongue

found his, bitter with death.

I licked his wound-

the blood was harsh

For the last time

I laid my lips around the tip

of that great cock, the instrument

of our salvation, our eternal joy.

The shaft, still throbbed, anointed

with death’s final ejaculation

I knew he’d had it off with other men-

with Herod’s guards, with Pontius Pilate,

With John the Baptist, with Paul of Tarsus

with foxy Judas, a great kisser, with

the rest of the Twelve, together and apart.

He loved all men, body, soul and spirit. – even me.

So now I took off my uniform, and, naked,

lay together with him in his desolation,

caressing every shadow of his cooling flesh,

hugging him and trying to warm him back to life.

Slowly the fire in his thighs went out,

while I grew hotter with unearthly love.

It was the only way I knew to speak our love’s proud name,

to tell him of my long devotion, my desire, my dread-

something we had never talked about. My spear, wet with blood,

his dear, broken body all open wounds,

and in each wound his side, his back,

his mouth – I came and came and came

as if each coming was my last.

And then the miracle possessed us.

I felt him enter into me, and fiercely spend

his spirit’s finbal seed within my hole, my soul,

pulse upon pulse, unto the ends of the earth-

he crucified me with him into kingdom come.

This is the passionate and blissful crucifixion

same-sex lovers suffer, patiently and gladly.

They inflict these loving injuries of joy and grace

one upon the other, till they dies of lust and pain

within the horny paradise of one another’s limbs,

with one voice cry to heaven in a last divine release.

Then lie long together, peacefully entwined, with hope

of resurrection, as we did, on that green hill far away.

But before we rose again, they came and took him from me.

They knew not what we had done, but felt

no shame or anger. Rather they were glad for us,

and blessed us, as would he, who loved all men.

And after three long, lonely days, like years,

in which I roamed the gardens of my grief

seeking for him, my one friend who had gone from me,

he rose from sleep, at dawn, and showed himself to me before

all others. And took me to him with

the love that now forever dares to speak its name.