Being gay is one thing but being openly gay is dangerous.
My mother and I didn’t speak for a year. It was one of the hardest points in my life, as prior to this we had been very close. It felt like my mother was more compassionate to outside problems but when the problem was me, her stance was different.
I’m the baby of the family, but this experience of being 'outed' really helped me grow up. It made me realise I was in fact in love with my best friend deep down. My mother was right.
It was very painful for me not to have my mother in my life that year. I remember thinking, "I love you Mum, but I can't be what you want. I have to find my own happiness, my own truth." Thanks to my mum, I went after my truth and consequently my best friend became my partner of 12 years.
My mother finally came to terms with my sexuality. My sister gave her a wake up call, saying, "You have two choices. You either lose your daughter because of this or accept this and gain two daughters. It's your decision."
We live in a society obsessed with numbers and boxes. I know how painful it can be to tick the box, and to be outside of it. Personally, I don't see numbers, I see poets. Everyone is a poet and one of the greatest things about poetry, is that it allows you to define yourself.
I wrote a lot of poetry during this life changing period of my life and have since published two poetry books. I have published six books both in England and in Spanish and run Newham Poetry Group for the local council. To me poetry, builds bridges where others build walls.
The academic structure of poetry has challenged me. The rules are so restricting. If our words are not in verse, or the number of syllables doesn’t add up, then it’s not a poem.
Real poetry breaks all the rules.
Being open about my sexual orientation could quite possibly be the bravest rule I have ever broken.
By Michelle Harris