February is LGBT History month and the University’s SRC Sexual Orientation Equality Officer, Liam King, has been investigating material in Archive Services and Special Collections. Liam came to the Library to look at a poem in the Edwin Morgan papers which has particular relevance for LGBT History in Glasgow.
Liam explains: “In 1995 the Glasgow Gay and Lesbian Centre (GGLC) opened. It was the second inception of such a centre (the original being founded in 1977 and lasting until 1982) and followed nearly 4 years of fundraising. The purpose of the centre was to be a social and cultural space: where LGBT people could socialise and become involved in the arts. It was involved in the founding of the annual Glasgay! festival.
Edwin Morgan, who came out in 1990, was a very active supporter of LGBT rights and wrote a poem for the opening of GGLC. He gifted a presentation copy of the poem to the centre and it was displayed there until GGLC closed in 2008. The original manuscript is held by the University Library’s Special Collections and it was fantastic to see something written by hand by a titan of Scottish poetry.”
The poem is untitled but begins:
‘Come all ye persons of goodwill,
from Newton Mearns to Maryhill,
Rattle the chains and launch the boat
And get it properly afloat.
I bash this poem against the bow,
Name it GGLC and endow
Its future cruise with benedictions,
Sailing past all feuds and frictions.’
It speculates about who might come along to the Centre, including ‘Straightest of straights, bentest of bents, Carbolic scrub, Armani scents, Doc Martens girls, minikilt boys, Buyers of exotic toys…’
‘For this is where we all can meet
Down by the river in Dixon Street,
And the Broomielaw rolls on to the sea
With the happy cargo of GGLC.’
Edwin Morgan (1920-2010) was a Professor at the University, a Poet Laureate of Glasgow and Scotland’s Makar. He discussed his sexuality in interviews with Christopher Whyte, published as ‘Power from things not declared’ in Nothing not Giving Messages (1990). Liz Lochhead (the current Makar), wrote a play about Morgan, commissioned by Glasgay! and first performed in 2011, which is being restaged this summer at The Tron theatre.
You can see more LGBT History Month posts on the SRC facebook page.
Categories: Special Collections