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Historical Note to
"The Deformity Lover"
By Felice Picano
Since then it's been reprinted maybe twenty times and is clearly one of my most popular poems. Also one of my most controversial. Many readers of the time saw its frank language and its at-the-time fearless look at gay men's choices not in the romantic way I did, but as though I was insulting differently abled people.
Differently abled people of course understood exactly what I was writing and when my book of poems came out in 1978, titled The Deformity Lover and Other Poems, with a stunningly beautiful man pictured on the cover, the New York City Chapter of the Lighthouse for the Blind chose my book as their first Gay and Lesbian selection and asked me to read the book for recording, which I did. The engineers were sightless, of course.
I recall the way the poem came about was I was riding the Manhattan subway and a group of hearing impaired youths got on and were – as usual – very actively communicating with each other. I was enthralled, and also attracted to one of them. His buddy told me "Dave thinks you're cute, but he's shy." I said I thought Dave was cute.
We saw each other four times: alas, it was just sex. But I thought, What if . . .
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