This poem is dedicated to, and written in remembrance of, the unknown numbers of social care users from the LGBTQI+ communities who died in the UK between LGBT History Month in February 2020 and Pride Month in June 2020. As with People of Colour, LGBTQI+ communities have been affected more heavily than the rest of the population by Covid-19, but in this case invisibly. The disproportionate impact on LGBTQI+ people has been because they are more likely to become Disabled, and younger, than the rest of the population; and are much more likely to depend on social care than other older and Disabled people. The vast majority died from lack of infection control without any record being kept of their sexual or gender orientation. Some were moved into homes from the community against their will, after the Coronavirus Act reduced the rights to social care. Rest in peace.

CareLess

Pete isn’t a Dad, though he’s somebody’s son
Ellen is lovely, but nobody’s Mum
They both left home early and haven’t been back
The same’s true of Trudy, and Melvin, and Jack. 

Sue’s not seen her kids since she came out as trans
Bill’s son avoids him whenever he can
Trevor’s lost touch with his sisters and brothers
And Cath’s son has simply no time for his mother. 

Pete wasn’t able to come out at work
So his friendships were limited, much as that hurt 
He found love and lost love and found it again
And lost it once more, which has caused him great pain. 

Trudy’s another who stayed in the closet
Her life and her livelihood both rested on it
Her happiest moments were clubbing at night
But she daren’t risk it often despite the delights.

Ellen found her true love early in life
But wasn’t entitled to call her a wife
And cancer came long before change in the law
So she’s labelled a spinster, which makes her feel sore. 

Melvin has had a substantial career
Successful and wealthy despite being queer
But developed MS when aged just 43
So his money was taken to pay his care fees. 

Jack spent his working life wielding a broom
Sleeping and eating in one tiny room
Kicked out by his parents, he took no exams
And his minimal wages were paid cash in hand. 

Sue knew she was different when she was a girl
Misgendered, disguised and with massacred curls
When three decades later she found her true self
A judge took her children, then life took her health. 

Bill’s lifelong partner is great and called Dan
But Bill has dementia and once it began
Since they couldn’t afford to become partners in law
Bill’s son got control, and then showed Dan the door. 

Trevor trained as a teacher and worked in a school
‘til arrested and outed and sacked under rule
His crime being only to love until death
A dear man whose sudden loss left him bereft. 

Cath led a happy and sociable life
Not wanting to settle for only one wife
But her son’s signed her over to state social care
Only ‘family members’ can visit her there. 

                              ***

It was March 2020 and all through the land
Infection was spreading with each shaken hand
With each missing mask and each failure to act
With each mass event, each denial of fact. 

Then across England the coughing began
Throats filled with glass and eyes filled with sand
People struggled for breath as their fevers soared high
And the promised protection was founded on lies. 

Pete died the first week and stayed where he lay
‘til the carer who gave it him came the next day
Ellen died next after going to shop
She’d had no choice as her social care stopped. 

Then Trudy and Melvin and Cath became ill
And soon so did Jack, and Sue, Trevor and Bill
As infection raged through one in three of care homes 
With visitors banned, they all suffered alone. 

At the time of their passing their deaths didn’t count
It took far too long for the pressure to mount
And while they were dying no ambulance came
Since a doctor had put DNR by their names. 

No one wrote tributes to Mum or to Dad
No grandchild complained that their treatment was bad
Voices were silent or spoke the belief
That for old and sick people it was a relief.  

No services marked their departure from life
No films were made for a husband or wife
No graves exist, and their ashes lie spread
Where no one can possibly notice they’re dead. 

Now it’s Pride Month and still people are dying 
Quietly lovers and friends are still crying
Rainbows on windows served only to hide
The rainbow that faded and vanished inside. 

© Ju Gosling aka ju90


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