REVIEW: Andrea (Andrew) Gibson

Editor’s Note: Spoken word poet and activist Andrea Gibson was set to appear at Lane Community College on Feb. 25 before a snowstorm forced the college to cancel the performance. A new date has not yet been announced, though the poet will reportedly return sometime in the fall.

Andrea (Andrew) Gibson’s works explore the intricacies of queer love, family, gender, religion, hardship and perseverance. Every word is chosen with intent, delivered with heart-soaked passion. Some words so sharp, you can feel the steel in your chest, and tears well at the edge of your lids, threatening to burst over the flood gate.  

In a world that has long been built for a narrow idea of just two genders and only heterosexual romance, it can be excruciatingly painful to find your place, and to brazenly exist in a different way. It would be nice to say they found their place, but the truth is they fought for it. They boldly carved out their own little niche, and actively chose to live in happiness there, against all resistance. That is the inspiring part. They still fight, to pave the way and lighten the load for others.

Gibson lends humanity to the life of queer people everywhere. Their words do well to demystify harmful ideas that have been broiling in mainstream society for too long, that anyone LGBTQ is a potentially harmful element to our society. It shows them in a way that any person, anywhere, can relate to.

“I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power is Out” by Andrea Gibson

“This is my heartbeat

Like yours, it is a hatchet

It can build a house, or tear one down

My mouth is a fire escape

The words coming out don’t care that they are naked

There is something burning in here

When it burns, I hold my own shell to my ear

Listen for the parade when I was seven

The man who played the bagpipes wore a skirt

He was from Scotland- so I wanted to move there

Wanted my spine to be the spine of an unpublished book

My fate, the first and last page

The day my ribcage became monkey bars

For a girl hanging on my every word

They said “you are not allowed to love her”

Tried to take me by the throat

And teach me I was not a boy

I had to unlearn their prison speak

Refuse to make wishes on the star on the sheriff’s chest

I started wishes on the stars in the sky instead

I said to the sun

“Tell me about the big bang”

The sun said

“it hurts to become”

I carry that hurt on the tip of my tongue

And whisper bless your heart every chance I get

So my family tree can be sure I have not left

You do not have to leave to arrive

I am learning this slowly”

As humans, we all want another person to be in love with, to build a family with. As humans, we want a healthy, supportive community. We want the love and acceptance of our kin. We want to create good in the world and for our personal world to be filled with good. Not race, gender, nor sexuality exclude anyone from these desires.

Paul Jarrell, LCC’s Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, made a statement before the scheduled event:

“Issues around politics, race, social justice, gender norms, and LGBTQ+ rights jeopardize our students’ safety and success on a regular basis,” Jarrell said. “Andrea Gibson’s poetry tackles these issues head on and challenges us to do the same. I am looking forward to their words and being challenged to make a difference.”

A desirable outcome that was comforting to see people in positions of power, and influential in policy-making are here to gain insight from those who are directly affected by the policies he helps create. Hopefully, Jarrell follows through when Gibson comes returns in the fall.