My dad was a good man
He taught me some of the best things in life
The value of honesty, happiness, friends
And the value of money-less than all of these.
He never went to church,
But he prayed every night down on his knees by his bed.
God remembered his prayers
He told me that years later.
My dad was a good man,
But he didn’t come with me through adolescence
He didn’t know how,
And a boy needs a man to follow,
So I lost some of my bearings and by eighteen
I wanted to be something of a cross between
Aragorn and Marlene Dietrich.
My dad and me were both insecure.
He hid this behind very conservative dress,
I took a different approach encouraged by my girlfriend
Sometimes dressing like a medieval peasant,
A Gandalf the gay,
A hippy mystic,
Or a Bowie-esque camp tramp.
It worked beautifully
I felt safe hidden behind this lot
Although I did get thumped by a skinhead
For wearing bright red girls sandals.
In case you’re wondering
How much of a tranny I actually was
There’s not much to report really-no sexual aspect
Just a happy lost boy with lots of odd clothes of both genders
Looking for an identity
As I didn’t think mine was any good
I borrowed bits of other people’s.
What I really wanted though
Was to be a strong and beautiful man
But unless a boy has a man to follow
He’ll get lost.
It was only a sweater...
Admittedly it was grey angora with big pink and white flowers
Embroidered down one side
It had been a standard bit of kit up to that point
A few months after God first chased me down
It did not feel right to put it on
So for reasons of conscience I did not understand at the time
And after the usual wrestling match between man and God
I got rid of it and went to the church fireworks event in plainer gear
This was the start
Of the Holy Spirit dealing with my wardrobe
It took time and obedience but
I was following the Man who was worth any sacrifice
Even the red sandals went eventually!
Slowly I was learning that I was not my clothes
I was someone walking round inside them and
Something of the strength and beauty of true manhood
Was being formed in me, I didn’t need the disguises
And less and less did I want to be anyone else.
Going back to my dad,
He died a few years after these events
Still not understanding what his son was going through,
But in one of the very few times I have felt God speak directly to me
He told me He remembered my dad’s prayers
A lot was implied in those few words from God
And I have come to believe
That in the reserved English heart of Austin Copping
There was a place for God
Maybe it was only small
Certainly it was never spoken of but I believe
He kept it true and in that I aim to follow him.
Just to clarify things this poem is autobiographical