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LEE MENTLEY: POETRY

GAY ACTIVIST

Lee Mentley Poetry

Lee Mentley has fought for LGBTQ rights for close to 50 years. His initial impact was made when he founded The Top Floor Gallery at 330 Grove, an early "Gay Center" in San Francisco. 330 Grove served as a safe space for the gay community, a place where Angels of Light, poets, artists, politicians and everyone in between came together. Lee Mentley’s entire creative and professional career has been based on his community activism:

  • The first openly gay city employee at the Neighborhood Arts Program with the San Francisco Arts Commission

  • One of the founders of the Castro Street Fair

  • An original chair on the San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade Committee

  • A chair on the Executive Committee of The Pride Foundation

  • Hawaii State Public Health Director, HIV/AIDS Kauai-Division

  • Member of the National Community Constituency Group at National Institutes of Health for HIV/AIDS Research

  • A Kauai Representative to Hawaii Statewide Committee for same-sex marriage

  • The curator for AIDS History at ONE Archive

Lee Mentley

THE FOLLOWING POETRY IS UNPUBLISHED FROM THE 1970S


Definition of a Trick Two People Together In Need But Never Each Other The Debate Is it I Who Seeks Betrayal Is it You Who Seeks Love? Destination I want to be Somewhere Where a lover Is not a place That’s a spirit I feel the need To make Or brake

Men Something to trigger my anger No man to pat my back I reach for my pen Hoping it could be more Than my fist through the wall Or a dead pet Where is he now This overblown man of mine Where is this fruitless fruit? The Castro Street Cruise I see you You see me We see each other And how we can be Go over there See that Going to the store Gotta get there I’m over here You’re over there Can you see me I see you here Castro Street End Where Business Persons Wash sidewalks In morning suits To cover up the Last night smell Of crisco, booze & amyl To stalk Exploitation of human need Into fashionable commodity

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