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Acclaimed lesbian poet Jackie Kay ‘so happy to have been raised by communists’ after birth father’s ‘shocking’ response to her sexuality

Patrick Kelleher August 10, 2020
Jackie Kay poet Scotland

Jackie Kay (Roberto Ricciuti/Getty)

Scottish poet Jackie Kay has opened up about meeting her birth father for the first and only time and telling him that she is a lesbian.

The acclaimed poet, who holds the position of Scots Makar, making her Scotland’s national poet, made the comments during an appearance on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday (August 8).

Kay told the Saturday Live programme that she travelled to Nigeria to meet her birth father after tracking him down, according to the Daily Record.

But the reunion did not go to plan, with her birth father telling her that it was God’s will that her sexuality remain a secret.

Jackie Kay’s birth father wanted to keep her a secret.

“The trickiest thing was telling my birth father I was a lesbian,” Kay said.

“I just decided I was going to tell him because I just thought, ‘What have I got to lose?’

“He only wanted to meet me once and didn’t want to tell his children about me.

“He said, ‘I’ve discussed this matter with God and God agrees with me that it is for the best that we keep this a secret.'”

Her birth father then interrogated her about a letter she had written to him in which she said she “didn’t want to answer to a man”.

“He said: ‘What an unusual thing to say, what do you mean?’

“I said the woman who he had spoken with on the phone was my partner and he said: ‘What do you mean?’

“I said: ‘She is my lover.’ He said: ‘Oh, oh, oh, you mean you are a lesbian?’ I said: ‘That’s right.’

I’ve discussed this matter with God and God agrees with me that it is for the best that we keep this a secret.

He said: ‘OK, OK, OK. Which one of you is the man?’ That was shocking.”

The poet said she was relieved she had been adopted and raised in Glasgow.

“I was so happy I was brought up by my communist parents, particularly after I met my birth parents.”

LGBT+ people in Nigeria continue to face significant discrimination, with both male and female same-sex relations still criminalised.

In southern Nigeria, people can be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison for same-sex sexual activity.

Meanwhile, in northern Nigeria, Sharia law applies to Muslims, meaning queer people can be stoned to death.

 

 

More: jackie kay, Makar, Scotland

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