It doesn't take much for equal rights supporters to get pumped up about LGBT Pride Month, but not all of your inspiration has to come from parades and rainbow flags. Picking up some of your favorite LGBTQ literature, like poems for LGBTQ Pride Month, can motivate you to get out there and celebrate, make a difference, and become an activist for the LGBTQ community.
It's been over a year since the historical decision was made by the Supreme Court to make gay marriage legal across the entire country, but your support for the LGBTQ community shouldn't stop there. With the tragedy in Orlando on June 12, it's becoming more and more obvious that there is still more work to be done when it comes to society fully accepting the LGBTQ community.
For hundreds of years, poems have been an outlet for those seeking to make a change, to vent their frustrations, and to share their stories. It's easy to ignore injustice when it's not happening directly to you, but pick up any of these 11 LGBTQ poems for Pride Month and you'll realize how important it is that the world continues to support this beautiful community. Reading the poets' words, feeling their heartache and anguish, and connecting with them through their words is the least you can do in your part as an activist for the LGBTQ community.
1. "Dear Gaybashers" by Jill McDonough
Written in 2014, Dear Gaybashers by Jill McDonough is a must-read for everybody, but especially those who think their taunts and jabs will scare off the LGBTQ community from living and loving their life. They are strong, they are united, and they couldn't care less what you think.
The night we got bashed we told Rusty how
they drove up, yelled QUEER, threw a hot dog, sped off.
Rusty: Now, is that gaybashing? Or
are they just calling you queer? Good point.
Josey pitied the fools: who buys a perfectly good pack of wieners
and drives around San Francisco chucking them at gays?
And who speeds off? Missing the point, the pleasure of the bash?
Dear bashers, you should have seen the hot dog hit my neck,
the scarf Josey sewed from antique silk kimonos: so gay. You
missed laughing at us, us confused, your raw hot dog on the ground.
Josey and Rusty and Bob make fun of the gaybashers, and I
wash my scarf in the sink. I use Woolite. We worry
about insurance, interest rates. Not hot dogs thrown from F-150s,
homophobic freaks. After the bashing, we used the ATM
in the sex shop next to Annie's Social Club, smiled at the kind
owner, his handlebar mustache. Astrud Gilberto sang tall and tan
and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema... and the dildos
gleamed from the walls, a hundred cheerful colors. In San Francisco
it rains hot dogs, pity-the-fool. Ass-sized penguins, c*ck after c*ck in
azure acrylic, butterscotch glass, anyone's flesh-tone, chrome.
2. "Who Said It Was Simple" by Audre Lorde
As an African American writer, activist, feminist, and lesbian, Audre Lorde faced discrimination from many angles. In Who Said It Was Simple, she mentions all of the injustices she faced, and how she wasn't sure which part of her would survive to see her entire self liberated.
There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in colour
as well as sex
and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.
3. "Queer" by Frank Bidart
Coming out may be a beautiful thing for the LGBT community, but it's not always easy as poet Frank Bidart describes in Queer. This poem is incredibly moving and is a huge eye-opener for those who have never struggled with accepting who they are.
Lie to yourself about this and you will
forever lie about everything.
Everybody already knows everything
so you can
lie to them. That’s what they want.
But lie to yourself, what you will
lose is yourself. Then you
turn into them.
For each gay kid whose adolescence
was America in the forties or fifties
the primary, the crucial
forever is coming out—
or not. Or not. Or not. Or not. Or not.
Involuted velleities of self-erasure.
Quickly after my parents
died, I came out. Foundational narrative
designed to confer existence.
If I had managed to come out to my
mother, she would have blamed not
me, but herself.
The door through which you were shoved out into the light
was self-loathing and terror.
Thank you, terror!
You learned early that adults’ genteel
fantasies about human life
were not, for you, life. You think sex
is a knife
driven into you to teach you that.
4. "Whom You Love" by Joseph O. Legaspi
Nobody can write a love poem like Joseph O. Legaspi and this poem is no different. It doesn't matter which pronoun is used to describe your beloved, and Whom You Love proves that love is love, regardless of gender.
“Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Creole Proverb
The man whose throat blossoms with spicy chocolates
Tempers my ways of flurrying
Is my inner recesses surfacing
Paints the bedroom blue because he wants to carry me to the skies
Pear eater in the orchard
Possesses Whitmanesque urge & urgency
Boo Bear, the room turns orchestral
Crooked grin of ice cream persuasion
When I speak he bursts into seeds & religion
Poetry housed in a harmonica
Line dances with his awkward flair
Rare steaks, onion rings, Maker’s on the rocks
Once-a-boy pilfering grenadine
Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska
Wicked at the door of happiness
At a longed-for distance remains sharply crystalline
Fragments, but by day’s end assembled into joint narrative
Does not make me who I am, entirely
Heart like a fig, sliced
Peonies in a clear round vase, singing
A wisp, a gasp, sonorous stutter
Tuning fork deep in my belly, which is also a bell
Evening where there is no church but fire
Sparks, particles, chrysalis into memory
Moth, pod of enormous pleasure, fluttering about on a train
He knows I don’t need saving & rescues me anyhow
Our often-misunderstood kind of love is dangerous
Darling, fill my cup; the bird has come to roost
5. "My Lover Is A Woman" by Pat Parker
The following is an excerpt from My Lover Is a Woman by Pat Parker and it is absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. The poem details the love of a woman and how it is so enriching and lovely that it drowns out the sounds of her family's disappointment and confusion.
my lover is a woman
& when i hold her
feel her warmth
i feel good
then—i never think of
my family’s voices
never hear my sisters say
bulldaggers, queers, funny
come see us, but don’t
bring your friends
it’s ok with us,
but don’t tell mama
it’d break her heart
never feel my father
turn in his grave
never hear my mother cry
Lord, what kind of child is this?
6. "Exclusively On Venus" by Trace Peterson
An excerpt from Trace Peterson's Exclusively on Venus, this poem will give you chills with its overwhelmingly lovely words and descriptions, proving that humans can't be forced to fit into any type of box.
Roses are red / violets are transsexual / welcome to womanhood / now get to work honey
Roses are performative / violets are biological / I have very sensitive breasts / and so do your breasts
Roses are biological / you have the nicest skin / I can’t stop kissing you / let’s read more nondualistic queer theory
Roses are fed up / with our binary fetishes / I f*cked my doctors / and stole all the medication to hide it in a cave and share it with other trans people
Roses have got me / up against the wall / kissing my neck / which is socially constructed to be a super hot strong feminist neck
Roses are violet / violets are roses / I really like you / I like you tube
Roses are born this way / violets have a lesbian streak / something about your dry sense of humor and our soft intertwined limbs / feels transcendently female
Roses are blue / violets are violet / roses are nonviolet / blue is bluenormative
Roses are from mars / violets had the whole surgery / setting up camp / exclusively on Venus
7. "A Queerification" by Regie Cabico
Another excerpt, this piece from A Queerification preaches acceptance, identity, and that descriptions like 'queer' really don't mean anything in the bigger picture.
tell my students i’m gay
tell chick fil a i’m queer
tell the new york times i’m straight
tell the mail man i’m a lesbian
tell american airlines
i don’t know what my gender is
like summer blockbuster armrest dates
armrest cinematic love
elbow to forearm in the dark
humor me queerly
fill me with laughter
make me high with queer gas
decompress me from centuries of spanish inquisition
& self-righteous judgment
8. "I Am Not A Myth" by Matthew Hittinger
Matthew Hettinger has said that he wrote I Am Not a Myth in the voice of Marlene Deitrich who, according to a biography on Marilyn Monroe, found the lipstick trace on Marilyn's white mink "maddeningly erotic." Hettinger used her voice to write this poem and it is incredibly sexy.
Marlene Dietrich remembers the night of the Marilyn Monroe Productions press conference, New York City, January 1955
I wanted to be that trace of scarlet lipstick
when you arrived, tipsy, a bit chartreuse
a subdued platinum angel, a white mink
stole. I am at heart—Come up for a drink—
a gentleman. You, a question here to seduce,
a pink thought traced by scarlet lipstick
a deer drawn to a salt lick. I am the brick-
back, brick-thrown widow of a caboose.
I lift my black veil. I drop my black mink.
To the bird, flown—we toast with a clink.
You created '‘the girl.’“Their golden goose
is now a scarlet smudge.” Your lips stick
to the wine glass and all I can do is wink
out a song, the tricks of an aging chanteuse.
You call a cab and grab your white mink
while I play my saw, and all I can think
is I am not a myth a recluse who will recuse
you to remain a trace of scarlet lipstick
caught on the collar of a white mink.
9. "The Distant Moon" by Rafael Campo
If this excerpt from The Distant Moon doesn't make you want to cry, I'm not sure what will. The poem describes a doctor caring for a patient and according to the NYU School of Medicine's Literature Arts Medicine Database, the patient is suffering from AIDS. Both the doctor and the patient are the same age, both are gay, and the poem is an incredible look at the emotional attachment between the two men, both as patient and doctor, and as gay men.
One day, I drew his blood, and while I did
He laughed, and said I was his girlfriend now,
His blood-brother. “Vampire-slut," he cried,
“You’ll make me live forever!” Wrinkled brows
Were all I managed in reply. I know
I’m drowning in his blood, his purple blood.
I filled my seven tubes; the warmth was slow
To leave them, pressed inside my palm. I’m sad
Because he doesn’t see my face. Because
I can’t identify with him. I hate
The fact that he’s my age, and that across
My skin he’s there, my blood-brother, my mate.
He said I was too nice, and after all
If Jodie Foster was a lesbian,
Then doctors could be queer. Residual
Guilts tingled down my spine. “OK, I’m done,"
I said as I withdrew the needle from
His back, and pressed. The CSF was clear;
I never answered him. That spot was framed
In sterile, paper drapes. He was so near
Death, telling him seemed pointless. Then, he died.
Unrecognizable to anyone
But me, he left my needles deep inside
His joking heart. An autopsy was done.
10. "Dressing Down" by Kamilah Aisha Moon
No matter how many pride parades there are a year, there are still certain areas of the world where it's frowned upon and Dressing Down addresses this, specifically the south. It's pretty eye-opening, especially the lines like "the only way to be like daddy is to hate like him" and really puts into perspective the darkness many members of the LGBT community feel.
When you’re gay in Dixie,
you’re a clown of a desperate circus.
Sometimes the only way to be like daddy
is to hate like him—
hope your brothers laugh
instead of shoot,
wrap a confederate skirt around your waist.
You traded glamour for nasty tricks—
dethroning your mammy’s image for dollars
that will never cover so much debt,
unraveling years she lost
loving you for a living.
11. "The Lioness" by Adrienne Rich
I believe I saved the most powerful for last with The Lioness. I'm not a poem analyst by trade, but this one was so riveting and I feel as though the lioness is the person that has taught the poet that this country may feel oppressive, but it is for everybody. There are places you can go, regardless of what the world tells you, and you can thrive right here, no matter who you are or how you identify. So moving.
The scent of her beauty draws me to her place.
The desert stretches, edge from edge.
Rock. Silver grasses. Drinking-hole.
The starry sky.
The lioness pauses
in her back-and-forth pacing of three yards square
and looks at me. Her eyes
are truthful. They mirror rivers,
seacoasts, volcanoes, the warmth
of moon-bathed promontories.
Under her haunches’ golden hide
flows an innate, half-abnegated power.
is bounded. Three square yards
encompass where she goes.
In country like this, I say, the problem is always
one of straying too far, not of staying
within bounds. There are caves,
high rocks, you don’t explore. Yet you know
they exist. Her proud, vulnerable head
sniffs toward them. It is her country, she
knows they exist.
I come towards her in the starlight.
I look into her eyes
as one who loves can look.
entering the space behind her eyeballs,
leaving myself outside.
So, at last, through her pupils.
I see what she is seeing:
between her and the river’s flood,
the volcano veiled in rainbow,
a pen that measures three yards square.