Poetry is fluid in the way it lets you express without asking for much. It does not ask you to set up a scene or even adhere to the rules of grammar. It reminds me of the freedom I wish the world felt when it comes to gender and sexuality.
Poetry can be a wonderful medium to live your truth in this heteronormative world. Here are some glorious queer poets performing this cathartic form of self expression.
1) First Love by Andrea Gibson
“My straight friends tease me
because all my best friends
are my ex loves,
but a wise heart told me
it’s the most tender part
of queerness—how we’ve all lost
so much family when we find people
we call family, we’ll do almost anything
to not let go.”
2) Asexual Love Poem By Nikki Viveca
“look I know this poem seems disappointing so far
but just keep on listening to it, it will get good
it will get good, just keep on, give it more of a chance
listen, the poetry will happen
It will happen.
and if it doesn’t happen
maybe you’re just not listening to it right
maybe you’re not listening to the poetry right
or maybe I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m being harsh
maybe you had bad experience with poetry in the past
maybe you were traumatized by it by a bush poetry night
or a haiku with the syllables all wrong
and maybe that’s why you’re not enjoying this poem now
but I promise you you will enjoy the poem.”
3) Translated Disney By Diksha Bijlani
“I am a descendant of a family of multilingual folk
who are synonymous to non-English speaking.
Who sent me to English school so I could be better than them
Because speaking English in India is status
English in India is ‘Look, I have a verbal Mercedes!’
English in India is sucking up to the colonialists
but forgetting they left a long time ago
The first time I dated a white guy,
I would sometimes let words from my native language
slip into a text out of reflex
and he’d dismiss them as typos.”
4) Straight People By Maya Greenhill
“Straight people make me want to be a biologist
because even when I’m not in the lab,
you tell me I’m experimenting.
Playing with toxic chemicals
mistaking this love potion for poison
that what my girlfriend and I share is
a hypothesis instead of a result.
You take my conclusions away from me
and call them fiction.
Straight people make me want to be a biologist
because even when this is neither solid, liquid nor gas,
you tell me it’s just a phase.
That my experiences are meaningless
until validated by you.
You rip the weight from my actions
and make them light enough for you to carry”
5) A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be By Ethan Smith
“The year you turned eleven
Was the first time you said out loud that you didn’t want to live anymore
In therapy you said you wouldn’t make it to 21
On my 21st birthday I thought about you
You were right
At 19 you started to fade
I tried to cross you out like a line in my memoir
I wished I could erase completely
And maybe I’m misunderstanding the definition of death
But even though parts of you still exist
You are not here
Most of my friends have never heard your name until now
I’ve been trying to write this letter for 6 months
I still can’t decide if it should be an apology or not”
6) Principles By Danez Smith
all lives don’t matter
the same as all lives
some lives matter
only to themselves
some lives matter
only they hood
some lives matter
of fact & some lives
up for debate
all lives matter
but what about
this life of mine?
& black as it is?
what my life mean to you?
am i talking to you?
do you wish me justice
or do you wish I would just
shut up already, vanish already?”
7) A Prude’s Manifesto By Cameron Awkward-Rich
“here is a list of things I like more than sex
lying flat on my back staring at the ceiling
peeling back the skin of a grapefruit
watching the old man who lives in my backyard smoke weed ’till he becomes his lawn chair
riding my bike away from parties
how night swallows me like a dragon
the wet heat of one body alone
etc etc etc”
8) Head First By Ocean Vuong
“Don’t you know? A mother’s love
the way fire
neglects the cries
of what it burns. My son,
you will have today. Don’t you know?
There are men who touch breasts
as they would
the tops of skulls. Men
who carry dreams
over mountains, the dead
on their backs.
But only a mother can walk
with the weight
of a second beating heart.
You can get lost in every book but you’ll never forget yourself
the way god forgets his hands.
When they ask you
where you’re from,
tell them your name
was fleshed from the toothless mouth
of a war-woman.
That you were not born
but crawled, headfirst––
into the hunger of dogs. My son, tell them
the body is a blade that sharpens
Books by Ocean Vuong: Night Sky With Exit Wounds
9) Skinny Girls Bleed Flowers By Savannah Brown
“These are not monster, there are no monsters here, these feel like love,
And when they creep inside you it’s like something once missing is finally coming home.
How could a monster make such pretty girls?
Pretty skinny girls, They look like everything that is wonderful about being alive
Like, Vodka Diet Cokes
and pictures of hip bones at the beach
And “all I’ve eaten for the past three days is my own fingernails”
And these monsters (Not Monsters)
can make you pretty too.”
Books by Savannah Brown: Graffiti (and other poems)
10) Hey, I’m Gay By Mila Cuda
“I’m gay like
like the closet is cracked open
but some days I have to walk myself in
put my best femme forward
at the job interview, the mega-bus station, my grandpa’s funeral
I’m gay like
every time I call myself gay
the men in my life take it upon themselves to say
well what about ben, what was that then?
I’m gay like my only straight friend just came out
She said she would’ve known sooner if not for the folks always photoshopping her wedding pictures
And I’m gay like my girlfriend can build heaven with her left hand
I’m the closest she comes to touching religion.”
11) The Year Of No Grudges By Andrea Gibson
“I think almost everyone tries hard to do good,
and just finds out too late
they should have tried softer.
I’ve never in my whole life been level headed.
but the older I get the more level hearted.
And I think we made gods who look like us for a reason
I think, in spite of it all, we trust we can be believed in.
When I don’t believe in myself
I try to remember I have walked on water,
like, 700 times
in Maine in the dead of winter.
Where I come from you can drive
a pick-up truck from one side
of the lake to the other.
And people have an unusually
large amount of missing teeth
and fingers, but you can still sell them
whitening strips and wedding rings
because where I come from
beauty is in the eye of anyone
who sees what’s missing,
but can’t stop pointing to what’s still there.
If there is no definition for love yet
I think that’s a good one.”