Recognizing LGBT+ poets on National Poetry Day

Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with poet Richard Blanco during the ceremonial swearing-in West Front of the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP.

By Jordan Redman

Today is #NationalPoetryDay. Through the years, poetry has helped the LGBT+ Community cope with love, loss, victories and devastation. Poetry allows for creative expression, an outlet so many of us are desperate for within the LGBT+ community. We salute the LGBT+ poets of our past and look forward to the poets of the future.

Everyone has their preference when it comes to the realm of poetry. Some come to understand the boundless interpretations of the written or spoken word easily, while others struggle with confusing poetry’s simplicity with complexity.  

The LGBT+ Community has been well represented amongst poets dating back as far as Walt Whitman (1819-1892).

Springing forward a bit, Richard Blanco was chosen to serve as the inaugural poet at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013. This made him the first Latino, the first immigrant and the first openly gay person to ever do so. Blanco not only identifies as an openly gay man, but as an immigrant and a Cuban-American.

Read more stories about Richard Blanco:
For inaugural poet, a journey home to America
Inaugural poet launches Cuba writing project
America's inaugural poet visits Cuba amid warming with US
Richard Blanco named education ambassador for poets academy
There should be nothing here I don’t remember...

Notably one of my favorite of Blanco’s poems, is “Since Unfinished”. What is your favorite piece of LGBT+ poetry? Tell us on social media, visit our Facebook or Twitter. 

Since Unfinished

I’ve been writing this since

the summer my grandfather

taught me how to hold a blade

of grass between my thumbs

and make it whistle, since

I first learned to make green

from blue and yellow, turned

paper into snowflakes, believed

a seashell echoed the sea,

and the sea had no end.


I’ve been writing this since

a sparrow flew into my class

and crashed into the window,

laid to rest on a bed of tissue

in a shoebox by the swings, since

the morning I first stood up

on the bathroom sink to watch

my father shave, since our eyes

met in that foggy mirror, since

the splinter my mother pulled

from my thumb, kissed my blood.


I’ve been writing this since

the woman I slept with the night

of my father’s wake, since

my grandmother first called me

a faggot and I said nothing, since

I forgave her and my body 

pressed hard against Michael

on the dance floor at Twist, since

the years spent with a martini

and men I knew I couldn’t love.


I’ve been writing this since 

the night I pulled off the road

at Big Sur and my eyes caught 

the insanity of the stars, since 

the months by the kitchen window

watching the snow come down

like fallout from a despair I had

no word for, since I stopped

searching for a name and found

myself tick-tock in a hammock

asking nothing of the sky.


I’ve been writing this since 

spring, studying the tiny leaves

on the oaks dithering like moths,

contrast to the eon-old fieldstones

unveiled of snow, but forever

works-in-progress, since tonight

with the battled moon behind

the branches spying on the world—

same as it ever was—perfectly

unfinished, my glasses and pen

at rest again on the night table.


I’ve been writing this since 

my eyes started seeing less,

my knees aching more, since

I began picking up twigs, feathers,

and pretty rocks for no reason 

collecting on the porch where

I sit to read and watch the sunset

like my grandfather did everyday,

remembering him and how

to make a blade of grass whistle.

From Looking for The Gulf Motel. Copyright © 2012 by Richard Blanco. Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

The Gayly - 9/28/2017 11:45 a.m. CST.