Looking to explore some LGBTQ+ themed poetry? We've gathered some great examples here and we'll kick things off with one from one of our very own young people; Max
Tired eyes wrapped in soft black and purple skin
Shaking fingers and sweaty palms
Slowly lifting up my chin
Mouth open just enough to whisper
But nothing comes out
Wishing for my sister
I don’t understand how to say the words I need to say
The thoughts that have been inside for so long now
Making me who I am without ever letting on to anyone else
The looks I get from time to time
Not quite sure how to react,
Everyone is different.
When it starts I hold my breath,
Waiting for that bad response
Thinking, finally this is the one. The one that kills me.
But often times I get a smile, a nod of respect.
Respect for being able to be me.
Respect from those who don’t know me just for existing.
Other times I get a question…
“But what does that mean?”
“Is that really a thing now?”
The worst so far are those who pretend to know me
better than I know myself.
Telling me I’m confused, that I haven’t decided yet.
Those who don’t even wait for me to finish.
2 genders. 2 genders. 2 genders.
I ignore them, knowing they’re wrong but knowing that they think they’re right.
They think that just because they can’t understand my fluidity that it can’t exist.
That without recognition from the whole world I’ll somehow disappear.
These conversations are the worst because I cannot get angry
Bald headed feminazi dyke, obviously just angry for the sake of being angry.
Nothing to do with my peers being murdered on the daily.
With my siblings being thrown out, being beaten by those supposed to protect them.
So many being refused by their own blood.
Blood is thicker than water.
Blood is thicker than water.
The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb that held you for so long.
You thought you’d never leave it but here we are, choosing our own family with which to live our lives.
Every time I have this conversation I think about the generations of people my community has lost to illness and bigotry, to those who thought they knew us better than we know ourselves.
I think of every out and proud person with stories of abuse from people they loved dearly.
I think of every friend who came out to me first, with tears in their eyes because they thought they were broken.
So many have been broken.
By those supposed to protect them.
By those who promised to protect them.
I think of Stonewall and how this all started,
All the rage in those tired eyes staring down cops
Those shaking fingers gripping those bricks.
I think of how our “equality” was born in blood and anger.
How we are constantly told our anger doesn’t matter.
That we’re equal now.
I think of the young kids who only know clubs
Who sneak out at 15 and try to be a part of something
Who lie and steal just for a chance to be part of something.
The community that I love is being torn apart from the inside,
People on canal street telling me I don’t exist.
That my identity isn’t right for them
That I fight the wrong fight when all I want is M.X. on my ID
I want to be recognised as real by the media and my neighbours.
I want to be a part of something.
Our first Pride was a riot I scream in the street,
50 years on and still the L’s and the G’s tell us we don’t exist,
Even though we fought this fight for them.
We fought for them and they will not return the favour.
So their first Pride 50 years ago was a riot.
We went down kicking and fighting
And now we will rise again,
Eyes tired from staring down those supposed to protect us.
Fingers shaking as we throw our first brick.
‘Poem II’ from Twenty-One Love Poems, Adrienne Rich, 1976
I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
you’ve been at your desk for hours. I know what I dreamed:
our friend the poet comes into my room
where I’ve been writing for days,
drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
and I want to show her one poem
which is the poem of my life. But I hesitate,
and wake. You’ve kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone . . .
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carries the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air.
‘What it’s Like to be Transgender’ by Lee Mokobe, 2015
It had nothing to do with hating my body,
I just love it enough to let it go,
I treat it like a house,
and when your house is falling apart,
you do not evacuate,
you make it comfortable enough to house all your insides,
you make it pretty enough to invite guests over,
you make the floorboards strong enough to stand on.
Movement Song, Audre Lorde, 1973
I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck
moving away from me
beyond anger or failure
your face in the evening schools of longing
through mornings of wish and ripen
we were always saying goodbye
in the blood in the bone over coffee
before dashing for elevators going
in opposite directions
Do not remember me
nor as the keeper of secrets
I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars
you move slowly out of my bed
saying we cannot waste time
‘Guilt, Desire and Love,’ James Baldwin, 1983
At the dark street corner
where Guilt and Desire
are attempting to stare
each other down
(presently, one of them
will light a cigarette
and glance in the direction
of the abandoned warehouse)
Love came slouching along,
an exploded silence
standing a little apart
but visible anyway
in the yellow, silent, steaming light,
while Guilt and Desire wrangled,
trying not to be overheard
by this trespasser.
If not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, Sappho, ~600 BCE
And her light
stretches over salt sea
equally and flowerdeep fields.
And the beautiful dew is poured out
and roses bloom and frail
chervil and flowering sweetclover.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde, 1897
Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other’s way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
But in the shameful day.
A prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men we were:
The world had thrust us from its heart,
And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
Had caught us in its snare.
‘Stonewall’ by Roz Kaveney, 2012
It wasn’t a bar
you went to
if you were
too poor, too queer, too young, too brown.
It was a bar
down the street.
We don’t know all their names,
the people in the bar
when the police went in.
And then things changed.
So make them up.
Harlem, Langston Hughes, 1951
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?