June is the month to celebrate LGBTQIAP+ pride, so why not kick off your summer with some fantastic, themed reads? For the list below, I have collected 21
poems by queer poets for you to read this Pride month, so why not pick up an anthology or two to inspire your summer?
In 1969, after a club called
the Stonewall Inn was raided and its patrons arrested, LGBTQIAP+ individuals New York City's Greenwich Village rioted against state efforts to police and prosecute their community. The events would come to be known as the Stonewall Riots, and we have queer, trans women of color — particularly Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera — to thank for leading the charge in protest of anti-LGBTQIAP+ politics. Every year in June, in commemoration of what went down during that fateful week in 1969, we celebrate how far the queer community has come with Pride Month. Pride celebrations are about loving yourself and your community, and about showing kids who are in the closet or questioning their sexuality that being queer is a joyful, wonderful thing. Not all of the poems by queer poets on the list below are as jovial as a Pride parade, but every one of them will make you feel something, whether that's righteous fury, elation, or sadness.
"To the Man Who Shouted 'I Like Pork Fried Rice' at Me on the Street" by Franny Choi
you want to eat me right out of these jeans & into something a little cheaper. more digestible.
Franny Choi is the author of
Floating, Brilliant, Gone and Death by Sex Machine. Read this poem in full here.
"The Moon Is Trans" by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
The moon is trans. From this moment forward, the moon is trans. You don’t get to write about the moon anymore unless you respect that.
Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is the author of
There Should Be Flowers and i'm alive / it hurts / i know it. Read this poem in full here. For each gay kid whose adolescence was America in the forties or fifties the primary, the crucial scenario forever is coming out— or not. Or not. Or not. Or not. Or not.
You can read Frank Bidart's poetry in
Half-light: Collected Poems of Frank Bidart, 1965-2016. Read this poem in full here.
"Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation" by Natalie Díaz
Angels don’t come to the reservation. Bats, maybe, or owls, boxy mottled things. Coyotes, too. They all mean the same thing— death.
Natalie Díaz is the author of
When My Brother Was an Aztec. Read this poem in full here.
"Home Wrecker" by Ocean Vuong
And this is how we danced: with our mothers’ white dresses spilling from our feet, late August turning our hands dark red.
Ocean Vuong is the author of
Burning and Night Sky, With Exit Wounds. Read this poem in full here.
"Letter to the Local Police" by June Jordan
May I point out that I did not assiduously seek out this colony, as it were, and that these certain unidentified roses remain open to viewing even by children, with or without suitable supervision
You can read much of June Jordan's poetry in
Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems. Read this poem in full here.
"Waiting for the Barbarians" by C.P. Cavafy
Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion? (How serious people’s faces have become.) Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly, everyone going home lost in thought?
You can read C.P. Cavafy's work in
C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Read this poem in full here.
"Small Talk" by Alok Vaid-Menon
it’s not that i don’t do small talk, it’s that I can’t do small talk. i’m the girl that they ask, “how are you?” & i am like: “missing everyone i ever loved, constantly hurt by the callousness of a world that reduces me to a body, and mourning the loss of everything i could have been — how about you?”
Alok Vaid-Menon is the author of
Femme in Public. Read this poem in full here.
"If You're Staying, I'll Stay Too" by Meg Day
I was a woman once: rounded by my own gravity, cat-called into hades by men who could not see this gem of a hard rock was not made magnetic for the likes of them.
Meg Day is the author of
We Can't Read This and Last Psalm at Sea Level. Read this poem in full here. I say “and them” and mean how in “the sticks” where I lived, the reservation, the mail- boxes were like maypoles at the end of the Earth I mean beginning of the dirt road that leads to the home that is no longer there, but I rest my cheek against the cool linoleum of my memory whenever Canal Street is too thick
Tommy Pico is the author of
Junk and IRL. Read this poem in full here.
"Corpse Flower" by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal
Yesterday, the final petal curled its soft lure into bone. The flowerhead shed clean, I gathered up your spine and built you on a dark day.
Vanessa Angélica Villarreal is the author of
Beast Meridian. Read this poem in full here.
"On PrEP or on Prayer ['when i say pre-exposure prophylaxis']" by sam sax
once a day swallow a small sun & all hymn in you comes undone the way a lit match deads the smell of a public bathroom
sam sax is the author of
Madness and All the Rage. Read this poem in full here.
"Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you. Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew, A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
You can read much of Edna St. Vincent Millay's work in
The Essential Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Collection. Read this poem in full here.
"I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party" by Chen Chen
In the invitation, I tell them for the seventeenth time (the fourth in writing), that I am gay. In the invitation, I include a picture of my boyfriend & write, You’ve met him two times.
Chen Chen is the author of
Kissing the Sphinx and When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities. Read this poem in full here.
"Forensics of a Half-Empty Apartment" by Kamilah Aisha Moon
Two dozen eggs rotting in the fridge; few things are over easy, and often can't be unscrambled. No day or kiss undone. It is this now.
Kamilah Aisha Moon is the author of
She Has a Name and Starshine & Clay. Read this poem in full here.
"Type II" by Hieu Minh Nguyen
Once I loved a boy, who feared, so much his own sickness I never confessed to him my own.
Hieu Minh Nguyen is the author of
This Way to the Sugar and Not Here. Read this poem in full here.
"El Beso" by Angelina Weld Grimké
Twilight—and you Quiet—the stars; Snare of the shine of your teeth,
You can read much of Angelina Weld Grimké's poetry in her
Selected Works. Read this poem in full here.
"Boy in a Stolen Evening Gown" by Saeed Jones
In this field of thistle, I am the improbable lady. How I wear the word: sequined weight snagging my saunter into overgrown grass, blonde split-end blades. I waltz in an acre of bad wigs.
Saeed Jones is the author of
Prelude to Bruise and When the Only Light Is Fire. Read this poem in full here.
"Swing Low" by Rickey Laurentiis
We aren’t the solid men. We bend like the number seven. Dig at corners, eat cobwebs, we are barefoot and bare-legged. We hang like leaves in autumn.
Rickey Laurentiis is the author of
Boy with Thorn. Read this poem in full here.
"The 17-Year-Old & the Gay Bar" by Danez Smith
this gin-heavy heaven, blessed ground to think & mean gay we. bless the fake id & the bouncer who knew this need to be needed, to belong, to know how
Danez Smith is the author of
[insert] boy and Don't Call Us Dead. Read this poem in full here.