When we think love poems we tend to automatically jump to the heteronormative position, in which opposite-sex sexuality and relationships are presented as the norm. But literature is rich with poems about love and sex in all its varied LGBTQ expressions, if we care to look. Today I want to share three of my favourites.
The first is by the amazing Pat Parker, an African-American lesbian feminist writing in the 1970s.
Pat Parker was a contemporary of the more well-known lesbian poet, Audre Lorde, who has written incredible things about race, sexuality, and sexism, and casually includes lines like: “And there is, for me, no difference between writing a good poem and moving into sunlight against the body of a woman I love.”
She was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” (isn’t that delicious?), who dedicated her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, and homophobia.
Here’s one of hers that I love:
Speak earth and bless me with what is richest
make sky flow honey out of my hips
spread over a valley
carved out by the mouth of rain.
And I knew when I entered her I was
high wind in her forests hollow
fingers whispering sound
from the split cup
impaled on a lance of tongues
on the tips of her breasts on her navel
and my breath
howling into her entrances
through lungs of pain.
Greedy as herring-gulls
or a child
I swing out over the earth
over and over
To finish, here’s one of the best “coming out” lesbian poems I’ve ever read; I think it is stunningly beautiful. It’s by Julie Marie Wade.
When I Was Straight
I did not love women as I do now.
I loved them with my eyes closed, my back turned.
I loved them silent, & startled, & shy.
The world was a dreamless slumber party,
sleeping bags like straitjackets spread out on
the living room floor, my face pressed into a
All night I woke to rain on the strangers’ windows.
No one remembered to leave a light on in the hall.
Someone’s father seemed always to be shaving.
When I stood up, I tried to tiptoe
around the sleeping bodies, their long hair
speckled with confetti, their faces blanched by the
I never knew exactly where the bathroom was.
I tried to wake the host girl to ask her, but she was
only one adrift in that sea of bodies. I was ashamed
to say they all looked the same to me, beautiful &
untouchable as stars. It would be years before
I learned to find anyone in the sumptuous,
The more poetry like this we read, the richer our understanding becomes of love stories which, though not necessarily our own, nevertheless reflect the rich human experience we all share: the ability to love and desire and lust and share intimacy, and to express these things with whomever we choose.