LGBT History Month: Diversity in Poetry
“My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds…”
Those words by “black, lesbian, mother, warrior and poet” Audre Lorde, epitomise this year’s LGBT History Month (1), which focused on Poetry, Prose and Plays.
We are not “just” one thing! And our multifaceted identities are the make up for a brighter, more inclusive, open and exciting future as we learn to embrace ourselves and recognise the richness of others.
Lyra McKee knew about that. In her short life, she impacted the world like no other through unfettered compassion and authenticity.
Writers and Poets
A bitter pill doesn’t need to be swallowed to work. Just reading your name on the bottle does the trick
By Kay Ryan - 2011 Pulitzer Prize for The Best of It: New and Selected Poems.
Preparing for this blog, I realised how little I knew about LGBT+ poets and writers who, for some, changed the world with their prose. This was an eye opener (2).
Their stories have, or could have been in another era, my story. Emily Dickinson found refuge in her poetry to express her forbidden feelings. Karin Boye lived a conflicted life, her various identities colliding with each other -
Then, at the point of agony and when all is beyond help,
the tree’s buds burst as if in jubilation,
then, when fear no longer exists,
the branch’s drops tumble in a shimmer,
forgetting that they were afraid of the new,
forgetting that they were fearful of the journey –
feeling for a second their greatest security,
resting in the trust that creates the world.”
LGBT History Month - coupled with the Internet - allows us to rediscover these artists in a different light. Their work and their stories can act as a beacon to remind us of human hardship whilst also reflecting on how far we have come.
Looking back at my childhood, I would have greatly benefited from knowing more about them. I grew up with Andre Gide (the French equivalent of Oscar Wild) as a sole reference point. Probably not the best picture of a role model especially when introduced by a somewhat conservative French Literature professor …
“It is hard to hate someone after you have had a cup of tea with them”
LGBT History Month is about truly inspirational people. Lyra McKee embodied compassion and authenticity. She reminded us that we were all human and should be treated as such.
And I felt her words would speak better than anything I can write. So, listen to her brilliant TDEX speech!
LGBT History month helps us to remember. To remember where we came from. To remember how much is yet to be done. To remember people who made such a huge difference through their compassion, authenticity and creativity.
It is also a platform to educate the wider community on what it means to be LGBT+, its history and its challenges. There is still a lot to be done, not least of which is to be treated as human being / a man. I had a stark reminder of that this week during a conversation with a taxi driver - apparently gay men are not men but we are very nice people so that’s ok!... -
Initiatives such as the Resource and Education Pack written and produced by the Proud Trust will go a long way to help.
So, I am optimistic. None of that existed when I was growing up; we could not even discuss the topic. So much social progress in such a short period of time is a case for celebration.
Happy LGBT History Month Everyone!
(1) LGBT+ History Month was started back in 2005, to ensure that LGBT+ people, in all their diversities, are visible. We wanted to claim our past, celebrate our present, and create our future. Working with young people will we hope, make sure that we do all three.
(2) I found the article “25 Queer Poets to Read Now and Forever” particularly enlightening.