Sunday, October 28, 2007

GLBT Poets

October is the month in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons, past and present, are celebrated, remembered, and honored. In the spirit of the month, here's a list of some of my favorite poets who are or were G, L, B, or T. As with poets in general, some chose to write about sexuality, their own and others', and some didn't. Some were in the closet and some were out, and in some cases those categories hadn't been labeled that way. While I'm thinking about it, I'll also mention my favorite general modern-and contemporary-GLBT history: Out of the Past, the author of which I'll have to add later (and it's later, and the author is Neil Miller). I'm pretty sure it's in print in paperback. Highly readable. The poets:

W.H. Auden
Countee Cullen
Mark Doty
Allen Ginsberg
John Giorno
Thom Gunn
A.E. Housman
Audre Lorde
Frank O'Hara
Adrienne Rich
Walt Whitman
Oscar Wilde (better known for his plays; a novel; being incarcerated for being gay; and one-liners, but also a good poet)

Langston Hughes, one of my all-time favorite poets, was probably bisexual, but his main biographer, Arnold Rampersad, concludes that Hughes essentially became "asexual," and this topic was easily the most controversial one mentioned in the two-volume biography. One good way of starting an argument among Hughes-scholars is to raise the question of his sexuality. I have no doubt Langston is amused my this, from his perch up there with Duke Ellington, Carl Van Vechten, Arna Bontemps, other friends, and a great number of just plain folk, whom he liked the best.
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