Gay rights have come a long way over the years. Even President Obama took the time to honor LGBT pride with his recent LGBT Pride Month Proclamation that you can read on Bilerico.com. We’re honoring LGBT Pride Month by sharing poetry analysis on the five most researched LGBT poets on Questia. We’ve opened up our library to make the reference works on the poets cited below free for a whole month. Visit our topic page on poetry for even more poetry analysis and quality research.
Allen Ginsberg: A self-proclaimed “novelist in the making,” Ginsberg is remembered for writing about taboo topics and alternative form of sexuality and was also a leading figure in the Beat Generation, which was a group of post-World War II writers and poets who helped introduce a liberalized culture. Ginsberg vigorously opposed sexual repression and was an early proponent of freedom for gay people, expressing himself and his beliefs openly within his poetry. [Raskin, Jonah. American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and the Making of the Beat Generation. University ofCalifornia Press: 2004]
W.H. Auden: One of the greatest writers of the 20th Century, Auden penned nearly 400 poems throughout his lifetime and is credited with being “The Modern Poet” for his use of regular stanzas. To avoid persecution in Nazi Germany for his sexual orientation, Auden married the daughter of a fellow writer in a marriage of convenience, but later met poet Chester Kallman who would become his lifelong companion. [Bucknell, Katherine, et al. ‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden After 1940. Clarendon Press: 1995]
Gertrude Stein: The author of one of the earliest coming out stories, Things as They Are, Stein based the book on a three-person romantic affair she joined while studying at John Hopkins University. As Stein became more involved in the homosexual community, she authored essays such as “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene,” which is one of the first homosexual revelation stories to be published, however historians believe many of the references were missed by readers at the time due to it being one of the first published works to use the word “gay.” [Gygax, Franziska. Gender and Genre in Gertrude Stein. Greenwood Press: 1998]
Frank O’Hara: A member of the New York School of Poetry, Frank O’Hara is known for both his groundbreaking works during his lifetime as well as posthumous works. Many of O’Hara’s poems followed an “I do this, I do that” format that invoked emotion and declared a moment, with works such as “Second Avenue” delivering a brash and avant-garde side. Many of his pieces were influenced by Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism. [Smith, Hazel. Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O’Hara. LiverpoolUniversity Press: 2000]
Adrienne Rich: Rich was an American poet, essayist and feminist and is credited with bringing the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse. She became actively involved in the New Left and supported anti-war, civil rights and feminist causes. Rich’s style and subject matter earned her a National Medal of Arts, which she declined in protest to the House of Representatives voting to end funding for the National Endowment of Arts. [Scanlon, Jennifer. Significant American Feminists. Greenwood Press: 1999]
For a poetic look farther back in time, take a look at our recent blog post on popular poems from the Renaissance to today.