Queer Poem-a-Day is a program from the Adult Services Department at the Library and may include adult language. 

Let There Be Pride

by Richard Blanco

To remember every stone thrown by our mother-fathers at Stonewall, to keep applauding their kick lines that fired-up our fight for freedom, to hear their voices still singing against the nightsticks of hate. Let there be Pride.

To unfold our AIDS quilts again over the lawn of our memory, to read aloud the names of our lost souls still stitched in our souls, to wrap ourselves in the colors of their lives that still color ours, to give thanks for their fight that let us survive to remember them. Let there be Pride.

To keep loving the queer child in all of us who grew up like me, terrified of our own beautiful selves, knowing home was a place we had yet to find, to keep the faith we found on that long journey we took toward that somewhere over the rainbow.  Let there be Pride.

To never let Matthew Shepard die again, to raise-up every teenager high on our shoulders and let them see the parades of their kind celebrating their worthy lives, nevermore to be taken by others or by themselves.  Let there be Pride.

To kiss again our first kiss against lips the same as ours exploding like a star in us, to walk again hand-in hand with our first loves the first time we dared to strut our tenderness down sidewalks, to never again be the shamed selves we let die, to be reborn unashamed as a full moon. Let there be Pride.

To keep silencing the words that keep trying to silence us, to keep renaming ourselves as she/he/them, to keep spreading our language of love is love, and always will be love, to keep our right at the altar to say: I do, I do, I do. Let there be Pride.

To praise our hands brushing away life’s dark anguish onto brilliant canvases, to laud our ears listening to strangers’ sorrows in the mirror until they see their truth in ours, to revere our minds thinking from our hearts, to forgive the unforgivable in ourselves and others. Let there be Pride.

To go on flaunting our fierce feather boas and strapping on our butch toolbelts, slip on our Marie Antoinette wigs and paint our leather pants on, to dust gold glitter over our breasts and beards, to keep our confetti guns firing. Let there be Pride.

To keep alive the selves we lost at Pulse still pulsing through us, to never stop dancing with their souls to the soul of our songs’ proverbs: I am what I am…I’m coming out…I will survive…we got nothing to be guilty of…constant craving…voulez-vous coucher avec moi…R-E-S-P-E-C-T…we are family…we are the champions…we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end. Let there be music. Let there be lights. Let there be us. Let there be Pride. Cheers-amen!

Copyright © 2020 by Richard Blanco.

Richard Blanco is the fifth presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history—the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work. He is the author of the poetry collections Looking for the Gulf Motel, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, and City of a Hundred Fires; the poetry chapbooks Matters of the Sea, One Today, and Boston Strong; a children’s book of his inaugural poem, “One Today,” illustrated by Dav Pilkey; and Boundaries, a collaboration with photographer Jacob Hessler. His latest book of poems, How to Love a Country (Beacon Press, 2019), both interrogates the American narrative, past and present, and celebrates the still unkept promise of its ideals. He has also authored the memoirs The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey. Blanco’s many honors include the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press, the PEN/Beyond Margins Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, and two Maine Literary Awards. He has been a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow and received honorary doctorates from Macalester College, Colby College, and the University of Rhode Island. He has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s Fresh Air. The Academy of American Poets named him its first Education Ambassador in 2015. Blanco has continued to write occasional poems for organizations and events such as the re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana. He lives with his partner in Bethel, ME.

Queer Poem-a-Day is directed by poet and teacher Lisa Hiton and Dylan Zavagno, Adult Services Coordinator at the Deerfield Public Library. Music for this second year of our series is the first movement, Schéhérazade, from Masques, Op. 34, by Karol Szymanowski, performed by pianist Daniel Baer. Queer Poem-a-Day is supported by generous donations from the Friends of the Deerfield Public Library and the Deerfield Fine Arts Commission