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Patrick Pressl

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Gay And Lesbian Pride Month: Celebrating With Stonewall Poetry

Posted: 06/29/11 03:57 AM ET

On June 24th, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a marriage equality bill into law after it passed a senate vote 33 to 29. The law will become effective July 24th, making New York just the sixth state to legalize gay marriage in the United States.

The signing of the bill was almost poetic, coming during Gay and Lesbian Pride Month on the same weekend as the pride parade and in the same city where the Stonewall Riots--considered the origin of the Gay Rights Movement--occurred over forty years ago, inciting the creation of an American gay and lesbian community with a will to voice and action that had previously been squelched by an oppression astoundingly similar to what the Civil Rights Movement fought against during the same time period. Gays and lesbians were put on FBI "watch lists" during the anti-Communist sentiments of the 1950's and 60's because they were deemed "un-American." Cities conducted routine sweeps of public areas to "rid" them of people thought to be homosexual. Even the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a "sociopathic personality disorder."

The state of New York--the place where the movement against these acts of discrimination began--finally acknowledging this right to marriage is only one punch in a fight that has been lingering for nearly half a century. But it may prove to be a big one: Gov. Cuomo believes that in becoming the largest state with equal marriage rights, New York will effectively set an example that will "resonate all across the country." Since New York is just the sixth state to legalize gay marriage, one can only hope that resonation is loud and sustained.

And so, to celebrate Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and in commemoration of Gov. Cuomo's signing, below are some LGBTQ poets I consider to be some of the finest. As always, I may have (nay, probably have) left some out, so if there are any I neglected, feel free to bring them up in the comments.

Andrea Gibson's "I Do"
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Andrea Gibson is not gentle with her truths. A powerful live performer Gibson is the winner of the 2008 Women's World Poetry Slam, and has placed 3rd in world on two International Poetry Slam stages. Andrea's first book, published by Write Bloody Publishing, POLE DANCING TO GOSPEL HYMNS won the DIY Poetry Book of the Year and was nominated for the prestigious PUSHCART PRIZE.

Gibson has been showcased on FREE SPEECH TV, THE BBC, AIR AMERICA, CSPAN, NPR, and was featured in the documentary SLAM PLANET. She has released four full length albums and tours over 180 dates/year.

Gibson's work illuminates that the personal is political with themes that deconstruct gender norms, sexuality, class, patriarchy, and white capitalist culture.
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