Queer Love Poems for Wherever Your Heart Is

These poems celebrate queer love, whether that love is sweet, bittersweet or somewhere in between.

Two women sitting closely covered in fairy lights
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

Love is love… is love. But that doesn’t mean “love” means or feels the same every time you experience it. Celebrating LGBTQIA+ love means acknowledging all the different types of feelings we have, whether it’s romantic love for a partner, love for our community, love for ourselves or even love for a specific place. These poems celebrate queer love, whether that love is sweet, bittersweet or somewhere in between. 

When You’re Feeling Wildly, Exuberantly in Love, Read Andrea Gibson’s Love Poem.

Love Poem contains all the agony and ecstasy of early love. From Gibson’s epically romantic declaration, “You are the moon when it blooms for the very first time” to their brutally honest line, “It’s true when we argue you make me wanna rip off my nose, bone and all,” this poem celebrates both the highs and lows of a giddy new love affair. 

When You’re Feeling Grateful for Your Lover, Read June Jordan’s Poem for My Love.

This poem tells the sweet story of two lovers, safe inside and marveling at their relationship:

I am amazed by peace

It is this possibility of you

asleep

and breathing in the quiet air

Poem for My Love showcases the gentler and calmer side of love; the poet is at once thankful for and in awe of their romantic relationship. 

When You’re in Love Even as the World Collapses Around You, Read Mark Doty’s Turtle, Swan.

Telling the story of two men in love, Turtle, Swan describes the fear of aloneness and isolation, using the example of being unable to find your partner in a darkened movie theater:

I saw straight couples everywhere,
no single silhouette who might be you…

By the time the previews ended
I was nearly in tears— then realized
the head of one-half the couple in the first row

was only your leather jacket propped in the seat
that would be mine. 

The poem, which was published in the late 1980s, also touches on the grim reality of the AIDS epidemic, ending in the urgent entreaty, “I do not want you ever to die.”

When You’re Painfully in Love, Read Carol Ann Duffy’s You.

As the narrator states, “Falling in love / is glamorous hell.” This poem is for those times when, try as though you might, you cannot get that particular someone out of your mind – and out of your heart. The narrator opens the poem by lamenting, “Uninvited, the thought of you stayed too late in my head.” You shows that love can be unstoppable and beyond our control.
                                                       

When You’re in Love from Afar, Read Donika Kelly’s Love Poem: Mermaid.

A more mysterious kind of love emerges in this poem, in which the narrator is a siren seated upon a rock, admiring the mermaid on a ship’s mast. She tells her beloved, “I have claimed this rock, / which is also your heart,” and in a true act of love, bears witness to the mermaid’s experience:

I am a witness 
to the sea and the sun, to your body 

lashed to the mast.

This surreal poem shows that love can sometimes transcend our very reality.

When You’re in Hot, Sexy Love, Read Natalie Diaz’s Waist and Sway.

This erotic poem celebrates the beauty of the female form; from “The curve and curve of her shoulders” to “hips that in the early night / to light lit up,” the narrator holds nothing back in extolling her lover’s virtues. Wait and Sway dives deep into the hot July night these lovers spend together, with the narrator making the beautifully sensual revelation, “[T]he salt of her burned not long on my tongue, / but like stars.”

When You’re Feeling Love for Yourself, Read Nikki Giovanni’s Walking Down Park.

In this poem, the subject is not altogether romantic love, but the love people have for themselves, which is especially important for queer and BIPOC individuals. The narrator reminds readers of the important lesson:

it’s so easy to be free
you start by loving yourself   
then those who look like you   
all else will come
naturally

When You’re in Love in New York City, Read Frank O’Hara’s Having a Coke with You.

Having a Coke with You is one of the most popular queer love poems, and for good reason. The narrator knows that the smaller, simpler things – such as sharing a Coke – are just as romantic, if not more romantic, than the big events and trips to scenic locations. 

I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together for the first time

Sharing an experience (big or small) with a loved one is celebrated in this sweet love poem. 

When You’re in Love with New York City, Read Alex Dimitrov’s Having a Diet Coke with You.

Echoing Having a Coke with You, this poem provides a modern, funny and sincere reimagining of the classic poem. The narrator admires the city while also acknowledging his own romantic mishaps (“If you look up / the billboards are sexy and American, / letting you forget all the cruel things / you’ve said to your boyfriends”):

I’ll never get over the fact
that the buildings all light up at night,
and the night comes every night
and without regret we let it go.

Just as when you’re in love with a person, being in love with a place – especially one as alluring as New York City – will keep your heart constantly blooming, again and again

When You’ve Stopped Being Afraid of Love, Read Timothy Liu’s The Lovers.

This short but powerful poem illuminates the fearfulness the narrator has about their romantic future during a suspenseful tarot card reading. 

I was always afraid

of the next card

the psychic would turn

over for us

In the end, the narrator realizes that their romantic relationship contains “every card in the deck”—or rather, it contains the multitudes of experiences and feelings that exist now that they’re found true love. 

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Thank You!