Gay Is… by Stephen Schwei

Gay is the boy who just started working with flowers

and gestures so immaculately that everyone has always known

that he is a gay boy.  He loves his job, you can tell. 


Gay is the big guy in the “Daddy Issues” t-shirt or dozens 

of other beefy bears, secure and confident in their image and eager

to meet more of their own kind, blocking the way and laughing in their groups.


Gay takes your breath away when it’s a crowd out for Pride,

partying and celebrating and truly proud of being who we are,

taking over the city or the world as one large group in solidarity.


Gay is just out with friends, frivolous and inconsequential,

dancing the night away, sipping cocktails, oblivious to any struggle

or history.  Put the movement away for a Saturday night, and have some fun.


Gay is the emotional roller coaster that grabs people and makes them find

whatever their identity will be.  When they finally find love, it will be the high

of their lives.  When they meet with the bullies and persecutors, take cover.


Gay is the 40 year old married man, finally figuring it out

and the lesbian couple finding each other in the oddest of places,

love surfacing and surviving against the harshest of obstacles.


Gay are the old couples who have fought the long battles

and won the rights and privileges that we can almost take for granted.

Secure in each other’s arms, fending off any new attempts at oppression.


Gay is the Stonewall Inn and the night of fuming desperation,

when drag queens, transgender people, and black boys finally fought back,

to claim what should have been theirs all along, safety and security.


Gay is the Pulse nightclub, just out to let loose and some drugged-up dancing,

gunned down senselessly and targeted shamelessly

for daring to love and party with the people who share their lives.


Gay is gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, queer, inquiring, and so many other things.

Gender fluid and an encyclopedia of sexual interests and proclivities. 

Finding our own, fitting in and figuring out exactly what turns us on.


Gay is drag, puppies, and swishy boys, not everything making you as proud

as you’d like to be, but testing your tolerance, whether you identify with them or not.

They don’t have to represent you as long as you represent yourself.


(This is only a small excerpt.  Please see the full poem at

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