Gay Inaugural Poet: I Am Here Because This Is America

BlanoRRichard Blanco, the gay Latino poet chosen to read his work at President Obama’s second inauguration tomorrow, penned a piece at CNN today in which eloquently illustrates the quintessential American elements of his origin story, a story that includes a particularly homophobic grandmother.

From his piece:

Being named poet laureate for the inauguration personally validates and stitches together several ideals against which I have long measured America, since the days of watching “My Three Sons” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” reruns.

For one, the essence of the American dream: how a little Cuban-American kid on the margins of mainstream America could grow up with confidence, have the opportunity to become an engineer thanks to the hard work of his parents who could barely speak English, and then go on, choosing to become a poet who is now asked to speak to, for and about the entire nation.

The most powerful quality of our country is that each day is full of a million possibilities: We are a country of fierce individualism, which invites me to shape my life as I see fit. As I reflect on this, I see how the American story is in many ways my story — a country still trying to negotiate its own identity, caught between the paradise of its founding ideals and the realities of its history, trying to figure it out, trying to “become” even today — the word hope as fresh on our tongues as it ever was.

Blanco will take the stage tomorrow after Kelly Clarkson sings, which will be directly after President Obama’s speech. Obama’s first inaugural speech was about 21 minutes, so Blanco should appear tomorrow at about 12:30 or 1ish. But you’ll already be watching, so you won’t miss him, right?


  1. UFFDA says

    This guy is wonderful.

    Being American is first for him, being Cuban is second, being gay is just a balanced part of the stew.
    Unlike some he’s not a homophile nazi.

  2. FunMe says

    So looking forward to seeing this AMERICAN read his poem on Monday. He is American. Gay. From Cuban Roots. But more importantly, he is human being from planet earth. Hats off to this gentlemen for the honor he has been given.

  3. Darrell says

    Being gay is no different than being white, hispanic, black or having blue or brown eyes….Its nature and something we do not have to verbally label ourselves 24/7.

    Does anyone comment by calling someone Brown Eyes or Blue Eyes??? No its natural and we do not have to acknowledge being gay any more than our ethnicity or race.

    Its 2013 AD…..Not 3000 BC.

  4. says

    Just saw and heard Richard Bianco read his poem. WHERE CAN I GET A COPY! It was beautiful. Isn’t it time we stopped being so sensitive as gay people reacting to every little tick to “analyze” whether someone is homophobic or not? Bianco, I see, is a beautiful poet. And having lived with a Cuban for ten years – well, we had lots of friends in New York from Cuba – and we used to laugh about so many of the older generation Cuban women who had, to say the least, “probelms” with boys who were homosexual. But the point is we laughed about it! My friend’s mother was a wonderful, fun woman, cooked meals for us and was always caring. We got along great. Eventually, my friend told her about the true nature of our relationship. She had a rough time dealing with it. But our world didn’t change a bit. Love those Cubans! And thank you, Bianco, for an emotional and inspiring momen of the inauguration.

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