Gay Cuban American poet chosen for Obama inauguration

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

President Barack Obama has chosen an openly gay Cuban American poet, whose work focusses on his homosexual awakening, to deliver a poem at his inauguration this month.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced today that Richard Blanco, 44, who will also become the youngest, as well as the first Hispanic poet to read at the presidential swearing-in ceremony.

“I’m honoured that Richard Blanco will join me and Vice President Biden at our second inaugural,” President Obama said in a written statement, the Washington Post reports.

“His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers. Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity.”

Politico reported that poems by Mr Blanco include issues such as “queer shame of the family” and recollections of people calling him a “faggot.”

An example of work exploring his homosexuality is Mr Blanco’s essay titled, Afternoons as Endora, which appeared in a 2009 collection called, My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them – in which he describes himself as a “boy who hated being a boy.”

He goes on to write about the severe backlash of his grandmother. He writes: “According to her, I was a no-good sissy — un mariconcito — the queer shame of the family.

“And she let me know it all the time: ‘Why don’t we just sign you up for ballet lessons? Everyone thinks you’re a girl on the phone — can’t you talk like a man? I’d rather have a granddaughter who’s a whore than a grandson who is a faggot like you.’”

“Her constant attacks made me an extremely self-conscious and quiet child,” he continued. “But it also made me a keen observer of the world around me, because my interior world was far too painful. This inadvertently led me to become a writer, a recorder of images and details.”

President Barack Obama was re-elected on 6 November 2012. Mr Blanco will recite his work during the swearing-in ceremony on 21 January.