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US inaugural poet writes in new memoir about growing up in Cuban family and hiding being gay

US inaugural poet writes in new memoir about growing up in Cuban family and hiding being gay

Richard Blanco was chosen in 2013 to do what such celebrated American poets as Robert Frost and Maya Angelo had done in the past: write an original poem and recite it at the inauguration of a US president.

Blanco made all kinds of history at the second inaugural of US President Barack Obama with his poem One Today. He was first openly gay man chosen as inaugural poet, the first Latino, and at 44, the youngest.

Blanco has written a new memoir, The Prince of Los Cocuyos, in which he writes about how, growing up in Miami as part of a Cuban family, he hid being gay.

‘I really didn’t end up coming out until much later in life,’ he tells National Public Radio.

‘What really fascinated me as a writer and as an investigator is, how does that happen? How is it that moment by moment the next notch of courage, the next notch of self-understanding — even though you know you’re gay at 12, 13, 14 (years old), those words can’t even enter your mind.

‘You can’t even have the vocabulary; you don’t say "Gee, I think I’m gay." No, it doesn’t happen that way. It’s just a slow sort of easing into, and all the little things that propel you to that place, all the people that support and move you an inch in that direction.’

Blanco says the actual coming out ‘is really the end of a story and the beginning of a new one.’

‘It’s really the whole life story to get to that moment.’