Yosimar Reyes (born September 22, 1988) is a two-spirit poet/activist based out of San Jose, California.[1] Of Mexican ancestry, Reyes has emerged from the Silicon Valley's slam poetry circuit to become a successful activist/poet speaking and performing all over the Bay Area.[2][3] His talks, poems, and activism have made him a symbolic figure for undocumented queer communities as well as to a lot of underrepresented youth. A self-described, “two-Spirit gangsta poet”, “activista”, “educator”, “culture poet”, “His style has been described as “a brave and vulnerable voice that shines light on the issues affecting Queer Immigrant Youth and the many disenfranchised communities in the U.S and throughout the world”.[1][3] His work mainly consists of speaking up and sharing his inspiring work to his audience.


Reyes was born in Guerrero, Mexico and immigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of 3.[4] After coming to the United States his parents settled in the Bay Area in California where Reyes still resides today. His experience growing up in a working-class immigrant family in a neighborhood he describes as being “the hood”, has significantly influenced his work as a writer and poet.[5] In an article from the San Jose Mercury News from 2009, Reyes recalls pushing a shopping cart around East San Jose with his grandma, picking up bottles and soda cans for 5-cents each to pay rent on the family’s small 2-bedroom apartment.[6]

Reyes has also written about his grandmother, Mardonia Galeana about whom he wrote a poem titled “Ofrenda de Palabra”,[6] and a poem about his grandfather titled “Mi Viejito”. In the poem "Mi Viejito" he explores his memories of his abuelito and as this excerpt below demonstrates, the influence his grandfather has had on his life and art.[7]

I come from a legacy of men who are silent. Poets that only dare to speak their truths when intoxicated. It is because of him that I tell stories. He raised us on the verses of unknown poets… [7]

Reyes’ poetry also draws from his identification as queer Latino artist. At the age of 16 Reyes came out to his family and community around the same time he read a poem about a transgender teen Gwen Araujo, who, in 2002, was murdered when her attackers discovered she was a biological male. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Reyes “was shocked to hear that something like that could happen in the Bay Area.[4] Reyes’ work comes from the perspective of a queer, immigrant, and working-class perspective,[5] around issues that formulate the identity of people who are faced by multiple layers of oppressions.[5] As a queer activist who is constantly looked down upon for being Latino and Undocuqueer, he portrays his own life’s experiences and the people around him criticizing the colonization, globalization, and machismo of the society.


In an article by the San Jose Mercury from 2009, Reyes is described as a bright student, who got his start in poetry in high school when his high school teacher, Raquel Topete, a teacher at Latino College Preparatory Academy, recognized his talent and encouraged him to start writing and performing poetry.[2] According to the Mercury News article, “the poem he wrote for her, "Bottle Dreams," would launch Reyes to the top of Silicon Valley's slam poetry circuit, into a friendship with rocker Carlos Santana and a possible career as a writer”.[2]

He is currently attending San Francisco State University studying and writing literature and poetry. His activism and unique style to write poetry has made him an inspiring person for the undocumented queer communities.


Yosimar Reyes’ activism is mainly based on speaking up for the “Undocu-queer” communities by using his poems to criticize the way in which queer communities have been “bullied and hated by the non-stop hostile environment”.[8] In his work “For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly,” Reyes expresses his repugnance for the way in which “colonization,” “machismo,” "implemented homophobia,” have all contributed to the queer people’s struggles to live a normal life without fear that someone with a closed mind will end up killing them or driving them to commit suicide. His activism in this poem criticizes Oaxaca, Chiapas, the Philippines, Iraq, Colonization, and the “machismo en las cabezas de los abuelos”[9] and portrays them as closed minded systems that cannot accept queer communities are different.

Reyes also performed in the LGBT voices onstage and was interviewed by Eduward Guthmann. In the interview he describes his work as capturing “the essence of the multiple layers that he as a person is made up of, whether that’s Mexican immigrant, queer or Latino”.[4]

In April 2009, he participated in the “Somos Mayfair” celebration where shared his poem “Ofrenda de Palabra” and gave a different view on inclusion that was inspired by his grandmother who had raised him since he was a little boy. Joe Rodriguez from Mercury News describes him as a bright Mexican immigrant who “entered high school as a painfully shy, quietly gay and acutely aware that poverty isn’t cool”.[2]

Reyes also participated in the “Gracias a la Vida” celebration by the Somos Mayfair organization in 2008 and 2009. The “Gracias a la Vida” celebration is a fundraising event to celebrate Mexican heritage. The first celebration was held on October 23, 2008 with over 300 people filling the Mexican Heritage Plaza Pavilion.[10] The Second annual celebration was held on October 22, 2009 and was complete success with great speakers like Yosimar Reyes inspiring people with his poetry.

Another way of Reyes demonstrates his activism as a poet is that he chooses not to buy a car. He prefers using public transportation and to observe what people are saying and how they behave. He walks around the cities and records Queer conversation episodes in which he has something new to say or show about the Queer Immigrant youth community.[7]


Reyes holds the title for the 2005 as well as the 2006 South Bay teen Grand SLAM Champion.[3] When he was 16 years old, Reyes joined a teenage slam team at MACLA where he went on to win the Bay Area individual championship two years in a row [2]

His Poetry

  • Bottle Dreams: a poem that he wrote for his teacher at Latino College Preparatory Academy and launched Reyes “to the top of Silicon Valley’s slam poetry circuit, into a friendship with rocker Carlos Santana and possibly a career as a writer”[2]
  • Heaven: This poem speaks to the dream of Heaven, to the dream that one day the world will become a better one where there is nothing but good deed, happiness and acceptance of different people. This poem also demonstrates the ugly reality, that people fly around money, power, and selfishness. Reyes dreams of a better world where there is no hate and always love and blessings.[10]
  • R (e)Evolution: one of Reyes’ famous poems that describes the obstacles of the poor people in a global economy.
  • Queer Aztlan: In this poem, Reyes reflects on the brown face Latino who is queer, and is thought by the colonized community that they are nothing because they neglect queer people and make them see as they are the devil. The queer is from “el pueblo olvidado” where no one takes him into account or even knows he exists, surrounded by hypocrite people.
  • For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly: Reyes pays tribute to all those queer communities of color who committed suicide by writing this poem. He demonstrates solidarity by criticizing the machismo, colonization, and the closed minded systems of Oaxaca, Chiapas, the Philippines and argues that queer communities are different with a “cultura”.[9]
  • Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry: A ground-breaking poetry collection featuring the work of 17 poets from across the United States and Buenos Aires including Yosimar Reyes.
  • Ofrenda de Palabra: In this poem he drew upon the optimistic struggle of his grandmother, Mardonia Galeana, who has raised him since the age of 3, to write this bilingual poem, which roughly translated means "Offering of Words." When he first performed it the audience gave him a standing ovation.[2]
  • Mi Viejito: As part of a multimedia series called "Arriving and Becoming: The Silicon Valley Story as Told by Immigrant Elders", Reyes writes about his grandfather in this piece "Mi Viejito" teaming up with Jean Melesaine with visuals of his words.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "MRzine", For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly by Yosimar Reyes, October 16, 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 "San Jose Mercury News", Rodriguez: Poor, brown and gay: Poetry makes Reyes' day, can it pay?, April 20, 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Evolutionary Productions", For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly – Yosimar Reyes, August 13, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "San Fransisco Chronicle", DATE LINES: News, notes and updates from the Bay Area arts and culture scene, June 15, 2007
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "SJBeez", Yosimar Reyes on Poetry, Sex and Race, May 23, 2011
  6. 6.0 6.1, "San Jose Mercury News", Poor, brown and gay: Poetry makes Reyes' day, can it pay?, April 20, 2009
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3, "De-bug", "Mi Viejito", My Old Dear Friend, April 19, 2012
  8., "TheProgressive", Yosimar Reyes-"For Colored Boy That Speak Softly", June 4, 2012
  9. 9.0 9.1 "MRzine", For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly by Yosimar Reyes, October 16, 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1, "SomosMayFair", June 3, 2012
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