25 Quotes From Queer Authors About Heartbreak, Loss and Moving the F*ck On

Sometimes a good breakup quote can be the thing that helps you be strong or move on when you’re dealing with heartbreak and the concern that you will never be whole again. (You will be, we promise!)

“Every woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me, where I loved some invaluable piece of myself apart from me — so different that I had to stretch and grow in order to recognize her.”

Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

“I know I’m running away but my heart has become a sterile zone where nothing can grow. I don’t want to face facts, shape up, snap out of it. In the pumped-out, dry bed of my heart, I’m learning to live without oxygen. I might get to like it in a masochistic way. I’ve sunk too low to make decisions and that brings with it a certain lightheaded freedom. Walking on the moon there’s no gravity. There are dead souls in uniform ranks, spacesuits too bulky for touch, helmets too heavy for speech. The miserable millions moving in time without hope. There are no clocks in Misery, just endless ticking.”

Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

“The art of losing isn’t hard to master
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.”

Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”

“We had fallen in love; that was still true. But given the right psychological conditions, a person could fall in love with anyone or anything. A wooden desk—always on all fours, always prone, always there for you. What was the lifespan of these improbable loves? An hour. A week. A few months at best. The end was a natural thing, like the seasons, like getting older, fruit turning. That was the saddest part—there was no one to blame and no way to reverse it.”

Miranda July, The First Bad Man

“A reminder to remember: just because the sharpness of the sadness has faded does not mean that it was not, once, terrible. It means only that time and space, creatures of infinite girth and tenderness, have stepped between the two of you, and they are keeping you safe as they were once unable to.”

Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House

“You know, a heart can be broken, but it still keeps a-beating just the same.”

Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe

“All the way to the lot, I try to think about life’s vast possibilities. Not as a means of self-torture, because I’m not that type of girl. But as a means of trying to get over Morgan. Life is vast. Many things are possible. Morgan was right about that. So even if she is dating Rebecca now, maybe the world isn’t necessarily over for me. There are still Ava Maddoxes to find and sets to create and girls to kiss and colleges to attend. It’s possible that someday I will hear a Patsy Cline song and the heartbreak will barely register. It will be some distant, buried feeling. I won’t remember how much it once hurt.”

Nina La Cour, Everything Leads To You

“For to wish to forget how much you loved someone —and then, to actually forget — can feel, at times, like the slaughter of a beautiful bird who chose, by nothing short of grace, to make a habitat of your heart.”

– Maggie Nelson, Bluets

“Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this too, was a gift.”

Mary Oliver, The Uses of Sorrow

There are two rumors about breaking up that I feel might be helpful to address here.

One is that breakups should be clean. The other is that you should only breakup when you’re not in love. The truth is, breakups are usually messy, the way people are messy, the way life is often messy. I’s okay for a breakup to feel like a disaster. It doesn’t feel okay, but I assure you it is okay. It’s also true that you can breakup with someone you still love. Because those two things are not distinct territories: love and not loving anymore.”

Mariko Tamaki, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

“It seemed like someone was always leaving someone, like that’s the way the world worked—people were born and people died, people left and people came. It was like the world was saying you can’t have everything you want at the same time.”

– Jacqueline Woodson, Lena

“People have long and complicated lives, and it behooves every one of us to understand and accept that the older we are when we meet our life partner, the more likely each of us will be dragging baggage, and that we’ve only been able to grow into the person we became because of that baggage —by having fucked up and learned, fucked up and learned, again and again, and the graver the mistakes we made and the heavier the loads we carried, the bigger the leaps we would have been forced to perform, and it was those very leaps that made us today into better, stronger, more resilient people.”

Shani Mootoo, Polar Vortex

Even as I hold you, I am letting you go.

Alice Walker

“The more I thought about it, it made sense that these adult women worked hard on their friendships, even when sex and romantic love weren’t part of the equation. It made me wonder about all the ways that we are able to love each other and how movies and TV make it seem like you have to discard people once they break your heart or once the love disappears. Maybe that was a horrible lie, a complete disservice to real love. Maybe those women in that house were renegades and I needed to take notice.”

Gabby Rivera, Juliet Takes a Breath

“It hurts to love. It’s like giving yourself to be flayed and knowing that at any moment the other person may just walk off with your skin.”

Susan Sontag, Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963

“I don’t want you if I’m going to have to feel this pain. I don’t want you, or rather I don’t want these feelings of wanting you more than anything else in the world. If having these feelings which you blithely call love means most of the days I live through are spent in wanting that which I can’t be relieved: this is no fucking way to live and I won’t stand for it.”

Kathy Acker, Memory (One Kind of Time)

“I believe in the remade life, the possibilities inherent in our lesbian and gay chosen families, our families of friends and lovers, the healing that can take place among the most wounded of us. My family of friends has kept me alive through lovers who have left, enterprises that have failed, and all too many stories that never got finished. That family has been part of remaking the world for me.”

Dorothy Allison, “Skin: Talking About Sex, Class, and Literature”

“She let all the memories find their way to the top of her thoughts. Although the loss made her wistful, there was little sadness this time — having made one home, she could make another.”

Jewelle Gomez, The Gilda Stories

Alone and longing for you
now I do

June Jordan, Poem for Haruko

“I found my fingers once again on my breast bone, probing and chafing, searching for the thickening organ behind it. This time, however, it seemed to me that I found it. There was a darkness, a heaviness, a stillness, at the very centre of me, that I had not known was growing there, but which gave me, now, a kind of comfort. My breast felt tight and sore —but I didn’t writhe, or sweat, beneath the pain fo it, rather, I crossed my arms over my ribs, and embraced my dark and thickened heart like a lover.”

Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet

“If there had been enough room for two in our world, maybe we could have moved it anywhere. But there wasn’t. I needed her to make more space for me. I needed real parity — something we’d never had. I think she knew that she was losing me. That her only options were to change how we worked or to let me leave. She didn’t want to do either of those things, so she invented a third option: this life in the suburbs, where i would have more time and money, and we could be happy. She wanted me to be happy, I know. And this way, she wouldn’t have to change anything. But it was like a necklace of maggots. If I turned it this way, they looked like pearls. But they weren’t pearls. It was a sacrifice wrapped as a gift.”

– Melissa Febos, Abandon Me

However this ends,
I want you to know, that right now,
I love you forever
I love you for the hardest mile we walked together.

Andrea Gibson, “How it Ends

“I couldn’t tell you that you can’t re-do a thing that’s been undone. I couldn’t tell you anything that you would understand. I couldn’t tell you that it wasn’t just the fact that you had ripped it out of me and taken it and mounted it, then left with it then lost it, how it wasn’t only that, but it was more. How it was that when you asked me, I believed you and I told you yes. How, though I had tried a long time to replace what you had hacked away from me, I never could undo the action of your doing so, that I had, and only ever would have, more belief in your faulty memory, your stupid sloppy foresight, than in your claims of change. How I believed, yes, I believed with all my heart, that given time, you’d do something else again. And then I thought, but this was only half a thought, that even if you had changed, no really really changed, truly and at last, and even if you knew me better than I know myself, and even if I’m better off than I’ve ever been, and even if this was the only way we could have gotten to this special place where we are now, and even if there’s a reason, darling, something bigger than both of us, and even if all these even if’s are true, that I would never believe you again, never forget what I know of you, never forget what you’ve done to me, what you will do, I’ll never believe the myth of forgiveness between us.”

Rebecca Brown, The Terrible Girls

“In hindsight, I see it was my decision not to let go. I didn’t know how, though some days I focused completely on it: using therapy, distraction, exercise. Other days I left myself wildly grieve. Finn affects it all: every conversation I have, what I choose to wear, what books I read, what films and shows I watch. There’s that Buddhist quote, (S)he who angers you owns you. She owned me. I allowed it. She controlled me. I knew this feeling of misery would pass, that what I needed was time, but I was impatient. Unfortunately, we must live through the present to get to the future, writes Hanif Kureishi in his novel Intimacy.”

Chloe Caldwell,Women

“… it seems to me that life is just a series of long, jagged peaks of joy — accompanied by a brooding and enduring sense of a loss — of powers, of love, of favorite shirts, of moments and opportunities and notebooks that together constitute the passage of one human, me, bobbing floating skipping like a flat stone down the river of life. It’s massive, this sense of things; it’s anonymous yet it feels personal from here.”

Eileen myles, Lost in Canada: A 3,600 Word Advertisement For My Missing Notebook

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3075 articles for us.


  1. sigh, fine. i am going to read the vampire book. and, as a grownup adulting person, most days, if i get scared i can take responsibility for that. it will not be your fault, Riese. though, in that it would not have happened but for you, it will not not be your fault.

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