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Just Happens to be LGBT: 9 badass lesbians in history

Photo: Courtesy Photos, License: N/A

Courtesy Photos

Barbara Jordan

Photo: , License: N/A

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon


Sylvia Rivera, an instigator of the Stonewall Inn uprising, is a) transgender b) Latina and c) often overlooked. I’d like to believe that she’s not overlooked because of being a trans Latina, but sadly, I doubt it. At Stonewall in 1969, she famously exclaimed, “I’m not missing a minute of this. It’s the revolution!” Far from a flash in the pan, Rivera later campaigned actively with the Gay Activists Alliance and became important in keeping transgender concerns part of the gay rights movement. Even now, in 2014, it’s a sad reality that transwomen of color are the most often attacked, assaulted and abused minority within the LGBT spectrum.

Barbara Jordan. The name says it all. If you grew up in Texas, you knew who this woman was if for no other reason than because she made sure her voice was heard. Born in Houston, Jordan was a gifted orator and Constitutional scholar who in 1972 became the first African-American from a Southern state to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She previously served on the Texas Senate. Although she never publicly came out, after her passing from leukemia in 1996, the Houston Chronicle’s obituary made mention of Jordan’s life partner of more than 20 years, Nancy Earl.

Again, I have to note that this list of mini-biographies is far from complete. There are hundreds of women who have made a difference in the lives of LGBT Americans from colonial times to the present. And even Texas, which some characterize as the reddest of states, is fortunate enough to have its own share of powerful out and proud women like Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, former San Antoino city councilwoman Elena Guajardo and community activist Graciela Sanchez of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. Women’s history and the history of lesbian women, in particular, are all a part of our united story as a nation, and hopefully we won’t just have to be reminded of that for one month out of the year.

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