March marks Women's History Month and as a reminder, this is a time to spotlight all the individuals in our lives and communities who are making an impact‚Äî including those in the LGBTQ community.
There are so many amazing women making unique contributions, especially, those of color!
Too often, our queer icons remain overlooked and underrepresented. However, this year we are celebrating the LGBTQ trailblazers who truly deserve some recognition and love! Not only should these figures be celebrated this month, but all year long!
Marsha P. Johnson
One of the most influential figures in the LGBTQ community is Marsha "Pay-It-No-Mind" Johnson. During a time where the LGBTQ community was outcasted, Johnson was a force behind the Stonewall Riots and surrounding activism that sparked the LGBTQ+ movement in 1969.¬† Despite threats and violence, she helped established the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) in 1970. The group is committed to supporting transgender youth experiencing homelessness in New York City.¬†Even today, her actions and words continue to inspire trans activism and resistance, and will continue to do so well into the future.
Widely known as a singer-songwriter, Lady Gaga has taken over the world with her voice, makeup line and acting chops. Gaga previously revealed that she identifies as bisexual and remains an active fighter for LGBTQ rights around the world. With LGBTQ anthems like "Born This Way," there's no surprise that she landed on our Women's History Month list!
Not only was Frida Kahlo a talented Mexican artist and visionary, but she was also a role model for the disabled community. Kahlo suffered from multiple disabilities, including polio as a child and spinal and pelvis damage from a car accident. Although she married renowned artist, Diego Rivera, she regularly had affairs with both men and women. Her affairs include movie stars¬†Dolores del Rio and Maria Felix. Another relationship was with¬†American painter Georgia O‚ÄôKeeffe.
Along with her other soulful jazz renditions, Billie Holiday made history not only as an artist but as an advocate for racial injustices. One of her most famous songs, "Strange Fruit" was based on a horrific and detailed account of a lynching in the South. Many scholars now consider it one of the first protest songs of the Civil Rights Movement. Despite not being entirely socially accepted, Holiday remained open about her bisexuality and self.
While the 2020 Presidential election was memorable for many reasons, the result included one of the most diverse line candidates up for office. As a result, Delaware voted in a historic race. Sarah McBride made history as the first openly transgender state senator in the U.S.
Later, after celebrating her big win, McBride tweeted,"I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too."
Astronaut and educator, Sally Ride was the first woman to fly to space. However, it wasn't until her death in 2012 that she "came out." The world learned of her relationship with her long time partner in Rides obituary. Ride is now acknowledged as the first LGBTQ astronaut. Ride has since inspired countless people, as she lived a life committed to science, education and inclusion.
Dr. Pauli Murray
Although she is a lesser-known figure, Dr. Pauli Murray is a true history maker. After graduating from the Howard University School of Law in 1944, she was one of the first lawyers to argue that the Equal Protection Clause's approach to racial discrimination should apply equally to gender-based discrimination. In fact, even Ruth Bader Ginsberg credits Murray and her work in the Reed v.s. Reed case, which ruled that women could not be excluded as administrators of personal estates based on their gender. Particularly, her dedication to ending racial and gender disparities is what makes her legendary. Even more, Murray identified as a lesbian during a time where her identity was not socially accepted.
Living as a transgender actress and community advocate, Laverne Cox is undeniably no stranger to fighting for her beliefs.¬†In 2014, Cox was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy in any acting category. This was due to her stellar performance in Nextflix's Orange is the New Black. Additionally, she has also won a Daytime Emmy Award for producing the docu-series 'Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word.'
While Audre Lorde is remembered as a writer, she was also an activist for civil rights and feminist movements. Even more, she supported the LGBTQ community of Greenwich Village after coming out as queer. ¬†In the 1980s, along with Barbara Smith, she founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, dedicated to further the writing of Black feminists. However, she is most well known for her speech at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. While her work focuses on female experiences and sexuality, it also covers race. Even today, Lorde LGBTQ champion is associated with Women's History Month.
Another trailblazer during the Stonewall riots was Sylvia Rivera. Rather than remain silent, Rivera stood up for transgender civil rights and acceptance in the 70's. She regularly attended protests and call action the society's treatment of the LGBTQ community. Additionally, Slyvia fronted the Gay Liberation Front and later the Gay Activists Alliance also in New York City. Along with her friend, Marsha Johnson, an African American trans woman activist, she also helped found STAR, a group dedicated to helping homeless trans youth. She continued this work until her death in 2002.