In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re proud to take a moment to reflect on the tremendous contributions LGBT women have made to social justice and equality.
The trailblazing lives we highlight below are an inspiration for the work we do every day.
Visit our Facebook page and tell us which women you think have made the greatest contribution to LGBT, social justice and equality issues.
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were a pioneering couple throughout their lives. They founded the first lesbian women’s organization in the U.S., the Daughters of Bilitis, in San Francisco in 1955, became the first lesbian couple to join the National Organization for Women (NOW), and were the first couple to get married in California following the state Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
Alberta Hunter, the legendary Black lesbian Blues Hall of Fame inductee, spent her life combining her passion for music with her desire to help her community as a nurse. Alberta achieved much in both careers, following up a forty year stint of singing and performing in musicals with another period spent in service as a healthcare provider. After the hospital at which she worked made her retire, she again returned to the arts, touring in Europe and South America, performing in New York, and receiving an invitation to perform at the White House.
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, an anthology edited by Chicana feminists Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa had a considerable impact on academia for its linking of feminism, race, class, and sexuality. Throughout their lives, both Cherríe and Gloria consistently linked their academic thought and their activism in order to both create written and material work that would benefit their sisters of color across the country and beyond our borders.
Marsha P. Johnson was an African-American transgender activist and a leader in the clashes with the New York City police during the Stonewall Riots. Marsha used her popularity in the New York City art scene from the 1960s to the 1990s as leverage to open STAR House, which housed and fed queer homeless youth long before there were other service providers offering support to our communities.
In more recent years, we’ve seen many women achieving significant firsts that were unlikely only a few decades ago.
Tammy Baldwin, one of only a handful of openly gay members of Congress, is the first out lesbian to run for the United States Senate. Martina Navratilova, a tennis legend, was one of the first openly gay sports figures. And Deborah Batts, U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, is the nation’s first openly LGBT, African-American judge.
At the Task Force, we are proud to follow in the footsteps of so many incredible women who were ahead of their time in leading the way as organizers, thinkers, artists, activists, and advocates for social justice and equality.