Celebrating Women’s History Month By Remembering LGBTQ+ Trailblazers And Allies

Celebrating Women’s History Month By Remembering LGBTQ+ Trailblazers And Allies

March is Women’s History Month and many women throughout history have paved the way for today’s LGBTQ+ community. Whether members of the community, or allies to them, we’re remembering these women because they not only understood the struggles of queer folk, but they help create a better world for them.

Sylvia Rivera

Before her death over two decades ago, trans activist Sylvia Rivera was one of the leaders of the American LGBTQ+ rights movement. Her journey through the frontlines of queer activism started in New York City where she found herself amongst other trans youth rejected by their loved ones. Following the Stonewall Uprisings, Rivera joined the mission for equality by getting involved with organizations like the Gay Liberation Front. She also founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with fellow activist Marsha P. Johnson where they worked to provide shelter to houseless LGBTQ+ youth. According to Them, it was here that she “pushed especially hard for the inclusion of working class, queer and trans youth of color.” 

Marsha P. Johnson 

Famous queer activist Marsha P. Johnson was a central figure to the Stonewall Uprisings. Johnson was one of the primary organizers for the 1969 uprising, and in the following years she continued to advocate for LGBTQ+ people, with a focus on trans femmes of color. Today, her name still rings in the ears of the LGBTQ+ community as same-sex couples get married, march in Pride, and fight against conservative lawmakers attempting to push through draconian laws. 

Eleanor Roosevelt 

Eleanor Roosevelt is most notably known for her marriage to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she also had a private life in which lesbian relationships flourished. According to Them,  Eleanor made friends with powerful lesbian social and political figures including Terry Baum and Lorena Hickok. Though history remembers these women as friends, history also touts thousands of love letters exchanged between Hickok and Roosevelt over the course of 30 years. During her time as the first lady, Eleanor expanded roles for women in the workplace 

Billie Holiday 

Not only did Billie Holiday voice beautiful classic songs still revered today, but she also was out and proud as a bisexual woman in the early to mid-20th century. She famously dated gorgeous actresses including Greta Garbo and Tallulah Bankhead. Not only was Billie out, but she used her career to bring attention to the stark oppression of American society. She advocated against anti-Black violence and racism throughout the course of her life, and it makes her beautiful music sound so much nicer to our ears knowing it.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg 

Though Ruth Bader Ginsberg didn’t identify as queer, her work as a Supreme Court Judge over nearly three decades has embraced LGBTQ+ rights and encouraged state and federal governments to uphold the rights of all American citizens regardless of sexual or gender identity. Throughout her career, Ginsberg showed up with resilience for queer folks siding with them on cases of criminalizing homosexuality, ending discrimination, fighting for marriage equality, and more. In the present day and for the rest of history, Ginsberg’s decisions in the Supreme Court will echo and resound as a prime example of LGBTQ+ allyship. 

bell hooks

Though bell hooks identified as straight, her literature on love, identity, and race have uplifted and educated communities, including the LGBTQ+ community, on the best practices for building strong social connections and loving your family and friends as they are, gay or straight. In her most famous books, she investigates the patriarchal values that plague American society, and offers methods for their dismantling. Her work as an ally to and member of marginalized communities has changed lives and minds around the world.

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