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Five LGBTQ Trailblazers

Let’s be honest here for a minute. The gay movement has long been hijacked as a movement centered on white, gay cis-men. Don’t get me wrong – I love my white, gay comrades and I want to love on some of the powerhouse women who have helped make this movement what it is.
Johnson (far left) and Rivera (far right)

And obviously, March is Women’s History Month, so no better time than now!

I thought it would be fun to ask the LAHR Board which incredible LGBTQ women have inspired us through their activism and contributions to the movement. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list and they are in no particular order. If you have other women you’d like us to feature, let us know and we’ll post about them on Facebook.

1. Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera: This awesome activist duo co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) in the 1970s. Both also contributed to the visible birth of the gay liberation movement at the Stonewall riots. Johnson, among tons of other activism, was involved with ACT UP and started STAR House to support young drag queens and trans youth. Rivera was also a founder of the Gay Liberation Movement and Gay Activists Alliance.


2. Gloria Anzaldua: Bringing voice to the complexity of identity is one of Anzaldua’s many contributions and inspirations to the queer movement. She was an incredible scholar and writer of chicana, feminist and queer theory. Maybe most notably, she was the co-editor of This Bridge Called My Back, and author of Borderlands/La Frontera, both books which brought to light the lives and experiences of those who are marginalized in society.


3. Audre Lorde: Talk about the power of words—Lorde was an awe-inspiring author, poet, and activist. Her words are often used as a mantra, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Lorde’s thoughtful and powerful critique of feminism, womanism and other movements are inspirations for doing better within every activist/civil rights movement.

4. Governor Kate Brown: OK, so maybe one day we will be able to look back and think it was silly to celebrate when someone became the “first openly gay” anything…but until that day, it is still worth finding inspiration in these stories. Governor Kate Brown became the first openly gay person to win a gubernatorial election in the U.S. and thus can serve as a role-model to other LGBTQ folx who wish to take up their role in politics.

Again, this is by no means an exhaustive list. And this little snapshot surely does not cover all of the incredible contributions these folx have made. We encourage you to learn more about each and every one of them.

Don’t forget: we’d love to hear about the women who have inspired you in the queer movement too. Message us on Facebook (Lansing Association for Human Rights).


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