Skip to next element

11 Lesbians In History You Don’t Know But Should

11 Lesbians In History You Don’t Know But Should

When we think of our lesbian pioneers, women like Ellen DeGeneres and Billie Jean King presumably come to mind. But we at The Huffington Post wanted to teach you a little somethin’ somethin’ about your history in honor of October’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history month. Below, feast your eyes on a group of undaunted ladies who helped paved the way for women and their women-loving ways, and check out the video above for HuffPost Live’s full conversation on lesbian history from the ancient times to now. 

Born on the Greek island of Lesbos around 615 B.C., this poet wrote of her yearning for women. Her name and place of birth have become synonymous with women who love women. 
Heritage Images via Getty Images
Queen Christina of Sweden
This member of Sweden’s royal family was crowned queen in 1644, though she renounced the throne a decade later. Queen Christina, widely considered to be a lesbian by her biographers, was played by Greta Garbo in the aptly titled 1933 film “Queen Christina.”
UniversalImagesGroup via Getty Images
Jane Addams
As one of the pioneering leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, Jane Addams — a never confirmed but rumored lesbian —  founded the Hull House in Chicago in 1889 and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1915. If that wasn’t enough, she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
Fotosearch via Getty Images
Rita Mae Brown
One of the most significant lesbian-themed novels in history is Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle, published in 1973. The activist, New York Times best-selling author and feminist icon — who says she was kicked out of the National Organization for Women — fought to get the women’s movement to accept lesbians
Debra L Rothenberg via Getty Images
Gladys Bentley
Blues singer Gladys Bentley reportedly married a woman publicly in 1931. Enough said. 
Barbara Gittings
Hailed as being one of the longest-serving and most fearless activists in the lesbian community, Gittings founded the New York chapter of The Daughters of Bilitis, picketed the White House in the ‘60s and counseled gay people who were discriminated by the government. She died in 2007.
Audre Lorde
As a self-professed black, lesbian, feminist mother, poet, warrior, Ms. Lorde fought injustices against the marginalized throughout the mid-20th century through her revered literary works. Despite many trying to silence her, she fearlessly embraced her identities. 
Robert Alexander via Getty Images
Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon
One of America’s best known lesbian couples, Martin and Lyon, were together from the early 1950s until Martin’s death in 2008. In 1955, they founded the Daughters of Bilitis — the first social and political organization for lesbians. 
Patricia Highsmith
In 1952, novelist Patricia Highsmith published the novel The Price of Salt — the inspiration behind the highly-anticipated lesbian drama “Carol,” starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Also included in her body work are the famous novels Strangers on a Train, which later became an Alfred Hitchcock film, and The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Barbara Jordan
In 1972, Jordan, born and raised in Houston, Texas, became the first southern black female elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Although she never came out publicly, her Houston Chronicle obituary mentioned her 20-year relationship with Nancy Earl. 
Join the conversation! What lesbian pioneers come to mind for you?
Share on:

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.