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.
11 Lesbians In History You Don’t Know But Should
By: Bold Apps
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Blues singer Gladys Bentley reportedly married a woman publicly in 1931. Enough said.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Connect with Us
The Women’s Underwear Debate: Could Your Underwear Be Affecting Your Health?
Putting your underwear on in the morning shouldn’t...
Which Should You Wear? The Difference Between Women’s Underwear Made with Cotton, Polyester, and Modal
Have you ever stopped to think about what...
Yes, Anti-Chafing Underwear is a Real Thing (and It Actually Works!)
Have you ever gone for a run or...
The 3 Reasons Why You NEED to Ditch Your Pajamas for Boxer Briefs
Ready to ditch the awkward sleepwear that rides...
The History of Women’s Underwear (And Why the Future is COMFY)
Let's talk about our undies! Or rather, let’s...