8 LGBTQ Women That Inspire Me

Women’s History Month is unfortunately coming to an end, so it is important that we acknowledge all kinds of women that have set an example for others in the past several decades. As an openly gay gal, the women that inspire me the most are those queer trailblazers who are loud and proud and face the fears that society imposes on them for simply being themselves. The following women have used their platforms to be a voice for those who cannot speak, and that is what I admire most about them.

 

Ellen DeGeneres

Well-known talk show host and comedian Ellen Degeneres is my #1 personal hero. She took a chance and came out on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997. Her character on her sitcom Ellen was actually received well by the public until it became known that the sitcom’s parent owner was uncomfortable with this plot point. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled, and DeGeneres lost her platform.

It took a long time, but she finally found her footing again in 2003 by launching The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Today, the show is on its 16th season, making DeGeneres one of the most successful women in history. Not only does she use her show to advocate for social justice, but she also gives back to those in need. She constantly preaches kindness and her slogan, “be kind to one another” is something I try to embody everyday.

 

Adrienne Rich

As a poet, essayist, activist, professor and mother, Adrienne Rich makes the list as another empowering voice in the fight for equality. She heavily scrutinized the idea of feminism in her essays and delved deep into the subject of sexuality, desire and love of other women in her poems. Her writing is fascinating, beautifully written and extremely empowering.

Rich first married a man in 1953 but after having three children. Unhappy, she divorced him and he committed suicide. However, this tragic event made her realize that she had been suppressing her love for women all those years, and she became involved with writer Michelle Cliff until her death in 2012. Her poetry and essays continue to carry her legacy today.

 

Billie Jean King

Professional tennis player Billie Jean King is a perfect example of lifelong advocacy for gender equality. After winning the “Battle of the Sexes” tournament in 1973 against Bobby Riggs at age 29, she proved that women are capable of anything. Her perseverance during her tennis career is remarkable and her hard work is extremely prominent. To this day she holds 39 Grand Slam titles.

Although she was married to Larry King for 22 years, it was inevitable the marriage wouldn’t last when King fell in love with doubles partner Ilana Kloss, who she is still with today. Since she has been able to be out publicly, she has been very active within the LGBTQ+ community and even received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama for her work to make LGBTQ+ people more visible.

 

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is a transgender woman and actress most known for her role as Sophia Burset on Orange is the New Black. This fierce activist was the first transgender woman to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for acting and the first transgender person to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. She has been a trailblazer for transgender rights for many years.

Cox was openly transgender when her career took off, inspiring millions of young trans people to not be afraid to be themselves. She continues to become lots of “firsts” in her community, making it known that her work is not over.

 

Frida Kahlo

The late Frida Kahlo was an unconventional visual artist in the mid 1900's, who painted portraits that strayed far from the norm. She bent so many rules to explore identity, gender, class and race in her art. Although it is rarely talked about, Kahlo identified as bisexual, even as she married a man, Diego Rivera, in 1929 (and again in 1940 after getting divorced in 1939).

Today, Kahlo’s art, albeit unusual for the time period, is so well known and loved today. She sets a precedent for other queer artists that want to explore or exhibit their identities through all kinds of art. Her strong will as a woman in 1900's Mexico also sets a brilliant example for other Mexican women and artists today.

 

Ellen Page

Actress Ellen Page is one of my favorite people ever. After she came out publicly in 2014, she has been fighting for LGBTQ+ rights ever since. She is a passionate activist who is unafraid to speak her mind on important issues. Even though she has faced many hiccups during her career, such as being outed on the set of X-Men: The Last Stand by filmmaker Brett Ratner, she still manages to advocate for herself and other gay women in the entertainment business.

Page married dancer and choreographer Emma Portner in 2018, and has been very public about their relationship on social media. She is still very active on screen and currently stars as Vanya in The Umbrella Academy, which is on Netflix. (I highly recommend!)

 

Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin has been in the entertainment business since 1965 and is still very prominent today. She is well known for her comedy skits in the 1970's where she played many well-known, hilarious characters. She began her acting career in the late 1970's, and that is mostly what she does today. Presently, she stars as Frankie in Grace and Frankie on Netflix, opposite Jane Fonda.

Tomlin never came out publicly as gay, however, she was not shy when addressed about it. She met her future wife, fellow comedy writer Jane Wagner, in 1971. They married in 2013 after being together for 42 years. She uses comedy as her way of activism by demonstrating to all women comedians that they should not be ashamed of themselves and to use their experiences as a way to make others laugh.

 

Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach and her wife, Glennon Doyle, have been favorites of mine for a long time. As a young soccer player in high school (albeit not a very good one), I noticed that there weren’t very many openly gay female athletes. However, when I learned about Wambach I was finally grateful for some actual representation. She has been endorsed by many big-name companies such as Gatorade, Nike and Panasonic, which warms my heart to know that these companies are supporters of the LGBTQ+ community.

After she retired from soccer, Wambach released an autobiography titled Forward (an allusion to her position on the United States women’s national soccer team), which quickly became a bestseller. She married fellow author, Doyle, in 2017, and together they do a lot of advocacy work for women and youth.

 

Thank you, Ellen, Adrienne, Billie Jean, Laverne, Frida, Ellen, Lily and Abby for allowing me to have women to look up to when faced with the inevitable adversity that will be thrown my way.

You, among so many other queer women, have paved a major path for those who are still wanting to be heard, seen and valued for who they are. Thank you for reminding that I am not alone.