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Jeanne Cordova Remembered: 'Butch Chicana Lesbian Feminist Outlaw'

Jeanne Cordova Remembered: 'Butch Chicana Lesbian Feminist Outlaw'

Jeanne Cordova Remembered: 'Butch Chicana Lesbian Feminist Outlaw'

Before she died, Cordova donated $2 million to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation.

Pioneer, activist, author, publisher, lesbian, feminist, and “best butch friend” to so many, Jeanne Cordova died Sunday morning at her home in Los Angeles, surrounded by her spouse and friends. She was 67.

Lynn Ballen, her love for the last quarter-century, posted a photograph on her Facebook page, along with this message, just days before she passed:



#tbt found photo of my sweetie with full #moon rising… At the #gammagulch #cabin#pioneertown #desertrat #mojave #joshuatree

With the knowledge that she was dying, Cordova made a donation of $2 million to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and reached out to her friends and followers to tell them about the end of her life and how she got here.

“From the age of 18 to 21, I painfully looked everywhere for Lesbian Nation. On October 3, 1970, a day I celebrate as my political birthday, I found Her in a small DOB (Daughters of Bilitis) meeting. That’s when my life’s work became clear. Shortly thereafter I became a core organizer for two national lesbian conferences, one of which re-directed my path to create The Lesbian Tide newsmagazine, a national paper of record, as the historians say, for the lesbian feminist generation. And on it went for multiple decades of marches and later online organizing–this time intersectionally, to include all of me and my Latina identity.”

You can read her entire “A Letter About Dying” here. 

The Human Rights Campaign posted a memorial online, noting that “Cordova founded not one, but four lesbian conferences and for decades stood at the forefront of the LGBT movement on the West Coast.” 

Cordova’s memoir, When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love and Revolution, not only received accolades and awards but provided a community a touchstone it had never before enjoyed.  

Click here to read messages of condolence and support to those mourning this community organizer, journalist, and entrepreneur, and to add your own.

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Dawn Ennis