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VOTE: You Pick SheWired's Woman of the Year 2013

VOTE: You Pick SheWired's Woman of the Year 2013

VOTE: You Pick SheWired's Woman of the Year 2013

Diana Nyad, Edie Windsor, Brittney Griner, and Mary Lambert are just a few of the outstanding women of 2013. Vote for who you think is Woman of the Year!

Edie Windsor and the win over DOMA, Diana Nyad’s record-breaking swim, Mary Lambert’s unforgettable duet of “She Keeps Me Warm” with Jennifer Hudson at the Video Music Awards -- it’s been a year of immeasurable strides for out women. Celebrities and sports figures have come out (some rather unexpectedly) and some out women just continued to do what they’ve always done best – be irrepressibly visible!

Please join us in reminiscing about the year in out women, and don’t forget to VOTE for who you think should be Woman of the Year. We will close the voting on Monday, Dec.  23, and announce the winner on Dec. 30. You can vote for multiple people per submission. And while we are ostensibly voting for a #1, these 15 women are already winners for their continued success and devotion to furthering visibility and representing LGBT women. 

Oscar-Winning Actress Jodie Foster

In one of the milestones of the entertainment calendar, actress Jodie Foster effectively came out at the Golden Globes while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her 47 years of work in the entertainment industry. While the speech befuddled many — Foster did not directly declare that she was a lesbian — her speech addressed the difficulties that LGBT actors face in Hollywood, including the right to live a private life amidst a culture that demands overexposure.
"I already did my coming out about 1,000 years ago back in the Stone Age, those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers, and then gradually and proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met,” she said. “If you had to fight a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe then you too would value privacy above all else — privacy.”
The Academy Award-winning actress remains a major influencer in the entertainment world, having starred alongside Matt Damon in the box office hit Elysium, a science fiction thriller that tackled real world social issues like health care, class, and immigration. Foster also directed an episode of the landmark Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, a prison comedy that features prominent lesbian themes and characters.

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Basketball Star Brittney Griner

She's the no-nonsense center on the Phoenix Mercury and the WNBA's number one draft pick. Not only was Griner unparalleled in college basketball, but she ended her college career at Baylor by coming out on ESPN. She was the lesbian athlete that women's sports needed -- she is unabashedly comfortable with her self, she's charming, media loves her, and the woman can dunk like it's nobody's business. Her charm has gotten her an endorsement with Nike, the pinnacle of deals that every athlete on this planet craves to earn. 

Most importantly, Brittney Griner is the answer to the question, Can an openly gay athlete come out, be accepted on a team, play magnificently, and still earn endorsements? Though some might say that the question is really only targeted toward male athletes like NBA veteran Jason Collins who came out earlier this year, Griner sets the bar for everyone in professional sports, when it comes to challenging traditional gender roles and mores that some still think is acceptable. It's been a rare feat, even for female athletes, who many people would flippantly think that being a lesbian is completely accepted.

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Actress Maria Bello

Sexy, no-nonsense, often tough, Maria Bello has long been a favorite of the lesbian community, but just this December she wrote a thoughtful, beautiful column in the New York Times coming out about being in love with a woman and how her girlfriend Clare, her son Jackson, and Jackson’s dad Dan comprise their own “Modern Family.”

(RELATED: 8 Examples of Maria Bello and Mariska Hargitay Being the Most Adorable Friends)

Known for her roles on television in ER and the sadly short-lived American version of Prime Suspect, Bello is highly acclaimed for her visceral performances in films like A History of Violence and The Cooler.

Bello wrote in her coming out column that she’s been in love with her best friend Clare for some time but that she eschews labels.

“Whomever I love, however I love them, whether they sleep in my bed or not, or whether I do homework with them or share a child with them, “love is love.” And I love our modern family,” Bello wrote in the New York Times. 

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YouTube Personality Arielle Scarcella 

YouTube personality and adorable Brooklynite (with the even more adorable accent) Arielle has become a sort of de facto excavator of the lesbian experience breaking down stereotypes and bridging generations between Millenials and everyone else with her series “Lesbians Explain…” Employing humor and a real curiosity for just what comprises lesbian culture these days Arielle has churned out nearly a video a week for months with lesbians explaining “Threeways,” “Strap-On Sex,” and “Sex with Men” and many more. Think of her as a cultural anthropologist with a wicked sense of humor! 

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Talk Show Host and Comedian Ellen DeGeneres 

Almost 20 years since she graced the cover of Time with the headline “Yep, I’m Gay,” Ellen continued to pick up steam in 2013. This ground breaker only needs one name, and on her second date reportedly needed two U-Hauls, one just for her awards. With over 12 Emmy’s alone, Ellen is one of the most decorated talents in Hollywood. But beyond television, the multi-talented star is a perennial favorite of ours for the work she never stops doing within the community. Continually promoting LGBT causes, and giving voice to advocates via her daytime show, Ellen never stops representing LGBT people with her relentless passion, grace, and singular sense of humor. Her support for marriage equality in 2013 was subtle and powerful, never taking for granted that she makes her way into millions of homes daily. You’d be hard pressed to find a better LGBT role model in Hollywood, and a liar if you knew a funnier one.

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Musician Mary Lambert 

It really has been an epic year for Seattle-based singer songwriter and spoken word artist Mary Lambert, whose gorgeous hook “She Keeps Me Warm” from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” will likely be the first-dance song at lesbian weddings for generations to come. This year alone Mary’s been featured in the New York Times, a spread she proudly displays whenever possible, she’s belted “She Keeps Me Warm” with Jennifer Hudson at the VMA’s, signed with a major label (Capital Records), and she’s been nominated for a Grammy as part of the “Same Love” crew. This week her EP drops, and that is just the beginning for this thoughtful wordsmith with the big pipes! 

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Actress Michelle Rodriguez 

She talks like a truck driver and maybe that's why we love her. Avatar and Fast and Furious star Michelle Rodriguez has always danced around the issue of her sexuality but things got a little clearer after a September interview with Entertainment Weekly. "I don't talk about what I do with my vagina, and they're all intrigued." she said of the media. "I've never walked the carpet with anyone, so they wonder: What does she go with her vagina? Plus, I play a butchy girl all the time, so they assume I'm a lesbo."
Before you start screaming, Rodriguez clarified. "Eh, they're not too far off. I've gone both ways. I do as I please. I am too f---ing curious to sit here and not try when I can. Men are intriguing. So are chicks."
After that flood of honesty, maybe interviewers will lay off MRod when she makes the publicity rounds for next year's Fast and the Furious 7, co-starring the dearly-departed Paul Walker.

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Record-Breaking Swimmer Diana Nyad

Nyad inspired and impressed us all by finally completing her swim from Cuba to Florida at age 64, on her fifth try, 35 years after her first. It was also her fourth try since turning 60, and she made the 103-mile, 53-hour journey without the aid of shark cages. While her name is, appropriately, a homonym for “naiad,” meaning water nymph (yes, it’s real, having come from her Greek stepfather), it’s now also synonymous with persistence. “We should never, ever give up. ... You never are too old to chase your dreams,” she told reporters after completing the swim.

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Attorney Roberta Kaplan 

Edie Windsor made a point of noting that her case was once turned away by major LGBT rights organizations. When she first tried fighting the Defense of Marriage Act, it was attorney Roberta Kaplan who recognized its potential. Then when the Supreme Court convened this year, Kaplan was the only gay person whose voice was heard during hearings. Ted Olson and David Boies are straight, as are the rest of the attorneys at the hearing, and as are the justices themselves. Kaplan showed her stuff while eloquently turning back an assertion by Chief Justice John Roberts that gay and lesbian people are no longer an oppressed minority because of a change in political climate. "The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chief Justice…" and then she schooled him.

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Actress and Activist Laverne Cox

Cox, who has been acting for over a decade, broke out as a star this year with her role as Sophia Burset in the hit Netflix drama Orange Is the New Black. She’s the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream, scripted show, and she’s playing a transgender character in a lesbian relationship. Her visibility aids in her role as an “ambassador” for transgender people. “I’m living some of my dreams, [but] I know so many of my trans-sisters’ dreams are being deferred because of violence, discrimination, and dehumanization,” she recently told Uptown magazine. But her work may help to change this.

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Musicians Tegan & Sara 

The out Canadian sisters' 7th album, Heartthrob, technically dropped last year, but it really blew up in 2013. In addition to gracing the cover of SheWired's sister publication, The Advocate, the Quin sisters went mainstream for Glamour. And Heartthrob debuted at the number 3 spot on Billboard's Top 200, making the record the twins' most popular release to date in more than a decade making music.
Sure, we're inclined to thumb our noses at the mainstream critics who only just now discovered the awesomeness that is Tegan and Sara, but even if Heartthrob is more pop-ready and radio-friendly than the pair's super-indie past, we were still belting out the lyrics to "Closer," "I Was A Fool," and "Couldn't Be Your Friend" on our way to work and at the gym. And naturally, "Goodbye, Goodbye," provided the perfect soundtrack as we tearfully drove away from that good-for-nothing ex-girlfriend's house. Don't ever change, ladies. You'll always make our hearts throb. 

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Soccer Star Abby Wambach 

It’s been quite a year for US Women’s soccer phenom Abby Wambach.  She currently stands alone as the leading world all-time international scorer with 163 goals in 212 international matches.  On November 27th, US Soccer named her their Female Athlete of the Year (her sixth nod, and the 3rd time in the last 4 years).  And on December 5th she landed #5 on ESPNW’s Impact list, which is comprised of the top 10 female athletes who made the biggest impact in 2013. 

Not to mention the strides she’s made in her personal life.  On October 5th Abby married her longtime girlfriend, Sarah Huffman (also a soccer player) in Hawaii.  At the time Abby said "I can't speak for other people, but for me, I feel like gone are the days that you need to come out of a closet. I never felt like I was in a closet. I never did. I always felt comfortable with who I am and the decisions I made.  

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Actress, Comic and Vocalist Lea DeLaria 

Despite even the sharpest critics labeling Lea DeLaria a triple-threat success in 2013, she still humbly refers to herself as just another “cream-filled butch.” Before breaking out as Big Boo on Orange Is the New Black this year, the comedian, jazz vocalist, and actress has been one of the hardest working woman in show business for over 25 years. Having toured the world as a stand-up comedian the hilariously talented DeLaria is finally getting the attention she’s deserved on a show that nobody can stop watching. Along with several talented cast members, this “butch” is doing more than making us laugh, she’s helping to redefine gender roles on a national stage. 

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Kristen Ellis-Henderson and Sarah Kate Ellis 

Antigone Rising’s Kristen Ellis-Henderson has been making music for decades, but this year she made headlines when she and her wife, GLAAD's new President, Sarah Kate Ellis became the face of marriage equality for millions of Americans who caught sight of Time’s marriage equality cover.

The couple was featured on the cover of Time in March, locked in a passionate kiss that echoed around the country. Only months before the Supreme Court would vote on the Defense of Marriage Act, these women offered up a beautiful new face to the movement, giving America a glimpse of how passionate and loving a couple can be when all other labels have been stripped away.

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Activist Edie Windsor 

The widow at the center of the case that struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Edie Windsor, has spoken so eloquently for us throughout her fight, and we’re sure you’ll agree with her on the case's most important effect. On the day of the ruling, she told a room full of cameras and reporters, "Not only does a much larger portion of our country, and the straight members of our country, see us differently, as just people who live and love who bring up kids who will play with their kids, but our own community has come out and seen each other and loved each other in a way that makes me courageous and proud and joyous every day." Edie Windsor is a worthy hero for gays and lesbians and changed the course of our lives in 2013 with her win at the Supreme Court. Now when couples are married in states where it’s legal, their union is recognized by the federal government in taxes, in benefits, in the military, in decisions about immigration status, and more.

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