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VOTE: You Pick SheWired's Woman of the Year 2014!

VOTE: You Pick SheWired's Out Woman of the Year 2014!

VOTE: You Pick SheWired's Out Woman of the Year 2014!

Please join us in reminiscing about the year in out women! And don't forget to VOTE!

The early part of 2014 may forever be remembered for its high profile, diverse coming out stories. A-list actress Ellen Page, pageant queen Djuan Trent, and actress Emily Rios all came out publicly during the first half of the year, while Robin Roberts just continued to be a beacon of visibility for her fearless coming out over the holidays in 2013. It was also a year in which legends including Lily Tomlin and Rosie O’Donnell found themselves on top and in the spotlight again. From creatives like Dear White People’s Lena Waithe, and Orange Is the New Black’s Lauren Morelli to activist and attorney Roberta Kaplan, queer women thrived in 2014.

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.  22, and announce the winner that day.  You can vote for multiple people per submission once a day until then. And while we are ostensibly voting for a #1, these 21 women are already all Women of the Year for their continued success and their devotion to furthering visibility and representing LGBT women. 

 

 

Singer, Songwriter and Spoken Word Artist Mary Lambert 

Most performers might find it hard to top a year where they not only became a household name, but also saw their work nominated for a Grammy Award, and then shared a stage with Madonna. But most artists aren't singer/songwriter Mary Lambert. 

After bursting onto the airwaves as the angelic voice crooning the infectious chorus to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's marriage equality anthem "Same Love" last year, Lambert has only continued her ascension to icon status. Following the aforementioned Madonna duet at the 2013 Grammys, Lambert kicked off 2014 a new romance, followed by the release of a powerful, two-part video for her spoken-word piece "Body Love." With a keen, critical perspective that has quickly become a hallmark of Lambert's work, the track picked apart the damaging societal forces that tell everyone — especially women, LGBT people, and those who are plus-size —  that they aren't beautiful unless they look like a magazine model. 

Lambert's summertime single lightened the mood significantly, with the poppy, unapologetic "Secrets" earning radio play nationwide while still speaking to the fact that "they tell us from the time we're young / to hide the things that we don't like about ourselves."

In October, Lambert released her debut album, a poignant, soulful record aptly called Heart on My Sleeve. It maintained Lambert's signature emotional depth, taking listeners deep inside Lambert's uniquely queer perspectives on love, loss, heartache, and redemption. 

Lambert was also honored by SheWired's sibling publication this year, as one of The Advocate's 40 under 40, which proclaimed that Lambert's self-described "over-sharing" is helping us heal. And for the sake of our souls, psyches, and soundtracks, here's hoping the good, gorgeous doctor keeps doling out the sweet salve of lyrics that speak to our pain while simultaneously giving us hope that we can overcome it. 

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WNBA Star Brittney Griner 

Hoops star Brittney Griner's sophomore season in the WNBA only proved that she's shook off the rookie blues. This year, Griner came back with a vengeance after an injury sidelined her for some of last season when she and her team, the Phoenix Mercury, won the WNBA championship in September. On top of getting engaged and putting out her first book in 2014, Griner put pay inequity on the map when she made public that her WNBA salary $49,440, is 12 times less than her salary playing overseas in China, where she earns $600,000 for three months of play. With all that, Griner's got plenty to look forward to: she and her fiance, fellow basketball player Glory Johnson of the Tulsa Shock, are planning to tie the knot. 

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Screenwriter, Director, and Actress Desiree Akhavan 

If you didn’t happen to catch screenwriter, director, and actress Desiree Akhavan’s wonderfully authentic and quirky feature film Appropriate Behavior at the festivals this year, you’re in luck as it’s getting a theatrical release this January. The 29-year-old Smith and Tisch School of the Arts grad, wowed audiences with her wry comedy about an Iranian-American bisexual Brooklynite (as Variety describes Akhavan) navigating relationships, acceptance, and life as an adult. While the film does not reflect Akhavan’s life per se, she does share those qualities with her lead character Shirin. On similarities to her character Akhavan told Variety, “I wanted to paint a picture that reflected sexuality as I knew it, which was more fluid, but also reflected coming out as I knew it, which was more gradual or subtle.”

Prior to Appropriate Behavior Akhavan was likely best known in the queer community for her web series The Slope, which she co-created with Ingrid Jungermann.

Hailed by Variety as possibly “the next Lena Dunham,” Akhavan is slated to appear on Dunham’s hit HBO series Girls this season. With that endorsement and Appropriate Behavior landing in theaters in just a few weeks Akhavan is certainly a woman in Hollywood to watch, and we definitely need as many of those as we can get! 

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Good Morning America Anchor Robin Roberts

When the Today Show or CBS This Morning are trying to catch Good Morning America in the morning show ratings race, they can copy interview formats or redesign sets, but they can never have Robin Roberts.

Roberts is the most liked woman on morning television. That's what the polls say, called Q Scores, which are basically annual approval ratings for TV personalities. It's hard to understate the importance of an out lesbian being essentially invited into American living rooms each morning to start the day. That used to be the territory of happy-haired, white, straight women such as Katie Couric.

But watch any episode of GMA and you'll quickly see why Roberts is so beloved. First of all, she was incredibly open about her battle with cancer and the country rooted for her recovery. Then when she finally came out, at about this time last year, it was like a member of your family was finally telling you about the woman she loves — Amber, who she met nine years ago on a blind date. But the versatile former ESPN sportscaster is every bit at home in an interview with President Obama (a historic moment in which he came out for marriage equality) and hosting country music awards.
Don't miss this interview Roberts did with Ellen DeGeneres. It's like a collision of the two most loved woman of morning TV — and they just both happen to be lesbians.
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Oscar Nominated Actress and Producer Ellen Page 

When Ellen Page delivered an earnest, clearly nerve-wracking coming-out speech at the Human Rights Campaign's Time to Thrive event in February, the A-list actor gave us one more reason to swoon over her (aside from her stellar, lady-centric film choices and ever-evolving, dapper style).

"I am tired of hiding, and I'm tired of lying by omission," Page said in February. "I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationships suffered. And I'm standing here today with all of you on the other side of that pain."

The simple act of coming out in such a high-profile way within the straight male-dominated world of Hollywood would be enough to add the talented Ms. Page to our annual list, but February marked only the beginning of her meteoric rise. Just hours before Page came out, news broke that her passion project costarring Julianne Moore, lesbian drama Freeheld, was finally moving forward. 

Oh yeah, and then there was that little franchise where Page was a literal superhero as Kitty Pryde in X-Men: Days of Future Past. (We're going to resist making the obvious joke about the fitness of her character's name.)

Page graced the covers of magazines ranging from Wto SheWired sibling publication OUT magazine, where she was named to the annual Out100. 

And in case you weren't swooning hard enough over the 26-year-old actor, 2014 was the year Page also showed off her comedy prowess, with a hilarious Funny or Die spoof of HBO thriller True Detective, alongside Kate Mara as "Tiny Detectives," a spot-on Halloween costume as Rachel Maddow, and, oh yeah, that epic Twitter account where she not only graciously renames the family pets pictured in photos fans send her, but offered on-point observations about life and an impressive takedown of a homophobic pastor who tweeted at her.

 

 

Actress Emily Rios 

Since 2013, actress Emily Rios has held a special place in the hearts of LGBT fans for starring on FX’s The Bridge as Adriana Mendez, a Juarez-based lesbian reporter. The show, which centers on the tension of two cities straddling the Mexican-American border, has garnered praise for Rios’s portrayal, which was described by The Advocate as “neither butch nor femme, Mexican nor American, innocent nor cynical — she’s all those things at times. She’s straddling lines deftly, the way many of the lesbians in this country do.” Her part was even upgraded to a series regular after the first season.
But the 26-year-old actress, who also took on integral roles in Breaking Bad and the queer film Quinceañera, officially stole our hearts by coming out as a lesbian in real life during an interview with AfterEllen at the Television Critics Association’s FX day]. She revealed that the character of Adriana had not been originally written as gay until she had auditioned for the part, and that she gave input to the writers about the authenticity of being a minority throughout the show’s two-season run.
“I’m gay, personally, so being Mexican and a lesbian — this is why I love the character because I deal with the same type of things with my own family,” Rios said.

 

 

Professor, Novelist, and Essayist Roxane Gay 

If you didn't know Roxane Gay in the beginning of 2014, you probably know her now. This year the award-winning writer, Purdue professor, and Rumpus editor is on Twitter feeds everywhere for her wit and humanity — she's the person who feels the world with you, and facilitates smart and funny conversations even around the deepest stuff: Sexual assault on college campuses? Ferguson? Beyonce? She's got it covered. This year her first novel, An Untamed State, got fantastic reviews. That's in addition to her book of essays, Bad Feminist, largely compiled from op-eds and essays she’s written for publications around the world. She's who we want to be when we grow up.

 

 

Actress and Singer Evan Rachel Wood 

Since coming out as bisexual inEsquire in 2011, Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actress Evan Rachel Wood has been an ardent voice for the “B” in LGBT, facing the subject head on via Twitter or when questioned by the curious (sometimes clueless) media. One of this year’s Out 100, Wood not only continues to be a voice for bisexual women, but also an incredibly supportive friend to her Into the Forest costar Ellen Page, who bravely came out at a youth conference on Valentine’s Day.

Regarding Page’s coming out Wood has said, “She was born to make that speech, and it’ll be referenced for years to come.”

Watching the public part of Wood and Page’s friendship unfold in pics on Twitter is just an added bonus for following the two pioneers on social media.

This spring Wood stepped out for the LA LGBT Center’s An Evening with Women where she absolutely slayed three songs including Garbage’s “Queer.”

For those, like us, that there’s never really enough Wood, she’s also slated to star in the HBO's small-screen version of the Sci-fi classic Westworld. 

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YouTube Star and Author Hannah Hart 

YouTuber, Hannah Hart, perhaps better known as “Harto,” is a force to be reckoned with. The 28-year-old’s YouTube Channel, MyHarto, has more than 1.5 million subscribers and features celebrity guests including Sarah Silverman, Lance Bass, and Tyler Oakley. In addition to her tremendously popular channel, she’s a best-selling author, travel lover, and pun creator. L.A. Weekly writer Sara Rashkin referred to Hart as a "soft-butch beauty,” who inspired her fans to adopt the term "Hartosexuals.” And, at the annual GLAAD gala in San Francisco, with Tyler Oakley’s help, she presented the first Ric Weiland Award to Google’s marketing chief, Arian Dijk. Hart’s My Drunk Kitchen series (which is also the name of her cookbook) won a 2014 Streamy Award for Best Comedy and secured her status as one of the Internet’s most influential LGBT talents. 

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Comedian and The View Host Rosie O'Donnell
Rosie O'Donnell is back on TV, and already rumors hit gossip columns saying the former "Queen of Nice" extended her reign as a terror to work with. It's all been dismissed by O'Donnell and the creators of The View as typical media exaggeration. All we know for sure is that O'Donnell is as relevant as ever.
So long as she's on a talk show, people won't stop talking about her. O'Donnell should be appreciated for her longevity alone, first becoming such as huge success with daytime's Rosie O'Donnell Show during the '90s. Then she shot back into living rooms with her first stint hosting The View. It ended quite publicly with a screaming match between her and conservative cohost Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Thank the TV gods that Hasselbeck decided to move onto her rightful place at Fox News. Now Rosie is back, and she is her same entertaining yet opinionated self (although rather subdued this time around). Once again, we get to geek out on Broadway, share stories about her large family, and crush on celebs, all while arguing over politics. It's like being home again. And if that's not enough, we love to see O'Donnell in her recurring role as Rita, the social worker with a big heart, on ABC Family's The Fosters. 

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AfterEllen Editor In Chief Trish Bendix 

This year, the much loved women's site AfterEllen was brought into the fold of TotallyHer's network of sites after a purchase from Evolve Media, and longtime staffer Trish Bendix took the top position at the site. Bendix has worked on the site since 2008 and moved up the ranks to now become the editor in chief. She brings smart, funny, and insightful writing to the world of women-focused LGBT media. Our hats go off to her. 

 

 

Two-Time Miss Spain Winner Patricia Yurena Rodriguez 
Patricia Yurena Rodriguez, Miss Spain winner in 2008 and 2013, bravely came out as a lesbian via a simple Instagram post this August. She spontaneously professed her love for Spanish DJ and singer, Vanessa Klein, whom she had been dating even before she claimed the Miss Spain title in 2013 for the second time. At 24 years-old, Rodriguez has not only made a name for herself as a pageant queen, but she has seamlessly become a pioneer for the lesbian community in an industry that still adheres to more conservative traditions. Rodriguez competed in the Miss Universe pageant, hosted by Russia, just months after the country’s ban on gay propaganda passed. She lost to Miss Venezuela, but she's still a winner in our eyes. 

 

 

Rapper Angel Haze
At 23, this Detroit-raised, New York-based rapper is a signed artist on Universal Music Group, a collaborator with artists like Ellie Goulding, Nick Jonas, and Sia, and a frequent subject on music sites like Pitchfork and The Source. She can spit rhymes as well as Azaelia Banks, but her public comments won't make you cringe. Haze—who's released an EP and a full length album, Dirty Gold—is an observant young woman, calling out the press for portraying her relationship with Ireland Baldwin as "best friends." 
"An interracial gay couple, I mean that’s just weird for America right now," Haze told The Independent this year. "We f**k and friends don’t f**k. I have never f**ked one of my friends."

 

 

TV Writer Lauren Morelli
It's been quite a year for Orange is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli. After helping create another amazing season of the groundbreaking show, Morelli came out in a heartfelt essay. The adorable Morelli, who was married to a man up until recently, discussed how being part of the Orange team helped her realize she was gay. Since her divorce Morelli appeared at this year's Emmy Awards arm-in-arm with OITNB star Samira Wiley, who portrays Poussey Washington. Morelli’s life and honesty are bold and brave, something reflected in the characters she so vividly brings to life.

 

 

Producer Lena Waithe 

In these modern times, what do you do when the media you consume doesn't reflect you? Make your own media. Lena Waithe is part of a pioneering movement of black women who are tired of not seeing their lives reflected on screen, so with her web series, Twenties, she's tackling race, gender, and sexuality. Of course with a sense of humor. But most notably this year, she and her pal Justin Simien took the web series Dear White People to the big screen, in a pointed film about race and sexuality on a college campus.

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Model, DJ, and TV Personality Ruby Rose 

Model, DJ, and TV personality are only some of Ruby Rose's titles. She caught the public's attention in a striking way this past summer when she starred in a short film called Break Free. The short beautifully explores what it is like to identify as a person who walks a fine line of gender boundaries in which she seamlessly transitions from a feminine self to a more masculine one. The film offers a heartfelt glimpse into the gender-nonconformance. Rose is well known in her native Australia, but she's rapidly making herself a name in the states. She became engaged to fashion designer Phoebe Dahl this year and now calls Los Angeles home. We are looking forward to see how Rose continues to awe us with her beauty and her message. 

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Actress, Comedian, Writer, and Legend Lily Tomlin 
Lily Tomlin rang in 2014 by marrying longtime partner (in life and work) Jane Wagner last New Year’s Eve, and she’s closing out the year by becoming the first out lesbian to receive the Kennedy Center Honors, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for achievement in the arts. Tomlin and other honorees received medallions at a White House dinner Saturday, then were celebrated at a star-studded gala Sunday at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The gala, by the way, was taped and will air on CBS December 30. In between, Tomlin has been performing a stage show featuring her iconic characters Ernestine, Edith Ann, and more, and she’s working on a Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, which reunites her with Nine to Five costar Jane Fonda. Does she ever take a break?

 

 

Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent 

Djuan Trent, who as Miss Kentucky reached the Top 10 of the 2011 Miss America pageant, didn't snag the crown that year. But in February 2014, Trent won the hearts of the LGBT community and its allies when she came out in a blog post in response to Kentucky's unwillingness to recognize same-sex unions from other states. "I am queer," declared the 27-year-old, who became the first veteran of a national beauty pageant to come out.
Now an honorary cochair for Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, Trent later told The Huffington Post that she was inspired by the coming out of Raven-Symoné, which gave her the courage to be an out queer woman of color and a role model for others. "I’ve had so much outreach coming from young women in the pageant community, young African-American women, young feminine women, who [now] feel a little less invisible, who feel that there’s not something wrong with them. And that, to me, is amazing," she said.

 

 

Model Rain Dove 

It’s a good thing for us that model Rain Dove lost a bet during a football game. Since she showed up to model casting shortly after that fateful day, her career as a modeling career has boomed with high fashion seeking out her androgynous beauty. Dove is just one of a handful of models who walks the runway as both female and male. A former firefighter, Dove won our Eligible Woman of the Year contest last winter. This fall she became the toast of New York Fashion Week after walking in no fewer than four shows in both male and female apparel. Besides looking amazing on the runway Dove gets that her gender-bending is its own kind of activism. 
“I think it’s a different kind of activism. Like, women shouldn’t have to step into men’s roles to be empowered. They should be able to step into themselves,” Dove told AfterEllen. “So that’s what I try to bring, that we shouldn’t be thinking of it as menswear or womenswear it should be clothing for people. And that is geared towards anatomical values but isn’t exclusive.”

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Attorney Roberta Kaplan 

Attorney Roberta Kaplan won a victory for marriage equality at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, and now she’s trying to repeat the feat in one of the nation’s most conservative states. Actually, she’s already done so — sort of. In November a federal judge struck down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage, but his ruling is on appeal, so gay and lesbian couples can’t get married there quite yet. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is supposed to hear the case early in January, and we have no doubt Kaplan will be as awesome in that venue as she was in the trial court, where, among her arguments, she demolished the assumption that marriage equality will lead to a move for legalizing polygamy: “I’ve been litigating these issues now for a very long time, [and] people have made this argument to suggest that there’s going to be this huge groundswell of litigation about polygamy if we win. And it’s never happened and it, frankly, never will happen.” One court observer wrote, “Watching the brilliant Roberta Kaplan and the State’s attorney argue this case is like watching Aretha Franklin versus a drunk, bumbling fraternity guy in a singing contest.”

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Orange Is the New Black Star Samira Wiley 

Her outstanding portrayal of the loveable, scrappy, goofball Poussey in Orange is the New Black may have been the reason Samira Wiley initially caught our attention, but it’s the grace, beauty, and radiance of the 27-year-old actress off-screen that has maintained it. Whether she’s turning heads on the red carpet, melting hearts on Instagram with OITNB writer Lauren Morelli, or speaking about the state of human equality, there’s no denying Wiley is one of the most captivating women of 2014. A recent Out 100 honoree, Wiley is an inspiring member of a growing number of women who are living life as their most authentic self — and succeeding. “I didn’t realize how big [Poussey] was until the end of [season 2],” she revealed to Out magazine about her OITNB character. “Looking back… she’s kind of a hero.” Indeed, and Wiley is as well.

 

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