Anne Whitney (1821-1915) was a prominent American sculptor. Her works often featured
important historical figures, or depicted her liberal views on abolition or
women’s rights, among others.
Among the subjects of her sculptures were
Harriet Martineau, Lucy Stone and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her works can now be
admired in places such as the United States Capitol, at Harvard, or around
Left: Anne Whitney with her partner, Abby
Diana Nyad (b.
1949) is a long-distance swimmer, author and journalist. Among her feats are
swimming around Manhattan in 1975, and being the first person to swim from Cuba
to Florida without a shark cage. She was 64 when she achieved this in 2013.
In 1970, during her first ever race, she
set a world record in women’s marathon swimming. She then broke many others,
such as the record for non-stop swimming without a wetsuit in 1979. In 2013,
she swam continuously for 48 hours, a charitable effort which raised more than $105,000
for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Ruth Ellis (1899-2000)
was an important LGBT rights activist in the United States. At the time of her
death at the age of 101, she was the oldest ‘out’ lesbian in the world.
She was born in Illinois, but moved to Detroit,
Michigan later in life, with her partner Ceciline Franklin. Their house became
a safe haven for the African-American LGBT community. Today, a centre that
bears her name is dedicated to helping homeless LGBT youth.
Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002) was a legendary figure of the gay rights and trans
rights movements in the United States. She was a founding member of the Gay
Liberation Front and of STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries).
Her activism began in 1970, when she
started advocating not only for gay rights, but for the inclusion of drag queens
such as herself in the LGBT community. The same year, she founded STAR along
with Marsha P. Johnson, in order to help homeless LGBT youth.
Brooks (1874-1970) was a painter who specialised in
portraits. She is best known for her paintings of women in masculine or
She started studying art in Rome, where she
was the only female student in her life drawing class – a very unusual place for
a woman at the time. She later moved to Capri, where she lived and worked in
poverty; she found success later on, in the art circles of Paris. She was also
well known for her uninhibited lifestyle and sexuality, and the love triangle
she formed with Natalie Clifford Barney and Lily de Gramont.
Anne Lister (1791-1840) was an English diarist and traveller. She is best known for
her very detailed diaries, of which significant parts were written in code,
covering her lesbian relationships.
She is referred to as “the first modern lesbian” for her open homosexuality,
very uncommon for the time. She was nicknamed “Gentleman Jack” and often mocked
for her masculine appearance. In 2011, her diaries were
added to the register of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme, not only for
their frank accounts of lesbianism, but also for providing valuable records of
social and political events of her time.
Janelle Monáe (b. 1985) is an
award-winning musician and actress. She has released three studio albums and
starred in two highly acclaimed films, Moonlight and Hidden Figures.
Among her many awards are a VMA, 2 Black Reel
Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Additionally, she has been nominated
for a Grammy 6 times. In 2018 she was named “Trailblazer of the Year”
at the Billboard Women in Music event.
Mary Margaret McBride (1899-1976, pictured above with Eleanor Roosevelt) was an early radio host.
She was called “The First Lady of Radio”, and her daily audience was
between six and eight million listeners.
She started her women’s-advice show in 1934,
using the persona of “Martha Deane”, and aired daily until 1940. The
show was later picked up by networks such as CBS and NBC, and featured a large
number of famous guests. Along with her partner Stella Karn, she was a pioneer
not only in the world of broadcasting and media, but also for giving visibility
to lesbian and bisexual journalists.