5 iconic queer personalities
5 iconic queer personalities
Me Ten Eyck
Meg Ten Eyck is a white, cisgender, and queer woman based in the United States. She is a recognized creator of LGBTQ+ travel content. CEO of EveryQueer, she is an activist for the LGBTQ+ movement and Pride 2021. She has been an expert on the subject since 2005. She has also attended LGBTQ+ conferences around the world and has visited over 60 countries. Recently, she published her first book, Slacktivist: Using Digital Media to Create Change.
Throughout history, queer women have not always been able to explore the world. Travel was appropriate for a young woman only if accompanied by her husband or a male relative. The history of the queer movement is difficult to document due to the taboo nature of same-sex love in some cultures. There are, however, many stories of queer women in LGBTQ+ history. They have led courageous and open lives exploring the world. Unfortunately, the practice of preventing women from having financial and physical autonomy remains a misogynistic tool of oppression used today. It is difficult to overcome when considering LGBTQ+ identity and racial oppression. Despite these obstacles, some queer women have continued to explore vast territories throughout history.
It is difficult to find historical evidence of women who lived as lesbians or bisexuals. Often, their relatives destroyed the letters and diaries when they died to avoid a family scandal. Most mentions of women who loved other women are in a context of condemnation. For most of history, attraction to women of the same sex was considered a sin and a personal flaw. Many women have spent their life with another woman, like a longtime partner. Yet some unscrupulous historians have considered them close friends or roommates, despite evidence of physical and romantic relationships.
Despite this, there are many examples of queer women who have dedicated their lives to building community, encouraging adventure, and preserving queer culture , regardless of the consequences or obstacles encountered. As a queer woman , I never learned my own history in school. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I learned about the historical contributions of people like me. I’ve never heard the stories of queer women looking for adventure. That’s why it’s so important to me to tell their stories. Only by looking back can we envision a world where queer people of all identities feel confident to go on an adventure . I’m going to tell you the story of some of these queer pioneers who inspired me.
Queen Christina of Sweden
Queen Christina of Sweden liked to break the rules. Bold, this androgynous icon moved at her own pace. She also had a witty personality. Curious, she had a passion for learning. His taste for twists and turns even earned him to cede land belonging to the crown. Becoming queen in 1644, she abdicated 10 years later. For what ? She would rather give up her crown than marry a man.
After leaving power, Queen Christine cuts her hair. She even dons male clothes and straps a sword to her chest before heading off to explore. She travels through Europe to study the arts. She upsets the nobles with her plots to become queen of several other sovereign states. In 1681, Christina wrote a long-awaited autobiography. She evokes her androgynous identity, her female lovers and the fact that she was neither male nor hermaphrodite, contrary to the words of certain detractors. She eventually settled in Rome where she studied eight languages and became a patron.
Queen Christina was widely considered a lesbian. However, historians are not unanimous. Some say she died a virgin. Others claim that she had multiple affairs with both men and women. Anyway, the liveliness of her personality led to the making of a film about her life in 1933. In it, she was played by another famous lesbian, Greta Garbo. If you have the opportunity to visit Stockholm , you can visit the Swedish Royal Palace to see its famous Silver Throne. This is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of his reign.
Gladys Bentley was an openly gay blues singer. She was an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. She is often forgotten in history books detailing the contributions of black artists of the time, due to her open homosexuality and obscene lyrics. For example, Gladys combined the popular songs of Alice Blue Gown and Georgia Brown into a song about anal sex.
In her heyday, Gladys was famous for performing raunchy songs. With a transvestite heart, she sang in underground bars during the Prohibition era. She used to wear a top hat, white tuxedo and tailcoat, characteristic of dandies. His sexist antics scandalize and titillate New York audiences . Such a set would be controversial today. Imagine yourself 100 years ago.
The peak of his career was during the Prohibition era in the United States. Alcohol was illegal there. Harlem was an all-black neighborhood in Manhattan. It was filled with nightclubs and theaters controlled by mobsters and bootleggers. The police turned a blind eye to the illegal consumption of alcohol in the neighborhood. This had the effect of drawing crowds of white people from across the city to Harlem to take advantage of the access to alcohol offered by Harlem’s parties, speakeasies, and performance venues. This situation created an extreme juxtaposition. Local black families were battling the Great Depression, while hordes of white visitors used Harlem as a playground for booze and debauchery.
Gladys did not hide her sexuality from an early age. She left behind letters and diaries detailing her homosexuality. She went so far as to marry a woman in the 1920s. She also openly discussed her nuptials with a reporter. She was often quoted in gossip columns for her brazen homosexuality. Gladys’ image was prematurely tarnished in the 1950s by the McCarthy-era witch hunt against queer people . Yet she should be remembered with love, as she was a queer feminist icon and gender outlaw.
5 iconic queer personalities
Jane Addams is considered the mother of modern social work. She was well known in Chicago in the late 1800s. A pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement, she also worked on reforms concerning child labor, public health, garbage collection, labor law and race relations
While traveling in Europe , Jane visited Toynbee Hall. It is a reception house for immigrants in the eastern suburbs of London. This visit inspired Jane and her longtime partner, Ellen Gates Starr, to found the first foster home in the United States, Hull House. This served to meet the needs of disenfranchised immigrant populations in Chicago. The home was first opened as a day care centre. Immigrant mothers could thus work away from home, without leaving their children unsupervised. Subsequently, it expanded to allow education from primary to secondary. University-level courses and courses on social justice and civil rights were given there. Eventually, Jane and her colleagues at Hull House founded the Juvenile Protective Association . Its mission is to protect children from abuse and neglect. Jane was also the first president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. As if that weren’t enough, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
READ ALSO : What does queer mean in the LGBTQ+ Community ?
Despite evidence of his long-term same-sex relationships, history did not hold Jane for who she was. This woman created a safe space for other queer women at Hull House. She worked almost exclusively with other queer women . She has also devoted most of her life to creating a community for these women.
Eventually, Jane ended her relationship with Ellen Gates Starr. She met Mary Rozet Smith to whom she was married for 40 years. Although not legally married, Jane and Mary travel, share a bed, and own property together. They considered themselves a married couple. In a letter to Mary, Jane said, “There is a reason for the habit of married people staying together.” Jane wrote her letters every day they were apart. She wrote things like “I miss you terribly” and “I am yours until death”. She also called Smith “my love” in numerous letters throughout their 40-year relationship.
Jane and her companions probably wouldn’t have used the term “lesbian.” Indeed, it was not popularized at the time. Historians therefore have differing opinions on the homosexual nature of Jane. She and her partners left little information about the sexual nature of their relationship. However, they left many proofs of their love and intimacy. However, many historians reduce queer people to their sexual practices rather than their intimacy and love for one another.
Christine Jorgensen was the first transgender woman to publicly undergo a series of surgeries. This was to confirm her gender identity in 1952. She left her home in New York to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark. She met Doctor Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in hormone rehabilitation therapy. Together, they have pioneered medical advances in hormone therapy, surgical procedures, and healthcare for transgender people. Christine even chose her name as a tribute to her relationship with the Doctor. Moreover, the latter cited it in his studies as an essential element of his medical research.
Judy Dlugacz co-founded Olivia Records, a feminist record label, in 1973. In 1990, Judy decided to start a cruise line for lesbians. It would function more like a floating concert hall for artists supported by Olivia Records. This is how Olivia Travel was born, the world’s largest travel company that invests in chartering entire ships and resorts exclusively for the LGBTQ+ female community. Enabling hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ women to cruise and embark on overland adventures from Mexico to Europe, Olivia has paved the way for lesbian travel around the world.
To date, Olivia Travel is one of the only travel companies specifically for LGBTQ+ women. Olivia offers opportunities for all groups, whether it’s specific programs for women of color, activities for solo travelers, or age-specific offerings. In this way, Olivia Travel helps to create a safe space for its travelers so that they have the freedom to be themselves during their getaway.
Christine Jorgensen was the first transgender woman to publicly undergo a series of surgeries. This was to confirm her sexual identity in 1952. She left her home in New York City to travel to Copenhagen , Denmark. She met Doctor Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in hormone rehabilitation therapy. Together, they have pioneered medical advances in hormone therapy, surgical procedures, and healthcare for transgender people. Christine even chose her name as a tribute to her relationship with the Doctor. Moreover, the latter cited it in his studies as an essential element of his medical research.
When Christine returned to the Bronx from her surgeries, she was greeted with an outpouring of media attention. After a front page story from the Daily News, she became an overnight celebrity. Her media appearances have allowed her to educate and advocate for the transgender community. She’s become a textbook case for other LGBTQ+ celebrities on how they can use their public figure status to give back. This public attention, however, is a double-edged sword that prevents him from leading a quiet life with a regular job. Christine spent the rest of her life working in entertainment, advocacy and activism.
Jorgensen is not the first transgender woman to undergo surgery. Yet, the publicity it received reflected the first time that the mainstream media highlighted the option of surgical innovations. His transition has allowed other people to realize the following thing. If transphobic healthcare professionals are in their area, they can travel to other areas of the world to perform medical procedures there in a safe and positive atmosphere. Prior to this media coverage, many people were not even aware that medical interventions were possible.
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