We take a look at some of the pioneers that paved the way for us all. Here is KitschMix’s ‘Who’s Who of the World’s Greatest Lesbians’
Sappho (610-570 BCE)
The ancient Greek poetess lived on the Isle of Lesbos – which is where we get our name from of course. Her verse celebrated love between women and attracted a legion of groupies and admirers. Her last poem was only discovered recently, hidden inside and Egyptian mummy. Sappho was living and practising a lesbian lifestyle some five centuries before the birth of Christ, so religious people who claim that LGBT behaviour is a modern sin are completely wrong.
Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
She was an inspiration to millions as – so she described herself – a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”. She fought prejudice on many fronts, opposing racism, sexism and homophobia as a member of many alternative lifestyle communities.
Del Martin (1921-2008) and Phyllis Lyon (1924- )
No two women have made a great contribution to lesbian media than these two. The Curve and The Ladder – two highly influential publications – helped to raise the profile of Sapphic activists in the 1950s. They also helped set up the LGBT advocacy group Daughters of Bilitis. Apparently their dinner parties were pretty amazing too!
Ellen DeGeneres (1958- )
Arguably America’s best-known lesbian entertainer, Ellen began wowing the crowds in her sitcom Ellen in the 1990s and hasn’t let up since. She came out in style by appearing on the cover of Time magazine and saying ‘Yep, I’m out!’
Cris Williamson (1947- )
Chanteuse extraordinaire Cris Williamson not only recorded a 1975 album, The Changer, that shifted half a million units, but set up her own record label Olivia Records. A devoted advocate of LGBT rights, she has done for lesbians in music what people like Freddy Mercury and Elton John have done for gay men in music.
Martina Navratilova (1956- )
When 9 time Wimbledon champion tennis star Martina Navratilova came out, lesbians everywhere had a new sporting idol. She bravely fled her homeland of communist Czechoslovakia to come and live in the US and win a record-breaking 167 professional singles titles. Whew!
Rita Mae Brown (1944- )
A talented screenwriter and novelist whose 1973 book Rubyfruit Jungle broke new ground in its frank and vivid descriptions of lesbian behaviour. She famously said, “I don’t believe in straight or gay. I really don’t. I think we’re all degrees of bisexual.”
Melissa Etheridge (1961- )
The Kansan turned a few heads when she burst onto the heartland rock scene in the early ’90s, but we can thank her for breaking a few barriers down in that traditionally conservative music genre.
k.d. lang (1961- )
Country and Western is even more conservative, so it took that scene a little while to get used to the Canadian lesbian singer-songwriter k.d. lang. It wasn’t difficult once they’d heard her ballsy lyrics and beautiful melodies.