Jeanne Córdova Wife, Is Jeanne Córdova a Person? Google Doodle Honors Pioneer of LGBTQ+ Rights

Jeanne Córdova (July 18, 1948 – January 10, 2016) was an influential American writer, activist, and a driving force in the lesbian and gay rights movement. As the founder of The Lesbian Tide and a pivotal figure in the West Coast LGBT movement, Córdova’s contributions to social justice are profound and enduring. Despite passing away at the age of 67 with an estimated net worth that remains unpublicized, her legacy continues to inspire and impact many.

Who Was Jeanne Córdova?

Born in Bremerhaven, Germany, Jeanne Córdova was the second oldest of twelve children to a Mexican father and an Irish-American mother. Raised in California, she attended Bishop Amat High School before pursuing higher education at California State University, Los Angeles, and UCLA, where she graduated cum laude with a degree in Social Welfare. Her commitment to social justice began during her university years, where she interned in the African American and Latino communities of Watts and East Los Angeles.

What Inspired Córdova’s Activism?

Córdova’s journey into activism began after a brief stint as a Catholic nun. She entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary convent in 1966 but left in 1968 as she grappled with her sexual identity and growing dissatisfaction with the Church. This pivotal moment led her to fully embrace her identity and channel her energy into activism and community organization. She quickly became a prominent figure in the lesbian and gay rights movement, starting as the Los Angeles chapter President of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB).

What Were Her Major Contributions to LGBT Rights?

Under her leadership, the DOB chapter newsletter evolved into The Lesbian Tide, a groundbreaking publication that served as the “newspaper of record for the lesbian feminist decade” from 1970 to 1980. Córdova’s editorship and publishing efforts significantly advanced lesbian visibility and discourse during a transformative period in the LGBT rights movement.

In the 1970s, Córdova played a key role in organizing major conferences, including the first West Coast Lesbian Conference and the first National Lesbian Conference at UCLA. She also served on the Board of the Los Angeles Gay Community Services Center and was the Human Rights Editor of the Los Angeles Free Press.

How Did She Influence Political Activism?

Córdova’s influence extended into political activism. She was a delegate at the first National Women’s Conference for International Women’s Year in Houston in 1977, where she championed the lesbian affirmative action resolution. Her political endeavors included serving as the Southern California media director for the campaign against the Proposition 6 Briggs Initiative, which sought to ban gay and lesbian teachers from California’s public schools.

In the 1980s, Córdova continued to break new ground by helping to found the Gay and Lesbian Caucus of the Democratic Party and serving as one of thirty openly lesbian delegates to the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York City. Her advocacy work included founding the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Press Association and serving as media director for the campaign against California Proposition 64, which aimed to quarantine AIDS patients.

What Were Her Later Achievements?

During the 1980s and 1990s, Córdova’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to create the Community Yellow Pages, the first and later the largest LGBT business directory in the nation. She also founded the New Age Telephone Book and Square Peg Magazine, which focused on queer culture and literature.

In 1995, she became the board president of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives and co-founded the Lesbian Legacy Collection at ONE Archives. Later, she moved to Todos Santos, Mexico, where she and her spouse, Lynn Harris Ballen, co-founded The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, a non-profit organization focused on economic justice.

What Legacy Did She Leave Behind?

Returning to Los Angeles, Córdova and Ballen co-founded LEX – The Lesbian Exploratorium, which sponsored the art and history exhibit “Genderplay in Lesbian Culture” and created the Lesbian Legacy Wall at ONE Archives. In 2010, she organized and chaired the Butch Voices Los Angeles Conference, further solidifying her legacy as a pioneering activist.

Her memoir, “When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love & Revolution,” received multiple awards, including the Lambda Literary Award for best Lesbian Memoir/Biography and the Golden Crown Literary Society Award for best Short Story/Essay Collections.

What Personal and Posthumous Honors Did She Receive?

Jeanne Córdova’s personal life was deeply intertwined with her activism. Her life partner, Lynn Harris Ballen, was a feminist radio journalist, and together they created various media projects and cultural events. Córdova’s passing from metastatic brain cancer in 2016 prompted her to write a heartfelt farewell letter to her community, published in several lesbian-related publications.

In her final act of generosity, Córdova donated a $2 million legacy gift to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, establishing the Jeanne R. Cordova Fund. Her contributions were commemorated in her obituary in the Los Angeles Times and remembered on BBC Radio 4’s “Last Word” program.

Jeanne Córdova’s life was a testament to the power of activism and the enduring impact of fighting for justice and equality. Her legacy continues to inspire new generations of activists and remains a cornerstone of the LGBT rights movement.


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