Legendary author and activist Jeanne Córdova dies aged 67

Joseph McCormick January 11, 2016
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Activist and author Jeanne Córdova has died at her home aged 67.

The long-time activist and author of the magazine the Lesbian Tide, died at her home in Los Feliz, her wife Lynn Harris Ballen announced.


The self-described “butch” lesbian fought for lesbian visibility in a career as an activist spanning four decades.

She fought alongside the gay rights movement as well as in the feminist movement.

Speaking in 1995, the activist told a crowd in West Hollywood: “This is lesbian guerrilla warfare.

“We’re no longer going to be invisible to straight America, and we’re no longer going to be invisible to gay men. ”

Born in Bremerhaven, Germany in 1948, Córdova was the second child of 12.

Growing up Catholic in Southern California, she joined the Immaculate Heart of Mary order of nuns in 1966, but soon after left the convent as she began to question her sexual orientation and faith.

She addresses her time in the convent in the 1990 book ‘Kicking the Habit: A Lesbian Nun Story’.

But Córdova became estranged from her family for several years as her parents struggled to accept her coming out.

However she reconnected with siblings later, who said it was a change from the “sheltered” world they grew up in .

“We were so sheltered from the world and had no idea what a kaleidoscope of diversity lay outside our door,” Lu Córdova said.

“Jeanne opened that door.”

As well as publishing the magazine and her three books, Jeanne also founded the Community Yellow Pages, which pioneered access to gay and lesbian owned businesses in Southern California from 1981.

She was also a columnist for the Los Angeles Free Press, the Advocate, ICON newspaper, the American Herald newspaper and of course the Lesbian Tide. a

“I am much more comfortable with a gay plumber than I am with a straight one,” Córdova told The Times in 1989.

“I don’t have to run around the house and hide any telltale signs that I’m a lesbian.”

She married Ballen in 1995, who said of her late spouse: “She was, to me, brilliant and beautifully complicated and tough, while being soft at the same time… She was a true-to-herself butch … and she truly did have an ability to be visionary.”

Describing her life as a “wild joyride”, Córdova announced in an open letter in 2008 that she had colon cancer, and that the cancer had spread to her lungs.

$2 million of her estate was left to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice.

Córdova is survived by her 11 siblings, her spouse and dozens of nieces and nephews.

More: US

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