Activism

15 inspiring and fearless queer women to celebrate on International Women’s Day 2022

Lily Wakefield March 8, 2022
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International Womens Day

Mj Rodriguez, Zaya Wade and JoJo Siwa. (Getty)

International Women’s Day is celebrated globally every year on 8 March, marking the social, economic and political achievements of women across history and in present day.

The International Women’s Day 2022 theme is “Break the Bias”, recognising the need for a world that is diverse and equal, and free of stereotypes and discrimination.

So use the hashtag, join the conversation, and take a look at this (not in any way exhaustive) list of some inspirational queer women using their visibility now to make us all more equal in the future.

Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez

Mj Rodriguez
Mj Rodriguez attends the OUTLOUD: Raising Voices Concert Series at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on 6 June 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty/ Alberto E Rodriguez)

The last year has been a year of firsts for actor Mj Rodriguez.

In July, 2021, she became the first trans woman nominated in the lead actress category at the Emmys for her star turn as Blanca in Pose. In January, she made history yet again, becoming the first ever trans actor to win a Golden Globe.

She told NJ.com: “I think people finally see Michaela Jaé for who she really is. Mj has matured a lot.

“And now she’s grown into this strong Afro-Latina woman who is still fighting against the grain so that a lot of trans women don’t get typecast or get put into this box of how they’re supposed to act, whether it be in the world or on a television screen.”

Just this month, she was named as one of Time magazine’s Women of the Year.

JoJo Siwa

JoJo Siwa
JoJo Siwa attends the 23rd Women’s Images Awards Presented By The Women’s Image Network at Saban Theatre in October, 2021. (Getty/ Matt Winkelmeyer)

Originally of Dance Moms fame, JoJo Siwa has amassed a huge queer following since she came out in January 2021.

On the latest season of Dancing With the Stars, Siwa became one half of the show’s first-ever same-sex dance couple.

She and her partner Jenna Johnson brought queerness to the masses – and it was truly glorious to behold. They ultimately finished in second place.

Amy Schneider

Jeopardy! champ Amy Schneider
International Women’s Day 2022: Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider. (Twitter/ Jeopardy!)

Trans Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider thrilled queer people everywhere with string of victories on the show, breaking record after record as she went.

During her 40-game win streak, Schneider became the most successful female contestant in the show’s history and the first woman to break over $1 million – ultimately taking home almost $1.4 million in earnings.

She also became the first-ever trans contestant to compete on the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions

Schneider recently revealed that she was engaged to her partner Genevieve Davis.

Florence Schechter

 

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Florence Schechter is the queer founder of the world’s first vagina museum, aptly named The Vagina Museum.

The Vagina Museum, a queer and trans-inclusive museum dedicated to “vaginas, vulvas and the gynaecological anatomy”, began when Schechter realised: “There is a penis museum in Iceland. Which is pretty cool. But there is no vagina equivalent anywhere in the world.”

Schechter was “pretty miffed (muffed?)”, but decided the only way to remedy the situation was to create one herself.

This month, Schechter is moving the museum to a new premises in London’s Bethnal Green, and The Vagina Museum will become three times bigger.

Lea DeLaria

Lea DeLaria on the red carpet in France
Lea DeLaria on the red carpet in France. (Francois G. Durand/Getty)

Orange Is the New Black star, comedy legend and butch icon Lea DeLaria is one of the most prominent and well-recognised butch lesbians in the public eye.

Her comedy perfectly blends activism and fun, and this year she is set to star in a new broadway show titled POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive.

DeLaria also literally created the lesbian U-Haul joke.

Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monae didn't come out as non-binary, she was standing in solidarity
Janelle Monáe onstage in Pasadena, California, days after her Steven Universe tweet. (Amy Sussman/Getty)

Janelle Monáe spoke about her sexuality for the first time in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2017, and has said that she identifies with both the labels pansexual and bisexual.

Monáe has spoken her fear of coming out, especially as someone who is Black and queer.

She told them in 2019: “To be young, queer and Black in America means that you can be misunderstood.

“I just hope we can get to a point where Black women who don’t identify as strictly heterosexual are normalised.”

Chantale Wong

Chantale Wong will serve as the US director of the Asian Development Bank
International Women’s Day 2022: Chantale Wong was nominated by President Joe Biden in July 2021. (LinkedIn/ ChantaleWong)

Chantale Wong made history this year as the first openly lesbian ambassador to be confirmed by the Senate in US history.

Wong is also the first out LGBT+ person of colour to serve in an ambassador-level position, as the US director of the Asian Development Bank.

She was nominated for the role by president Joe Biden in July 2021 and confirmed in February by a bipartisan and overwhelming 66-31 Senate vote.

Evan Rachel Wood

Evan Rachel Wood opens up about spending time in a psychiatric hospital
International Women’s Day 2022: Evan Rachel Wood. (Getty/ Matt Winkelmeyer)

Last year, bisexual actor Evan Rachel Wood publicly accused her former partner Marilyn Manson of “horrific abuse“.

Having once testified in the US Congress about the realities of domestic violence, she named her alleged abuser as Manson in an Instagram post.

Her courage in speaking out has prompted a wave of lawsuits from other women who say they are survivors of abuse by Manson. He denies all allegations.

In January, at a Q&A at the premier of her new documentary, Phonenix Rising – Part I: Don’t Fall, Wood said: “The way the press handled this story for many, many years is shameful. And it’s time we finally tell the whole story.”

Zaya Wade

Zaya Wade
Zaya Wade attends Harlem’s Fashion Row x Janie and Jack Los Angeles Fashion presentation, 2021. (Getty/ Emma McIntyre)

Zaya Wade is the 14-year-old transgender daughter of basketball star Dwyane Wade, and she came out in 2020.

Since then, she has become a high-profile figure on social media and, despite her young age, has worked hard to help other young LGBT+ people accept themselves, and to help adults understand them.

“I honestly wish that a lot of adults understood and did not invalidate how confusing, uncomfortable and kind of abrupt, but also how beautiful being a part of any LGBTQ+ community is,” she recently said. 

Lia Thomas

Lia Thomas clutches the side of a pool during a swimming meet and smiles at other competitors
International Women’s Day 2022: Lia Thomas, a swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania, smiles after winning the 200 meter freestyle event during a tri-meet on 8 January 2022. (Getty/Hunter Martin)

Lia Thomas is a 22-year-old trans swimmer on the University of Pennsylvania women’s team and she has been hounded by the media for months in transphobic smear campaign.

Despite the constant attacks, she is determined to use the attention she has received to show young, queer athletes that they aren’t alone.

In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, she said: “They don’t have to choose between who they are and the sport they love.”

Willow Smith

Willow Smith international women's day
Willow Smith. (Edward Berthelot/Getty Images for Christian Dior)

Willow Smith came out to her mother and grandmother in 2019, saying she loves “men and women equally,” and would “definitely” consider polyamory.

She gave a crash course on polyamory to her mother, Jada, and grandmother, Adrienne, on an episode of Red Table Talk, before opening up about her sexuality, explaining that her ideal relationship would be with a man and a woman.

Smith has continued to use her platform to openly discuss polyamory and her queerness, both with her family and with the world.

Lady Phyll

Lady Phyll, co-founder of UK Black Pride. (Peccadillo Pictures)

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah – widely known as Lady Phyll – is the co-founder of UK Black Pride.

Opoku-Gyimah is also executive director at the Kaleidoscope Trust which works to advance LGBT+ rights across the Commonwealth, in countries where anti-LGBT+ laws were imposed by British colonisers.

In January, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by London South Bank University for her “incredible leadership in the fight for equality”.

Laurel Hubbard

Laurel Hubbard smiles to the crowd at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics
Laurel Hubbard, the first out transgender women to compete at the Olympics. (Wally Skalij /Los Angeles Times via Getty)

Last year in Tokyo, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly trans woman to compete in the Olympic Games.

She faced an onslaught of transphobia for her inclusion in the games, with some calling for the International Olympic Committee to disqualify her.

Hubbard is a private person and generally avoids media interviews, but she became a role model for trans and non-binary athletes around the world.

She told Radio New Zealand in 2017: “It’s not my role or my goal to change people’s minds, I would hope they would support me, but it’s not for me to make them do so.”

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe
International Women’s Day 2022: Megan Rapinoe during the United States international friendly match against Ireland on August 3, 2019. (Shaun Clark/Getty)

One of the world’s most visible and talked-about queer women since she led the US women’s football team to World Cup victory in 2019, Megan Rapinoe has become well-known for being fiercely political, and even publicly taking on Donald Trump.

She has become a figurehead in the fight for equal pay for athletes, including speaking on the issue before Congress, and is an outspoken advocate for trans inclusion in sport.

Rapinoe, who is also one half of the world’s greatest sporting power couple with partner Sue Bird, also secured a bronze medal for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics when she shocked fans with an incredible corner goal, known as an “Olimpico”. 

Munroe Bergdorf

International Women's Day Munroe Bergdorf arrives at The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Munroe Bergdorf arrives at The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Munroe Bergdorf, model, activist and one of Britain’s most prominent trans voices, has tirelessly campaigned for trans rights in the UK.

Bergdorf, who is also a UN Women UK advocate, supporting its #DrawALine campaign which aims to put a stop to female genital mutilation, spoke to crowds at London Trans+ Pride in the summer of 2021.

She said: “When we have spaces like this, it’s a reminder to see god in each other. Whatever god is. A higher power. To treat each other how we want to be treated.

“This is not a moment. We are not a moment. This is our legacy. As different as we are as individuals, we are reflections of each other – inextricably linked and spiritually bonded by community. This is evidence of community.

“We are stronger together. We cannot let idiotic countermovements like LGB Alliance and TERFs and gender-critical feminism tear us apart.”

More: Amy Schneider, evan rachel wood, Internatonal Women's Day, janelle monae, JoJo Siwa, Lady Phyll, laurel hubbard, Lia Thomas, Megan Rapinoe, Willow Smith, Zaya Wade

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