Jeanne Cordova Cause Of Death, Who Documented The 1970s Lesbian Feminist Movement

Jeanne Córdova, born on July 18, 1948, in Bremerhaven, Germany, emerged as a pioneering force in the lesbian feminist movement of the 1970s. As the second of twelve children, Córdova’s early life in a large Catholic family in Southern California was marked by her leadership skills. Her Mexican American father, Frederick, worked with the humanitarian organization CARE, and her mother, Joan McGuinnes Córdova, ran self-storage facilities. From a young age, Córdova learned to navigate the complexities of a large household, commanding her siblings and strategizing on everyday matters.

Religious Journey

In 1966, Córdova joined the Immaculate Heart of Mary order of nuns, a pivotal decision that led her to question her sexuality and faith. Leaving the convent, she pursued a master’s degree in social work from UCLA. Her experiences in the convent were later chronicled in her 1990 book, “Kicking the Habit: A Lesbian Nun Story.”

Activism Begins

Córdova’s journey as an activist began in earnest in 1970 when she became the president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian civil and political rights organization. This period saw gay activists becoming increasingly bold, and within the Daughters, a generational split emerged. Younger women like Córdova sought more aggressive change, while older members feared being too subversive would increase their vulnerability.

Lesbian Tide

In 1971, Córdova’s newsletter for the Daughters of Bilitis evolved into the independent Lesbian Tide newsmagazine. The publication gained national distribution and became a rallying point for political gatherings, such as the National Lesbian Conference at UCLA in 1973. The Lesbian Tide was instrumental in amplifying lesbian voices and advocating for visibility within both the feminist and gay rights movements.

Community Yellow Pages

In 1981, Córdova founded the Community Yellow Pages, a directory of gay- and lesbian-owned businesses in Southern California. This initiative provided consumers with options to support companies that catered to them without judgment. Córdova’s vision was to create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, and the directory played a crucial role in bringing local gays and lesbians out of the shadows.

Personal Life

Córdova’s personal life was as dynamic as her public activism. She and her spouse, Lynn Harris Ballen, committed to each other in a partnering ceremony in August 1995 and legally wed in 2013 after same-sex marriage became legal in California. Ballen described Córdova as “brilliant and beautifully complicated,” highlighting her ability to be both tough and soft.

Later Years

After selling the Community Yellow Pages in 1999, Córdova and Ballen moved to Mexico. There, Córdova delved into her Latina heritage and began writing her 2011 memoir, “When We Were Outlaws.” The couple returned to Los Angeles in 2007.

Final Chapter

In 2008, Córdova was diagnosed with colon cancer, which later spread to her lungs and brain. Despite her illness, she continued her activism, describing her life’s work as a “wild joyride.” She left $2 million of her estate to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, ensuring that her legacy of fighting for lesbian visibility and rights would continue.

Impact and Legacy

Jeanne Córdova’s impact on the lesbian feminist movement and the broader LGBTQ+ community is profound. Her work through the Lesbian Tide and the Community Yellow Pages helped countless individuals find their voices and safe spaces. As a self-described “butch,” Córdova challenged stereotypes and fought for visibility in both the feminist and gay rights movements. Her life’s work remains a testament to her unwavering commitment to social justice and equality.

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