Velvetpark's Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2012

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Velvetpark's Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2012

The momentum the LGBT movement has gained in western nations in the last decade and the struggles for protection from prejudice we still face tend to dominate LGBT and mainstream media. It is too easy to forget that LGBT people in parts of the world may be struggling just to survive. One lesbian couple is trying to change that. Jenni, a business manager for eBay, and Lisa, a social worker in HIV services, first met on the AIDS Lifecycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles and in the summer of 2011 they decided to take a year to travel the world together. They decided to visit fifteen underdeveloped countries in South America, Australia, and East Asia, in order explore the state of LGBT activism in these foreign destinations. In each place they sought out inspiring activist leaders, for whom they coined the label “Supergays.” They documented their discoveries and interviews on their website, Out & Around: Stories From A Not-So-Straight Journey, and their blogs were re-posted here at Velvetpark. While on the trip, Jenni proposed to Lisa on a beach in the Philippines. Upon returning home this summer, they began working on turning their interviews into a documentary film. They are also planning their wedding for next June.

“Our Founding Mother”—Mara Keisling, Trans Rights Activist

As the founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Keisling has had a banner year in trans-rights activism, spearheading many of this year’s successful initiatives: the NCTE’s influential “Voting While Trans” PSA series, the transgender anti-discrimination immigration policy,  and the removal of the term “gender identity disorder” from the DSM. Her appearance as a panelist on Melissa Harris-Perry’s hour-long segment “Being Trans in America” solidified her as a key figure of both the present and future of the trans-rights movement, as well as signifying the increasing import of trans issues in the American socio-political sphere. With her knowledge and leadership, she continues to feature on media outlets like CNN and MSNBC and frequently contributes to The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post.

“The Fast and the Furious”—C.D. Kirven, Activist, Comics Artist, Filmmaker

National board member of GetEQUAL, Dallas LGBT figurehead, and co-founder of DFW Pride Movement (a Dallas black gay pride group), C.D. Kirven has become a legendary grassroots activist for LGBT rights. This year she personally and publicly challenged same-sex marriage opponents Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and City Commissioner Maurine Dickey and is now being encouraged to run for City Council next year. Named Dallas’s LGBT Person of the Year in 2012, Kirven is an artist at heart and champions the inclusion of the arts in activism, particularly through her affiliation with GetEQUAL. An artist herself, her comics series about a black lesbian superhero, The Tao Diaries, sold out at this year’s Comikaze in Los Angeles; she is currently at work on a screenplay and is a weekly columnist for

“The Renaissance Woman”—Patricia Cronin, Painter, Sculptor, Social Commentator

While the art world clamors for the new and emerging talent, it is so much more satisfying to immerse oneself in the works of the consummate veterans of the art world. With a list of prizes (including the The Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and the Rome Prize), as well as a string of museum shows, Patricia Cronin is perhaps the most under-recognized critically acclaimed artist in New York. Cronin is married to a previous Top 25 recipient, artist Deborah Kass, who appears in one of Cronin’s most celebrated pieces, “Memorial to A Marriage,” a sculpted gravestone of the couple at Woodlawn Cemetery, where the two plan to be buried. This year Cronin’s year-end show, Dante: The Way of All Flesh, explores the excesses and betrayals of corporate culture in the guise of her signature neo-classical flair.

“Point Break”—Jackie Deluca & Carol Kelly, Sandy Relief Organizers

In the wake of  Hurricane Sandy, before the Red Cross or FEMA arrived onto the scene, it was friends, family, neighbors, and strangers who turned out for communities relief. Local organizations spontaneously and instinctively jumped into action. Once such group, a local surf club named LAVA SURF, concerted their recovery efforts in the hardest hit area of New York City, the Rockaways. Jackie Deluca and her partner Carol Kelly have been regular Rockaway surfers for years, paddling out every weekend, rain or shine, sun or snow. On the morning after the storm Deluca and Kelly rolled out to the Rockaways to assess damage and soon found themselves at the center of organizing one of the most efficient relief stations during the clean-up efforts. Using LAVA SURF as their home base, they devised an organizational system to create and maintain a fluid and efficacious structure of clean-up and assistance. Their spontaneous, DIY system—devising a list of tasks for volunteers to follow, from cleaning out mold ridden apartments and going door-to-door to assess individual needs—soon garnered the attention of the Clinton Global Initiative and the respect of everyone on the scene. We want to acknowledge these unsung heroes here—when in the face of tragedy, we see the best in humanity come out...especially well-organized lesbians.

“Cinema Paradiso”—Aurora Guerrero, Filmmaker, Director, Screenwriter

San Francisco Bay Area native and co-founder of Womyn Image Makers (WIM) Aurora Guerrero has been making waves in the film industry for years, particularly with her short Pura Lengua, which debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, and the award-winning Viernes Girl, awarded the HBO/NY International Latino Film Festival short film prize, also in 2005. A Ford Foundation Fellowship enabled her to produce her most critically acclaimed and successful film—her first feature—to date: Mosquita y Mari, which debuted at Sundance Film Festival in 2012, making her the first Xicana filmmaker to debut at the famed festival. Garnering nearly a dozen awards—from Best First Narrative Feature to Audience Award (Pink Film Festival Zurich)—during the 2012 film circuit, this Spirit Award nominated film explores the budding relationship between two adolescent girls who try to negotiate the fine lines between their romance and the obligations they have to their families. Young love never looked so good, or so real.

Comments [3]

Del's picture

Re: On NOT being a (queer) woman OR a (gendernon-conforming) MAN

Hey! Thanks for including me in your list and the nice things you said about my work. Just wanted to mention though that although I am what could be called gender non-conforming and queer I am not a MAN or a WOMAN but INTERSEX! That means my anatomical body does not conform to standard definitions of male and female, not hormonally, not chromosomally or in what you see (at least when I'm naked!) 

Thanks for the space to say so! HERMLOVE XX XO Del LaGrace Volcano

Marcie Bianco's picture

We think you're pretty

We think you're pretty amazing, Del. While the overarching list is constructed under the rubric of "queer women," our definition of this already-fraught, already-complex, identity is broad to try to encapsulate all of its complexity and fraught-ness. I'm super thankful to you for this clarification and for your willingness to be included on this list -- the intersex community is (at least I'd like to think) very much a part of our larger community.

Grace Moon's picture

*Editors note*

In case anyone misses this in the intro: "As with past years our criteria is to honor female-identified or non-gender-binary persons"

Since our title would get quite long if we tried to identify all identifiers we've kept it at "...Singnificant Queer Women..."

we understand not everyone identifies as "women" on this list. I hope that clarifies.

xo Moon

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