17 Badass Historical LGBT Women Who Gave Absolutely No Fucks
Everyone should know about 1930s drag king Gladys Bentley. *Swoons*
1. Tallulah Bankhead (1902–68)
2. Anne Lister (1791–1840)
This British landowner kept extensive coded diaries detailing her personal life. Her first relationship was with a schoolfriend called Eliza Raine, and was followed by an affair with fellow pupil Mariana Belcombe. She then got married (although it wasn't recognised legally) to a wealthy heiress called Ann Walker, which caused uproar in polite society, but they were both rich and could do what they wanted so they DGAF.
3. Gladys Bentley (1907–60)
4. Hannah Snell (1723–92)
5. Marion Barbara "Joe" Carstairs (1900–93)
Joe Carstairs was the British daughter of a rich American heiress. Born in Mayfair in 1903, she used her money to build a career as a world-class powerboat racer. She was openly lesbian, dressed in men's clothing, and had a relationship with Dolly Wilde, Oscar Wilde's niece, who she lived with for a time in Paris. She also had affairs with Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and our good friend Tallulah Bankhead.
6. Alla Nazimova (1879–1945)
Alla Nazimova was a wild, beautiful silent movie star and stage actor who openly conducted relationships with other women. She held lavish, sexy parties at her Sunset Boulevard mansion, and coined the phrase "sewing circle" to describe closeted lesbian and bisexual women in Hollywood, with whom she had multiple affairs. She lived with fellow actor Glesca Marshall from 1929 until her death.
7. Ruth Ellis (1899–2000)
8. Natalie Clifford Barney (1876–1972)
9. Vita Sackville-West (1892 – 1962)
10. Cha-U-Kao (?)
This Parisian female clown and entertainer regularly performed at the Moulin Rouge in the 1890s. She was a favourite subject of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who painted a variety of intimate scenes showing Cha-U-Kao with her female lovers. He was reportedly fascinated by her confidence, the fact she was so open about her homosexuality, and her decision to choose a "male" profession (clowning).
11. Roberta Cowell (1918–2011)
12. The Ladies of Llangollen (1739–1831)
13. Audre Lorde (1934–92)
Audre Lorde was an African-American writer, civil rights activist, and thoroughly badass lesbian who worked to confront issues of racism in the fledgling feminist movement. She was outspoken in her approach and wasn't afraid to engage in open disagreements with notable white feminists, which led to some people labelling her an outsider, but she refused to be silenced and didn't give up.
14. Mary Benson (1841–1918)
Mary Benson was a well-known hostess and society darling who was married to the archbishop of Canterbury. She also had multiple affairs with women, including a four-year relationship with a young, pretty composer named Ethel Smyth, who (DRAMA KLAXON) was also dating Benson's daughter Nellie. But Benson magnanimously stepped aside in favour of her daughter. What a nice mum.
15. Jane Addams (1860–1935)
Jane Addams was a seismically huge and influential figure in the American women's suffrage movement. She was also romantically involved with several women over her lifetime, most significantly with Mary Rozet Smith (pictured left, above), who she shared a house with. The women wrote to each other constantly when apart, and the letters show they saw themselves as a loving married couple.
16. Lady Una Troubridge (1887–1963)
Una Troubridge was the equally talented artist partner of the better-known lesbian writer Radclyffe Hall. Hall was dating Troubridge's aunt Mabel Batton when they first met, but after Batton died they hooked up, lived together very openly, and remained a couple until Hall's death in 1943, despite some serious lesbo drama in 1934 when Hall had an affair with a Russian nurse called Evgenia Souline. Damn, girl.