Jeanne Cordovan Cause Of Death, Who Recorded The Lesbian Feminist Movement Of The 1970s?

Jeanne Córdova, born on July 18, 1948, in Bremerhaven, Germany, was a trailblazer in the lesbian feminist movement of the 1970s. As the second of twelve children in a large Catholic family, she learned leadership and organizational skills early on. Her father, Frederick, a Mexican American, worked with the humanitarian organization CARE, while her mother, Joan McGuinnes Córdova, managed self-storage facilities. Growing up in Southern California, Jeanne’s responsibilities in her household helped shape her ability to command and strategize effectively, skills that would later become crucial in her activism.

Religious Journey

In 1966, Córdova joined the Immaculate Heart of Mary order of nuns, a decision that profoundly impacted her. It was during this time that she began to question her sexuality and faith. Leaving the convent, she pursued a master’s degree in social work from UCLA. Her experiences and reflections on her time in the convent were documented in her 1990 book, “Kicking the Habit: A Lesbian Nun Story.” This marked the beginning of her journey towards becoming an activist and a voice for the lesbian community.

Activism Begins

Jeanne Córdova’s activism began in earnest in 1970 when she became the president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), a lesbian civil and political rights organization. During her tenure, she witnessed a generational split within the DOB. Younger activists like Córdova pushed for more aggressive changes, while older members were cautious, fearing that being too subversive would make them more vulnerable. This era of bold activism laid the groundwork for Córdova’s future endeavors in advocating for lesbian rights.

Founding The Lesbian Tide

In 1971, Córdova transformed the DOB newsletter into the independent Lesbian Tide newsmagazine. This publication gained national distribution and became a pivotal platform for lesbian voices. The Lesbian Tide rallied the community and organized significant political gatherings, such as the National Lesbian Conference at UCLA in 1973. Through this magazine, Córdova championed lesbian visibility and fought for recognition 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 a vital resource for the LGBTQ+ community, offering consumers safe and supportive service options. The directory played a crucial role in fostering a sense of community and bringing local gays and lesbians out of the shadows. Córdova’s vision was to create an inclusive environment where LGBTQ+ individuals could thrive without fear of judgment.

Personal Life and Partnership

Jeanne Córdova’s personal life was as vibrant 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,” underscoring her multifaceted personality. Their relationship was a source of strength and support for Córdova throughout her activist career.

Later Years and Legacy

After selling the Community Yellow Pages in 1999, Córdova and Ballen moved to Mexico. There, Córdova explored her Latina heritage and began writing her 2011 memoir, “When We Were Outlaws.” This memoir recounted her experiences in the early days of the lesbian feminist movement and her lifelong fight for equality. The couple returned to Los Angeles in 2007.

In 2008, Córdova was diagnosed with colon cancer, which eventually spread to her lungs and brain. Despite her illness, she remained an active and passionate advocate for lesbian rights. She described her life’s activism as a “wild joyride” and continued to fight for social justice until her passing. Córdova left $2 million of her estate to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, ensuring that her legacy of advocating for lesbian visibility and rights would continue.

Impact and Recognition

Jeanne Córdova’s contributions to the lesbian feminist movement and the broader LGBTQ+ community were profound and lasting. Through her work with the Lesbian Tide and the Community Yellow Pages, she provided countless individuals with a platform and safe spaces to express themselves. As a self-described “butch,” Córdova challenged societal stereotypes and fought for recognition within both the feminist and gay rights movements. Her unwavering commitment to social justice and equality remains an inspiration, and her life’s work continues to resonate with activists today.


Jeanne Córdova’s legacy as a pioneering activist in the lesbian feminist movement is a testament to her dedication, resilience, and vision. From her early years in a large Catholic family to her transformative role in advocating for lesbian rights, Córdova’s journey was marked by significant achievements and unwavering courage. Her impact on the LGBTQ+ community endures, reminding us of the importance of visibility, advocacy, and the relentless pursuit of equality.

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