Partner Lynn Harris Ballen
University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095
3209 Lowry Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Jeanne Córdova (July 18, 1948 – January 10, 2016) was an American pioneer lesbian and gay rights activist, a founder of the West Coast LGBTQ movement, and a journalist and Lammy award-winning  author for her memoir When We Were Outlaws: a Memoir of Love and Revolution.
Córdova was born in Bremerhaven, Germany in 1948, the second oldest of twelve children born to a Mexican father and Irish American mother. She attended high school at Bishop Amat High School in La Puente, California, east of Los Angeles and went on to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in Social Welfare. She interned in the African-American and Latino communities of Watts & East Los Angeles and earned a master's degree in Social Work at UCLA in 1972.
Córdova entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary convent after high school in 1966, but left in 1968 and completed her social work degree while becoming a community organizer/activist and later a journalist. She began her lesbian and gay rights career as Los Angeles chapter President of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). During her DOB presidency she opened the first lesbian center in Los Angeles, in 1971.:136, 190 Under Córdova the DOB chapter newsletter evolved into The Lesbian Tide with Córdova serving as editor and publisher of what became "the newspaper of record for the lesbian feminist decade" (1970–1980), ranked "highest in the criteria of journalistic excellence", and notable as the first American magazine to use the word "lesbian" in its title.
In the 1970s Córdova was a key organizer of four lesbian conferences, among them the first West Coast Lesbian Conference at Metropolitan Community Church (1971) and the first National Lesbian Conference:190 at the University of California, Los Angeles (1973). She also sat on the Board of the Los Angeles Gay Community Services Center and became the Human Rights Editor of the progressive weekly, the Los Angeles Free Press (1973–1976).
Córdova was elected as a delegate to the first National Women's Conference for International Women's Year in Houston (1977), where she was a moving force behind the passage of the lesbian affirmative action resolution. She was Southern California media director of the ballot campaign to defeat the anti-gay Proposition 6 Briggs Initiative 1978), which sought to purge lesbian and gay teachers from California's public schools. She went on to be the founder of the National Lesbian Feminist Organization's first convention (1978), and president of the Stonewall Democratic Club (1979–1981).
In the 1980s Córdova helped found the Gay and Lesbian Caucus of the Democratic Party and served as one of thirty openly lesbian delegates to the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York City. She was a founder of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Press Association (1983) and a founding board member of the Connexxus Women's Center/Centro de Mujeres (1984–1988). She also worked as media director for STOP 64, a campaign that defeated the statewide California Proposition 64 (1986) La Rouche AIDS quarantine measure.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Córdova published the Community Yellow Pages, which became the first, and later the nation's largest LGBT business directory (1981–1999). She also published the New Age Telephone Book (1987–1992) and a queer cultural magazine, Square Peg Magazine (1992–94). In 1995 she was elected Board President of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, and co-founded the Lesbian Legacy Collection at the ONE Archives with Yolanda Retter.
In 1999, Córdova sold the Community Yellow Pages and went to live for eight years in Todos Santos, BCS Mexico. She and Lynn Harris Ballen co-founded a non-profit organization for economic justice, The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, AC and Córdova served as its first president until 2007.
Returning to Los Angeles, Córdova and Ballen co-founded LEX – The Lesbian Exploratorium which sponsored the art and history exhibit Genderplay in Lesbian Culture  (2009) and created the Lesbian Legacy Wall at ONE Archives (2009). Córdova then organized and chaired the west coast Butch Voices Los Angeles 2010 Conference.
Córdova's life partner was Lynn Harris Ballen, a feminist radio journalist and the daughter of South African freedom fighter Frederick John Harris. They lived, wrote, and created history-themed lesbian feminist cultural events, exhibits and literature in the Hollywood Hills, California.
Córdova died of metastatic colon cancer on January 10, 2016, at the age of 67.
BACK TO HOME PAGE