100 Women We Love: Class Of 2018

Each one of these women, in her own unique way, is a role model who exemplifies the best of the LGBTQ community.

Jewelle Gomez

Photo by Irene Young

Lesbian feminist author and playwright Jewelle Gomez will never forget the book fair in Florida at which a “young dyke” whose home had been destroyed in a hurricane came up to her. The only thing she’d saved from the storm was her copy of Gomez’s The Gilda Stories, the double Lambda Literary Award-winning vampire novel that recently had its 25th anniversary edition published by City Lights Books. “She was in tears as she told me how the book comforted her and gave her strength while she waited in a shelter for a place to live,” Gomez recalls. “No one can manufacture that emotional connection we shared. It renewed her and me.” The author of seven books and the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature, Gomez strives to “express my emotions and political ideas in ways that don’t feel preachy or sweetsy. Nothing like a vampire to cut the sweet!” Her latest work is Waiting for Giovanni, a play about James Baldwin that will premiere in New York City this summer. In addition to her literary accomplishments, Gomez was on the founding boards of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation, was former President of the San Francisco Public Library Commission, and worked with the New York State Council on the Arts for a decade. She sees her many roles as connected: They are all about community. “I feel so gratified when all kinds of people get the feminist messages I’m writing into my work about our own responsibilities and how important building community is to all of us.” —SEJ