Lesbian Icon & Author Leslie Cohen Has Passed Away

Jamie Robinson

Leslie was a mentor and icon for our LGBTQ community.

Lesbian icon and author Leslie Cohen has died.

Cohen has long been a fixture of the New York City’s LGBTQ+ community. She was one of four women who opened Sahara, a legendary upscale women’s club, in the 1970s, and later worked as a nightclub promoter before attending law school.

She and her wife, Beth Suskin, were also the models for George Segal’s “Gay Liberation” sculpture in the Village’s Christopher Park.

Her 2021 memoir, “The Audacity of a Kiss,” was recently nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for best Lesbian Memoir/Biography. 

Although few details of her passing have been shared, her memory was commemorated by friend Charlotte Robinson in an obituary published on Outtakes. “We have lost a true lesbian pioneer in the passing of Leslie Cohen,” Robinson wrote. “Whether opening the first upscale lesbian club Sahara in NYC in 1976 or becoming the models with her partner/wife of 45 years Beth Suskin for the iconic National Monument sculpture, ‘Gay Liberation’ in Greenwich Village …. Leslie was a mentor and icon for our LGBTQ community.”

Rest In Power Leslie Cohen.


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