GO! Presents 100 Women We Love: Class of 2024

THE CULTURAL ROADMAP FOR CITY GIRLS EVERYWHERE

Kelly Cogswell

June 26, 2021

Kelly Cogswell by Uzi Parnes

Kelly Cogswell has lived a number of lives, but each one comes back to the same purpose: to advocate for the rights of lesbians and the LGBTQ+ community. At the start of her journey, when she moved from Kentucky to New York with a willingness to work hard and learn, she took on any job she could get, from prep cook to temporary secretary. Eventually, she found her way into the Lesbian Avengers, a 90s-era direct action group dedicated to bringing awareness to lesbian issues and lives. Her role with the group rocketed her to a career in writing, as she found a practical way to direct her skills. “When I joined the Lesbian Avengers in New York in 1992 I was doing performance art and writing poetry,” says Cogswell. “Everybody contributed what they could, and since I was a writer, it made sense for me to sometimes work with the ‘Propaganda’ committee doing newsletters and press releases.” From 2000- 2006, Cogswell co-founded and co-edited The Gully, an online magazine for queer thoughts and opinions. In 2014, she published “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” a memoir about her experience with the organization. She was also awarded a Poynter journalism fellowship at Yale University in 2018. Most recently, Cogswell published a new edition of the 1993 “Lesbian Avenger Handbook: A Handy Guide to Homemade Revolution” that serves as a resource for activists and scholars who want to learn and put in the work for the lesbian community. —IL

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