Women We Love 2022: Mary Anne Adams

Mary Anne Adams

by Angela Denise Davis

When Mary Anne Adams saw a major resource gap in her queer community, she dropped everything to fill it. In 2017, the public health researcher and trained social worker quit her job in academia to focus full- time on ZAMI NOBLA (National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging), a membership-based non-profit that centers service, advocacy, and community action research in order to build a base of power for Black lesbians over the age of 40 nationwide. “I founded ZAMI NOBLA because aging Black lesbians were no longer occupying positions of primacy in the youth-oriented Atlanta LGBTQ community and were increasingly rendered invisible, generally overlooked, and often ignored,” Adams tells GO. “They faded from these queer spaces feeling unwelcomed and unwanted.” Though leaving her job was risky—“I would lose 75 percent of my annual income,” Adams recalls—ZAMI NOBLA’s Executive Director soon saw results. One year after Adams left her job, the organization acquired a 35-year lease on a residence in northwest Atlanta, which they named the Biggers House for Black Lesbian Elders, which provides affordable and accessible housing for Black lesbians over the age of 55. “Low-income LGBTQ elders have unique needs and require affirming spaces to live and thrive that are affordable, accessible, and empowering of their identity,” Adams says. “As a member of the community I am working on behalf of, and with, I am committed to building upon and maintaining connections with Black lesbians as they age, to help grow a network of intergenerational women who can offer care and friendship to one another.” –LE

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