Devoted her life to activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Córdova – a Chicana-identified, feminist butch woman – was best known for her award-winning lesbian history memoir, When We Were Outlaws (2011). She played a pivotal role in the early gay and lesbian radical movements that sought deeper change for LGBTQ communities, beyond marriage. Córdova founded The Lesbian Tide, a popular lesbian feminist newspaper in the 1970’s, and the Community Yellow Pages, the nation’s largest LGBTQ directory that connected then-hidden consumers with community businesses and services in the 1980’s. Her decades of activism on behalf of the LGBTQI community included her role as a key organizer of four national lesbian conferences, a leading activist on statewide California initiatives, President of the Stonewall Democratic Club, and as a journalist and author of several books.
Córdova and feminist radio host Lynn Harris Ballen were life partners for 26 years. Together, they curated dozens of community spaces, from the ‘Genderplay in Lesbian Culture’ exhibit at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives to The Palapa Society in Todos Santos, Mexico. As veteran activists, the couple had a unique understanding of those who enact social change and their needs.
Before Córdova passed away in early 2016, she announced that her estate would donate $2 million to further Astraea’s grantmaking endeavors. The Jeanne R. Córdova Fund at Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice now offers financial support to national and international organizations focusing on movement-building and human rights; journalism; and promoting our culture. It specifically supports Latina lesbians from South/Latin America and Southern African women; lesbians, feminists, lesbian feminists, butch and masculine gender nonconforming communities. In directing this gift to Astraea, Córdova has furthered the feminist activism that the organization has supported for 40 years, both internationally and domestically.