Velvetpark’s year end round up of the most significant queer women of 2010 had our editors researching and wracking our brains for the last month. In selecting the Official Top 25 we decided to hone our criteria down to women who made a significant contribution to lesbian/dyke/trans/queer visibility in the areas of arts, culture and activism, or who made a critical impact on our social equality—this year. We also decided not to include any celebrities, even though we owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have used their visibility to advance our equal rights. Instead we chose to honor the unsung heroes or individuals who came out of nowhere and gained national attention in the name of queer causes. As with last year’s list, our numbering is not meant to suggest a ranking system; each of the contributions made by our honorees has enriched our lives and our community.
1. Braveheart - Kasha Jacqueline, Ugandan Lesbian Activist, Founder of FARUG
Kasha Jacqueline is a self-proclaimed feminist, lesbian and Ugandan, words that could get her life imprisonment or even killed in her own country. In the face of Uganda’s Kill The Gays Bill (supported and inspired by right-wing United States Congressmen), now pending in the Ugandan Parliament, Kasha Jacqueline founded “Freedom and Roam Uganda” (FARUG), the only local organization fully dedicated to LBTI rights. FARUG strives for the attainment of full equal rights and the eradication of all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation. This year Jacqueline was invited to speak at the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum. The OFF brings together world leaders, heads of state, and Nobel Peace Prize recipients.
Jacqueline has begun telling her stories as an out lesbian in Uganda and finding like minded Ugandans who have organized to fight anti-queer violence, including pro-equality ministers and churches. Jacqueline faces an arduous struggle but remains one of the very few voices at the core of this humanitarian crisis in Uganda being heard by the international community.
2. Public Advocate, First-Class - Katie Miller, DADT Activist
Blogging anonymously for Velvetpark under the name “Private Second Class Citizen,” Katie Miller wrote: “After months of careful reevaluation and ceaseless retrospection, I am ready to take the next step. I plan on publicly disclosing my sexual orientation while still a member of the United States Corps of Cadets.” Cut to appearances on The Rachel Maddow Show, a profile in The New York Times and even escorting Lady Gaga at the MTV Video Music Awards. In the wake of Miller’s public resignation from West Point Military Academy over DADT, Rachel Maddow called Katie “[one of] the reasons why [DADT] is being repealed.” This year, Katie’s bravery inspired us all. In a public panel following the final Senate vote to repeal DADT, she said she was “elated” and “exceedingly proud that our Congresspeople could do what was right.” We couldn’t be more proud to call Katie Miller one of Velvetpark’s own.
3. The Furies - Tobi Hill-Meyer, Fay Onyx, and Ronan Joy, Media Makers