Velvetpark’s Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2012

It is with great pride we present to you Velvetpark’s annual Top 25 Queer Women of 2012.

It is with great pride we present to you Velvetpark’s annual Top 25 Queer Women of 2012. As with past years our criteria is to honor female-identified or non-gender-binary persons who have 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 for the year 2012.

Again we reiterate there have been so many unsung s/heroes who contribute significantly to our communities year after year; we have kept to our criteria of not duplicating anyone who has been honored in the past, as well as anyone who has already attained celebrity (mainstream) status.

So without further ado, here are the Top 25 Queer Women of 2012.

“The Undocumented”—Tania Unzueta, Immigrant Rights Activist

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was a critical piece of legislation passed by the Obama administration this year, and Tania Alheli Unzueta, co-founder of the Immigrant Youth Justice League, was a prominent queer undocumented figure advocating its passage. In the summer of 2012 Unzueta worked as the media coordinator with the No Paper No Fear Ride for Justice supported by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and other organizations, working with riders as they prepped for interviews and acts of civil disobedience across the southern U.S. demanding: a stop to the collaboration between police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement; a stop to deportations; the Obama Administration defend the rights of undocumented immigrants. Unzueta was instrumental in the planning and implementation of these actions, making sure to highlight the variety of voices and stories of the undocumented communities the Undocubus came in contact with as well as those of the people on the bus. Unzueta is now back in Chicago and is the lead coordinator for Organized Communities Against Deportations, an anti-deportations initiative of the Immigrant Youth Justice League. She is also the writer of “How I stopped believing in CIR and learned to love ‘piecemeal’ legislation.”

“Gender Technologist”— Del LaGrace Volcano, Visual Artist, Cultural Producer

Del LaGrace has been deconstructing and reconstructing gender identity through his/her photography for over 35 years. Del began his/her career studying at the Art Institute of San Francisco, since then s/he has spent the last 30 years living abroad where his/her works have received major attention at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland; Centre for Contemporary Art in Bourges, France; the Ludwig Museum, Koln, Germany; and the Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK. This fall Del’s works were given a welcomed homecoming at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art with a major mid-career retrospective. While it’s a tremendous milestone to see queer artists such as Dawn Kasper and K8 Hardy in major American museum shows, we have only to look at the works of Del LaGrace Volcano for helping to break that ground. The exhibition was nothing short of a thrilling glimpse into the explosive creativity of this mid-career genius, which we can be sure still has many things to come.

“The Sisterhood”—Janet Mock, Writer, Editor, Activist

Ever since People Magazine‘s online editor Janet Mock wrote a touching coming-out trans story published at The Huffington Post last December, she has emerged as a preeminent leader within the trans community and a vocal advocate of the trans women of color community in particular. As the founder of #GirlsLikeUs, a Twitter advocacy campaign to give voice to transwomen across the world against transphobia, Mock frequently contributes to a number of online and print media, as well as guest lectures at universities across the United States. Slated to appear in the documentary The LGBTQQA List by famed photographer and director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders in June 2013, Mock was “named The Grio’s 100 most influential people, Sundance Channel‘s Top 10 LGBT voices, and GBM News’ 15 Most Powerful LGBT Figures in 2012.” With a particular focus on queer youth, Mock’s focus is on re-visioning our queer future. Through her reiterative call to question traditional notions of “womanhood,” the Honolulu-born Mock is, in our eyes, an ideal feminist and a leader in the effort to create new sisterhoods.

“Solidarity”—Jasbir Puar, Scholar, Activist

Among the many virtues defining the work of scholar, activist and writer Jasbir K. Puar, patience is not one of them: and this is what makes her presence in the world so significant.  Her first book, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, was published in 2005 and is not only still being bought and talked about in queer and feminist circles, but also still revealing concepts and critical praxes that seem to have been planted there for use in the world-to-come. The term “pinkwashing” has received a lot of attention this year and owes a lot to Puar’s theoretical groundwork: both in TA as well as in a series of contested Op-Eds written for The Guardian that argue that the presence of gay rights in Israel distracts from and subsequently becomes complicit in the media campaign in the west that ignores or permits the arbitrary and paranoid violence sanctioned by that state. In every instance Puar’s work is valuable because of its stubborn and uncanny ability to resist the critical and political temptations of sentimentality and injury that, unfortunately, mark a lot of queer theory and practice in the United States today. Uniquely capable of presenting the complexities of our contemporary political moments as well as stubborn in her confrontations with given and overdetermined logics, Jasbir Puar shows time and time again that she’s got something much better than patience: she’s got nerve.  

“The Good One”—Tig Notaro, Comedian

Our gaydar registered Tig Notaro the moment she was the object of Sarah Silverman’s sapphic fantasies on The Sarah Silverman Program in the recurring role of Officer Tig beginning in 2007. Well respected on the comedy circuit for her deadpan humor (and her impressions of inanimate objects), Tig’s career picked up steam with her popular Earwolf podcast, Professor Blastoff (with her friends Kyle Dunnigan, and David Huntsberger), and her iTunes best selling debut comic album, Good One, in 2011 (which is still ranking at the top over a year past its release). 2012 was an extraordinary year for Tig, aka Mathilde O’Callaghan Notaro: re-living her trials and tribulations—including surviving a deadly virus, a break-up, the untimely death of her mother, breast cancer, and a double mastectomy—in her now legendary stand-up routine, “Live,” at the Largo this past August, Tig’s career has skyrocketed. “In 27 years doing this, I’ve seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo,” was Louis CK’s response to her performance. Now Tig is all over the place: she is a writer for Amy Schumer’s forthcoming Comedy Central show; she is working on a memoir-esque collection of essays, a film called Clown Service and another called Walk of Shame, and additional tv and film appearances.

“A Queer and Pleasant Danger”—Kate Bornstein
, Writer, Activist

Kate Bornstein has always been a “gender outlaw,” but in the course of 2012 she’s solidified herself as a “queer and pleasant danger” within our LGBTQ community. With the publication of her fantastic memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She Is Today, Bornstein unveils both the scandalous past of the Church of Scientology (she was Hubbard’s “first mate”), from which she was excommunicated as a “subversive,” and her challenges within an identity-centric LGBTQ community (“I call myself trans, or tranny—and the latter angers a small but vocal group of transsexual women who see tranny as the equivalent of kike to a Jew. Right, I’m a Jew…”). Bornstein is also a tireless supporter of her queer community, and is always willing to dedicate her time and her energy to the collective LGBTQ cause. Currently being filmed as a documentary of the same name, directed by Sam Feder, this book will transform textual Kate into real-time Kate—and we can’t wait.

“Defying Gravity”—Elizabeth Streb, Choreographer, Action Mechanic, MacArthur Genius

If we didn’t adhere to the strict “no duplicate” policy for our annual “Top 25,” Elizabeth Streb would have a permanent place on every list. It is one thing to be outrageously talented; it’s entirely another to produce the highest level of work month after month, year after year—that’s what a master does. And Streb’s magnificent career is now into her fourth decade. She began as modern dancer but found that her interest in the body was more fundamental; she was interested defying gravity. She had dreams of making the body fly, and has dedicated her mind to the physics of this aspiration. These days you can find Streb walking a high-wire, or strapped outside of a glass building. Most of her work now is in choreographing her “action” performers who range in age from their early 20’s to their mid 30’s—athletes working at the peak of their abilities. Streb earned a place on our list this year because of her unbelievable series of death defying works as a part of London 2012 Olympic Festival, where she and her performers bungee-jumped from, walked on, balanced under, and dangled off various London monuments. Are we kidding? No.

“House of A”—A. Lee, Fashion Designer

From “The Cut” to WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), this year “lesbian chic” was on the tongues of the fashion savant. Underlying this mainstream cultural trend in fashion is the lesbian subculture that has refined itself over the past couple of years. The concept of “lesbian chic” is androgyny meets haute couture, and A. Lee, in collaboration with her sister Vee, has refined this stylistic meeting in her line Androgynous Fashion, which introduced its first designs earlier this year. (The debut collection is currently in its final stages.) The tailoring and cuts are divine, and divinely inspired by the androgynous body: “The cuts are not clothing for women inspired by menswear….No form-fitting, no tapering at the waist and hips, and no darts where the breasts are. Simply elegant, classy, clean-cut menswear made to fit women.” For making our bodies feel at home, we celebrate A. Lee for her immaculate conception. Her brand’s motto “It takes bravery to be genuine” could not be more fitting.

“Russian Riot Grrrl”—Yekaterina Samutsevich, Feminist Musician, Performance Artist

Pussy Riot raged in a church, landed themselves in prison, and captivated the world this year. One of the three members of this feminist punk collective to land themselves behind bars is Yekaterina (Katya) Samutsevich, age 29, the only queer member of the trio who was also the only member to be released from prison early (because she didn’t participate in the “aggressive” moments of the now infamous cathedral performance). That said, Samutsevich is perhaps the person with the most reason to protest the Orthodox Church’s relationship with the Kremlin—as the only out member of the band she has more to lose in Putin’s deeply discriminatory Anti-Gay Russia. An art-loving computer programmer, Samutsevich’s opening and closing statements, alongside those of her jailed compatriots, have become feminist manifestos that have since been performed in NYC by queerlebrities like Mx. Justin Vivian Bond and K8 Hardy and are now in print courtesy of the Feminist Press. For reviving the global feminist cause in the name of punk and of art, and for giving a LGBT-face to this feminism, we honor Samutsevich on behalf of riot grrrls everywhere.

“Supreme Challenger”—Edie Windsor, Marriage Equality Advocate

In 1975 Edie’s fiancee of 8 years, Thea Spyer, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That same year, Edie started a second career as a full-time gay rights activist. She has received many awards for her decades of work, particularly with SAGE. In 2007, Thea’s doctor told her she had only one year left to live; she then proposed to Edie a second time and they were married in Toronto. (Their story is detailed in the 2009 documentary Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.) However, when Thea died, Edie paid more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes because DOMA prevented recognition of their marriage in the United States. So Edie sued. She won her case, Windsor vs. the United States of America, in 2011 and was awarded a tax refund. The decision was upheld in appeals court and the case was sent to the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear it next spring. For political reasons, Edie is likely to win again and, effectively, will strike down DOMA as unconstitutional. Perhaps more importantly her story breathed new life into the legal battle for gay marriage rights. Edie’s response? “The truth is, I never expected any less from my country.”

“Unwavering Focus”—Zanele Muholi
, Artist, Filmmaker

Thirty-nine year old South African photographer Zanele Muholi has spent much of her life taking exquisite photographs documenting South African lesbian life and sensuality. The images capture the power of true desire—intimate, bold, thoughtful, and very sexy. Their force lies in a photographic technique which bursts of affection and dedication to sorting through the complications of representing race, African women, and queer/gay/lesbian sexuality in photography. The work has been so effective in breaking silence, in fact, that former Minister of Arts and Culture Lulama Zingwana publically walked out on one of Zanele’s exhibitions, declaring the photographs “immoral and against nation building.” This year Muholi’s work met with shocking resistance when the photographer entered her art studio to discover that her entire body of work—all the equipment, cameras, memory drives, more than five years worth of photographic projects—had been stolen. Yet the reality of hate this act expressed did not stop Muholi from continuing full steam ahead. Likewise, the heinous statement to erase South African lesbian visibility and push it to the shadows was met with failure. Rather, the theft pushed Muholi’s work right into international media spotlight, giving her work and the subject of South African lesbian and gay erotic identity a tidal wave of attention, applause, and compassion.  There are hundreds of people on the lookout for Muholi’s stolen work, which still has not been recovered. Her recent film Difficult Love (2011) is available to screen free online and contains many of Muholi’s images and interview footage with the artist.

“Our Saturday Night Special”—Kate McKinnon, Comedian, Comedy Writer

Forbes just named Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live’s newest funny lady (and first out cast member), one of the “Top 30 Entertainers Under 30” of 2012—and with good reason, even though we lesbians have known McKinnon’s talents for years. A staple of New York’s improv troupe the Upright Citizens Brigade, Kate hit the small screen as a fan favorite (Fitzwilliam, the prettiest boy who ever wanted a vagina) in Logo’s Big Gay Sketch Show and then moved on to feature in the hilarious web series Vag Magazine. Her career track is inspiring; few if any comics start “out” before their big break. With the recent departure of Kristen Wiig at SNL, McKinnon has already stepped up comfortably into those big shoes with her spot-on imitations of Ann Romney, Penelope Cruz, and, most recently, Ellen DeGeneres. McKinnon’s consistent performance as well as unfazed openness about her sexuality send a message to mainstream America that women, and especially lesbian women, are very funny.

“Force of One”—Urvashi Vaid, Community Organizer, Activist, Writer, Attorney

Urvashi Vaid is one of the people who built the foundation of today’s queer politics. From her work at the National Gay and Lesbian Task force in the 80s and 90s to her work as a funder supporting LGBTQ issues at the Ford Foundation and the Arcus Foundation, Vaid has been one of the queer consciences of the gay mainstream for a long time. In her 1996 book, Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming Of Gay And Lesbian Liberation, Vaid pushed for a movement that looked beyond bare equality to a larger vision for a just future. With the 2012 release of her latest book, Irresistible Revolution: Race, Class and the LGBT Imagination, Vaid is once again pushing the LGBTQ movement to look beyond easy, safe equality to try and push for a real inclusion of racial, economic, and gender justice. (Meet her at Astraea’s “Writeous” event next month in NYC.) Lambda Literary calls Irresistible Revolution a “challenge to the present state of LGBT activism, and a rebel yell for the future.” As Vaid says in the introduction to her book, “I have long believed that what made the LGBT movement ‘irresistible’ was its honesty.” The vision Vaid has for our future? Irresistible indeed.

“A Symphony of Our Own”—Juliana Snapper, Avant Garde Opera Singer

Juliana Snapper has a hot set of ears, and if you were lucky enough to see them in Los Angeles this past year during an Occupy protest, you’ll know what we mean. Snapper, an opera-trained soprano and interdisciplinary artist, put what lesbian composer Pauline Oliveras calls “Deep Listening” to the test.  With three other artists she formed a collective organization called ARLA (Audio Receptives Los Angeles) wherein the sounds of the 99% were part of their sonic scavenger hunt and public protest. Snapper’s work has focused on both fostering an environment of sonic awareness and the power of the body as a tool of expression. She regularly has collaborated with live artist Ron Athey, matching Athey’s serious inquiries about radical queer resistance to conventional art history in performances combining stunning theatricality, punk, DIY, high femme, and a fiercely feminist vocal experience.  In 2009 along with composer Andrew Infanti, Snapper wrote an underwater opera, You Who Emerge from the Flood, which premiered at the Victoria Baths in the U.K. Bringing together over two dozen local singers, she trained her chorus both in the water, and poolside, in a lavish performance of a protagonist who is abandoned at sea, given bad advice, and remains a witness to the post-apocalyptic world when the environment and society has broken apart. Between teaching, protest, and her own scholarly writing, Snapper explores voice at the edge of societal comfort zones or expectations. Much like Meredith Monk, Diamanda Galas, and Laurie Anderson, Snapper pushes her own voice to the limits of traditional composition, rhythm, tone as a way to reconfigure and confront normative conceptions of women’s roles and feminine agency.  

“Ink Master”—Stephanie Tamez, Tattoo Artist, Graphic Designer, Painter

The moment I [Editor Marcie] saw the brilliant frontispiece of Jonathan Swift’s “Tale of the Tub” immaculately etched onto my friend’s back, I knew I had to book the artist for my next tattoo. Unfortunately, given Stephanie Tamez’s world renown, I had to wait over a year for said tattoo—but it was my best long-term commitment (in all senses of the word) ever. Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, and now stationed at Saved Tattoo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Tamez holds a unique position as a queer woman in a male dominated world. Her career has had a laudable 2012: she was featured on PBS special on tattooing in April; shown her art in an all women art show in Rome in May; joined the project Nomad-Chic in the summer; and just last month she designed and applied fake tattoos on Victoria’s Secret models during its big annual show.

“Creating The Agenda”—Amber Hollibaugh & Lisa Duggan, Scholars, Activists

Amber Hollibaugh and Lisa Duggan have, independently and collectively, decades of queer scholarship and activism under their belts. Hollibaugh serves as the Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice and is author of My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home. Duggan, a professor of social and cultural analysis at NYU, has written a handful of books, including the infamously titled Sapphic Slashers (2000) and her latest The Twilight of Equality?: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy (2003). This year these two warrior women joined forces, along with roughly a dozen other queer activists and scholars, to collaborate on “A New Queer Agenda.” Published through Barnard’s Center for Research on Women, this new “Queer Agenda” is a volume dedicated to reorienting the queer movement away from neo-liberalist policies (marriage, military) and towards new grassroots movements aimed at economic and social equality, across race, across gender, and across sexuality. The survival of our movement depends upon broadening the “us.” This volume is one of the most sustained, critical manifestos of a new queer movement for the 21st century.

“Our Literary Laureate”—Jacqueline Woodson, YA Author

Talk to any child or teen, hit any children’s section in a bookstore, and you’ll discover the significance of Jacqueline Woodson in the YA lit-scene rather quickly. With three Newbery Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award, a Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement, and countless other awards, Woodson has written more than two dozen children and YA books that tackle issues of identity, sexual abuse, gender, and economic status that help children understand that life is a journey that should be pursued at all cost. Not surprisingly, she has encountered conservative efforts to censure her writing. The Brooklyn implant creates realistic and relatable female characters in her stories. Beneath a Meth Moon, a story about a young girl’s life post-Hurricane Katrina, and Each Kindness, about how children learn to accept and respect each other’s differences, are 2012 releases that think intimately, through the eyes of young female protagonists, about the complexity of our social world.

“The Must Haves”—Adrien Leavitt & A. Slaven, Zine-makers

With the print industry in the midst of a slow-but-steady crumble, it may seem suicidal to start a new print endeavor. But Adrien Leavitt and A. Slaven threw caution to the wind—and thankfully so. Their #1MustHave photo-zine has become print porn for the 21st century queer. According to their mission statement, the project, volumes of which are available in digital and in print, “is about visibility, celebrating diverse queer people, and re-framing the queer experience outside of the victim paradigm often seen in popular culture. It is a way to communicate about non-mainstream queer culture and share empowering images of queerness.” Their photography, originally celebrating the Seattle queer community, has grown to capture queers from across the nation. Their photography is currently on exhibit at the Leslie Lohman Gallery in NYC through 18 January 2013.

“Fluxing Her Muscles”—Dawn Kasper, Interdisciplinary Artist

Some compare L.A.-based artist Dawn Kasper, age 35, to legendary performers Buster Keaton and Harry Houdini.  We see her as both, and more: as handsome as Keaton and Houdini put together, but  a real hero (in spite of the likelihood that, philosophically, she is an “anti-hero”) who’s keeping the rich tradition of physical praxis and the live/death risk of performance alive and well in today’s world of contemporary art and an economy that loves the safe space of digital interaction. Kasper does not take the didactic approach to thinking about death, even though Camus and Derrida line her bookshelf.  Rather, she follows suit in the legacy of Chris Burden, Yoko Ono, Fluxus, Allen Kaprow—merging the fuzzy boundaries between audience and performer, real risk and staged risk, prank and trenchant critique, body and representation.  None of this comes as a surprise; Kasper carved the words “Truth” and “Love” into her biceps, perhaps as an homage to Catherine Opie. Most certainly, Kasper’s work lovingly reeks of tribute and allegiance to the punk-DIY queer feminist community from which she hails.  In 2012, Kasper shook the stronghold of property rights in New York, when she took residence (almost literally) at the Whitney Biennial in staging a 3-month durational performance, This Could Be Something If I Let It.  Having recently lost her studio in Los Angeles, Kasper shipped the entire contents of her studio and apartment to the Whitney, and set up shop in the museum on a full-time basis during business hours.

“The Big Gay Globe”—Jenni Chang & Lisa Dazols
, Journalists, Super-Gay Sleuths

The momentum the LGBT movement has gained in western nations in the last decade and the struggles for protection from prejudice we still face tend to dominate LGBT and mainstream media. It is too easy to forget that LGBT people in parts of the world may be struggling just to survive. One lesbian couple is trying to change that. Jenni, a business manager for eBay, and Lisa, a social worker in HIV services, first met on the AIDS Lifecycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles and in the summer of 2011 they decided to take a year to travel the world together. They decided to visit fifteen underdeveloped countries in South America, Australia, and East Asia, in order explore the state of LGBT activism in these foreign destinations. In each place they sought out inspiring activist leaders, for whom they coined the label “Supergays.” They documented their discoveries and interviews on their website, Out & Around: Stories From A Not-So-Straight Journey, and their blogs were re-posted here at Velvetpark. While on the trip, Jenni proposed to Lisa on a beach in the Philippines. Upon returning home this summer, they began working on turning their interviews into a documentary film. They are also planning their wedding for next June.

“Our Founding Mother”—Mara Keisling, Trans Rights Activist

As the founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Keisling has had a banner year in trans-rights activism, spearheading many of this year’s successful initiatives: the NCTE’s influential “Voting While Trans” PSA series, the transgender anti-discrimination immigration policy,  and the removal of the term “gender identity disorder” from the DSM. Her appearance as a panelist on Melissa Harris-Perry’s hour-long segment “Being Trans in America” solidified her as a key figure of both the present and future of the trans-rights movement, as well as signifying the increasing import of trans issues in the American socio-political sphere. With her knowledge and leadership, she continues to feature on media outlets like CNN and MSNBC and frequently contributes to The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post.

“The Fast and the Furious”—C.D. Kirven, Activist, Comics Artist, Filmmaker

National board member of GetEQUAL, Dallas LGBT figurehead, and co-founder of DFW Pride Movement (a Dallas black gay pride group), C.D. Kirven has become a legendary grassroots activist for LGBT rights. This year she personally and publicly challenged same-sex marriage opponents Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and City Commissioner Maurine Dickey and is now being encouraged to run for City Council next year. Named Dallas’s LGBT Person of the Year in 2012, Kirven is an artist at heart and champions the inclusion of the arts in activism, particularly through her affiliation with GetEQUAL. An artist herself, her comics series about a black lesbian superhero, The Tao Diaries, sold out at this year’s Comikaze in Los Angeles; she is currently at work on a screenplay and is a weekly columnist for

“The Renaissance Woman”—Patricia Cronin, Painter, Sculptor, Social Commentator

While the art world clamors for the new and emerging talent, it is so much more satisfying to immerse oneself in the works of the consummate veterans of the art world. With a list of prizes (including the The Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and the Rome Prize), as well as a string of museum shows, Patricia Cronin is perhaps the most under-recognized critically acclaimed artist in New York. Cronin is married to a previous Top 25 recipient, artist Deborah Kass, who appears in one of Cronin’s most celebrated pieces, “Memorial to A Marriage,” a sculpted gravestone of the couple at Woodlawn Cemetery, where the two plan to be buried. This year Cronin’s year-end show, Dante: The Way of All Flesh, explores the excesses and betrayals of corporate culture in the guise of her signature neo-classical flair.

“Point Break”—Jackie Deluca & Carol Kelly, Sandy Relief Organizers

In the wake of  Hurricane Sandy, before the Red Cross or FEMA arrived onto the scene, it was friends, family, neighbors, and strangers who turned out for communities relief. Local organizations spontaneously and instinctively jumped into action. Once such group, a local surf club named LAVA SURF, concerted their recovery efforts in the hardest hit area of New York City, the Rockaways. Jackie Deluca and her partner Carol Kelly have been regular Rockaway surfers for years, paddling out every weekend, rain or shine, sun or snow. On the morning after the storm Deluca and Kelly rolled out to the Rockaways to assess damage and soon found themselves at the center of organizing one of the most efficient relief stations during the clean-up efforts. Using LAVA SURF as their home base, they devised an organizational system to create and maintain a fluid and efficacious structure of clean-up and assistance. Their spontaneous, DIY system—devising a list of tasks for volunteers to follow, from cleaning out mold ridden apartments and going door-to-door to assess individual needs—soon garnered the attention of the Clinton Global Initiative and the respect of everyone on the scene. We want to acknowledge these unsung heroes here—when in the face of tragedy, we see the best in humanity come out…especially well-organized lesbians.

“Cinema Paradiso”—Aurora Guerrero, Filmmaker, Director, Screenwriter

San Francisco Bay Area native and co-founder of Womyn Image Makers (WIM) Aurora Guerrero has been making waves in the film industry for years, particularly with her short Pura Lengua, which debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, and the award-winning Viernes Girl, awarded the HBO/NY International Latino Film Festival short film prize, also in 2005. A Ford Foundation Fellowship enabled her to produce her most critically acclaimed and successful film—her first feature—to date: Mosquita y Mari, which debuted at Sundance Film Festival in 2012, making her the first Xicana filmmaker to debut at the famed festival. Garnering nearly a dozen awards—from Best First Narrative Feature to Audience Award (Pink Film Festival Zurich)—during the 2012 film circuit, this Spirit Award nominated film explores the budding relationship between two adolescent girls who try to negotiate the fine lines between their romance and the obligations they have to their families. Young love never looked so good, or so real.