A Tsunami of a Life
Born at the dawn of the baby-boom generation, Jeanne Cordova has always been ahead of her time in catching the next wave of social change and taking a visionary leadership role in making a difference.
After high-school, Cordova chose to join the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an order of nuns that embraced the radical changes of Vatican II, protested the Vietnam War and sent their young nuns out into the inner cities. She embraced these social justice ideals and left the convent to become a community organizer – her first career. By the time she earned her Masters in Social Work at 22 years old, she was a young activist for lesbian & gay rights who wrote her dissertation on Community Organizing in the Lesbian Community (despite her thesis advisor’s denial that no such community existed.)
Feminism, and particularly lesbian-feminism, was the next wave that she caught. Transitioning from the softball fields of Pico Rivera to the presidency of the LA chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, she saw the need for a publication to give voice to the new generation of lesbian feminists, and she began The Lesbian Tide, which became a national newsmagazine and the voice of a generation of lesbians.
This second career in journalism led to a job as Human Rights Editor of the LA Free Press, during the heyday of progressive newspapers. In the 1970’s her columns represented the voices of her various identities – “three-for-one” as a lesbian, a Chicana and a woman.
During the ‘70s she was at the forefront of many “firsts” – first national lesbian conference, fighting the first California anti-gay initiative and more.
And as the gay & lesbian movement became more politically mainstream, she transitioned into the presidency the Stonewall Democratic Club and led the California state wide campaign to elect eighty-eight openly gay delegates to the 1980 Democratic National Convention.
Her next career, as a successful entrepreneur, began as a political action and was at the forefront of the lesbian & gay era of flexing its economic muscle. She founded the Community Yellow Pages which gathered hundreds of Southern California’s gay and lesbian businesses in one ‘gay yellow pages.’ Her concept harnessed the financial self-identification of the LGBT community and continued her tradition of organizing to enhance political clout.
Jeanne’s later publishing projects The New Age Telephone Book (1987-1992??) and Square Peg Magazine (1992-1994) caught two cultural waves – alternative spirituality and queer culture/ activism.
When she finally sold the Community Yellow Pages in 1999 (to the publishers of Frontiers Newsmagazine) Jeanne was ahead of her generation once again. This time as one of the early baby boomers retiring young, and moving to Mexico in search of new life challenges. For Jeanne, this was writing a memoir, bringing to life the best years of the lesbian feminist history.
Throughout her activist and business careers, Jeanne had continued writing essays, columns and journalism. Her first book, Sexism; It’s a Nasty Affair (1974) published her best LA Free Press columns, as that era came to an end. Her second book, Kicking the Habit (1995) brought her back to writing and into the heyday of the publishing of lesbian anthologies that made cultural waves. (see list *)
Now in her current life, after an eight-year Mexican adventure, she has come back full-circle to the Los Angeles area. As she completes her memoir, she looks forward to the next wave: to answering the question of what LGBTQQI identity and culture mean now, and preserving and honoring the history she was part of making.