Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Paula Gunn Allen

Born in Albuquerque New Mexico to a father who had been the state’s Lieutenant Governor and a mother of Pueblo heritage, Paula Marie Francis was raised near the Laguna Pueblo reservation and grew up most influenced by Pueblo culture. She graduated from the University of Oregon and received a doctorate from the University of New Mexico. Paula Gunn Allen is widely recognized as one of the key intellectuals studying Native American literature. Her 1983 anthology, Studies in American Indian Literature, was a founding book in the field. A later work, The Sacred Hoop (1986), emphasized the importance of women’s traditions in Native American culture. Gunn Allen, who wrote poetry and fiction as well as academic studies, was the author or editor of more than a dozen books. She taught at San Francisco State, University of California Berkeley, and University of California Los Angeles. Gunn Allen, who married twice and had two children, at one point identified as a lesbian and later proudly described herself as “a serial bisexual.” She received many awards and recognitions, including an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Modern Language Association. She died on May 29, 2008.