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

Rita Mae Brown

Born in Hanover, Pennsylvania and raised in Florida in a working-class family, Brown was expelled from the University of Florida for civil rights activism. Hitch-hiking to New York City and enrolling in New York University, Brown got involved in the burgeoning women’s movement of the late 1960s. Active in the National Organization of Women, she left over Betty Friedan’s negative comments about lesbians. Brown and other members of a new organization, Radicalesbians, organized a “Lavender Menace” protest at the Second Congress to Unite Women and wrote the manifesto, “The Woman-Identified Woman,” whose opening line was “A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion.” Brown later helped found the Furies Collective, a Washington DC organization that published a feminist journal for several years. Meanwhile, she devoted herself to writing. In 1973 she published the novel Rubyfruit Jungle with a small feminist press. It became a best-seller. Brown used a classic genre, the coming of age novel, and an American theme, Horatio Alger and American individualism, to tell the story of a feisty and funny young lesbian, Molly Bolt. Brown has written more than two dozen novels, as well as film and television scripts. An avid lover of horses, she owns a ranch in Virginia and often does public appearances dressed in fox-hunting gear.