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

Janis Ian

Raised in New Jersey in a politically active Jewish family, Janis Ian showed musical talent at an early age. Her first hit song, “Society’s Child,” was recorded while she was still a teenager. It described an interracial relationship and was considered by many radio stations too controversial to play. Strongly influenced by the folk music scene, she won a Grammy in 1975 for “At Seventeen.” Her songs have been recorded by other popular artists, such as Roberta Flack and Joan Baez. In 1993, Ian came out as a lesbian with the album, “Breaking Silence.” In 2003, she married her partner Patricia Snyder, and in 2008, published an autobiography, Society’s Child, titling it after her first hit song. Ian has been very critical of the Recording Industry Association of America for its treatment of both musicians and consumers. She has made many of her songs available on her website for free download, as a form of protest. In 2013, she won a Grammy for “Best Spoken Word Album,” beating out Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Ellen Degeneres, and Rachel Maddow.