Jeanne Córdova was a Catholic nun belonging to a mixed ethnicity but left the Church because of it’s unjustifiable teachings

Jeanne Córdova played a significant role in the gay and lesbian liberation movement.


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Paving the way for today’s LGBTQ community, Jeanne Córdova will be remembered as one of the legends who changed the world through her activism for gay and lesbian rights. However, she herself, as a lesbian, had to go through struggles as a devout Catholic.

Jeanne Córdova first enrolled in a convent Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) order of nuns at age 18 in 1966, unaware of her sexuality and Catholic teachings then.

She wanted to become a religious woman who was uninterested in the world of men, women, marriage, or children.

However, once Córdova entered IHM, she accepted her identity as a lesbian, which became a secondary reason for her to fall out of love with the Catholic Church.

The primary reason was that she could not justify the Roman Catholic teachings of keeping women in line under patriarchy.

Meanwhile, this significantly impacted her relationship with her parents, Frederico and Joan McGuinness Córdova, who struggled to accept their daughter’s coming out as devout Catholics.

Jeanne Córdova grew up Catholic in a household of Latina hierarchy with mixed-race parents

Jeanne Córdova was born on July 18, 1948, in Bremerhaven, Germany, to an Irish-American mother, Joan McGuinness Córdova, and a Mexican father, Frederico Benito Córdova.

The Córdova family immigrated to New York in the 1950s before settling in Southern California, eventually leading Jeanne Córdova to gain American nationality.

Meanwhile, Jeanne Córdova and her other 11 siblings were of mixed ethnicity, as she was half-Mexican and half-Irish-American. Córdova was the second oldest of her parents’ 12 children.

She grew up in a conservative Catholic family upholding Latino hierarchy where the patriarchal system was prevalent, and Córdova had the responsibility to command her 10 underlings.

However, after revealing her identity and cutting off from her nun order, Córdova had to undergo a dark age where her parents cut off ties for several years.

Yet, her siblings found her fascinating. Coming out in the ’70s was very bold, as her sister Lu Córdova mentioned in an interview.

After leaving the Church and her family, Córdova earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Later, in 1970, she actively participated in activism and became President of Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the lesbian rights organization. She contributed extensively as a journalist for five publications, including The Lesbian Tide.

Following the endeavor in activism, Córdova authored various books like Sexism: It’s a Nasty Affair (1974), Kicking the Habit: A Lesbian Nun Story (1990), and When We Were Outlaws (2011).

Sadly, Jeanne Córdova, 67, succumbed to metastatic brain cancer on January 10, 2016, at her home in Los Angeles with her wife, Lynn Harris Ballen, by her side.

Additional Information

  • Google honored the late lesbian activist Jeanne Córdova by putting her Doodle on June 6, 2024.
  • Jeanne Córdova married her wife Lynn Harris Ballen, a feminist radio journalist, in August 1995 at a small wedding ceremony in the Hollywood Hills.
  • She and her partner had traveled together for their activism rights and created various projects, such as The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, AC, and The Lesbian Exploratorium.
Muskan Ghimire
Muskan Ghimire
Muskan Ghimire is an enthusiastic writer, editor, and blogger who likes to share updates on recent political, sports, and entertainment news. She has the writing and editing experience of more than two years. Over this time, she significantly enhanced her writing skills, crafting clear and engaging content. She has also accumulated in-depth knowledge in various niches, making her subject matter expert capable of editing with precision. With time, she has achieved SEO mastery, which lets her optimize content for search engines, improving visibility and ranking. Meanwhile, she has honed her communication skills, thanks to the continuous interactions with writers, bloggers, and show biz professionals, which led to new opportunities and collaborations.


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