100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (2024)

Table of Contents
Britney Manson Leave a Reply Dr. Frieda Ekotto Leave a Reply Gabi & Shanna Meit-Sciara Leave a Reply Rose Garcia Leave a Reply Vials Leave a Reply Tiff Hubbard Leave a Reply Arielle Orsuto Leave a Reply Anathea Chino Leave a Reply Catherine Sumner Leave a Reply Shenaaz Janmohamed Leave a Reply Melissa Febos Leave a Reply Serena Thongsri and Natchaya Klinkajon Leave a Reply PaulA Neves Leave a Reply Abby Posner Leave a Reply Mary Mahoney Leave a Reply Pure XTC Leave a Reply Amber Valentine Leave a Reply Lauren Milici Leave a Reply Katie Carter Leave a Reply Vicky and Charisse Pache Leave a Reply Grace Perry Leave a Reply Jincey Lumpkin Leave a Reply Ann P. Meredith Leave a Reply Beatrice Thomas aka Black Benatar Leave a Reply Christine Vachon Leave a Reply Carmen Maria Machado Leave a Reply Becky Krause Leave a Reply Justine Laviolette and Nikke Alleyne Leave a Reply Maiah Manser Leave a Reply Sepi Shyne Leave a Reply Marissa Limsiaco Leave a Reply Grace Chu Leave a Reply Mickalene Thomas Leave a Reply Sarah Tomasin Fonseca Leave a Reply Amanda Whip Leave a Reply Dawn Laguens Leave a Reply Vanessa Schoening Leave a Reply Shanée Benjamin Leave a Reply Kristen Kish Leave a Reply Nicole Melleby Leave a Reply Sheri Ciprane Leave a Reply Cara Ellis Leave a Reply Jess Vanacore Leave a Reply Marina Carreira Leave a Reply Debbie Millman Leave a Reply Mara Herbkersman and Emily Bielagus Leave a Reply Divinity Ray Leave a Reply Dr. Uju Anya Leave a Reply Jordyn Jay Leave a Reply Irene Young Leave a Reply Dafna Yoran Leave a Reply Melanie Willingham-Jaggers Leave a Reply Jessica Valentine Leave a Reply Jen Brister Leave a Reply KayLa Ruiz Leave a Reply Karen Solt Leave a Reply Linda Villarosa Leave a Reply Kimmy Alexander Leave a Reply Michelle Demetillo Leave a Reply Rebecca Black Leave a Reply Shannon Keating Leave a Reply Kae Leave a Reply Mariama J. Lockington Leave a Reply Caster sem*nya Leave a Reply Eva Woolridge Leave a Reply Ruby and Katrena Leave a Reply Randi Romo Leave a Reply Kristin Smith Leave a Reply Kristen Kaza Leave a Reply Adrienne “Madam” Muse Leave a Reply Lamya H. Leave a Reply Dr. Carla Smith Leave a Reply Melissa Dilkes Pateras Leave a Reply Cynthia Erivo Leave a Reply Sarah Brown Leave a Reply Billie Eilish Leave a Reply LB Prevette Leave a Reply Navila Rashid Leave a Reply Dana Goldberg Leave a Reply Kaila Rhubright and Shay Ericksen Leave a Reply Chris Belcher Leave a Reply Juliana Joel Leave a Reply Victoria Cruz Leave a Reply Sydney Colson Leave a Reply Cristina Gonzalez Leave a Reply Tunita James Leave a Reply Cara Wodnicki Leave a Reply Andrea Bernstein Leave a Reply Amee Wilson Leave a Reply Maleigh Zan Leave a Reply Deborah Emin Leave a Reply SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR WOMEN WE LOVE EDITOR Savannah Sipple Leave a Reply 2 Responses Leave a Reply References

Savannah Sipple, Ali Lopez, Margaret Hetherman, Lauren Emily

100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (1)

100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (2)

Internet aficionados and cultural critics agree: 2024 is the year of the queer woman. But at GO Magazine, it has been the year of the queer woman every year since our launch over two decades ago. In June 2001, we set our mission to spotlight a list of 100 women, both cis and trans, who, despite marginalization and oppression, continue to excel and thrive. And thus, the first class of 100 Women We Love was born.

Since then, the legendary 100 Women We Love has featured nearly 2,000 trailblazing women. Online and in print, we proudly highlight and celebrate all gender identities and expressions. But given the historic – and current – oppression women have faced and continue to face, 100 WWL is our explicit homage to the fierce women who make the world a better and more inclusive place for us all. We are moved by the support of those who don’t identify as queer women, including our nonbinary siblings, our gay and trans brothers, and allies.

We’re proud to present 100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 (this year, several honorees use both she and they pronouns). The list includes political figures, artists, athletes, musicians, scholars, entrepreneurs, scientists, motivational speakers, and more. They are all the reason the world has finally caught up to what we’ve been saying for decades. Queer women rock!

100 Women We Love Photo Credits

Abby Posner by Matt Block; Amanda Whip by Rita Minissi; Amber Valentine by Steven Menendez; Amee Wilson by Lola Perrin; Anathea Chino by Paloma Alicea; Andrea Bernstein by Matthew Septimus; Ann P. Meredith by Ann P. Meredith; Arielle Orsuto by Courtesy of Arielle Orsuto; Beatrice Thomas aka Black Benatar by Jolene Engo; Becky Krause by Todd Owyoung; Billie Eilish by Kathy Hutchins Shutterstock; Britney Manson by Craig Barritt, Getty Images; Cara Ellis by Steven Middleton; Cara Wodnicki by Courtesy of Cara Wodnicki; Carla Smith, EdD by Marcus Cooper for Milk Makeup; Carmen Maria Machado by Art Streiber; Caster sem*nya by Nadia Bezuidenhout; Catherine Sumner by Courtesy of Catherine Sumner; Chappell Roan by Ryan Clemens; Chris Belcher, PhD by Courtney Coles; Christine Vachon by Brian Bowen Smith; Cristina Gonzalez by Jeremy St. Romain; Cynthia Erivo by Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock; Dafna Yoran by Ana De Orbegoso; Dana Goldberg by Irene Young; Dawn Laguens by Courtesy of Planned Parenthood; Debbie Millman by John Madere; Deborah Emin by Adam Atkinson; Divinity Ray by Sergio Necoechea; Frieda Ekotto, PhD by Alexander Holmes; Eva Woolridge by Maddy Talia; Gabi + Shanna Meit-Sciara Courtesy of Gabi + Shanna Meit-Sciara ; Grace Chu by Ash Kolodner; Grace Perry by Kort Havens; Irene Young by Tina Silano; Jen Brister by Matt Crockett; Jess Vanacore by Alyssa Jordan; Jessica Betts by Eva Woolridge; Jincey Lumpkin by Sofia Barriera Pinto Soares; Jordyn Jay by Justin French; Juliana Joel by Paul Smith Photography; Kae by Raúl López Mestres; Karen Solt by Miranda Remington; Katie Carter by Courtesy of Katie Carter; KayLa Ruiz by Talia Ruiz; Kimmy Alexander by Tara Benavente; Kristen Kaza by Paul Octavious; Kristen Kish by Silver Chang; Kristin Smith by Erica Chambers; Lamya H by Lia Clay; Lauren Malici by Lyss Lester; LB Prevett Courtesy of LB Prevette; Linda Villarosa by Mia Isabella Photography; Adrienne Madam Muse by Adrienne Madam Muse; Maiah Manser by Zachary Vague; Maleigh Zan by Daisy McVeigh; Mara Herbkersman and Emily Bielagus by Jesse Saler; Mariama J. Lockington Courtesty of Mariama J. Lockington; Marina Carreira by Ysabel Y. Gonzalez; Marissa Limsiaco by Julia Thomas Designs; Mary Mahoney by Anna Newman; Melanie Willingham-Jaggers by GLSEN; Melissa Dilkes Pateras by Jennie Del Sol; Melissa Febos by Chris Luttrell; Michelle Demetillo by Sarah Barsotti; Mickalene Thomas by Jon Jenkins; Navilla Rashid by Wajiha Ibrahim; Nicole Melleby by Liz Melleby Welch; Justine Laviolette & Nikke Alleyne Courtesy of Justine Laviolette & Nikke Alleyne; PaulA Neves by Rachel Fawn Alban; Pure XTC by Jacob Schermerhorn; Randi Romo by Devon L. Angeles; Rebecca Black Courtesy of Rebecca Black; Rose Garcia by Shannon Horton; Ruby and Katrena by Anna Captured; Sarah Brown by Amber Lawrence; Sarah Tomasin Fonseca by Daviel Shy; Sepi Shyne by Marcus Lovingood; Serena Thongsri and Natchaya Klinkajon Courtesy of Serena Thongsri and Natchaya Klinkajon; Shanée Benjamin Courtesy of Shanée Benjamin; Shannon Keating Courtesy of Shannon Keating; Kaila Rhubright and Shay Ericksen by Madison White; Shenaaz Janmohamed Courtesy of Shenaaz Janmohamed; Sheri Ciprane by Alexandra Weadon; Sydney Colson by Las Vegas Aces; Tiff Hubbard by Taylor McWhorter; Tunita James by James Mitchell Stem; Uju Anya, PhD by Laura Petrilla; Vanessa Schoening by Nicholas Truong; Vials Courtesy of Vials; Vicky and Charisse Pache by Shay Studios; Victoria Cruz by Stephanie Mei-Ling; Jessica Valentine by Kate Zander

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Britney Manson

“I’ve been obsessed with the fashion industry since I can remember,” Britney Manson tells GO. “I always wanted to be a model and artist; it’s just something I knew when I was a child.” After starting her transition in middle school, and weathering the bullying and beatings that came with it, Manson walked her first runway at 12 years old. Since then, her childhood dreams have come true in a big way. Tall and blonde with an early 2000s supermodel aesthetic — think smoky eyes, the highest of heels and giant sunglasses — the Estonian-born Manson gained 40 million views and “insane comment activity” after posting her first video, “Walking Till I Get Noticed by a Modeling Agency.” She’s now a social media sensation, a trans rights advocate, a model for brands like Valentino and Etro, and has graced the runways of Fashion Weeks in Berlin and Milan. When asked how she deals with setbacks and adversity, Manson replies, “My sun in Cancer would cry, but my Virgo moon be like: get back to work! If you fail, put on more makeup, get your heels on and create something different.” She continues, “I made half of my most viral videos after crying my eyes off. So, my personal advice [is] take it easy and YOU BETTA WERK!” A movie that made an impact on Manson’s identity and outlook? “The Crow (1994) is [in] my DNA,” she says. “If you want to know me better, just watch this movie and remember: ‘it can’t rain all the time!’” –LE

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Dr. Frieda Ekotto

“I love ideas and to share my ideas,” says Cameroon-born African novelist Frieda Ekotto. The professor started her academic career in Switzerland and ultimately landed at the University of Michigan where she is currently a Lorna Goodison Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, Comparative Literature, and Francophone Studies. She has also produced two documentaries, authored many articles in prestigious literary journals, and has written multiple books, both scholarly and creative. Her gift for prose sings in Don’t Whisper Too Much and Portrait of A Young Artiste From Bon Mbella. The main character is one of many queer characters in the novel, which sets it apart from others where hom*oeroticism is hinted at but rarely openly mentioned. In 2016, the University of Michigan honored Ekotto with the John H. D’Arms Faculty Award for Distinguished Graduate Mentoring in the Humanities for her dedication to creative scholarship and to her many students. “I think there are more people in need than me,” says the professor. Ekotto grew up in a home surrounded by books, art, and music – everything she needed to express herself. “I am a historian of ideas. I document how ideas have been involved throughout time and space. It is important to remember where ideas come from.” Ekotto is finishing a novel entitled Ndola Muto Salon. The main character, Violette Yamouesse, is a young lesbian woman from Douala who becomes a courtesan after losing her father.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (5)

Gabi & Shanna Meit-Sciara

“We never thought we would have a career in travel, especially together,” but when videographer Shanna Meit-Sciara and photographer Gabi Meit-Sciara met in 2016, they bonded over their love of seeing the world and documenting their adventures. Soon, the Brooklyn-based couple had plenty of vibrant footage to share, and they also noticed a significant dearth of information on travel for queer people. “There are a lot of safety precautions to think about when being a woman traveling this world, and even more to consider as a queer woman,” Gabi says. 27 Travels began as a private Instagram account and has evolved into a full brand, including a YouTube channel, a colorful blog, and an Expedia affiliate page that encourages queer travelers to “think of us as your two vegan lesbian travel moms!” “We… hope to inspire others to explore more of the world around them, and to spread the message that travel is inclusive to everyone, no matter your gender or who you love,” Gabi tells GO. “Seeing other people being able to travel being authentically themselves is beyond the most rewarding thing.” As they continue to share knowledge and tips, the couple continues to do what they love most: travel. In the past eight years, the Meit-Sciaras have ventured to over 30 countries and six continents, and they even hosted their own travel TV series on MSG Network. They eloped in Australia during World Pride in 2023. Why 27 Travels? “It’s the date of our anniversary, which is January 27, 2016,” says Gabi. “It’s kind of our lucky number. And it always reminds us that every trip we take we learn more and more about ourselves, our relationship, and the world.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (6)

Rose Garcia

In January 2023, real estate agent and TV star Rose Garcia was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. “I was told by one physician that my life expectancy could be roughly seven months if the treatments didn’t work,” she says. After the initial shock wore off, Garcia’s spirit took over. “My cancer was genetic — I have the BRIP1 gene — so there wasn’t much I could do to avoid it,” she says. “What I did have control of was how I dealt with this illness and how I fought for more life!” Garcia immediately went public with her diagnosis and chemotherapy sessions, a feat that wasn’t difficult for a celesbian. Garcia became a breakout star after being featured in The Real L Word docuseries and has since been featured in Newsweek and BuzzFeed. She appeared on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listings L.A. and most recently on HGTV’s House Hunters. Garcia describes herself as a “survivor” who, while still undergoing her own treatments, advocates for LGBTQ+ women to have regular pap smears and annual exams. “Cancer is happening to people at a young and alarming rate,” she says, “[and] early detection is key. In addition to her advocacy work, Garcia is committed to her family, her business Garcia Real Estate Group, and an exciting new venture: purchasing Hollywood’s Dragonfly Club with two other female investors, and partnering with The Real L Word co- star Whitney Mixter as general manager. “Going forward, I now have a new lease on life,” Garcia tells GO. “I do not take a single second for granted.” –LE

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Vials

Vials is a multi-faceted alien and award-winning artist currently filming her debut visual album, “Welcome to Vialsland,” where passengers are guaranteed “female supremacy and a safe space for all living creatures.” Warning: “all non-allies will be promptly deported.” The Canadian influencer’s presence on social media is unforgettable — from intricate makeup tutorials to contagious catch phrases, “Boom baby, it’s literally that easy!” and “Rule #1: Always Protect the Nails.” She’s garnered international attention. Her viral TikTok #GirlMath series was even featured in Vogue Business UK. Whether she is traveling the globe or expanding her brand with music production and DJ’ing, Vials is taking over the world, one acrylic nail at a time. Vials knows pursuing your dreams requires vulnerability and is thrilled to actualize the dreams of Baby Vials. “If you had told my eight-year-old self that one day I’d be traveling the world, creating music, art, and living my fantasy, I would have been SHOOK!…I feel profoundly grateful to wake up every day and pursue my true passion, while sharing this wild ride with millions of people worldwide.” As a queer woman in a predominantly male industry, Vials has experienced the “boys club” vibe, but it’s made her become less dependent on others in executing her vision. “You won’t find me waiting for validation or permission from anyone, especially not a man, to express myself authentically!” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (8)

Tiff Hubbard

Tiff Hubbard, an actress and spoken word artist, stumbled upon spoken word poetry as a way to heal a broken heart. After performing at open mics and connecting with other artists, she knew her work had to evolve into something “more than just love poems.” Now, she finds joy in combining educational information with spoken word and storytelling. Fueled by her passion for hip-hop and classical writing, she works to “inspire, educate, and move people forward in a world where it can be easy to feel left behind.” Her self-published debut poetry book, Short Poems From a Short Love, was released in 2021. She has performed in major cities all over the country, and was invited to lead a poetry writing workshop at the 2023 Models of Pride event featuring Hayley Kiyoko. In 2022, she started a passion project called Sycamore Sessions. “Sycamore Sessions focuses on bringing together friends, community, and artists to create a safe space to share and connect. We feature artists of every genre from drag to music to fire dancing and promote local non-profits as well,” Hubbard tells GO. Hubbard is driven by her experience as a queer woman of color, and she hopes to create social change with her work. When asked about her future, Hubbard shares, “Moving forward, my vision for myself and my work is to expand to even bigger topics and speak on humanitarian issues. My hopes are to accomplish performing on stages and in front of audiences that can make a difference in domestic and international political arenas.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (9)

Arielle Orsuto

Arielle Orsuto is an Emmy Award-winning sports journalist with 9NEWS in Denver. A sports junkie from the get-go, Arielle began her career as a sports anchor in Rapid City, South Dakota, followed by a stop in Wichita, Kansas, and has spent the last five years in the Rocky Mountain region. She is admired for building a franchise at 9NEWS called Fair Game, which highlights underrepresented groups in sports. The concept took form after she noticed girls and boys got equal coverage in high school, but after graduation, women tended to disappear from the screen. Then in 2021, the South Jersey/Philadelphia native had an idea. She approached higher-ups with a proposal. “I wanted to elevate our coverage of women’s sports and then extend our coverage of other groups — LGBTQ, BIPOC, people with disabilities,” she says. “We are now the leader in all of Denver for coverage of women in sports, LGBTQ athletes, and athletes with disabilities.” Being a woman, particularly a gay woman, has had more of a positive impact on her work than anything else. “It took me until I arrived in Denver in 2019 to fully come out publicly because I wasn’t sure how my work would be perceived in smaller, more conservative markets. However, once I did, I felt like I was able to do my best work because I wasn’t hiding anything anymore.” Orsuto loves connecting with the community and telling their stories, and her authenticity has given many others the confidence to present in their own unique and fabulous way. She lives with her wife, Devaney, and cats, Norman and Harold. In her spare time, the University of Miami grad competes in a LGBTQ flag football league. –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (10)

Anathea Chino

“Being a queer Indigenous woman fuels my determination to create positive change and foster greater acceptance and understanding in all aspects of my life and work,” says Anathea Chino. As co-founder and executive director of Advance Native Political Leadership, the first and only national Native organization aimed at addressing Native American underrepresentation in state and local elected leadership, Chino fosters pathways for women of color and the LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit communities. Chino also co-founded Indigenous Women Rise, a collective that brought over 1,000 Indigenous women to the 2017 National Women’s March in Washington, DC, and the Women’s Democracy Lab, which ensures that Indigenous women and women of color can thrive in elected office. With over 20 years of experience as a fundraiser, political strategist, and operative at the tribal, state, and national levels, she currently serves on the national Board of Directors and Advisory Boards of Americans for Indian Opportunity, California Native Vote Project, Emergent Fund, Way to Lead PAC, and One for Democracy. “The most rewarding gift of our work is witnessing Indigenous leaders discover their voices and bravely share their stories as they declare their ambitions for more just and equitable communities,” Chino tells GO. “In the midst of managing deep historical trauma and the attempted genocide of Indigenous peoples, we are watching history repeat itself and we are all connected in navigating seemingly unreal realities across the United States and the world. And still…I believe that through this time of deep despair, our best days are ahead of us.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (11)

Catherine Sumner

After two decades in journalism and government affairs, Catherine Sumner knew she was done on one fateful day in early 2021. “If sitting Senators could literally call for the head of the Vice President, there is nothing stopping them from doing harm to some dyke lobbyist,” Sumner tells GO. “I had already been exploring other options, but January 6 was the end for me.” While contemplating her next step, Sumner considered her passion for preservation work, as well as the legacy of her late father, a former POW in World War II and a veteran of the Korean War. “He instilled in me a love of history and great admiration of veterans,” she says. “To serve one’s country, especially in a time of war, is truly an act of selflessness.” Now the curator of San Francisco’s Marines’ Memorial, Sumner honors veterans every day and tells their stories through art and exhibits. Her next project for the memorial — compiling oral histories of military chaplains and service members — will make good use of her background in journalism. Sumner strives to incorporate narratives of all veterans, including female and LGBTQ+ members of the service, whether that’s reviewing a book about female pilots in World War II or displaying a queer veteran’s art. Any regrets about the career change? Nope. “Although the pay is nice, I would do this work for free,” Sumner says. “But don’t tell that to my Colonel!” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (12)

Shenaaz Janmohamed

Shenaaz Janmohamed is an empowering presence who understands hardships as clarifying moments propelling her to action. When she was 22, she was racially profiled and searched by the FBI following the 9/11 attacks and, days later, was sexually assaulted by a family member. “Since then, I have understood the deeply linked experience of state violence and sexual violence on a cellular level. My body holds the memories and traumas that reverberate across countless others who are simultaneously criminalized, preyed upon, and unprotected,” Janmohamed tells GO. After many years of supporting individual and collective health — as a high school mental health counselor, survivor advocate and organizer — she dreamed of creating a progressive organization centering queer Muslims and healing justice. She founded Queer Crescent, a non-profit that supports LGBTQIA+ Muslims. Queer Crescent began as a community healing space during Trump’s 2017 Muslim and African Ban, and then began to organize to meet the needs of the Muslim and LGBTQIA+ communities. Similarly, since Oct. 7, 2023, Queer Crescent has organized LGBTQ organizations and leaders to demand an immediate ceasefire towards a Free Palestine with a campaign, Palestine is a Queer Issue. “Encouraging queer organizations to understand and interrupt pinkwashing — a tactic of obscuring (colonial) state violence — is a necessary way to hold intersectional commitment to all our LGBTQ communities including Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims.” The constant attacks on Janmohamed’s intersecting identities have never stopped her from being herself. It’s taught her how to stand strong in who she is. “I developed the commitment to speak my truth in ways that are nuanced and wide enough to allow myself, and my communities, a necessary sense of belonging.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (13)

Melissa Febos

“My entire career is due to the work and care of other women, especially queer women,” author Melissa Febos tells GO. “If not for the work of women like Audre Lorde, Jeannette Winterson, bell hooks, Leslie Feinberg, Dorothy Allison, Judy Grahn, Heather Lewis, and countless others, I would not have seen the path toward my life as an artist.” Since appearing in GO’s 2011 Women We Love, Febos has followed up her critically acclaimed debut memoir Whip Smart with three more books, and multiple awards, fellowships, and prestigious publications. Her 2017 essay collection Abandon Me was a LAMBDA Special Award Winner and 2021’s Girlhood became a national bestseller, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and was translated into eight languages. Febos’ 2022 craft book Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative was both a national and LA Times bestseller. Why did she choose a writing career? “I feel more like writing chose me than I chose it,” she says. “There weren’t going to be very many professions that I could sustainably perform; even as a kid, I was a passionate, obsessive, defiant sort of person. I feared very early on that there wouldn’t be a place in society for me.” Febos adds, “I’m incredibly grateful that I was born in a time when the pastime of artist and professor was something a girl could consider possible for herself. I never considered becoming anything else.” Febos is now a full professor at the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Program and lives in Iowa City with her wife, the poet Donika Kelly. –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (14)

Serena Thongsri and Natchaya Klinkajon

With Serena Thongsri’s experience in social media marketing and hospitality, and Natchaya Klinkajon’s expertise in wine and business, it’s not surprising that the couple is thriving in the restaurant business. They own Rynn NYC, Manhattan’s hottest Thai restaurant, alongside their business partner, Hataichanok Pruksaprawpon. Serena loves food, fashion, and beauty, and uses those skills in her marketing of the restaurant. Natchaya, a certified wine expert, has worked with Michelin star Chef Jose Andre on beverage programs, as well as with the Wine Spectator Private Club. She brings that knowledge to her curation of Rynn’s beverage program. The couple tells GO that their experience in hospitality and commitment to “giving the best service and experiences to the guests” is part of what made them decide to open Rynn. The guest satisfaction is the most rewarding thing, and their goal is that people “leave happier than when they come in.” Considering the buzz the restaurant is creating, you might think they’re content to ride the wave, but Serena and Natchaya say they hope to accomplish a lot more. They want to “grow from what we are learning today and use that as our handbook to improve our skills and our business.” They’ve seen their fair share of rainy days, particularly working in conservative restaurants in the past, including issues of sexism, pay disparity, and discrimination, but their focus is on the good. Serena and Natchaya say they do their best to “focus on our career and the people around [us],” and they strive to bring their positivity to Rynn every day. –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (15)

PaulA Neves

PaulA Neves, a first-generation Portuguese-American, felt it was just as difficult to “come out” as Portuguese as it was to come out as queer. “Back in the 90s, I wrote stories and essays about being queer [as a way] to come out as Portuguese-American. This was long before everyone wanted to visit Portugal or won trips to go there on Wheel of Fortune,” she says. A poet, writer, filmmaker, and educator, she finds building community one-on-one the most rewarding aspect of her work. This is evident in her poetry collections, capricornucopia (the dream of the goats), and the forthcoming Passaic, both of which focus on community and micro-environments. The Remedy, a documentary she co-produced about immigrant and queer Newark hip-hop artists, similarly showcases community-building through personal journeys. She says, “Using your work to share the daily richness of lives, especially artists’, while honoring the richness of your own — that’s the reward.” Early in her career, she submitted her short story “Seven Days in August” to an anthology created by prolific lesbian photographer Tee Corrine, author of Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians. Not only was Neves chosen, but Corinne personally called to ask if the story could be featured as the first in the anthology. “I never forgot that generosity. [Tee Corinne] was an artistic trailblazer for lesbian/ queer/differently abled women’s visibility. Getting that validation from her when I was starting out was everything,” she shared. Neves hopes to help preserve lesbian and queer women’s legacies, and continue making a local impact. “The old saying that politics is local — seems counterintuitive now when so much is fraught at the national and global level — but matters now more than ever,” she says. –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (16)

Abby Posner

Abby Posner hails from the mountains of Colorado, and you can hear it in her music. Her songs vary from intimate, haunting folk songs to upbeat dance-your-pants-off tunes, but they all feature her mind-blowing multi-instrumental talent. Her range is further illustrated by the fact that her music video “Quiet on Sunset” was recently featured on CMT, she has scored music for four different documentaries, and her song “Get Loud” was just chosen as the official hype song of the NHL’s LA Kings. When reflecting on her music career, Posner recognized how music has always been an “anchor” in her life. “Music has always been a source of healing for me, and it has helped me find the missing puzzle pieces to grief, sorrow, confusion, and all the other messy things life throws at us,” she tells GO. “I am grateful I am able to make a career out of the thing that has been the most healing and grounding tool for me.” Just as her music has helped her heal, Posner says she feels fulfilled by the fact that her music has helped others as well. She shared, “It is so moving when people tell me, ‘I lost someone I loved recently, and your song helped me get through that rough patch,’ or ‘I went through an awful breakup, and your song became my daily anthem for healing, and working through my emotions.’ Once you release art or music into the world, it is no longer yours. It becomes everyone else’s stories and journeys.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (17)

Mary Mahoney

“When I was growing up, I thought the person who wrote ‘the peek into the past’ section at the back of American Girl books had the coolest job in the world,” says Mary Mahoney. “I went to college knowing I wanted to learn how to research and write about the past in the service of our lives today.” As co-host of the Dolls of Our Lives podcast — which recently aired its final episode and has evolved into a nonfiction book of the same name, released last November — Mahoney and fellow historian Allison Horrocks explored the American Girl brand and the historical stories it offered in the context of the brand’s peak decades, mainly the 1980s and ‘90s. Mahoney also pens “Landline,” a pop culture and history newsletter available on Substack. “I’ve grown into a person who loves thinking about history and sharing it with the public in accessible ways, i.e. using headlines from US Weekly to explain historical narratives,” Mahoney tells GO. “[M]y goal is to tell inclusive stories through podcasting and writing.” As an open lesbian, Mahoney’s identity has led to rich interactions and community with listeners and readers. “A common trope among queer AG fans is debating who is the queerest American Girl of them all, and for me that is Molly,” Mahoney says. “Hearing from listeners that they had similar experiences with Molly, or Samantha, or Kit has made me feel less alone in my own attachment to a special thing from childhood that helped me grow into myself as a queer woman.” –LE

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Pure XTC

“I always knew [my career] would be something in the music industry,” says alt-pop artist Pure XTC. “When I was five, I asked for a drum kit, my parents got me an electric guitar (no amp LOL), and put me in piano lessons.” In her early twenties, Pure XTC — born Taylor Hughes — left Baltimore to tour the United States and Canada as a drummer, and a decade later, she’s a solo artist on the rise. Her single “Fall Apart” and its accompanying short film were released on March 1, the first of several immersive musical shorts that will culminate in her debut solo album, and she’s been recognized on Apple Music’s New in Alternative Playlist. Her track “get lost” is in the feature film Midwest Skidmark, which will debut at film festivals this year. “Sitting at an AMC theater and hearing my song through a movie theater’s sound system was a really surreal moment,” she says. When asked how being an LGBTQ+ woman has impacted her work, Pure XTC, who’s shared the stage with Fletcher, Jenny Lewis, and Dashboard Confessional, speaks nothing but love. “It’s given me an opportunity to connect with more people within my community,” she tells GO. “I have been fortunate enough to play various pride festivals around the country [and] I was able to check performing at The Dinah off my bucket list and lots of other fun shows because I’m lucky enough to be a part of such an amazing and supportive community!” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (19)

Amber Valentine

Amber Valentine is the founder of MISSTER, New York City’s longest-running party —it’s been going on for 12 years now — that centers queer women. Amber has been a DJ in NYC and beyond for more than ten years. Along with JD Samson, she co-hosts PAT, one of Brooklyn’s most loved parties. Amber can also be spotted frequently at Brooklyn’s House of Yes, as well as Susanne Bartsch’s On Top. Amber says she loves “being able to create spaces for people to connect with each other. It’s an honor to get to be a part of queer people’s joy.” Her style is rooted in house, hip hop, and disco, and she strives to bring love into every DJ set. In addition to being a DJ, Amber describes herself as a hardcore yoga girlie. She loves to make space for people to “come together in community, unity, and of course dance floor ecstasy.” This life of the party tells GO one thing people might be surprised to know is that she’s been sober from alcohol for nine years. You can catch her on Pride Friday, June 28 at Lady Land Festival alongside Kim Petras, SLAYYYTER, and more iconic queer artists. Follow Amber on Instagram @ambervalentinenyc to keep up with her gig schedule – and to admire her signature fire-red locks and campy outfits. –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (20)

Lauren Milici

“I saw a childhood friend recently and he told me that my career made sense because, even in middle school, I was hitting him with pop culture references and showing him obscure films,” says Lauren Milici. “I’ve definitely always been a little TV/film gal, and I always knew I liked to write.” After completing an MFA in poetry, the New York City-based writer decided to give freelancing a go. She’s now Senior Entertainment Writer for GamesRadar+ — “I really love shouting about art,” she says — and author of two poetry collections, Final Girl and Sad Sexy Catholic. From her passion for Twin Peaks, to her Catholic upbringing, Milici is never short on material, and she infuses life experience in every word. “Being a woman and a sexual assault survivor has impacted just about everything I think and do and feel, no matter how much I’ve processed the trauma or how much time has passed,” she says. What motivates her? Spite. “The people in my grad program looked down on the sexual and confessional nature of my poetry,” Milici says. “And now my second book is going into a second printing.” When asked about personally impactful pop culture, Milici names a sapphic cult favorite. “I didn’t come out as bisexual until after I saw Jennifer’s Body in theaters,” she tells GO. “I think Diablo Cody’s aim there was to write a movie that would make every closeted girl break down the door and that is exactly what she did for me.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (21)

Katie Carter

Jeanette Winterson wrote, “What you risk reveals what you value,” and it’s a quote that resonates with Katie Carter, who from her earliest memories cared about changing the systems of injustice that affect so many. Now living in Seattle, Carter has worked as a nonprofit and foundation professional for the past 16 years, focused on LGBTQIA2S+, gender, and racial justice. In her current role as CEO of Pride Foundation, Carter builds community and institutional partnerships, develops communications strategies, and mobilizes resources in the Northwest. “During these extraordinary times, I get to wake up every day and have tangible ways to fight for LGBTQIA2S+, gender, and racial justice and the people and communities I’m a part of and I love. Especially these past few years, when despair felt particularly close, I have felt so lucky and privileged to be able to channel that energy into making meaningful and transformative change,” Carter tells GO. The Midwestern native earned a M.A. in Philosophy of Science from Indiana University and B.S. in Psychology and Philosophy from DePaul University. She is an avid reader of feminist and political writing, philosophy, poetry, and memoir, and has had a lifelong interest in science and the natural world, particularly animal cognition and behavior — a subject she studied before shifting to a field that felt more tangibly impactful in the communities she cherishes. “Being a queer woman isn’t just an identity for me; it is the foundation of my life. It has shaped the family and chosen family I have built. It has shaped the work I dedicate my life to. It has helped me build my political analysis and how I engage with the world,” Carter says. –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (22)

Vicky and Charisse Pache

Like many business ventures, Dapper Boi was born out of necessity. “I was frustrated by the traditional clothes shopping experience,” says Vicky Pache. “Clothing traditionally considered “masculine” in style isn’t often designed for bodies with curves. And shopping in the men’s section was uncomfortable and met with a lot of raised eyebrows.” Armed with a marketing background and vision for a world everyone can fit into, Vicky teamed up with Charisse, her partner in business and in life. In 2015, they founded Dapper Boi, an all-gender and size inclusive clothing brand and created a Kickstarter campaign to get things off the ground. However, in 2022, due to COVID supply chain issues, they almost lost it all (as shared on Shark Tank and the documentary Show Her The Money) and sold their home to save the business. It took a leap of confidence and faith, but the ethos was in their DNA. Charisse was the product of hard-working immigrant parents. “Growing up, I watched as they sacrificed and saved, so my siblings and I could have more opportunities than they did in the Philippines. I’ve always worked hard to honor their sacrifices, and ensure those opportunities never went to waste.” Charisse worked full-time to support the venture and their adorable twin girls while Vicky drove the brand and their mission to revolutionize the genderless fashion movement. As of last year, through grit and raw determination, the online Dapper Boi reached $4.5 million in lifetime sales and more than 35,000 customers. Most rewarding to Charisse, hearing “how we helped them feel more confident in their clothing and how they can show up more authentically in this world.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (23)

Grace Perry

“Writing is the best way for me to make sense of everything swirling around in my head,” Grace Perry tells GO. “It satisfies me to put life’s big, messy, complexities into an organized essay, even if those neat boundaries are literally a figment of my imagination.” Today, the Los Angeles-based writer and cultural critic has contributed to multiple publications, including BuzzFeed, The New Yorker and The Cut, and the satirical sites The Onion and Reductress. Her book, The 2000s Made Me Gay, is an essay collection exploring how pop culture of the aughts — including Gossip Girl, The O.C. and Moulin Rouge — was formative to Perry’s queer identity. “I love connecting with queer folks who’ve read my book, because I love to hear what their version of it would be,” Perry says of the book’s reception. “Everyone has their own personal collection of books, shows, movies and music they consumed as a tween/teen that shaped who they are today. It’s especially fun chatting with folks older than I am and hearing how the ‘70s made them gay.” When asked how she deals with setbacks and adversity, Perry shares her multi-pronged approach: “Crying. Binging 30 Rock for the 40th time. Getting a dog. Channeling all my emotions into dog training. Making self-deprecating little jokes instead of answering questions that might make me feel vulnerable. Binging 30 Rock for the 41st time.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (24)

Jincey Lumpkin

Self-proclaimed “Oprah of sex,” Jincey Lumpkin, Esq. is the first to admit she loves all things sex, “—talking about it, writing about it, having it…” The Chief Sexy Officer’s journey began in Georgia, where she grew up. She later graduated from Vanderbilt University and then the Florida Coastal School of Law, where she obtained her law degree. She moved to New York City working in banking litigation on Wall Street, but was unhappy, and left in 2009 to found her company Juicy Pink Box, a studio that specialized in aesthetically-driven lesbian erotica. She says, “I firmly believe in creating a positive, safe space where people (particularly women) feel empowered and excited to explore fantasies and desires, no matter what they may be.” After stepping away from the business ten years ago, she’s back and just relaunched JPB, which she describes as Goop meets Cosmopolitan. “[Juicy Pink Box] helps women see themselves better by contextualizing identity. Letting go of shame and tapping into our desire helps us feel less freakish and alone. Embracing our sexual power unties the strict binds of the roles society makes us play.” The company now spans digital media, as well as books, documentaries, and even products. Jincey, who spent a lot of time dealing with internalized hom*ophobia in her 20s and 30s, now realizes she never had anything to prove to anyone. She says, “I’m no longer in search of happiness. I focus on things like peace, contentment, and moments of joy.” On top of everything else, Jincey’s a voracious reader who growing up, “loved anything that had to do with sexuality or coming of age, so Judy Blume was a favorite. I also loved V.C. Andrews because her books were so tawdry.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (25)

Ann P. Meredith

Ann P. Meredith is the ultimate Renaissance Woman. For almost 55 years, the artist, writer, director, producer, fine art photographer, and filmmaker has forged channels for others to be heard. She’s the founder of Swordfish Productions Pictures & Theatrical, a company that produces motion pictures, feature film, documentary productions, exhibitions, performances, and installations. “My vision and goal for my work has always been about giving a compassionate and realistic face and voice to people and cultures who have been injured, persecuted, marginalized, under-recognized and therefore underserved.” Throughout her career, she has taken on many undiscussed subjects including sexual harassment and rape; women with HIV/AIDS; women & LGBT victims and witnesses of The Holocaust. Her work is in Permanent Collections at The Smithsonian Institution, The Library of Congress, the San Francisco & New York Public Libraries, UCLA Film & Television Archives, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women at Harvard’s Permanent Core Collections. Her art has been featured in The New York Times, Art In America, Ms. Magazine, LIFE, Artweek, USA Today, Art News, and elsewhere. She has been exhibited in a dozens-long list of venues that range from The Brooklyn Museum to the U.S. Dept of State’s Embassies and The Royal Photographic Society in Bath, England, and The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. For inspiration during challenging times, Meredith talks with other women and queer filmmakers to regain perspective. “The most rewarding aspect of my work is to see and feel people light up when you ask them to tell THEIR STORY… to see people’s reaction to being SEEN and HEARD.” –MH

100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (26)

Beatrice Thomas aka Black Benatar

Black Benatar is a prime example of what can happen when you center your community within your social justice work. They told GO, “Community is one of my most important core values,” and Black Benatar’s work speaks for itself. The Californian, social justice drag queen is the Founder and CEO of Authentic Arts & Media, which uses an equity, diversity, and inclusion lens to focus on organizational consulting, training, and artist development programs. Thomas also leads Black Benatar’s Black Magic Cabaret, a touring circus cabaret that features queer, trans, and BIPOC performers. She tells GO, “The most rewarding part of my work is constantly expanding my community by connecting with other creators who share that vision — creative people who want to change the world, people who believe in big things and big ideas and ask the question why not me instead of why me!” They have served as director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Drag Queen Story Hour and was board president for the national organization. Thomas has also been a featured speaker at SXSW and was a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist in 2021. On top of all that, they’re a certified sheep shearer and dog mom to 5 senior pups. Moving forward, Black Benatar wants “to keep using art, spectacle and drag to build a safer, more stunning world for all! I want to continue finding sustainable pathways to support my creative practice and the authentic contributions of my big wildly diverse and intersectional community.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (27)

Christine Vachon

Christine Vachon came up when the strongholds of sexism made high-level filmmaking a strenuous battle for women. For three decades, Vachon has taken a jackhammer to cinematic ground, easing the walk for many, especially first-time female and queer directors. Her filmography is mountainous. She has co-produced more than 100 films — some of the most landmark and acclaimed American independent and queer features, including Academy Award-winner Boys Don’t Cry (1998), the first mainstream feature about a trans man; Swoon (1992) and Stonewall (1995), birthed out of the AIDS epidemic and fierce uprising of ACT UP, with which she aligned. She was the force behind Kids, I Shot Andy Warhol, Safe, Happiness, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Far From Heaven (nominated for four Academy Awards), One Hour Photo, Still Alice, and Carol (directed by long-time collaborator Todd Haynes). Vachon ex- ecutive-produced the Emmy and Golden Globe-awarded HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce and Emmy Award-winning Netflix series Halton. Recently, as producer of indie-studio hybrid May December and romantic drama Past Lives, Vachon earned her first, and much-deserved, Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Vanity Fair was spot-on in noting the accolade was “ridiculously overdue.” And while Vachon said a nomination would “mean an extraordinary amount,” getting movies in front of audiences is what really drives her work. “I will never forget showing Go Fish to a mostly lesbian crowd in London in the early 90s. They were absolutely silent at the end and then roared to their feet. They were finally seeing a movie about their lives!” The native New Yorker is no stranger to a good martini, but when she really wants to relax, she cooks. –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (28)

Carmen Maria Machado

Literary force Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House and the award-winning short story collection Her Body and Other Parties. Her essays, fiction, poetry, and criticism have graced the pages of esteemed publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, This American Life, and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Her unique, engrossing, and innovative writing style has earned her countless recognitions, fellowships, and residencies. In 2018, The New York Times recognized Her Body and Other Parties as a member of “The New Vanguard,” one of “15 Remarkable Books by Women That Are Shaping the Way We Read and Write Fiction in the 21st Century.” From a young age, Machado had many career aspirations. She even earned her middle school’s superlative for “Most Likely to Cure Cancer” due to her two-year immersion in medical melodramas and her vocal desire to become a doctor. However, amidst dreams of a life as a photographer or a career in medicine, writing always remained a constant. It served as a means of processing her experiences, exploring her inner life, and understanding the world around her. “It’s the only thing that’s ever stuck,” she said. “I think I was always destined to be a writer. It was, as they say, inevitable.” When asked about the most rewarding aspect of her work, Machado felt pride in being able to support herself with her art and finds joy in interacting with her readers. To be able to write for a living makes her feel like “the luckiest person in the world.” Looking ahead, her vision for her future entails writing gorgeous, hard-to-categorize books, seeing the world with the people she loves, and eating a metric ton of shrimp co*cktail.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (29)

Becky Krause

Becky Krause has been a sketch writer for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon since 2016, a role she prepared her whole life for. She bought a video camera with babysitting money in high school and has been creating ever since. Years ago, she found a note she wrote as a kid. “…I wrote to myself five times on one page saying, “I want to spend my days doing hilarious, creative things as my job. I may have manifested it,” she shares. Despite her silly and borderline absurdist sense of humor, Krause draws inspiration from the unremarkable. She has a 190-page Microsoft Word document detailing mundane interactions with strangers or coworkers, and she posts on social media to document everyday happenings, like sitting in a moderately comfortable chair. One of the most rewarding aspects of Krause’s work is seeing this ordinary inspiration come to life. A situation that happens to her in real life can be written down, portrayed by actors, and put on TV for other people to relate to. As Krause says, “real life is funny.” At work, Krause loves laughing with her coworkers and meeting new people. “In one week, I can be interacting with the Muppets, then helping a reality star with their lines, then giving notes to Irish step dancers, then showing an actress how to do the “flipping a water bottle” trend, then sitting in for rehearsal singing with the cast of a classic movie,” she shared. In the future, Krause hopes to keep creating and maybe turn her Mundane Interactions document into a book, but most importantly, she hopes to “keep being authentically myself.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (30)

Justine Laviolette and Nikke Alleyne

“I love when we see people make connections… whether that’s romantic or creative or friends or however,” Justine LaViolette tells GO. “It feels really special to facilitate connec- tion.” With Nikke Alleyne, LaViolette co-owns The Bush, a dyke bar and community space in Brooklyn. The Bush offers cleverly named co*cktails like Justine’s favorite this season, Mother’s Milk (jasmine syrup, coconut milk, lime and vodka), and Nikke’s favorite, the Island They (rum, hibiscus syrup, and lime). They also have a mocktail menu and non-alco- holic beer, beef patties until 11pm, and daily specials including “slu*tty Punch Wednesday.” Alleyne and LaViolette’s different professional backgrounds complement one another well: a Black queer immigrant, Alleyne spends her days working in marketing for a large fashion retailer, and she’s experienced in inventory management and large-scale financial planning. With The Bush, agender Brooklynite LaViolette returns to the hospitality industry after coming of age in their family’s restaurant kitchens and then managing restaurants in their early twenties, before a successful career in commercial advertising. While Alleyne admits she’s more of an introvert these days, both she and LaViolette relish fostering community through The Bush. “As someone who has been out for all of my teenage and adult years I found that it was difficult to find spaces where there were folks that looked like me,” says Alleyne. “It feels rewarding to see folks of all races, ages, sexual and gender orientations in one space, just vibing.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (31)

Maiah Manser

At the age of 6, Maiah Manser won a talent show for singing “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music. After she won, she told her mom, “I’m going to be a famous singer when I grow up,” and nothing ever changed her mind. Now, she’s received critical acclaim for her EPs Second Skin and third degree and has recently began scoring for films and TV series. However, throughout her career, the most rewarding aspect of her work is the way she is able to interact with her audience. “When I make music, I never know how much it impacts others until I share it or get to perform live. It is the greatest gift to learn that my music helped someone through something, inspired them, or simply made them want to dance and sing along. For me, it’s always been about connecting with people from all over the world and all walks of life,” Manser tells GO. Manser is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, but letting that shine through in her music took some time, patience, and lots of inspiration and encouragement. She says, “I’ve written many songs about being a woman, but due to growing up in the church in a once conservative town, it’s been a journey to feel safe in my queer identity. However, I’m excited to say that through a lot of self acceptance I’ve finally started writing more forwardly queer songs. I’ve got my found family and every confidently out LGBTQ+ artist that came before me to thank for that.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (32)

Sepi Shyne

“My life purpose is to illuminate,” Sepi Shyne tells GO. “I ran for elected office in 2020 to be of service, expand representation and equity, create innovative new policies and bring my light, compassion and empathy to the political matrix.” A community advocate for over 26 years, Shyne immigrated as a child from Iran to the United States. She became a lawyer to help underserved communities and a certified Reiki Master to facilitate transformational healing. Four years ago, Shyne took a new step in her social justice journey — and made history — by becoming the first openly LGBTQ+ woman of color elected to the West Hollywood City Council. In 2023, she was elected Mayor of West Hollywood and became the world’s first out LGBTQ+ Iranian mayor. During her political tenure, Shyne “passed some of the most impactful policies that are being replicated across the region,” including the country’s highest minimum wage that includes sick and paid time for all workers, America’s first multi-stall gender-neutral bathroom ordinance, 24/7 mobile behavioral health crisis response units, a ban on plastics and compostable alternatives in the food service industry, and Lesbian and Queer Women’s Visibility Week. She won’t be running for reelection in November. “I feel proud of my service,” says Shyne, “My vision moving forward is to create a life in which I feel an abundance of joy, love, freedom and connection while inspiring individuals to embrace their full potential.” This new journey for Shyne will begin with publishing her first book, which is a collection of poetry. “I want to feel present in more moments than not.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (33)

Marissa Limsiaco

For a then-teenage Marissa Limsiaco, a visit from her Filipino grandfather changed everything. “I vividly recall the scene: tossing aside a recruiting letter from West Point’s tennis coach, oblivious to the potential it held,” she tells GO. “It was my grandfather who saw beyond my initial dismissal, urging me to at least consider the opportunity.” The ultra-prestigious military academy isn’t for the faint of heart, but Limsiaco thrived. “By the time junior year arrived, the decision to pursue a career in the military felt like a natural progression — an acknowledgment of the debt I owed to a nation that had provided my family with boundless opportunities,” she says. Limsiaco graduated from West Point with numerous accolades, including the coveted Army Athletic Association Trophy, and she is now a decorated combat veteran of the U.S. Army. Her post-military career is equally impressive: she is a serial founder, having launched numerous successful ventures and raised venture funding for two companies, and cofounder of Otso, the industry’s first fintech company that specializes in commercial tenant screening. Rather than shun adversity, Limsiaco, now recognized as one of the most influential women in commercial real estate, embraces it. “In the end, my journey through adversity has been a testament to the power of growth, grit, and gratitude,” she says. “And as I continue on this journey, I carry with me the lessons learned and the wisdom gained — a steadfast reminder that adversity, far from being a foe to be feared, is often the greatest catalyst for growth and transformation.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (34)

Grace Chu

You might not think “corporate attorney at a national law firm” and “queer nightlife photographer” are the same person, until you meet Grace Chu, modern day superhero. Chu was writing for a lesbian publication, who then asked her to cover nightlife and, knowing she’d need decent snaps to accompany her articles, Chu began taking photography courses online. When her day job as a young law firm associate took a hit thanks to the 2009 recession, Chu leaned harder into writing and photography, and Time Out New York and event producers took notice and hired her. “I was flown around the country, and internationally, to shoot photos,” says Chu. “It was unexpected and wild.” Though Chu is once again a full-time lawyer, she still makes time to pursue nightlife photography, and would like to eventually curate a gallery of her body of work. “It’s good for my mental health,” Chu says of her side gig. “I suggest that everyone achieves balance in their lives through creative endeavors or other activities that bring happiness.” What’s the most rewarding aspect ofher work as a photographer?“Just capturing joy in the queer women’s space,”Chu tells GO. “I’ve been shooting queer women’s nightlife for over a decade, and it’s really a sanctuary, a safe space for women to feel comfortable, make connections, and just let loose and be themselves.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (35)

Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas is one of today’s most influential visual artists. Born and raised in New Jersey, Thomas received her BFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, and an MFA from Yale University School of Art. Since then, she has had solo exhibitions in countless venues, some of which include the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, the the Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON; Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts, Atlanta, GA; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. She says, “I was fortunate enough to be exposed to art from a young age, but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I really gravitated towards a creative practice.” That practice has expanded to include multiple mediums, and Thomas’s art takes the form of mixed-media paintings, photographs, and film. While known for her focus on Black female representation, she says one surprising fact about her work that people might not know is that, “the truth is that my work addresses different topics and realities simultaneously. The concepts that move and drive my artistic practice are just as complex and intricate as my visual language, compositional formal aspects, and personal aesthetics.” Her most recent show All About Love comprises 80 pieces and is currently being exhibited at The Broad in LA. It is the first major international tour of Thomas’s work. Thomas is also cofounder of the Pratt>FORWARD ‘Artist in the Market’ incubator for post-graduate students, and she serves on the Board of Trustees for the Brooklyn Museum and MoMA PS1. –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (36)

Sarah Tomasin Fonseca

“Writing’s less my career than it is my pedigree,” says Sarah Tomasin Fonseca. She grew up homeschooled by an immigrant father who became an illustrator and poet during his time in the U.S. penal system and a mother who was a stenographer and typist for the law firm that represented Cassius Clay. The film and cultural critic, author and editor, and union ironworker apprentice says she “got more of an education than is typical.” Since 2012, Fonseca’s work has appeared in various publications including The Advocate, INTO, Conde Nast’s them.us, IndieWire, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. Currently, she’s co-editing a lesbian short fiction anthology for Feminist Press “that is likely to be banned across the country upon publication in 2025,” she tells GO. “Gonna make our ACLU memberships put in work,” she jokes. She’s also working on both a book of short stories and an essay collection about Susan Sontag’s “lifelong love affair with the movies.” When it comes to the most rewarding aspect of her work, Fonseca thinks the best is yet to come. “A good many queer writers of color are uniquely built to ball hard during trying times,” she says. “As a consequence of our being in a hell of a trying time right now municipally and globally, it seems inevitable that we are entering a new era where counterculture thrives and – more importantly – writers put on their britches and get to work.” How does Fonseca deal with setbacks? “Having a Scorpio rising helps,” she says. “So does re-watching Love Lies Bleeding.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (37)

Amanda Whip

Amanda Whip moved to NYC when she was 17 to pursue her dream of being an illustrator. What started as attending a burlesque life-drawing group and sketching images she saw when she snuck into nightlife and fetish events eventually grew into friendships that encouraged her to come out of her shell and try performance. She says, even though going on stage was never her intention, “opportunities began to fall into my lap.” A self-described “shock performer,” her bio now includes artist, contortionist, pro domme, and painter. She’s been featured in TV and film, concerts, events, and fashion, including Penthouse Magazine. Whip tells GO, “I love to take people out of their heads and give them no choice but to feel something.” Her vision moving forward is to never limit herself and to keep finding ways to evolve in different ventures. “…when I first set foot here, I made a goal to never experience boredom again. I haven’t been bored for one day since and I hope that will carry on for the rest of my life.” For her, being a woman who identifies on the LGBTQ+ spectrum means challenging misogyny and heteronormativity. This includes empowering people to question their position on the Kinsey scale and their acceptance of gender roles. “Though many of my acts feature lesbian themes, they’re not for the pleasure of cishet men; rather it’s meant to disturb them and to disrupt the expectation that we should all pander to the society they’ve created.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (38)

Dawn Laguens

“My approach is to view life and projects not as a sequence of starts and stops but as continuous cycles,” says Dawn Laguens. The Austin, TX-based wife and mom of triplets serves as Executive Vice President and Chief of Global Strategy and Innovation at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In her role, Laguens guides strategy and innovation, along with digital products and insights, and frequently presents at global conferences, including TEDx, SXSW and the Fortune Tech Summit. “[Planned Parenthood] continues to be a trusted health care provider and a leader in sex education after 100 years and in my role as Chief of Strategy and Innovation I’m particularly focused on delivering solutions that continue to have us at the forefront in the fight for equitable care and access,” says Laguens, who was recently named #5 on Fast Company’s fourth annual Queer 50 list. And as the battle for human and reproductive rights continues, Laguens’s own community is never far from her mind: “We are especially proud of the role Planned Parenthood plays in providing high quality no-stigma care to the LGBTQI+ community,” she tells GO. “We will always fight for the belief that your body and your decision making are your own – no matter what the opposition throws at us.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (39)

Vanessa Schoening

When she was a senior in high school, Vanessa Schoening chose to go into the Fire Department of New York’s (FDNY) EMT Program, where she worked as an EMT for seven years. Then she was promoted to become a firefighter. Ten years later, she still works for FDNY and says the most rewarding part of her work, aside from helping people, is the “representation that not only a woman can do this job, but that I am also a woman of color and part of the LGBTQ+ community.” Schoening says there aren’t many women in the fire service, but that “being seen has shown young girls that this job is an absolute possibility.” She also serves in the Air National Guard, a role she’s been in for 14 years, and says she’s faced some challenges while in the military. For a while, she had fear of being kicked out “because ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was still in place. I’m glad it was repealed and I was able to focus on my career [instead of] fearing possibly being forced out.” Schoening plans to move into another career field — maybe cybersecurity — in order to spend more time with her family. She’s been married to her wife for nine years, and they have two children and a cat. She also loves sports, Crossfit, and traveling, and says when she was growing up, “The L Word was my show. I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Beals.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (40)

Shanée Benjamin

Shanée Benjamin is your local color-loving, 1970s fashion-obsessed art director and illustrator from Brooklyn, NY. After almost a decade as a designer, Benjamin became a digital illustrator, focusing on amplifying the stories and voices of LGBTQIA+ Black and brown folks. Throughout her career, Benjamin says connecting with other BIPOC Queer women has been the highlight. “Community is extremely important, and creating that network of people that you can be authentically yourself with is really rewarding. I get to communicate with so many badass folks, and they all inspire me to keep going!” she says. You may have seen Benjamin’s work in her partnerships with organizations and brands like GLAAD, The Fifteen Percent Pledge, Skittles, Old Navy, Google, and Instagram. Her signature bright colors and bold designs capture life and movement in a way that forces you to take notice. Benjamin’s future holds a culmination of her love of food, art, and community all in one space called Beijou. She shares her journey, and struggles, to open a queer space that is not a party-focused dive bar with dirty bathrooms cramped in a corner. She dreams of a place for queer people to be comfortable (both emotionally and physically), to enjoy good food and good company, and to find their community somewhere other than a loud, one-off, 11-pm-start-time party. “Beijou started as a queer invite-only dinner party, and that has manifested into a small plates kitchen and wine bar in Brooklyn, NY. I’m stepping into the world of intricate fundraising, which is showing me that I shouldn’t be afraid to share my dream,” she shares. She’s built up her own confidence as an artist, and inspired her readers as well. –AB

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (41)

Kristen Kish

You could say Kristen Kish is at the top of her culinary game, but really she just keeps expanding her repertoire. Kristen was born in South Korea and was adopted into a family in Kentwood, MI, an experience she wrote about in the introduction to her first cookbook Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques. She says she showed interest in cooking from a young age: “I started watching Great Chefs of the World, a cooking show, and I was enamored by the making of food. Cooking shows quickly became a place for me to escape and find calm.” Kish would go on to win season 10 of Top Chef, where she also became a fan-favorite. Since then, in addition to publishing her book, she’s become the host and producer of Restaurants at the End of the World on National Geographic/Disney+, co-star of Fast Foodies on truTV/Food Network and co-host of Iron Chef on Netflix. In 2023, Kish was named to TIME100’s Next, AdWeek’s Creative 100, and Marie Claire’s Power lists. In 2018, she opened her first restaurant, Arlo Grey at the LINE hotel in Austin, TX. Her success doesn’t mean she hasn’t faced her share of adversity. Kish tells GO she tries to learn from the challenging moments. “Each scenario is different and has been handled differently pending circ*mstances, but what I do know is that I never take what that setback was meant to teach me for granted.” Currently you can tune in on Bravo to find Kish as the new host of 21st season of the Emmy award-winning Top Chef. –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (42)

Nicole Melleby

When Nicole Melleby was eight, she watched the Nickelodeon adaptation of the book Harriet the Spy and immediately begged her parents for a notebook so she could be like Harriet and write down everything she heard and saw. Thus sparked a writing career that has earned Melleby acclaim for her queer-centric middle-grade books and hopeful takes on navigating some of life’s many challenges. These include: Lambda Literary finalist Hurricane Season, ALA Notable How to Become a Planet, Camp QUILTBAG (co- written with A.J. Sass), and The House on Sunrise Lagoon series. More recently, she has branched out toward a younger audience with a picture book, Sunny and Oswaldo. Her uplifting work has garnered Best Books of the Year status by Bank Street Books, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly, and have been ALA Rainbow Book selections. Informed by her own experience as a child, the New Jersey native takes care to leave space on the page for kids to see themselves — and for them to know she sees them, too. The most rewarding aspect of her work? Hearing from kids “… telling me how much they love my characters, and how great it is for them to get to read about kids like them, and how much it meant to them to not feel so alone because of getting to see the representation in my books.” In this era of book-banning, Melleby is determined to reach as many kids as she can. “I try just to think about them, and focus on them, and do what I can to keep going for them.” Melleby lives with her wife and cat, whose need for attention “oddly aligns” with Nicole’s writing schedule. –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (43)

Sheri Ciprane

Sheri Ciprane is a NYC-based stand-up comedian, a self-described 42-year-old “elder queer” – born when queers had little support from family or peers and had to find safe spaces by word of mouth. Coming out as a teenager was traumatic, but Ciprane learned to find humor in the experiences that once made her callous. “I came out when I was 14-years old in 1996. I had an undercut and have always presented as masculine of center. This was not normal back then. I had girlfriends in secret and even got fired from jobs for being a lesbian,” she tells GO. Her path to the NYC comedy scene started 20 years ago when the Delaware native set sights on the Big Apple — a safe space to be her most authentic self. A lot has happened since. Ciprane was nominated as a finalist in the New York Queer Comedy Festival. She’s been on several well-established comedy and mental health awareness podcasts, like BIG Comedy Network’s Old School Gay! She says, “The most rewarding aspect of doing stand-up comedy has been being able to laugh at myself and make others laugh in the most healing way I never thought was possible.” Ciprane writes about stereotypical lesbian experiences, like being pulled over by cops because they think she’s a 14-year-old boy driving underage and the time the TSA found a strap-on in her luggage. “Being a lesbian in comedy can be a challenge but for me it’s the perfect time because the world was not ready to hear my jokes five to ten years ago,” she says. –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (44)

Cara Ellis

In April 2017, when white nationalists rallied to recruit community members in Pikeville, KY, Cara Ellis, a lifelong Appalachian, joined forces with locals to stand up against fascism, racism, and hom*ophobia. “Appalachia is often viewed by others as a hostile environment and the folks here are stereotyped as being backwards and ignorant,” Cara tells GO. She set out to change that narrative, and in 2018, the first Pride event in Pikeville was born. Over 500 people showed up to celebrate LGBTQ+ people and support queer visibility and inclusion in eastern Kentucky. Volunteers gave free “mom hugs” to anyone in need of love and acceptance. “Seeing the emotions people were having from simply receiving this kind gesture broke me into pieces,” she says. “I saw and felt their pain, yet their joy in having people wrap them in their arms.” Since a papillary thyroid carcinoma diagnosis in 2019, she has been further motivated to to keep fighting — not only for herself, but for others who struggle. “Coming to terms with my sexual and gender identity has been a journey,” Cara says. Knowing from an early age she was ‘different,’ she flocked to a young lesbian couple down the street. “This couple was the first real-life representation I had of queer love and also queer joy. Seeing them being happy and successful made me realize that maybe one day, I could be my authentic self and have the same quality of life they did.” Cara, who holds a B.S. in Public Health, currently serves on non-profit boards including All Access EKY, Kentucky Health Justice Network, and Mountain Association Equity Council. She is President of Pikeville Pride, which saw 2,300 participants last year! –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (45)

Jess Vanacore

Jess Vanacore started The Queer Social podcast with her partner Andie just last year. Vanacore realized an important ingredient to a successful queer life was seeing queer people represented in the mainstream. “There’s no rule book to this stuff, so what do people do to help them navigate situations while seeking clarity? Usually, they turn to friends for advice or turn to the media that explain these situations in detail,” she says, noting that this is not always available to queer folks. “So we decided to combine the two and create a safe space through social media where you can hang with your friends and listen to advice, real-life queer experiences, and open relationship dialogue.” Since then, it has blossomed into a community of listeners who tune in for their relationship chat, life experiences, journey as parents and so much more. Vanacore has been with her partner since they were teenagers, so together they have had to navigate countless scenarios that have shaped their relationship and sense of self including coming out to their family and friends, family planning as a queer couple, and Andie’s transition–all of which they openly share on the podcast. Vanacore hopes to host events, such as live shows or meet-ups, that will bring a further sense of togetherness to the queer community. She understands how difficult it can be to make queer friends or meet love interests, and considers queer connections to be the most rewarding aspect of her work. When asked about her life’s greatest accomplishments, she says, “nothing will top the best thing I’ve ever done in this life, which is becoming a parent to our daughter, Milo Hendrix.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (46)

Marina Carreira

“As a child, I was always drawn to poetry and visual art as self-expression and knew that I would practice in these mediums one way or another,” says Marina Carreira. “It was the only way I knew how to process the world and bear witness to it all without losing myself in the madness.” After receiving her Master of Fine Arts degree, Carreira embarked upon a career as a working multidisciplinary artist, and the results have been spectacular. Now based in Newark, NJ, she has exhibited at museums and galleries, including Monmouth University Center for the Arts, Newark Museum, Morris Museum, and ArtFront Galleries. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the author of several books – most recently 2023’s Desgracada – as well as a 2024 Luso-American fellow in the DISQUIET Literary Program. In 2021, Carreira was the City of Newark’s LGBTQ Pride Champion for her work in LGBTQ+ mutual aid and advocacy. “My queerness is fundamentally embedded in my artistic practice,” says Carreira, who works as a higher education administrator and teaches Women and Gender Studies at Kean University. “Every poem I write or work of art I create is an expression of my female queer experience, the documenting of how I walk the world as a cisgender lesbian mother artist.” Carreira’s influences are as varied as her work: authors Zora Neale Hurston, poets Mary Oliver and Audre Lorde, and musicians Bitch and Lucas Silveira, as well as the women in her life, who Carreira tells GO, “all help me consider and calibrate life on my own terms.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (47)

Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman’s podcast Design Matters is one of the first and the longest-running podcasts in the world. During the past 19 years, she’s interviewed over 500 of the most creative people in the world. An educator, author, curator, and illustrator, Millman graduated from State University of Albany in New York, where she thought she wanted to be a journalist. But she quickly realized she “wasn’t as interested in editing, once I was assigned a story idea, as I wanted to design it as well.” The most rewarding aspect of her work through the years has been her work to eradicate domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Through her work with the NO MORE movement, she met the founder of Joyful Heart Foundation, Law & Order SVU star Mariska Hargitay, who subsequently invited her to help with the branding and repositioning of the foundation. “We launched that work during the Obama administration with Vice President Joe Biden. I subsequently joined the JHF board, which, quite frankly, makes me feel like my whole life makes sense,” says Millman. Debbie came out at the age of 50 and tells GO, “being an out-and-proud lesbian woman is intrinsic to everything that I do and am.” She credits her first mentor Karin Lippert, feminist Gloria Steinam, and her wife Roxane Gay as the women who have helped her learn more about her identity. At the end of the day, Millman says, “I want to keep making things until the last days of my life and feel that both my work and my life has made a little bit of a difference.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (48)

Mara Herbkersman and Emily Bielagus

“After living in Los Angeles for 20 years, I always felt like there wasn’t a social place for me to be surrounded by queer women — at least I wasn’t in the know about it,” says Mara Herbkersman. “I wanted to create the space that I longed for in my twenties.” Enter The Ruby Fruit, a restaurant and wine bar for the sapphically inclined on LA’s Sunset Boulevard that chef Herbkersman has co-owned with wine director Emily Bielagus since its February 2023 opening. “I basically only ever want to be around queer people,” says Bielagus. “No offense to the straights! I just find that I can be myself, and that I feel safest when I’m surrounded by queers.” Named after Rita Mae Brown’s 1973 coming-out novel Rubyfruit Jungle, The Ruby Fruit serves lunch, dinner, and happy hour light bites, as well as a menu of natural wines, and hosts a range of events, from a weekly coworking morning with Gay Asstrology to trans-led mixers to Celesbian Bingo and “Queereoke.” Prior to opening The Ruby Fruit, Bielagus says, her life could have taken a very different turn. “Right before I met Mara in LA, I was deciding between staying in LA and doing who-knows-what with my life or moving back to NYC and getting an MFA in experimental theater!” she tells GO. “Thank Goddess I chose to stay in LA and follow my nose/ the winding path of restaurant work!” A surprising fact about Herbkersman? “[O]pening The Ruby Fruit was my coming out!” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (49)

Divinity Ray is a real-life Black Swan. After initially rebelling against others encouraging her to pursue hair and instead pushing herself too hard in dance, she finally went to beauty school and fulfilled her destiny. “Ironically, hair became my career, and ballet became the art form that destroyed me as much as it built me…Sometimes we think we know what we want, and sometimes the universe knows better,” she shares. She’s known for her dark, mysterious, tattooed aesthetic, but she says that many are surprised that she’s not as chaotic as she seems. “I’m incredibly intentional and spiritual. I’m highly intuitive and extremely observant. People who truly know would describe me as chill, low maintenance, and unbothered,” she tells GO. She started her career marketing herself as “the lesbian hairdresser” and bonded with many of her clients over discovering their gender and sexuality. But as she has grown into her identity after coming out while in hair school, she felt pressured to be a guiding light for others who were still discovering themselves. In the last couple years, she found balance between her identity and the rest of her being. “I think we’re all figuring it out as we go, and no one has the recipe…It’s important to be proud of who you are but equally as important to remember that one thing doesn’t make up everything that you are,” she says. In the future, Divinity sees herself opening an empowerment studio that hosts classes, workshops, and retreats as a “one-stop-shop for feeling sexy and confident.” A self-proclaimed “girl’s girl,” Divinity hopes to inspire women and young girls to be exactly who they are. “Take up space. Be loud. Be too much.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (50)

Dr. Uju Anya

Dr. Uju Anya is a linguist and university professor of language learning and teaching. Her research focuses on race, gender, sex, and social class identities in language classrooms. Dr. Anya was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States when she was ten-years-old. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs), the oldest LGBTQ+ human rights, health, education, and advocacy non-profit organization in Nigeria. “Being a woman, a feminist, and a lesbian are all fundamental to my work. So much so that I write about it in my scholarly research, and I examine the impact of gender and sexual identities on language learning experiences, classrooms, and teaching materials,” says Dr. Anya. “This is a very big deal in the field of language education, because, as you know, there is an assault on LGBTQ+ people, our histories, our contributions, and our very presence in books and academic archives.” Dr. Anya’s work is changing the lives of countless communities, but she says the most rewarding aspect is mentoring young Black scholars to encourage them that their contributions to the field of linguistics are valuable and necessary. In addition, she loves introducing African American adolescents and pre-teens to world language study and the benefits of multilingualism, especially through showing them how much they have in common with their Black peers throughout the Americas. Dr. Anya was previously in a heterosexual marriage, which she left to live her truth as a lesbian. She is the proud mother of two loving, brilliant, humorous, and curious children ages 12 and 17 and is currently engaged to another West African researcher, Dr. Sirry Alang. In her free time, she enjoys making hand sewn projects for those she adores. –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (51)

Jordyn Jay

“I long for the day when our art can simply be seen as art. Until then, let’s all commit to creating and sustaining spaces for our art to exist as each of us was born to be.” Jordyn Jay not only dreams of Black trans liberation; she bends the arc of justice to make it real. A brilliant change-maker, she founded the BTFA (Black Trans Femmes in the Arts) Collective in response to lack of representation of Black trans femmes in art spaces and scholarship. She is Executive Producer of BTFA Productions, which produces and preserves artistic creations of Black trans femmes and addresses systemic inequality. During global uprisings and calls for racial justice in 2020, BTFA helped raise over $1 million to support Black trans protesters on the ground. A recipient of the Octavia St. Laurent Vision of Excellence Award and Marsha P. Johnson Institute Legacy Award, Jordyn was also named a LGBTQ+ Power Player by PoliticsNY and is on the Brooklyn Arts Leadership Council. She’s been celebrated in Ms. Magazine, ESSENCE, Forbes, and more. This visionary is a proud graduate of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, founded in 1922 during The Segregation Era. Jay also received her master’s degree in Art Politics and her B.A. in Imagining Abolition from NYU. She says, “I will keep telling my story — as someone with Southern roots whose journey took her to New York to be part of a community of visionaries, as a protector and curator of our innovations, and as a proud producer, writer and director — with the hope that it creates more space for all of our stories.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (52)

Irene Young

Irene Young has made an illustrious career over five decades by fusing her two great loves of music and photography. While living in the West Village in her 20s, she was torn between being a musician or a photographer, so she decided to photograph musicians. In her career, she has photographed over 600 CD covers, thousands of promotional photos, and now a 440-page book called Something About The Women: Five Decades of Seeing honoring the women she has photographed in her 50+-year career. Young tells GO the most rewarding aspect of her work has been “[having] the opportunity to really “see” people, coupled with the honor of showing them their beauty.” Young notes that her lesbian identity has been a huge part of her work, sharing, “If I were not an out lesbian, I likely would have never had the opportunities I have had in our circles. I also worked for record labels outside our community and enjoyed that as well. Sadly though, I would say that most women in the women’s music scene have had a hard time getting the recognition they so deserve beyond our community.” However, Young says progress is being made, as she was invited to be present when lesbian icons entrepreneur Judy Dlugacz and singer-songwriter Cris Williamson each received an AMA Lifetime Achievement Award in Nashville. Young is a two-time breast cancer survivor, and her gratitude for life is what helped her get through it. She tells GO, “Instead of asking, ‘What would happen if I die?’ I asked, ‘What if I live? How do I want to live?’” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (53)

Dafna Yoran

Her track record would make any guilty defendant tremble. Dafna Yoran, Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan has investigated and prosecuted scores of the city’s most high profile and notorious homicides. Dafna’s commitment to holding killers accountable is fueled by a sense of responsibility as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, with grandparents murdered by Nazis. In 2019, she had the opportunity to prosecute Neo Nazi James Harris Jackson, a Hitler fan who said he came to NYC with the intention of killing Black men, and murdered Timothy Caughman. It was the first time a white supremacist was prosecuted as a domestic terrorist in the U.S. “This prosecution closed a circle for me: I got to hold a Nazi accountable for killing an innocent person,” the Senior Trial Counsel says. But her idea of holding people accountable doesn’t necessarily mean prison time. When she prosecuted Matthew Lee for inadvertently killing an elderly professor while robbing him at an ATM, she felt that “a long prison sentence was not appropriate under these circ*mstances and determined to resolve the case in a different way.” In collaboration with the victim’s family who “got to see the defendant as a human being, not the monster they imagined,” she successfully spearheaded the first Restorative Justice case in a NYC homicide. Yoran, wife of Peruvian artist Ana De Orbegoso, began her career at a time when the unspoken rule was “women had to wear skirts in court.” Yoran said to her boss, “Do you want me to wear a skirt or do you want me to think, because I can’t do both at the same time! I was then the first woman to wear a pants suit on trial in New York County.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (54)

Melanie Willingham-Jaggers

Melanie Willingham-Jaggers (she/they) was raised by a single mom outside of LA in the ‘90s. Her mother’s commitment to Black Freedom/Civil Rights Movement shaped Melanie to the core. Melanie, who now serves as Executive Director of GLSEN says, “I grew up in a household where I understood my sphere of concern included my community at-large,” and that mindset has never left her. Melanie says she wants to make sure young people have the support they need to live with dignity, and the rewarding part of her job is being part of an “unbroken legacy of people who have always done this work.” As she enters her fifth year at GLSEN, she hopes to “grow the organization to what it needs to be in order to be effective and connected to our community,” but she also doesn’t plan to be in the position forever. She’s looking forward to time to rest and do things besides work. She says is lucky to have space for joy in her life now, but she hopes that time “continues and expands.” One thing people might not know about her is that, even though she currently runs an education justice organization, school was difficult for her. “I had a series of developmental and learning delays and disabilities growing up, and elementary school was not easy.” Her mother, a former educator, was able to recognize her struggles and get her the support she needed. Aside from her mother, Melanie counts Pauli Murray, Harriet Tubman, and Toni Morrison as her influences, but says, “Beyoncé is the queen of everything, including my heart.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (55)

Jessica Valentine

Native New Yorker and contestant on Season 15 of Ink Master, Jessica Valentine says she wanted to tattoo since she saw her first one at age five. So, at 22 years old, she started working in a shop as an assistant and worked her way up to being a full-fledged tattoo artist. She tells GO that when she got into the industry, “you could count on two hands the amount of lady tattooers in the city.” Tired of sexual harassment, hom*ophobia, and racism that is common in the industry, Jessica dreamed of opening a space for women and queer people. From that dream she created a small, private studio called Haven in Brooklyn, NY. As she recognized the increased need for a safe, comfortable space, Jessica and her wife, Cameron Cox, expanded, and in 2022, they opened the doors to a bigger and safer tattoo shop. She says the biggest reward is seeing happy clients, and she feels humbled when “clients thank me for making a safe space for them, when they tell me their experience with me was the best one they’ve had getting tattooed.” Haven also gives back. They often raise money through tattoo flash fundraisers for causes related to Black Lives Matter, trans rights, displaced people, and others. For Jessica, being a queer woman has greatly impacted her work. She says, “My whole existence is about being a strong bitch [and] making it in this cishet male dominated industry.” It hasn’t been easy, though. Jessica says a lot of men aren’t happy about what she’s doing or about women having spaces for themselves, but she’s determined: “It just gives me more ammunition to continue to do what I’m doing.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (56)

Jen Brister

Jen Brister, a comedian in the UK, started doing stand-up in the late 90s and early 2000s, and much like the comedy scene in the US, it was rampant with misogyny. Even after performing for audiences who were visibly upset to see a woman on stage, Brister found that being true to her experience as a woman was what made her successful. “I think I was surprised when I discovered there was an audience [of women] who were desperate to have their experience reflected back at them. So when I started talking about perimenopause, the downsides of parenthood, the gender pay gap, the patriarchy, [and other] subjects that interested me, my career started to take off in a way it hadn’t before,” Brister tells GO. In addition to airing out her womanhood, Brister has never kept her queerness from her audience, touching on topics such as her partner of 18 years. She says, “I was told by more than one promoter that I shouldn’t mention being a lesbian as I could alienate the audience. What they didn’t realize is that I LOVE alienating the audience, so I immediately started to go on and on and on about it. And as it turns out, no one cares as long as you’re funny.” With the rise of social media, Brister is excited that comedians can “sidestep gatekeepers” and post clips of their jokes directly to their audience for immediate feedback. “If you hate them, please do continue to leave comments telling me to stick my head up my own arse, and if you like them, you can book a ticket to see me live. I’m much more keen on the latter if I’m honest.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (57)

KayLa Ruiz

“I have known since I was young that photography was my calling,” KayLa Ruiz tells GO. “As time went on, I felt like I lost sight of my creative outlet but the universe has a way of putting you back on track.” At seventeen, the Bronx, NY native almost lost her life, derailing plans for going away to college. At twenty, Ruiz moved to Virginia Beach and married her now ex-husband, “because he was going into the Navy and I felt like it was the next phase in what was expected of me,” she says. “All the while pushing down my queerness and pretending it didn’t exist.” After her then- spouse was deployed, 24-year-old Ruiz “faced myself one night in the mirror and I said ‘I’m gay.’” A decade later, Ruiz lives and works in upstate New York, is married to her “gorgeous” business partner Talia, and is creator/photographer of the series Stranger Sunday, which went viral in 2020. “I take two humans and match them and we do an entire steamy session as if they were a couple,” Ruiz says of Stranger Sunday. “Hell of a first date if you ask me!” In 2021, Ruiz matched up a couple who are now engaged, and she will officiate their wedding this October. In the meantime, Ruiz and her wife travel the country — and soon, the world — capturing humanity on film and celebrating authenticity. “I do work that helps humans be vulnerable and see themselves in a way they otherwise wouldn’t,” says Ruiz. “I’ve become that mirror for them.” -LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (58)

Karen Solt

“The first girl in her hometown to play Little League, Karen Solt never felt as if her gender held her back. But society – and the military – suggested differently. Solt served as a gay sailor from 1984 to 2006, before and during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy period instituted during the Clinton administration. Women were just beginning to serve onboard ships when she enlisted, and she says those who did rocked the boat. Now, she wants “to provide a voice for gay veterans so they too might see themselves in my journey and find more liberation from the system that kept us hidden,” says the retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer and author of Hiding for My Life: Being Gay in the Navy. Solt surrendered many freedoms in the Navy and has been chipping away at fully coming out and trying to find her way ever since. “I feel freer now than I can ever remember and that freedom came through facing my demons, writing about them, owning them, and then setting them free.” Solt hopes her work opens minds about the dangers of stigmatizing the LGBTQ+ community, so we all might feel safer to express our identity than she and her counterparts did. Currently, Solt resides in her small hometown in Northern Arizona, where she and her dog, Kai, chase squirrels, drink lattes, and watch over her feisty mother. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychology, is an emotional health coach, and loves to help others discover and heal their own hiding places. –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (59)

Linda Villarosa

Linda Villarosa is an award-winning contributing writer for The New York Times, covering race inequality and public health. The former executive editor of Essence Magazine authored Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation — a finalist for the 2023 Pulitzer Prize. Her contribution to The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project highlights race-based physiological myths that have endured in medical practice since slavery; an expanded version of her essay is in the book The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. Other notable stories include “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis” (2018), and “America’s Hidden HIV Epidemic” (2017). “Growing up, I had a deep interest in people and learned to be a good listener,” Villarosa says. “I leaned into covering social justice issues and health inequality for the same reasons: my parents and grandparents taught us to care for others and advocate for societal change.” Villarosa takes inspiration from Ann Allen Shockley, now 96, who wrote what is believed to be the first novel featuring a Black lesbian main character, Loving Her in 1974. “I respect and admire her for being so bold for her time, especially while living in our country’s Deep South. We exchange letters a couple of times per year.” When she’s not writing or teaching college journalism, the Brooklyn resident can be found throwing a fishing line into the ocean or lake. “Every summer, I go on an all-day, all-women’s fishing trip out of Orient, NY. It is one of the highlights of my year.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (60)

Kimmy Alexander

Kimmy Alexander is living the anti-American dream. After over 20 years of working in toxic and exploitative work environments in the hospitality industry, Alexander made it a goal to be a member of her neighborhood farmers’ market in Portland, Oregon. She started her business, Cozy City, using her tax return, inspired by her love of “being cozy and creating spaces for myself and others that promote rest, relaxation, and renewal.” She sells thoughtfully crafted candles, mustard baths, and cozy heat packs to keep her community comfortable. At the center of it all, she maintains her anti-capitalist views. “I choose opportunities that will not require more of me than I am able to give. This is challenging when we are told to grow, grow, grow, but I am not willing to sacrifice the rest and play that are necessary to be the best version of me,” Alexander tells GO. With this collectivism in mind, Alexander works to keep her prices accessible and affordable and uses a portion of her proceeds to give to queer-centered and other local organizations that support her community. She is also an active volunteer with Greater Good Northwest, a non-profit organization that is run in the spirit of mutual aid and provides outreach and transitional shelter for those in need. Though she left the industry, she still sees hospitality in her future. “I really value being able to create hospitable, encouraging, and safe places for people. Right now, I do that in my 10×10 market booth, and I dream of being able to create a larger community cafe or lodging-type space that would allow people to have shelter from the storms of life: a truly cozy city.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (61)

Michelle Demetillo

Michelle Demetillo’s endless skill set includes DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging), human services, marketing, and performing. Last fall, her five-week run as Joanne Jefferson in Smithtown Performing Arts Center’s production of Rent earned her a glowing review in BroadwayWorld. Whether she is singing on stage or serving on North Fork Women’s Board of Directors and the Patchogue Pride Committee, the lifelong Long Islander strives to create and maintain LGBTQ+ community. This mission led Demetillo to found Queerli — the title a play on “Queer Long Island” and the adverb “queerly.” “I knew that I wanted more queer connections,” she tells GO. “It became evident that people craved connection in the same way I did. NYC may be our close neighbor, but Long Island is in dire need of spaces for the queer, trans, and gender expansive communities.” What began as a social club in 2021 has grown into a nonprofit organization, and though the work can be challenging, the rewards are palpable. “I’ve watched folks find themselves, lean deeper into their queerness or transness, and discover their chosen family through Queerli,” says Demetillo. “There have been times I’ve been so close to giving up and throwing in the towel…but then I’m reminded that these spaces are indispensable for others, even more so than they are for myself.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (62)

Rebecca Black

At 13, Rebecca Black became a viral sensation when her hit “Friday” got 150 million views and was the fastest-growing song and video in 2011. In the time after that release, she learned to trust herself and found a shift in her art. “Letting my queerness breathe into my music was one of the first choices in my early 20s that felt like I was making purely for myself, without the weight of anyone else’s opinions of me.” In 2021, with a YouTube No. 1 and Teen Choice Award to her name, the 10th anniversary of “Friday” saw a remix featuring Dorian Electra, Big Freedia, and 3OH!3, commemorating Rebecca’s rebirth as a modern music icon. She continued to earn critical acclaim when her second EP Rebecca Black Was Here catapulted her to stardom and she lit up the GLAAD Awards with “Girlfriend.” In 2022 and 2023, she embarked on sold-out tours in North America and Europe, followed by a packed DJ set at Coachella and appearances at Pride festivals across the U.S. Last February, she unleashed her debut studio album, Let Her Burn — her most expansive and unapologetic work to date. Beyond music, the singer/songwriter advocates for anti-bullying, mental health initiatives, and the LGBTQ+ community. “Queer love and life intercepts with art, oftentimes [coming] from not just a want, but a desperate need to be seen in modern culture,” she tells GO. “I think we’re at a moment in time where that spilling out more than ever is allowing so many others to grab hold of their own truths in a really necessary way.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (63)

Shannon Keating

Before (re)launching a substack newsletter last year, Shannon spent 8 years at BuzzFeed News, where she ran the LGBTQ vertical, and later worked as a Senior Culture Writer and Editor, leading a National Magazine Award-nominated team. One of her most-read essays at BFN was about meeting her wife Lynette on a lesbian cruise. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, New York Magazine’s The Cut, Slate, BuzzFeed News, The Atlantic, Salon, and Bustle. Today, as a freelance writer, Shannon is dedicated to her newsletter about life as a married 30-something American lesbian living in Liverpool, England, as well as movies, books, politics, internet/lifestyle and big-picture criticism. Her personal essays take on marriage, family, and money, plus juicy topics like crushes, gossip, and shameful revelations. Connecting with readers is everything. “Getting emails from someone telling me that a personal essay I wrote made them feel less alone, or that a reported story I wrote helped someone think about the world in a new way, or taught them something they hadn’t known before — that makes all the vitriol writers get on social media feel (almost) worth it.” As for influences, Chloe Caldwell’s novella, Women, “captured the essence of my confusing, heartbroken early years after coming out with its gloriously messy depiction of a young woman’s first queer relationship,” Shannon says. “The work of Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and the Combahee River Collective have all fundamentally shaped my politics and worldview.” Looking ahead, Shannon looks forward to publishing her first book. “But most of all I want to be happy, and I want my wife to be happy; I want our little family of two (plus our dog) to be happy.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (64)

Kae

Kae has been a working artist ever since she was a child. “I would offer little $5 commision art for friends and family,” she tells GO. “I noticed how much I loved the collaborative magic that happens when I am able to turn something from someone’s imagination into reality.” After graduating high school, Kae decided to forego college in favor of a tattoo apprenticeship. She’s now the owner and head artist at Reverie Garden Studio, a Brooklyn-based tattoo shop. “I practice an inclusive, trauma-aware approach and specialize in tattooing melanated skin and those with conditions like KP and dermatillomania,” says Kae. A multi-disciplinary artist, Kae loves to give a range of tattoos including “nature related, pet-portraits, anime/manga, horror/dark, and abstract/psychedelic/ dreamy stuff” and draws inspiration from her roots as an Indigenous/Afro-Peruvian queer woman and her experience as a single mother of two daughters. She strives to make Reverie Garden Studio an inclusive, safe, and welcoming space for female, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals who may not feel comfortable in a traditional tattoo shop. “I’ve gotten negative comments about my ethos from people who have opposing opinions, and snarky comments about how my space doesn’t look like ‘what a tattoo shop should look like,’” Kae tells GO. “[But] I will continue to provide a setting that pays homage to the soul, to nature, is serene, meditative, and considerate not to overstimulate the senses and nervous system.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (65)

Mariama J. Lockington

Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Mariama J. Lockington didn’t see her Black, queer, and transracially adopted self represented in books. So, she decided to create that representation herself. As an award-winning young adult and middle- grade author, her stories center on Black, queer, adoptee characters that are messy, brave, and beautifully human, affirming the nuances of intersectionality. Lockington finds the most joy in connecting with young readers who see themselves in her stories. She is motivated by these readers’ courage, creativity, innovation, and powerful voices. She views storytelling as “a connector, a community builder, an exchange of experiences, senses, and ideas that ultimately help us see humanity in one another.” Lockington believes that the work of writing involves interacting with other art forms. She grew up with classical musician parents and played flute and piano for many years. With music as a driving force in her life, she can only start a book or new writing project after first understanding it through music. Most of her writing starts with a playlist, inspired by jazz legends like Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, or modern greats like Esperanza Spalding, Samara Joy, Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill, and Megan Thee Stallion. Beyond musical artists, Lockington finds inspiration and power through poetry, especially the work of Audre Lorde. “Whenever I am feeling stuck, hopeless, unheard, or unseen, I pull out The Black Unicorn and reread Lorde’s powerful words. I remember I am not alone. I remember to honor my rage, my heart, my joy, and all the fierce stories and truths that live inside,” she shares. In her free time, she finds inner strength through boxing. –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (66)

Caster sem*nya

Caster sem*nya’s motto has always been, “I am who I am.” She grew up in the South African village of Limpopo, and would later be regarded as “the girl from the village who ran.” Fast. As a teenager, she attended Nthema Secondary School where she focused her efforts on track and field. She soon started to dominate in the 800m run. She won her first World Championship gold medal in 2009 at the age of 18 and never looked back. Her awards include multiple gold medals at the World Championships, the Commonwealth Games, and the London and Rio Olympics. She tells GO, “The love and support that I have received from my fans has been incredible to experience.” Her success has come with adversities, including others questioning her gender, which brought invasive medical procedures and hormonal therapy — all of which sem*nya writes about in her memoir The Race to be Myself. Currently, sem*nya is prevented from competing as a runner because of rules instituted by World Athletics, but that hasn’t stopped her from giving back to her community. With her partner, Violet sem*nya, she runs The Caster sem*nya Foundation and the athletics club MASAI to give girls and boys from rural villages the opportunity to pursue their own dreams. She says, “We have taken a lot of young aspirant athletes under our wing. We are responsible for their development and training needs. We are housing them and have also been blessed enough to enjoy partnerships that allow us to tend to their educational needs.” Her passion for sport and running fuels her vision to “ensure that I give back to the next generation of athletes.” In the past three years, MASAI has seen thirty graduates, showing sem*nya’s legacy expands far beyond her own athletic abilities. –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (67)

Eva Woolridge

“One of many rewarding moments in my work is witnessing how subjects truly see themselves and feel seen through my photography,” Eva Woolridge tells GO. “This art form is only a vessel for storytelling, and to know that my work can contribute to a subject creating their own story that matches how they identify is a privilege.” The award-winning photographer has showcased her work in Berlin, Boston, Washington State, Washington, D.C., and Brazil, and most recently in New York City and Miami. Her photography is also part of private collections, including the NYC headquarters of Instagram. As a queer woman of Black American and Chinese American heritage, Woolridge explores the intricacies of femininity and her ancestry in the interest of shaping a new and inclusive narrative of feminine energy and social justice. As well as a photographer who’s been showcased in Rolling Stone, The Boston Globe, and Harper’s Bazaar, Woolridge is a public speaker. Through workshops and seminars at Schomburg Center of Harlem Research, Leica Akademie, and Photoville — plus a TEDx Talk and appointed seat on the Diversity Advisory Council for Fuji Cameras of North America — Woolridge addresses racial disparities in photography. What’s next? Filmmaking. “There is a lot more feeling, introspection, and magical realism I wish to convey through film, but for a while it terrified me that photography wasn’t enough,” she says. “That’s the endless cycle of an artist. It’s a hunger that you’re trying to satisfy, and it requires searching for new tools, collaborations, and resources to nourish it.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (68)

Ruby and Katrena

Katrena asked Ruby for a dance at Gossip Grill, and the rest is history. Ruby had been on a trip from NYC to San Diego when the couple first met at the famed lesbian bar for their first dance. By coincidence — or kismet — Katrena was in NYC a few weeks later, so they went on a date. The two started talking every day as “friends’’ until it was obvious they had a serious connection. Their bicoastal relationship withstood the distance until Ruby moved to the West Coast. Ruby and Katrena didn’t set out to become an “influencer” couple, but their love is well worth sharing. “For me, being a content creator/influencer is so much more than telling people to buy things or dress a certain way. It’s about sharing your joy with others, making people feel hope, and bringing awareness to the injustices of the world,” Katrena tells GO. When they’re not creating content, Katrena is in two bands, models, and nannies to pay the bills. Ruby is a personal trainer with her own business. “I try to be a safe space for the queer community and anyone else who feels marginalized or excluded from mainstream fitness culture. I help people to grow stronger, gain confidence, and get more in touch with how they feel on the inside,” she says. In sharing their story with the world, Ruby echoes Katrena’s hopes to inspire positivity in a world with an overwhelming amount of hate. “Katrena and I have a thing called ‘Wednesday Wins,’ where we post good news articles regarding all things LGBTQIA+. We want to remain knowledgeable about the negative, but it’s important to find those positive stories. It breeds hope,” Ruby says. –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (69)

Randi Romo

Randi Romo, a queer Mexican-American author and visual artist, began writing at an early age as a way to cope with her hospitalizations. At 13, she spent stints in a state mental hospital, followed by a Christian reformatory — all because of her queer identity, which catalyzed a lifetime of advocacy. “The school deprived us of food, forced religious indoctrination, and inflicted a variety of brutal punishments that included isolation for days on end while having my hand handcuffed to my ankle. I was constantly targeted due to my being openly queer. Myself and 15 other girls worked together to document the abuse and smuggle evidence out to the parents we thought most likely to intercede.” Their efforts led to the school’s initial closing and saw the Texas legislature establishing the Child Care Licensing Act in 1974. Initially, Randi worked with an LGBTQIA+ youth and ally program called Diverse Youth for Social Change, a program of the Center for Artistic Revolution (CAR), co-founded by Randi and Sabrina Zarco. Over time, she expanded her work to include rights for farmworkers, LGBTQIA+ people, and women, as well as HIV/AIDS and anti-racism work. She lost her only child to an opioid overdose just before the pandemic, leaving her isolated and lost. This tragedy refocused her advocacy efforts toward medical cannabis. “I do believe that if [medical cannabis] had been an option, we might have saved her.” In addition to working to destigmatize cannabis, Randi also continues “to present authentically in all of who I am while also assisting in opening the industry doors to more people from the LGBTQIA+ community.” Her published collection, Othered, is currently housed in the Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections section. –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (70)

Kristin Smith

“One of the most fulfilling aspects of my journey as a chef and restaurateur lies in the creation of a welcoming table for my community — a table brimming with inclusivity and warm hospitality,” says Kristin Smith. “Through our endeavors, I aim to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions, particularly concerning the LGBTQ+ community.” The sixth-generation cattle farmer, chef, and owner of The Wrigley Taproom & Eatery in Corbin, KY, has a passion for fresh ingredients and Appalachian agriculture–which have earned her write-ups in TIME and Food & Wine magazines–but her mission goes beyond food. “Our commitment to inclusivity isn’t confined to mere words; it’s woven into the fabric of our establishment,” Smith says of The Wrigley. “We host poetry nights that celebrate and uplift the voices of the queer community, providing a platform for expression and empowerment.” Before embarking on her culinary journey, Smith earned a master’s degree in intercultural and international studies, and lived in rural Sichuan, China for three years studying language, culture, and local cuisine. (She’s still fluent in Mandarin.) The grind never stops for Smith–she’s a 2019 graduate of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Business Entrepreneurial Program, a 2023 James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Fellow, and co-founder of the Appalachian Restaurant Collective, which provides resources, training, and professional development for female restaurateurs in Eastern Kentucky. “In essence, my team and I strive to be more than just a restaurant,” Smith says. “We’re a beacon of safety and acceptance in our corner of the world, illuminating the path toward a future where diversity is celebrated and embraced wholeheartedly.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (71)

Kristen Kaza

Kristen Kaza is an events curator with a mission: to foster community connection and activate joy! Originally from Vermont and a Chicago resident since 2003, Kristen has spent nearly 20 years creating welcoming spaces — and a more equitable nightlife and entertainment industry — for people of diverse identities and expressions. As Creative Director of No Small Plans Productions, she has produced hundreds of “parties with a purpose,” using the party platform to uplift local culture, women, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC creatives and communities. Her clients include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Navy Pier, Chicago Community Trust, Nike, HBO, and more. Kristen also co- founded legendary queer party institution Slo ‘Mo — a magical space with a sensual inclusive vibe, focused on live music and performance. It’s also where she met her wife. “Witnessing queer people feel joy and love makes everything worth it,” Kaza tells GO. “I love seeing moments of connection — whether to themselves or loved ones or the music.” The Slo ‘Mo collective has produced over 200 events, including 2021’s “Divas Through the Decades” at Millennium Park, an 18-piece band performance of over 25 women-powered classics, and Old Gold, an all-vinyl day party for people over 30. Since giving birth to identical twins (now toddlers!), she’s spearheaded many opportunities for LGBTQ+ families, including Queer Fam Pride Jam, Chicago’s largest queer family festival, taking place for its second year in the iconic Millennium Park June 2, 2024. Kristen also serves on Chicago’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Council to the Mayor. “Hearing stories of how people fell in love, found their community, made their closest friendships… [it’s] everything to me,” she says. “Helping create an environment for queer connection, healing, joy, and FUN is the honor of a lifetime.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (72)

Adrienne “Madam” Muse

Adrienne “Madam” Muse is a self-taught visual artist, illustrator, muralist, and designer based in Los Angeles. Muse initially explored portrait art through charcoal sketches and over time, she expanded her repertoire to include acrylics, spray paints, and her preferred medium, oil. “Madam” Muse’s realistic style reflects her personal vision of the subjects she paints. Her eye-catching work has been noticed across the nation, notably by celebrities such as Ava DuVernay, Lena Waithe, Issa Rae, Janelle Monae, Oprah Winfrey, and Kendrick Lamar. She draws inspiration from her predecessors and aims to represent Women of Color in the art community. In an industry filled with adversity and setbacks, Muse makes a conscious choice to never give up. “It’s not an easy thing to push through the obstacles that come along when you’re following your dreams but it’s my strength, my family, my collectors, and supporters who motivate me to see past what tries to stop my drive in pursuing the things that I desire,” Muse tells GO. Just as her identity as a Woman of Color guides her work, so does being a member of the LGBTQ+ community. “Never denying who I am and always showing up in my authenticity whether it’s on social media or in my art, I always try to show representation for the LGBTQ+ community because it’s important to be a part of a movement that represents who I am and how I identify in the world.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (73)

Lamya H.

Lamya H. says she came to her politics “through feminism and challenging the patriarchy – from big things like sexual harassment to small things like, why does my brother not have to do a fair share of chores?” She describes herself as non- binary womanish “as an homage to how I learned to fight. This is what I aspire to do with my writing: fight racism, Islamophobia, hom*ophobia, transphobia and others. I learned to do this by being raised [as] a girl.” Her memoir Hijab Butch Blues dives deep into juxtaposing her own queerness with the familiar stories from the Quran as a way to make space for both in her life. A former Lambda Literary Fellow, Lamya tells GO the most rewarding aspect of her work is hearing from people about the ways her writing resonates with them. “I wrote my memoir for people who didn’t grow up with models for how to live, and it’s been such an honor to see people connect with my writing.” Why? Because other writers impacted them in the same way. “Audre Lorde’s writing – Sister Outsider, in particular – taught me so much about being a queer person of color in the world…I learned so much: how to carve out a life for myself that felt true to who I was. And how to write: in ways that feel both personal and political at the same time.” In addition to her memoir, you can find her writing in Vice, Salon, Vox, and other places. –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (74)

Dr. Carla Smith

Dr. Carla Smith is the Chief Executive Officer of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (The Center) in NYC and is the first person of color to hold the position. She credits her paternal grandmother, Nana, with influencing her to pursue a career in social services: “[her] open-hearted approach to helping others resonated with me deeply and guided my path toward a career where I could make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.” Dr. Smith has spent the past 25 years trying to uplift and support those in the community who need it most. The Center, located in the West Village, boasts 50,000 square feet that include an LGBTQ+ bookstore, community meeting and event space, mental health clinic, a café, youth drop-in center, and computer lab. Dr. Smith oversees the financial, programmatic, and operational functions of it all. She tells GO, “I feel a deep responsibility to celebrate our history, acknowledge previous perceptions of our work, build bridges where needed, and continue efforts to enhance service access for all, particularly for communities of color and TGNC-identified individuals.” Dr. Smith holds a Doctorate of Education in Executive Leadership from Saint John Fisher University and has testified at NYC City Council and spoken at various conferences. She’s also been featured on Crain’s New York Business’ Notable LGBTQIA+ Leaders list twice and in The Telegraph (UK), ABC News, and Bustle. She says, “Being a woman of color, a lesbian, and someone whose gender expression is often masculine presenting has profoundly shaped my approach to leadership and advocacy. [It] has also afforded me the ability to connect more authentically with those we serve, fostering a sense of trust and understanding that is crucial in our work.” She lives in New York with her partner Jackie, five children, and precious grandchild. –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (75)

Melissa Dilkes Pateras

Melissa Pateras, also known as “The Laundry Lesbian,” teaches TikTokers worldwide how to properly do their laundry. The social worker and author is raising three kids with her partner, but she always makes time to share tips with her massive audience. Melissa brings laughter and levity to mundane tasks and turns chores into entertaining innuendo-filled adventures, proving that a little humor goes a long way in tackling household duties and maintenance. “Laundry has always been a secret passion of mine but one that I just kept to myself. Who wants to talk about laundry? As it turns out, I’m not the only laundry nerd out there, and suddenly I was branded the Laundry Lesbian, and the rest is history,” she tells GO. However, Pateras noticed that TikTok was expecting something a little different than laundry content based on her appearance. “[On] TikTok, people see me as a masculine-presenting lesbian with tattoos, so they expect me to use power tools and know how to fix things, but they are surprised when I start folding a fitted sheet and have extensive laundry and cleaning knowledge…The LGBTQ+ community is often stereotyped, and I think TikTok’s booming during the pandemic has really helped by breaking some of those typical stereotypes down.” Pateras feels honored to share her laundry and cleaning knowledge with others who haven’t had the chance to learn from family members. She says, “I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to have been taught all things laundry, fixing, and cleaning. I took it for granted, and I thought everyone knew these skills…People would reach out via email or stop me in the grocery store to thank me for helping them with their laundry game.” –AL

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (76)

Cynthia Erivo

Since first gaining attention in 2015 when she debuted as Celie in The Color Purple on Broadway, Cynthia Erivo has garnered an impressive array of awards. The Tony, Grammy, and Emmy award- winner has come close to the rare EGOT title by being twice nominated for an Oscar. For Erivo, music lies at the heart of all she does. That’s why she released her first solo album titled Ch. 1, Vs. 1 in September 2021. Music allows her to focus on what she “wants to shed, or further expand upon, that which audiences have come to know” and gives Erivo an opportunity to tell her story. She says, “that’s what this is about, just starting [and revealing] the human parts of me that you don’t often get to see.” Her new album, Good, will be released in September 2024. Most recently, the star of films like Harriet, Luther, and the upcoming Wicked, spoke at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s annual Gala, where she discussed coming out. She said, “for so long, I lived in deep admiration of anyone who could fully embody their true, authentic self…wear their queerness like a feather boa and proudly state: this is a beautiful part of who I am.” As a queer Black woman with a bald head, Erivo is no stranger to being othered, and her journey to embrace her complete self resonates with many members of the LGBTQ+ community. She says, “Denying a part of one’s self is a disservice to the whole.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (77)

Sarah Brown

“The queer community will read uncertainty to filth,” says Sarah Brown. “Companies, businesses and brands love supporting the hom*osexuals during pride month only to recede when they face a little backlash. We deserve and need businesses and spaces to be unapologetic in their support and their intentions.” As owner and co-founder of Lussi Brown Coffee Bar in Lexington, KY, where she lives with her partner, Annamaria, and rescue pit bull mix, Mika, Brown celebrates the community each day. Each staff member has a bio on the coffee and co*cktail bar’s website that includes pronouns, astrological signs, and favorite childhood TV shows. Each month, Lussi Brown and local lesbian-owned bar Crossings Lexington come together and host Lex Lez Night. “We started this event because we knew there were plenty of queer women living here, but we never came out at the same time to meet each other,” says Brown. “This event that began in 2019 with a handful of people has blossomed into a 100+ attended monthly event full of beautiful sapphics meeting each other.” Brown and their business have been recognized by Google, TimeOut, Barista Magazine, and QueerKY Magazine, and she’s the recipient of several community awards, including the KY Youth Law Project Champion. “We want you to feel welcome and safe here in October just as much as in June,” they say of Lussi Brown. “The pride flags stay up all year.” –LE

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Billie Eilish

From the moment she released her debut single “Ocean Eyes” in 2015, Billie Eilish has been making headlines. Her first studio album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? was released in 2019 and featured “Bad Guy,” her first #1 song on the US Billboard Top 100. Among her many awards, there are nine Grammys, two American Music Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and two Academy Awards. Eilish is also the first person born in the 21st century with a chart-topping single and to win an Academy Award. Billie has a strong history of advocacy. In 2021, she was able to get Oscar de la Renta’s creative directors to agree to stop selling fur. She also includes water bottle refill stations and voter registration tables at her concerts and even powered her 2023 Lollapalooza set on solar-charged batteries. Eilish famously “came out” in November 2023 by saying she “didn’t realize people didn’t know.” Her newest album Hit Me Hard and Soft, includes more music about her sexuality. When the video to her hit single “Lunch” dropped, the sapphic internet went wild. In the video, Eilish sports oversized clothing, sneakers, and a backwards ball cap — a signature masc style — as she looks coyly at the camera and says, “I’m interested in more than just being your friend.” She says she wanted the video to be an “ode to all the videos I grew up loving…. The fun quality of it based on the cameras they used to use, and it’s fun. I love it.” It’s safe to say “Lunch” has quickly become the queer anthem of the summer. –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (78)

LB Prevette

“I (not really jokingly) say I want Wilkes County, NC, to be the P-town of Appalachia,” says LB Prevette. “But on a granular level, what I want is to live a connected life in a community full of kind neighbors.” After returning to her hometown of Wilkesboro, NC, the community advocate co- founded Forward Wilkes, which works to create safe spaces, particularly for minority and LGBTQ+ youth. Prevette used to host events at venues where “the business owners loved having our queer community there because we spent money, but they didn’t back us in the voting box nor in our local community,” she tells GO. In response, Prevette opened Merle’s, a craft co*cktail bar in the historic heart of Wilkesboro that serves as a supportive queer gathering space. When asked about the work’s rewards, Prevette tells a heartwarming story. “We had a queer bluegrass band, Laurel Hells Ramblers, playing on St. Patrick’s Day [and] a woman came to order at the bar and told me it was her first visit to Merle’s,” she tells GO. “She had grown up in Wilkes and…she was telling me how healing it was to be back home and in such a celebratory queer space.” The revelation had a profound effect on Prevette: “I served her drink and had to step inside to cry for a second,” she says. “It has been the greatest honor and joy in my life to hear stories like these almost every weekend and watch folks experience being in Wilkes and being their whole authentic selves.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (79)

Navila Rashid

“Being humane can’t happen while passively sitting and observing violence and oppression of marginalized people from the side-lines.” Navila Rashid first found her footing in advocacy interning at the Holocaust Memorial Museum during high school in Washington D.C. Today, this Muslim, Queer, Bangladeshi-American is a trauma-informed forensic social worker, community educator, and gender based violence consultant. She co-authored The Sex Talk: A Muslim’s Guide to Healthy Sex and Relationships, a workbook for Muslims to explore how faith and cultural identities intersect with sexuality and decisions about sex and healthy relationships. “It took me so long to find solace in my queerness and my faith,” she says of the realization that “being who I’ve always been did not have to be in conflict with practicing my faith.” Currently, Navila is Director of Training and Survivor Advocacy at HEART, a Muslim national non-profit focused on uprooting gendered violence and advancing reproductive justice. She says, “As a reproductive justice organization on Turtle Island, we know our liberation in the US is linked to the liberation of Palestinians and oppressed peoples everywhere.” Featured in the documentary Breaking Silence, Navila challenges the stigma that often suppresses the voice of sexual assault survivors in Muslim and South Asian communities. Informed by lived experience with childhood and adult sexual violence, she also co-founded ‘The Cathartist’ in 2012, a web-based platform for victims, survivors, and allies to find a safe and judgment-free home on the journey toward healing. “I wanted to find and create spaces where being south Asian and/or Muslim wouldn’t deter someone from being heard,” she says. A self-described food aficionado with a penchant for sporadic adventures and organization, Navila resides in the DMV area with her spouse, Alexa, and fur babies, Hunter and Niko. –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (80)

Dana Goldberg

“My kindergarten teacher told my mother I was the funniest five year old she had ever met,” Dana Goldberg says. After getting her degree in physical education, “because I’m a lesbian and it’s the law,” Goldberg told jokes in a local show called Funny Lesbians for a Change, and the rest is stand-up history. Since then, she’s appeared on ABC, TBS, and LOGO. She has also shared the stage with figures like Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as Carol Burnett, Shonda Rhimes, and Sir Elton John. She’s one of Curve Magazine’s Top Five Funniest Lesbians in America, and one of The Advocate’s top three LGBTQ+ comedians. Goldberg has also raised over $50 million to support women’s health, LGBTQ+ rights, and HIV/AIDS education and prevention, and is currently developing her first TV pilot. As female comedians on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, Goldberg and her peers have had to work harder than most. “Oftentimes, when there’s a comedy bill, it’s three men and a woman if they even include a woman at all,” she observes. “I have seen that change through the years, but there’s still more work to be done.” For Goldberg, the results lie in the sold-out shows of Wanda Sykes, Jessica Kirson, Fortune Feimster, and herself. “Usually when you hear people say ‘women aren’t funny,’ it’s some male keyboard warrior who has never had the courage to step foot on a comedy stage,” she says. “Thanks buddy, but it’s hard to hear your bullsh*t over the laughter and applause.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (81)

Kaila Rhubright and Shay Ericksen

Shay Ericksen and Kaila Rhubright love to mix and match different styles and found themselves constantly shopping at very different brands to curate the one look they were seeking. A space was missing in the jewelry industry, and they decided to fill it – with Brooklyn-based ARSN The Label. “Each piece tells a narrative that connects with who we are, where we’ve been, intertwining love, lust, and heartbreak while empowering each other,” the founders share. “We really wanted to give our audience and consumers a tangible brand that they could connect with and enjoy while shopping,” they add. Cleverly-inspired pieces include Opposites Attract stackable Mixed Metal Rings, Femme Fatale Pendant Snake Bone Chain Chokers, and Mixed Metal Triangular Ménage à trois Earrings (“Two is fun but you always knew three was for me…”). The Barrel Ring with its detachable chain is described as “perfect for those whose preference might be Unattached.” ARSN has been seen on style icons among the likes of Gigi Hadid, Alix Earle, Halsey, and Fletcher, and can be been spotted on the pages of Vogue, Cosmo, Elle, and Forbes. “We’ve had the opportunity to partner with and be recognized by so many major LGBTQ+ influencers and celebrities who were keen on supporting LGBTQ+ owned brands, and for that we’re forever grateful,” the founders say. –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (82)

Chris Belcher

“My memoir is about queerness, femininity, and power, and much of it centers on my experiences in sex work,” says Chris Belcher of Pretty Baby, a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir. When the West Virginia native began college at eighteen, “I was one of those first-generation students who had only known work to be what I saw my parents doing: leaving for a midnight shift in steel-toed boots, carrying a hardhat and lunchbox,” she tells GO. “I had some young, female professors who encouraged me, and pointed out my writing talent.” Now a jointly- appointed Assistant Professor in the Writing Program and the Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Southern California, Belcher paid her way through the same school by working as a dominatrix. “I did the work to support myself in grad school, but the stigma against the work threatened my career after I finished my PhD,” Belcher says. Instead of hiding her past, Belcher took the opposite approach, for herself and for those like her: “I decided that being out in the most public way—really owning my past in my writing—would not just make the process safer for myself, but would hopefully do some work toward destigmatizing sex work for other women in similar situations.” Now based in LA, she’s working with a co-writer to adapt Pretty Baby for television. “This foray into TV writing has given my story a whole new life and has kicked off a new creative journey for me,” she says. “I can’t wait to see where this path takes me, on this adaptation project and hopefully more opportunities for queer storytelling.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (83)

Juliana Joel

Juliana Joel made waves in 2023 when she became the first transgender actor to play a transgender character on a Disney sitcom. Her character on Raven’s Home has impacted many viewers: Joel tells GO about the parents of trans kids who have reached out to her. The assumption is often “that because their kid is trans, then a successful career isn’t in the cards for them because of how society tends to not be as accepting of us in certain spaces. The role on Disney resulted in a lot of parents reaching out and talking about how it took some of their worry away…” Even with her success on Disney Channel, Joel acknowledges there’s still a lot of progress to be made for trans actors, and she believes more representation is what will shift mindsets. “The majority of people in this country haven’t met a trans person or know one personally…so they form their opinions based on what they see in the media… The only way we’ll shift the narratives is by more representation and more storytelling, which requires more people like us in the writers’ room, producing, and directing, and acting — which I’m interested in and willing to do.” Joel credits Candace Cane for opening a lot of doors for trans actors, and she says watching and working with Raven-Symoné taught her to “own who I am 1,000% percent.” One fun fact about Juliana? She’s a self-proclaimed nerd: “I love comic books. I love super heroes. I love anime. I love those fantasy worlds and I geek out over them.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (84)

Victoria Cruz

Victoria Cruz, a self-identifying Trans Tiana LatinX Woman and entertainer, is fierce, proud, and embodies all the beautiful hues of the rainbow. Born in Guánica, Puerto Rico in 1946, as one of eleven children, she landed in Red Hook, Brooklyn when her family immigrated in pursuit of the American Dream. The 77 year old has devoted her lifetime to advocating for the oppressed, as well as witnessing and shaping history. After surviving the violent 1969 Stonewall uprising, Cruz emerged as a passionate activist, helping forge change in the direction of “gay liberation.” A former hairdresser, stripper, sex worker, and retired domestic violence counselor, Cruz had a 20- year career with the Anti-Violence Project in NYC, herself a survivor of domestic and sexual abuse. Her generosity extended to coordinating Alzheimer’s patients in a Cobble Hill nursing home and performing for seniors with the Saint Lucian Cultural Organization. In 2022, when NYC announced plans to demolish the long-abandoned Neponsit Hospital, a landmark of queer and trans territory at “The People’s Beach” in Queens’ Jacob Riis Park, Cruz was a bold and vocal advocate for preserving the structure and emphasized the need for a safe space for LGBTQIA+ beachgoers. “What inspires me to keep fighting as an activist is fighting for the injustice I witnessed towards my community in the past and it still is happening in the present. The main target is the transgender community. Some may say we have come a long way, however there is still work to be done so we can truly be accepted, not tolerated.” More recently, she took an investigative role in the Netflix documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, probing mysterious circ*mstances around the 1992 death of her contemporary, a fellow Stonewall activist and self-identified drag queen. –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (85)

Sydney Colson

“I wanted to play in the WNBA since I was in elementary school because I grew up watching the legendary Houston Comets in my hometown,” Las Vegas Aces guard Sydney Colson tells GO. After winning a NCAA National Championship with Texas A&M, Colson was drafted in the second round as the 16th overall pick in 2011. She played for a few teams before landing with the Aces in 2022. Since then, she’s helped the team win two WNBA Championships. The sweetest part? “Easy. The relationships I’ve forged along the way.” Colson is known for her positive attitude and sense of humor, both on and off the court and especially on social media. In the future, she says she wants to act. “I want to do stand-up. I want to create things that make people laugh and bring joy to people’s lives. I just want to make anything I touch and any situation I’m in better somehow.” In fact, she’s 1⁄2 of the duo Syd & TP — Sydney Colson and Theresa Plaisance — whose self-titled sketch comedy show premiered on the Maximum Effort Channel on fubo. Colson says despite adversity, she doesn’t like to dwell on the negative and always looks for the silver lining. She also says once she came out she “ just started being much more authentically myself…it impacted the way I show up now and the confidence I exude.” Colson’s humor and positivity is a driving force for the Aces, who are aiming for a three-peat this WNBA season, but she says a little-known fact is that she’s “super sensitive and quite an emotional being.” She draws inspiration from women like bell hooks, whose book All About Love, Colson is currently reading. –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (86)

Cristina Gonzalez

Cristina Gonzalez has always loved learning. Born in Venezuela, the second of three daughters to a half-Chinese, half-Venezuelan mother, Cristina obtained her Bachelor of Science in Economics in Caracas. She then attended the University of Chicago on a full-tuition scholarship to obtain her Master’s Degree in Public Policy. From there, she went to NYC where she obtained her second Master’s from Bank Street College of Education. Her first job in the public school system was as a kindergarten dual language Spanish teacher at PS 94 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Now a Principal at the same school, one she loves, Gonzalez says, “I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I can create a learning culture that creates spaces for humans who are able to think about themselves and others in supportive ways.” After she had her one and only son, Cristina finally admitted what she’d always known about herself: she was queer. She tells GO that to be an advocate for all students, she must, “be authentically and unapologetically proud about all the identities [I] possess,” and says her wife Janice was her inspiration when she was coming out. To deal with setbacks, she relies on her passion: education. She says, “ignorance is something that can only be addressed through patience and education. Ignorance, more than hate, is a setback I have faced and overcome.” Gonzalez supports her students and their families in a myriad of ways. During the pandemic, she established a food pantry, clothing boutique, and laundry facilities within her school to address the systemic inequities already faced by her community. She says, “I firmly believe in the idea of everyone working together in small ways is what accomplishes big things.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (87)

Tunita James

Tunita James is a children’s book author and creator of the Grace’s Universe series, which started with her book Ma, Where’s Mommy? — a Barnes and Noble’s Press #1 best-selling children’s book for kids with gay parents. While reading bedtime stories one night, Tunita’s daughter asked her where the books were about Black two-mom-led families like theirs. It was then James decided to create stories centering a Black child being raised by Black lesbian parents. “I soon realized there were a lot of other diverse families whose stories were being ignored and sought to create a universe of stories from Grace’s gender-expansive and inclusive friends that include a single mom, a grandmother raising her grandson, interracial parents, two fathers, and affluent parents of color.” James, who is also an entrepreneur, social worker, and sociologist, says the most rewarding thing about writing her books has been “seeing the immediate impact my books have on other families and children who rarely find their stories in the books they read.” She hopes to keep expanding Grace’s Universe into a series that celebrates non-traditional families, including chosen families. She says, as a kid, she didn’t see many women who looked like her in leadership or writing children’s books, and now realizes, “If I want my child to experience children’s literature that includes her and families like ours, I have to create it for her.” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (88)

Cara Wodnicki

“I wanted so badly to create a life in music,” says publicist Cara Wodnicki. A Public Relations highflier with a 20-year track record of bringing “up-and-coming” talent to the mainstream, including groundbreakers in the LGBTQIA+ community. She tells GO: “Being bullied through elementary and high school, I found my escape in songs. My rebellion came through punk music, my escape was in pop, and my queer identity was so intertwined with Riot Grrrl and powerful female fronted alt folk.” From making mixtapes for friends to creating shows around women in music and starting a zine as a teen, Cara fell into PR naturally. Her roster over the years has included the likes of La Roux, Ingrid Michaelson, Jared Leto’s Thirty Seconds to Mars, Disturbed, Nickelback, and J-pop techno girls PERFUME. Last year, she founded her own firm CSW Publicity and is especially excited to continue her work from past agencies where she focused on bringing trailblazing LGBTQIA+ artists — like MJ Rodriguez (Pose), LP, and Melissa Ferrick — to mainstream audiences. “I will always remember the day I got my copy of People Magazine with a review of The Cliks’ Dirty King in it,” says Cara. The album cover featured front-man Lucas Silveira. “A transman topless in People Magazine… That has to be one of my proudest moments.” She’s worked with Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean to raise awareness around trans rights and spearhead social media takeovers; his ode to love in all its forms, single “Love Song Love,” premiered on Variety and she was proud to watch him win Ru Paul’s Celebrity Drag Race as Poppy Love. Cara also enjoys working with mainstream musicians to help them refine their stories and brand, as well as build on careers in meaningful ways. “I’m doing what 13-year-old Cara could only dream of.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (89)

Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein is nothing short of an investigative journalism powerhouse. She is the author of New York Times best-selling book American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps and the Marriage of Money and Power. A 30-year veteran of public radio, Bernstein regularly contributes to NPR on Trump legal matters and frequently appears on PBS NewsHour and CNN’s OutFront. Her work has led to multiple investigations, indictments, convictions, and government reforms. She has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York Magazine, and more. Recently, she reported and co-hosted the ProPublica/On The Media Podcast We Don’t Talk About Leonard and produced an 8-part audio-documentary about the January 6 Capitol riot, which reached the #1 spot on Apple podcasts. While Bernstein’s deep probes have garnered more than 50 honors, including Peabody, and duPont-Columbia awards for the ProPublica/ WNYC Trump, Inc. podcast, the most rewarding aspect of her work is mentoring teams of journalists, particularly younger people. “Nothing is more satisfying than bringing people together to elevate our work and make it better than any of us could have done on our own,” Bernstein says. She has taught journalism at Hunter and City Colleges and would like to spend more time teaching, speaking to, and mentoring young journalists. “My father passed recently from lung disease, and taught through his ninetieth birthday, almost literally to his last breath. But when he taught those last classes over zoom, connected to an oxygen machine, I could see how teaching for him was a life force.” Bernstein describes her own life as imbued with this ethos: “Teaching is part of a vibrant and ongoing commitment to the next generation; it elevates both the teacher and the taught.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (90)

Amee Wilson

You probably know her by her viral internet comic Queer Chameleon or maybe even her Anxious Animals series, but Amee Wilson has been drawing way before she reached Instagram fame. She says, “I was obsessed with drawing and newspaper comics as a kid, and always dreamed of being an artist.” The British- Australian illustrator channeled her anxiety into comic- drawing during the COVID-19 lockdown. “Initially I made the comics as a distraction, and to bring a little bit of joy to people. I never imagined it would lead to where it has!” Wilson knows the impact art can have in helping people feel seen and accept parts of themselves. Perhaps it’s because she’s been there. “I draw from my own experiences of biphobia and hom*ophobia…but also like to balance out the series’ messages with light-hearted content…there’s so much queer joy to be celebrated (or silly stereotypes to giggle at)!” Her day job involves working as an Art Director in Advertising, and she mostly works on comics and videos on nights and weekends, but she has hopes that she can turn to her art full-time. In terms of the works that have shaped her, she credits Bi: The hidden culture, history and science of bisexuality by Julia Shaw as giving her courage to be more open about her bisexuality and Rainbow History Class: Your Guide Through Queer and Trans History by Hannah McElhinney as a beautiful “reminder how rich and expansive our history really is. And that we’ve always been here; despite what we’re told!” –SS

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (91)

Maleigh Zan

“I grew up in a family of musicians and performers so the stage has always been a huge part of my heritage,” says artist and model Maleigh Zan. “I think because it’s literally in my blood, creating and performing come naturally to me.” Born in Savannah, Georgia, Maleigh moved to Atlanta at nine. She honed her musical talents while taking on the fashion scene and has landed modeling campaigns with MAC, Fenty, Guess, Garage, Target, and Sephora. Her music? A viral success! Maleigh’s first release “Gag” is a nod to Atlanta’s underground house music scene, inspired by the city’s deep culture of rap and the fierce pageantry of ballroom culture. She teamed up with Billboard #1 and Grammy-nominated producer and music executive Rodney “Rocky” Myers and Dominic Gordon to embark on her musical journey. “I want to see people all over the world dancing to my music, feeling good…actually being free to live as their true genuine selves without fear or apology,” she tells GO. Maleigh feels blessed to have grown up in a very accepting home, having a queer uncle and going to PRIDE festivals. “It was always about love,” she reflects. “People should be free to love whoever they want.” When going through a storm, Maleigh leans on coping mechanisms she’s learned throughout her journey: a consistent regimen of journaling, meditation, hot yoga, a supportive team, and “lots of prayer.” Hearing her music on the radio is especially rewarding, given how hard she’s worked and how much it means to know that people enjoy it. “Music is the universal love language and I just want to spread that love everywhere I go.” –MH

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (92)

Deborah Emin

“I have long identified as a lesbian, and due to the both internal and external oppression that identity can cause, other equally important issues became important to me,” says Deborah Emin. The writer and entrepreneur has dedicated her life to the good fight, starting with her diet. “[Veganism] to me is an umbrella term for opposing all oppression,” Emin tells GO. “The animals are oppressed…The living soil, water and air are oppressed.” Another way she works against oppression? Literature, and the dissemination of it. Growing up in Skokie, Illinois, Emin cultivated a lifelong love affair with books and writing. “As books themselves have formed the spine of my life – pun probably intended – I have been able to study and explore everything that interests me,” she says. “This is a freedom too many people either ignore, because they don’t read, or try to suppress, because they ban books.” She’s the published author of the Scags series, a four-volume set of novels following a lesbian political activist from childhood to adulthood. Emin combines her passions through The LOCALS’ Bookshop, a pop-up bookshop for the vegan community she owns with her wife, Suzanne. The shop, which travels to farmers’ markets and offers its wares online, offers a wide range of the written word, from vegan cookbooks to activist and farming manuals to children’s books about animal rescue and agriculture. Having sought purpose since her Skokie youth, Emin credits her work, her marriage and her Episcopal faith with giving her life meaning. “I am older now and full of abundance.” –LE

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (93)

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR WOMEN WE LOVE EDITOR Savannah Sipple

Savannah Sipple is a writer, editor, and professor from Kentucky. Her debut poetry collectionWWJD and Other Poems(Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019) is a coming out story about growing up queer in evangelical eastern Kentucky. Since then, she has been at work on her first novel about a summer league softball team in a conservative rural town that centers two best friends — one queer, closeted, and terrified of being outed. Savannah developed her love of story through her small town’s public library, and today, she credits women writers like Dorothy Allison, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich for helping her find the courage to love herself. She says the most rewarding part of her work is “when someone shares the ways they connect with my writing and how it helps them connect more deeply to their own story.” You can find her essays inGO MagazineandSalon. She loves to swim, watch women’s sports, and travel, but you can also find her in the garden, raising food to preserve. She lives with her wife Ashley, a librarian, and their two dogs, Lucky (R) and Lola (L). Savannah’s dream is to write a lesbian rom-com novel.

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  1. Oooopp, sorry forgot to name her. I’m talking about britney manson

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  2. Yall do realize she’s a 29 year old that dated a 16/17 year old right? Then “broke up” with him when he turned 18… yeah it strange to see a predator on here smh. Look at the comments on her last post.

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100 Women We Love: Class of 2024 - GO Magazine (2024)

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