A Woman to Know: Ruth Ellis

She was old and black and poor and gay, and happily herself. — Dudley Clendinen

(image via Nancy Andrews)


For entire decades, Ruth Ellis made headlines as "the oldest surviving lesbian." At 80 years of living openly as a gay woman in Detroit, journalists marveled at her tenacity. Ruth and her partner, "Babe" Franklin, turned their home into a salon for the LGBTQ community, known as "the gay spot" amongst Detroit visitors.

After Babe died in the 1970s, Ruth opened their place up as a safe haven for runaway gay teens. Today, the Ruth Ellis Community Center in Detroit fosters homeless LGTBQ youth -- and, most importantly, takes care of elderly gay adults.

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** A note: Lena Dunham recently announced she would match donations to the Ruth Ellis Center.**

** Thank you to Amy Elliott Bragg for recommending Ruth as a woman to know! And for supporting this newsletter. **

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