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Jul 23

Ruth Ellis born 1899

July 23

Ruth Ellis (1899 – 2000) was the daughter of former slaves. She came out as a lesbian when she was 16-years-old to the complete acceptance of her family. In 1937, Ruth and her longtime partner moved to Detroit from their hometown of Springfield, Illinois for the promise of higher wages. There, she became the first woman in Michigan to run her own printing business. She printed fliers, posters, and stationary in the front room of her home, which also quickly became a hotspot for Black LGBTQ social life. Before long, Ruth was helping those who came around in any way she could, including by paying for college tuitions. After the Stonewall uprising, 70-year-old Ruth began giving speeches in support of gay and lesbian rights all across the country. She remained an activist for the rest of her long life and even spent her 100th birthday leading the San Francisco Dyke March. At the time of her death at 101, she was recognized as the oldest out lesbian in the US. She is the subject of the documentary “Living With Pride: Ruth C. Ellis @ 100” and is the namesake of the Ruth Ellis Center, a shelter for homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth in Detroit

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July 23