Women's History Month essay by Tracey Vogelsang

March 06, 2019

Our next essay celebrating Women's History Month is by Tracey Vogelsang:


"During Women's History month, I would like to highlight one of my heroes, Ruth Ellis. She is not as well known as I wish she was, but here is a quick glimpse into her amazing life and the impact she made by living out loud.

Ruth Ellis (1899 – 2000) dedicated countless years of service to her community, and particularly black LGBT youth. Ruth was born in Springfield, IL, the youngest of 4 and the only daughter. Ruth came out as a lesbian in 1915. She graduated from high school four years later at a time when less than 7 percent of African American women were graduating. In 1937 Ruth and Babe, who would be her partner of 30 years, moved to Detroit. They ran their own printing business in a home they purchased, which from 1946 to 1971 was known as the “Gay Spot.” Not only did their home serve as a safe space for Detroit’s LGBT community, it provided shelter, physical support and spiritual affirmation to those whose race, sexual orientation or both set them apart from the dominant culture. In a time before the Gay Civil Rights Movement began Ruth was a beacon of light for many LGBT youth who found themselves in the dark. In 1999, the year of her hundredth birthday, The Ruth Ellis Center was founded in Detroit, MI, which continues to offer lodging and support to LGBT youth in need. She continued to advocate for African Americans, LGBT people and the elderly until her death in 2000 at the age of 100."

Ms. Ellis was featured in a documentary about her life. A clip of that film can be found here: