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Nancy Valverde, Lesbian Activist, Has Passed Away at 92

Nancy Valverde

Lesbian activist and Chicana trailblazer Nancy Valverde passed away at her home in Los Angeles at the age of 92. The activist for LGBTQ+ rights was a wonderful light to all those who knew her and a tireless champion for equality and justice.

Since the age of 17, Nancy fought the systems of prejudice at work in LA by defiantly being her authentic self. She has been a fixture in L.A.’s queer community since the 1950s, when she was routinely harassed by police and arrested dozens of times for wearing men’s clothing in public. She was jailed more than two dozen times for “masquerading,” a city ordinance that targeted people for wearing clothing associated with a different gender.

“They wanted me to be someone else,” she said in the PBS documentary L.A.: A Queer History, recalling her decision not to change her appearance to fit in. “I could not be someone else. This is me.”

She became a prominent figure in LA by fostering relationships with her local community and providing haircuts at her barbershop, coming to be known as “Nancy from East Side Clover.”

The Los Angeles LGBT Center welcomed Nancy into the fold of our Senior Services department when she came to live at Triangle Square, the nation’s first LGBTQ+ friendly affordable housing for older adults.

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Center Your Legacy: Meet Nancy

Chicana activist Nancy Valverde paved the way to end LA’s ban on gender-nonconfirming dressing laws—and now resides at the Center’s Triangle Square apartments, the nation’s largest affordable housing facility for LGBTQ+ seniors.

Last year, Nancy was recognized by the City when the intersection of 2nd St. and Main St. in downtown Los Angeles was designated “Cooper Do-nuts/Nancy Valverde Square.” Cooper Do-nuts was known as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people in the 1950s and the site of what is believed to be one of the earliest LGBTQ+ uprisings in the country.

Our community at the Center mourns the loss of our beloved Nancy Valverde, the lesbian and Chicana icon who made queer history in Los Angeles. We extend our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones at this time.

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