These Queer Icons Will Be the First LGBTQ+ People Featured on U.S. Currency

The American Women Quarters Program is a four-year program that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women to the development and history of America. Beginning in 2022, and continuing through 2025 the U.S. Mint will issue up to five new reverse designs each year.

The first LGBTQ+ person and the first woman to go to space, Ride was a crew member on Space Shuttle Challenger for NASA’s seventh space shuttle mission in 1983. A year later, she went to space with Challenger a second time but was not on board the spacecraft during the 1986 explosion, which killed all seven passengers during takeoff.

After her astronaut career ended in 1987, Ride devoted her life to encouraging children to study science. In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science, a youth-focused nonprofit operated by the University of California, San Diego, where she taught physics until her death from pancreatic cancer in 2012. She also authored six children’s books, including Mission: Planet Earth and The Mystery of Mars, with her business partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy.

Although she was famously private, it was revealed after Ride’s death that she had been in a relationship with O’Shaughnessy, a woman, for 27 years.

According to a press release from the U.S. Mint, Ride’s quarter will depict her staring through a space shuttle window as Earth looms in the distance. The design is inspired by her famous quotation: “But when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.”

The other queer woman who will be honored on the upcoming quarters series is Nina Otero-Warren, who was a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools. She was the leader of the New Mexico chapter of the Congressional Union, which fought to ratify an amendment that would allow women to vote, and was also the first Hispanic woman to run for Congress.

Although there remain some questions regarding whether Otero-Warren was LGBTQ+, she established a homestead just outside of Santa Fe in the 1930s with Mamie Meadors, the woman many believe to have been her partner. Otero-Warren and Meadors called the ranch “Las Dos,” which means “the two women.” The National Parks Service added that the two pair lived and worked together for over two decades but confirmed that details of their relationship are “unknown.”

Otero-Warren’s coin will include a portrait of herself with three yucca plants, the state flower of New Mexico. In addition to the commonplace quarter inscriptions, one dedication will read, “Voto Para la Mujer,” the Spanish version of suffragette slogan “Votes For Women.”


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