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born June 26, 1950

I’d been seeing Jan for many years–her and her wife Arkitha–and Jan always caught my eye because she’s a jazzy dresser, but I was too shy to say anything. She’s a good friend of Tyra’s. Tyra Neal seemed to know everyone back in the day! Jan’s also friends with Brenda Coley and Sandra Jones, and she’s been friends with Donna Burkett forever. If you don’t know, in 1972 Donna and Manonia Evans was the first same-sex couple that ever applied for a marriage license in this country. They was both Black.

When Jan was young she used to sneak into gay bars with a fake ID. This was back when it was illegal to be gay and there was bar raids. She’d go with older lesbians she met playing softball. When she got older and there was the AIDS crisis, she helped give out condoms in the bars and talk to people about safe sex. This was with BEBA (Blacks Educating Blacks about AIDS). She was also on the board of Lesbians of Color (LOC), co-chair of Connexus, and I can’t remember the others. 

Jan was always a free woman who wasn’t afraid to hide who she was. Now she’s retired and loves playing golf. And playing with Legos. She enjoy being able to do the simple things and feel like a kid again.

Jan Warren

Illustration by Ellery Pascual

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