Mother Ruth Charlotte Ellis is a legendary figure among Detroit’s black LGBTQ community. Her life and legacy, which reached LGBTQ community members and allies of all ethnicities and backgrounds, is still widely celebrated today, both in Detroit, her home city of many years, and around the world.

Known as ‘Mother’ thanks to her role as a matriarchal figure in the LGBTQ community, Mother Ruth Charlotte Ellis was thought to have been the oldest living out lesbian by many LGBTQ community members and allies when she died at 101 in 2000. Born in Springfield, Illinois, in 1899, Ellis had a love for creating sustainable community and supporting queer youth.

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