Ruth Ellis  Events Femmenoir Contact Commentary Coffee Klatch The Village

Christine Tripp JD
Bonita "Bo" Best
Sharon Bridgforth
Gaye Adegbalola
Lorraine Hansberry
Pat Parker
Audre Lorde
Cherrie Moraga
Patricia McComb
Evelyn C. White
Girls In The Night
Cheryl Clarke
Barbara Smith
Ingrid Rivera-Dessuit
Linda Villarosa
Malika Smith
Charlene Cothran
Stephanie Wynne
Ruth Ellis
Ruth Waters
Vallerie Wagner
Mandy Carter
Angelina W. Grimke
Brenda Crawford
Irene Monroe
Mabel Hampton
Michelle Parkerson
Yvonne Welbon
Cheryl Dunye
Aishah Simmons
Jocelyn Taylor
H. Lenn Keller
Dionne Brand
Lisa Moore
Alberta Hunter
Toshi Reagon
Nedra Johnson
Linda Tillery
Deidre McCalla
Gwen Avery
Faith Nolan



Ruth Ellis...

Name:         Ruth Charlotte Ellis
Birthdate:  July 23, 1899
Birthplace: Springfield. Illinois
Parents:      Charles Ellis (born 1861) Carrie Faro Ellis (1865)
Siblings:      Charles J. Ellis (born 1890) Harry D. Ellis (born 1894)
                     Wellington B. Ellis (born 1896) Ruth's un-named twin (born 1899)
Residence: Springfield IL 1899-1936
                     Detroit MI 1937-the present
Sunset:       October 2001

Between 6 am and 6:30 am Ruth drifted off in her sleep. She was very peaceful. We're very grateful that she was able to go the way she had always wanted: at home, with friends, without a lot of hoopla.

"My life has been nothing special. I am a quiet person who came from a very ordinary, middle-class Negro family. I was born July 23, 1899 in Springfield, Illinois...After high school in Springfield, a neighborhood man taught me how to set type and run his presses...I had one real girlfriend. Her name was Ceciline. We called her Babe. She was the only person I ever lived with...We lived together for 30 years...When I decided to have a [print] shop of my own, my girlfriend and I bought a home...Our house was noted for being a 'gay spot.' There weren't very many places in Detroit you could go back in 1937, 1940...people used to come from every place... Babe died in 1973...I love to dance, bowl and go to classical music recitals. I have so many young friends who treat me wonderfully...I'm having a lot of fun!..."  (From interview with Miss Ruth by Terri Jewell, in Piece of My Heart).

"I printed anything small, not books or things like that where it had to be linotyped.   I did all printing by hand...I called [my shop] "Ellis and Franklin Printing Company."  I didn't have any help either. That's why I refused a lot of jobs because it was too much for me.  I wasn't going to have it run me crazy. I would just take the walk-in trade." (From interview with Terry Jewell).

The Gay community's love affair with Ellis began when she was around 80. It started when this elderly black woman slipped a note to Jaye Spiro, a white female who once taught self-defense classes and karate to residents of the senior citizens center where Ellis then lived.

Ellis said she thought Spiro was Gay. So in the note, she asked whether they could get better acquainted. Spiro responded by visiting Ellis and then introducing her to Lesbians in other karate classes she taught.

"Those girls took me to all the bars, and it just snowballed after that," Ellis said. "Word got around, and I was going every place."

Ellis, who was born in Springfield, Ill., on July 23, 1899.  (From 100 years young -- Ruth Ellis brings the celebration of a century to D.C. Black Pride by Rhonda Smith)

Ruth Ellis' Tale of Two Cities:
One Hundred Years In The Making -- by Keith Boykin

Some time after eight on the morning of July 21, 1899, Dr. Clarence Hemingway walked out to his front porch at what was then 439 Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park, Illinois. He lifted up his cornet, fingered the valves, placed his lips on the mouthpiece, and began blowing music to announce the birth of his first son Ernest.

Only forty-eight hours later, one hundred ninety-three miles southwest in Springfield, Illinois, thirty-eight year old Charles Ellis and thirty-four year old Carrie Faro Ellis gave birth to their first daughter Ruth. It's hard to imagine how the lives of Ernest Hemingway and Ruth Ellis could be more opposite. Hemingway - White, male, and heterosexual - the son of a doctor, was born into a prominent family. Ellis, on the other hand - Black, female, and homosexual - was born to parents of modest means, although her father held the distinction of serving as Springfield's first Black mail carrier. [more]




Obits & Bio

Ruth Ellis: Set example for the gay community

October 6, 2000

Ruth Ellis, a role model within the gay community, has died. She was 101.

Ms. Ellis, a longtime Detroit resident, was considered a national treasure among the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, known as much for her energy as for her deep commitment to human rights. Author Alice Walker called her a woman of "power, audacity, and joy."  [Read Article]


"Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100."

A one hour 1999 documentary film by Yvonne Welbon is   available from Our Film Works, P.O. Box 267848, Chicago, IL. 60626 Toll free telephone: 1-800-343-5540

Living With Pride Website

Ruth Ellis' Tale of Two Cities:
One Hundred Years In The Making
The Interview

by Keith Boykin

The following day she is wearing a San Francisco T-shirt over a pair of faded jeans as she stands to greet me in the hallway when the elevator door opens on the thirteenth floor. She ushers me into her place and politely asks if I would like something to drink or care for any leftover cake. Everyone seems to know Ruth has just reached her one-hundredth birthday. ©2001

Back Home Next