Ann Maguire, pioneering lesbian activist, dies at 80

Ann Maguire, a Massachusetts activist who co-hosted a gay radio show in the 1970s, advocated for LGBTQ+ rights and breast cancer research, and worked for groundbreaking political candidates, has died at age 80.

Maguire died Dec. 29, having been in “failing health” for some time, The Boston Globe reports. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer twice.

Maguire, who identified as a lesbian, co-hosted “Gay Way,” a call-in show on WBUR, Boston’s NPR affiliate, in the 1970s. She and her colleagues conversed with LGBTQ+ callers who were out and some who were not, with some of the latter calling after the show concluded.

“We would go off the air and the lights would just be lit up for calls coming in, for people to just ask a question, to just thank us,” Maguire recalled in a video interview for the “Stonewall Portraits” online series.

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Maguire was a well-known political organizer. In 1974, she managed lesbian Elaine Noble’s first campaign for Massachusetts House, and Noble won, becoming the first out LGBTQ+ person elected to any state legislature in the U.S.

Maguire worked for straight allies as well, running Thomas Menino’s first campaign for Boston mayor in 1993. He won and put her in charge of the city’s health and human services.

“Being the trailblazer she was, she made it possible for a person like me to run, and to run successfully,” Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, one of the nation’s two out lesbian governors, told the Globe. “I have a deep and profound appreciation for what Ann did. She was out there before many people, leading the fights.”

Ann Maguire Lesbian activist dead

Elaine Noble, center, and Ann Maguire, her campaign manager, right, on the night of Noble’s victory in 1974. Noble was elected to the Massachusetts House, becoming the first out LGBTQ+ person elected to any state legislature in the U.S. Nancy Gertner is on the left. She would become a district judge and Harvard Law professor. Photo:

In the 1980s, Maguire was Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn’s LGBTQ+ liaison. She also ran Boston’s Emergency Shelter Commission and spearheaded a census of people experiencing homelessness.

Maguire was a co-founder of the Greater Boston Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance and had a leadership position in the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (now National LGBTQ Task Force). She co-founded the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and was its first board president. She was a leader of the National Breast Cancer Coalition as well. She was first diagnosed with the disease in 1989 and went on to push for research into its causes.

Maguire’s career also included managing two lesbian bars, Sisters in Provincetown and Somewhere in Boston. She did extensive volunteer work without fanfare too.

“She would walk out the door every day on some mission, things large and small,” her spouse, Harriet Gordon, told the Globe. “She just felt that the world needed to be fair and just and embrace some common sense. And that’s who she was.”

Ann Maguire “was completely unashamed, unabashed, unfazed by the fact that she was a lesbian, and fearless about talking about that with people, and fearless about promoting the cause with straight people. It took a lot of courage,” said Tim McFeeley, a co-founder of the Greater Boston Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance and a former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign.

“Ann will go down in history as one the greatest activists of all time,” Cheryl Osimo, executive director of Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, said on the group’s website. “Ann had the courage and commitment to change the world for future generations.”

Maguire and Gordon had been together since 1985 and married in 2004. Maguire’s survivors include Gordon, two daughters, and four grandchildren.

This article originally appeared on, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equal Pride.

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Trudy Ring

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