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Sapphic Trailblazer: Mercedes de Acosta

Sapphic Trailblazers
Mercedes de Acosta: A Sapphic Trailblazer in Hollywood’s Golden Age

Welcome to our Pride blog post, where we’ll delve into the glamorous and intriguing life of Mercedes de Acosta, a sapphic trailblazer who left her mark on Hollywood’s Golden Age. From her early days to her remarkable career achievements, this post will explore the captivating journey of an LGBTQ icon. So, grab your vintage sunglasses and get ready to discover the incredible story of Mercedes de Acosta!

Early Life and Cultural Influences: The Making of a Hollywood Maverick

Mercedes de Acosta was born in 1892 in New York City to a wealthy and socially prominent Cuban-Spanish family and it’s believed that she was a descendant of the Spanish Dukes of Alba.

She was the youngest of eight siblings and until she was seven, de Acosta was convinced she was a boy. Her parents allowed her to dress in boys clothing and participate in what would have been considered activities only suitable for males. It wasn’t until one of her playmates showed her his penis, when she realized she wasn’t a boy.

Her family was well off and entertained the likes of President Theodore Roosevelt and members of the Vanderbilt family.

In the 1930s, de Acosta moved to Hollywood, where she became a part of the burgeoning film industry and immersed herself in the glamorous social scene, forming close friendships with many of the era’s biggest stars.

Breaking Barriers: Mercedes de Acosta’s Career Achievements

De Acosta, a poet, novelist, and playwright, became involved with many famous women including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Eva Le Gallienne, and Isadora Duncan.

In 1960, in poor health and needing to make ends meet, de Acosta published her memoir, Here Lies the Heart, which hinted about homosexuality. While the book was well-received, many of her friends felt they’d been stabbed in the back and de Acosta outed them. Garbo ended their friendship and Eva Le Gallienne outright accused de Acosta of lying. Marlene Dietrich, though, enjoyed the memoir, and thought de Acosta’s handling of the delicate nature masterfully done since it hardly broached homosexuality.

De Acosta died when she was 76 and impoverished.

Her memoir tarnished her reputation, and many referred to her as a “notorious lesbian.”

De Acosta’s most recent biographer has tried to shed fresh light on her, saying she had a kind and loyal heart and that the besmirching of her character resulted from the ingrained homophobia of the time.

Three Intriguing Facts About Mercedes de Acosta

  • She was fashionable and enjoyed keeping her hair short and slicked-back, wearing a tricorn hat and cape.
  • One of her classmates in elementary school was Dorothy Parker.
  • She had many famous male friends as well, including Andy Warhol.

A Lasting Legacy: The Importance of Mercedes de Acosta for the LGBTQ Community

Mercedes de Acosta’s courage to live openly as a lesbian during a conservative era, have left an enduring legacy for the LGBTQ community. Her life and work serve as a reminder of the importance of authenticity, self-expression, and breaking down societal barriers.

As we celebrate the trailblazers who have paved the way for LGBTQ rights and visibility, let us remember the remarkable contributions of Mercedes de Acosta, a sapphic icon.

Find out more about Mercedes de Acosta in this Wikipedia article.

Women Who Paved the Way: Mercedes De Acosta

Join us each day in June for a new story of a sapphic trailblazer as IHS celebrates Pride month!

Sapphic Trailblazers: Tales of sapphics through the ages

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