100 Awesome Magazine Covers Starring Lesbians

So, as a magazine junkie, I’m a sucker for those “50 Most Iconic/Controversial/Well-Designed Magazine Covers” lists that seem to come out near-monthly. I don’t know why I click on them every time, as it’s always the same magazines, it’s not like one day I’ll wake up and be like, OH MY GOD JOHN AND YOKO IN ROLLING STONE I DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING.

So I thought I’d make a list of the 50 Most Iconic GLBTQ Magazine Covers.

The problem is, it turns out, that people really don’t like to put ladies on magazine covers and finding 50 ICONIC covers was hard! Turns out that by “gay,” everyone means “dudes.” I know this comes as a giant surprise to you, my friends of all genders and sexual orientations — but literally every major mainstream-magazine’s BIG STORY about gay people had DUDES on the cover with a special emphasis on white dudes. Whether it was published in 1977 or 2011, stories about gay people in genreal are illustrated by dudes.

On top of that, so many of the iconic “celebrity” covers that sprang to mind — Adam Lambert in Rolling Stone, Clay Aiken/Lance Bass in People, Neil Patrick Harris in New York Magazine — were gay guys. And the last thing I wanted to do was make an OUT magazine-esque list (read: 80% men) for this fine lesbian publication.

Consequentially, I decided to leave men out of it altogether and just focus on Lesbian-Containing magazine covers from all over the newsstand, whether iconic or just emblematic of the times or just good-looking. This process took me literally ten days.

And I am proud to present:


100 Lesbian Magazine Covers

 criteria: all of these magazine covers are from print magazines AND every cover, if it includes recognizable people, contains at least one woman who identifies as gay/bi/queer/lesbian or did so at the time of the magazine’s printing. except michelle rodriguez, but we had to include that cover b/c that’s the one where everyone thought she came out even though she didn’t come out.

Check yourselves out, you crazy diamonds! [Click to enlarge/see the gallery. There are two 50-photo galleries below for your delight.]


Magazines Featured in this Gallery:
+ GO! Mag
+ Curve
+ The Advocate
+ She
+ FlawLes
+ Alice
+ g3 mag
+ Dirty Queer
+ Maui Time
+ The Stranger – Seattle
+ qNotes
Girls Like Us Magazine
+ Out Northwest
+ Velvet Park
+ Cherrie
+ Riverfront Times
+ SF Weekly
+ Boston Globe
+ People

Out of Print:
+ Vintage lesbian magazines including The Furies can be found at rainbowhistory.org
+ Outweek
+ Girlfriends
+ Jane and Jane
+ On Our Backs

For more magazine cover fun, visit Newmanology!

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3225 articles for us.


  1. Loving all these hot covers.

    Bit surprised Lily Loveless and Kat Prescott’s DIVA cover didn’t make it on the list. That was hot.

    • aren’t lily loveless and kat prescott straight? on all of these covers, if there are celebrities/actors/recognizable people on them, at least one of those people is gay/bi/lesbian/queer or identified as such at the time. straight actresses who play gay roles would be a whole different list

  2. The Village Voice cover of Rachel Maddow is so awesome! I’m glad I didn’t mention my love of it that time I ran into her (ran after her?) on the subway platform once.

  3. Nice job Riese!
    Thank you for not going the Out Magazine route. I wish Out Magazine just came out as a gay magazine for men already…

  4. My friend, who is an army veteran, and I went to the March on Washington back in ’93(?). Her picture is in the Newsweek issue; taken from the back to show the “Lesbian Vet” jacket we made out of her old Army uniform. It had a giant sparkly pink triangle on it :) I think she was standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the time.

    • she says she’s bisexual but the most important part is that she’s wearing a strap-on. i mean, there are plenty of lady gaga covers better than that gaga cover from the last two years — so many, actually — but i wasn’t gonna choose one of them, i didn’t feel she needed to be included. but something about the strap-on combined with the alleged bisexuality but sort of queerish behavior and then just like, the overall hype/ridiculousness about it all makes it just gay

  5. This is my favorite gallery AS has ever done. Ever. And that’s saying a lot, considering how many feelings I have about Kate Moenig/Shane.

    • THANK YOU V. i am really passionate about magazines in general to a degree that i realize possibly nobody else is and therefore i am pleased to hear of your pleasant experience!

  6. Jennifer Knapp > Vanessa Carlton

    Also every time Knapp tweets about whiskey I feel a little gayer.

  7. Oh man, I remember that TIME issue with Ellen on the cover. I was like 13. And by my homophobic and scared reaction, it was pretty clear to myself that I was gay, but I rejected that thought with homophobia. I never read an issue of TIME in all the years my parents were subscribers, but when no one was around, I sneaked away and read that whole feature on Ellen. I remember recognizing myself in her answers, even though I was only 13. She said she kind of realized because she’d say to herself something like, “If I were a guy, I’d date her.” And those were the kinds of things I thought. I just remember being freaked out by how much I had in common with what she said. It was crazy.

    • sigh, we always get a “kate moennig isn’t out?” comment every time we talk about her. she’s out, more or less. J-Beals announced it in the advocate, for starters, but there’s a million other places where it’s been said indirectly. she hasn’t announced it in a magazine but it’s known. also we know it personally for an absolute fact that she is gay, the end. it’s interesting though how in this world unless someone announces it on a magazine cover, it’s considered inappropriate to acknowledge that they are in fact gay and not trying to hide it or deny it

      • True story. It seems like Kate has done her best to not make a spectacle of her gayness and for that it’s as if she isn’t officially a member of our community. I can respect her decision not to make a grandiose public announcement about her personal life. I’ve always thought of her sexuality as a no-brainer, lol, why overstate the obvious?

  8. This is awesome. I did a project in college where I got to look at all kinds of back issues of super vintage lesbian magazines, fun times.

  9. I’m impressed with yr ability to find these, make it all look nice, etc. very cool riese very cool

  10. I love how well-represented Baltimore City Paper is!

    I also just bought that New Yorker recently. I love the New Yorker and that cover made me especially happy.

  11. I just love the “Women Who Fall for Lesbians” cover. Uh, isn’t it normally women who fall for lesbians?

  12. I like the concept, but some of those women aren’t actually lesbians. And isn’t having Anne Heche and Sheryl Swoopes up there kind of…um…awkward?

  13. A) I would read the FUCK out of “Dykes on the High Seas” (# 5) if it was about swashbuckling lesbians.

    B) Thank you for bringing to my attention that picture of Clea Duvall in #31, I can die happy now.

  14. This gallery is epic. Your fondness/obsession for magazines is such an endearing and unique quality.


  15. I love this spread but am kinda sad that 1. So many of them are out of print and 2. There are no covers of Jenny Shimizu (this sadness inspired by the video Autostraddle posted with her in it).

    Guess I’ll just go watch the video again.

  16. Pingback: 20-something Magazine Covers Featuring Lesbians of Color | Black Lesbian Blog

  17. I’d be so down to see the updated version of this now that so many disney stars are queer!!

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