Remembering Lesley Gore

Take a look back at the career of an early LGBT icon

By David-Elijah Nahmod

Lesley_Gore_-_It's_My_PartyIn her lifetime, Lesley Gore made a name for herself in pop music, TV, film and activism. Gore passed away Feb. 16, 2015. She was 68 years old.

Gore is survived by Lois Sasson, her partner of 33 years. In a recent interview, Sasson revealed that lung cancer was Gore’s cause of death. And, at the time of her death, Gore was working on her autobiography.

Though she made many teen boys’ hearts flutter as a popular teen idol and singing star during the 1960s, Gore was on out lesbian. In the final decade of her life she hosted episodes of “In the Life,” the PBS produced public affairs program for the LGBT community.

Lesley Sue Goldstein was born in 1946 in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in New Jersey. She was still in high school when, in 1963, her Quincy Jones-produced “It’s My Party” single became a No. 1 hit, selling over a million copies.

Many other hits followed, including “You Don’t Own Me,” an early feminist anthem that was released in 1964. In the song Gore tells a fictional boyfriend that she can do whatever she pleases.

Gore’s career was quite diverse. As an occasional actress, she had roles on such TV series’ as “Batman” and “Murphy Brown.” She played herself on “The Donna Reed Show” and in the film Ski Party (1965). She was also an Oscar-nominated songwriter, co-authoring, with her brother Michael, “Out Here on My Own,” a showstopping number from the film Fame (1980).

Though Gore remained closeted during her heyday – come out during the ‘60s and ‘70s was unthinkable – Gore was always open about her sexual orientation to her family and friends.

Her public coming out took place around 2005 when she first appeared on “In the Life.” That same year, she released Ever Since, her final album –music from which was featured on “The L World,” Showtime’s hit lesbian soap opera.