LGBT History Month Icons: Ronan Farrow & Angela Ponce
Ronan Farrow – Pulitzer-Winning Journalist
December 19, 1987
Ronan Farrow is an American investigative journalist. In 2017 the 7,000-word story he broke in The New Yorker was the first to expose rape and sexual assault allegations against media titan Harvey Weinstein. The revelations ignited the #MeToo movement, a global reckoning on sexual predation and abuse of power.
Farrow was born in New York City, the son of the actress Mia Farrow and the filmmaker Woody Allen. He entered Bard College at age 11 and graduated at 15—the youngest student ever to do so. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2009. The same year, he joined the Obama Administration as special adviser for humanitarian and NGO affairs in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In 2011 Farrow founded the State Department’s Office of Global Youth Issues, serving under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He left government to pursue his doctorate at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
Farrow left Oxford to pursue journalism full-time. He had been writing for major publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times and The Atlantic. For The Wall Street Journal in 2006, he was among the first to report on the role of Chinese investments in fueling the Darfur conflict. His piece helped spark a major international divestment campaign.
Farrow has since worked as an investigative reporter and television commentator and has served as an anchor for MSNBC and NBC. His stories for The New Yorker were the first to expose sexual abuse allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and other powerful men. Farrow also wrote the first detailed accounts of payments made to suppress sexual misconduct stories about Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Farrow faced institutional push-back and physical threats during his research and reporting on Weinstein. His exposure of the mogul marked a watershed for women’s rights, catalyzing long-suppressed sexual assault and harassment allegations against a multitude of prominent men, many of whom have been ousted from their positions. His reporting on Weinstein for The New Yorker earned the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for public service, along with other prestigious awards.
In 2018 Farrow was honored by the Point Foundation for his #MeToo investigations and his NBC News reporting on transgender issues. He came out during the awards ceremony and thanked the LGBTQ community for being an “incredible source of strength” throughout his work.
Farrow lives in New York with his partner, Jon Lovett, a fellow writer.
Angela Ponce – Trangender Miss Spain
January 18, 1991
Angela Ponce is a Spanish beauty pageant winner, a fashion model and an activist. In 2018 she made history as the first transgender woman to win the Miss Universe Spain title and to compete in the international Miss Universe contest.
Born in the conservative town of Pilas, Spain, Ponce knew she was different from a very early age. As a boy who identified as a girl, she faced discrimination and insults. Her school placed her in a group of children needing special care—some of whom were dealing with family breakups or belonged to the minority Roma community. Ponce’s parents battled efforts to single her out. She credits them for sparing her a traumatic childhood.
Ponce began hormone therapy in high school and completed her last gender confirmation surgery in 2014. After winning a regional beauty contest, she moved to Madrid in 2015 to pursue a modeling career. She was dismissed by leading fashion brands and often rejected for modeling jobs based on her gender identity. Undeterred, she continued to pursue her dreams.
In June 2018 she participated in the Miss Universe Spain pageant and made headlines as the first transgender woman to win the title. Later that year, she captured international attention again as the first transgender woman to represent her country in the official Miss Universe competition.
Although she did not advance to the international Miss Universe finals, she won the hearts of people around the world and blazed the trail for other transgender women. During the worldwide telecast of the competition, a video of Ponce’s story aired. At the end she said, “My hope is … to be able to live in a world of equality for everyone … If I can give that to the world, I don’t need to win Miss Universe, I only need to be here.”
Ponce also prevailed in the fashion world, participating in shows for world-renowned designers. She was the first transgender woman to model for Agatha Ruiz de la Prada and Carolina Herrera and to walk the runway during Madrid’s fashion week.
Ponce uses her recognition as a platform for activism. She collaborates with the Daniela Foundation, a nonprofit organization for transgender youth, where she speaks in schools and meets with children and parents struggling with gender identity issues. She works to raise awareness for suicide prevention among trans youth, and she has participated in conferences for Doctors of the World in Spain as an advocate for transgender equality.