Tag Archives: Lesbian

Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon, lesbian pioneers

Del Martin 

b. May 5, 1921
August 27, 2008

Phyllis Lyon 

b. November 10, 1924


“Two extraordinary people … that have spent the greater part of a half century … fighting for their right to live the way so many of us, frankly, take for granted.

 – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

Wedding of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons, 2008

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon founded the first lesbian organization in the United States and have fought for more than 50 years for the rights of lesbians and gays. On June 16, 2008, Martin and Lyon became the first gay couple to be legally married in California.

Martin and Lyon both earned degrees in journalism. While working as journalists in Seattle, the two became romantically involved. The couple relocated to San Francisco and moved in together on Valentine’s Day 1953.

In 1955, finding it hard to develop a social network in San Francisco, Martin, Lyon and a small group of women founded the first lesbian organization, called the Daughters of Bilitis. The name was inspired by Pierre Louys’s “Songs of Bilitis,” a collection of poems celebrating lesbian sexuality.

Though it was intended to be a secret society, Martin and Lyon wanted to make the Daughters of Bilitis more visible. The group began publishing a monthly magazine, called The Ladder, which was the first-ever lesbian publication. As editors of the magazine, they capitalized the word “lesbian” every time it appeared.

In 1964, while fighting to change California sex laws criminalizing homosexuals, the couple joined religious and gay community leaders to form the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH). This organization was at the forefront of the movement to gain religious support on gay rights issues. Both women served on the founding CRH board of directors.

In 2004, when gay marriage was offered in San Francisco, Martin and Lyon were the first to wed. A California appellate court ruling subsequently invalidated their marriage. Then in May 2008, a California Supreme Court decision provided same-sex couples the right to marry. On June 16, 2008, they were the first same-sex couple married in California. The wedding was officiated by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Martin and Lyon have published two books together, “Lesbian/Woman” (1972) and “Lesbian Love and Liberation” (1973). On their 50th anniversary, the documentary “No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon” premiered. In 2005, the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association inducted Martin and Lyon into the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame for their pioneering work on The Ladder. In 2007, they received the 2007 Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Pioneer Award.

Bibliography
Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon.” (The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Religious Archives Network).
Kornblum, Janet. “Gay Activists Blaze Trail for half century.”  USA Today. March 4, 2004

Streitmatter, Rodger.  “Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin.”  National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association: LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame.  June 5, 2008

Articles
Gordon, Rachel. “Lesbian Pioneer Activists See Wish Fulfilled.” San Francisco Chronicle. June 16, 2008

Marshall, Carolyn. “Dozens of Gay Couples Marry in San Francisco Ceremonies.” The New York Times. February 13, 2004

McKinley, Jesse. “Same-Sex Marriages Begin in California.” The New York Times. June 17, 2008

Books

Lesbian love and liberation (The Yes book of sex) (1973)
Battered Wives (1976)

Other Resources

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Lesbian couple to take vows in nation’s first public Buddhist same-sex union

Two devout Buddhist women are to hold the nation’s first gay Buddhist wedding next month as part of an effort to push for the legalization of same-sex marriages in Taiwan.

“We are not only doing it for ourselves, but also for other gays and lesbians,” Fish Huang said in a telephone interview.

The 30-year-old social worker at a non-governmental organization said that marriage never crossed her mind until she saw a movie last year.

The film portrayed two lesbians whose ill-fated relationship concluded after one died and the other was left heartbroken over the denial of spousal benefits.

“It’s so sad,” Huang said, who plans to wed her partner of seven years on Aug. 11 at a Buddhist altar in Taoyuan County.

Both brides are planning to wear white wedding gowns and listen to lectures given by Buddhist masters about marriage, accompanied by a series of chantings and blessings from monks and nuns.

Although homosexual marriages are not legally recognized in Taiwan, Huang insisted on tying the knot because she wants to make her relationship complete and raise awareness about the difficulties faced by sexual minorities.

Alternative sexual orientation and marriage have yet to be widely accepted by the general public, despite years of effort by activists to secure equality in Taiwan.

The first public gay marriage in Taiwan took place in 1996 between a local writer and his foreign partner. The event drew widespread media attention and inspired many gays to follow their footsteps.

Huang’s wedding, however, will be the first with a Buddhist theme.

 – more at  Taipei Times.

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Pauli Murray: Episcopal church votes on queer saint / activist for gender and racial equality.

Human rights champion Pauli Murray, an unofficial queer saint, will be voted on this week by the Episcopal Church at its general convention in Indianapolis.

Murray (1910-1985) has been nominated for inclusion in the Episcopal Church’s book of saints, “Holy Women, Holy Men.” If approved, she will be honored every July 1 on the church calendar.

She is a renowned civil rights pioneer, feminist, author, lawyer and the first black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest. Her queer orientation is less well known.

Murray was attracted to women and her longest relationships were with women, so she is justifiably considered a lesbian. But she also described herself as a man trapped in a woman’s body and took hormone treatments in her 20s and 30s, so she might even be called a transgender today.

via Jesus in Love Blog

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New York councilwoman talks being gay in the church

A unique new voice has been added to the debate stirred by Bill Keller’s New York Times column: Should liberal Catholics simply leave a church that clearly no longer wants them? Her answer to that question may surprise you.

Christine Quinn is the speaker of the New York City Council and a leading candidate to succeed Michael Bloomberg as mayor. She is Catholic, and she is gay.

Quinn gave a free-wheeling interview this weekend to NPR, covering everything from her political views to her family history (her maternal grandmother survived the sinking of the Titanic). But toward the end of the segment, the topic turned to her sexual identity and her faith.

Quinn spoke movingly of how her father first rejected her when she came out but then apologized and reconciled. He now comes over to City Hall to visit her every day and was to march with his daughter in the Gay Pride parade over the weekend. All well and good, said NPR interviewer David Greene — but what about your faith and your church? How does that work?

She gave a very New York, no-nonsense answer:

QUINN: Well, it’s just who I am. I mean, I’m Catholic and I’m gay. There’s not much to deal with. It’s who I am. It’s how I wake up every morning.

GREENE: But your church, obviously, doesn’t, you know, officially accept that.

QUINN: Right. That’s kind of their problem, not mine. I mean, I just don’t dwell on it. I’m not really sure what the upside of me dwelling on it would be. I mean, I was raised Catholic, I take a lot of comfort and inspiration and motivation and support from my faith. I get what they kind of see in some political issues. They get that we’re not in agreement on that. But that doesn’t make me not who I am. It’s still who I am.

GREENE: Do you ever wake up and think I need to leave this church, I need to leave this faith, I …

QUINN: No. Well, how can you leave a faith? A faith is who you are. It’s what’s inside of you. It’s how you see the world. It’s what inspires you. It’s what comforts you. It’s what uplifts you in the dark days. You can’t leave a faith. The faith is who you are. It’s what you have. Why should I leave the church? It’s my church. They’re the ones who have the wrong perspective. I’m not going to leave. If I leave, it’s as if they won. I’m going to go into any church any time I want to, whenever I want to. It’s my church. And no one’s ever asked me to and no one ever will.

To me, Quinn’s directness and confidence about her place in the church was a breath of fresh air. There’s an honesty that even New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan might appreciate.

And she might even have coined a rallying cry for people feeling pushed out of the church by its current direction: “That’s kind of their problem, not mine.”

National Catholic Reporter

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Melissa Etheridge, Singer

b. May 29, 1961

“What do they know about this love anyway?”

Melissa Etheridge is a Grammy and Academy Award-winning singer and songwriter. She came out at the 1993 Triangle Ball, the Clinton administration’s inaugural gala for gays and lesbians, when she exclaimed, “Gee, I’m really excited to be here, and I’m really proud to have been a lesbian all my life!” 
She was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, and studied at The Berklee School of Music in Boston. Etheridge moved to Los Angeles and evolved from a bluesy sound to her renowned rock/alternative style.
Etheridge shot to stardom with her trademark blues-rock hit “Come to My Window,” for which she received a Grammy Award in 1994 for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. With its powerful lyrics, the song became an anthem for gay rights. 
In 2004, Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the 2005 Grammy Awards, she gave one of her most memorable performances with Janis Joplin’s hit, “Piece of My Heart.” She exposed her head, left bald from chemotherapy. 
Etheridge’s songs have not only entertained, but have helped heal in times of tragedy. Her songbook includes “Scarecrow,” a tribute to Matthew Shepard; “Tuesday Morning,” dedicated to the memory of Mark Bingham, a hero of 9/11; “Four Days,” about those devastated by Hurricane Katrina; and “I Run for Life,” an anthem for breast cancer survivors. 
Julie Cypher, Etheridge’s long-term ex-partner, gave birth to their two children. After their breakup, Etheridge exchanged vows with actress Tammy Lynn Michaels. In 2006, Michaels had twins.
In 2006, Etheridge received the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which honors openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for the community. “I Need to Wake Up,” featured in the film “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Academy Award for Best Original Song (2007).

New NYC center caters to gay and lesbian seniors

 (AP) NEW YORK – New York City celebrated the opening Thursday of what city officials say is the nation’s first full-service senior center designed specifically for the gay community.

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the SAGE Innovative Senior Center in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

“This is long overdue,” said Lillian Barrios-Paoli, commissioner of the city Department for the Aging. “We are beyond thrilled.”
The center is operated by the Department for the Aging and SAGE, a 34-year-old social service agency. SAGE stands for Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders.
Robert Philipson, a 77-year-old retired jewelry salesman, said he started going to bereavement counseling at SAGE after he lost his partner of 50 years.
“When you find yourself alone at 77 and you’ve built your life around another person, you are at somewhat of a loss as to where to go next,” he said. “SAGE filled that gap.”

-full report at  CBS News

‘via Blog this’

Sherry Harris, Pioneer City Councillor.

b. February 27, 1965

All real and lasting change starts first on the inside and works it way through to the outside. Politically speaking, each person being the change we wish to see in the world is the only stance that can make a lasting difference. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.



Believing it impossible to win election as an out lesbian, many people warned Sherry Harris against running for Seattle City Council. In 1991, Harris proved her skeptics wrong. She defeated a 24-year incumbent councilman and became the nation’s first openly lesbian African-American city council member.Prior to politics, Harris pursued a professional career in engineering. In 1980, she received a B.S. in Human Factors Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She worked as a project engineer for PNW Bell Telephone Company. 


As Seattle City Councilmember from 1992 to 1995, Harris championed downtown interests. She promoted the expansion of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center and supported a downtown symphony hall. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Harris said, “I was raised in a city where the downtown died, and so did the rest of the city.”


Harris has worked with Humanity’s Team, an organization that emphasizes interpersonal connections. One volunteer who worked closely with Harris said, “She is truly a fine leader demonstrating great passion for humanity’s well-being [who] displays uncompromising strength of character.”
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