Wednesday, May 29, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 : Edith Eyde A.K.A Lisa Ben

I am a big fan of little things that forerun big things and Edith Eyde's Vice Versa is a perfect example. Vise Versa is considered by many to be the first Lesbian magazine in the U.S.
    The story of it's inception is interesting ,too. Edith was a young women working as a secretary at RKO studios in Hollywood. There was not alot to do on her job and Edith's had a lackluster social life, as I'm sure many LGBT people did back then. So, she decided to occupy her time, on the clock, by typing a magazine/newsletter for Lesbians to broaden her social circle and meet other Lesbians. She basically created her own little facebook and carved a place for herself in LGBT history in the process. I love it!
      Vise Versa's distribution never went beyond the L.A. area. It had nine issues published from 1947 to 1948 and Edith personally handed out most copies herself. She asked people to pass them onto others when they finished reading them. She did send issues through the mail but stopped for fear of arrest under the Comstock Act, which I talk about in my last post. I suspect that the articles/stories in Vise Versa were not politically charged, as in lets all stand up and claim our rights right now, but they must have had clear Gay and Lesbian themes.
    When RKO was sold Edith lost her job and that's when Vise Versa stopped, but Edith had reached her goal and broadened her social circle by then anyhow. Another thing I like about Edith is that she saw a window of opportunity and she opened it!
    Lisa Ben was a pseudonym, and an anagram for Lesbian, she used in the 1950's when she began writing for The Latter, the Lesbian magazine I'll talk about tomorrow.

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