Saturday, July 6, 2013

before stonewall after 1899 part 10: daughters of bilitis continued

So, in continuing to talk about the DOB I'll go into the origins of the name. Daughters of Bilitis comes from a 1894 French poem called The songs of Bilitis. Bilitis,a character in the poem, lives on the Isle of Lesbos alongside Sappho. Daughters was chosen for it's association to other American social clubs like the Daughters of the American Revolution. The DOB filed for non-profit incorporation in 1957 with a vague charter description so as to not deter the government from granting them status.
    On the inside cover of every issue of The Latter the DOB announced itself as ''a Women's organization for the purpose of promoting the integration of the Homosexual into society.'' In 1960 they held they're first national convention in San Fransisco. The convention was so successful that they held one every two years until 1968. They sent press releases to local newspapers and radio stations, which prompted the police to come to make sure everybody was wearing clothing appropriate to they're gender!  Wearing clothing of the opposite sex in public was illegal back then. The organizers expected this and told everybody to wear dresses, high heels and stockings.
    By the mid 1960's the feminist movement started to take shape. The National Organization for Women or NOW, had been formed and the DOB was split on whether to focus on Gay issues, Women's issues or both. A Lesbian Review was removed as the sub-title for The Latter and in-fighting had resulted in The Latters subscription list being stolen. By 1970 scores of new Lesbian/Gay rights groups had come along and the DOB, along with it's male counterpart the Mattichine Society, got lost in he frenzy and folded. But The Latter struggled along until 1972.
     My two postings on the Daughters of Bilitis are way beyond abridged. There is a lot more to the story but they are only meant to be an introduction for people who may not know about it. I want to help keep our history alive!

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