Friday, July 5, 2013

before stonewall after 1899 part 9: daughters of bilitis

The Daughters of Bilitis, or the DOB, was the first Lesbian organization in the United States. It was started in 1955 and remained active until 1970, It's founders, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons were lovers and wanted to meet other Lesbians and have a safe haven for social gathering. The Gay bars were dangerous because they were constantly being raided. So, they got a group of women together and began meeting regularly. From the start they knew they wanted to raise Lesbian self-esteem and educate other women about Lesbians. The political focus evolved over time but by 1959 there were DOB chapters in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles along with the original chapter in San Francisco.
    They found meeting attendees and members by distributing a newsletter that, by the fall of 1956, became The Latter. I talk about The Latter in my post entitled Before Stonewall After 1899 part 6: The Latter posted on 05-30-13. There is no doubt that The Latter quickly caught the attention of the FBI and that they're meetings were infiltrated. Sometimes it's hard for people today to fathom the courage it would have taken for these early activist to do things we think nothing of doing now. But it really was risky business to be involved in a ''homophile'' group back then. You could easily have lost your job, your home/housing, your family and friends, your reputation and, in some extreme cases, your life! I'll finish talking about the DOB tomorrow. There is a lot more to the story.

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