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San Francisco Home of Lesbian Pioneers/Activists Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin To Be Protected

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Sep 07, 2021

I was extremely touched and happy when I read this in a news clip in my favorite American Grass Roots Network forum publication [LC (Lesbian Connection Volume 44)].  It was there that it was reported that:

San Francisco’s city's board of supervisors voted to protect the home where Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin lived from 1955 until Del's death in 2008, saying the women "were queer activists before queer activism was a thing ... and it is fitting that their home is the first San Francisco historic landmark dedicated to lesbian history."  Phyllis remained in the home until her passing in 2020, and then it was sold for probable redevelopment.  Lesbian historian Shayne Watson spearheaded the preservation effort and helped form Friends of the Lyon-Martin House.

This was exciting news, not only because it was the first historic landmark dedicated to lesbian history in San Francisco, but for many women, including myself, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were beacons of light and hope.  I remember many, many years ago (late 70’s), as a young high school student, reading Lesbian/Woman, a book published by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.  (The first edition of this book published in 1972).  In that book, Phyllis and Del discussed what it meant to be lesbian as well as the myths and stereotypes surrounding lesbianism.  It is now considered a foundational text of lesbian feminism. 

At that time much of the LGBTQ Community was “Closeted” or not visible.  Although more accepted and visible today, there is still much hate and as a result, fear.  I hope with more visibility and inclusion, there will be more acceptance.

Phyllis and Del were also the founders of The Daughters of Bilitis, one of the first lesbian rights organizations that were not only there for lesbian rights, but there to support all lesbians nationwide.

Royalty-free photo courtesy of UnSplash.