Martin and Lyon met in 1950, became lovers in 1952, and moved in together on Valentine's Day 1953 in an apartment on Castro Street in San Francisco. They had been together for three years when they founded the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) in San Francisco in 1955, which became the first social and political organization for lesbians in the United States. They both acted as president and editor of The Ladder until 1963, and remained involved in the DOB until joining the National Organization for Women (NOW) as the first lesbian couple to do so. (Picture: Pantsuits worn by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon to their weddings in San Francisco in 2004 and 2008; on display at the GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th St., San Francisco. Photo: GLBT Historical Society.)
Both women worked to form the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH) in northern California to persuade ministers to accept homosexuals into churches, and used their influence to decriminalize homosexuality in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They became politically active in San Francisco's first gay political organization, the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, which influenced Dianne Feinstein to sponsor a citywide bill to outlaw employment discrimination for gays and lesbians. Both served in the White House Conference on Aging in 1995.
Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin (San Francisco) by Cyndy Warwick (http://www.picture-that.com/gegallery/pride/artwork-2011.php?id=1257)
Dorothy Louise Taliaferro "Del" Martin and Phyllis Ann Lyon were an American lesbian couple known as feminist and gay-rights activists. They were a couple until Del Martin's death in 2008. Martin and Lyon met in 1 950, became lovers in 1952, and moved in together on Valentine's Day 1953 in an apartment on Castro Street in San Francisco. They founded the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco in 1955. They were married on June 16, 2008 in the first same-sex wedding to take place in San Francisco.
Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin - San Francisco, CA, 1989, by Robert Giard
They were married on June 16, 2008 in the first same-sex wedding to take place in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court's decision in In re Marriage Cases legalized same-sex marriage in California. Martin died from complications of an arm bone fracture in San Francisco.
Del Martin was born as Dorothy Louise Taliaferro on May 5, 1921, in San Francisco. She was the first salutatorian to graduate from George Washington High School. She was educated at the University of California, Berkeley and at San Francisco State College, where she studied journalism, and she earned a Doctor of Arts degree from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. She was married for four years to James Martin and retained his name after their divorce. She had one daughter, Kendra Mon. Martin died on August 27, 2008 at UCSF Hospice in San Francisco from complications of an arm bone fracture. She was 87 years old. Her wife, Phyllis, was at her side. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom ordered that the flags at City Hall be flown at half-staff in her honor.
Phyllis Lyon was born on November 10, 1924 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, earned in 1946. During the 1940s, she worked as a reporter for the Chico Enterprise-Record, and during the 1950s, she worked as part of the editorial staff of two Seattle magazines.
Martin and Lyon met in Seattle in 1950 when they began working for the same magazine. They became lovers in 1952 and entered into a partnership in 1953 when they moved to San Francisco together. Many years later, Lyon and Martin recalled how they learned to live together in 1953. "We really only had problems our first year together. Del would leave her shoes in the middle of the room, and I'd throw them out the window," said Lyon, to which Martin responded, "You'd have an argument with me and try to storm out the door. I had to teach you to fight back."
On February 12, 2004, Martin and Lyon were issued a marriage license by the City and County of San Francisco after mayor Gavin Newsom ordered that marriage licenses be given to same-sex couples who requested them.
The license, along with those of several thousand other same-sex couples, were voided by the California Supreme Court on August 12, 2004.
Del is 83 years old and I am 79. After being together for more than 50 years, it is a terrible blow to have the rights and protections of marriage taken away from us. At our age, we do not have the luxury of time. —Phyllis LyonHowever, they were married again on June 16, 2008, after the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal. Once again they were the first couple married in San Francisco, in fact the only couple married that day by the mayor.
Lesbian Woman is a history lesson for you. I wonder how many of the people who read this will have even heard of this book. I guess you have to be “of an age,” like me. But it was absolutely groundbreaking. A nonfiction account of the (very) early gay and lesbian rights movement, written by the two women who were (much later) the first to be married by Gavin Newsom in San Francisco. By then they had been together for over 50 years. This tells their earlier story, and much more, and used copies can still be had at the online book sellers. A look at where we’ve been. --Catherine Ryan Hyde
Del Martin, 1989, by Robert Giard
Phyllis Lyon, 1989, by Robert Giard
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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