Pioneering lesbian activist Phyllis Lyon died Thursday from natural causes at age 95.
ABC 7 reports: Lyon is a pillar of the San Francisco LGBTQ community and a civil rights pioneer. She co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the nation’s first lesbian organization and was a journalist who began her career as a reporter in 1946. Lyon and her wife, Del Martin, were the first to be married by Gavin Newsom during the so-called Winter of Love in Feb. 2004 at San Francisco City Hall after 54 years together. “We lost a giant today,” Sen. Wiener said. “Phyllis Lyon fought for LGBTQ equality when it was neither safe nor popular to do so. Phyllis and her wife Del Martin played a crucial role winning the rights and dignity our community now enjoys. We owe Phyllis immense gratitude for her work. Rest in power.”
More from the Bay Area Reporter: The couple met when Ms. Martin joined the staff of the Seattle magazine where Ms. Lyon was working and the two became lovers in 1952. The couple relocated to San Francisco and moved into a flat on Castro Street together on Valentine’s Day 1953. In San Francisco, the women embarked on a lifelong career of activism. In 1955, along with three other lesbian couples, they co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis. Known as DOB, it was the first political and social organization for lesbians in the United States. Shortly after founding DOB, the couple began publishing The Ladder, the first monthly lesbian publication focused on politics, fiction, poetry and connecting lesbians across the country. The founding of DOB and the publication of The Ladder, continuously from 1956-1972, were acts of immense political courage at a time of unchecked harassment and violence directed at “homosexuals,” largely at the hands of law enforcement and political officials.