Phyllis Lyon, a prominent lesbian activist since the 1950s, as died of natural causes at age 95, according to the Bay Area Reporter. She and he Del Martin (shown above) were the first couple married in San Francisco when the gay marriage ban was reversed in 2008.
Via the Bay Area Reporter’s extensive biography worth reading in full:
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, the obituary noted.
The publication of Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin’s book, “Lesbian/Woman” in 1972 changed countless lives. Many lesbians found a positive description of lesbian lives for the very first time when they discovered this book.
The women were the first open lesbians to join the National Organization for Women and helped form the Council on Religion and the Homosexual in Northern California to persuade ministers to accept lesbians and gay men into churches. They pushed to decriminalize homosexuality in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Lyon-Martin Health Services in San Francisco is named in their honor.
Image: Newscom/UPPA/Photoshot via Bay Area Reporter