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Barbara Gittings - Lesbian Rights Activist

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Barbara Gittings

Pioneer Gay rights activist Barbara Gittings at the first homosexual rights demonstration, Philadelphia, July 4, 1965.

© credit Kay Tobin Lahusen/Stonewall Productions

Barbara Gittings - Gay Rights Activist:

Barbara Gittings, an early gay and lesbian rights activist died February 18th 2007 at age 75 of breast cancer.

Barbara Gittings and Daughters of Bilitis:

Daughters of Bilitis was a lesbian social organization formed in San Francisco in 1955 by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Barbara Gittings helped form the New York City chapter of Daughters of Bilitis.

Barbara Gittings and The Ladder:

In 1956 the Daughters of Bilitis began publishing a monthly magazine called The Ladder. The Ladder contained poetry, fiction, news items, book reports and social commentary written by and for lesbians. Barbara Gittings was the editor of The Ladder from 1963-1966. The Ladder was a lifeline for lesbians all over the country who were isolated from other lesbians.

Barbara Gittings and Gay Rights Demonstrations:

Barbara Gittings helped organize gay rights demonstrations in front of the White House and in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1965 to protest federal employment discrimination. In 2005 Gittings attended a ceremony marking the site of the Philadelphia demonstrations.

Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahausen:

Barbara met her partner Kay Lahausen in 1961. In an interview with Citypaper.net, Barbara Gittings said she met Kay, "In 1961 at a picnic in Rhode Island. We hit it off, we started courting. I flew to Boston [to see her] and got off the plane with a big bunch of flowers in my hand. I couldn't resist. I didn't care what the world thought. I dropped the flowers, grabbed her and kissed her. That was not being done in 1961."

Barbara Gittings and the American Psychiatric Association:

Barbara Gittings was active in the fight to have homosexuality removed from the American Psychiatric Association's list of mental disorders. It was removed in 1973.

Gay Books in the Library - Thank Barbara Gittings:

When she first realized she was a lesbian her freshman year in college, Barbara searched the library for any information she could find about homosexuality. Her findings were scarce, mostly referred to men and made no mention of love. Later in her life Barbara worked with the American Library Association to make materials with gay and lesbian content more accessible to the reading public.

Barbara Gittings - A Legacy:

Barbara is survived by her partner of 46 years Kay Lahausen. In 2001 The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) created an award to honor Barbara Gittings. The Barbara Gittings Award is presented to a pioneering individual, group or community media outlet that has made a significant contribution to the development of LGBT media.
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