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Barbara Gittings
Please vote to return to collections (Voting Results will appear on Right Sidebar).
    (July 31, 1932-February 18, 2007)
    Born in Vienna, Austria
    Organized the New York City chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (1958)
    Editor of the Daughters of Bilitis magazine 'The Ladder' (1963-66)
    Joined Frank Kameny in early protests against the federal government's ban on hiring gays and lesbians
    Founding member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (1973)
    Namesake for awards given by both the American Library Association and GLAAD
    As a student at Northwestern, she spent so much time tracking down and reading books about homosexuality that she flunked out.
    She agreed to found the NYC chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis even though she had complained to founders Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon that the name was obscure, difficult to pronounce, and honored a fictional bisexual instead of a lesbian. ('It wasn't very nice of me, but they seemed to take it with reasonably good spirits.')
    While working as a mimeographer for an architectural firm, she used the company's equipment to print up copies of 'The Ladder' and mailed them out using company envelopes (with the firm's name covered by a sticker).
    Despite her good grades in high school, she was not admitted to the National Honor Society because of her 'homosexual tendencies.'
    A teacher's explanation of the reason for her rejection was the first time she heard the word 'homosexual.'
    When her father found 'The Well of Loneliness' (a lesbian-themed novel by Radclyffe Hall) in her room, he insisted that she burn the book -- making his demand via letter, since he was unable to talk to her face to face about it.
    She joined Kameny in arranging the discussions that resulted in the American Psychiatric Association removing homosexuality from its list of psychiatric disorders (1973).
    She said, '.Every time I had to make a decision to put myself forward or to stay back, to use my real name or not, to go on television or decline, to get out on some of the earliest picket lines or remain behind. I usually took the public position because there weren't many of us yet that could afford the risk.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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