1957 September 7

First New York Meeting of the Daughters of Bilitis, First Lesbian Group in America


The Daughters of Bilitis, the first openly lesbian activist organization in the U.S., was founded on September 21, 1955. The first New York City meeting occurred on this day. The Daughters of Bilitis sponsored a lesbian and gay rights conference in New York City, on June 20, 1964, at which two doctors attacked the idea that homosexuality is a disease.

The first gay men’s organization was the Mattachine Society, organized on November 11, 1950.

The first lesbian and gay rights movement in the world originated in Berlin, Germany, in the 1860s. This included the invention of the word “homosexuality.” Read Robert Beachy, Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity (2014).

Read: Marcia M. Gallo, Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement (2007)

Read about the history of the GLBT revolution: Lillian Faderman, The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle (2015)

Watch Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon discuss the founding of the Daughters of Bilitis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEsluZvBm84

Visit the GLBT Historical Society and Museum in San Francisco: http://www.glbthistory.org/

Learn more at a valuable documentary history: Jonathan Katz, ed., Gay American History: Lesbian and Gay Men in American History, A Documentary (1976)

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