A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement
Published: October 2006
About the Book
Nearly fifteen years before the Stonewall Rebellion and the birth of gay liberation, the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was the world’s first organization committed to lesbian visibility and empowerment. Like its predominantly gay male counterpart, the Mattachine Society, DOB was launched in response to the oppressive anti-homosexual climate of the McCarthy era, when lesbian and gay people were arrested, fired from jobs, and had their children taken away simply on the basis of their sexual orientation. It was against this political backdrop that a circle of San Francisco lesbians formed a private club where lesbians could meet other lesbians in a safe, affirming setting. What began as a small social group, however, evolved over the next two decades into a national organization that counted more than a dozen chapters—and in the process, laid the foundation for today’s lesbian rights movement.
Different Daughters chronicles this movement and the women who fought the church and state in order to change not only our nation’s perception of homosexuality but how lesbians see themselves. Marcia Gallo has interviewed dozens of former DOB members, many of whom have never spoken on record. Through its leaders, its magazine, and its network of local chapters, DOB played a crucial role in creating lesbian identity, visibility, and political strategies in Cold War America.
“Marcia Gallo’ s powerful history of the Daughters of Bilitis introduces us to pioneering Lesbian Liberators who, during the l950s, dared to challenge the bitter homophobic silence and contempt that surrounded and endangered women-loving-women for so many generations…Everybody interested in feminism, social and political history, stories of bold life journeys in mean and embattled times will be eager to read this splendid book.” —Blanche Wiesen Cook, author, Eleanor Roosevelt, Volumes One and Two
“Different Daughters is a pioneering work that at last provides us with the history of those pioneering women who founded the lesbian rights movement. The book is that rare scholarly work: a pleasure to read even as it provides essential historical information—it’ s both brilliantly researched and beautifully written.” —Martin Duberman, author, Stonewall