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This 1950s Secret Social Club Printed The First Lesbian Magazine

In 1955, a group of eight women founded a secret club which would become the first lesbian civil rights organization in the U.S.

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During the 1950s, being an out gay woman was rarely heard of and nearly impossible.

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Out lesbians faced job termination, arrest if caught at a reputed gay bar, even forced conversion therapy. The American Psychiatric Association didn't remove homosexuality from their official list of mental disorders until 1973.

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, who lived in San Francisco, were among the women who became frustrated with their blatant lack of options.

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In 1955, though the couple had been dating for three years, they realized they didn't know any other lesbians.

Phyllis later joked that she didn't actually know the Bilitis reference at the time.

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For all you Phyllis's out there: Bilitis is the name given to a fictional lesbian contemporary of Sappho, by the French poet Pierre Louÿs.

The DOB's official statement was printed on the inside of every issue until 1970:

1.Education of the variant...to enable her to understand herself and make her adjustment to society...this to be accomplished by establishing...a library...on the sex deviant theme; by sponsoring public discussions...to be conducted by leading members of the legal psychiatric, religious and other professions; by advocating a mode of behavior and dress acceptable to society.

2.Education of the public...leading to an eventual breakdown of erroneous taboos and prejudices.

3.Participation in research projects by duly authorized and responsible psychologists, sociologists, and other such experts directed towards further knowledge of the homosexual.

4.Investigation of the penal code as it pertain to the homosexual, proposal of changes,...and promotion of these changes through the due process of law in the state legislatures.

Unfortunately by 1972, the publication had run out of funds and it's long run finally came to a close.

The impact of the DOB on the lives of women was described by historian Martin Meeker:

"The DOB succeeded in linking hundreds of lesbians across the country with one another and gathering them into a distinctly modern communication network that was mediated through print and, consequently, imagination, rather than sight, sound, smell, and touch.

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