LGBT HISTORY PROJECT: Exploring 70 years of lesbian publications

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11/02/2023

Edythe Eyde was a secretary at RKO Studios in 1947 when she found she had time on her hands and made a groundbreaking decision. While at work, she started writing what is considered the country’s first lesbian periodical, Vice Versa. The magazine, which she called “America’s Gayest Magazine,” featured editorials, film reviews (it was the Golden Age of Hollywood, after all), book reviews, short stories and letters to the editor. Only nine issues of Vice Versa were produced, but Edythe, who went by the pen name of Lisa Ben, created a spark that ignited a rich cultural history. Since then, over 150 lesbian periodicals and magazines have been published, and those are just the ones we know about. The Ladder was the official publication of the first U.S. lesbian advocacy group, Daughters of Bilitis. DOB was started in 1955 by LGBTQ+ rights icons Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon and a year later, The Ladder was born. The Ladder was initially sent through the mail to members of DOB but was eventually available to purchase at newsstands in San Francisco and other major cities.

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