Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Del Martin, pioneering LGBT activist, dead at 87.
Coming to terms with one's sexual identity can often be confusing as hell. When I was twenty years old and starting to struggle with my own sexual identity - indeed, it would be several more years at least before I would feel comfortable enough to embrace it fully - there were two books that changed my life, two books that really helped clarify things for me, gave me reassurance that I wasn't the only woman who'd ever had the kinds of feelings I'd been experiencing, and that it was really okay. The first book was Annie On My Mind, the now-classic YA novel by Nancy Garden. The second was the groundbreaking collection of essays Lesbian/Woman by San Francisco-based lesbian activists - and life partners - Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, a book that Publishers Weekly in 1992 named one of the twenty most influential women's books of the past twenty years.
Del Martin passed away this afternoon, after having spent more than half a century as an activist on behalf of the LGBT community. She is survived by her partner of fifty-eight years, Phyllis Lyon, who continues the fight against legalized homophobia .
The photograph below was taken on June 16 of this year, when they became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the state of California. This coming October, I'll be flying back to San Francisco to attend the wedding of my little brother Craig and his longtime partner Jack, a wedding that would not have been possible without the work of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.
If you'd like to honor honor Del Martin's life, her family has suggested that donations be made through the National Center for Lesbian Rights to the No On 8 PAC campaign, to help defeat the California marriage ban.
Rest in peace, Del. You are already missed.