Martin and Lyon, founders of the first lesbian rights organization, Daughters of Bilitis (D.O.B.), have done and seen a lot in their lifetime pertaining to lesbian rights. After meeting in Seattle while working together in 1950, the two women quickly developed a friendship and began dating in 1953. This year marks their 50th anniversary.
According to Lyon, D.O.B., which was founded in 1955, began as a seed of an idea of one Filippino woman. "She wanted a place where lesbians could come together and dance and not be subject to raids by the police," said Lyon. Lyon and Martin were two of eight founders (four couples) of the organization. "We keep getting the credit because we're two of the only ones who are still around," she said. According to Lyon, the group was originally composed of four middle-class women and four working class women. One of the eight women was Hispanic; another was Filippino. "We were very politically correct," said Lyon.
Looking back, Lyon admits that times were really different then. "We had to be so secretive," she said. "We didn't even know that there were two other lesbian groups out there - one in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles." Lyon adds that it was difficult to find out about other groups and to spread the word simply because they had to be so careful.
What began as merely a social group eventually became widely known and politically driven. D.O.B. concerned itself with issues such as lesbian mothers' rights and abolishing discrimination. "We weren't really interested in gay marriage early on," said Lyon. Gay marriage today, however, is quickly becoming a possible reality, specifically in Massachusetts. Lyon said that she never thought she would see such a case in her lifetime, and is hopeful for a positive outcome. "We were all ready for a rally in July," she said, referring to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, a lawsuit seeking gay marriage, that was originally expected this past summer.
Congratulations on their marriage!