DCS: barbara gittings

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June is Pride Month.

Barbara Gittings first heard the word “homosexual” when she was rejected for membership in the National Honor Society. She never considered her attraction to women unusual until a high school teacher informed her that, despite being an excellent student, her “homosexual inclinations” were grounds to keep her out of the National Honor Society.

Fed up and feeling distanced from the literature she found regarding homosexuality, Barbara founded the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian civil and political activism group, in 1958. Under guidance and inspiration from the founders of the San Francisco chapter of the group, Barbara championed her cause and did her best to break homosexuality from its societal tags as “deviant” and “perverted.” She became the editor of “The Ladder,” the organization’s publication.

In 1963, she countered psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis and his beliefs that homosexuals are “psychopaths” and “sick.” She spoke against Dr. Ellis with support and inspiration from fellow activist  Frank Kameny. Throughout the 1960s, she organized and marched in protests in New York, Philadelphia and at The White House. In the 1970s, Barbara formed the American Library Association, an organization promoting homosexuality in a positive and supportive manner. She happily took on the American Psychiatrics Association and other groups who stood to oppress homosexuals. She fought and campaigned diligently for her entire life.

Barbara passed away in 2007 at the age of 74. She left a legacy of which she could be proud.




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