Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Home of LGBTQ pioneers Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin first San Francisco lesbian history landmark
--From a press release

This article shared 2632 times since Tue May 4, 2021
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

SAN FRANCISCO — On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance authored by District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman to designate the former home of pioneering LGBTQ and civil rights activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin as a local historic landmark. The Board will take a final vote on the ordinance at their May 11 meeting, after which the ordinance and landmark will be in effect in June.

"Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were queer activists before queer activism was a thing. The modern LGBTQ rights movement is built on the foundations laid by these women and their contemporaries, and it is fitting that their home is the first San Francisco historic landmark dedicated to lesbian history," said Mandelman, who is the only LGBTQ member of the Board of Supervisors and represents the Noe Valley neighborhood where the home is located. "They shared this home for more than half a century and it has clear historic value that should be preserved and celebrated. Early LGBTQ leaders like Phyllis and Del changed the world for the generations of queer people that would follow."

The historic landmark status means that future development and alterations to the home would need special approval from the Historic Preservation Commission, a public process that would provide an opportunity for preservationists and members of the community to weigh in. The ordinance passed today would make the Lyon Martin House only the sixth local historic landmark associated with LGBTQ history in San Francisco, and the first focused on the history of the lesbian community in particular.

The landmarking was prompted by the recent sale of the property where Martin and Lyon lived together and nurtured a movement from 1955 until Martin's death in 2008, and where Lyon remained until her death in April 2020. The home, a 750 square foot cottage atop a steep hill in San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood, sold for $2.25 million in September, along with an adjacent undeveloped lot that was not included in the landmark. The property offers a stunning view of the city skyline and was advertised as "the very last parcel of land atop Noe Valley" and "truly the last of its kind." The centrally located Noe Valley neighborhood has seen a rash of redevelopment in recent years featuring large, luxury homes that routinely sell for $6 million and above and often replace modest homes originally built in the early parts of the 20th century, like the Lyon Martin house.

The sale caught the attention of Shayne Watson, a historian who co-wrote San Francisco's LGBTQ Historic Context Statement in 2016. "I was alarmed when I saw an article about the sale touting how profitable it would be to redevelop the property," recalled Watson. "The Lyon-Martin house is not only one of the most significant queer sites in the city, but a place of international importance — truly a birthplace of LGBTQ-rights movements worldwide."

Lyon and Martin, journalists who met when they were living in Seattle before moving back to San Francisco to live together in 1953, would continue as trailblazers across many social issues. Together, the women founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian rights organization in the United States, which published the nationally-distributed newsletter The Ladder, hosted national conventions, and organized private social gatherings that were the only places for lesbians to gather freely at the time. In 1964, they helped found Citizen Alert, an early policy watchdog program focused on police brutality and unequal law enforcement. In 1976, Martin published Battered Wives, one of the earliest books on domestic violence published in the United States. In 1995, they were appointed to the White House Conference on Aging by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. In 2004, they became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in San Francisco when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the County Clerk to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"For far too long, places that record the achievements of women and the LGBTQ community have been overlooked by official designation programs across the country. The community-driven effort to recognize and protect the home of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin confronts that systemic disparity by shaping a more truthful and inclusive American story," said Christina Morris, manager of the Where Women Made History campaign at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The Lyon-Martin House landmark is a powerful symbol of how these two women's lifetime of activism against discrimination and injustice changed their community for the better and changed the world."

Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), said "NCLR is thrilled to see the longtime residence of lesbian icons Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon receive the historic designation it deserves, making it the first landmark on the West Coast with a lesbian focus. From the more than 50 years of devoted partnership that Phyllis and Del shared in that home, to meetings of key leaders in the LGBTQ movement from the 1950s through marriage equality, their Noe Valley home played a pivotal role in both the lesbian rights and the broader LGBTQ rights movement for many years. It is inspiring to see that history preserved for future generations and to know that their legacy will live on."

The preservation effort was spearheaded by Watson, who brought together historians, friends and former caregivers of Lyon and Martin, and members of the broader queer community to establish the Friends of the Lyon-Martin House in partnership with the GLBT Historical Society. The groups worked with Mandelman to introduce a resolution in September 2020 that initiated the process that culminated in Tuesday's vote to landmark the historic home, following the recommendation of the City's Historic Preservation Commission in February.

"From Shayne Watson's first call to action to now, the landmarking of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin's home has been a model of community activism in the name of historic preservation," said Terry Beswick, Executive Director of the GLBT Historical Society, whose archives include the papers of Lyon and Martin. "Too often, historic LGBTQ sites have been regarded as worthless, and without these concerted efforts, this structure would doubtless be bulldozed into dust. I'm excited to see what we are able to do with the property to commemorate its remarkable history, and while this is the first lesbian-specific site of historic significance to be landmarked in the western United States, I hope there are many more to follow."

This article shared 2632 times since Tue May 4, 2021
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

GAY HISTORY MONTH Putting an end to the myths of Stonewall
Special to Windy City Times. In recognition of Gay History Month, this article appears courtesy of the LGBT History Project and Philadelphia Gay News. For years, people have debated what actually happened that night in June ...

Gay News

GAY HISTORY MONTH In the '60s, drag found a home in San Francisco's Glen Park
Special to Windy City Times. To mark Gay History Month, this article appears courtesy of the Bay Area Reporter. During the '60s most LGBTQ nightlife in San Francisco was centered in the northern neighborhoods of the ...

Gay News

Gavin Newsom chooses Black queer activist to fill Feinstein's Senate seat
California Gov. Gavin Newsom—fulfilling a promise to appoint a Black woman to the seat—tapped queer Democratic strategist Laphonza Butler to fill the Senate post held by the trailblazing Dianne Feinstein, who died on Sept. 29, The ...

Gay News

WORLD African efforts, HIV in Amsterdam, Donatella Versace, 'The Queen in Me'
A new attempt to prevent the recognition of and equal rights for LGBTQ+ people in Kenya through a constitutional amendment has been introduced in Parliament, The Washington Blade reported. The move was in response to this ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ player wins WNBA's MVP Award
Breanna Stewart won her second WNBA MVP award after a career-best scoring season in her first season with the New York Liberty, Yahoo! Sports reported. The WNBA posted on X (formerly Twitter), "Stewie averaged 23.0 PPG, ...

Gay News

Megan Rapinoe receives send-off in last international match
Lesbian soccer icon Megan Rapinoe received a triumphant send-off in her last international match, and the United States beat South Africa 2-0 at Chicago's Soldier Field on Sept. 24, per ABC News. Trinity Rodman and Emily ...

Gay News

Nobody's Darling celebrates expansion into adjoining property with soft opening event
In the little over two years since its opening, Nobody's Darling in Andersonville has emerged as one of the premiere inclusive spaces to gather in Chicago. Nobody's Darling has become so successful that co-owners Angela Barnes ...

Gay News

THEATER Mosaic Players revives 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche
Are suburban Illinois and Wisconsin towns ready to welcome 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche into their churches, synagogues and community colleges? The artists of a Lake County theater company certainly think so. "I was very pleasantly ...

Gay News

Mets honor lesbian baseball icon Maybelle Blair
On Sept. 14 at NYC's Citi Field, the New York Mets recognized the life work of lesbian baseball pioneer Maybelle Blair, 96, with the inaugural Amazin' Mets Foundation Legacy Award, according to a Major League Baseball ...

Gay News

Marge Summit's life to be celebrated Oct. 15
--From a press release - A celebration of the extraordinary life of Marge Summit, the legendary Chicago bar owner, promoter of live music artists, political advocate and much more who passed away on May 16, 2023. Born Sept. 3, 1935 in ...

Gay News

WORLD Quebec lesbians, violence study, Rugby World Cup, Ugandan bill
The hidden history of Quebec lesbians is being explored, the CBC reported. Between 1985 and 1996, a group of lesbians leased the Plateau-Mont-Royal school and ran it as a community center. The school was also home ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Lesbian politician, Nancy Pelosi, bomb threat, politician dies, Lyft
Kathy Kozachenko—the first out politician elected to public office in the country—will be honored with a statue on the 50th anniversary of her historic election, per The Advocate. The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, will honor ...

Gay News

Dykes to Watch Out For Audible series returns listeners to the '80s
By Ro White - From 1983-2008, Alison Bechdel's comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For captured the drama and hilarity of lesbian life. Now it's been adapted into an Audible Original series that draws parallels between the queer past and ...

Gay News

Laura Ricketts talks about Chicago Red Stars deal, investor group, coming out
On Aug. 1, a group of investors led by lesbian Chicago Cubs co-owner/Chicago Sky minority owner Laura Ricketts announced that they had officially took ownership of the Chicago Red Stars National Women's Soccer League franchise. The ...

Gay News

Laura Ricketts-led group of diverse investors buys Chicago Red Stars in $60 million deal
From an Sept. 1 press release: A diverse investor group led by Laura Ricketts and prominent Chicago women business and civic leaders has officially taken ownership of the Chicago Red Stars National Women's Soccer League ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.