Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

LHA Daughters of Bilitis Video Project: Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin, February 20, 1988


LHA Daughters of Bilitis Video Project: Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin, February 20, 1988


Barbara Gittings
Barbara Gittings, the daughter of a U.S. Diplomat, was born July 31, 1932 in Vienna, Austria. She grew up in Wilmington, DE. Gittings' first exposure to the Daughters of Bilitis was at one of their meetings during the summer of 1956 during a visit to New York. In 1958, Gittings, along with Marion Glass, established the New York chapter of DOB at the request of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Through her involvement with DOB, Gittings met and began dating another member, Kay Lahusen (Tobin) who she worked with on many DOB projects. Gittings took on national responsibilities in 1963 when she became the editor of the DOB publication, The Ladder. Under Gittings' leadership, the distribution of The Ladder increased and drew notice from other homophile groups. Gittings' relationship with DOB and The Ladder soured after a few years when her her editorial decisions began to clash with the expectations of other members. She was asked to leave her position in 1966, and began to pursue other interests in activism and homophile research.

Kay Lahusen (Tobin)
Kay Lahusen (pseudonym Kay Tobin) appears very briefly in this digitized interview. Kay was born on January 5, 1930. She spent her childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Boston as a young adult to work in the reference library at the Christian Science Monitor. Kay became acquainted with DOB through Richard Robertiello after reading his book Voyage to the Lesbos: The Psychoanalysis of a Female Homosexual. She attended her first DOB meeting in 1961, which is where she met Barbara Gittings. She and Gittings began dating and Kay helped lead the East Coast branch of DOB for the next decade. When Gittings became editor of The Ladder, Lahusen contributed to the publication with her photography skills. She created many portraits of lesbians willing to be featured in the magazine and photographed many homophile activities. In 1972 Kay co-wrote The Gay Crusaders with Randy Wicker, based on a series of interviews with gay and lesbian activists.

From Gallo, M. (2006). Different daughters: A history of the Daughers of Bilitis and the rise of the lesbian rights movement. New York: Carroll & Graf. & Gittings, Barbara. (1988, Feb. 20). [Barbara Gittings Transcript]. Daughters of Bilitis Video Project Collection, Lesbian Herstory Archives, Brooklyn, NY.

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