Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

LHA Daughters of Bilitis Video Project: Karen Anderson Ryer, 1987


LHA Daughters of Bilitis Video Project: Karen Anderson Ryer, 1987


Karen Anderson Ryer was born in 1945. She grew up in the Midwest and earned several degrees in English literature. Karen came out in 1969 after moving to California, where she became involved with the San Francisco chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis. Living in San Francisco at that time she observed the generational differences between out lesbians, and worked to ensure that the DOB met the needs of all those who came to it.

A self-described “cause fighter,” Karen Anderson Ryer has worked as an attorney and activist for decades. She contributed to and edited Sisters magazine, worked and advocated for lesbian sexual education movies in the 70s, and started Sappho magazine after leaving DOB in late 1972. She has since been a member of other organizations including Bay Area Career Women, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (which took over mailing list from Lesbians in Law), was President for two years of the Human Rights Foundation, and has worked on behalf of other women’s causes like Planned Parenthood.

Collection Items

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    Karen Anderson Ryer discusses her coming out process, and the acceptance of her parents. She talks about butch vs. fem, and changing generational attitudes. Discusses importance of feminism to lesbianism specifically, and differences from gay men’s movement. She details the split of “The Ladder” from the San Francisco chapter from DOB, and how she left to start a new magazine. Also mentions the integration of different lesbian communities – Oakland vs. San Francisco, and the impact of AIDS on the lesbian community.

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