Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

Lesbian Lives: A Collection of Coming Out Stories

from the Daughters Of Bilitis Video Project Archives

The collected DOB oral histories cover a wide range of lesbian lives. One of the most poignant parts of these recordings is hearing the women's coming out stories. This exhibit collects six such stories, and presents reactions ranging from frustration to surprise to happiness. We hope you enjoy this more personal look at the DOB collections. More stories can be found within the full oral histories here

Barbara Emmerth (1988)

"Growing up in Virginia you didn't know gay was bad because you never heard the word."

Barbara Emmerth was the Executive Director of SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment) beginning in 1988.

Marilyn Lamkay (1987)

"I told my mother, which was a very big deal for me, and she was fabulous. It was unbelievable. I mean, 76 years old..."

Marilyn Lamkay was an assistant professor and student counselor at Bronx Community College. In the 1980s she was a board member of the National Gay Task Force, and she was a a founding member of the East End Gay Organization. 

Nikki Nichols (1987)

"I said, 'Well, I really have no desire to change.'"

Nikki Nichols first became involved with DOB as a student at UC Berkeley in 1956. She published Lesbian Voices starting in 1974, owned a bookstore, Ms. Atlas Press, and has worked with NOW and the Unitarian Church.

Ruth Simpson (1989)

"I was sorry if I hurt him, but I finally found out who I was."

Ruth Simpson was President of the New York chapter of DOB in the early 1970s. She established one of the first lesbian community centers in the United States and wrote From the Closet to the Courts: The Lesbian Transition in 1976. She also produced a weekly television program in Woodstock, NY, Minority Report, which ran from 1982 until shortly before her death in 2008. 

Jean Ko Stewart (1989)

"[My mother] knew what DOB was, actually. She had read about it."

Jean Ko Stewart was Vice President of the Boston chapter of DOB, and was responsible for organizing fundraising dances and concerts. She currently works as a yoga instructor.