Rosalie J. “Nikki” Nichols was born in March 1938. She grew up in Sacramento during the early 50s, the child of a mother with an interest in Freudian psychology and a Kansan farmer father. She became involved with the Daughters of Bilitis in 1956 as a student at UC-Berkeley, while also working on board the Sacramento Valley chapter of the ACLU. She was given the nickname “Nikki” by co-workers of hers whom she happily discovered were gay as well.
Amongst other activist work she has been active in the American Indian movement – including work with the Federated Indians of California, which was started by a family friend. She and a partner published Lesbian Voices starting in 1974, and later owned a bookstore named Ms. Atlas Press. She has also worked as a vocational councilor at a rehab, and has been involved with the Fabian Forum, the Unitarian Church, and NOW.