Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

Stella Rush & Helen Sandoz

Stella Rush
Stella Rush was born on April 30, 1925 in Los Angeles, CA. She briefly worked for Firestone Tire and Rubber and was a member of the ACLU. Stella Rush and Helen Sandoz met and fell for each other at a ONE Inc. meeting in Los Angeles in 1957. Del and Phyllis encouraged Sandoz to keep an eye on Rush and make sure she got to the Daughters of Bilitis meetings. Rush started with The Ladder in 1957. She wrote “reports of conferences, seminars and research” for both ONE Magazine and The Ladder. She eventually wrote poetry for The Ladder as well. Stella Rush and Helen Sandoz moved in with each other in 1958. Rush was the Los Angeles Daughters of Bilitis co-founder. When the Los Angeles chapter began, Rush was the first treasurer, a position she held for 6 years. She helped the Daughters of Bilitis connect with organizations ONE and Mattachine. Her final meeting was the convention in Denver in 1968. Rush became very angry when Grier continued sending Sandoz articles and assignments to Sandoz when Sandoz had already quit The Ladder. In 1969, “we had huge fights about that,” she says. “After Denver, we had promised each other that it was our time for ourselves.” That summer they retired from activism. Stella Rush survived Helen Sandoz and lives in Southern California. 

Helen Sandoz 
Helen Sandoz, Stella Rush’s partner, was born on November 2, 1920 in Oregon. After receiving her Bachelor's Degree, she had a supervisory position in department stores in Washington and Oregon. She later became a sign painter because of an accident that would not let her sit for a long time. She discovered the Daughters of Bilitis when she moved to San Francisco. “Sandy” joined the Daughters of Bilitis in 1956, when she also became “Assistant to the Editor” of The Ladder.” When the Daughters of Bilitis received its charter in 1957, Sandy was one of those who signed. She worked for The Ladder and the Daughters of Bilitis for fifteen years, designing covers and reporting on conventions. She became president of the Daughters of Biltis in February 1957. She was also the first president of the Los Angeles Daughters of Bilitis Chapter. She was briefly editor of The Ladder in 1966. She helped Jaffy publicize a study of ‘Attitudes of Mental Health Professionals Toward Homosexuality and Its Treatment’. She wanted nothing to do with NOW, whose goals she applauded, but not their rhetoric. She concentrated on getting rights for both gay men and lesbians. At the end of 1968, she spoke up about supporting “civil rights for all people,” not just homosexuals. “Despite her years of experience in the homophile movement, Sandoz articulated a belief in individual and human rights that crossed generational, racial and sexual lines.” Sandoz died of lung cancer on June 7, 1987 in Anaheim. 

**Gallo, M.M. (2006). Different Daughters—A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Movement. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers An Imprint of Avalon Publishing Group, Inc. 

Saunders, J.M. Stella Rush a.k.a. Sten Russell (1925- ) online. Rush, S. Helen Sandoz a.k.a. Helen Sanders a.k.a. Ben Cat (1920-1987) online