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Daughters of Bilitis

The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was formed in San Francisco, California in 1955 by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon along with six other women. It was conceived as an explicitly lesbian alternative to other homophile groups of that era. “Daughters” was meant to evoke association with other American sororal associations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. “Bilitis” is the name given to a fictional lesbian lover of Sappho by the French poet Pierre Louÿs in his 1894 work The Songs of Bilitis.

DOB was influential throughout the 1950s and 1960s but was torn apart by factionalism in the 1970s. Its members split over whether to give more support to the gay rights movement or to feminism. One chapter of DOB survives to this day in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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