Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mourning Del Martin

Word has come that longtime lesbian activist Del Martin died this morning in San Francisco. She was 87. Her wife and partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, was at her side. They were together almost as long as I have been alive.

I never met Del, but I take this loss personally. She and Phyllis were there for me when I came out, and they did it through their 1972 book Lesbian/Woman.

I'll never forget running into an East Lansing, Mich., bookstore in 1979 and looking around furtively to see if anyone was watching me. My hand shook as I handed over the book and my money to the store clerk. I was scared to even buy a book about lesbians, yet that simple volume taught me that not only is there no shame in living authentically, but it is the most important path a human being can walk.

TerranceDC heard the news at the LGBT Caucus at the Democratic National Convention. He happened to be standing next to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who had performed marriage ceremonies for the couple twice. The second ceremony came on the day same-sex marriag became legal in California. Newsom put their love for each other and their lives in perspective. Here is Terrance's paraphrase of just some of the mayor's comments:
They are two people who defined love and constancy, and defined — to my mind — what marriage is supposed to be about.
Thank you Del for helping to change my life. My heart goes out to Phyllis.

PHOTO: Phyllis Lyon, left, and Del Martin, right, on the day of their first marriage ceremony. The full photo is at the San Francisco Sentinel.

No comments: