The Ladder, October 1956, Vol. 1, No. 1

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Published monthly in San Francisco, California, by the Daughters of Bilitis


President--Del Martin

Vice-President--Tori Fry

Secretary--Ann Ferguson

Treasurer--Pat Hamilton

Trustee--D. Griffin


Editor--Ann Ferguson

Assistant Editor--Tori Fry

Art Editor--BOB

Production Manager--Bobbi Deering

We are sending this first issue to you with our compliments in order to acquaint you with our organization and the work we are doing.

However, in order to help defray publishing expenses we are asking for donations of $1.00 for one year of THE LADDER. If you wish to receive future issues and to help the cause please send in the questionnaire on page 12.

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Just one year ago the Daughters of Bilitis was formed. Eight women gathered together with a vague idea that something should be done about the problems of Lesbians, both within their own group and with the public.

The original idea was mainly that of providing. an out let for social activities, but with discussion came broader purposes and the club was formed with a much wider scope than that originally envisioned, as can be seen from the club "Purpose" on page 4.

The eight charter members, with a constitution, by-laws and a name, started out to find more members. And this has been the biggest problem in this first year.

As our President has so aptly pointed out in her message, "the Lesbian is a very elusive creature". Membership has fluctuated from a low of six to the present 15, and only three of the eight charter members remain. But the basic need for, and validity of, such a club continues, and our membership is growing.

This membership is open to all women over 21 who have a genuine interest in the problems of the female homophile and the related problems of other minorities. Initiation fee is $5 for active and $2.50 for associate members, with monthly dues of $1 for the former and 50¢ for the latter.

The name "Daughters of Bilitis" is taken from "Songs of Bilitis", a narrative love

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poem written by Pierre Louys and published in 1894. Bilitis would seem to have been a contemporary of Sappho on the isle of Lesbos, and the poem is purported to be a translation from the Greek. Although it has been more or less conclusively established that the poem is not authentic, it presents a sensitive and searching picture of Lesbian love.

Our organization is endeavoring to develop a program of interest to all. This includes our monthly public discussion meetings featuring speakers from local business, professional and medical fields; monthly business meetings; and brunches, parties, picnics and beach parties, bowling, horseback riding and other social events.

This newsletter we hope will be a force in uniting the women in working for the common goal of greater personal and social acceptance and understanding. With this first issue we enter a field already ably served by "One" and "Mattachine Review". We offer, however, that so-called "feminine viewpoint" which they have had so much difficulty obtaining. It is to be hoped that our venture will encourage the women to take an ever-increasing part in the steadily-growing fight for understanding of the homophile minority.

Suggestions and constructive criticisms are urgently solicited, as is your support, aid and assistance. Full information may be obtained by writing Post Office Box 2183, San Francisco 26, California.

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1. Education of the variant, with particular emphasis on the psychological and sociological aspects, to enable her to understand herself and make her adjustment to society in all its social, civic and economic implications by establishing and maintaining a library of both fiction and nonfiction on the sex deviant theme; by sponsoring public discussions on pertinent subjects to be conducted by leading members of the legal, psychiatric, religious and other professions; by advocating a mode of behaviour and dress acceptable to society.

2. Education of the public through acceptance first of the individual, leading to an eventual breakdown of erroneous conceptions, taboos and prejudices; through public discussion meetings; through dissemination of educational literature on the homosexual theme.

3. Participation in research projects by duly authorized and responsible psychology sociology and other such experts directed towards further knowledge of the homosexual.

4. Investigation of the penal code as it pertains to the homosexual, proposal of changes to provide an equitable handling of cases involving this minority group, and promotion of these changes through due process of law in the state legislatures.

The Daughters of Bilitis is not now, and never has been, affiliated with any other organization, political, social or otherwise.

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Sunday, Sept. 30--Picnic at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. $1.00. Transportation and food will be provided. Reservations must be made by Friday night, September 28 Phone Plaza 6-3382.

Thursday, Oct. 11--Business Meeting and election of officers. Members only. 60 Los Olivos, Daly City, at 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 13--Bowling. 7 p.m. at the Sports Center, 30th & Mission. Meet at the coffee counter.

Tuesday, Oct. 23--Panel discussion at 465 Geary St., Studio 51, at 8:15 p.m. Subject will be "What Are You Afraid Of?", the first in a series of discussions on Lesbian fears--both real and imaginary. On the panel will be Pat Hamilton and Del Martin, Dr. Vera Plunkett will act as moderator.

Saturday, Oct. 27--Halloween Party at 651 Duncan St, at 8 p.m. $1.50 per person. Refreshments provided, Phone your reservation (Valencia 4-2790) by Friday night, Oct. 26.

Guests will be more than welcome to all events except the meeting on Oct. 11. The picnic on Sept. 30 will be an excellent opportunity for newcomers to get acquainted and to learn more about our group. The discussion meeting will be the first of a series to bring FEAR into the open and deal with it. Future speakers will include a lawyer, social worker, psychiatrist, and others.

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Since 1950 there has been a nationwide movement to bring understanding to and about the homosexual minority.

Most of the organizations dedicated to this purpose stem from the Mattachine Foundation which was founded in Los Angeles at that time. Members of these organizations The Mattachine Society, One, and National Association for Sexual Research--are predominantly male, although there are a few hard working women among their ranks.

The Daughters of Bilitis is a women's organization resolved to add the feminine voice and viewpoint to a mutual problem. While women may not have so much difficulty with law enforcement, their problems are none the less real--family, sometimes children, employment, social acceptance.

However, the Lesbian is a very elusive creature. She burrows underground in her fear of identification. She is cautious in her associations. Current modes in hair style and casual attire have enabled her to camouflage her existence. She claims she does not need help. And she will not risk her tight little fist of security to aid those who do.

But surely the ground work has been well laid in the past 5 1/2 years. Homosexuality is not the dirty word it used to be. More and more people, professional and lay, are becoming aware of its meaning and implications. There is no longer so much "risk" in becoming associated with

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And why not "belong"? Many heterosexuals do. Membership is open to anyone who is interested in the minority problems of the sexual variant and does not necessarily indicate one 's own sex preference.

Women have taken a beating through the centuries. It has been only in this 20th, through the courageous crusade of the Suffragettes and the influx of women into the business world, that woman has become an independent entity, an individual with the right to vote and the right to a job and economic security. But it took women with foresight and determination to attain this heritage which is now ours.

And what will be the lot of the future Lesbian? Fear? Scorn? This need not be-- IF lethargy is supplanted by an energized constructive program, if cowardice gives way to the solidarity of a cooperative front, if the "let Georgia do it" attitude is replaced by the realization of individual responsibility in thwarting the evils of ignorance, superstition, prejudice, and bigotry.

Nothing was over accomplished by hiding in a dark corner. Why not discard the hermitage for the heritage that awaits any red-blooded American woman who dares to claim it?

Del Martin, President
Daughters of Bilitis

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San Francisco

Plenty of sympathy and good strong coffee are served up by Theatre Arts at 1725 Washington St. in their presentation of Robert Anderson's "Tea and Sympathy".

The plight of a sensitive boy in a New England private school who is accused of homosexuality is expertly and sympathetically portrayed to receptive audiences. But more than sympathy is the rapport felt between cast, story and audience--the ultimate of a production well staged.

Following the final curtain the audience is invited to join the company in an informal reception over "coffee".

Because the play has been so well received, the production will extend into October with performances Thursday, Friday and Sunday nights at 8:30 and twice on Saturday at 8:00 and 10:30.

This production should be on your "must" list. Don't miss it.

While the advertising and "titles" are most misleading and erroneous, the "Well of Loneliness" and/or "Pit of Loneliness", movie at the Cinema on Market St. is a rather good adaptation of the book, "Olivia", published in 1949 by William Sloane Associates. It is a French movie of a young girl's attachment to the head mistress of a finishing school.

Los Angeles

Showing at Coronet September 25 and 26 at 7:45 p.m. is the German classic,

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"Maedchen in Uniform" (1931), a psychological study of a school girl's crush on her teacher. According to Coronet Adletter, "The theme of Lesbianism is handled with great poignancy, and the full blame for any abnormality is attributed to a system which deprives youth of its natural need of affection".

Readings for the Player's Ring production of "The Children's Hour" are still under way. This is the controversial play of a few years ago concerned with the repressed Lesbian relationship of two head-mistresses of a private school.


This here to for untouched subject has been broached by members of the Daughters of Bilitis in several discussion sessions, one of which was led by Faith Rossiter, psychotherapist It is surprising to learn how many women are raising children in a deviant relationship (we have also learned of instances where men are undertaking this responsibility too).

To be of any assistance to those who are meeting this problem, we need more data and more research into the various facets of such a relationship. If you are interested or if you can help us in this project, please let us hear from you.

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With the aid of a young woman from Philadelphia who has some 70 odd titles in her personal collection of fiction on the Lesbian theme, the Daughters of Bilitis are compiling a bibliography to be published in future issues of The Ladder.

Do you have any books in your collection that serve only the purpose of gathering dust? We want old books--any old books. Those on the homosexual theme will be added to the library now maintained in San Francisco. The others will be turned over to book dealers for credit on titles needed to round out the library collection. Because of lack of funds, the library is almost entirely dependent on your donations...

We need manuscripts (both fiction and nonfiction) by and about women to correct erroneous conceptions--to depict Lesbianism as it is not as is supposed.

In future issues a regular department for book reviews will be published in The Ladder.

Another subject we would like more information on concerns women whose families are aware of their deviate tendencies. So many of us question the advisability of telling the family. Can you help or advise?

Reader comment will be appreciated. Write P.O Box 2183, San Francisco, California.

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The sentiments of the members of the Daughters of Bilitis can best be expressed by the following tribute published as a Letter to the Editor in the "San Francisco Examiner":

"...In the passing of Dr. Alfred Kinsey the world has lost an outstanding scientist and a champion of human freedom and happiness. The cause of enlightenment has suffered a grievous loss. The powers of darkness and superstition and the enemies of science may well rejoice.

"Kinsey's work will go on under the guidance of his able associates. Those on the side of human progress will wish them well.

"To paraphrase Churchill: Rarely have so many benefited so much by the work of one man. He truly gave his life to his work.

San Francisco"

The Daughters of Bilitis is anxious to hear from any professional people desiring further information regarding our activities; from researchers planning projects on our subject, or with projects underway. We wish to cooperate in any way possible to further knowledge of the Lesbian.

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1. How can our organization help you?

2. Are you primarily interested in discussion meetings, publications, social service, social function, Sports?

3. On what topics would you like to hear leaders in the fields of psychiatry, law, psychology, sociology, business and the clergy speak?

4. Have you any suggestions as to whom we should get as speakers?

I wish to join Daughters of Bilitis_____

Enclosed is $1.00 for 1 year of THE LADER______

I am 21 years of age or over.


Address_____ _____

Phone _____

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The Ladder, November 1956, Vol. 1, No. 2

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Published monthly by
Daughters of Bilitis
Post Office Box 2183
San Francisco, Calif.


President--D. Griffin

Vice-President--Del Martin

Secretary--Jean. Peterson

Treasurer--Put Hamilton

Publications Director--Ann Ferguson


Editor--Ann Ferguson

Assistant Editor--Tori Fry

Art Editor--BOB

Production Manager--Bobbi Deering

In order to help defray publishing expenses we are asking for donations of $1.00 for one year of THE LADDER. If you wish to receive fixture issues and to help the cause please send in the coupon on page 12.

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I wish to thank all those who wrote to us sending in their donations, comments and suggestions.

I was somewhat dismayed by those who did not wish to be on "the mailing list of an organization such as this".

In 1953 there was a Supreme Court decision upholding the right of a publisher to withhold his subscription list from a Congressional investigating committee. For details, see the article in this issue, "Your Name Is Safe".

Therefore your names on our mailing list are legally protected and you have naught to fear.

I would like to go back to the second paragraph which states--"an organization such as this"--Such as this?

I personally know the lass who wrote those words. In a later paragraph of her letter she gave me the details of all the gay bars in a certain city. She frequents these bars and apparently is not afraid to be seen in them. Yet, she doesn't want her name on our mailing list. Sound logical?

Let me again state that this is a homosexual and heterosexual organization that wishes to enlighten the public about the Lesbian and to teach them that we aren't the monsters that they depict us to be.

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I must also go back to her letter in which she states "... but the kids in fly- front pants and with the butch haircuts and mannish manner are the worst publicity that we can get."

Very true. Our organization has already touched on that matter and has converted a few to remembering that they are women first and a butch or fem secondly, so their attire should be that which society will accept. Contrary to belief, we have shown them that there is a place for them in society, but only if they wish to make it so. They now do.

I quote from one of our "changelings". "I find that because now I am wearing women's slacks and letting my hair grow long I am getting a wider variety of friends and I have neighbors Instead of people next door. I no longer have the feeling that everyone is watching me."

So you see, we are progressing in that field as in others. It's slow, yes, but the new members we have gained just since our first issue of The Ladder have recognized the need for help and they are offering to aid us in any way they can.

A few people cannot educate the public and themselves but many can. Give us those thoughts which have been lolling in your brain. Your name needn't be signed to your letter, nor printed.

Your innermost desire is to be "recognized". Well, you won't by thinking, but by doing. We have started the ball rolling How about pushing it?

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The very great majority of homosexual acts do nothing to destroy the social structure or to disrupt the family, Dr. Norman Reider, chief of psychiatry at Mt. Zion Hospital, San Francisco, recently stated.

Speaking before the California Academy of General Practice in Los Angeles, Dr. Reider declared his belief that modern laws against homosexuals are largely unfair, unjustified and ineffective

Noting that present attitudes and laws affecting sexual behavior stem largely from old religious traditions, he declared that "sin is confused with crime". The vague and confused laws governing sexual behavior, he said, do little to help society and instead "give police a dangerous discretionary power."

The confusion in the law books is matched by a similar confusion in the medical books, and there is no complete agreement on the causes of homosexuality or on the best treatments, he said. Dr. Redder added that certainly neither punishment nor ridicule has any helpful effect.

Medical men are now learning that some homosexuals can be helped by psychiatry, and perhaps few have actually been cured.

The noted psychiatrist called for greater understanding on the part of the medical profession. When homosexuals seek medical help they usually need the services of a skilled and experienced psychiatrist but some will accept treatment only from a family physician. In either case, he said, "the doctor must not talk to the homosexual as if homosexuality were a sin."

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Friday night, Sept. 21, San Francisco police raided the Alamo Club, popularly known as Kelly's. Hauled into the city jail and booked on the charge of frequenting a house of ill repute were a reported 36 women.

At the hearing the following Monday we understand only four of those arrested pleaded not guilty. We feel that this was not due to actual guilt on the part of those so pleading but to an appalling lack of knowledge of the rights of a citizen in such as case.

To combat this lack, and in answer to many queries we have received, The Ladder next month will print "What To Do In Case of Arrest".

The raid at Kelly's, plus other police activity in San Francisco, decided us to change the topic of the Oct. 23 discussion meeting.

Attorney Benjamin M. Davis, when apprised of the number pleading guilty after the raid, volunteered to speak. He will discuss "The Lesbian and The Law", with special emphasis on a citizen's rights in case of arrest.

We urge everyone to make a special effort to attend this meeting, which is an attempt to remedy the lack of knowledge which has become so evident. The meeting will begin at 8:15 p.m. in Studio 51 at 465 Geary St., San Francisco.

"Never Plead Guilty" is more than the title of Jake Ehrlich's book; it is advice to be remembered.

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Tuesday, Oct. 23--Attorney. Benjamin M. Davis will speak on. "The Lesbian and The Law" at 465 Geary St., Studio 51, at 8:15 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 27--Halloween party at 651 Duncan St. at 3 p.m. 51.50 donation per person includes refreshments. Phone reservations (Valencia 4-2790) by Friday night, Oct. 26.

Thursday, Nov. 8--Monthly business meeting at 1030-D Steiner St., 8 p.m. Everybody Welcome.

Saturday, Nov. 17--Bowling, 7 p.m. at the Sports Center, 30th & Mission, meet at the coffee counter.

Sunday, Nov. 25--Brunch at 651 Duncan St., 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come end get acquainted. A $1.00 donation per person. Reservations should be made by Friday, Nov. 23, to Valencia 4-2790.

Tuesday, Nov. 27--Panel discussion at 465. Geary St., Studio 51, 8:15 p.m. Subject will be "What Are You Afraid Of?", the first in a series of discussions on Lesbian fears--both real and imaginary. On the panel will be Pat Hamilton and Del Martin. Dr. Vera Plunkett will act as moderator.

We welcome any suggestions and/or additions to our schedule of activities. There is room for all interests and talents.--Ed.

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Why not give The Ladder to a friend for Christmas? Or send it to your parents, minister, a doctor or lawyer Just tell us it is a gift and we'll enclose a card-- with or without your name.

In the Christmas issue we are planning to run fiction and poetry. Your manuscripts will be most welcome.


We are happy to say the response to the first edition of The Ladder has been tremendous. We have gained many readers, members and monetary donations as well as books, clippings and newspapers. We are indeed grateful.


A New York telecast (WRCA--TV) on the subject of homosexuality August 4 was so well received that two more programs were scheduled "Homosexuality: the Psychological Approach", Sept. 29; "Homosexuality: the Cultural Approach", date to be announced.

The round table discussion on this truly-named "Open Mind" series was led by Richard Heffener. Guests were Dr. Robert Laidlaw, psychiatrist; Florence Kelley, lawyer, and Dr. Arthur Swift, minister and department head, the New School for Social Research. The intelligent and unbiased treatment of the subject by those panelists is to be commended.

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Certainly there is a marked reaction of fear arid retrenchment among the Lesbian population of San Francisco after the recent raid of The Alamo Club, popularly known as Kelly's.

A paralyzing fear has been heaped upon an ever present dread of detection The persecuted are seeking cover once again. The innocent are convinced of their guilt. The tolerant become intolerant of their fellows. Growth is stultified by a sludge of misunderstanding.

Where will it lead? To a miserable half-existence of apprehension, self-pity, cynicism, hopelessness and paralysis? In some cases, perhaps.


Examine the facts. The Lesbian is a woman endowed with all the attributes of any other woman. As an individual she has her own particular quota of intelligence and physical charm. She has equal opportunity for education, employment, intellectual and cultural pursuits. Her only difference lies in her choice of a love partner.

To the uninformed this difference may constitute "a sin against nature", with all its moral and legal implications. To the informed this difference merely means another form of individual adjustment to self and society.

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The salvation of the Lesbian lies in her acceptance of herself without guilt or anxiety, in her awareness of her capabilities and her limitations, and in her pursuit of a constructive way of life without misgivings or apology.

To seek others like herself is only natural. However, it is often times this problem of meeting others that leads the Lesbian into circumstances and places, not particularly of her taste or choice, which may expose her vulnerability to prejudice and suspicion.

The Daughters of Bilitis is an organization which offers the Lesbian an outlet in meeting others. She can talk over her problems with people versed in experience and study of her nature. She can relax in an atmosphere of understanding. There is room for every talent and interest--education (both of the homosexual and of the public), group therapy, public relations, social activities, publications, social service, research. Whatever the interest there is work to be done and fun to be had.

Only by constructive thinking and a program of definite direction can the Lesbian find her niche in society. As she thinks positively, so will she act--and so will society react. Negative thinking breeds only trouble and inertia. It helps to nourish prejudice and bigotry.

Don't listen to what "they" say-- what do YOU say?


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Your Name is Safe!

Already, with only one issue of The Ladder published, we have run up against the fear that names on our mailing list may fall into the wrong hands, or that by indicating interest in this magazine a person will automatically be labeled a homosexual.

This is not so.

Donors to The Ladder include many people from the professions--lawyers, social workers, psychiatrists, businessmen--as well as the numerous individuals who are interested in the problem, either from a personal or intellectual standpoint.

Daughters of Bilitis is not outside the law-- we advocate no illegal actions by anyone. It is an organization solely dedicated to education and research with reference primarily to the Lesbian and secondarily to the entire subject of sexual variancy.

The organization has obtained legal counsel on all phases of its operation, and within the very near future will file for incorporation under the laws of the State of California.

As stated, our aims are simple. We are not a political organization, nor are we affiliated in any way with any group either of the past or present. It is true that we are very

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deeply indebted for the advice and assistance afforded us both by the Mattachine Society, Inc., and One, Inc., but we are an organization distinct from both of them.

Your donation of $1.00 which entitles you to receive The Ladder for one year, means just that. It indicates your interest in a problem which is receiving more and more nationwide attention every month--it does not "label" you. Your name on our mailing list is as inviolate as the provisions of the Constitution of the United States can make it.

Our Constitution guarantees Freedom of the Press, which includes the right of all citizens to buy the books, magazines, newspapers and other publications they wish so long as these do not advocate overthrow of our government and certain other basic illegalities.

In 1953, in the case of the U.S. vs. Rumely (345 U.S. 41, 56-57) the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the right of a citizen to refuse to reveal the names of purchasers of reading material to a Congressional investigating committee.

In a brilliant majority opinion, Justice William O. Douglas said "We have here a publisher who, through books and pamphlets, seeks to reach the minds and hearts of the American people... Like the publishers of newspapers, magazines or books, this publisher bids for the minds of men in the market-place of idea ...

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"The command that 'Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech or of the press' has behind it a long history. It expresses the confidence that the safety of society depends on the tolerance of Government for hostile as well as friendly criticism, that in a community where men's minds are free, there must be room for the unorthodox as well as the orthodox views.

"Once the Government can demand of a publisher the names of the purchasers of his publications, the free press as we know it disappears. Then the specter of a Government agent will look over the shoulder of everyone who reads."

This Supreme Court decision points the way to even stronger safeguards of a free press, a freedom which is a basic necessity of the democratic way.

The decision also guarantees that your name is safe!

--Ann Ferguson

I wish to join Daughters of Bilitis_____

Enclosed is $1.00 for THE LADDER_____

I am 21 years of age or over.


Address_____ _____

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"Congratulations on The Ladder. Find enclosed my $1.00 to help the cause. Wish it could be more, but though I can't give more personal financial help I can and will do all in my power (thru ONE and personally) to further your endeavor.

"We plan to tell all women writing to ONE of the Daughters and of The Ladder. I hope to have an editorial on it in the next issue.

"Best wishes for your success."

Ann Carll Reid
Editor, One Magazine
232 South Hill St.
Los Angeles, Calif.

"Please enroll me as an associate member. Enclosed is the membership fee and dues for one year... My family happens to be one of the very understanding ones.

M. S., San Francisco

"How about a poetry page in your publication? I might contribute some of mine for consideration ..."

M. R., San Francisco

Send them along. -Ed.

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"I cannot tell you what a source of both inspiration and pleasure The Ladder contained for me within its pages. I, as an invert, can only know of what momentous importance such a movement as yours can mean, for the ultimate good of all of us.

"Like so many others ... I am living a completely repressed existence, sublimating my nature, whenever possible, in my profession.

"One of the insertions in The Ladder caught my attention and I could not help but muse over it with some irony. The part about 'Come out of hiding'. What a delicious invitation, but oh, so impractical. I should lose my job, a marvelous heterosexual roommate, and all chance of finding work ...I would be blackballed all over the city.

"I am interested-very much interested in becoming a member of the Daughters of Bilitis. Although at present discretion prevents me from making any moves to help the cause ... there is one very effective weapon we, who must fight from a hiding place, still have--the fountain pen and the typewriter."

J. M., Cleveland, Ohio

Money helps, too. -Ed.

"I am very much in sympathy with your efforts and hope this organization will succeed in a big way."

M. W., Hamden, Conn.

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"...so you have embarked upon THE crusade. Your very stirring Message made quite an issue in this household.

"The title of your group is quite apropos, the title of the publication has a. wealth of meaning. Your purpose is, of course, foremost, and I'm sure I am one of many who wish it boundless success. But, unfortunately, there is a 'but', the immediate thought is 'are they ready for It yet?' No doubt this has been hashed over in many executive sessions before your group took the step toward publication. Though I was never one to take an. ostrich view of things, still I must hesitate when such things as our way of life get down to a black and white state of things--in print yet! Though your little mag is one of a few on the subject, still doubts do present themselves--at least to this one.

"At any rate, put me on the list just for what it's worth.... And may the next rung of The Ladder be a large step in the progress of your undertaking".

T.F., Seattle, Wash.

"Thank you for Volume 1, Number 1 of The Ladder. It is a welcome addition to our library and we are interested in receiving all subsequent issues."

Paul H. Gebhard, Exec. Dir.
Institute for Sex Research
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

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"I would be interested to be of service to your members if there are any ways you might find in the future. The 'elusive female variant' does not seem to avail herself of psychotherapy to any degree compared to the male. This is one project that I would be particularly interested in pursuing.

"... Wishing you success with your venture, I remain

Dr. Chas. W. Norton
San Francisco, Calif.

"...There are so many problems we must face, and it seems to me that an organization such as this would be of the utmost help to us. The wisdom of others who have solved problems similar to our own should be of inestimable value. Heaven knows, the world is full of people who don't understand, and we who do understand should try to make life easier for one another. To be sure, my own problems may be insurmountable, but I may be able to help someone else with theirs."

A. S., San Jose, Calif.



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The Ladder, December 1956, Vol. 1, No. 3

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Published monthly in San Francisco, California by The Daughters of Bilitis P. O. Box 2183


President--D. Griffin

Vice President--Del Martin

Secretary--Jean Peterson

Treasurer--Pat Hamilton

Publication Director--Ann Ferguson


Editor--Ann Ferguson

Assistant--Helen Sanders

Art Editor--BOB

Production Manager--Bobbi Deming

In order to help defray publishing expenses, we are asking for donations of $1.00 for one year of THE LADDER. If you wish to receive future issues and to help the cause, please send in the coupon on the back page.


1. Education of the variant, with particular emphasis on the psychological and sociological aspects, to enable her to understand herself and make her adjustment to society in all its social, civic and economic implications by establishing and maintaining a library of both fiction and non-fiction on the sex-deviant theme; by sponsoring public discussions on pertinent subjects to be conducted by leading members of the legal, psychiatric, religious and other professions; by advocating a mode of behavior and dress acceptable to society.

2. Education of the public through acceptance first

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of the individual, leading to an eventual breakdown of erroneous conceptions, taboos and prejudices; through public discussion meetings, through dissemination of educational literature on the homosexual theme.

3. Participation in research projects by duly authorized and responsible psychology, sociology and other such experts directed towards further knowledge of the homosexual.

4. Investigation of the penal code as it pertains to the homosexual, proposal of changes to provide an equitable handling of cases involving this minority group and promotion of these changes through due process of lay in the State Legislature.

The Daughters of Bilitis is not now, and never has been, affiliated with any other organization, political, social or otherwise.

SOLD OUT!! The demand for the first and second issues of THE LADDER has been too much for us at this time. We hope that in the near future we may be able to re-run a few copies for those of you who missed the "first edition."


"DON'T PLEAD GUILTY" was the recurrent theme that was sounded by San Francisco attorney, Ben Davis at the first public discussion meeting held by this organization in October. Mr. Davis stresses three primary rules to remember if ever arrested: Don't plead guilty; call your attorney; don't volunteer information--in fact, don't talk to anyone about anything. The gist of Mr. Davis' talk is concisely presented in the following information published by the National Association for Sexual Research;


1. An officer cannot arrest you without a warrant unless you have committed a crime in his presence or he has reasonable grounds to believe that you

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have committed a felony. (Calif. PC 836)

2. If he has a warrant, ask to see it and read it carefully. If you are arrested without a warrant, ask what the charge is.

3. You are not required to answer any questions. You may, but do not have to give your name and address. If you are accused of a crime of which you are innocent, deny the charge. Go along, but under protest. Do not resist physically.

4. Do not sign anything. Take the badge numbers of the arresting officers.

5. If you are taken to jail, ask when you are booked what the charges are and whether they are misdemeanor or felony charges.

6. Insist on using the telephone to contact your lawyer or family.

7. You have the right to be released on bail for most offenses. Have your attorney make the arrangements or ask for a bail bondsman.

8. After an arrest without a warrant, a person must without unnecessary delay, be taken before the most accessible magistrate in the area where the arrest is made. The magistrate must hear the complaint and set bail. (Calif. PC 849)

9. Report any instances of police brutality which you observe to your attorney.

10. If you do not have an attorney by the time you are brought before a judge to plead, ask for additional time to obtain an attorney; or if this is not possible, plead not guilty and demand a trial by jury.

11. You are entitled to a written statement of the charges against you before you are required to enter a plea.

12. You are not required to testify against yourself in any trial or hearing. (5th Amendment, U. S. Constitution)

13. If you are questioned by any law enforcement officer including the FBI, remember that you are

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required to answer any questions concerning yourself or others. (5th Amendment, U. S. Constitution)


Tuesday, Nov. 27 --Panel discussion of 465 Geary St., Studio 51 (5th floor), 8:15 p.m. Subject will be "WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?"--the first of a series of discussions of Lesbian fears--both real and imaginary. On the panel will be Pat Hamilton, Helen Sanders and Del Martin. Dr. Vera Plunkett will act as moderator.
Thursday, Dec. 13 --Monthly business meeting at 1030-D Steiner St., 8 p.m. The group welcomes prospective members who wish to attend.
Tuesday, Dec. 18 --Basil Vaerlen, San Francisco psychotherapist, will continue the discussions on fear from the psychological viewpoint, speaking on "Must We Have Fear?" The meeting will be held at 465 Geary St., Studio 51 (5th floor) at 8:15 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 31 --Come and welcome the New Year at the Daughters' annual New Year's Eve Party. A $1.50 donation per person will insure you a memorable evening. The place is 651 Duncan St., the time 8:30 p.m. Please phone for reservations by Sunday, Dec. 30. (Valencia 4-2790)


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HOMOSEXUALS TODAY--1956--A Handbook of Organizations and Publications. Published by ONE, INC., Los Angeles, Calif. Marvin Cutler, Editor.

"The emergence of homosexuals in the open arena of 20th Century affairs is a dramatic and challenging story of the times" and is eloquently told in this handy reference work on organizations and publications by and for homosexuals.

The history of the Mattachine movement, which began in 1950 with the Mattachine Foundation and branched into three distinct groups: the Mattachine Society, Inc.; One, Inc., and the National Association for Sexual Research, Inc.--is presented in detail.

To read of the work and progress of these organizations, with their dedicated aims and purposes should be truly enlightening to those readers of THE LADDER who still have doubts and reservations concerning the time and the wisdom of pursuing the fight for full citizenship for members of the homosexual minority.

"Vice Versa," the first known publication designed for Lesbian readers, is included in the chapter devoted to other U.S. organizations and publications. Remarkably, this monthly, published in Los Angeles, from 1947-48, was a one-woman organization. The task of editing, production and circulation became too great for one person, and the magazine ceased publication after nine issues.

Space in this chapter is also devoted to the Daughters of Bilitis with a history of the group written by Del Martin, president, Oct., 1955, to Oct., 1956. At deadline time for "Homosexuals Today" the first issue of THE LADDER had not yet been published and so appears as a proposed monthly news letter.

Part II is devoted to a study of the homosexual movement in foreign countries. Of particular interest is the International Committee for Sexual Equality composed of representatives from organizations, publications and national groups in 30 different

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countries. Every other year an International Congress is held, the latest in Paris, Nov. 11-14, 1955. American organizations holding membership in the ICSE are One, Inc., and the Mattachine Society, Inc. In addition there are a number of members-at-large in the United States.

"Vennen," a monthly published in Copenhagen, Denmark since January, 1949, became involved in legal difficulties because some of the advertising exceeded in tone the freedoms by other European magazines. Control of the magazine has since been turned over to women and editorship passed to Mrs. Lie Nanche, who is endeavoring to continue publication and improve the quality.

While "Der Kries," published monthly in Zurich, Switzerland, since 1932 is now backed by an exclusively male group, it is interesting to note that a Swiss woman, Mammina, was sole editor from 1932 to 1941.

It is estimated that on the homosexual theme, some 75,000 persons are reading, thinking, discussing, studying, attending meetings and certainly spread their influence to a still larger circle. It is clear that this central core of dedicated organization members, writers, artists and a body of followers already of substantial number, constitute a 20th Century phenomenon of truly significant implications.

"Homosexuals Today" is a well written, attractively presented book that should be a must in you personal library. It is highly recommended by THE LADDER as an expression of the ideals, the hopes and the aspirations of a minority group that has ceased to run. Issues are being faced squarely by responsible men and women. Read and take heart. Read and consider, for you, too, can and should become a part of this undertaking.

Copies may be ordered from ONE, Inc., 232 South Hill St., Los Angeles 12, Calif. Price is $3.00 plus 20¢ for shipping with 3% sales tax in Calif., 4% in Los Angeles. Orders should be accompanied with a signed statement that the recipient is 21 years of age or over.

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I walk alone the San Francisco streets,
The fog-muffled, rain-wet thoroughfares
And know my own peculiar pleasure.
There is beauty in bracing the opposite-rushing crowd,
Adventure in the not-knowing and in
Looking upon narrow unfamiliar streets,
Passing unknown dimly perceived doors
Leading to adventures unsavored.

No one knows when I pass their world
For I am outside, unseen, anonymous
As a ghost under the mist-rimmed lights.

I see the women beckoning beside the open doors
And I see the stranger who answers,
I pass the golden-skinned women
Who slide on slippered feet
And the bright-eyed brown men
Who walk in pride as in their own land.

I see the handsome boys who walk
Hand linked to hand and
I see the girls with blank eyes
Who walk unseeing in the night.
I hear the bells that ring, but
Ring not for me; I see the stranger
And the lost who look but see me not,
For I am stranger yet than all of these.

We welcome any suggestions and/or additions to our schedule of activities and we need literary contributions. We need manuscripts, both "fiction and non-fiction by and about women to correct erroneous conceptions--to depict Lesbianism as it is, not as is supposed. Write P. O. Box 2183, San Francisco, Calif.

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The day had been unusually difficult. The doubts and indecisions of the past week had nagged at the edges of her consciousness until she had been forced to work automatically, using all her will power to keep her thoughts in check. By 5:00 she was exhausted.

As she walked the few blocks to the bus stop, she concentrated on regaining some amount of self control. She was so engrossed in her "am I, am I not" trend of thought that without quite realizing it she noticed her bus nearing the stop and weighed the worth of running to catch it or waiting for a later one.

Suddenly, out of the throng before her, a girl with gorgeous red-gold cropped hair darted into the bus. Almost against her will, she speeded up, barely clearing the closing doors. She stood before the meter, breathless and without change. As she fumbled for a seat, she looked hastily around. Again unwillingly, she found herself taking the seat from which she could best see the girl with the red hair. And there she sat; miserable, confused, one moment near tears, the next near laughter, eyes straight ahead, with a terrible feeling of flushed excitement.

The bus made several stops before she had courage to glance again at the girl. Great God! She was looking straight at her! Oh dear, she thought, is it that obvious? Everyone on this bus must know what I am--but am I? Is she? Furtively she surveyed the girl again. Beautiful skin--not pretty --but that wonderful hair. She looks so young, so sure, so poised. And I am all flustered and must look like a lecher.

She glanced at the other passengers. A woman across the aisle was staring at her with marked disapproval. Does it show, she wondered. Surely

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they can't read my thoughts--and I have been very careful not to give any clues in my actions--but have I? Good heavens, she suddenly realized--I don't know how they act--I've never observed that closely. I've seen the obvious ones whom anyone could spot, but I should think it would be something like a fraternity handshake--if you were discreet only one of your own kind could recognize you.

Somehow the thought comforted her and she found courage to gaze at the girl with red hair again. After all, she thought, I could be just admiring her hair. I used to do things like that in the blissful past, when I was unaware of all this and of my attitude toward it. I've always had a keen appreciation of the beautiful. Why must everything be so suddenly changed and terrifying? I must get out of this--I'll ring the buzzer right now. I Can't stand this any longer. What if she gets off at my stop? I can imagine myself being forced to follow her if she gets off first. Oh, God, I hope she rides past my stop! In this mood I'm perfectly capable of following her--and then what would I say? Is this your stop, too? My, you have beautiful hair--are you one of us? Aw I one of you? O, merciful God, what has happened to me? This is the evil of unprejudiced thinking--of the tolerant mind. One must have a safeguard of terror to keep oneself in leash. Yet, can I deny my heritage --can I refuse to recognize myself? Isn't self knowledge my avowed code--the goal to strive for--the greatest goal?

Suddenly she realized her stop was next. The bus was almost there. She rang the buzzer and rushed frantically for the door, stumbling as she was propelled to the sidewalk. Then, as the bus moved onward, she turned, overwhelmed with the sorrow of her loss. She ran after it a few steps, yearning for the girl with the red hair. She stood gazing into the darkness for a time. The rain began to fall. Slowly then, she turned homeward.

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"There, that does it!"

The handmade gold star glittered from the top of the tree. Charlie clattered down from the chair. Sue snapped the switch.

The two girls stood back, arm in arm, to admire their first Christmas tree.

"It's beautiful," Sue murmured.

Charlie gave her a quick squeeze. She reached for a tiny package on the mantle and placed it on a lower limb of the tree.

"It may be small in size, but not in sentiment."

"How sweet of you, honey! What is it? When can I open it?"

With Sue this year Christmas would be like the ones she remembered as a child, Charlie thought. It had been years since she'd been at all excited about the holidays. They had been to her something to endure rather than enjoy. But Sue's enthusiasm and childlike anticipation were effervescent, and Charlie was actually becoming a reformed Scrooge.

"I don't know. When do you think we should open our presents?" Charlie grinned.

"We always open them on Christmas morning at home, before breakfast," Sue said.

"Well, I guess we should have our own Christmas here the night before."

"But I'm expected at my folks' in Christmas Eve, "Sue exclaimed. "My sister and her husband are going to Berkeley for Christmas dinner, so the only time we can all get together is Christmas Eve."

Charlie's high spirits curdled into a hard lump in the pit of her stomach. She sighed, "I had thought we'd have Christmas Eve to ourselves and then go to

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our respective parents' on Christmas Day." "But, gosh, Charlie, it wouldn't be Christmas without the whole family being together."

"Well, you will be on Christmas Eve, so why can't we have Christmas morning together?"

"Because Christmas breakfast is a tradition with our family. Mother'd flip her lid if I wasn't there. As a matter of fact, she'll probably want me to stay the night."

Charlie slumped into the overstuffed chair, "Families! What about our family....you and me? Don't we count?"

Sue perched on the arm of the chair and ruffled the wave in Charlie's hair. "Let's not get into a huff. We'll work it out some way--really, darling."

For the five days until Christmas eve Charlie thought, brooded, plotted to no avail. She simply couldn't resolve the situation. She wanted to spend Christmas with Sue, but there were the two families, each with their own demands. What she wanted had little to do with what would be. Sue just accepted things as if it didn't matter. And Charlie was beginning to think it didn't matter.

As she left the office amid the well-wishing, she muttered to herself, "Merry Christmas, indeed! I wish I were a bear and could go into hibernation until the blamed thing is over and done with."

When she arrived at the apartment she found it empty. The unlighted tree looked as dismal as Charlie felt. She walked past it to the kitchen and poured herself a shot.

The phone rang and Charlie begrudgingly sauntered back to the living room to answer it.

"Merry Christmas!" said the voice on the other end of the line.

Charlie stuffed the words back through the mouth piece automatically.

"You don't sound very merry,Charlotte." It was Sue's mother.

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"Guess I'm a little tired, but after a bit of Christmas spirits, I'll probably brighten up," Charlie replied.

"I'm sure you will, dear. Are you going to be with your family tonight?"

"No, we'll all be getting together tomorrow. I'm expecting some friends later this evening," Charlie answered.

"That's good. I think Christmas is especially the time when all our loved ones should be together. Is Sue there?"

"No, she hasn't come home from work yet."

"Our plans have been somewhat changed. Nancy and her husband won't be able to make it tonight."


"Jim is having trouble and he insists it will be too late by the time he gets the car fixed to bring the children. Even on Christmas Eve, he doesn't believe in relaxing the children's bedtime."

"Gee, that's too bad, Mrs. Geary. They're going to Jim's folks tomorrow, aren't they?"

"Yes, but Nancy promised they'd come here for breakfast in the morning and it will really be Christmas as usual at the Gearys' but tonight, though, since the kids aren't coming, we thought we'd accept the Newman's invitation. That is, if it is all right with Sue. I'm not sure if she'd like to go."

"Why don't you go ahead, Mrs. Geary, and let Sue stay here and help me entertain tonight? Really--I need some help. And I'll see to it that she gets over there whatever time you say in the morning."

"If Sue would like to, Charlotte. Whatever she wants to do is fine. Have her call me when she gets home."

"Will do. And Merry Christmas!" Charlie shouted into the phone.

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"It may be that I can be of additional assistance to the movement. I am devoting some time on journalism and I visit San Francisco on some occasions."

C. B., Felton, Calif.

"I am very happy to be on your mailing list for THE LADDER. There is much I can learn from your magazine which will help me to be of more service to my clients.

I wish to compliment you on your magazine. It is attractive, the articles are well written and the whole spirit is wholesome.

I am enclosing a check for $5 which will pay for five years' subscription."

Anna Y. Bardellini, Ph, D.
Consulting Psychologist
Oakland. Calif.


In our letters to the women subscribers of ONE we will include news of THE LADDER and THE DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS in case they haven't heard of them.

Enclosed find $1 for the furtherance of your work....We'd like to see THE LADDER climb."

Allison Hunter, Women's Editor
ONE Magazine
232 S. Hill St.
Los Angeles 12, Calif.

"If an L.A. chapter were to be formed in this area, what would be its main activities? I think your publication is a great thing, but I do wonder about these meetings you hold. It seems that those attending and listening to a discussion are the very ones who would least benefit from hearing what is said. Other than the social aspect of the group, I don't yet see the purpose."

D. B., Long Beach, Calif.

We have a number of interesting letters that space does not permit including in this issue. We hope to publish excerpts from them in future issues. The response has been most gratifying. Keep on writing!

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