The Ladder, December 1956, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 1-16

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 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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