A Woman to Know: Edythe Eyde

It was an enthusiasm that boiled over into those pages. — Edythe Eyde

(image via University of Southern California)


Before "The L-Word," before The Advocate, before Autostraddle -- Edythe Eyde wanted to make art for lesbians, by lesbians. In 1947, when she was just a 25-year-old woman working a day job as a secretary at RKO Movie Studios, Edythe brainstormed a way to kill her desk job boredom: she'd write and print a weekly newsletter for her own community of queer women living in Los Angeles. She knew a traditional printer wouldn't dare help her produce something so scandalous, so she meticulously typed and copied her pages on the office machines. She also knew that California law forbid sending "mail about lesbians," so she wrote under a pen name, Lisa Ben (get it? "lesbian" ... "Lisa Ben" ...). She distributed her work by hand in gay clubs and queer spaces, with simple instructions: "when you're through with it, please pass on to another lesbian."

For nine issues in 1947, Lisa Ben wrote "Vice Versa," dedicating her work to "those of us who will never quite be able to adapt ourselves to the iron-clad rules of Convention."

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