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Episode Info: There’s a war on out there. That was Ruth Simpson’s Stonewall takeaway—and she was ready to fight. But when Ruth pushed the NY chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis to be more political, the FBI and the police took note.Episode Notes:Learn more about Ruth Simpson by reading her obituary in the Los Angeles Times and watching this interview, which was recorded for the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ Daughters of Bilitis Video Project (Ruth is interviewed with her partner, Ellen Povill). Ruth joined the New York chapter of DOB in the late 1960s and soon volunteered to serve as its education and program director. She was later elected president and served in that capacity from 1969 to 1971. To learn more about DOB, read Marcia M. Gallo’s Different Daughters—A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Movement and be sure to listen to our episode with DOB co-founders Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Ruth first heard about the New York chapter of DOB in a radio interview with its then-president, Martha Shelley, who was featured in her own MGH episode here.During her tenure as president of New York’s DOB chapter, Ruth found herself the target of harassment by the New York City police. In the episode, Ruth recounts a confrontation with police officers when they entered the space where DOB was holding its meeting—a space lent to them by the Corduroy Club men’s discussion group—without a warrant. The incident was reported on at the time by Gay Flames, a publication of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Like many other LGBTQ organizations at the time, DOB was also subject to surveillance by the FBI. You can read declassified FBI files on DOB going all the way back to the 1950s here and here.As DOB president, Ruth soon moved her chapter’s headquarters to a new space in Soho where they could have meetings and hold dances. Ruth, DOB, and the new loft were profiled by the New York Times in a long 1971 piece titled “The Disciples of Sappho, Updated.”  In the early 1970s, Ruth was involved in many street protests, including the 1971 Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) “zap” against Fidelifacts, which she discusses in the episode. In a bizarre moment of serendipity, the demonstration appears in the opening sequence of the film Shaft (you can view it here, starting at 2:20). In addition to LGBTQ zaps, Ruth also participated in feminist protests. In 1972, she was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest during a WARN (Women Against Richard Nixon) demonstration. Ruth was featured in Kay Tobin Lahusen’s 1972 book The Gay Crusaders, a collection of interviews with gay liberation leaders. The audio of her original interview is kept at the Wilcox Archive in Philadelphia and the New York Public Library. To learn more about Kay Tobin Lahusen, check out our two episodes (and accompanying notes) with her and her partner Barbara Gittings here and here.In 1976, Ruth moved to Woodstock, New York, and published From t...
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