The Billings Gazette published a letter to syndicated columnist ‘Ann Landers’ on February 15 1971 in which Sue of L.A. proudly declared “I am a homosexual woman.”
I love this letter.
People like Sue of L.A., proudly speaking their truth, created the groundswell that eventually resulted in LGBTIQ+ people being granted basic human rights.
Ann Landers was a pseudonym. Eppie Lederer penned the advice column from 1955 until 2002 and became a nationwide celebrity. A 1978 survey named her America’s Most Influential Woman.
Unfortunately, given her considerable influence on public opinion, she frequently described homosexuality as ‘unnatural’ and a ‘sickness’. Sadly, supposedly expert columnists proffering damaging advice and reinforcing harmful stereotypes were common at the time.
But some gays fought back, Sue of L.A. among them.
I am a homosexual woman
“Dear Ann Landers:
“I suspect you don’t know the difference between a lesbian, a transsexual, a transvestite and a bisexual.
“As a lesbian who resents being lumped with the others may I educate you?
“I am a homosexual woman. I do NOT want to be a man — I have the body of a female. Since no one has been able to prove that the mind has gender, I will say I have the mind of a human.
“My emotions are those of a homosexual woman.
“This is my only deviation. I am not sick. In fact, I am healthier than most straight women who insist on hanging the “sick” label on me.
“I do not want a man or a straight woman or a bisexual woman.
“And most of all, I do not want to be bothered by curious straight people who view me as a freak or a conversation piece.
“I enjoy a pleasant life with a single lesbian like myself. We do not bother anyone and we would appreciate it if people wouldn’t bother us.
“The grief-stricken mother whose daughter wanted a sex change operation called the girl a lesbian. She is NOT a lesbian. She is a transsexual.”
At least remember it
Sue of L.A. ended her letter, “Please print this letter or at least remember it.”
Eppie Lederer responded, “I will do both. Thank you for writing.”
She certainly published the letter, and perhaps remembered it. Two years later, she supported the decriminalisation of homosexuality. However, she did not otherwise change her mind.
In 1973, she wrote, “I am with the psychiatrists who believe homosexuals are sick and that sex between two men or two women is unnatural.”
It took until 1992 for the advice columnist to recognise that homosexuality was a natural human condition.
Even then, she continued to oppose same-sex marriage.
“Because it flies in the face of cultural and traditional family life as we have known it for centuries.”
Who knows? If she’d lived another 50 years she may have come around on that too.
Whoever you were, Sue of L.A., thank you.