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Ernestine Eckstein (1941 – 1992)

Through the month of October, Pride Soc will be using this account to highlight some queer, Black women who may have been sidelined or overlooked by history.

bhmprofilesBlack History Month
Ernestine Eckstein

Ernestine Eckstein (1941 – 1992) was a leader in the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the United States. Little is known about her, and the information that we do have is mostly derived from an eight-page in-depth interview with the then-25-year-old Eckstein; the interview appears in the June 1966 issue of The Ladder on which a photograph of Eckstein graces the cover. We do know that he is the only Black woman in Kay Lahausen’s famous 1965 photograph of the first gay and lesbian picket line in front of the White House carrying a sign that read, “Denial of Equality of Opportunity is Immoral.” She was often the only Black woman on these picket lines and, according to historians, she viewed the fight for civil rights and LGBTQ rights as intrinsically linked. 

To find out more about the Daughters of Bilitis check out Different Daughters, A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement, by Marcia Gallo.

Thank you to the Pride Society and Kit Lashmar for supplying the profiles. Head over to their Instagram to see more profiles being published through out October. 


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