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America's Most Captivating Couples '07

photo by Martin & Lyon; Sweetheart Studio
DEL & PHYLLIS

Del Martin
85, co-founder of Daughters of Bilitis

Phyllis Lyon
82, co-founder of Daughters of Bilitis

San Francisco, CA
No ordinary couple, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon created the first national group for lesbian rights, Daughters of Bilitis, in 1955—read more about that in Different Daughters by Marcia Gallo—and in 2004, became the first gay couple to get married in San Francisco. Here’s their story: “Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon met in Seattle, Washington, in 1950 when both were working for a trade publication. They became good friends right away, probably because both were from San Francisco. At some point Del told Phyllis that she was a lesbian, ¬a fact that intrigued Phyllis who had not heard that term before. In 1952 Phyllis planned to leave Seattle and return to San Francisco, where she would move in with her parents. This prompted Del to make a pass at her and they had sex for the first time. After she left, Phyllis found she missed Del a lot and made a lot of collect calls. Deląs parents also lived in San Francisco so she came down from Seattle many times to visit ¬and virtually proposed to Phyllis. But Phyllis wasnąt sure she wanted to settle down yet. However, by the end of 1952 she told Del she wanted to live with her. Del said she would come to San Francisco and Phyllis started looking for an apartment. She found one in the Castro district, which was not then a gay enclave. After a 24-hour bus ride from Seattle, Del arrived at 11pm February 14—¬Valentines Day. And we will celebrate our 54 years together this Valentines Day. As far as the secret of our successful relationship, it is based on love, common desires and needs, and the fact we are both Democrats.”

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