Article Title:No Secret Anymore: The times of Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon
Author or Credit:Chris Banks
Published on:3rd June 2004 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:267
Text:NO SECRET ANYMORE: THE TIMES OF DEL MARTIN AND PHYLLIS LYON Dir: JEB (Joan E Biren), USA, 2003, Beta SP, 57 mins No Secret Anymore is the sort of inspiring documentary that makes you want to get off your arse and make a difference. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, a lesbian couple in their eighties, have been doing just that for the last fifty years in America. They founded the Daughters of Bilitis back in the 1950's, the first lesbian organization in America and the only place gay women could meet safely – bars were frequently raided. Back then, everything was in code, even the group's name was taken from a book of French poetry called Songs of Bilitis which had lesbotic content. The society started a national newsletter for lesbians called The Ladder. Such was the danger of exposure in the paranoid McCarthy era, in which the words “homosexual” and “communist” were interchangeable, that the “Ladder” mailing list was always carried around by a group member and never left in a home or office where it could be stolen and used. Radical and revolutionary in their thinking rather than their actions, Martin and Lyon have continued to fight the good fight even when they weren't wanted. An attempt to join forces on gay rights back in the 60s with the gay Mattachine Society foundered when it became apparent that gay men back then had no interest in lesbian issues although, it is noted, lesbians were not similarly dismissive of the effect of AIDS on gay men in the 80s. Despite being strong feminist advocates, speaking out against domestic violence, the women's movement wasn't always keen to have them either. The National Organization for Women feared being tarred by the lesbian brush, labeling them "the lavender menace" and trying to eject them from the movement. These days, they're advocates for welfare and social justice for the elderly. Both were appointed delegates to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, and have lobbied hard for the legal recognition of same-sex relationships. No Secret Anymore details their achievements against a backdrop of gay political history - including the landmark 1973 decision by the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of illnesses – by interviewing Martin and Lyon as well as their contemporaries and younger activists whom they have inspired, as well as telling us their own love story. They are not just icons of gay activism, but for love, commitment and tenacity. A truly inspiring document. Chris Banks - 3rd June 2004    
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