The Daughters of Bilitis was the first group in Australia set up by homosexual people to campaign for our rights in Australia.
It was founded in 1969 by a number of Melbourne lesbians who were readers of the US lesbian magazine The Ladder. There had been social clubs for homosexuals and kamp-friendly pubs and restaurants since the 1950s. What made DOB unique was that, while they staged social events such as parties, bingo nights and drama evenings – not to be dismissed in those dark times – members also spoke out publicly, talking on television and radio and to print journalists as part of a broader agenda of educating both the public and lesbians themselves. This willingness to talk about the issue was itself newsworthy.
In due course tensions between those who wanted to emphasise the political and those who preferred to focus on social activities led to a split
But by their willingness to identify themselves publicly and without any shame or fear as lesbians, the women of the Daughters of Bilitis, like Phyllis Papps and Francesca Curtis made a pioneering breakthrough in Australian political life.
Image: Why did she have to tell the world? A film celebrating the 50 years of love and activism by DOB early members, Phyllis Papps and the late Francesca Curtis. Image for a Written & Directed by Abbie Pobjoy.