July 30, 2013 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Library of Congress acquires papers of Lilli Vincenz
Lilli Vincenz, gay news, Washington Blade

Lilli Vincenz was a pioneer in the gay rights movement beginning in the early 1960s. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Lilli Vincenz, 75, a D.C.-area resident who worked with Frank Kameny as a pioneer in the gay rights movement beginning in the early 1960s, has donated to the Library of Congress some 10,000 papers, photographs, 16-mm films and memorabilia collected over a period of 50 years.

In a statement released on July 25, the Library of Congress said the papers and other items, which document Vincenz’s “personal biography and the larger gay rights movement,” will be available to researchers and the public once the materials are organized and catalogued.

The statement notes that Vincenz was one of the first lesbian members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., the nation’s first full-fledged gay civil rights organization co-founded by Kameny and then D.C. gay activist Jack Nichols. It says Vincenz became the first editor of the organization’s newsletter, The Homosexual Citizen.

In that capacity, Vincenz and lesbian activist Nancy Tucker co-founded in 1969 an independent gay newspaper as a spinoff of the Mattachine newsletter called the Gay Blade, which later evolved into the Washington Blade

“She marched in the historic [gay rights] picket of the White House on April 17, 1965, participated in annual July 4th gay rights demonstrations in Philadelphia, and was part of the delegation that met with U.S. Civil Service Commission officials in 1965 to discuss the continued federal ban on hiring homosexuals,” the Library of Congress statement says.

“Vincenz was also an early member of the Daughters of Bilitis, a national lesbian rights organization, wrote a bi-weekly column for the New York-based Gay magazine, and was interviewed often by the media with other lesbian leaders,” the statement says.

The Library of Congress statement says the donation of Vincenz’s papers was made through her agent, Charles Francis, the co-founder of the Kameny Papers Project, which donated Kameny’s papers to the Library of Congress in 2006.

Vincenz and her partner Nancy Davis live in Arlington, Va.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

1 Comment
  • Chibbaro's article misses several other major contributions of Dr. Vincenz's work over the years including her pioneering role in creating the Gay Women's Open Houses, a non-bar social environment for lesbians in the DC metro area which inspired the New York-based GWA, later re-exported to DC as the long-running Gay Women's Alternative. Dr. Vincenz also pioneered in creating the gay-friendly Society for Creative Self-Development.

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