Photojournalist, gay rights pioneer Kay Lahusen dies at 91

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“Whatever the Founding Fathers envisioned as the rights and privileges of our citizens, we wanted for ourselves as well,” she told WHYY for a 2015 commemoration. “Somebody had to get out and show their face in public and proclaim things and be aggressive.”

Lahusen’s life partner, Gittings, was one of the nation’s most prominent lesbian activists and co-organizer of the “Annual Reminder” pickets in Philadelphia.

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They had met in 1961 at a picnic held by Daughters of Bilitis, the first known lesbian organization in the U.S. whose East Coast chapter Gittings had founded. Lahusen was arts editor and shot groundbreaking cover photos of gay women for the group’s national publication, The Ladder, which Gittings edited.

Lahusen also was a founding member of the Gay Activists Alliance and photographed that group’s protests, called “zaps.” She was there for Philadelphia’s first gay pride march in 1972. Under the pseudonym Kay Tobin, she co-authored a 1972 book, “The Gay Crusaders,” which profiled the movement’s early leaders.

Lahusen and Gittings also took part in the campaign that led to the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to drop homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

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