Before there was COYOTE, you started WHO—Whores, Housewives, and Others—for women who felt left out of second-wave feminism. What made you decide to bring these women together?
When I moved to Druid Heights , my neighbor, the lesbian poet Elsa Gidlow, kept sliding radical materials under my door. I was also cleaning houses in Marin County and getting to know the housewives. I’ve always been a curious woman. I saw the way all these were treated— lesbians, women of color, housewives, whores—and I said, “Let’s gang together!”
The housewives, especially, were really excited to meet the whores, so I invited them all over for a little meeting. A couple of the women even traded places for a few days. I thought it went really well!
A year after you started COYOTE, you declared that 1974 was “the year of the whore.” Besides decriminalization, what were your earliest goals?
We wanted to reclaim the word “whore” like lesbians reclaimed the word “dyke.” We were trying to give sex workers our own group, our own voice. Madams and hookers who were being abused by the law and the prohibition wanted to join up in other cities and start their own groups.
***a pic from when she ran for the board of supes in sf