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Sidney Afton Abbott
(July 11, 1937 - April 15, 2015) U.S.A.

Sidney Abbott

Feminist and lesbian activist and writer

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Sidney Afton Abbott was born into a military family, describing herself as a military brat. She attended Smith College for three years, and graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1961. She then attended Columbia University for graduate school, studying urban planning.

In 1969 she joined the National Organization for Women (NOW) and became one of the first people to speak out for lesbian rights on panels at the New York chapter of NOW and at Columbia University. Sidney was a member of the "Lavender Menace" and co-authored Sappho Was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism in 1971, with Barbara Love.

In the mid-1970s, with Barbara Love, she lobbied for a NOW task force to be established to focus on lesbian issues, eventually it was established. NOW first named the task force the "sexuality and lesbian task force," and Abbott had to co-chair with a heterosexual woman. At the NOW national conference in Philadelphia in 1976, Sidney demanded that 1% of the organizations budget should go to the task force, and succeeded. During the conference, it was only one of two resolutions to pass.

Sidney served on the founding board of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and worked to ensure the organization's board was equal numbers gay men and lesbian women. She was named by the Manhattan Borough President to the community planning board; she was the first openly gay person to do so. She also served as program developer for two departments in the New York City government. She was co-chair for the New York Performing Arts Center, and was politically active in the North Fork area of Long Island, New York.

Sidney lived in Southold, New York. In 2007, she founded the Women's Rights are Human Rights nonprofit. In 2008, she started a newsletter, In Our Shoes, about politics, class, and poverty. Her personal archives are located in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College and in the Radcliff College feminist collection of NOW biographies. She died in a house fire in Southold, New York.

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Sources: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - and Steven Hogan and Lee Hudson, Completely Queer: the Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia, Henry Holt and Company, 1998.

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