4127 18th St., San Francisco
Marie Equi and Harriet Speckart and Gail Laughlin and Mary A. Sperry were well-known West Coast couples in the early 20th century. When inheritances came into play, the mothers of two of the women launched widely publicized court battles to block the bequests, asserting that “unnatural” and “manipulative” lesbians could make no legitimate claim to family assets. Independent scholar Paula Lichtenberg will discuss Laughlin and Sperry, and Equi biographer Michael Helquist will recount the story of Equi and Speckart. The speakers also will look at how the couples presented their relationships publicly at a time when discretion was required and will sketch the women’s activist lives, especially Laughlin’s career as a suffragist, attorney and state legislator and Equi’s advocacy for reproductive rights, suffrage, workers and the anti-war movement. The talks are presented in conjunction with “Faces From the Past,” a new exhibit in the Main Gallery of the GLBT History Museum that looks at LGBTQ lives in Northern California before 1930; Lichtenberg is co-curator of the display.