Dr. Sally Miller Gearhart



Dr. Sally Miller Gearhart (born April 15, 1931) is an American teacher, feminist, science fiction writer, and political activist. She is reported to be the first open lesbian in higher education to be given a tenure-track position (1974). Gearhart grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. She was raised by her grandmother and mother after her parents divorced.  Looking back, she said, "There was another undercurrent going on. That was my lesbianism. From when I was ten years old, I knew that I wasn’t going to have children.

Gearhart attended Sweet Briar College. She graduated with a B.A. in Drama and English in 1952. At Bowling Green State University she obtained a master’s degree in theater and public address in 1953. She continued on at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, getting her Ph.D. in theater in 1956. Gearhart began teaching speech and theater at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. The Lutheran climate of the school did not allow Gearhart to embrace her sexuality fully. Her determination to hide her true sexual identity continued through two more teaching positions in the Midwest, and until she moved to San Francisco, California in 1970. By 1973, Gearhart was employed at San Francisco State University, where she went from teaching speech to teaching women’s studies. There she was able to develop one of the first women and gender studies programs in the United States.

After Gearhart received tenure from SFSU she was able to continue her writings focused on lesbianism and related political topics. She also was able to become politically active, in particular, fighting for radical feminist causes. In 1978, Gearhart fought alongside Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician, to defeat the California Proposition 6 (November 1978), known as the "Briggs Initiative." Gearhart famously debated John Briggs, attacking with eloquence and force the initiative to ban homosexuals from academic positions.

While living in San Francisco, Gearhart began writing science fiction novels and short stories that highlighted her utopian ideals for a wider lesbian audience. In 1978 her most famous novel, The Wanderground, was published. She did not limit her writing to the science fiction genre. She also wrote a book entitled Loving Women/Loving Men: Gay Liberation and the Church, which was aimed at the conservative Christian churches and communities that barred homosexuals from fellowship.Some of Gearhart's writings are radically misandristic and call for gendercide against men. A 1982 manifesto thus calls for females to be given full responsibility for the human species and the male population to be brought down to 10 per cent of humanity.

Gearhart lives north of Willits, California and labels herself "a recovering political activist."