Lilli Vincenz



Lilli Vincenz was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1937. It was after earning degrees in French and German that Vincenz felt the first sting of discrimination. She joined the U.S. Army, but, after nine months, another woman accused Vincenz of being a lesbian and she was forcibly discharged. After earning a master's degree in English from Columbia University, Vincenz worked as an editor at Prentice Hall Publishers. A year later she relocated to Washington and, while editing The Homosexual Citizen, worked as a technical typist for a printing company and an editorial secretary for a trade association.

Lilli inspired not only lesbians like herself, but gay men too who saw in her a graciousness that was caring, earnest, balanced, and self-directing. Her face--healthy, happy and wholesome--was among the first to grace the cover of The Ladder, America's first lesbian movement magazine. As editor of the movement's first truly militant civil rights publication, Lilli's farsightedness became a matter of record. Lilli Vincenz holds degrees from Douglass College (B.A. in 1959, French and German), Columbia University (M.A. in 1960, English), George Mason University (M.A. in 1976, Psychology) and University of Maryland (Ph.D. in 1990, Human Development).In 1963, Vincenz joined the Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW). Vincenz was a member of the MSW delegation that first met with the Civil Service Commission in 1965 to discuss the federal government's discriminatory policies toward gays and lesbians. She was an active member until 1971.

Vincenz demonstrated in all Annual Reminder Day demonstrations in Philadelphia on July 4 from 1965-69. She participated in every homophile picket in Washington, DC, including at The White House, Civil Service Commission, State Department and Pentagon.From 1971 to 1979, Lilli Vincenz held at her home a Gay Women's Open House to discuss common concerns in a non-threatening social environment.In 1971 Vincenz was instrumental in helping to launch the Kameny for Congress Campaign. That campaign enabled Franklin Kameny, PhD and president of MSW, to run as independent candidate for Nonvoting Delegate to Congress in Washington, DC.

This marked the first time a publicly acknowledged gay person ran for public office anywhere in the United States. That campaign gave birth to the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) of Washington. Lilli Vincenz is currently active with Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union, National Organization for Women, Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Equality Virginia, Community for Creative Self-Development and National Coalition for Lesbian Rights. She has written for numerous publications and has appeared on television and film. Since 1976, she has worked as a psychotherapist for the gay community.

Vincenz and her partner, Nancy Ruth Davis, live outside Washington, DC.