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Lesbian Icon Sally Miller Gearhart Dies

By Charlotte Robinson, July 31, 2021

I was sad to hear about the passing of Sally Miller Gearhart who I became aware of in the 1977 film “Word Is Out” the first important LGBTQ documentary that was produced by Peter Adair & directed by Nancy Adair, Andrew Brown & Rob Epstein. Known for her lesbian separatism & activism Sally Miller Gearhart died at age 90. She was a teacher, feminist, science-fiction writer & lesbian political activist. In 1973 she became the first open lesbian to obtain a tenure-track faculty position when she was hired by San Francisco State University where she helped establish one of the first women & gender study programs in the country. Her community Women’s Land in Northern California was home to a group of lesbian women who wanted to be closer to nature & farther from men. Members of the community which fluctuated in size lived in cabins in the woods outside of patriarchal confines in Dr. Gearhart’s view. Gearhart stated, “Every culture must begin to affirm the female future. Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture. The proportion of men must be reduced to & maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race.” She created Women’s Land in Willits a city in redwood forest country about 140 miles north of San Francisco which she considered it the culmination of her lesbian separatist philosophy stating, “I keep saying that feminism as I understand it is an ideology of possibility, not probability.” She lived there with her “land partner” Jane Gurko, her dog Bodhi & other residents who wanted to experience life closer to nature & away from men.  Rest In Peace.


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