Veteran Feminists of America 



The Celebration of Sidney Abbott's life at the Judson Memorial Church, NYC, was upbeat, joyous and even inspirational.  About 150 people attended, including many well-known feminists.


Celebrate Sidney Abbott's Life

Judson Memorial Church*

55 West Washington Square South, NY, NY 

June 16, 2015   2:00-5:30


Featuring Remembrances by friends, family and admirers.

Music by Helen Hooke, The Deadly Nightshade


Sidney Abbott (1937-2015) was a larger-than-life Lesbian-feminist activist, writer, and organizer, the co-author with Barbara Love of the pioneering work (the first non-fiction book with a positive view of Lesbianism) Sappho Was a Right-on Woman; a member of Radicalesbians; creator of the non-profit Women's Rights are Human Rights, and creator of a website for Hillary Clinton. Tragically she died in a fire April 15.

All are welcome. Bring pictures and memories to share.

*Event is handicapped accessible through elevator on 243 Thomson St.

For more information call or e-mail Barbara Love, 203-731-7362,

We invite you to make a Tax-Deductible contribution through VFA to defray costs associated with honoring Sidney and preserving her legacy. 

You can Mail a Check made out to VFA and send to: 

Pam Ross, Treasurer, 16 Aberdeen Place, St. Louis, MO 63105.

July 11, 1937 – April 15, 2015

New York Post -
April 15, 2015

Friends and loved ones will come together for a memorial service for Sidney Abbott on Saturday, May 9, at 2 p.m. at the Cutchogue United Methodist Church, located at 29685 Main Road in Cutchogue.

Longtime NYC-based feminist and lesbian activist Sidney Abbott, 78, was found dead Wednesday morning after a fire in her home in Southold, Suffolk County. (photo: Robert Girard)

The fire was discovered by her next-door neighbor, an off-duty volunteer  firefighter who rushed to the burning Cape-style home and found the former member of the “Lavender Menace” and author of “Sappho Was a Right-on Woman” on the floor of her smoke-filled living room.

Tragically, the firefighter was beaten back by the intense flames.

“He was there instantly and tried pulling her out,” Southold Fire Chief Peggy Killian told The Post.

“He broke the door to get in there,” she said. But before he could pull her out, “the fire flashed over the top of his head, and it made him back out.”

The hero firefighter had to be hospitalized.

 “He sucked in a lot of smoke — he didn’t have a pack,” the chief said.

Abbott was a force for gay women’s rights in New York and beyond since the ’70s, when she helped urge NOW not to ignore lesbian issues.

She had limited mobility and was chair-bound, said Jacqueline Michot Ceballos, a friend for nearly 50 years.

“We were the earliest members of NOW, from day one in New York City, back in 1967,” said Ceballos, a former NOW-New York president and founder of the Veteran Feminists of America.

There were disagreements among the gay and straight members in those early days — famously, Betty Friedan warned about a “Lavender Menace” from the lesbian activists in their movement’s midst. But Abbott was always a mender of rifts within the larger feminist movement.

“She held no grudges and was truly a loving human being,” Ceballos said. “There was no anger whatsoever — It was very, very important to her to make sure we knew that there’s no big difference between us.”

Added VFA president Eleanor Pam, “Sidney Abbott’s contribution to modern feminism cannot be overstated. She was a brilliant, fearless trailblazer, an authentic pioneer in the women revolution and its struggle for equal rights.”

Longtime close friend and co-author Barbara Love spoke by phone with Abbott one hour before the fire. A home attendant had just left to do some shopping for Abbott, Love said.

“She was in good spirits,” said Love, who lived with Abbott in the ’70s and co-authored “Sappho Was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism,” which remains “a classic.”

“She’s very well known in the women’s movement,” Love said.

The Suffolk County ME’s office and local arson investigators were at the scene of the fire Wednesday, but found no initial indications that the fire was anything suspicious, officials said.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.


This From Barbara Love (co-author Sappho Was a Right On Woman)

Sidney and I were very close. I talked to her at 8:55 this am, just before her helper, Cathy, arrived at 9.  Joan Nixon had also talked with her this a.m. Sidney was in good spirits, planning for her future. Cathy, her helper was out of the house shopping for food when the unthinkable happened.
I knew Sidney since 1967 when she was studying Urban Planning at Columbia. We lived together for several years. We co-authored the now famous book Sappho Was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism, which was the first non-fiction book with a positive look at the lesbian life-style. 
We always kept in touch and talked every few days on the phone. She was a good soul who was in great health except for her legs. She could not get out of a chair for two years. The condition was never diagnosed. Sidney said it was something in her brain that made her fall.
Joan Nixon was a very important part of Sidney's life for the past 20 years. Sidney lived in Joan's house and took care of it. Sidney had a dog, which has survived, a cat, which died in the fire, and a peacock that lived outside and scampered away. Sidney often said she worried about her animals more than herself.  
Some years ago Beva Eastman gave Sidney a plot in Orient, where her friend Phyllis is buried.  Joan Nixon is going to try and get the Unitarian Congregation in Southold, which also burned down a few weeks ago, to give a service at its temporary location.
We will miss Sidney a lot. She was always upbeat, a good storyteller (She loved to tell stories of her Texas ancestors) and a proud lesbian-feminist. She is survived by her nephew David Abbott in Brooklyn and a sister-in-law Jane Abbott.

Sadly, another feminist great has passed - Sidney Abbott

We never think it will be the last conversation; so many over the years and just another one two weeks ago before I left for Paris.  We have talked this way through 50 years of friendship.  And always: where we are now.  A summation of reality and hope for The Movement.

I have a photo by my desk at the farm.  Barbara Love, Sidney and me.  Another time, another conference, another small triumph as we fought our way through the decades.  Where was it taken?  Sidney would remember.  She remembered everything and imparted counsel and information with each conversation and letter.

Sidney was a character.  Larger than life in politics and friendship.  Her tragic death is a great loss.  And a reminder to those of us who knew her well, to keep close.

Kate Millett


RIP lesbian-feminist activist Sidney Abbott, co-author of Sappho Was A Right-On Woman and Lavender Menace member.

Toni Armstrong Jr.

So sad an end to an amazing life.

Heather Booth

Very sad to hear this news. Thankful for a great feminist life and contribution.

Mary Jean Collins
A tenacious and smart feminist and an exceedingly kind and generous person.  I was privileged to work with her on an event she conceived and largely organized at NYU a few years ago.

Amy Hackett
So sorry to hear of this! 

Dori Jacobson

My most darling Second Wave radical feminist sisters are moving off earth and into their honored places in history; actually, they have been doing so for some time now. Their names are legion. And now Sidney Abbott, a vibrant member of New York City's indelible feminist and lesbian-feminist movement has joined the others.

I knew Sidney from the late 1960's on, perhaps before she and Barbara Love wrote or published the wonderfully titled "Sappho Was a Right On Woman." I remember Sidney as without malice, "game" for almost anything, funny, rather sweet, and, as they say, always marching to her own tune. She was a member of the legendary first lesbian consciousness raising group in the NYC and I met her at many demonstrations, in gay bars, at Kate Millett's loft and farm and at Linda Clarke and Joan Casamo's home in New Paltz. Once, she stayed with me in Park Slope and once I recommended her for a job at On The Issues, Merle Hoffman's most excellent feministmagazine--but that was more than a quarter-century after Sidney and I first met. The last time she was in our Manhattan home was at a goodbye party for Linda and Joan before they moved to Florida. Sidney spent most of the time talking to a very religious but fabulously feminist Jewish friend of mine who said that "she was the most interesting woman!" Talk about worlds apart!

After that, I lost touch with her but I would hear about her from others: Sidney was sharing space with Joan Nixon, Sidney had moved out to Joan's Long Island home. I did not know that she was failing or disabled.

Sidney: Wherever you are I hope you are no longer in any pain. Know that you are remembered with love.

Phyllis Chesler

"Texan by birth and Scottish by ancestry, Sidney was a force destined for Manhattan as the only stage large enough for her spirit to soar in politics, in life, in friendship, in sisterhood. She was a noble friend, an INVALUABLE nexus in our cohort, and A STALWART PRESENCE IN
Artemis March
We are deeply sorry and sad that her courageous life ended so tragically.

Clare Coss and Blanche Wiesen Cook

click image for more

From Chicago's Windy City Times...


Longtime lesbian-feminist activist Sidney Abbott dies
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times


photos by Linda Clarke

Comments: Jacqui Ceballos