Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Barbara Deming

Born in New York City in an upper-middle-class family, Deming went to a Quaker school in the city through high school and then to Bennington College in Vermont. She displayed a passion for writing, especially poetry, early on, and for many years supported herself as a free-lance writer, including composing a great deal of film criticism. In 1959, she made a trip to India, and became deeply committed to the ideas of Gandhi, particularly his commitment to non-violence as a philosophy of living and a means of making radical social change. Deming threw herself into nonviolent activism, engaging in many protests against nuclear weapons and for racial justice, and she frequently got arrested. When a women’s liberation movement emerged in the late 1960s, Deming also became very involved in that. In 1975, she founded the Money for Women Fund, to support the work of feminist writers. Her books include Prison Notes (1966) and We Cannot Live without Our Lives (1974). Deming experienced love for women early on in life and came to accept her lesbian identity long before a gay and lesbian liberation movement was born. She had a long relationship with Mary Meigs, and was partnered with Marie Claire Blais, a Quebecois writer, in her last years. Deming died of cancer in 1984.