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

Edith Eyde (Lisa Ben)

Edith Eyde (Lisa Ben) was born on November 7, 1921 in San Francisco, California to Oscar E. Edye and Olive Colegrove. She first discovered she was attracted to women when she was a teenager but, after a discouraging conversation with her parents, she delayed coming out as a lesbian until 1946.

After coming out, she decided to start Vice Versa (1947–1948), the first lesbian magazine in the country, as a way to not only meet other gay women in her community but provide a publication that was relevant to their interests. The opportunity arose when she took a clerical job working for an RKO Studios executive, who told her that he didn’t have much work for her to do but to try to look like she was busy. Eyde produced nine issues, 12 copies each of Vice Versa and passed them out among her friends, who then passed them to other friends. She wrote and edited the magazine under the name Lisa Ben, an anagram of lesbian. Unfortunately, she was forced to halt publication when RKO was sold and she had to find work elsewhere. She said she began the magazine as “a gesture of love—of women loving women, and the whole idea of it. It was an enthusiasm that boiled over into these pages.”
She continued to use the name Lisa Ben when she began writing for The Ladder, the first nationally distributed lesbian magazine, in 1950. The magazine even reprinted some material from Vice Versa.

Surviving copies of Vice Versa and the Lisa Ben archive can be accessed at the One National Gay & Lesbian Archives, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.