A magazine for lesbians was illegal 70 years ago. She created one anyway.

“Edythe Eyde wanted to make art for lesbians. At 25, she was working as a secretary at RKO Studios, a Los Angeles movie studio, and coping with boredom by imagining a magazine for queer women. She liked writing. She wanted to tell stories. From her job, she knew plenty about printing and copying. There was just one thing standing in her way: It was 1947.

“Eyde knew a traditional printer wouldn’t dare help her produce something so scandalous. To create a queer magazine, she would have to do it in secret. So when she decided to launch Vice Versa, she designed and templated the entire thing on the RKO work machines — not to save money or cut corners (though those were definitely bonuses) but because under California law, her magazine wasn’t just scandalous.

It was illegal.

“At the time, writing or distributing information about life as a lesbian could have landed her in prison. So she carefully cut and copied each issue of the magazine at her desk and then handed out copies in lesbian hot spots around Los Angeles. Eyde wrote under the pen name “Lisa Ben” — an anagram of “lesbian,” a wink to those in the know.”

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