Remembering Kay Lahusen, Revolutionary Photojournalist Kay Lahusen, pioneering photojournalist who documented the LGBTQ movement in the 1960s, has died at age 91.

Remembering Kay Lahusen, Revolutionary Photojournalist

Remembering Kay Lahusen, Revolutionary Photojournalist

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Kay Lahusen, pioneering photojournalist who documented the LGBTQ movement in the 1960s, has died at age 91.


In the 1960s, the American Psychiatric Association still considered homosexuality a mental health disorder, and most newsstands didn't even have LGBTQ media.


So Kay Lahusen went door to door with the publication she edited, The Ladder.


KAY LAHUSEN: This was a labor of love. You got to realize you're talking to two fanatics here.

SHAPIRO: That's Lahusen on the podcast "Making Gay History." The other fanatic was Barbara Gittings, her longtime partner and fellow activist.

CHANG: They marched openly in early gay rights protests on the East Coast. They met through the first lesbian rights group in the U.S. Here's historian Alexis Coe.

ALEXIS COE: It was just immediate, you know? There's a story where, I guess, you know, Gittings thought that she was a cute little package, is what Kay told me. And they just started to date.

SHAPIRO: Barbara Gittings died in 2007, and this week, so did Kay Lahusen. But as one of the earliest openly gay photojournalists, Lahusen left behind a visual legacy.

CHANG: At those early protests, she captured signs with slogans like, gay is good and homo is healthy. She also photographed families.

COE: She loved normal scenes. She really wanted to show people who were, you know, families - two women raising children, two men raising children, people embracing, you know, experiencing joy, laughter, heartbreak.

SHAPIRO: In the early '70s, Lahusen urged the APA to include a gay psychiatrist for a panel on same-sex love. One spoke with a disguise and voice distortion. And in 1973, the APA removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

CHANG: For Lahusen, her activism was simply her life.

COE: This wasn't a movement for them; it was a lifestyle. And she often said, I had so much fun.

CHANG: Kay Lahusen died Wednesday. She was 91 years old.

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