The Daughters of Bilitis was set up in 1955 by Phyllis Lyon (pseudonym Ann Henderson) and Del Martin in San Francisco. The name 'Bilitis' was taken from a poem written by the French poet, Pierre Louys (1870 -1925), in which Bilitis is described as Sappho's lover on the Isle of Lesbos.
The aim of the women's group was 'for the purpose of promoting the integration of the homosexual in society' firstly through the education of the 'variant, with particular emphasis on the psychological, physiological and sociological aspects, to enable her to understand herself and make her adjustment to society...this to be accomplished by establishing and maintaining as complete a library as possible of both fiction and non-fiction literature on the sex deviant theme; by sponsoring public discussions on pertinent subjects to be conducted by leading members of the legal, psychiatric, religious and other professions; by advocating a mode of behaviour and dress acceptable to society'. Secondly, it aimed to educate 'the public at large through acceptance first of the individual, leading to an eventual breakdown of erroneous taboos and prejudices'. Thirdly, it aimed to participate in research and lastly, to investigate the penal code 'as it pertains to the homosexual.' (Taken from description in cover of <em>The Ladder</em>, the society's monthly publication).