Lillian Faderman

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Lillian Faderman
Born (1940-07-18) July 18, 1940 (age 75)
The Bronx, New York
Occupation Writer, professor
Nationality American
Subject Lesbian history
Partner Phyllis Irwin[1]
Children Avrom

Lillian Faderman (born July 18, 1940) is a scholar whose books on lesbian relationships and romantic friendship in history have earned critical praise and awards.

Early life[edit]

Faderman was raised by her mother, Mary, and her aunt, Rae. In 1914, her mother emigrated from a shtetl in Latvia to New York, planning eventually to send for the rest of the family. Her aunt Rae came in 1923, but the rest of the family was killed during Hitler's extermination of European Jews, and Mary blamed herself for not being able to rescue them. Her guilt contributed to a serious mental illness that would profoundly affect her daughter.[2]

Mary and Rae, Faderman's mother and aunt, worked in the garment industry for very little money. Lillian was her mother's third pregnancy; her mother (unmarried) aborted the first two pregnancies at Lillian's biological father's request, but insisted on bearing and raising the third. Mary married when Lillian was a teenager and died in 1979, continuing to have a profound influence on her daughter’s life.

Coming out[edit]

The family moved to Los Angeles, where with her mother’s encouragement Lillian took acting classes. She began modeling as a teenager, discovered the gay bar scene and met her first girlfriend. Before she graduated from high school, she married a gay man much older than herself, a marriage that lasted less than a year.


Faderman studied first at the University of California, Berkeley and later at UCLA. She was a professor of English at California State University, Fresno and a visiting professor at UCLA. She retired in 2007.

Private life[edit]

She lives with her partner of forty years (as of 2012), Phyllis Irwin. She has one son, Avrom, who earned a PhD from Stanford University.[3]



  • My Mother's Wars (2013)
  • Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians (2006)
  • Naked in the Promised Land: A Memoir (2003)
  • To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done For America - A History (1999)
  • I Begin My Life All Over : The Hmong and the American Immigrant Experience (1998)
  • Chloe Plus Olivia: An Anthology of Lesbian Literature from the 17th Century to the Present (1994)
  • Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America (1991)
  • Scotch Verdict : Miss Pirie and Miss Woods v. Dame Cumming Gordon (1983)
  • Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present (1981)


  1. ^ "Finding Aid for the Lillian Faderman papers, 1976-1989". Online Archive of California. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ Marler, Regina (February 18, 2003). "Naked History". The Advocate. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  3. ^ Wall, Alexandra J. (October 31, 2003). "A life exposed: From student stripper to respected professor, lesbian historian bares her own secrets". Retrieved 2010-02-11.

External links[edit]