Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club

Here in our culturally rich South of Market neighborhood, May ushers in a season of Gertrude Stein, thanks to exhibits at two local museums, SFMOMA and the Contemporary Jewish Museum. To complement this abundance of Stein, we honor here Stein’s life partner, Alice B. Toklas – or rather the historic San Francisco Democratic Club named for her.

Founded in 1971 - very early in the gay rights movement – the Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club sought to bridge the gap between statements of political goals and the achievement of those goals. Early members included Mayor (now Senator) Dianne Feinstein, former Mayor Willie Brown and current San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey. The club, now known as the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, still thrives in San Francisco today. Thanks to the astute collecting acumen of CHS staff, and our recent California Ephemera Project, we’re able to share these tidbits of 1980s political life in San Francisco.

As for Alice herself, she outlived Gertrude, (d.1946), by over 20 years, but remains in her shadow yet today. Peer around the back of Gertrude Stein’s Paris headstone and there, in perpetuity, is where you’ll find Alice.

– Alison Moore, Reference Staff
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