On June 3rd the Rainbow Honor Walk (RHW) hosted an unveiling of the next nine LGBTQ honorees, including Equi. Their plaques will be placed in mid-July. The nine will join 28 others installed already. RHW seeks to honor and preserve LGBTQ history with recognition of deceased individuals who contributed to their communities and beyond.
The honor for Equi comes in stark contrast to public regard for her at the peak of her medical and political career in the World War I era. The U.S. government castigated her as one of the most dangerous radicals on the West Coast because of her professional stature and her following among many laborers fed up with low pay and long hours. Authorities also resented Equi’s refusal to be intimidated. She was also controversial for living openly with her female lover. (She and Harriet Speckart are among the first publicly known lesbians on the West Coast).
In addition, Equi roiled the body politic by providing women with birth control information and abortion services. For speaking out against US involvement in World War I, Equi was tried and convicted for sedition. She served ten months in the women’s wards of San Quentin Prison.
Equi's plaque reads:
American physician and political radical who fought for peace, an eight-hour workday, women's suffrage, and their right to birth control.
For a list and description of all the honorees, see www.rainbowhonorwalk.org. For more information on Marie Equi see marieequi.com and the biography of her, which I wrote, “Marie Equi, Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions), Michael Helquist, Oregon State University Press, 2015. Book is available at Amazon and independent bookstores in print and ebook formats.
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