Ivy Bottini (August 15, 1926 – February 25, 2021) was an American activist for women’s rights and LGBT rights, and a visual artist.
Bottini was born in New York in August 1926. From 1944 until 1947, she attended Pratt Institute School of Art, where she earned a certificate in advertising graphic design and illustration. She married Edward Bottini in 1951. She was employed for sixteen years at the east coast daily newspaper Newsday, until her move to Los Angeles in 1971.
Bottini realized she had same sex attractions at an early age. Her first crush was on her first grade female gym teacher. During an interview with the Lavender Effect, Bottini said she fell “in love with every gym teacher I ever had in my life.” She also formed a close, platonic relationship with one of her seventh grade teachers, who became a parental figure for her.
Despite her attraction to women, Bottini did not pursue lesbian relationships, due to cultural norms of the time. She was engaged to several men, with each engagement lasting only a few weeks before she’d end the relationship. She married her husband of sixteen years, Eddie, on January 12, 1952. Leading up to the marriage, Bottini began experiencing physical symptoms involving her ability to swallow food properly. Her doctor realized her symptoms were related to anxiety and referred her to a psychiatrist. She expressed to the psychiatrist that she felt attracted to women, but the psychiatrist told her she was not homosexual. He suggested she abandon her friends and interests and “cleave” to soon to be husband, Eddie. She did as her psychiatrist instructed, but her lesbian desires did not subside.
Years later, a coworker, Delores Alexander, introduced Bottini to the National Organization for Women (NOW). Alexander had just interviewed the NOW president Betty Friedan, and felt it would be a useful organization for Bottini to join. Bottini helped found the New York chapter of NOW in 1966. Soon after becoming president of the New York chapter of NOW in 1968 she came out as a lesbian. She left her husband and moved in with a woman in New York City.
She also studied acting at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and performed a one-woman show, “The Many Faces of Women”, nationwide.
Bottini later worked as a graphic artist.
Her memoir, The Liberation of Ivy Bottini: A Memoir of Love and Activism, as told to Judith V. Branzburg, was published by Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company in November, 2018.
Bottini died in Florida on February 25, 2021 at the age of 94. – Available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License from Wikipedia.