Ivy Bottini, a fierce feminist-lesbian icon who was outspoken and feisty at public meetings and spoke truth to power in Los Angeles and West Hollywood almost 50 years, was still fighting for the LGBTQ community at the very end.
On Thursday morning, Bottini was surrounded by her daughter, daughter-in-law, grandson and pastor. Bottini was advocating for better safety for LGBTQ people at the church she attended. The pastor agreed to institute those measures.
“She then gave a big smile, took her last breath, and then passed away,” said Marna Deitch, a West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay Advisory board member, who learned of Bottini’s passing from her daughter-in-law, Beth, who was at Bottini’s bedside.
“Beth said it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen,” Deitch said.
Bottini died at her daughter’s home in Sebring, Florida. She was 94.
Bottini was surrounded by her daughters and grandson and paston. She was 94.
Bottini moved from West Hollywood to Florida two years ago to be with her daughter, Lisa, and Beth. Bottini entered hospice early this month.
West Hollywood City Councilwoman Sepi Shyne said Bottini was a legend, friend, and mentor. The two women got to know each other in 2019 when Shyne first ran for City Council.
“I met her for the first time in her apartment, and we sat down at her kitchen table where she grilled me all about the West Hollywood issues she cared about; over development, the rising cost of living, women’s rights and shrinking green space,” Shyne said. “A week later she called to let me know she is endorsing me and we talked often in the following months.
“I haven’t had many lesbian mentors in my life, but she quickly become mine as well as a dear friend,” Shyne said. “I will miss her very much.”
Bottini was born Aug. 15, 1926 in New York. She began her career as an illustrator and graphic artist in New York. Bottini studied at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute School of Art, obtaining a certificate in advertising graphic design and illustration, and spent 16 years as an art director and illustrator at the newspaper Newsday.
Her feminist and lesbian activism trace their roots to 1960s, when Bottini was a co-founder of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). In 1969, she designed the logo that the organization still uses today.
Bottini also pushed for lesbian rights, but in 1970, NWO’s president, Betty Friedan, who didn’t see lesbian activism as part of the women’s rights movement, expelled Bottini and all the other out lesbians.
Lesbian activist, icon
Bottini relocated to Los Angeles in 1971 and jumped head first into gay and lesbian activism: co-founding the Coalition for Human Rights; the Los Angeles Lesbian/Gay Police Advisory Board; AIDS Network LA; and AIDS Project Los Angeles, which eventually changed its name to APLA Health.
- In 1978, Bottini was the Southern California deputy director of No on 6, the campaign that defeated the Briggs Initiative, which would have outlawed gays and lesbians from teaching in California’s public schools.
- In 1981, Bottini was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown as Commissioner for the California Commission on Aging, making her the first out lesbian or gay person to be appointed to a state board or commission.
- In 1986, Bottini later chaired the successful No on LaRouche and No on 64 Initiative campaign that defeated Proposition 64 also known as The LaRouche Initiative, which some people feared might have quarantined people with AIDS.
- In 1993, Bottini co-founded the nonprofit group Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing, which, in 2007, developed Triangle Square, the first affordable housing complex for gay and lesbian senior citizens in the United States.
- From 2000 to 2010, Bottini co-chaired the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board for the City of West Hollywood.
- Bottini’s book, “The Liberation of Ivy Bottini: A Memoir of Love and Activism,” chronicles her life in the trenches fighting for civil rights.
Bottini is survived by her daughters, Laura and Lisa, and her daughter-in-law, Beth, and a grandson.