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Rev. Flo Fleischman

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The Rev. Florine L. Fleischman was a student at the University of Tampa in the late 1940s where she connected with other lesbians and gay men, particularly through Literati, a student writers group. She also wrote for the university newpaper, Minaret. She was blocked from becoming editor of the paper in 1951 because of her "mannish attire." From 1951 to 1956 Fleischman was active with underground gay and lesbian activities in Tampa and Miami, despite intense  persecution by the notoriously anti-gay Tampa Vice squad.

Flo moved to southern California in 1956, in part to escape this oppression. She checked out ONE, Inc., there but found it and its leader Dorr Legg very male-oriented and not welcoming to her. She later met Betty Perdue and, in 1963, the two of them formed a lesbian group "to improve our lot as lesbians and women." The group was comprised largely of professional women, so they met in secrecy and used pseudonyms. The group eventually became the Manhattan Beach chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis. Flo came out publicly as a lesbian during this period.  

In 1965, Flo became active with the Council on Religion and the Homophile that Dorr Legg and Jim Kepner founded in Los Angeles. She became one of the public faces of that group, appearing on panels and other public events to speak about her experiences and that of other lesbians and gay men. In 1971, she joined the first Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Los Angeles. She decided to pursue pastoral ministry and received a bachelor's degree in theology from the Samaritan Theological Institute in 1979. She was licensed to ministry in the MCC and pastored at MCC Oceanside and MCC Van Nuys.

In 1984, she left the MCC and founded New Hope Christian Church in Van Nuys. She pastored and nurtured this gay and lesbian religious "extended family" for about 15 years.  A successful businesswoman, Flo supported herself financially through her years of ministry as an investigative real estate claims adjustor and commercial collection manager.

Fleischman was elected to the board of the ONE Institute and Archives in Los Angeles in 1995 and served as president from 1998 until 2000.

(This information taken from a profile about Fleischman written by Ernie Potvin and published in ONE-IGLA Bulletin #4, Winter 1998, and also an interview with her by C. Todd White, Ph.D., published in his Legends column in the Orange County and Long Beach Blade, May 2005. Photo by C. Todd White.)

Created: 6/27/2005 10:56:10 AM

Modified: 7/11/2005 9:55:27 AM

Biography: June, 2005