1913 - 1997

Velma Young was born in Aurora, Illinois on September 7, 1913. After college, she felt pressured to find a husband and, in 1939, married and eventually gave birth to three children. While employed as a teacher and operator, she managed to sell her writing to a number of magazines. In 1953, using her most popular pen name – Valerie Taylor – she wrote her first novel, Hired Girl, which contained no lesbian subject matter. With the $500 earned from the book’s publication, Taylor got a pair of shoes, two dresses… and a divorce lawyer. She claimed that she didn’t realize the extent of her attraction to women until she was in her thirties. In the 1950s she had begun to see what came to be known as “classic lesbian pulp novels” in stores; but these had mostly been written by men as male fantasies. Taylor wanted to write stories that were centered on realistic characters. In 1957 she moved to Chicago and began a prolific career as the author of books with titles like Return to Lesbos, The Girls in 3-B, Journey to Fulfillment, and A World Without Men. In addition to her writing, Taylor was active in LGBT and women’s rights, and the peace movement. She was a member of the early lesbian group the Daughter of Bilitis and contributed to that organization’s groundbreaking magazine, “The Ladder”. During this period Taylor met lesbian activist/lawyer Pearl Hart. In 1965 the two women co-founded Mattachine Midwest, whose newsletter Taylor also edited. She and Hart remained together until Hart’s passing a decade later. Not being an immediate family member, Taylor was prevented from visiting Hart in the hospital while she was still conscious. By the time she was finally allowed into the room, Hart was in a coma; Taylor never got to say goodbye. In 1974 she co-founded the Lesbian Writers Conference. She retired to Tucson in 1979 where she became active in the Gray Panthers. She was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 1993. After suffering a fall on October 10, Valerie Taylor died on October 22, 1997 at the age of 84.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Bisexual

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Native/Indigenous

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Homophile Movement (1945-1969) Information Age (1970-present) Post-Stonewall Era (1974-1980) Second-wave Feminism (1960-1990)

Field(s) of Contribution




Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Tucson GLBTQ Museum Memoriam Wall Member

Lesbian Writers Conference Co-Founder (1974)

Posthumous Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame Inductee (1992)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell