Activist and Artist Ivy Bottini (1926-2021)

February 25, 2021


It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of dear friend, activist, feminist, artist, comedian, and all-around game-changer, Ivy Bottini, who was 94.  As a founding member of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women, and an outspoken lesbian feminist, Ivy's activist career spans five decades.  She leaves behind an amazing legacy and she will be greatly missed.

Ivy was born on August 15, 1926, to a working class family in Long Island, New York. In 1944, she studied art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and later went on to a career in graphic design, working as an illustrator and art director for Newsday. In 1951, she married Edward Bottini and later gave birth to her daughters Laura and Lisa.

By the mid-1960s, Ivy became involved in the developing feminist movement and in 1966 became a founding member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) at its first chapter in New York City. Soon after, she became the New York chapter's second president. After the news of her sexuality became public knowledge, some women in the NOW membership, including NOW co-founder Betty Friedan, began speaking out against lesbian women in the organization. Ivy, a target of that protest, subsequently left NOW in 1970.

In the 1970s, Ivy moved to Los Angeles and developed stand-up comedy performances, workshops and seminars in feminist consciousness-raising, which she started when she was a member of NOW. In addition to her feminist consciousness-raising, Ivy started to establish her leadership in gay and lesbian rights movements. Her accomplishments include working for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center; becoming deputy director for the No on Briggs Proposition 6 campaign; becoming political vice president of the Stonewall Democratic Club; co-chairing the Los Angeles Police Department's first Gay and Lesbian Police Task Force; founding the Los Angeles AIDS Network; being a founding board member of AIDS Project Los Angeles; and chairing the No on LaRouche Proposition 64 campaign. In the 1990s, she spearheaded a project to build affordable housing for LGBT seniors, known as Triangle Square. Through the 1990s-2010s, she continued to be involved in several activities, including the Gay and Lesbian Advisory Board of the West Hollywood City Council.

We at ONE Archives would like to express our deepest condolences to Ivy's family and friends. Ivy donated her papers to ONE Archives and you can learn more about her life and legacy of activism in the finding aid.  Selected images and audio from her collection are also available through the USC Digital Library and the Internet Archive.