Rest in Peace, Yolanda Retter

A memorial to celebrate the life of pioneer Latina lesbian activist and beloved MALCS historianyolandaretter1.jpg Yolanda Retter Vargas will be held at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood on September 29th.

Yolanda passed away from cancer at her home in Los Angeles on August 18, 2007, after a short illness which stunned family and friends.

An activist and scholar, Yolanda was a major force in the early L.A. lesbian movement as a fierce advocate for lesbians of color. In her last two decades Yolanda became a highly-educated and much sought after librarian, archivist and editor.

Yolanda worked as head Librarian/Archivist at the Chicano Studies Resource Center at UCLA for the past four years. Her supervisor, Chon Noriega, at UCLA Chicano Studies Resource Center, says, “Learning mattered to her because it could help change the world. Yolanda exemplified the CSRC’s mission Å’Research that makes a difference in everything that she did at the Center, and in the many other things that she did in the world.

She co-edited and contributed to a number of significant books on lesbian/gay culture and history, including the Lambda Literary award-winning Queers in Space: Communities, Public Places, Sites of Resistance.

In her early years, and by self-definition Yolanda was a lesbian history and visibility activist. Her life’s work was dedicated to collecting, preserving and honoring overlooked history. She is the author of the high-respected Lesbian History Project website, a content-rich archive containing important chronology and hundreds of entries celebrating lesbian herstory” and notable lesbians. Another memorable sideline of Yolanda¹s was a talent for turning a phrase into the unique and ironic slogan buttons worn in the 70s, which she hand-made using her own slogans. “One sister’s butch is another sister’s femme,””You’ve just been served by a Lesbian and “Marimacha, y que?” were among her original slogans. Her life was so grand, so awesome. Her devotion to her students, to the women of MALCS, to all those students she helped and mentored… I know the pain that many of my companeras are feeling. They feel, and rightly so, they have lost a soldier, a warrior. I don’t know her personally, but I know she will be missed.

Her memorial, “The Pages of Yolanda’s Her Story” will be held at 1 p.m. on September 29, 2007 in Los Angeles. The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) is located at 8714 Santa Monica Blvd (East of San Vicente, West of La Cienega, between Westbourne and Huntley).”

–Compiled from Arely Zimmerman, Suyapa G. Portillo V. (, Tongue-2-Tongue-LA, dykestuff@dykemarch

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