The City of West Hollywood paid tribute to former resident and lesbian activist Ivy Bottini with a magnolia tree honoring her life as a champion for LGBT rights at the Matthew Shepard Human Rights Triangle located at the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard.
“Activist-Lesbian-Mother-Feminist-Artist” reads a plaque from 2002 next to the freshly watered tree. “In this year of 2002, the City of West Hollywood honors your pioneering spirit and lifetime commitment and devotion to the rights of women, seniors, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Thank you for your empathy, tenacious courage and leadership. Your contributions to the City of West Hollywood have been selfless. You are a role model and a living legacy for future generations.”
Women’s rights activist, member of the West Hollywood Rent Stabilization Commission, and colleague and friend to Ivy Bottiny, Karen Andros Eyres, advocated for the tribute.
“I think the magnolia is a perfect choice for Ivy’s tree,” Eyres told WEHO TIMES. “Magnolia trees have been on earth since the dawning of time. They represent stability and resiliency through the ever-changing ages. Just like Ivy and her integrity were a contant through the ages, how she selflessly worked for the greater good, to advance LGBTQIA+ rights and women’s rights.”
“And Ivy loved flowers,” she added. “They were often the subject matter in her paintings, especially in her later years. So it’s fitting that her tree is a flowering tree.”
The West Hollywood Public Works Department planted the flowering plant this afternoon. Council member John Erickson was present for the tribute. He took photos and shared about the most recent addition to the Mathew Shepard Human Rights Triangle on his social media.
Activist Ivy Bottini was a woman who was at the forefront of the National Organization for Women (NOW) movement and the second wave of feminism. She helped found the New York City chapter of the NOW and in 1969 designed the NOW logo that is still used today. She moved to LA County in 1971 and became an activist for many LGBT causes, co-founding the Coalition for Human Rights, the Los Angeles Lesbian/Gay Police Advisory Board, AIDS Network LA, and AIDS Project LA. Her stories of transformative personal growth, sacrifice and activism are not only inspirational and educational, but also a model for activism from a leader in two of the most important liberation movements of the past half century—women’s liberation and gay & lesbian liberation.
In 1986, Ivy was a key organizer of the No on LaRouche (Prop 64) campaign in California, which fought a conservative attempt to quarantine and stigmatize gay men during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Due to Ivy’s steadfast efforts — including the training of hundreds of volunteers in Southern California to go door-to-door educating people about the facts — Prop 64 was defeated.
In the 1990s, Ivy gave acclaimed performances in plays at the Celebration Theatre. She was not new to performing, having toured her one-woman show, “Many Faces of Woman” in the 1970s. As recently as 2018, Ivy performed the monologue “My Angry Vagina” in a West Hollywood production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.
In the early 2000s, Ivy resurrected Project Rainbow, a housing campaign that sat dormant for 20 years while the community battled the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and gave it legs. The result of this project was Triangle Square, which today provides housing for LGBTQ community members at risk of becoming homeless — the first such facility in the U.S.
To learn more on Bottony’s life, read “The Liberation of Ivy Bottini: A Memoir of Love and Activism,” by Ivy Bottini as told to Judith V. Branzburg.
Bottini passed peacefully on Thursday, February 25, 2021 surrounded by her daughters.