Dr. Marie Equi

Radical Political Activist, Anarchist, Lesbian, Reproductive Freedom, Doctor, Our Sister


Dr. Marie Diane Equi


In 1893 Marie Equi and Bess Holcomb who were in a “Boston Marriage” together moved to Oregon where Holcomb worked as a teacher and Equi studied to enter medical school. In 1901 Equi was one of the first women to enter the University of Oregon Medical School. She graduated with a degree in 1903. Dr. Equi set up a medical practice serving working class women and children and was dedicated to the expansion of women’s reproductive choices, including access to birth control and abortion. In 1906 she organized a group of doctors and nurses in response to the San Francisco earthquake to provide aid. At this time she met Harriet Speckart and the women began a relationship living openly as a lesbian couple and adopting a daughter in 1915.

A radical political activist Dr. Equi became an anarchist in 1913 after being beaten by the police while attending to an injured woman worker during a strike action. Due to her professional status she could not become a member of the IWW but was a strong supporter. In 1916 she was arrested at an anti-war protest and in 1918 she was convicted of sedition for a speech she made opposing World War I. In 1920 she began what was to be a 3 year sentence at San Quentin which was later reduced to a year and a half. Dr. Marie Diane Equi died in Portland Oregon in 1952.

Dr. Equi believed, as many of us do, that there is no difference between the many struggles of our human family and that these battles can not be fought as a single issue fight. Dr. Equi saw her fight for birth control, woman’s suffrage, the over all improvement in working conditions, class struggle and against war to be a part of the larger struggle for freedom, dignity, and health of workers and their families.

This article was first published by qa in October 2007 on the QWB site. We here feel it is a very important article to spark the interest of our revolutionary young folks and to further our study of queer identity, anarchism and multi-issue fight.

“Radical Politics, Radical Love: The Life of Dr. Marie Equi. Northwest G&L Historian. Summer/Fall. Issue, Vol. No.3 and June 1997 Vol. No. 4.

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