A lively, intimate memoir from a marriage equality icon of the gay rights movement, describing gay life in the 1950s and 60s New York City and her longtime activism.
"Brash, funny and brave." —NPR
“A captivating and inspiring story of a queer woman who believed in her right to take up space and be seen.”—BuzzFeed
"Windsor’s story fighting for what she believed in is one that will leave readers inspired." —NBC OUT
Edie Windsor became internationally famous when she sued the US government, seeking federal recognition for her marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of more than four decades. The Supreme Court ruled in Edie’s favor, a landmark victory that set the stage for full marriage equality in the US. Beloved by the LGBTQ community, Edie embraced her new role as an icon; she had already been living an extraordinary and groundbreaking life for decades.
In this memoir, which she began before passing away in 2017 and completed by her co-writer, Edie recounts her childhood in Philadelphia, her realization that she was a lesbian, and her active social life in Greenwich Village's electrifying underground gay scene during the 1950s. Edie was also one of a select group of trailblazing women in computing, working her way up the ladder at IBM and achieving their highest technical ranking while developing software. In the early 1960s Edie met Thea, an expat from a Dutch Jewish family that fled the Nazis, and a widely respected clinical psychologist. Their partnership lasted forty-four years, until Thea died in 2009. Edie found love again, marrying Judith Kasen-Windsor in 2016.
A Wild and Precious Life is remarkable portrait of an iconic woman, gay life in New York in the second half of the twentieth century, and the rise of LGBT activism.
In this insightful posthumous debut, gay rights activist Windsor spins a whirlwind tale spanning eight decades studded with glamour, bravado, and desire against the backdrop of Greenwich Village and the Hamptons. Completed after her death at 88 in 2017 by Lyon (Pill Head), Windsor's account covers growing up in Philadelphia and, in 1951, moving to New York City and studying math at New York University. After college, Windsor worked at IBM and rose through the ranks; meanwhile, she frequented lesbian bars and met other women, using the same pickup line: "Tell me your name.... I'm Edie Windsor and I'm new here." Eventually, she fell in love with Thea Spyer, a wealthy Dutch psychologist, and in 1966 the two settled into what became a four-decade partnership. Thea died in 2009 and left Windsor her estate, for which Windsor was expected to pay $500,000 in taxes since their union was not recognized as a marriage per the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Windsor filed a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court in 2013 and won, paving the way for same-sex marriage ("I did not want the government to benefit financially from hateful discrimination," she writes). Windsor's memoir is passionately told and serves as a substantive look at her contribution to same-sex marriage.