Alma Routsong

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Alma Routsong
Alma Routsong.jpg
Born November 26, 1924
Traverse City, Michigan, U.S.
Died October 4, 1996(1996-10-04) (aged 71)
Poughkeepsie, New York, U.S.
Pen name Isabel Miller
Alma mater Michigan State University
Genre Lesbian fiction

Alma Routsong (November 26, 1924 – October 4, 1996) was an American novelist best known for her lesbian fiction, published under the pen name Isabel Miller.[1]


Alma Routsong was born in Traverse City, Michigan on November 26, 1924 to Carl and Esther Miller Routsong. Her father was a police sergeant, and her mother was a nurse. She had an older brother Richard, and a younger brother Gary. During World War II she served in the WAVES, training at the Farragut, Idaho Naval Training Center, and then worked as a hospital apprentice.[2] She graduated from Michigan State University in 1949 with a degree in art.

Alma married Bruce Brodie in 1947 and they had four daughters; Natalie (1949), Joyce (1952), Charlotte (1954), and Louise (1958). Brodie and Routsong divorced in 1961.

Between 1968 and 1971 Routsong worked as an editor at Columbia University.

Barbara Gittings staffed a kissing booth at the national convention of the American Library Association in Dallas in 1971, underneath the banner "Hug a Homosexual," with a "women only" side and a "men only" side.[3][4] When no one took advantage of it, she and Routsong kissed in front of rolling television cameras. In describing its success, despite most of the reaction being negative, Gittings said, "We needed to get an audience. So we decided, let's show gay love live. We were offering free—mind you, free—same-sex kisses and hugs. Let me tell you, the aisles were mobbed, but no one came into the booth to get a free hug. So we hugged and kissed each other. It was shown twice on the evening news, once again in the morning. It put us on the map."[5]

Also in 1971 the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association created the first award for GLBT books, the Stonewall Book Award, which celebrates books of exceptional merit that relate to LGBT issues. Patience and Sarah by Routsong (pen name Isabel Miller) was the first winner. Routsong's first two novels were published under her own name, with the later works under the pen name Isabel Miller, a combination of an anagram of "Lesbia" and her mother's maiden name.[6]

From the mid-1970s until 1986 Routsong was a proofreader for Time Magazine.[7]

Routsong died in Poughkeepsie, New York on October 4, 1996, aged 71.[citation needed]

Routsong was an officer in the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis[8] and she was arrested during a DOB police raid.[7]

She and Sidney Abbott, Kate Millett, Phyllis Birkby, and Artemis March were among the members of CR One, the first lesbian-feminist consciousness-raising group.[9]


  • Routsong, Alma (1953). A Gradual Joy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Routsong, Alma (1959). Round Shape. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Miller, Isabel (1969). A Place for Us. New York: Bleecker Street Press. republished as Miller, Isabel (1971). Patience and Sarah. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Miller, Isabel (1986). The Love of Good Women. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press.
  • Miller, Isabel (1991). Side by Side. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press.
  • Miller, Isabel (1993). A Dooryard Full of Flowers: and Other Short Pieces. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press.
  • Miller, Isabel (1996). Laurel. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press.



  • "After the G.I. Wedding," (review of A Gradual Joy), The New York Times August 23, 1953
  • "When Mother Moved In," (review of Round Shape), The New York Times September 6, 1959
  • "Their love was a thing apart" (review of Patience and Sarah), The New York Times April 23, 1972


  1. ^ Gallagher, John (August 17, 1999). "Take a Wilde RIDE - highlights of gay rights history from 1895-1998". The Advocate. Archived from the original on March 14, 2008. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
  2. ^ Traverse City Record-Eagle, August 17, 1945.
  3. ^ Bullough, Vern, ed. (2002) Before Stonewall: Activists for gay and lesbian rights in historical context. Harrington Park Press; ISBN 1-56023-192-0
  4. ^ "Gay Pioneers". Gay Pioneers. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  5. ^ Warner David."20 questions". Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. April 22–29, 1999; accessed November 4, 2007.
  6. ^ Katz, Jonathan. "Writing and Publishing Patience and Sarah". Gay American History. Archived from the original on March 14, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
  7. ^ a b Elizabeth M. Wavie, "Isabel Miller" in Sandra Pollack and Denise D. Knight (eds) Contemporary Lesbian Writers of the United States, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993), pp 354–360.
  8. ^ Hogan and Hudson, Completely Queer
  9. ^ JoAnne Myers (August 20, 2009). The A to Z of the Lesbian Liberation Movement: Still the Rage. Scarecrow Press. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-8108-6327-9.
  10. ^ "Mrs. Bruce Brodie Wins Fellowship to Conference" Urbana, Illinois Courier, July 28, 1957


  • Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2002
  • Steve Hogan and Lee Hudson, Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1998), pages 481-482.
  • Carol Hurd Green and Mary Grimley Mason (eds) "Alma Routsong", in American Women Writers, volume 5 (St James Press, 1994), pp 394–396

External links

  • 1975 Jonathan Katz interview of Routsong
  • 1990 Video interview of Alma Routsong
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