Dr. Ronni Sanlo, an author and gay and lesbian activist, may arguably be the most interesting lesbian living in Palm Springs. A harrowing life experience that would have driven many women to the pipe turned Sanlo into a very pissed off babe who used her anger as energy to fight injustice like a character out of a Marvel Comic.
She was living in Florida in the late 70’s when she told her husband she was a lesbian and wanted a divorce. Needless to say the husband filed for custody of their two children, a girl and boy, 3 and 6. The State of Florida which has always been quick to spot the work of the Devil agreed with the husband and Sanlo was left with visitation rights until she went to work in an AIDS clinic and her children were told she had contracted AIDS and if they went near her they would catch it and die. It was the mid-90’s before she saw her children again, who were grown and reached out to restore the relationship with their mother.
In the years between she got her PHD and turned her anger about losing her children into literally changing the way colleges and universities treat LGBTQ students. Her work at the University of Michigan and UCLA has set the standard for college gay rights across the country.
She says she’s not angry anymore but she still has trust issues but thinks she getting past that since she got married six years ago to her wife, Kelly. She is retired from UCLA, sees her kids often, her son is gay, her daughter married with two kids of her own. She sees the younger LGBTQ generation as a very different, more open and less oppressed group who does not seem to have the same need to bond with a very specific gay community. She says she misses that old gay community and the safety it provided a person to be herself.
She is still forever vigilant in protecting gay rights. She talked about the future of lesbian mothers and how in 29 states they still have no protection under the law and seemed to be figuring out what to do about it.