Digital Transgender Archive

Forging Community Through Correspondence

Photo of Ben PowerThe Lou Sullivan/Ben Power Correspondence collection features a series of letters sent between Lou Sullivan and Ben Power from 1986 until Lou’s’ death in 1991. They detail close personal ties between Lou Sullivan, prominent FTM activist and founder of FTM International, and Ben Power, founder of the East Coast FTM Group and curator of the Sexual Minorities Archive (SMA). Also included are some letters sent by Ben to various people after Lou’s passing. With the letters are a number of photographs, cards, and articles shared between the correspondents.

The letters detail the personal and public experiences of two people as they navigated their own lives and supported each other in their struggles. Lou grappled with HIV/AIDS during this point in his life, so they often discussed his health. As the time passed, Lou’s letters to Ben became shorter and less frequent, as he was clearly struggling with his illness. Ben often discussed defining his gender identity and sexuality. He also wrote at length about his his search for a romantic and sexual relationship with someone of a specific gender identity and sexuality who would also accept him. This correspondence shows the strength of two friends and the power of their connection The photo to the left shows a portrait of Ben Power, taken on July 29, 1989 in Northampton, MA.