Linda Gryczan was born on September 23rd, 1953, the oldest of five siblings, and grew up in Western Colorado. At 11 years old, she read the word “bisexual” in an Ann Landers column. Despite not knowing what it meant at the time, she had the realization that she didn’t have to grow up and marry a man, as a girl in the 1950s was expected to do.
Linda was severely ostracized at school and did not fit in. However, she graduated and moved around before settling in Seattle, having found a house through the Lesbian Resource Center. At age 21, Linda experienced two profound moments that shaped her romantic life: She met the first woman who loved her back, and read Patricia Nell Warren’s era-defining The Front Runner, the first contemporary gay novel to achieve mainstream success.
In Seattle, she helped to develop The Lesbian Mothers National Defense Fund (LMNDF), one of the first U.S. organizations providing support to lesbians facing custody challenges. Between 1974 and 1980 alone, the LMNDF provided assistance to over 400 lesbian mothers. Linda also followed a deep passion for cycling by becoming the area’s only female bicycle shop mechanic. After experiencing discrimination on the job, she opened her own bicycle repair shop, under the name Alice B. Toeclips Cyclery. At 30, she moved to Boulder, Montana where she fixed bikes in the summer and sold tie dye shirts in the winter.
In 1990, after working with the Montana Women’s Lobby, Linda discovered Statute 45-5-505 of the Montana Code Annotated, which defined “deviate sexual relations” as “sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex or any form of sexual intercourse with an animal.” Passed in 1973, the law carried a fine of up to fifty thousand dollars, as well as ten years in prison, and made consensual same-sex intercourse a felony.
Linda decided to try and overturn the law, both in 1991 and 1993. After the second failure in 1993, she told her neighbors she was suing the state of Montana to try and overturn the discriminatory legislation. On December 6, 1993, six lesbian and gay Montanans sued the state and presented evidence of discrimination received as a result of the law. Two days later, the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Despite an appeal, in July 1997 the Montana Supreme Court unanimously upheld the historic ruling, which became known as Gryczan vs. State.
In 2004, Montana voters supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as “between one man and one woman.” However, the ruling was finally killed off in 2013 when Montana state legislature passed Senate Bill 107, fully removing the law.
Since hanging up her bicycle wrench, Linda has turned her hand to mediation. Linda has since performed hundreds of mediations for divorcing couples, families, workplaces, and organizations. In 2010, she was chosen by the First Judicial District Bar Association as Pro Bono Mediator of the Year.