Lesley Gore And Lois Sasson: Secret Lesbian History
Were you a fan of Lesley Gore and now are looking for more details about her personal life as a lesbian with Lois Sasson that she kept closeted for many years? Lesley Gore died in mid-February and her funeral will be held Thursday, February 19 — but little is said about her partner and widow, luxury jeweler Lois Sasson. Many articles about Lesley Gore focus on five things you did not know — and the one thing that is missing from some of these articles is information about her funeral and her partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson.
The first person to announce that Lesley Gore had died was Lois Sasson. In an AP News article, it was said that Lesley Gore “died of lung cancer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, according to her partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson.”
Many articles about the death of Lesley Gore, such as one from ABC News, briefly hint that she came out as a lesbian later in life through a 2005 PBS show that focused on LGBT life called, “In The Life.” But few articles discuss how her relationship began with Lois Sasson. What we do know is that Lesley Gore and Lois Sasson started dating in the mid-1980s.
To get some background, Lesley Gore’s sexual orientation history is discussed in an article on the Biography website. In it, it states that Lesley Gore knew she was a lesbian when she attended the all-female Sarah Lawrence college in the mid-1960s where she majored in English and American Literature. Before that, perhaps because she was at the high point of her career, Lesley Gore felt she had “never had time to examine her true feelings.”
Lesley Gore said, “I had boyfriends. I was scheduled to get married… All of that was part of the agenda at the time… Part of the problem that I had… was being out in the public. It was hard to even explore it. I wasn’t even left that opportunity. When I talk to some of my gay women friends now who might just be a little bit older than me, they would come in from [Long] Island or New Jersey, and they would put on their black Levis and black jackets and run to the bars. I wasn’t quite able to do that.”
After two decades of silence about her relationship with Lois Sasson, the next news we hear about the pair is in 2005 when Lesley Gore came out as a lesbian on PBS. After that, you hear little about the day-to-day of Lesley Gore’s relationship with Lois Sasson. One exception is a 2009 New York Press article that says she spent her time with Lois Sasson in the Upper East Side, doing concerts in places like Las Vegas, and that she always had “her yoga and meditation tapes in tow.”
What is strange is that there is little evidence that Lois Sasson has ever done an interview — much less with her partner of 33 years. What is available is a rather funny customer testimonial video that Lesley Gore and Lois Sasson did for a lawyer named Adam Leitman Bailey.
The lawsuit case details included that Lois Sasson had lived in the same apartment for the past 50 years. Susan Goner, Lois Sasson’s sister, is in real estate — and she is the one that referred the couple to Adam Leitman Bailey. From watching the testimonial videos online, you can see why Lesley Gore probably liked Lois Sasson so much that they stayed together for over three decades. On video, Lois Sasson appeared to be just as cool, collected, funny and sharp-witted as Lesley was known for.
But what about Lois Sasson as a person before Lesley Gore came along? Long before Lois Sasson met Lesley Gore, she had a promising career that blossomed in the 1970s. After starting her career as a jeweler, Lois Sasson soon became a favorite of New York Magazine and other Fifth Avenue locations. In particular, she was featured in archives for her “Half-Man” silver pin that she sold through the Panthea Collection at Bloomingdales for a whopping $250 in 1979.
Recently, Lois Sasson’s gold owl cufflinks sold in luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman. Today, Lois Sasson is well-know for her precious gem work, encrusted cufflinks, and tuxedo button covers. For example, a set of Lois Sasson’s mens jewelry called “The Ambassador Set” went on sale for Valentine’s Day 2015 for $16,000.
About Lesley Gore, Lois Sasson said, “She was a wonderful human being – caring, giving, a great feminist, great woman, great human being, great humanitarian.” However, Lois Sasson was a charitable giver herself. Lois Sasson is listed independently of Lesley Gore at least twice online as a charitable donor. In 2013, Lois Sasson and Lesley Gore also supported a charity for a young woman named Nicole Porto that The Jewelry News Network described as suffering from aplastic anemia (a type of blood cancer).
Of course, when someone dies, a few loose ends may appear — and Lesley Gore was no different. In 2009, Lesley Gore mentioned in The New York Press that she would, “focus on writing that second act in the Upper East Side home she shares with Lois Sasson, her partner of 25 years and a jewelry designer with an exclusive men’s line at Bergdorf Goodman.”
The writing she wanted to do was for a one-woman performance piece for Off Broadway — but there is no evidence that she completed that writing or put on a play. Frontier Media reports that in 2013, Lesley Gore was, “currently working on both a book and a musical of her life.” Again, it appears that Lesley Gore may not have finished these works. Perhaps Lois Sasson can share these Lesley Gore treasures with us one day?
Currently, fans continue to send their condolences to Lois Sasson and the funeral service was announced by AP News. They stated that Lesley Gore’s funeral would be held on February 19, “At the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home on Madison Avenue, New York.”
[All images from the referenced links.]