Nikki Nichols

rosalie nichols profile

Rosalie Nichols, who went by Nikki, was born in Sacramento and came to San Jose after attending Sacramento and San Francisco State Universities.

In 1975, she and her partner Johnie Staggs opened Ms. Atlas Press, a bookstore and publisher, on West San Fernando Street near downtown San Jose. It carried books and magazines by LGBTQ authors, and focused on the LGBTQ community. It also served as a social hub for the community at a time when there were not a lot of public gathering places for LGBTQ people in the South Bay besides bars.

Ms. Atlas Press also published the literary quarterly Lesbian Voices, which contained short stories, poetry, and essays. It had readers both across the United States as well as overseas.

Nikki became more active in LGBTQ politics in 1977 when she served as treasurer for the effort to defeat Proposition 6, otherwise known as the Briggs Initiative. In 1979, she was one of the founding members of San Jose’s Susan B. Anthony Democratic Club. As co-chair of that club she addressed the meeting of the California Democratic Party’s Executive Committee that was held in San Jose in July 1979.

Nikki and Johnie were also contributors to the pioneering South Bay LGBTQ newspaper Lambda News. Following disagreements with the paper’s publisher, she, Johnie and several others founded Our Paper in 1982. Lambda News would fold in 1983 but Our Paper continued regular publication until 1995.

She received a commendation from Santa Clara County’s Human Relations Commission in 1984. That same year she would become one of the first board members of BAYMEC.

Ms. Atlas Press (1975-1995)

nikki nichols and johnie staggs

Founded in July 1975 by Johnie Staggs and Rosalie Nichols, Ms. Atlas Press opened as a commercial printing operation and bookstore in downtown San Jose at 53 West San Fernando.

In addition, Johnie and Nikki wrote and published Lesbian Voices, a literary quarterly containing short stories, poetry, and essays that was internationally distributed as far as Egypt, Northern Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, and New Zealand. They also worked with Dan Relic to produce Lambda News, a local gay newspaper. When Lambda News started to falter, they created Our Paper, Your Paper, a local gay paper that also included important national news for the community. 

Ms. Atlas Press was the official printer for the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, and both Johnie and Nikki were deeply involved in the struggle for gay rights through the existing political process.

Lesbian Voices (1974-1978, 1980-1981)

lesbian voices cover 3

Established by the San Jose group Sisters of Sappha in 1974, Lesbian Voices was the preeminent feminist lesbian quarterly in Silicon Valley. Publication was suspended in 1978, as owners Johnie Staggs and Rosalie ‘Nikki’ Nichols redirected their efforts towards a self-described political fight against fundamentalists. In 1980, Lesbian Voices would resume publication for one year before permanently ending.