Sive Neilan was born in southern Ireland in the late 1950s. She was raised Roman Catholic, although she is no longer involved with the Church; she identifies as a lesbian. At 19, she left Ireland, and after spending a couple of years in France, she moved to the United States, where she decided to settle because she felt more comfortable living there as a gay woman. She spent much of the 1960s-70s living in San Francisco, CA, and moved to Rockport, ME in 1978. She opened New Leaf Books, a feminist alternative bookstore, and through that developed a strong following among Maine's gay community.
After the murder of Charles Howard in Bangor, ME in 1984, Neilan voiced strong opposition to the way the murder was covered by Maine newspapers, including the Camden Herald; she felt that the paper displayed a callous disregard for the gay community, and took the opportunity to formally come out as a gay woman. She later served as a board member and president of the Maine Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance (MLGPA).
University of Southern Maine
Sive Neilan, Gay, Lesbian, Feminist, Camden, Rockport, New Leaf Books, Kate McQueen, Maine Gay/Lesbian Symposium, Maine Lesbian Feminists, Charlie Howard, Camden Herald, The AIDSProject, John Preston, Maine Commission for Women, Women’s Legislative Agenda Coalition, MLGPA, F.E. Pentlarge
Winter, Madeleine, "Neilan, Sive" (1999). USM Lesbian and Gay Oral History Project. 7.