On moving to New York, he organized drag balls as fund raisers for the Mattachine Society. However they were disinterested in drag queens and other transies, so in 1970 he and heterosexual transvestite Bunny Eisenhower founded the Queens Liberation Front, and Brewster began publishing Drag, one of the more political transgender publications of the 1970s, which ran for 10 years.
They campaigned successfully to de-criminalize cross-dressing in New York. Previously a bar or club could be closed and patrons arrested, simply because a single person, deemed to be crossdressed, was present.
They organized with Sylvia Rivera.
The balls he organized continued until 1973 – the last one was attended by the real versions of Jacqueline Susann, Carol Channing and Shirley MacLaine.
He was the proprietor of the drag emporium Lee's Mardi Gras – in business for 30 years at various locations around Manhattan, carrying a large stock of clothes, prosthetics and books. In addition to individual clients, the shop supplied costumes for Broadway, television and movies, in particular To Wong Foo and The Birdcage.
In 1999 Lee donated his extensive library to the Wollman Archives of Transgender History and Culture, curated by Rusty Rae Moore at Transy House.
He continued to answer to ‘Mr’ in the style of old-time drag performers.
He died after a battle with cancer.
- Holly Brubach. Girlfriend: Men, Women, and Drag. New York: Random House, 1999: 133-8.
- Jack Nichols. “Lee Brewster Dies at 57: Pioneering Transvestite Activist”. Gay Today. 2000. gaytoday.badpuppy.com/garchive/events/052500ev.htm.
- Douglas Martin. “Lee Brewster, 57, Style Guru For World's Cross-Dressers
- Susan Stryker. “Brewster, Lee”. Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History in America. 2005.
- “Lee Greer Brewster”. Matt & Andrej Koymasky. www.andrejkoymasky.com/liv/fam/biob5/brewst02.html.