Birth Announcement: Baby, You Are My Religion by Marie Cartier

I want to proudly (not shamelessly) announce the upcoming birth of my book! Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars and Theology Before Stonewall will be published by Acumen Press, fall 2013 (October). However, it will not have the cover that is on the book as it is advertised now. I had problems with this cover as it depicts gay contemporary women in a country setting, not pre-Stonewall women in an urban setting, or identity. The photo below is the proposed (and accepted) new cover image, designed by my wife Kimberly Esslinger. And while we don’t know if the book cover will look exactly like this, the publishers are excited about this cover choice image.

 I realized as I advocated for another cover—that my book is my baby. As I sought out another image and worked to negotiate and obtain the rights for it, I realized how protective I was of my book/my baby. I am giving birth to the projects I’ve stored inside myself—I, who never gave birth to biological children, give birth now to this book. I want to have this baby and I want to protect it and set it free to do its work in the world; nurture it and cheer it on as it sets forth to do great things; hold it close and watch it fly.

New Proposed Book Cover: Carolyn Weathers in front of the ACME bar, gay bar in San Antonio, Texas, 1961.

I realized as I advocated for another cover that my book is my baby. As I sought out another image and worked to negotiate and obtain the rights for it, I realized how protective I was of my book/my baby. I am giving birth to the projects I’ve stored inside myself—I, who never gave birth to biological children, give birth now to this book. I want to have this baby and I want to protect it and set it free to do its work in the world; nurture it and cheer it on as it sets forth to do great things; hold it close and watch it fly. 

Carolyn Weathers

Carolyn Weathers

This photo above is from one of my informants, Carolyn Weathers, who writes a column for the June Mazer Lesbian Archives, and recently donated her materials to the One Archives.

It is a 1961 San Antonio gay bar, the Acme Bar. Carolyn Weathers is in pictured in the bar. Carolyn is one of the few people to actually take images from gay bars in the pre-Stonewall era, and archive them, i.e. save them. These photos are extremely rare and I’m so happy that I can use one to grace the cover of my book.

So…here to celebrate with you is the dedication and the preface of my book.

Thank you for celebrating with me!


To all of the gay women who came before me, cleared the path for me, and walked the path with me…butch, femme, kiki, androgynous, lesbian and transgender… who dared to walk into a gay women’s bar and acknowledge themselves and their community and made a community for me… to walk into

To my mother– Joanne Marie (Curtin) Cartier– a woman who came of age in the 1950s

                To my informants, notably those who passed before this book was completed, and especially:

Virginia “Ginny” Borders, Heather Hamm, Elsie Solay and Stella Miller

                May the stories collected herein encourage many more stories.


 Myrna’s Story

                                “I would stay on the phone…that was my lifeline.” —Myrna

“I came out as gay in 1945—the year that the war ended,” Myrna Kurland told me from her home high in the Hollywood Hills of California. “I was dating a softball player that I met at the gay bar. I met her at Mona’s or else it was the Paper Pony. My first night in a gay bar was—freedom. I had a gay male friend and he took me there.”

Myrna was in the gay bars for eight years. She showed me her “treasure from the 40s”—a gold softball on a necklace chain from her first lover—inscribed with the initials from the professional softball league to which women belonged while the men were in the war. “We went to the bar all the time. My entire social life was there—there was no other place.” However, that night she first went to the bar—something else happened. Her father died that night. And she blamed herself, even though she knew that was irrational. She couldn’t get over it. Also she told me that, “I’m Jewish and we lost so many people in the Holocaust. I felt it was my duty to have children. There was no other way to have children in the 50s without getting married to a man. I married someone I disliked—that’s what I felt I deserved because I was gay and I felt so guilty.” She married a psychiatrist—someone to whom she would never be able to tell her secret. Her husband’s practice was very involved in actively trying to change the sexuality/sexual deviancy of his clients—as would be almost any psychiatrist’s practice at the time. If her sexual past and preference had been known to him in all likelihood she would have lost her children.

This brief story came as I was packing up my things, and although we had been speaking for about three hours, this was in response to my final question, “Is there any last thing you want to say about what the bars meant to you?” I meant when she actually went to the bars in the forties—not knowing there was another story. She told me a story about when she did not actually go to the bars, but when she made sure the bars were still there—when she was married.

Informant: Well, I had insomnia. I used to phone up all the gay bars, just to hear them answer the phone….Just to hear the noise, oh yes….

Interviewer:  So you would call and just be on the phone?

Informant:  No, I would just hear the noise and the laughter in the background.

I just wanted to be there.

Interviewer: … it helped you just to know it was out there?


Interviewer: …that’s a really special story.

Informant:  Yeah, oh God…


The book is already available for pre-order and as soon as there are 250 hardcover orders—it will come out in paperback! So, if you are able, buying it in hardcover now and you will be helping students be able to buy the paperback book later :) Also, hear interview with Carolyn Weathers here.

Photos used with permission:
Carolyn Weathers and ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives/Carolyn
Weathers Collection.

Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; and an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University. She is also a first degree black belt in karate, Shorin-Ryu Shi-Do-Kan Kobayashi style. Ms. Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.

Categories: General, LGBTQ, Politics

Tags: , , ,

17 replies

  1. Congratulations, Marie!!!


  2. Brava! It seems right that your book is your baby. When I was finishing my master’s thesis, I ran into an article in some learned journal that compared writing a thesis or dissertation to being pregnant. You wake up with morning sickness–“Oh, God, I have to go to the damn library again today.” You have a sore back from carrying extra weight (heavy books). You go into labor and mighty travail as you work like crazy to meet your final deadline. So Happy Motherhood! (Are you gonna do it again? Write another book?)


  3. I look forward to reading your baby. Thank you for telling our herstory and remembering the lives through story along the way.


  4. Congratulations Marie! Great good luck with your book.

    Titles of several of my books were changed by marketing. Womanspirit Rising had a more boring title and we came up with the better one. Odyssey with the Goddess was originally titled A Serpentine Path, which I still think was a better and more evocative title. In the case of Laughter of Aphrodite, the publisher wanted to put the Venus de Milo on the cover, even though my book made it clear that I was returning the Greek Goddesses to their source in the Earth. This provoked the publisher to come up with a really beautiful cover, that I think won a prize for covers. In it the head of the Greek Goddess emerges from a beautiful blue and green landscape.

    I once was told by someone that he put a clause in his contract that he had the right to choose or approve his title. When marketing said they wanted to change it, and he pointed to the contract, he was asked: do you want us to market your book or not? So much for the clause in the contract.


  5. Congratulations, Marie! It’s so important to hold onto our herstory. Many younger women have no idea how quickly things have changed (and not changed). Thanks for doing this.


  6. This book looks AMAZING! Thank you for writing it. I’m going to suggest that they get a copy for the CST library, and I’ll also mention it to the prof of my Queer Theology class. Maybe it can be included on next year’s reading list. There are not enough good books out there about the lived Lesbian experience.


  7. Congratulations, Marie. The birth of books is painful. I too have not birthed biological children so I cannot make any comparisons. I do know pain. And I do know the painful process I went through for each of my four published books. And the many challenges I am having finishing this current one. Last night on Rachel Maddow’s show, she talked about the short memories of Americans. We can’t remember horrific things that happened last year, let alone what it used to be like to be gay. I did a play-reading workshop for my play “We Did It For You! Women’s Journey Through History” ( last night at a community college class. Two of the women were sitting there holding hands as if it was the most natural thing. It is, but when I was in college in 1968, I was interviewed on a street corner by a sociology student writing a paper about ‘homosexuals’ because we were both too petrified to be indoors and have someone overhear our awkward conversation.


  8. I am excited for you and look forward to reading it, Marie!


  9. Congratulations, Marie! And good for you in speaking up about the cover. Maintaining some creative control is hard when a book goes into a publisher’s hands.


  10. Dear Marie…
    Congratulations to both you and Kim on this great book. How can I buy an advanced copy?


  11. Congratulations Marie – you are a force of nature!!!


  12. When I heard the news on Facebook last night, I couldn’t wait to get to Hot Java to see the pictures of the new baby. I can’t wait to hold it in my arms and dream of giving birth too. You’re a real inspiration for me Marie. Thank you for all that you share!


  13. What a riotous, rebellious and fascinating idea you’ve penned here. It’s so gay!!! Congratulations on the new offspring!!!



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