Baby, You Are My Religion by Marie Cartier

—it’s a girl and she weighs 240 pages!

I just heard from the United States distributor of my book, Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology before Stonewall.

This blog has to be about that. I feel like I am waiting for my child to arrive and, as I’ve already written about in a previous post, I am announcing the “birth” of my book. The book is on the East Coast –  it’s almost here!

The book was published in the United Kingdom by Acumen Publishing and it has taken several weeks for the books to “cross the pond.” So although the book has been in my hands in galley form three times and I know it was published in the U.K. I have yet to see the finished copy!

Carolyn Weathers Collection, The Acme Bar, gay bar in San Antonio Texas, 1961

design by Kimberly Esslinger

She “weighs” 240 pages. Her language is English (although at some point I hope she is fluent in other languages—and is translated!). She is currently only in hardback—but I hope soon also in paperback.

Last time I posted about the book I shared the dedication and “Myrna’s Story.” Let me share this time an overview of the book—my newest baby.

Overview:

Baby You Are My Religion argues that American butch-femme bar culture of the mid-20th Century should be interpreted as a sacred space for its community. Before Stonewall when homosexuals were still deemed mentally ill, these bars were the only place where many could have any community at all. Baby You Are My Religion explores this community as a site of a lived corporeal theology and political space. It reveals that religious institutions such as the Metropolitan Community Church were founded in such bars, that traditional and non-traditional religious activities took place there, and that religious ceremonies such as marriage were often conducted within the bars by staff. Baby You Are My Religion examines how these bars became not only ecclesiastical sites but also provided the fertile ground for the birth of the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights before Stonewall.

As I looked over the Table of Contents I can remember so many things that were so hard—the permissions, the interviews, the transcriptions (100 interviews, 5,000 pages of transcript!!), the footnotes (over 1500) the bibliography (almost 15 pages!). I invoked Julian of Norwich so many, many times, “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well,“ – even permissions, even  footnotes. I also invoked Isadora Duncan, “Remember you were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.” I had to remember my wildness—the wild idea I had that gay bars pre-Stonewall could be considered sacred space. I had to keep my wildness and not let it be tamed—even as I footnoted it, and researched it and provided an authentic window through which someone else could experience this wild idea.

Carolyn Weathers Collection, The Acme Bar, gay bar in San Antonio Texas, 1961

Carolyn Weathers Collection, The Acme Bar, gay bar in San Antonio Texas, 1961

I remember as I wrote the Acknowledgements having to go back through all 102 of my interview subjects’ names carefully and record all of those who I know had passed as I wanted to put their names in the document in the Acknowledgements. Over 10 of my informants have already passed and did not live to see this book—but their spirits helped to make it soar.

It all seemed so insurmountable so many times…but like a child with nurturing she “grew up” and is finally ready to fly.

Frida Kahlo said, “Feet- why do I need you…when I have wings to fly?” As some of you know Frida Kahlo is a favorite artist of mine who survived adversity with courage, art and bravura style.  May we all be so brave and magickal in our efforts to create.

Herewith I offer you the contents of this book with which I hope to fly:

Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
Preface
1. Introduction: “It was the only place.”
Part I: Interviews With Women
2. 1940s: Thank God the Japanese Surrendered
3. 1950s: I Should have Made a List of My Girlfriends!
4. 1960s: It was Hollywood, We Did a Girlfriend Daisy Chain!
5. 1970s: We were Women in Overalls Dancing with Women in Overalls: They Kicked Us Out!
6. 1980s: I really did think I was Jess from Stone Butch Blues Reincarnated
Part II: Theological History and Contexts
7. Historical Antecedents
8. Theological Strands
Part III: The Nature of “Theeology”
9. Experience is Primary
10. What is Theelogy?
11. Four Tenets of Theelogy
12. Conclusion…Last Call!
Appendix
Demographics
Sources
Bibliography

I recently spoke at the June Mazer Lesbian Archives. Here is a YouTube of part of that reading: I serve on the Advisory Board of the Mazer where much of my work is also archived. It is so important to support women’s, especially gay women’s spaces.

And that leads me to…finally – you can order the book from your local feminist bookstore! Of which there are only 17 left in the U.S. according to this list. However, I was recently at the National Women’s Studies Conference  in Cincinnati and according to Gina from the amazing Toledo, Ohio women’s bookstore, People Called Women, there are only 13 women’s bookstores left in the U.S. and her information may be more up to date than the list hot linked above.

People Called Women can direct order any book—here is the information from them about how to order:

If we don’t have it in stock we can order it for you!  Didn’t see the books you were looking for on greenwomanstore.com?  Then email us at pcwtoledo@yahoo.com  or call us at 419-469-8983 to place your order and make payment arrangements. We accept check by mail or credit card by phone for all book orders. Make checks payable to People Called Women and mail to: People Called Women, 6060 Renaissance Place, Suite F, Toledo, OH., 43623.

(And yes- you can also order it from Amazon. My best friend is a prime reviewer for Amazon and will be posting a review there shortly…and I’m very grateful.)

I look forward to hearing your reactions to the book when you can get ahold of it, should you choose to do so. I’ll have several christenings…otherwise known as readings–and I hope we get to talk in person as well.

May we all find our wings to fly.

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: , , ,

8 replies

  1. Blessed be.

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  2. Congratulations Marie! All that hard work finally born!
    I think that some people make “church” where they are, and often are not, which is the “official” places that don’t welcome everyone. I’ve seen the sacred community in bars and soup kitchens, where people care and support each other.

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  3. Congratulations, Marie. It sure is a lot of work. My first “baby” of this sort — my recording — took 9 months to complete. I’m sure your “baby” took many more.

    By the way, I just sent a follow-up letter to a literary agent (she liked my book idea but had revision suggestions). So I’m taking your blog post as another positive omen that my book is on its way as well.

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  4. Marie, so many congratulations to you on the publication of your book! And gratitude from us for providing us with such an amazing source of information. Those of us who were not there thank you very deeply. As Barbara noted, our sacredness is everywhere, and I am so glad you have documented it for us, for posterity.

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  5. Blessed Be Marie! What a gift you have given us all! Can’t wait to get my copy signed !!!

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  6. I’ve had it on order through Amazon for eons. Periodically they ask if I’d like to cancel the pending order, but I’m waiting for it!

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  7. I always felt that gay bars were sacred spaces. All gay places are sacred, and I still feel a great sense of loss every time a gay places closes down. Even a gay owned and gay clientel restaurant can be a place of great connection and happiness, where you talk to everyone. Or a bar where just women gather and talk all night. I love that. We need more and more public drop in places where all lesbians can just walk in at any time and be, just be. I just feel the poverty of lost lesbian spaces everywhere, and they are the sacred, any place lesbians group in is sacred… congratulations on honoring the past of these 100 women, the oridinary women, the lesbians and gay women, the women who risked their lives to create the world that made me! Thank the goddess for lesbian bar nation!

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