I am taking this space, this month to share two very wonderful pieces of news. And I will make the caveat opening here: this is a blog about the benefits of gratitude and I am reaping them here—with a bit of shameless self-promotion. I am advocating here again for my work, my “book child”, as I did in my birth announcement blog!
As we move into spring, I want to step back and take stock of what I have planted that is coming into bloom. And with this, I hope to suggest to you all, dear readers, that you do the same. I (I’ll speak for myself here) tend to rush so much and feel I have so much to do that sometimes when something amazing happens that I have worked so hard for—it just passes me by, and I am on to the next thing before I get a chance to really acknowledge even what that amazing thing was.
So—my spring blossoming, my amazing things:
I have been nominated for a KCET LGBT Month Local Heroes award in Los Angeles, specifically because of my book. I was surprised when I was nominated because of “bridging the gap between religion, identity, and gay life,” and writing a “powerful new book, which elevates the early bar scene to a search for a purer, higher love and a positive cultural identity.”
This is an amazing honor and I’m so proud to share it with you – and grateful. The post states my accomplishments in glowing tones and highlights that I have been an “advocate for LGBT rights and the positive transformation of identity for more than two decades.”
The positive transformation of identity—I very much respect and feel humbled by that phrase. As someone who interviewed over 100 primarily pre-Stonewall folks (pre 1975), the very powerful identity shift that happened—happened also very much in me. I live in a much stronger inter-generational community. My friends are 30 years in age on either side of me. And some I have lost recently because of their advanced age. I am so grateful to have had the chance to get to know them through the work I do and have done.
The “powerful new book” that the KCET Award folks are referring to is one I have blogged about in this space before as noted above in my “birth announcement”: Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars and Theology before Stonewall
And this brings me to the second thing I am grateful for. My book, which was published in hard cover in December of 2013, and retails for over $90 is coming out in paperback in June– in time for Los Angeles Pride (and a reading event) and will retail for $29! I am so grateful to the people – many of whom read this blog—for helping to make this huge milestone happen. It is completely due to those who bought the expensive hard back that the more available paperback will be coming out—coming out during Pride Month. Thank you hardback purchasers!
And I am grateful to the publishers, Acumen Press, for agreeing to this well before expected.
According to psychological studies at Harvard University there is a link between gratitude and happiness:
People who feel and express gratitude are more likely to maintain strong senses of optimism and overall well-being. These people also enjoy better physical health, and are more likely to exercise than those without senses of gratitude.
Studies suggest gratitude has several benefits. One site, compiling over 40 research studies, suggests that there are at least thirty one benefits of gratitude! Among those benefits is that gratitude increases spiritualism. The more spiritual you are, the more likely you are to be grateful. This suggests that when we feel intense gratitude we want to believe in a benevolent God.
This was and is certainly true for the bar culture women I interviewed—whether or not they were “religious” (for most of them would not have used the word “spiritual” to describe their lives pre-Stonewall—being “spiritual “is a fairly post Stonewall religious identity) many felt an intense gratitude for the bar culture and the possibility, and often actualized friendships and community that were realized in those spaces. These spaces were the only accepting spaces that were in the public arena in any form for my population—pre-Stonewall gay women and men.
This is something I may explore further in ongoing research. Did the gratitude for the space and its habitués contribute to the sense of an almost impossible miraculous community and friendships that many experienced in the dangerous gay bar culture of the mid-century?
I don’t know, but my new respect for gratitude and its benefits leads me to be grateful– as well for this insight into my research community.
And to be grateful for the plantings that are coming into bloom. Thank you for letting me share this with you.
And you—what have you planted that you are grateful for having come into bloom this spring?
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.