In my book Baby, You Are my Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall I talked about the importance of the gay women’s bar (and gay men’s bar) as sacred space for pre-Stonewall homosexuals—how the community space of the gay bar was the only public space for pre-Stonewall homosexuals and how it galvanized and concretized a community that had no other way of connecting. It was “home.”
I was so fortunate to do two readings and signings for People Called Women, the feminist bookstore from Toledo, Ohio — and Ohio’s only feminist bookstore — when they brought their “traveling bookstore” which goes to feminist events (they also have their mortar and brick store in Ohio J which I was thrilled to visit) to Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival last week. I was thrilled that we were able to sell out of all the copies of my book that People Called Women brought “to the land” (Michfest). I was thrilled that so many women showed up to our event, told stories about early bar life, cried, shared hugs and created community — and bought books. It felt radical and “old school” feminist. It felt like something I have missed – that connection with a feminist bookstore–for Los Angeles lost our women’s bookstore in 1999 —15 years ago.
For many of us who came of age post-Stonewall in the mid 70s, 80s and late 90s, the gay women’s bookstores—or rather feminist bookstores — were these sacred “home” spaces. They were our “alternate church,” as I so label the pre-Stonewall bars.
A dear friend of mine is dying. Yes, the saying might be true—we all die alone. But we all are not necessarily lonely when we die. How can we die happy…with our self-respect intact?
We are all alone, born alone, die alone …I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness. —Hunter S. Thompson
Many of them, as many of us do, had friends that affirmed their inner identity even as it was hidden to a majority of the outside world. As they grew older, their friends (as many of our friends will do) died. That meant that the friends they had in the gay bars died holding the secret of their gay lives. Many of these women grew up into adulthood without the benefit of a community. For them “gay pride,” “coming out,” and even the word “lesbian” were not words they would ever use in their common conversation. Continue reading “Old and Gay – Dying Alone and Rae’s Friends by Marie Cartier”
Tomorrow I will be going to a friend’s 7th grade classroom presentation of “famous people in history.” She has 120 students who will be dressing up as someone in history and doing a presentation board about this person—as well as dressing in costume. She asked me to come in costume as Frida Kahlo. As many of you know, I admire/adore Frida Kahlo and wrote a blog last year extolling her praises; actually it was a “valentine towards an ethics of loving women and art.” (And every year I dress as Frida and help a friend do a lively lotería game at an LGBT celebration of Cinco de Mayo at our Church.)
My friend told me that while there would not be a Diego Rivera in her crowd of costumed living historians—there would be Frida’s lover Josephine Baker (someone saw the movie Frida and knew Josephine and Frida were “friends”), and there would be several Guadalupes.
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!
I was sitting with a young queer student from my Gender Women’s Studies class at the gay coffee shop in Long Beach, California. I offer this option to my students—meet in
Long Beach on Friday of finals week if it helps — realize that I teach in Northridge, so on a Friday afternoon this means perhaps a 2 hour drive to do this. But many students do it—this one student included. It happened that he made this trek on the first day of Gay Pride activities in Long Beach—the Dyke March was that night.
I asked if he was going to any Gay Pride events while he was in Long Beach—perhaps even attending the Dyke March. He said, “I’m over Pride.” It felt like a game changing statement for a young queer activist. I asked, “Why?” He said, “Why do I want to go somewhere and have someone try to sell me sheets or …a condo ….or buy pillows…it’s just about money, Professor. It’s got nothing to do with… what it was supposed to be about…?
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. Continue reading “Birth Announcement: Baby, You Are My Religion by Marie Cartier”