'Lesbian Nuns' Publisher Dies at 78

11.14.2011

By Adam Rathe

Barbara Grier, a pioneer in gay literature, died of lung cancer this week.

If you ever found a paperback about girls who love girls and don’t go on to discover that all they needed was for the right guy to come along, you probably have Barbara Grier to thank.

Grier, a founder of the lesbian book publishing company, Naiad Press, died Thursday at the age of 75.

Grier and three friends, including her partner Donna McBride, founded the press in 1973 hoping to print books she later described as “about lesbians who love lesbians, where the girl is not just going through a phase.”

The press found its greatest success with the 1985 non-fiction hit Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence. The book consisted of interviews with dozens of active and former nuns, all of whom discussed their Sapphic tendencies, and was written by two lesbian ex-nuns.

After a Boston TV station canceled an interview with the authors under pressure from the Catholic Church, the book became a hot commodity and went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies.

Naiad Press published over 500 titles and was sold in 2003 to lesbian romance publishing powerhouse Bella Books.

Grier, having made a space on bookshelves for ladies like her, had plenty to be proud of.

“Her goal in publishing,” McBride old the New York Times, “was to make lesbians happy about themselves.”

Tags: Popnography
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