barbara grier

November 11th, 2011 | Uncategorized

naiad cover

Barbara Grier, the founder of Naiad Press, died yesterday at age 78. Victoria Brownworth has a very nice piece about her on the Lambda Literary Review site. I think I first learned about Naiad when I began reading their reprints of Ann Bannon’s Beebo Brinker books in the early 1980s. Later, when I started drawing Dykes to Watch Out For, I would occasionally poke fun at Naiad books by giving them these barcode covers. Some years later, I actually met Barbara. I was nervous she’d think I was an ungrateful young punk, but she said she always loved seeing the Naiad jokes in my comic strip. I was completely charmed. You should read Victoria’s whole column, but this part sums up our collective debt to Barbara Grier very nicely.

Grier wanted no memorial service and McBride has requested that people not call her at this time. But somewhere, someplace, a woman is reading a lesbian book–perhaps in a room hidden away where no one can see, or perhaps right out on the subway on her way to work. All those women reading all those lesbian books–be they intellectual treatises or pulp fiction in the Ann Bannon tradition–owe a deep and abiding debt of gratitude to the force of nature that was Barbara Grier.

UPDATE 11/16/11: The New York Times ran a great obituary of Barbara!

18 Responses to “barbara grier”

  1. Oh, man, another obituary. Downright discouraging. RIP, Barbara.

  2. Ellen Orleans says:

    The first books of Beebo Brinker series was the second book I read as I was coming out. (DTWOF was the first.) While I wished that Naiad would have published more literary fiction (as Firebrand did), I still tip my cap to Barbara for all she did for lesbians, of many stripes, throughout the globe.

    I bought Beebo Brinker at a used books bookstore in Louisville, Colorado actually called Beebo’s. Beebo’s is long gone now, as are the other five gay and lesbian bookstores in Colorado. That 1980’s was a different time for sure. I’m very glad I didn’t miss it.

  3. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    Goodbye and thanks for the ride.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Barbara. She once told me I was a hack. It was a compliment. And I was truly charmed.

  5. Alex K says:

    Interesting cover image.

    The mirror contains the text “Are you my mother?”

    AB looks into the mirror and sees the question: Are you my mother?


    We all have to become, for ourselves, the parent(s) whom we imagine that we lack. Discuss.


    We all, in questing for love, seek the (wo)man who will become the parent(s) whom we imagine that we lack. Discuss.

    Future PhD-thesis writers: A tip o’ the nib will be appreciated.

  6. Bella Books says:

    We have received many inquiries from women who felt Barbara Grier’s impact in their lives for a charity to support in Barbara’s name. Donna McBride, Barbara’s partner, has provided information that you can read here:

  7. Duncan says:

    Alex, the theses you offer remind me of something from Marge Piercy’s novel Small Changes

    … She could see Wanda with her hand on her hip saying, “Women are always trying to push each other into the mother role or accusing each other of taking that over. I won’t be the one who has to give and give like a personal soup kitchen and who isn’t allowed any weakness. Most women act as if they’re terrified that some so-called strong woman will make ‘demands’ on them. Then they’ll suddenly be six and in mother’s pocket again. I don’t want a wife, I don’t want to be your angel mother or your demon mother. I just want to be your loving friend. And I think you’re strong enough to carry your share of the load.”

    … This occurs in the context of a lesbian relationship, but it applies to men, especially heterosexual men, and to other relationships (like friendships) between women as well. Any serious discussion would certainly have to take into account Dorothy Dinnerstein’s flawed but still important The Mermaid and the Minotaur.

    This does tie in to Barbara Grier’s death. I can not quite remember if I ever met her, though I met several other activists of her generation; I do know that some of my friends knew her personally. One of the hard things about getting older, whether we are parents or not, is that the generation that came before us passes inexorably. (Unless we die young ourselves.) Eventually there’s no one left who stands between us and the past or mortality, and we’re the ones in their place. Parenthood has little to do with it; growing up and becoming adults has much more. That’s why I’ve always rejected, viscerally, the notion of ‘matriarchy’ no less than ‘patriarchy.’ We may never quite cease being the children of our parents, but at some point we have to become autonomous adults first.

  8. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Dang, they are dropping like flies. MAde a gift to SAGE. Not only are our elders in general getting dissed, but LGBT elders are being hassled in nursing homes. It’s not right.

  9. Alex K says:

    Blogjack, or turn of the blogmandela?

    It’s available, it’s nummy, and if there’s enough demand perhaps it’ll be expanded to include crunchy —

  10. Feminista says:

    @Duncan: Thanks for quoting from SMALL CHANGES,speaking as a Marge Piercy fan.

  11. […] Literary, Women and Words, LA Times, Karin Kallmaker’s blog, Bett Norris’s blog, Alison Bechdel’s blog, Julie R. Enszer’s blog, NY Times, The Advocate, Bay Times, Windy City Times, The State, […]

  12. Suzanonymous says:

    A few days after Alison mentioned Occupy Wall Street, she disappeared for a month. I just assumed she was uh, Occupied (which she is, just not in that way!). Thanks to Mentor for the link, one or two posts back, to writers who are in support of the Occupy movement (occupywriters). I see Alison is on the list. Yay! The movement heartens me. I’ve been frustrated with corporate rule for years. It’s about time we stood up and aired our many grievances.

  13. Kate L says:

    NEWSFLASH! The story has broken over the weekend on MSNBC (where else?) that a Washington lobbying firm is trying to drum up support (and big$$$) to discredit the Occupy movement. The lobbying firm fears that the Occupy movement has the potential to bring about real reform! The story was broken by MSNBC’s spunky new television host, Chris Hayes, who you may remember as Rachel Maddow’s sidekick on The Rachel Maddow Show (from time to time). A producer on young Mr. Hayes’ new MSNBC weekend morning program on the television machine has now asked (“crowdsourced”, as the kids these days say) for anyone who knows of any other such diabolical plot to contact him at MSNBC. HERE is the permalink to the crowdsourcing call:

  14. Marj says:

    Occupy poster art: drawing inspiration from underground comics and vintage socialist art:

    A nice thematic convergence.

  15. Jane Kogan says:

    I never met Barbara, but I knew of her of course as I was a member of Daughters of Bilitis in NYC in the 1960s (before Stonewall) and she was editor of that group’s magazine, The Ladder. A few covers on the ladder used my artwork, and I admired Barbara for her energy, courage in what she was doing, and perseverance. I later moved to Provincetown where I worked at the Provincetown Bookshop, and was able to order books from Naiad Press. Now that is defunct, so is Barbara, and I am running the Bookshop whose owner died 4 years ago, though his partner still owns it. It seems like a time, and those who peopled and changed it, is passing. Hail and farewell Barbara Grier. And thanks.

  16. Kate L says:

    Jane Kogan’s post (#15), and A.B.’s original post and all the responses, really brings home to me the power of the internet to connect people who, in an earlier time, would never have had any contact. Sadly, as Jane and many others here have pointed out, we appear to also live in a time where many of the greats are passing off this mortal coil.

  17. grrljock says:

    AB is the first writer featured in this excerpt in The New Yorker’s The Book Bench feature!