Sunday, November 13, 2011

Barbara Grier, dead at 78

Probably every lesbian author has a Barbara Grier story to tell. I first met Barbara when I was a budding playwright in Kansas City, MO in Actors' Sorority. I was one of the co-founders of that theatre company. Barbara came to show her support, as did most of KC's lesbians. She learned that I was one of the playwrights, and told me that if I ever wrote a lesbian novel to send it to her at Naiad Press, which she had just started with her partner Donna McBride.
I learned from other women in the company that Barbara was well-known, not only in our community, but across the nation. She had been an early leader in the lesbian community. She was also well known for owning every lesbian novel in and out of print. Her personal library was the envy of every lesbian I knew.
Years later I finally wrote that novel, a mystery. Not exactly a lesbian novel, but one I thought all women would enjoy. I sent it to Barbara. She called my house and left a blistering message on my machine. Told me to throw it out and start over. I had just spent 18 months writing this novel. She said my premise was politically incorrect and I would be shredded by animal rights people and there was no hope for it. All this on my machine. I called her. I didn't agree of course. I'm a HUGE animal lover, and something of an activist myself. She was wrong. And I was CRUSHED. Barbara Grier was telling me to toss out my work.
Well, she told me the same thing on the phone, only louder.
I didn't write for months.
But then, I realized I could send it to other publishers and test my theory that I was right, I wouldn't have to start over. I did get the book published. But my heart was broken. I had so wanted to join Barbara's stable. To be published by the great Barbara Grier. Rest in Peace, great Barbara.

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