Barbara Grier 4th november 1933 – 10th November 2011
Most young lesbians today probably don’t know it, but Barbara Grier was one of the ‘founding mothers’ of modern day lesbian culture. In the times before Stonewall, the Daughters of Bilitis and the Mattachine Society were the only cultural signs of gay and lesbian visibility in the US. They shone like beacons for untold numbers of men and women who thought they were completely alone in the world.
I have experienced homophobia in my life. (there isn’t a LGBTQ person on the planet who hasn’t) Growing up in a small town isn’t easy at the best of times, unfortunately if you don’t identify yourself as heterosexual, you’re fair game for just about everyone. But I can’t imagine what it was like in the post WWII era for men and women who, like me, knew they were different, like me.
Barbara was one of those who chose to stand on the front lines, for her whole life. She made a difference.
I will light a candle for her tonight and place it in my window while I write of lesbians in far distant worlds as they try to balance saving the universe and loving each other. Barbara’s legacy enables me to leave mine.
“Lesbian existence comprises both the breaking of a taboo and the rejection of a compulsory way of life. It is also a direct or indirect attack on the male right of access to women” – Adrienne Rich