Marie Cartier, author of Baby You Are My Religion, was BALA’s featured author at Laurel Book Store on March 25, 2018. The book explores the role lesbian bars played in the 1950s and 1960s. Cartier asserts that the bars were the only public spaces that lesbians had to find each other and develop an identity. The bar was the only public space where lesbians could understand and affirm themselves, recognize each other, congregate and be themselves.
As a result, the bars were essential in developing a lesbian community and culture. Being a lesbian at that time was criminalized and fraught with dangers. Being caught in a raid at a lesbian bar meant losing reputation, jobs, housing, friends and family. Still despite the criminalization and dangers of being arrested (often raped) and outed in newspapers, many lesbians persisted in going to the bars because they desperately needed to be around each other. As Cartier put it, they needed a space where they could experience what it meant to be seen as human. The bar became in essence sacred space.
Marie Cartier was an entertaining and engaging speaker and the audience delighted in hearing her stories gathered from hundreds of interviews. She is a scholar, visual and performance artist, queer activist, poet and theologian who has been active in many movements for social change. She teaches in Film and Media at UC Irvine and Queer / Gender and Women's Studies at California State University Northridge. For more info about Marie Cartier visit: http://mariecartier.com/