Scroll To Top

Barbara Grier, Lesbian Icon, Dies at 78

Barbara Grier, Lesbian Icon, Dies at 78

Barbara Grier, lesbian publisher, activist and archivist, died Thursday of heart disease. She was 79. When I first met Barbara Grier, I was 19 and knew even then that she was one of the most important lesbian figures I would ever meet. More than 30 years later, after I've interviewed countless other lesbians over the years, Grier still ranks as a mover and shaker of iconic proportions.

Lesbian icon Barbara Grier, founder of Naiad Press and an editor for The Ladder, the first nationally distributed lesbian publication, died of cancer at a hospital in Tallahassee, Fl. Thursday, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Born in 1933 in Cincinnati, Grier died at age 78, leaving behind a legacy that has forever influenced the trajectory of LGBT publishing with Naiad Press, which published the wildly successful Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence in 1985.

“It was her belief that through literature she could make lesbians feel good about themselves and find a happy life,” Grier’s business and life partner Donna McBride told the Associated Press.

Grier and McBride met in 1967 in Kansas City, Mo. when McBride was working as a librarian. They founded Naiad with two other women in 1973 with a $2,000 investment, keeping their regular jobs and working from their home after hours. Most of their titles were romances and mysteries, McBride said told the AP.

Naiad’s founders moved to the business to Florida and enjoyed their first big success with Katherine Forrest’s Curious Wine in 1983.

“It would be hard to imagine a more significant figure in the growth and development of lesbian publishing in the 20th century than Barbara Grier,” Forrest told the AP. “Or a more towering and central figure in lesbian culture.”

Grier and McBride married in California in 2008 during the window before Prop 8 passed when same-sex marriage was legal.

McBride told the AP that Grier will be cremated and she’ll likely scatter the ashes in her favorite place, The Bahamas.

Follow SheWired on Twitter!

Follow SheWired on Facebook!

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

author avatar

Shewired Editors