Nancy Manahan & Becky Bohan
Authors and Activists
Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence

cover of 2013 book edition
Out of print for years, this explosive international best-seller is back, with a new foreword analyzing the unprecedented impact of Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence on the lesbian community and on mainstream culture. In new afterwords, the co-editors reveal how the book came to be and what happened when, for the first time in history, a lesbian book from a small publisher went mainstream.

Each nun in these stories describes her individual and searing path in, or out of, the convent to discover and face the truth of herself. Still myth-shattering, the stories
remind us of the courage required to liveand lovein congruence with our authentic selves.

"Oblivious to the controversies that surrounded the initial publication of Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, whether they originated within the Catholic Church or the lesbian feminist movement, thousands of readers across the decades have embraced the book and found their lives changed by its message of empowerment."

Joanne E. Passet, Ph.D., Professor of History, Indiana University East, foreword to Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, Spinsters Ink, 2013

Authors Rosemary Keefe Curb & Nancy Manahan

“My life turned a corner I couldn't have foreseen when Barbara Grier phoned me in late November 1981.  Without much prelude, she announced, actually commanded, in a voice I would later loathe like fingernails on a chalkboard, ‘I want you and Nancy Manahan to put together a collection of convent lesbian stories, and Naiad Press will publish it.’” 

Rosemary Keefe Curb, afterword to Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, Spinsters Ink, 2013

“Those three years were a time of intense healing for me. Rosemary and I were in touch with over 300 potential contributors to the book, listening and writing to them, conducting interviews, reading and editing their stories. Each contact was an opportunity to experience the feelings I had shut down for all those years.  Each time a submission to the book would arrive, I would tear open the envelope and devour the story it contained. I recognized myself in every woman’s piece and cried for her loss as well as for my own. Those tears seemed to leach poison from my body and soul.  Bit by bit, the grief I had never allowed myself to feel about leaving the convent flowed out of me."

Nancy Manahan, afterword to Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, Spinsters Ink, 2013


Irish Evening Herald

“The Irish edition, (re-titled by the publisher, without our consent) Breaking Silence: Lesbian Nuns on Convent Sexuality, was detained in Dublin’s customs while officials determined whether the book violated Ireland’s obscenity laws. This was reported in the Irish newspaper, and when we arrived at Buswell’s Hotel, the names on our reservation had been recognized. We were escorted out to the street. Rosemary and I repaired to a pub while our publisher made reservations at another hotel – under pseudonyms.  That afternoon, posters at Dublin news stands blared HOTEL EJECTS U.S. ‘NUNS.’ The front page of the Evening Herald featured a photo of us under the headline "GET OUT” NUNS TOLD, and identified us as ‘self-confessed lesbians.’”

Nancy Manahan, afterword to Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, Spinsters Ink, 2013