Coeditor of Pioneering Book on Lesbian Nuns Dies

Rosemary Curb, coeditor of Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, has died at age 72.

BY Trudy Ring

May 25 2012 6:40 PM ET

Rosemary Curb, coeditor of the groundbreaking anthology Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, has died at 72 of complications from lung surgery.

The book, which Curb edited with Nancy Manahan, was published in 1985 and became one of the best-selling lesbian books ever, notes Windy City Times, which today carried the news of Curb’s death.

Curb and Manahan, both lesbians who had been nuns, had published their own stories in 1981, and they sought to find other women who had had similar experiences. In her introduction to Lesbian Nuns, Curb wrote that she wondered if lesbians turned to the convent “not only as a response to a call from God but as a refuge from heterosexuality, Catholic marriage and exhausting motherhood.”

The book won praise for bringing visibility to these women, but its publisher, Naiad Press, aroused controversy when it allowed Penthouse Forum, an erotic magazine with a largely heterosexual readership, to run excerpts — and these excepts focused almost exclusively on the sexual aspects of the nuns’ lives, Windy City Times reports. No matter what, the paper writes, “the book is still remembered for its groundbreaking effort to ‘break the silence’ on the sexuality of nuns.”

Curb, also known as Rosemary Keefe, is survived by her partner, Doris Burkemper.

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