Romaine Freed Me to Write My Own Story

https://www.amazon.com/author/cassandralanger

My book is now available in preorder from Book Baby and on Amazon. It launches on the 30th. I probably would never have written my story if not for the encouragement of my friends. First Itene Javors who was teaching graduate classes at Yeshiva in clinical therapy. Following a discussion over the recent suicides of several queer teens during which, I finally reveal my own experiences with conversion torture and attempted suicide at the age of 14. I had put my these in a lock box and pretty much thrown away the key.

When I did agree to speak to her class, imagine my shock at the fact that what I had to share with this group of future therapists was new to them. They were shocked to learn the history of emerging treatments for gay people in the 1950s, that gay people were treated as mental cases, outlaws, and criminally persecuted. Moreover, they had no idea of the horrible things that could happen to gays under the law or in mental hospitals and conversion treatments, Chemical castration, and shock treatments. Water cures, systematic brainwashing, hypnosis, and when all else failed the miracle cure-lobotomy!

My own experiences as a vulnerable girl in a patriarchal society and system included being unequal as a female in a man made system from birth. The oppression starts from day one of being color coded by a pink blanket. It continues with little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. What that means is growing up in a gender-assigned society that you’re expected to conform to no matter if that just isn’t who you are.

My story is about the whole construct of heteronormity and binary categorization of the sexes. Of course as a new born peaches and cream baby girl I knew nothing of the society or culture I now existed in. Not did I know anything of it’s religions, social classes not power structures that would become the borderline of my life growing up.

I never conformed to my mother’s gender expectations. When my mother fell prey to a cult leader representing himself as a child behavior expert, I was incarcerated for two years as a teenager and barely escaped a lobotomy. My hopes are that those who feel helpless might find some skills to survive and thrive in this book. My story of surviving 20th-century conversion therapy is set in 1950s Miami and upstate New York. My aim is to put secular conversion torture in a historical context to understand the development of homophobic policies and systems active now in red states such as Florida with its “Don’t Say Gay” laws.

Erase Her is the first volume of my survive and thrive memoir. As I embark on the second volume I am available for zoom talks, in person appearances, podcasts, and any and all opportunities to talk about what it’s really like to live like in a society that systematically damages and tries to destroy you as a human being and how you survive and thrive despite it all because of your creativity. Free free to contac@@

How Do We Understand Grief?

How does the choice of subject affect the writer especially in a marginalized community? In posing the question to myself since finishing my Brooks biography and beginning my own memoir of anti-conversion therapy, Erase Her: A Survivors Story.

What does surviving and thriving mean?

Romaine Brooks was a survivor and thriver. She developed her own ways and means using her natural artistic talents. When I walked into the Whitney Museum and got off at the wrong floor as a young graduate student in the 1970s what drew me to her 1923 self portrait. It began my desire to know more about the woman behind the image she projected; the strength, confidence and sense of knowing herself. I wanted that for myself. I wanted to be my own woman; in fact all, for lack of a better word, the men and women embodied in me.

Erase Her is all about my journey to reach my authentic realization with a lot of help from Romaine Brooks and her circle.

Join me for an exciting talk: When Paris was for Lesbians: the Women Who Made Modernism. Sunday the 17th at 2:00 check out http://www.eventbrite.com/e/170678021557

Some familiar faces, old, new and on-going loves and lovers. Enjoy how deeply in-debt modernism is to these courageous and groundbreaking lesbian feminists.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/170678021557

Everything starts with Natalie Barney the proudly out American who not only worshipped the “tenth muse” but emulated her establishing a lesbian feminist outpost in the heart of Paris.

The Sappho of Paris

Erasure:Thinking Differently

Romaine at home in Paris

I hav spent over forty years studying Romaine Brooks. I think I understand her as well as any biographer does her subject. Perhaps this because of my experience as a sapphist and conversion-therapy survivor that gives me a peculiar sensitivity into Romaine’s interiority.

Living between the wars Romaine and her circle were challenged by events not unlike the ones we are now struggling with: Covid, endless wars, fascism, disinformation, polarized politics, distrust of governments and class discriminations that have led to BLM, CRT, cancel culture, us vs them, immigration wars, bloody mass killings, denials of science, climate change deniers and the tragedy of Afghanistan.

With the winds of war whipping up the seas. Of change Romaine sent Matthew Arnold’s love poem to Natalie Barney.

Dover Beach. The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast, the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,

Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin, 
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring 
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

About Me

People keep asking me about me about me and my author page. I write about things that interest me. I have a lot of interests. I love mother nature. I am fascinated by space and the universe I try to coexist in. I am dedicated to try and make the world a better, kinder, more compassionate place. And, I fail at times in controlling my anger and exasperation at what goes around me that I seem unable to have any affect whatsoever on. So I am a lot like many other human beings on this little planet of ours.

I like films, photography, art, architecture, design, acting, comics, and too many interesting things to list here. I relax when I am at the beach, sailing, riding horse, petting dogs and purring with cats.

I’m telling those of you in follow me all this as I go about the business of preparing to try and make some decisions about launching my new memoir Erase Her and I could use some help. I need people to give me honest feedback on the story and feelings about the tentative design for a cover.

In return, I will be happy to send you the first chapter and list you in the acknowledgments if you are willing to be on my listserve. So let me know by emailing me. Thanks for your support.

Celebrating poetry month

Her self portrait references Shelley who she savored as well as Lord Byron

Poetry has been a light in the dark tunnel of Covid. Romaine Brooks sent poetry to Natalie Barney. Brooks was a voracious reader always requesting books and citing authors she enjoyed.

Reading with Grace Schulman in The Hamptons

I now have two collections of poetry available from Lulu. Rainbow Blues and Visages of Venus. Covid has given me the time and my next yet unnamed will be my political and social Justice collection.

My conversion therapy memoir tentatively title Erase Her is under review at University of Wisconsin Press where they are functioning at half tilt so when I have a date of publication I will let you know.