Nancy Manahan is an advocate for the humane and natural approach to the end of life and is considered to be a queer pioneer.

Manahan is the co-editor of the 1985 book Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence. The book, published by Naiad Press, included accounts of more than fifty former nuns and its purpose was “the breaking of the historic silence about erotic love between women in religious life.”

Manahan has previously said that the book was not sensationalistic. “They think our book means there’s a lot of fooling around in the convent. But most of the nuns who shared their stories kept their vows of celibacy.”

“I recognized myself in every women’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,” Manahan wrote in the afterward to a new edition of the book.

Manahan, who heralded from Minnesota, entered the convent after two years in college. However, she left after little more than a year as she had developed doubt about her vocation after falling in love with another sister. She eventually earned a Ph.D and became a writer and community college professor.

Manahan wrote several other notable books and in 1997 published the anthology, On My Honor: Lesbians Reflect on Their Scouting Experiences. The book collected the stories of 33 lesbians who had been Girl Scout members, volunteers, camp counselors, and professionals.

Manahan, and her partner, are also the founding members of the Minnesota Threshold Network, which advocates “a more natural, less commercial approach to death, including conscious dying, home vigils, family-directed funerals, and natural burials.”

(Information sourced from