It turned out for me that one of the most important things for me about ‘Bold’ was LGBTI – not because I was not aware of the term, though I have had my moments of fun wondering just how long and complicated the acronym can get – rather because of the focus on ‘Robert, the 55 year-old Intersex Man’. As a frequent reader of biography, I am not unfamiliar with the other categories, but I have probably never been so confronted with the reality of potential difficulties of the Intersex condition. It was a valuable experience.
In some ways it was not very different from the other entries in that there is a freshness and directness to many of the stories that is absorbing and often instructive. We have all had different patterns of exposure to the various letters of LGBTI (I am still largely lacking in the ‘I’ category) and I admit to being deficient in the ‘L’ category until I travelled in New Zealand and enjoyed a number of Lesbian B&Bs. I had some great conversations and learned a lot from these women which resonated with Jill Levestre’s entry that ruminated over her experiences with lesbian groups in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.
The book explains without instructing the different paths different letters of the acronym have taken over the years in their personal, social and political lives – most notable in the patterns of relationship development, activism and its targets with the last three letters still in ‘catch-up’ mode. In the case of all, the future remains unclear. We know that in the past single and paired LGBTI have moved through their final years without any separate or special consideration or organization. However, will that always be the case? What considerations would be required for separate and/or non-separate aged care? Most people want to age and die at home but all too often, for a variety of reasons, this proves impossible. It is at this point when services may be needed both for the home-bound and institutionalised that this key issue comes to light and at the very time of life when the capacity to agitate may fast be waning.
I would like to use one wise quote from the book in conclusion.
‘LGBTI is now a widely accepted social and political movement, rolling off the tongue with ease, while lesbian remains an awkward and uncomfortable reference. We need to watch our backs and our behaviour in the coalition of identity outlaws, where power relationships can still engender misogynist practice. I continue to believe that we change the world so that the bodies, brains and beings we are born with do not entail social, cultural and political imperatives. Meanwhile, I know lesbians who do not much like women, others that don’t much care for lesbians, as well as feminists and lesbians who are conservative and reactionary on many issues. I know feminists who believe a woman needs a man like a fish needs water. I don’t love them all, but, to a degree, these are also my people.’