FORMER High Court judge Michael Kirby, former Greens leader Bob Brown along with trans advocate Sally Goldner and over 70 other older LGBTI people have contributed to a new book that is believed to be the first publication if its scale in Australia.
BOLD is the work of Brisbane man David Hardy, who hopes his work will be the first of several looks into the wealth of older LGBTI life experiences that continue to remain vital to the community as a whole.
“It’s about first love, of struggle for acceptance, sometimes the search for a hidden identity, told with warmth and humour and the occasional rant,” Hardy told the Star Observer.
“There are stories of resistance and activism, chronicling earlier times as well as telling it how it is today.
“Apart from current academic studies underway and some terrific online community projects, BOLD is the first publication of its scale in Australia, documenting older LGBTI stories – and there needs to be more.”
BOLD runs the gamut of the entire LGBTI community, including a diverse representation of professions and cultural backgrounds.
“I was keen to explore a diversity of lives and experiences, of people who grew up in large cities and small towns, of Aboriginal elders, of those who grew up in migrant communities, and to ensure beyond the stories from lesbians and gay men, there were stories from bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” Hardy said.
“Through the 56 stories covering more than 70 people, BOLD brings together poets and politicians, elders and the elderly, actors and academics, conductors and counsellors, singers and social workers, publicans and preachers, magistrates and migration agents, dancers and drag performers, and artists and anglers.”
Hardy added that it was important for the wider community to listen to and learn from what older LGBTI people can teach us.
“They are vital. The last story in this collection is by historian Graham Willett from Melbourne, who heads up the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives,” he said.
“A quote from his story is on the last page of the book: ‘If we want to live lives of purpose, knowing the past is as important as knowing the present’.
“His essay is to say that, undoubtedly the current climate for radical action is not the same as it once was for him in Melbourne in the 1970s, but the tasks for young and old today are surprisingly similar.”
Included in BOLD alongside some of the stories is a collection of photographs of the interviewees, providing a close look into not only their lives but also their relationships over the years.
“In the times that we now live, they shared not only great stories but intimate photos of them and their partners — Michael [Kirby] and Johan as they were 46 years ago and as they are today and Bob [Brown] and his partner Paul enjoying a cup of tea together,” Hardy said.
“I was more delighted than surprised at the generosity of people who provided an insight into not only their years of community engagement and activism but also their personal lives.
“One of the photos in the book is of Phyllis Papps and Francesca Curtis who have been together since 1970. Belinda Raposo has written a beautiful story of the couple including the moment when Phyllis saw Francesca being interviewed on a Channel 10 program in 1970 when she proudly stated she was a ‘homosexual’.
“She was the first to do it on television in Australia.”
A follow up to his first book is already in demand and Hardy has an idea of where he would like BOLD in the future.
“My hope is that BOLD is read widely, in Australia and New Zealand and beyond,” he said.
“I am hoping to both record a short series of some of the contributors for a podcast of BOLD in the near future as well as to take the themes of BOLD and some of the stories and images and transfer them to the stage.
“I have already been asked about BOLD 2, with many suggestions coming in of new stories that need to be told.
“At the heart of this collection is the importance of telling our diverse stories; and that our lives matter.”
To purchase a copy of BOLD, click here