Barbara and Elizabeth: Late-Life Lovers
Books In Brief: Reviewed by Karie Firoozmand
Speaking of titles, this one makes it clear what we’re reading about. And speaking of paying it forward, the book’s copyright page says, “No rights reserved. Feel free to copy and share.” Elizabeth Boardman has published books before, but this one is different. It’s about her and Barbara’s real-life love affair, and it’s like watching someone’s personal fireworks display. And they want this book to teach. I was curious right off the bat about Boardman’s assertion that she and Barbara are not lesbians (which appears both with a small and a capital L). She explains that neither has ever identified as gay: they do not have the “social scars, acculturation, lifestyle” of the lesbian community, and don’t want to appropriate them; it “would feel disrespectful.” Boardman is more interested in pansexuality and androgyny.
Pansexuality means that personal qualities rather than gender identity are the attractors between people. It operates outside a hetero/homosexuality menu, and allows for ages and stages of life to remake us, including whom we have sex with. Androgyny, a state Boardman has been interested in for years, is her current sense of who she is. And it has less to do with a sexual partner than the development of aspects usually assigned to men or to women. It is Boardman feeling integrated and whole.
Barbara and Elizabeth were both surprised by their attraction to and romance with each other; that comes across clearly. To gain insight, they did a lot of reading and research, and Boardman includes a chapter called “Books we read,” because she intends this book to be both a resource and a love story. They are paying it forward.