BOLDfest: The New Michigan? (Part two)


Dragonboating is a microcosm of the BOLD experience; pushing yourself hard and doing something different.

In part one LLL interviewed Pat Hogan, founder of BOLDfest, about the annual conference for Bold Old[er] Lesbians and Dykes in Vancouver. Here we talk more about Pat’s life and her inspiration.

Pat, you’re a triple Aquarius! Typical of Aquarians, and it seems you’re very committed to your community, even more so perhaps than your own personal life. Do you have any thoughts on that?

It’s interesting that you describe a triple Aquarius, or describe me, that way. I have always been drawn to community, and there are many overlapping communities that I’ve been part of or am part of. I won’t say I don’t have any ego, I like to sit back and say, ‘Hey, I did this’ this feels good,’ but I’m not a person who likes to stand up in front of a group and talk, saying, ‘This is who I am.’ Sometimes I can pull it off but a lot of times I feel like I blow the whole thing. That’s why it’s great to have [co-organizer] Claire Robson and other people there.

But I definitely feel that BOLD builds community. It’s important, and it’s something I want in my own life. It’s rewarding when I think of the people who have met in this event. Like, I’m about to go on a writing retreat which Claire is doing, with my friend Linda who came and helped at Bold this year. She and I both have visited some women from Oregon and one of them is coming with us. Three or four months ago none of us knew her, and now we’re going off on this weekend. I love those connections, those friendships that start.

Of course many relationships have started at BOLD as well.

Any marriages yet?

Two women got married at the BOLDfest. They had been together quite a while, but they lived in the States and they couldn’t get married there, so they asked if they could do it at BOLD. I would assume that other couples who have gotten together at BOLD have gotten married too.

You put together every festival with a small hardworking team, Team Bold. Have you got any stories?

Every year, the last night after the festival, late, Claire and I are still at the hotel and we always say, ‘Let’s go out and have a drink.’ Every year we forget this, and we go out looking to get a drink, and we go to the closest bar, and we find that they’re closing, and then we go to the Sylvia Hotel, and they’ve just done last call, and then we go down the street to another one, and it’ll be just closing as we got there. We start saying, “Oh yeah, this seems familiar.” We do it every year; people must see us coming and laugh. It’s our annual non-bar-hopping event.

What are some of your memorable moments from BOLDfest?

This year, when [Canadian Member of Parliament] Libby Davis accepted the Bold Woman of the Year event, it was a thrilling moment. It was a thank-you and a goodbye for her. She was the first out lesbian in Canadian Parliament. Even though she is leaving Ottawa, she’ll still be an activist. She’s such an amazing, gracious, hardworking woman who has done so much for people, especially marginalized people.

At one point Libby Davis was sitting next to me and she was looking at the program and she said, ‘My God, this is amazing; I didn’t know BOLD did all this!’ When you just see it on social media or see an email the program you don’t get all the content. So that made me feel good.  That was a great moment for me.

I remember a great moment from the first year we offered Dragon Boating. On the website we have a video overview from that year; it ends with the women getting into the boat. Claire is there saying, “Dragonboating is a microcosm of the BOLD experience; pushing yourself hard and doing something different. Twenty-two women get into one boat and just paddle like hell.” I loved the looks on the faces of the people coming back from the Dragonboating – they were just ecstatic.

The first year, also, we ended with a gathering of singing Chris Williams’s song, “Song of the Soul” together. Some people thought it was a bit hokey, but a lot of us liked it. [Sings] “So let us sing this song, let us sing along, and we will sing for a long long time.”