"In the Life" by Becky Bertha

11Feb05

A story about an elderly, Black lesbian. One doesn’t stumble upon those too often. Though, unfortunately, the elderly lesbian isn’t living at Mertins Dyke Home.

This story….is quite ordinary. And I think that might be Birtha’s intention. She depicts a rather unordinary relationship in a very ordinary way. The reader comes to find that being “in the life” is not very different from being not in the life. When Max’s partner asks her to describe what being in the life was like when homosexuality was less accepted, Jinx struggles to think of any stories to tell. She does finally think of something, but it is a rather generic account. The homosexual couple in her story could have been a heterosexual couple.

Birtha’s use of a lesbian couple in which one woman is more “masculine” and the other more “feminine” accentuates this ordinariness. While the narrator did tend to wear slacks and her lover wear dresses, Birtha included less stereotypical characteristics that made the character more “masculine” than Grace, her love of watching Grace, for example.

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