Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2015-07-24

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: You’ve Got Toptions

Wow things have been a little hectic around here! It’s summertime in NYC and I am working hard on my East Coast bucket list. Last weekend I went to a Bluegrass festival in the Catskill Mountains about 2 hours North of NYC, this weekend I head to Atlanta for pre-wedding preparations for one of my besties, I went to two queer weddings in June (one of them at a summer camp in PA!), did NYC Pride (aka Gay Stamina month), produced Rebel Cupcake for the last time and a couple weekends ago took an overnight trip to Fire Island! On that trip I caught up with my friend Avory who loves a clever turn of phrase as much as I do and inspired this edition of Additions to the Queer Lexicography!

AvoryAvory on their birthday after the incredible Bjork concert! Avory serves great fashion and great turns of phrases.

Toptions. This is the idea that you have a lot of different Tops to choose from. And yes, I’m talking about Tops in a sexual way not a sartorial way, but feel free to use it that way too, especially when talking about fat friendly crop tops! Being open to Toptions means being in a mindset of abundance. I think a lot of people out there lament that they do not have a lot of Tops to choose from. Believe me, as a Femme who is Top leaning, especially when it comes to public play, I know that there are lots of Tops out there. I feel like going into any situation where you may want to play, you’ve got to be open to possibilities, talk to lots of folks, explore your Toptions (or bottom possibilities) and have a mindset that there are lots of people out there waiting to be explored!

I spent so much of my early twenties totally convinced no one would be attracted to me that I barely tried. I often clung to the edges of play parties, dance parties and whatever other cruising environments I was in not interacting with folks. I’ve learned that there are lots of Toptions out there, you just have to leap into small talk with folks and feel things out. Being there is often not enough to open the door, you gotta break the ice. Small talk doesn’t cost anything but time and maybe a little annoyance. And, as Rachael says, if you’re going to have to get through 9 rejections to get to 1 yes, get through them as quickly as possible!

You booed up with the first person you met on Fire Island? You are really missing out on all of your Toptions!

Related post–my theory of Butch abundance!

abundanceI believe in abundance so much and want to be reminded of it all the time so I have it tattooed on my wrist! A scarcity mentality is draining to me! Also, I’m repping Wide Eyes Open Palms my favorite latte makers, in Long Beach, CA!

Fuckit List. It’s like a bucket list of who you want to fuck! I have a few people on my Fuckit List and I know we’re all going to be gay for a real long time so that helps me to have some perspective and patience. Also I’ve talked to a lot of older queers about their sordid pasts and have heard many juicy stories about finally being single/available at the same time and getting to do it to that person they’d had their eye on for 15 years.

Also when going to a queer event or place and you know who you’re going to run into, having a Fuckit List in mind of possexibilities is a good way to be prepared and manifest abundance.

Freddy is monogs now, but I’ve got them on my Fuckit List.

nailsMy nails from the cold brew photo… relevant to my abundance mindset and inspired by sunsets in LA!

Shark Week. An incredible euphemism for your period. It’s vicious and bloody! Lasts about a week. Get it? I loooove it. It’s also great because it can be kind of masculine (though Femmes shark it up pretty magnificently) and it’s always nice to have a masculine version of a period euphemism!

200069_10150172750922079_5109552_nI can’t talk about Shark Week without Miss Mary Wanna doing her shark burlesque act! Photos by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake!

This one has been spinning out there for awhile and somehow I always thought people were talking about the Discovery Channel. I don’t know, I don’t have cable, I know people really like Shark Week. But when I heard it multiple times during a few months I was like, wait a minute, Shark Week? And I finally asked.

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OMG it’s Shark Week and all the ibuprophin is gone. This is a nightmare.

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Manses. I can’t believe I never talked about Manses before, but Glenn Marla introduced me to this awesome masculine of center euphamism for period. Get it.

It’s my manses and I hate that all of the products come in pink. Get it together Kotex, people of all sorts of genders get periods!

MacyBevinbeachReading on the beach at Fire Island (Cherry Grove) with my dog Macy!

2013-01-17

Additions to the Queer Lexicography

It’s been awhile since I updated the Queer Lexicography here at QueerFatFemme.com and I have been employing some gems in my real life lately that might apply to yours.

Textversation. This is that tendency to use texting like IMing was back in the day. (Remember AOL Instant Messenger?) Some people are more prone to this than others, but I go back and forth. Sometimes I only want to use texting for pertinent information shares, sometimes I want a meaningful conversation to continue. Also, certain couples I know are basically always in textversation with one another when not in the same room.

“We were in textversation for a solid week and then, BAM, nothing for like four days. What happened?”

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Victoria setting up Apples to Apples at my birthday party. I want to start using the Queer Lexicography words in Apples to Apples.

Sending the Representative. This is a gem my friend Mackenzi introduced to me about that thing that happens when folks don’t show you who they really are when you date them. A particularly hilarious story accompanies this term that involves a suitor who engaged her intern to burn some cds she could keep in her car that would make Mackenzi think the suitor had good taste in music. It’s such a gift when your beau is being authentic!

“We were really vibing but it turns out they were totally sending the representative and I don’t actually know them at all.”

Sex Vortex. See also Kissing Vortex. This occurs when you’re in the kind of chemical magic with another human that time either stands still or ceases to exist when you’re having sex or kissing. I’ve had this happen to me, where I lose track of time and space, and also where my frien was watching me make out with someone at a dance party and said, “Bev, it was like time was slowing down watching you two.”

“We were supposed to have dinner at 7:30 but we accidentally fell into a sex vortex at 6 and didn’t realize it until 8:30. Oops.”

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Me and Sexpert Diana Cage at my birthday party.

DTR conversation. My BFF Spunky and I have been using this for years. DTR stands for Define The Relationship and the DTR CONVO is totally important but not something to be rushed. Being okay with ambiguity is something I’ve acquired over the years (see, why I love a date not a date), after a couple of years of really intense emotional work. But, dang, before I turned 31 I would go crazy without a DTR.

“I’m not trying to have a DTR with you but I need you to not euphemize this as ‘hanging out.'”

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Speaking of, let’s talk about the euphemism “hanging out.” I “hang out” with lots of folks. Let’s say I would actually hang out with pretty much all of my facebook friends. But I only sleep with/have slept with a small number of those people. I bristle at that common euphemism because if someone says they’re hanging out with someone I don’t know if they mean just like, chilling, with a friend or if they mean they are going to be doing it.

A friend of mine recently said that about someone she was sleeping with and I said, No, be more specific and she said, “Well, this is a girl I don’t spend money on and I’m not trying to woo. What do we call that? Is that just friends with benefits?” Dear readers who know more slang than I do, is there a term out there that I’m missing? Does everyone use the term “hanging out?” What if you’re not really friends but you just do it sometimes? What if it’s like somewhere before dating? Relationships are so complicated!

2011-07-01

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Pride Edition

Hey, I can get legally married in my home state! How rad! I gave my thoughts to the Autostraddle round-up. Check it out!

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The cast of Rebel Cupcake Pride! Rod Tame, Dominic Berry, Fancy Feast, Regie Cabico, Me, and Rocco Katastrophe. My favorite part of NYC Pride weekend, at Stonewall. It was a precious and incredible event.

I went away on the beach sojourn I mentioned in my last entry! It was awesome, calming and amazing. One night away and two long cloudy days on the beach in awe of the beauty held in gray skies and gray water, the miracle of shells. The sweetness of a shih tzu.

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It has been a few months since I’ve updated the Queer Lexicography!

Gay Stamina Month:
So many people resonated with my declaration of Gay Stamina Month I thought I should include it formally in the additions to the queer lexicography. Gay Pride Month! How incredible that a rebellion in a bar in the late 60s would turn into a non-stop hustle of events for all homosexuals? They run the gamut from family pride picnics to insane nightlife celebrations. It takes a lot of stamina to stay that excited and go to that many events and yet people really seem to do it.

“Ironically I decided to take a break from Gay Stamina Month at Cherry Grove on Fire Island, where everything is so gay the bar at my poolside hotel room played ‘We Are Family’ on the hour, every hour.”

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Me and my former roommate Blaney! Photo by Amos Mac for Rebel Cupcake.

My friend Taylor Black is causing a hullaballoo at the new website PrettyQueer.com because of his harsh critique of Brooklyn nightlife. I have some thoughts on his entry in an upcoming post.

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But that said, I appreciate Taylor as a friend and co-creator and he brought me this incredible Gay Pride quote in honor of the season.

“I don’t think you can really be proud of being gay because it isn’t something you’ve done. You can only be proud of not being ashamed.”–Quentin Crisp

That is exactly it! Anyone in a marginalized identity has to work so hard to love themselves. It’s really being proud of overcoming the shame of a society that makes it really difficult to love yourself no matter who you are, but especially for who you are attracted to.

In the spirit of celebration of gayness, let’s add to the lexicography about sex! One of my favorite parts of being gay is having sex that celebrates the body and all it is capable of.

Sex Tornado: You know how when you have a sexy romp and it goes on for hours and sometimes it lands in multiple rooms? Like the couch cushions are on the floor, there’s sex ephemera everywhere (bottles of lube, toys, wrappers), clothes crumpled places, the bed blankets are on the floor, etc? And you go to the bathroom or leave your hotel room and come back and realize it is beyond obvious what has happened. It needed a name.

“I just got done cleaning up the sex tornado. I think we are due for another storm tomorrow night.”

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Fuck Knot: Glenn Marla introduced me to this term. It’s a good one, and it happened when we were teasing someone who was taking a break from a laycation in process who we noted was sporting a giant tangle in the back of her hair. It’s a thing, it happens. It’s really funny.

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Straight hair is more likely to develop a fuck knot, says Glenn Marla. This is Leslie and me (she is straight) at Mackenzi’s store.

Sex Isle: This is a derivative of sexile, which, according to Urban Dictionary means to be kicked out of your apartment so your roommate can have sex. However, I think the other side of that is part of the Sex Isle and is clearly more fun. Also, Sex Isle is a derivative of Love Island, where you disappear to when your lover is in town or you go on laycation with someone with whom you share romantic feelings.

“I have been on Sex Isle all week and I keep combing fuck knots out of my hair.”

As an aside, I have a different straight friend with a great coping mechanism to the soul-suckage rejection machine of online dating. When she goes onto her website of choice to check her responses she sings a theme song. And when she gets a particularly fun response she reads it aloud. It helps to make it a bit of a game.

Thanks to everyone who reached out after my last post about Cheryl’s passing. My friend Kelli stayed at her bedside literally 24/7 for months. If you are able to donate to the WTF Love Fund to help Kelli’s ability to pay bills you can donate at this website.

2009-09-18

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Ages and Dating and PR

There’s been a trend amongst my friends lately to date ten years up or ten years down. My friend Heather told me once, her voice dramatically raspy like an aged actress, holding a drink and wobbling a little bit with the truthiness of alcohol, “You gotta get ’em before or after they’re in the thick of their shit. 29 year olds are weighted down with issues.”

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I have to say I’ve found some seduction in that idea. When my fiance and I broke up I was a little obsessed with finding a 39 year old butch divorcee. My theory was that it took the end of at least one significant adult forever releationship to season someone enough that they could do it better the second time. Also, I had a couple of friends at the time who were dating 39 year olds and they seemed like breaths of fresh air compared to the crop of 28 year old scoundrels I had been dealing with.

Of course, it’s not that simple. A year later it turned out at least one of those 39 year olds was a super powered douchebag and I never should have looked to her for any sort of relationship idealizing.

However, I will say age and experience are an important factor in how compatible someone is with you and what kind of match you’re looking for. But now there’s a new crop of Queer Lexicography to explain the big giant age difference!

A Tiny is someone who is in their barely twenties.* Tinies can be great. They are someone you can be really tender with because of their stark vulnerability in contrast to your older jadedness. They can be really fun to corrupt. They can also help you not take things so seriously. Tinies sometimes have more active sex drives. They can make you feel really old when they don’t understand your Jem and the Holograms references.

Because they are tiny they are fresh faced and full of energy, and you can train them to suit. Basically it’s like you want to enjoy them and be the hot older woman who teaches them things. When a tiny doesn’t act right you have to understand that this is your opportunity to not only help the tiny but also help the community. Pay it forward, if you will. I’ve had a few lovers who definitely benefitted from prior experience with someone much older. I got to reap those benefits, too!

Someone who is in their barely twenties is probably much less likely to be the marriage and kids kind of forever dater the way same age people are. That’s a nice relief and a lot less pressure. More emphasis on dating for the fun of it and less on the dating with expectations.

Of course, like with all relationships, you have to be careful with your Tiny. You don’t want to ruin them and make them jaded like you are.

Being someone’s Tiny is great. Instead of dating someone else in their barely twenties where you’re just sort of fumbling through things with a soundtrack of Sarah McLachlin and don’t know any better between the two of you, someone shows you the ropes of how to be in and communicate in and have fun in the queer community.

Being someone’s Decade Down, is sort of like a Tiny, except you’re not in your barely twenties and have some life experience, have done the Saturn Return and thus have a lowered tolerance for bullshit. You can be the young one in their friend crowd, who is fun and full of energy and wants to go out dancing more than once a month. Your Decade Up is your connection to a certain part of queer history that you didn’t live but maybe read about in Michelle Tea novels. They can teach you more tricks in the sack because hopefully they’re more experienced. They are over being the wandering panty chaser and want to settle down a little bit. Maybe.

Experience always trumps age. But unless you’re a crazy overachiever or chronically unable to learn from your mistakes, age makes a difference in how you relate to people and life. I’ve also learned that just because someone is older it doesn’t mean they are automatically good in bed, but that is true more often than it is not.

You shouldn’t mess up a good thing by getting bogged down with age stuff. Heather likes to say “Who fucking cares? Shut up you’re ruining everything.”

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In other words, age, like other relationship differences, is sexy and fun to play with when appropriate. Like zodiac signs. But there’s no way to say just because someone is a Scorpio they are definitely going to fuck you over, though it’s quite possible.**

I got another addition emailed to me by Mira Bellwether the other day that I’ve already rolled into my Queer Lexicography.

Pussy Response: PR

This is a term my friends and I have been using for a while now, frequently or usually abbreviated to PR, especially in polite company, and for the sake of coding (and abbreves.) The appeal of Pussy Response to me is that it describes an active process/state of being that belongs to the person who expresses it, rather than a passive state of being or one that is done to someone (“she makes me wet.”) The latter is sometimes accurate, but I like having a term that puts things in terms of my desire rather than what someone else is up to. PR also doesn’t necessarily rely on wetness to gauge sexual response or arousal, but it can be part of the whole pussy response experience. We also talk about PR campaigns, and PR can be an exclamation like “Hot!” that focuses on what the speaker’s body is doing rather than stating something about the object of desire.

Examples:

“The bartender at that place gives me total PR!”

“Did you see her arms? PR!”

“I have such PR for that boy.”

“You look amazing tonight, you’re sending me on a PR campaign!”
“Oh really? Well, you’re going to feel my PR all over your face as soon as I get you home.”

I’ve also heard tell of at least one butch using the modified “CR” for cock response, but the association with consciousness-raising makes me slightly uneasy.

I, on the other hand, love consciousness raising, so CR will work around me. Thanks for the addition Mira!! The deviled egg hair fascinator you made me is creating a PR campaign in the queer fat femme community.

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*Sugar plums, let’s keep it 18 and over, always.
**That’s a shout out to my good friend who shall remain nameless. USE YOUR WORDS to break up with people, not the ignore button on your iphone!!

2009-08-20

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Relatables

First of all, thanks to everyone for the lovely comments on Jessie’s photoshop work! I told her if this were the Lez Sep 70s we would totally have put on bandannas and crawled up to the top of that billboard with wheatpaste and spray paint. Luckily we’re in the cushy aughts and can do this shit via viral internet magic.

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Cherry Poppins here is wielding spray paint at Jessie Dress. Okay, it’s spray glitter. Again, the cushy aughts.

Now! Additions to the Queer Lexicography!

This first one was brought to me by the gorgeous Mira Bellwether.
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Codefriendant: If you meet any of the following criteria, you might be codefriendant. 1. You text every morning when you wake-up? 2. You rarely do anything on your own if you have the option of your friend being there? 3. You are so close that everyone you meet thinks you’re a couple? 4. You fight like you’re in a relationship? 5. You had sex a few times and it made you feel really complicated? 6. They had sex with someone else and it made you feel really complicated? 7. You have bad boundaries?

“Every morning Josie gets into bed with me and my girlfriend. I get that they’re best friends but their codefriendancy is making me feel like the third wheel in my own relationship!”

Process Aggressive: I’m not positive who came up with the term, but it was brought to me by someone who has experienced this. Before I define Process Aggressive, it’s important to know the base term, “processing”. Processing is thinking and analyzing a topic to some great length with specific reference to the involved parties’ feelings and thoughts. Primarily processing is used to describe talking about relationships, but you can process lots of things like politics, policies and ground rules. Processing is often abused, to the extent of overthinking, overanalyzing and overdiscussing something so that you’re going in circles.*

Anyway, process aggressive is a great way to describe someone who insists on processing. You either do not want to process or do not wish to continue processing and the other person is insisting that you process.

“I told JiJi last week I didn’t want to process with her and then she came up and put a note in my pocket. She’s so process aggressive!” This example of process aggressive is especially egregious because it involves invading personal space to get a point across. Not okay!

Story Dropping: This one was from my friend Gina de Vries. Story dropping is where you tell a story about someone but don’t use their name. Writers do this a lot, I am especially prone to it. It’s a great way to relate your life but not reveal too much about the person so that it’s not obvious who the person involved is (unless, of course, they already know the story or enough about both of you to guess).

“I open Best Lesbian Erotica 2008 and I’m story dropped on pages 35-47. This is what I get for fucking that writer for three months. At least we didn’t have licky licky lesbian sex.”

Tentacles: This is a great term when you’re at a festival or event that involves camping. You can use the term to describe people who are camping with you but not in your specific tent.

“We have a lot of tentacles, which is great because someone is always in charge of getting ice for the coolers. It’s not so great because one of my tentacles is camped really close to me and has loud sex every night.”

*I have an aversion to collective organizing because of the hyper processing involved. I also don’t like processing relationships unless we’ve made out a few times and/or you’re a good friend. And even then, I like a sharing of perspectives and once we’re going in circles or not making progress, I prefer an agreement to come back to things once we’ve cooled down. I have a Virgo rising, I feel very attached to efficiency.

2009-07-27

Girl You Look Expensive: Taueret

In the last few months, I have read and heard a lot of musings about Femme that begin with sentences like “There’s an unspoken expectation that Femme means consumerism” and “Femme is more than how many labelwhore handbags you own” and on and on about how Femme is so much more than spending money.

I find statements like this troubling. Partially because I think when people make arguments against “unspoken” anything, they’re making assumptions, usually out of insecurity. Assumptions and insecurity are the kryptonite of community building and connections. I also find it annoying because I think it’s falling into the WASPy* notion that we can’t or shouldn’t talk about money.**

The part of being Femme that I’ve found to be the most rewarding are the DIY*** aspects of putting yourself together. I haven’t known any other way to be Femme.

When I came into Femme, I came into it knowing lots of people who shared their resources. When I compliment someone on their make-up, for example, usually I get a response like “Thanks! It’s MAC blah blah blah” or “It’s wet n wild blah blah blah can you believe it?” Or if they didn’t offer where they bought something, and I wanted to know, I’d just ask. I’ve never had anyone bristle at the question and it’s been a great way to piece together my sense of style.

As fat girls, especially, since plus size clothes are so much harder to find than clothes under size 14, it’s always been my fat femme sisters who told me where to find things, how to modify things to fit, how to wear things to make them flattering, and most importantly, how much stuff costs!

Femme cannot be bought. Period. But the process of putting together a style that makes you feel comfortable in your skin does sometimes take some scrapiness and bargain shopping. I love bargain shopping–I call it Femme Hunting. Half the time the process of getting together an outfit is fun in and of itself.

So it is in this spirit of opening dialogue about Femme Hunting that I present my new blog series: Girl You Look Expensive****. I’ll find a fierce fat femme, interview her about her outfit and post it here. The idea is how you can look fierce and fashionable without spending a lot of money.

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My top was free. Like, really, really free. It’s a t-shirt that I got at a Divabetics event at ReDress and then altered. My skirt is from Torrid via ReDress and was, like, $9. My shoes are glitter peeptoe flats and were a whopping $5 on sale at Payless. My bangle and ring are cheapie H&M. My earrings were $12 and are the most expensive piece in this ensemble. I bought them from a fierce young Black womyn artist on 125th Street in Harlem.

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There are folk who are constantly talking about how femmes are totally materialistic and into consumerism and how it’s rare and special for a femme to have a budget, be eco-friendly, diy-fierce, or even poor. That idea is really classist, all on its own. It makes the assumption that all femmes have the resources and income and desire to spend small fortunes on their wardrobes. It makes the assumption that femmes who have fierce things spend a bunch to become that fierce. Untrue.

I am lucky that I live in New York City and have cheap and fashionable clothing resources available to me. As a femme of Color, I also have a shit ton of pressure imposed upon me to dress and carry myself in a certain way (clean and poised). I have the privilege to dress as funky as I want, have natural hair, and still be seen as human in the POC and queer communities. Julia Starkey’s essay “Fatness and Uplift” is a great resource about the cultural standards imposed on Black womy/en, especially when we are fat. Read it.

I also refuse to judge other femme’s priorities. Most of the Femmes With Money that I know are super humble and generous. And crafty and aware of their privilege.

I have a great balance of cheap and pricier items in my wardrobe. My friends and I don’t brag about how much our fierce crap costs or about silly brands, that just isn’t how our community works.

Places I love to shop because I’m young, fierce, fat, and poor:

ReDress NYC (Duh! Fierce fierce FIERCE)
AJ Wright (Great deals on handbags, shoes, and dresses!)
GirlProps (Cheap and cute accesories)
Etsy.com (Handmade goodies, totally worth $1 or $100)
H&M (I’m fat, but I swear by their jewelery and I know lots of plus size folk who can fit into their stuff)
Payless (But only during BOGO)
DSW (I love the purple sale tags….)

Taureret is starting a Radical Fatshion Zine. There’s a group on FaceBook if you are interested in joining and donating your skills!

*Defined by urban dictionary here. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=waspy
**In this society, as women, as queers, as folks who don’t have access to making a lot of money, it is really important that we get rid of the tendency not to talk about how we manage our money or how we make our money. A lot of us just don’t have skills or weren’t raised in households where we were taught how to do that, or know any other way but living paycheck to paycheck. Let’s be real, a lot of us don’t have the option of doing anything but living paycheck to paycheck, but even some of us who do have an abundance don’t know how to manage it. When you have to get creative with money, that’s when having an open dialogue with community members is really helpful–about bargains, work arounds, making do and mending.
***Do it Yourself.
****Named for Jenna Riot’s song of the same name. http://www.myspace.com/jennariotmusic

2009-07-17

On Femme Dates, Femme on Femme Action and Cultivating Both

In reference to my previous post Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Dry Spell Edition, I received a comment that stated they thought calling a date between two Femmes was exclusionary of Femme on Femme Action (FOFA). In fact, Mae says my term Femme Date is heterosexualism and “it seems to imply that anything between two Femmes is platonic and just friends”.

Mae! I have to respectfully and indignantly disagree with you! If you read my definition of Femme Date, I say “In this context I mean it as a platonic event that is ultimately constructed as a romantic date is, but without the bumbling, attraction questions or all of the other baggage of a regular date. It’s specifically designed for Femme bonding time.” Femme Dates are all about not being romantic dates. NOT TO THE EXCLUSION OF FEMMES DATING.

Here’s the thing–if two Femmes go on a romantic date, it’s called a DATE. Just like if a Butch and a Butch go on a romantic date, or a Genderqueer and a Femme or whatever. Two Femmes going on a date is a date that, of course, increases the FOFA (god that’s such a great acronym) in the world, and, according to Cherry Poppins, when two Femmes do it they produce glitter that comes out of nowhere. It happened to her and her ladyfriend and they were very thrilled.

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Cherry Poppins commented on this photo, “Bevin, what I really ♥ about this picture: it’s like Southern high femme realness (fancy frocks + Lone Stars + cute shoes + camp chairs).”

I think titles give something an air of importance. What I mean by giving Femme Date a special term, is because making time where we treat our friends with the same special devotion and attention we lavish on our romantic dates, it honors our commitments to them and honors our common identities (here, Femme, but you could easily do it with fat friends, trans friends, Femme friends over forty, etc…) and how special it is to have a friend who you see across from the table who embodies what makes up you. Who can really SEE you. I want to give at least the same amount of attention to a Femme Date that I do on a date with someone I might want to do it to.

Recently I’ve had my nose buried in Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities*, and I’m being all meta, quoting Ulrika quoting Clover Cuthroat, who is talking about her BFF Vagina Jenkins.

“About [Vagina Jenkins], you in return wrote: ‘Even thought there is an age gap between [Vagina Jenkins] and me, we’ve such similar lived experience, it’s like I’ve known her all my life. Because we both grew up black, poor, fat and awkward, we know what it’s like to be invisible aside from our sexual orientation. She encourages me to take up more space and exaggerate my beauty. We understand each other’s past and present and love each other for it.'”

Vagina says about Clover:

“‘I love her like the sibling I never had and always wanted. My childhood girlfriends understood my socio-economic background, my college girlfriend from the Black Student Union understood my racial politics and my queer girlfriends understood my sexuality stuff. I love those friends for the gifts they’ve given over the years. But Clover is the one person who gets it all without explaining any of it.'”

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Clover to the left and Vagina to the right. You should book Vagina Jenkins at your venue, she’s phenomenal, sexy, sparkly and really down to earth.

I will admit to tearing up a little bit when I read that essay. There’s something so special about creating friendships with people who really see you, understand you and bring out the best in you that just gets me to that spot in my heart where Beaches and other BFF movies from the 80s settled in. Plus, I have that in my life, with quite a few people. And I do sacred rituals like Femme Dates with Zoe, Femme bonding trash tv time with Chris, and long weekends with Rachael in order to make sure that my Femme relationships are cultivated with the same intentionality as my romantic relationships.

I want to also make it clear that just because I make a lot of noise about dating Butches or folks on the transmasculine spectrum, it doesn’t mean I exclusively date them. Quite the contrary, before I dated my ex of 3 years Seth (Genderqueer), I exclusively dated femmes. They weren’t femme identified necessarily, but definitely gendernormative and very feminine presenting. A couple of them would go on to become quite butch** but most of them are still just as girly.

What I struggle with now, as a Femme community leader, is the fact that so often I’ll make a new friend and default to Femme friendship because it’s really complicated. Femme bonding is so special and distinct, and as a leader I don’t want to screw things up for people, you know? Also, I am very wary of power dynamics and the complications of queer ethics. I had a crush on a Femme recently and it really spun out my tires because I was weighing all the measures of whether it would disturb community building or power dynamics too much to try to date her instead of just being friends and working together. Some of the ways in which I’ve figured out how to determine whether to default to Femme friendship is to find out right off the bat if they do date Femmes, have considered it or are open to it. I also try to make sure people know that about me. I’ll tell you my Femme type (which is oddly specific, as are my types of the transmasculine variety) if you ask nicely.

So, anyway, Mae, I’m interested to know your tips and tricks for a Femme dating Femmes. How do you meet girls and not default to friendship? How do you ask them out and make sure they’re clear it’s a date-date and not a lesbian not-date? Do you date Femmes who perform Femme in the same way you do, or do you go for a different kind of Femme?

*A book by Ulrika Dahl & Del Lagrace Volcano that just came out in the US. We celebrated the East Coast launch in Atlanta last weekend. Holy crap was that fun! I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s so lovely and wonderful to read and see images of all of this Femme lusciousness. If you can’t buy it from your local feminist bookstore, if you click on the link to Amazon right here I will make some pennies towards the costs of producing FemmeCast, which is totally unfunded and a lot more than you’d think.

**Hot damn is my first girlfriend a really good looking genderqueer now, but she was also hot when she had long blonde hair. At the time I was embarassingly clueless.

2009-06-16

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Dry Spell Edition

I have the following updates to the Queer Lexicography to present unto you.

The first, courtesy of Zuleikha Mahmood, co-founder of the Femme Sharks.

Critically underbanged. It’s a great alternative to the term “dry spell” but can also be used to describe Lesbian Bed Death and any really unsatisfying sex. She used it in a craig’s list ad of all places, to request that someone help her protest her state of being. It worked, too, she totally found her recent boo from it and is now contentedly well-banged.

I think it’s also important to use this term during times in which your critically underbanged status has more to to with your own choosiness than any lack of interest. I am not going to settle or have sex with people who I am ambivalent about. It’s nice in periods of critical underbangedness to have such a colorful turn of phrase to use.

The second, courtesy of Glenn Marla, Tranny Superstar and oft-contributor to FemmeCast.

Tragic. It’s an alternative to the term depression, since being depressed is such a sad word that means inaction. When you’re depressed you’re sitting around like a lump, but tragic is an action word. So next time someone asks you how you’re doing, instead of saying “depressed” you should say you’re “tragic”. I find it’s a great way to spur me to action and making art out of my sad feelings. (In fact, Mr. Marla, together with Silas Howard and Heather Acs, put together an amazing piece of theater called “Tragic Magic” which was all about taking really horrible things in their lives and turning them into beautiful art. It’s moving and wonderful and when they go on tour through the Pac Northwest, CA, etc… this summer you need to bring your friends. Fan them on the Book.)

Of course, sometimes you give into the depression for a little while and listen to some hardcore Tracy Chapman (Smoke and Ashes anyone?) and play Bejeweled Blitz over and over again.

Trampage. Brought to you courtesy of Ms. Cherry Poppins, head whatever of the Femme Mafia ATX.

Trampage is a great word to describe sleeping your way through a town. For example, “My recent trip to Austin was a total trampage, I hooked up in a boxcar, a gay bar, an abandoned theater, my friend’s couch and in a van.” That was not my trip, I’m just using it as an example. But if anyone wants to invite a Femme to ATX sometime for some abandoned theater action, I might be up for it.

Femme Date. This one is totally just so obvious it can’t be attributed. It’s awesome to ask someone out on a Femme Date. In this context I mean it as a platonic event that is ultimately constructed as a romantic date is, but without the bumbling, attraction questions or all of the other baggage of a regular date. It’s specifically designed for Femme bonding time.

I had a lovely Femme Date with Zoe last night, because I wanted some one on one time with her to find out about her recent Toronto trip to see her sweetie and try out a new restaurant in my neighborhood. It was marvelous. And tonight I had a wonderful Femme friend of mine ask me on a Femme Date because we’d never hung out one on one. It was wonderful, we went to a wine bar nearby and had a couple of glasses and some cheese and great conversation. She was very chivalrous and ordered for me and it was quite lovely.

If you’re somewhere and know a Femme you want to get to know better, I highly recommend asking her on a Femme Date. Or if you’re just hitting a dearth of romantic action, being romanced by a friend (or romancing a friend) in this kind of sweetly platonic way, is really a wonderful way to feel special intimacy. Also, when you are having lots of romantic regular kind of dates, you should still have Femme Dates to build community and have those wonderful special bonding moments that Femmes have together.

It’s a great way to have an adventure and do those fun things you do on creative dates (pull out a guide book for your home city and find something fun you’ve never done! explore a new restaurant! split a bottle of wine and hang out in your backyard!) with the addition of a Femme bonding focus. I also suggest Butches, Genderqueers and the Trans do it, too! More buddy time!

In other news, if you’re in and around NYC for Pride (Sunday, June 28, 2009) you should march with the Femme Family!! Meet at noon at 54th Street between 5th & 6th Aves. Look for our van! RSVP and keep track of updated info at our Facebook invite! All femmes and allies invited!

2009-05-21

The QFF Guide to dealing with social situations with a potentially fatphobic acquaintance

TO: Bevin
FROM: Sarah
RE: I know you don’t write an advice column, but…!

I couldn’t think of anyone else to ask. :\ Bevin, my bright and compassionate role model, how would you handle yourself at a social event with an acquaintance who hates/dislikes/at the very least disapproves of you based on something as stupid and arbitrary as weight? You see, I’m going to an event and I just discovered that the person I was most looking forward to hanging out with is part of an online social networking website group about fat hatred. I’m not willing to skim through the BS to see if she actually contributes to it, but somehow I doubt she joined just to view the posts from a critical, detached perspective. It shocked me to discover that she harbors this sort of prejudice, especially since she never displayed similar forms of asshattery like hating someone based on race, sexual orientation, etc.

I doubt she will directly comment on my weight, but somehow dealing with silent fat phobia in a social situation is scarier to me than dealing with the occasional snide comment from an asshole I don’t know on the street. How do you deal with people like this? Do you try to focus on the things you did have in common with them? Do you hope that you can make them question their prejudices simply by being fat and awesome? Somehow I feel that if I’m super friendly to her, I’ll be condoning her fat phobia or trying to pretend it doesn’t affect me or something. Gah! So confusing!

It would be awesome if I could get your perspective on this issue, but I know you’re busy. Thanks for creating something as positive and amazing as Femmecast. It helped me through a tremendously crappy breakup and continues to infuse my days with femme magic. 🙂

Oh Sarah! Though I do not technically write an advice column, I totally would if even one publisher gave me the chance.

This is a pretty intense situation, but I think first we need to step outside the direct issue and look a little bit at fat oppression.

Fat oppression is insidious. It’s the kind of thing that affects everyone intensely in ways they are rarely aware of. Mainstream media teaches us that fat is aesthetically and sexually undesirable and the rhetoric around the obesity epidemic will teach you that fat = death. Like many other kinds of oppression, fat oppression is fear-based. But rather than just being afraid of fat people, often thin people get freaked out by fatties because they are afraid, themselves, of becoming fat.

Oppression also acts as a way that people get power and control over other people using social constructions. People actively engaging in fat hatred are using the arbitrariness of body size to get a sense of power over fat people and also over the fear they have of getting fat. Though of course, I doubt the people in that internet group have ever discussed the arbitrariness of the line between thin and fat the way fat activists have.

In the first episode of FemmeCast Zoe talked about how some fat activists say things like “Fat is the last acceptable oppression”. This is completely untrue, because racism, sexism, homophobia, etc… is alive and well. Now, just because someone hasn’t said anything to you about being racist or homophobic doesn’t mean that they aren’t, it just means they’ve learned to use coded language and aren’t as out about it. There are totally internet groups for those kinds of phobias, too, just not likely as closely associated to social networking profiles like you’ve found with this girl.

Since you asked what I would do, I’ll answer that part first. Given my understanding of oppression and acts of hatred to be fear-based and power-seeking, I don’t engage in it. Sure, it would really suck for me to be in a situation where someone was being vocally fat hating (or gay hating, misogynist, femmephobic, queerphobic), but at the same time I find it a really comforting coping mechanism to remember at all times that no one has any power I don’t give them and that fear makes people weak.

I also tend to be a bit of a Pollyanna about people. I know that people change. And I do believe that just by being a fierce at home in my skin fat girl I make a difference. In fact, I know I’ve changed people’s hearts and minds about fat oppression by just being who I am.

I also model the behavior I want to see, which is fat accepting and loving. This is totally just part of my personality now, but it took a lot of conscious effort for me to move into the kind of person who uses fat positive language and behavior. I also use a lot of humor in my activism, and my daily parlance, which I think tends to break down people’s barriers. So while I am sure there are acquaintances of mine who are fatphobic (skinny and fat alike) I think they also know better than to say anything fatphobic to me or around me. I also am pretty intolerant of racist, transphobic, antisemitic (and other oppression) remarks and will call people out, gently and with humor.

And on a Pollyanna note, it may be possible that the acquaintance you’re talking about isn’t a fat hater. I mean, there are lots of times I’ve joined weird online communities I have no affinity or affiliation with to look for a girl I have a crush on or to read a particularly salacious string of e-dramaz or whatever and then completely forgotten I was a member of them. (Or, for that matter, old personal ad profiles I had forgotten about–I was only single for 6 weeks in 2005 and somehow I left a profile dangling until LAST WEEK. I don’t know whether to be more mortified that I had an old profile or that no one responded to it in 3.5 years.)

But, if it is true, and she’s a flag bearing member of this community and is actively engaging in fatphobic stuff, well, that gives you all the information you need to know about her to rule her out as a friend or someone to be trusted. And nothing says you have to be friends with her.

Further, just because someone is a fat hater it doesn’t mean that they are actively hating on you. It’s a lot easier to be mean to people on the street (like the street harassment you talked about) than it is to say something to someone’s face when there might be social consequences. Further, she may not even be that actively conscious of her fatphobia while interacting with you. But ultimately, there’s no telling what is going on in her head when she’s around you and frankly IT DOESN’T MATTER. What matters is what is going on in your head, because you have all the power and control over how you act.

So, given all that, I have some practical advice for you. I tend to feel the way you describe (sort of panicky and awkward if I’m reading you right) when I’m going to be in social situations with people I have emotional issues with. Former friends I’ve had falling outs with or ex lovers, particularly. A practical way of dealing with this situation, is to just be as fabulous as you can muster. Nothing eases yourself into a new or awkward social situation like a good wing-femme or femmetourage and a fabulous outfit. I would also just practice your winningest smile. It’s really disarming to people when you smile at them and compliment them. Model the behavior you want to see, which is detached positivity.

Just because you’re friendly to someone doesn’t mean you condone all of their behaviors, values and judgments. How can you possibly have that kind of queer dossier* on someone already? Further, there are so many moral turpitudes in the queer community, if we were to be unfriendly to everyone we knew who had done something bad, well, every queer event would be absolutely unbearable. Being friendly and positive is easier than being bitchy and mean, and it makes everyone have a better time. You don’t need to become BFF with everyone, but having a smile for people isn’t anything more than just adding to the positive energy of an event.

Thanks, also, for your kind words about FemmeCast. I’m trying to get the next minisode done soon!

I hope everything works out! Let me know what happens!

xoxoxox,

Bevin

*That’s a phrase I learned from my friend Bryn, which describes that method by which you remember all the nitty gritty details of people, whether or not you know them. Used in a sentence “I don’t know that person very well, but my queer dossier is full of her indiscretions and she’s had a lot of messy break-ups.”

2009-04-15

Help Heal Fran for Leah’s Birthday!

My life looks like this: I plan an organize an event that takes literally hundreds of hours to put together, during lulls in the event I am surfing CraigsList on my phone’s tiny internet for apartments in Brooklyn. Because all of my stressors in my life are hitting a great glitter douche* of crazy all at once. I’ve seen 18 apartments in the last week and a half and haven’t found a good one yet. Mostly they are all recent renovations with no space and high rents that want me to be excited about stainless steel appliances. Seriously, all I want is some good counter space in the bathroom, closet space and a few windows. My future roommate agrees.

FemmeCast’s Femme Shark Correspondent Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha came out for a clandestine visit/gig for API month at Swarthmore last weekend and it was a welcome distraction from everything to hang out and do life planning and road tripping with her. She went looking for apartments with me and I caught a bit on tape. (I want to start a video blog but need to figure out how to get the video editing software I need for PC. Eventually.) So here’s a bit of that adventure, for your pleasure.

Also, since Leah’s birthday is next week, she is doing a fund drive for her friend Fran Varian, whose writing is amazing. I can give $20 as soon as my next unemployment check hits, but what I can’t offer in cash I can offer in spreading the word. So if you have $10 to give, please do. I’d love to see Leah meet a fund raising goal for her fierce friend for her birthday.

Hey all

Hope this email finds you well. I’m turning 34 next Tuesday, yay! And
while I am open to give am open to gifts of makeup or books or another
skirt
besides the two miniskirts I wear all the time (I am a size 12-14 in
the ass), what I’m writing to ask is if folks could make a donation
for my birthday
to my friend Frances Varian, who is struggling with late term Lyme
Disease and is literally fighting for her life as an uninsured
working-class queer femme writer and badass.

Some of you know Fran: for those who don’t, she is an awesome abortion
provider, queer femme working-class writer and (can I say it again)
badass. You may have seen her on stage at any number of gay-ass events
in the Bay over the last few years, and she’s a former Seattle
national slam team champion. You can see some of her work here:
http://www.franvarian.com/, and here:
http://www.hipmama.com/node/30311.

Fran has been really sick for the past four years. What started out as
fatigue, muscle weakness and getting sick at the drop of a hat only
recently got
diagnosed with late-stage Lyme Disease- and when I say only recently
diagnosed, I mean that Fran fought for two years in SF to get anyone
to look at her increasingly frightening symptoms. Fran originally
believed she had fibro, and we were some of each other’s first
disability buddies. However, my health got better and hers got worse,
to the point where she now is dealing with heart problems, constant
nausea, spasms and seizures and worse stuff. She was diagnosed,
finally, a year ago with Lyme, an autoimmune disorder that is
having critical effects on her health, and which is difficult to
treat, both because of the lateness when it is finally diagnosed and
because of a medical industry that dismisses many patients who have
it . Late stage Lyme works a lot like late stage syphyllis in terms of
symptoms- some folks go into dementia as the spirochites that cause
Lyme go into the brain. Others die of heart failure in their 30s as
they penetrate the heart.

Fran is literally fighting for her life, as an uninsured woman with a
disease that is misdiagnosed and dismissed throughout the medical
world. Her fight has made her move to Durham, NC to live with her
partner, because it’s cheaper than the Bay and she’s found doctors who
will help her- a choice that carries the cost of isolating her from
the community that loves her. She’s had a PICC line installed in her
arm since last fall, and is in the middle of an intense course of
intravenous anti-viral and bacterial treatment that her docs say is
her one shot of beating this. And, she’s paying for the whole damn
thing out of pocket.

What I really want for next year’s birthday is Fran healthy, able to
move back to the Bay ) and reading poetry next to me. What I really
want is for my friend to not be another story of a working-class queer
femme fireball who died a preventable death of an immune disease in
her 30s- like Heather McAllister, the amazing, beloved queer fat femme
icon, who died of ovarian cancer as an uninsured woman in her 30s two
years ago. As a chronically ill woman who knows that I have lived and
gotten better because of the support and love of my community, I am
reaching out to my community to help my friend.

Anything you can spare will go to help Fran and her partner Dante to
pay for her treatment. You can donate here:
http://www.helphealfran.org/
My goal is to raise $2,000 for Fran in the next two weeks, which will
enable her to pay for her next round of treatment.

Please donate on her website, but if you don’t mind dropping me a note (brownstargirl at gmail dot com)
letting me know how much you were able to give so I can track how much
is going to Fran, it would rock.

In love, lipgloss and revolution,
Leah

*Glitter douche is a word I just learned from Cherry Poppins. Used by Kings N Things in Austin, TX, it describes the act of anything that “is that crucial moment in a performance (often drag pieces) when you grab glitter and toss it out over the audience. The glitter could also, say, come from an object, such as an umbrella opening dramatically and showering glitter out over the stage. We also occasionally make use of ‘confetti douches’ or ‘rose petal douches.’ Regardless of the material used, a gender performance show wouldn’t be complete without douching of some sort.”

Here I am trying to picture all of the moving parts of my life as little pieces of glitter flying all over the place. Instead of a shit storm, which is sort of what it feels like.

2009-04-01

FemmeCast Episode 8: That’s My Jam!!

“We’re fierce but not nuts, we’re the Sharks!”–Leah, Epsiode 8 of FemmeCast

There’s so much to be excited for in 2009!

Episode 8: That’s My Jam! Running time: 62 minutes.

In this episode host Bevin Branlandingham and FemmeCast contributors discuss what’s exciting about 2009.
www.Femme-Cast.com

Femme Shark Correspondent Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and her BBFFF and co-founder Zuleikha Mahmood debut their latest addition to the Queer Lexicography, JAM!
“The reason why the Jam is such a great term is it’s better than any other term out there for the transmasculine genitalia. The Jam is something you want to get up in. We’re talking about the JAMvantage.”–Leah and Zuleikha

Zuleikha (left) is totally wearing a SHARK HAT

Special guest Sea Creature Ally Giant Squid, Amir, talks up the transmasculine first person account of using the term Jam and ways trans people can work to become comfortable with their bodies.
“Embracing the Jam is a way to become a good Sea Creature Ally to the Femme Sharks because it’s all about loving our bodies, embracing our bodies and using humor as a way to resist.”

We debut the Cripping Femme Series with a piece by series curator, Leslie Freeman!

Tara’s Fatshion report highlights her new love for wearing red, white and blue “Now with 20% less irony!”

Featured music by Dance Yourself to Death and Athens Boys Choir!

FemmeCast: The Queer Fat Femme Podcast Guide to Life is a FREE audio newsmagazine for Queer Fat Femmes, Fatshionistas of all sexualities and Queers of all genders. Hosted by Bevin Branlandingham with a cadre of regular contributors, we’re discussing dating, fat fashion, social justice, friendships, sex, gender, tranny talk, culture, travel, community and feature new music by Queer artists. A whimsical This American Life meets a radical queer how-to novel with MTV generation timing, FemmeCast will keep listeners laughing, connected and inspired. Available for download 24/7 at Femme-Cast.com

Subscribe in a reader

Subscribe via Itunes

2009-03-14

Catching the Brass Ring

In my last post I talked a lot about the trifecta (housing, romance and career). I’m a big believer in thinking positively–and thinking big*–and in that vein I’ve been writing lists of what I’m looking for. I have articulated my career desires and my roommate/housing desires**, but let’s be honest, the romance stuff is way more fun.

A friend of mine told me that coming up with her ideal personal ad helped her to recognize the person when they came into her life. Another friend started referring to her hypothetical “First Lady” and within a few months totally manifested it.

I call the phenomenon of declaring your pie in the sky wishes for a potential date and then finding your manifested desire catching the brass ring, especially when that desire is beyond what you really thought you could get. I talked a lot about not settling for less than you want or deserve in Episode 6 of FemmeCast (The Lesbian Footwarming Syndrome). I believe really strongly that we all have brass rings available to us and we shouldn’t stop looking. As fat girls and queers, we often get stuck in a scarcity mentality that makes it difficult to imagine there is someone (or more than one someone) out there that can be a head, heart, lust match a/k/a Unicorn Dick.

Of course, it is much easier to see this for other people than in your own romantic life sometimes. I always post this ad to Craig’s List when I feel a little curmudgeonly about love. More out of a way to prove to myself that I still actually have hope than a sincere desire to wade through the responses asking me to define Faggy Butch. I also almost always get several responses from people who really love the ad and think it’s great that I posted it.

June Femme seeks Johnny Butch -30- NYC

I am a glamorous, queer fat femme. A glimmer in my eye, catalyst, comforting, big hair, big heels, big eyelashes kind of girl. Remarkably soft skin but never afraid to get dirty (though I’ll take the necessary precautions to maintain the integrity of my clothes). I also kill bugs. Always overdressed social butterfly who would do anything for my friends and loves creating and building community. Marilyn Monroe crossed with Dolly Parton crossed with Miss Piggy, with a dash of Siouxsie Sioux and Ginger Spice. I have a good sex drive, identify as a switch with a default to top and fuck back with gusto. I’m always thinking up ways to delight you and I pay attention to the little things. I am the life of the party but I love a night in. Tender, nurturing, and emotionally available. I’m a good communicator but processing too much makes me yawn. I love watching butches get dressed. I am always ready for an adventure.

You should be stylish, with good hair, tattoos and in touch with your faggoty side. Appreciate your deep lez roots. Be a badass on the outside, sweet, friendly and tender on the inside. Love your community and recognize your part in it. Wherever you land on the transmasculine spectrum, have thought about it and be comfortable and confident in your skin. Think on your feet, be smart, articulate, funny and easygoing. Make art a priority. Make passion a priority. Be charming but genuine. Love animals, I’ve got three. Don’t embarrass easily. Be committed to ever learning, growing and evolving. Have a hearty appetite and sex drive. See fat and queer as lived identities. Communicate well and be emotionally available. Jump into the party with both feet.

We will love ourselves first. We don’t hold back but know there’s no rush. We are a dynamic duo. We rock our own shit but look great together. We close down bars and go for daybreak walks. We spend long Sundays in bed, talking, fucking and napping. We brunch with friends. Long talks about gender, sexuality, gossip, celebrity, art, media, social justice, movies, 80s nostalgic kitsch and how to incorporate 50s retro style in a modern decor. Romantic, dynamic and passionate. We prioritize our development, friendships and community. We travel. We create. Basically, June Carter and Johnny Cash with a little less Jesus and pills.

My latest dinner party question, among my single friends, is to ask them to articulate for me their brass ring. As a born matchmaker, I am definitely looking to use my networking powers for good.

Wherever you are right now reading this post, I think you should pull out an old receipt, pull up a simple text editor, whatever, and start writing your brass ring list. What are you looking for? Who would your pie in the sky date be?

*Thinking Big is actually an upcoming FemmeCast episode theme highlighting queer entrepreneurs, community organizers and artists.
**And so far the craig’s list response has been downright creepy–here’s hoping my personal networking yields someone magical so I don’t end up momentarily homeless and living in Muse’s guest room.

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