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

2012-08-01

50 Shades of Glitter: On Self-Examination and Shifting Desires

I know some folks whose dating histories are full of first timers on the road to Lesbianville. I have plenty to teach a queer newcomer but that just has not been my path, I’ve never been the first queer for a straight person. However, I am often the first Femme folks have ever gone on dates with or slept with. It’s kind of fun to introduce people to what Femme can be and shattering stereotypes. I find most folks who haven’t dated Femmes before me had a lot of really intense ideas about what Femme is or is not and what Femmes do or do not do.

This also has the bummer byproduct of hearing a lot of femmephobic things from folks who are otherwise attracted to me but who are somehow intimidated or otherwise put-off by my Femme characteristics. This has happened a few times and I’m always left wondering if folks really mean they don’t want to date Femmes or they just don’t want to date me. Frankly, I would be less offended if it was the latter because I think most of the time it speaks to unexamined misogyny and Femmephobia to declare that you don’t date Femmes or aren’t attracted to Femme characteristics. Further, just because you might not be into Bevin’s brand of Femme doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be into other brands of Femme.

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Here I am dressed like a gay Narwhal on a queer booze cruise in May. Heather is also pictured.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I see Femme as a diaspora of femininity. There are a lot of definitions of what Femme means to folks, sometimes this is an identity that is static and sometimes it is fluid and only applies some of the time or to some elements of peoples’ identities. I think Femme is a really sparkly umbrella big enough to fit over all of us. Femme is a venn diagram of femininity and empowerment and the way it manifests on different bodies and sexualities is extremely varied. For some Femme is a gender. For me Femme is how I fit into my sexuality but my gender is something else entirely, much more Muppet.

If we’re coming from a place of acknowledging there are so many different ways to be Femme, why is it valid to make a blanket statement that people aren’t attracted to Femmes at all?

I also want to make it clear that this post is as much addressed to Femme-identified folks who don’t do Femme on Femme Action (FOFA) as much as non-Femme identified folks.

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I’ve addressed this tired line before, focusing on debunking Femme as high maintenance. Now I want to focus on shifting desire and whether the idea that one can actually say they all the time never are attracted to Femmes.

Also, gender presentation is such a mystery. Sometimes it changes! And chemistry and desire are such mysteries, but I think desire is the kind of thing that can be cultivated.

I was talking about this with my pal Quito on a boat cruise on the East River a couple of months ago. Quito is someone who I said once their gender was Gonzo and they enjoyed that description. They were really sweet, openly sharing about being intimidated about dating Femmes. Quito said that the Femmes they know are really ferocious and embodied in their identity. Quito’s eyes got big when they said it and there was more and I wish I had taken more notes. But I understood that they were intimidated.

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I really adore Quito so very much.

It’s an interesting statement because while there’s a lot of ferocity there is also a lot of tenderness. Most of the fiercest Femmes I know are pussycats on the inside. I also am reminded of the constant drone of hearing “You’re too much” as a reason to not want to date someone.

I think there’s also an element of inexperience that impedes folks from feeling like moving toward Femmes. Like, if you’ve always done it to the same kinds of folks maybe you don’t know what the experience of certain feminine elements you’re not familiar with is going to do or how it might be different from sex you’ve had before. Maybe you might be bad at it. Maybe it might not be something you like.

For example, one time I got to inaugurate the first time someone had done it with someone who was wearing fishnets. There was some fumbling but it was incredibly hot. I think that’s true for any kind of new sexual experience. I, personally, intend to continue having new and hot sexual experiences well into my golden years. With new and hot things I don’t understand in my present erotic consciousness and new and hot people.* It’s also really exciting and fun to tell the person you’re with that you’re new to something. Perhaps instead of being intimidated by Femme, you confess to your potential new lover “I’ve never done this before.” People love to be the Marco Polo of sex and turn you out. I always give out sexual first time/best time awards when they are earned. Honestly, if I found the right boy scout I’d actually create patches.

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Also doing something for the first time, while fumbly, might just tell you something is not your thing and that’s cool, too. So maybe that’s desire that comes out of trying something that’s not for you.

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And maybe it’s the person who you don’t want to explore with. But if it’s the person just say “I’m not into you like that” or “I’m not feeling chemistry with you” or something along those lines.

But maybe before you say it’s the person interrogate your desire for a second. Are you balking because of them or because you’re feeling intimidated by a new desire? Or feeling some internalized shame for being attracted to femininity and you have some internalized misogyny to work out?

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For every Femme who wears fishnets and heels there are just as many Femmes who wear sneakers and jeans. And also! Also! Femmes who wear fishnets sometimes also are the Femmes who wear sneakers and jeans. For me I feel Femme all the time, no matter what I’m wearing and maybe sometimes people aren’t Femme identified in their sneakers and that’s cool for them. But I think that all permutations of Femme or not-Femme right this second all desireable and can be desireable.

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So, can desires change? Can folks who have never really found Femme attractive or maybe find a Femme attractive in spite of never being attracted to Femmes before shift their desires or get over the shock enough to pursue it?

I was really compelled by this quote by the late Mark Aguhar.

is desire an unacceptable weapon because so many people refuse to believe desire can be controlled

What Mark said popped into my mind a bunch of times while I’ve been pondering this post the last couple of months. I think this can mean a lot of things but here I find it resonates that desire can be directed. Maybe your fear and intimidation by something new is hard to wrap your head around?

Cherry Poppins, a friend from the Bay Area, came to town not long ago and she told me that when faced with a dearth of tops in her town decided to abandon her bottoming only lifestyle and learn how to top in order to get laid. She said she shifted her desire in order to expand her dating pool and it worked. She believes very strongly that desires can change.

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For me, when I examined my internalized fatphobia and began the journey to loving myself and loving fat bodies, I became very attracted to fat people. They were my primary interest for a long time, for a sense of personal safety and kinship. Now my desire is much more body diverse since I can look on a fat person and find them attractive because I am not plagued by my own internalized shame triggered by seeing another fat person.

And I think there’s a lot to plain old chemistry. As someone who has gotten a lot more selective about who I am attracted to (and how much bullshit I will put up with), chemistry can be really hard to find. I don’t want to squander opportunities for hotness with someone because they are triggering something in me that is bringing up shame. I want to work through that and get to a place of hotness.

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There is an undeniable amount of masculine desirability privilege in queer communities. It’s far more socially acceptable in most circles to go after a masculine of center person or a genderqueer person than a Femme. My roommate Damien Luxe is quick to point out this is misogyny and femmephobia at work.

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I wonder if we, as a community and as individuals, start to interrogate our desires and work to unlearn our ableisms/racisms/sizisms/homophobia/misogyny/femmephobia/ageism (etc…) if desire will change? I think it can.

I also think we can be more intentional and mindful with each other in the ways we express our chemistry and desire. I know it would sting a lot less and feel a lot better if folks said something that sounded like they gave a rejection more thought than the same old line of “I’m not interested in Femmes.” It just sounds like a punishment for an identity that is perceived as mutable but for many of us it is absolutely not.**

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Gay Narwhal is not mutable.

*Monogamies permitting, etc…
**Let’s talk about this at FEMME CONFERENCE 2012! Clickie for more information on the conference, August 17-20, 2012 in Baltimore! I’m performing Saturday night and I would love to meet all of my blog readers who are in attendance!!

2010-03-04

Femme Conference Date Set for August 20-22! Call for Submissions!

I’m on the media committee for this year’s Femme Conference (save the date! August 20-22, 20FEMME, Oakland, CA) and that means I’m updating the Femme Collective Twitter! You know it’s going to be magic up in there! I’m starting the Tweet Down today!

Follow us: http://www.twitter.com/femmecollective

Femme2010: No Restrictions

Femme Logo

Femme Collective presents
FEMME2010: 
NO RESTRICTIONS

August 19th-22nd
Oakland, CA

Hello Fabulous Femmes and Allies!

The Femme Collective is proud to announce Femme2010: NO RESTRICTIONS.  Building off of Femme2006 and Femme2008, Femme2010: No Restrictions

(August 20-22, 2010 in Oakland, CA) continues to explore, discuss,

dissect, and support Queer Femme. The weekend will include workshops,

panels, presentations, performances, film, and art. We invite people of

all genders who are interested in a deeper understanding of Femme, as

well as all self-identified Femmes who want to learn, teach, connect,

and build community geared towards social change.

In this newsletter meet our new steering committee members, check out our Call for Submissions, learn about our registration rates, check out our host hotel!

Join

us this August in Oakland for this groundbreaking event.  Please

forward to your personal networks and help us get the word out!

The Femme Collective

STEERING COMMITTEE

To find out more about your 2010 steering committee click here!

 

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Call for Workshops, Papers, Panels, Films, Performance and Visual Art

Femme2010: No Restrictions
Oakland Marriott City Center
1001 Broadway
Oakland, California 94607
August 19th – 22nd, 2010
www.femmecollective.com 

Femme2010: No Restrictions

is a multi-threaded conference and forum for those who think about,

talk about, and create Femme as a queer gender and identity.

Following

our Femme2006 & 2008 conferences in San Francisco & Chicago,

where hundreds of femmes and allies gathered for workshops, panels,

films, visual art galleries and performances, we again invite community

members, artists, academics, homemakers, geeks, techies, activists,

femmes of all kinds, and their allies to continue the conversation by

participating in Femme 2010 as presenters and participants.

We

are invested in having Femme2010 continue to reflect the diversity and

complexity of femme gender, identity and contributions. We hope for

this conference to be a community building event, as well as an exploration and celebration of what it means to build and live queer femme identities.

Submissions

of all kinds are welcome, particularly submissions by femmes. We

encourage proposals by and for people of color, working-class people,

fat folks, elders, youth and people with disabilities. We encourage

submissions that work outside and alongside identity and gender, as

well as those reflecting directly upon identity and gender. Femme2010

will continue the community dialogue from Femme2006 & 08. In

particular, we hope that the intersections of femme with race, region,

class, access, ability, privilege, and marginalization will be talked

about, given space, meditated upon, constructed, and deconstructed.

Finally, we also encourage submissions based on this year’s theme: No

Restrictions.

We began this conference in 2006 out of a desire

to see femme explored and discussed from a variety of perspectives. We

wanted a conference that held the complexities of Queer Femme as its

central focus, while building community. We feel we accomplished that

in 2006 & 2008 and in 2010, we want to continue to build femme

community and bridges, supporting each other across borders and

differences.

We hope to draw participants from across

disciplinary, medium, and social boundaries. We encourage submissions

from anyone interested, regardless of gender or sexual identity. We do

ask that you read our mission statement before submitting.

We are soliciting contributions from anyone interested, including (but not limited to):

> workshops
> panel presentations
> performances
> research presentations
> skill shares
> activist & organizational topics
> visual art
> video or film

Submission deadline is April 15, 2010.

Please submit your proposal through the following links, located at www.femmecollective.com:

Program Submission click here

Performance Submission click here

Film Submission click here

**Please note that the more information we have on your submission,

the more likely we will be able to accept your submission and include

it in the conference schedule.

To learn more about us, our

mission and to contact us with any questions, comments or concerns,

please find us at our website: http://www.femmecollective.com

REGISTRATION OPEN


Registration

is now open!

Register early to save – registration for the entire

weekend is $50 right now, $75 after May 15, and $95 after July 15.   Registration includes all day and evening events.

HOTEL INFORMATION


Femme 2010: NO RESTRICTIONS
Host Hotel
Oakland’s Marriott City Center
1001 Broakway
Oakland, CA 94607
August 20-22, 2010

MEDIA CONTACT INFORMATION

Address

all inquiries and media requests to: Damien Luxe and/or Allison Stelly,

Media Chairs, at femmecollectivemedia at gmail dot com. Your request will then

be forwarded to the appropriate steering committee member for more

information. Additional information is also available at

www.femmecollective.com.

  VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

The Femme Collective is actively seeking volunteers to help us with this year’s conference.  Volunteers get a reduced registration rate for the conference.  If you are interested in volunteering please click here and fill out the form.


Safe Unsubscribe

This email was sent to christine.delarosa@yahoo.com by christine.delarosa@yahoo.com.

2009-12-19

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Queer Holiday Gifting

Hey, how did it get to be 6 shopping days left until Christmas?

Last night on a phone call with Damien Luxe, we talked about one of the biggest skills we gained in higher education–the ability to execute big results despite procrastination flawlessly. This is how I approach holiday shopping, too. Honestly, I always have good intentions but I just don’t usually get around to having everything together for big things under the tree on time.

So, what I like to do is print a picture of what the thing is I bought or ordered or have in the pipeline and putting it in a thoughtful card. (I’ve actually done this a lot with crafts I haven’t finished.)

It is in the spirit of celebrating and supporting my procrastinating blog readers that I present unto you this nice list of some possible last minute shopping ideas. These will work for your sweetie (Femme or otherwise), your BFF, your ultra liberal mom, your boss, whatever, from some of my favorite shops and queer artists out there. Way more interesting, thoughtful and pro-small business/artist/supporting the community gifts than something you grabbed at Target at the last minute. And they can usually be shipped right to your intended recipient!

PRETTY THINGS

Buy your dapper dandy or pretty princess or sparkly queen something shiny from Looks Good From The Front! Her hair pieces are elaborate and gorgeous and her price points went down after my last blog post about her!
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On looks alone The Inverted Eye is my favorite online retailer. Such a gorgeous online shop. But there’s so much more to it than “subtly kinky items and discreet fetish antiques”–there are amazing costume pieces and decorative items that need to be in a burlesque performer or retro lover’s home.
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Perfect gift for the Butch or Southern Rose in your life! This charming barber’s hair dressing display would look great hung on the wall.

Art By Mags has some amazing stencil work. If I were still the employee of a republican with a sense of humor, I would totally get him a Rachel Maddow Truth-Teller wall-hanging. I would also get any roller derby girl the really hot roller skate clock.
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Fat Men’s Vintage Clothing! At last there is a store just for butch vintage style! Online even! So amazing. Old Man Pants vintage is run by a really hot queer. The stuff is amazing! My dream retro king boyfriend or girlfriend would shop at this store. I have no further words, just go check it out.

CUSTOM ART!

Nothing says “Honey I know you love glitter” like buying a customized glitter painting! Glitterbombe Portraits by Cherry Poppins. Custom artwork for you or someone you adore. You can get a portrait of yourself or a favorite idol! Email ms.bombe [at] gmail [dot] com to start discussing your custom piece. Coming soon: www.glitterbombe.com.
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V Kingsley makes custom quilts that are so gorgeous I can’t even really talk about it. I’ve seen her work in person and it is absolutely stunning. It’s also made by one of my Femme heroes, someone who walks the walk of living a life of service, being whole, loving and gorgeous. Her free spirit fashion helped me to break out of my shell when I was a baby Femme and saw her for the first time. So anyway, look at her quilt gallery and decide to get a keepsake made with love and magic!

CALENDARS!

I love a good calendar. This year I am most excited about the Adipositivity Calendar. I’m not in it but a lot of the hot naked fat bodies in it are friends of mine. Part of what helped me come into acceptance and love of my fat body (how it is versus how society tells me it should look) was seeing the actual diversity in women’s bodies, fat or otherwise. You can get it through Cafe Press, the proceeds go to the artist so she can keep making really important fat art!

(If you’re in NYC you can come into Re/Dress NYC where we have them on consignment.)

REGIONAL GIFTS–PHOTOGRAPHY

I think one of the best things I ever did for my self-esteem was to get comfortable in front of a camera. Working with the right photographer can do wonders to make you feel like a sex pot, pin-up or just more at home in your skin. So is creating keepsakes for you, a loved one, history.

A great Seattle gift is a full or partial gift certificate for a session with Fat Bottom Boudoir. I was shot by Molly recently and she is really easy to be with, understands the special needs of people who don’t meet the mainstream societal standards of beauty and can make people really comfortable. Her portrait eye is really amazing–I have never seen someone in one of her pictures that doesn’t seem more like themselves and also really good looking. Molly sometimes travels to do marathon sessions.

My friend Kelly at Closed Circle Photography specializes in weddings (her shoots are amazing!) but also does some really lively portrait work in Boston or thereabouts. She’s also a big traveler. A great gift for a mom-to-be, recent parents or anyone who wants to document growth and development is a package that includes a few sessions–I’ve seen some of the year-to-year work Kelly has done and it is really endearing.

In NYC my friend Sophie started a pin-up photography business called Shameless Photography. She does full pin-up vintage makeovers and glamour shots at really reasonable prices or for barter/trade.

REGIONAL GIFTS–PERFORMANCE

Ms. Cherry Gallette has offered the following: bay area patrons can purchase the gift of cherry for their friends and/or themselves. this means that on an agreed upon date, i’ll come perform for their event or party and/or get down and dirty in the kitchen and make them a sugary treat in full costume. how sweet does that sound? Email chachacherry [at] gmail.com for more info!

You can also give tickets to a big upcoming queer performance, design a fancy night out and detail it in a card, and get creative.

I will also give a plug to my employer, you can call Re/Dress NYC and order a gift certificate on the phone and we’ll send you a cutesy email to print out and give to your intended. We have some amazing clothing, accessories, jewelry, shoes, purses, neon leg warmers… Love knows no size limit. (P.S. All of our vintage coats just got reduced to $99 or less.)

There are a lot more ideas I was given than I have time or space to blog about, but these were some of the most sparkly and unusual. I encourage everyone to not let your procrastination hinder your thoughtfulness and resourcefulness–last minute gifts can be both and support your community!

2009-12-11

The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Not Blaming it on the Fact That You Don’t Like Femmes

Backstage at Cupcake Cabaret, World Famous *BOB* told a story about how a (now former) beau had called her high maintenance.

“I called my drag mom and asked if she thought I was high maintenance. She said ‘Of course you are but you maintain yourself. You’re like a classic car, if someone is going to drive a 66 Caddy they will. If they want a Honda they should drive a Honda.'”
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World Famous *BOB*. Next Cupcake Cabaret is February 7, 2010! Photo by Syd London.
I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. It is so frustrating when people comment on how I am high maintenance.

Number One: Yes I am high maintenance, and take your value judgment off of that, it has nothing to do with you.

Number Two: I don’t expect my partners, lovers or anyone to bear the brunt of this and do any more for me than I would ask of a friend.

Number Three: I really hope that anyone who wanted to date me or be my friend would, in some way, be excited about the shows I put on, the art that I create and the other amazing whirlwinds that happen around me. Not to mention how fabulous I look while doing it. The most work that manifests for lovers of mine is a high impact social schedule and if I’m carrying more stuff than you I’d love it if you offered to help.

Number Four: I think everyone can be high maintenance in their own ways, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just a matter of whether or not your maintenance is compatible with another person’s, really.

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I do admit to often running late but that has more to do with Farmville and my lack of time consciousness than how high maintenance I am.

In fact, as a woman with high self-esteem and a lot of confidence, I probably require a lot less emotional work and support than a typical partner.* I am really low maintenance in a lot of ways.

I also have news for you–Femme does not automatically equal high maintenance.** Most of the powerhouse Femmes I know are, in fact, pretty self-sustaining. The most high maintenance thing about going out with us is scheduling dates!

Dating situations have been broken off with me and many friends before because the person “Just doesn’t date Femmes”. Often this is accompanied by an explanation that Femme is high maintenance and they don’t have those kinds of resources to date a Femme.

Historically I’ve always accepted that, too. You can’t do anything about someone’s preference for or against Femmes. And I am certainly not going to argue myself into someone’s bed–I don’t chase once I get “No”. I gave that up many years ago. The “Yes, no, yes, no” game is something straight girls are taught to play and I don’t do that.

But frankly, “I don’t date Femmes” is a flimsy excuse and used far too often as something to hide behind when the true reason is something different.

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I love Cherry Poppins.

Formerly I understood “I don’t like Femmes” to be a preference, after dating for a few dates I never stopped to say “Wait a minute, why don’t you tell me what’s really going on?” When I sat back and looked at the situation I realized “I don’t like Femmes” was an excuse generally hiding emotional shit or other bars to dating that had nothing to do with my Femme identity.

If you have paid even a little bit of attention to this blog, you will know that Femme comes in a myriad of forms. Femme is fat, skinny, born boy, born girl, born whatever, wears high heels, wears stompy boots, wears flats, wears sneakers, wears boots at a construction site. Femme always wears make-up, Femme never wears make-up, Femme surprises you, Femme is emotionally giving, Femme is emotionally needy, Femme is emotionally stone, Femme is pretty middle of the road, actually but sometimes has the Seasonal Depression.***

You get it. Just like there is no one right way to BE Femme, I refuse to further support anyone’s blanket assertion that they “Don’t like Femmes”. I feel like I’ve met enough different kinds of Femmes that there for sure is a Femme out there who would fall under the realm of who you might be attracted to.

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Femmes at Femme Camp.

There are those who say “I just don’t do the Butch-Femme thing.” Oh honey, me neither. I can’t stand anything compulsory and if someone is doing chivalry out of a sense of role or antiquated obligation I can smell that shit a mile away. I like people who treat me right because they like to make other people feel good and they have good home training. Chivalry is not exclusive to boys or butches, I know plenty of chivalrous Femmes and friends who are sweet, caring and nurturing

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I don’t know a person more chivalrous than the very Femme Jessie Dress. She beats all at catering to my every desire before I even know I have it out of a genuine love for hospitality.

It’s not the 50s anymore. And while Butch/Femme couplings are, of course, alive and well, there is no one out there telling you how you have to be if you’re in a Butch/Femme partnership (and if there are, please direct them to me as I’d like to have a lively debate on my podcast).

Femme, for me, is stand alone. It does not rely on my partnership with anyone, butch, genderqueer, trans, whatever. Just as, I would hope, your identity doesn’t rely on who you happen to be fucking at that moment, too.

I date lots of different people and that occasionally includes Femmes. While it is true that I have a few “types” there are plenty of people I’ve been attracted to who meet the characteristics of what I am looking for and presented and were embodied in super different ways.

Also, just because you have a bad experience with one Femme does NOT mean the way she/he acted has anything to do with how another Femme will act in a relationship.

In sum, this is a call to those out there who are using the generalized “I don’t date Femmes” as an excuse for whatever is going on that makes you want to run away or never give Femmes a chance, here are some things to think about instead of blaming it on Femme:

1. If you’re not into someone, try just saying “I’m not feeling chemistry for you.”
2. If you’re not feeling emotionally available, try doing the work you need to do on you BEFORE you start dating.
3. Recognize that dating someone who is more like you (for example, when you are a genderqueer who only dates genderqueers) is sometimes a default to what is easy and familiar. A doppelbanger.
4. Femmes are not all “high maintenance” –I challenge you to redefine what you mean by “high maintenance” and put words to the ways in which you find someone’s relationship needs hard for you.

(Some of the above are direct responses to recent actual incidents in my Femme friends’ lives.)

And the following I say to everyone with all the gentle, loving, kindness, I-know-this-work-is-hard sweetness I can muster:

5. Think about the ways in which Femme phobia and anti-Femme bias in your attraction might have more to do with internalized misogyny, fear of loss of power, loss of visibility and other marginalization in the queer community versus just a “preference” as the CraigsListers likes to say.
6. Being queer is about having choices and having a non-default sexuality (as opposed to the heterosexual paradigm).
7. If you’ve never dated a Femme before, challenge yourself to look past your perception of anyone’s identity and onto their characteristics as a human, see if there’s some sort of road block in your attraction that manifests as Femme, fat, race, dis/ability, age, transition status or any other characteristic that might have more to do with your own unexamined bias.

Anyway, I’m not trying to sway the tide or anything. Some people really just aren’t into something/a gender presentation/body whatever, I get that. But having heard of so many people lately running into the “I’m not into Femmes” thing and also know plenty of primarily faggot identified butches/transmen dating Femmes that I see a disconnect. I want people to broaden their horizons, that’s the best part about being a queer!

This post is especially dedicated to the genderqueer friend of mine (who shall remain forever anonymous) who had dated other genderqueer and transguys exclusively for so long that they were intimidated by Femmes because of the bra situation.

*Of course, that always comes with the sweet side-effect of inspiring other people to “do the work” to get to my level of confidence and emotional maturity, which often means they are “not ready” to date me or whatever other euphemism for that I’ve gotten.
**Lest we forget that butches/boys/bois/men can often require just as much if not more preening and primping. My ex, a genderqueer named Seth, required 45 minutes after her shower start to finish on her hair and fashion for the day. She looked good, though, and I always appreciated it.
***If you’re still confused about what it means to be Femme, buy the Femme Family Coming Out Zine. It’s cheap and it supports the Femme Conference. It will also teach you a thing or 20 about Femmes. Promise.

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.

2009-07-17

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.

IMG_2407
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.'”

fistyandvag
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!

2009-04-20

The Queer Fat Femme Stop on the Femmethology Blog Tour

Today is my day on the Femmethology blog tour! It’s like we’re riding a virtual pink sparkly magic bus and I’m up front showing you what’s to your right, to your left and just past that next building over there if you squint a little and that UPS truck gets out of the way!

If you’d like a preview of some of the work from the book, check out the latest episode of FemmeCast, Episode 8. The first installment in the Cripping Femme series is the essay by Leslie Freeman from the book. “Essence/Artifice”. It’s moving and powerful. Coming up on FemmeCast, Margaret Price’s essay “Not That Girl” will be featured as the next installment of Cripping Femme and part of my courtship themed episode (Episode 10)!

Anyway, lots of people on the tour have reviewed the pdf of the book sent to them or talked about what Femme means to them and all of that. I’m here to talk about some of the authors.

Basically, here’s the deal about anthologies–the authors don’t make any money. Maybe they get a copy of the book and upwards of $50 (the Femmethology authors I talked to got a copy of the volume they’re featured in and according to one author, contributors are paid royalties). Even royalties are dicey because they only kick in once the book is turning a profit and are split! Anthology authors submit for the publicity, contributing to a greater discussion and the chance to have their voice heard, which is super important.

However, in these “troubled economic times” or as I like to call it “The Hateful Bush Economy” it is extremely crucial to support art made for our community, by our community. Since so many of the authors in the book submitted for the love of Femme community and don’t get paid for it, I thought I would throw back a little love at them!


Me and Damien hosting Speaking of Femme NYC. Our next one is scheduled for June 3 at Bluestockings!
DAMIEN LUXE (billed in the book as Hadassah Hill but is giving herself a new name for her 30th birthday) is a NYC based performance artist, writer and DIY media mogul. She’s also my co-Head Madam in the NYC Femme Family and probably one of the most community-oriented people I know. Right now she’s obsessed with getting a van, so if you know of any good deals within driving distance of NYC let her know.

You can buy her cd through cd baby right here, or at her website right here.


CHERRY POPPINS (in the book as Allison Stelly) is a fierce Femme activist, community organizer and dragster from Austin, TX. I met her at a Femme workshop at IDKE in Chicago, in 2004. She has a lot of different projects and performances going on, including being the forefront of the Femme ATX chapter of the Femme Mafia. She’s also sometimes a purveyor of amazing Femme crafts on Etsy (but is on hiatus right now) and her currect passion project is the Queertastiks, a subversive, mixed-gender, body positive queerleading squad using cheer-based performance art and dance as a tool for social justice.

If you find yourself in and around Austin sometime soon, check them out!


LEAH LAKSHMI PIEPZNA-SAMARASINHA is one of my besties, a spoken word artist and writer. My favorite line from any of her poems is “Love is an anarchic bitch”. Too true! She’s finishing up her MFA at Mills College and someday soon her memoirs are going to drop. In the meantime, you can buy her book “Consensual Genocide” at Tsar Books by searching for the title or Leah’s name. Piepzna-Samarasinha is her last name. She also performs her one-woman show “Grown Woman Show” all over the place (and can be booked for your college gig by emailing brownstargirl at gmail) and the tour that she co-curates, Mangos with Chili, is going on a Southern route in the fall, so check our their dates when released. Mangos with Chili is truly phenominal.

Leah also co-founded the Femme Sharks, is a correspondent on FemmeCast and talks really fast because the faster she talks the faster she’ll change the world. That’s my theory.


GINA DE VRIES is a San Francisco-based queer fat femme writer and spoken word performer who has been out and publishing since she was, like, 13. She’s really sweet and earnest and community-minded and really fun to have out at brunch. Her website is comprehensive, and tells you about all of her events, including a monthly sex workers writing workshop. The name from her website (Queer Shoulder) is from the Allen Ginsberg quote “America, I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.” Gina proves it again and again by working hard to bring her light and art to the world!

When you see work by the Femmethology authors out and about, snatch it up! Most of them are up and coming and can use the community support.

The rest of the Femmethology tour dates are below, check out what those tour guides have to offer!

4/1. Sugarbutch Chronicles

4/2. Ellie Lumpesse
4/3. Queer-o-mat
4/6. Catalina Loves
4/7. cross-post: The Femme’s Guide and Femme Fagette
4/8. Daphne Gottlieb

4/9. Bilerico Project
4/10. Screaming Lemur: Femme-inism and Other Things
4/13. The Femme Hinterland
4/14. Bochinche Bilingüe: Borderlands Writing and The Vagina Adventures
4/15. Dorothy Surrenders

4/16. Miss Avarice Speaks Her Mind
4/17. The Femme Show
4/18. CyDy Blog
4/19. Sexuality Happens
4/20. Queer Fat Femme
4/21. Sublimefemme Unbound

4/22. Tina-cious.com and Jess I Am (butch-femme couple day!)
4/23. FemmeIsMyGender
4/24. The Lesbian Lifestyle
4/25. Femme Fluff

4/26. Weldable Cookies
4/27. The Verbosery
4/28. A Consuming Desire and Creative Xicana
4/29. Queercents
4/30. en|Gender

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.

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