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

2018-01-26

Year of Ask Vol 2: Why and How I Started My Year of Ask Project

I set the date for my 39th birthday party months in advance, at the totally subtle nudge of my partner. It surprised me that I was procrastinating sending out my invites. Like all things I need to do and instead procrastinate, it was in heavy rotation in the back of my mind. For some reason I felt resistant to asking people to celebrate with me.

This picture series is basically all sorts of folks who showed up to celebrate my birthday and helped make it happen in some way. By not asking folks to my birthday party I would have cut myself off from receiving all this love! All pics by my friend McKay.

As others who have December birthdays know, birthday gatherings are met with quite a bit of scheduling competition and to ensure you have robust attendance you have to invite early and remind repetitively. Usually I don’t do either of those things and let whatever happens happen, or I put my birthday party off until January.

I went to a retreat for my new coaching program the first weekend in December, having still not sent out invites to my birthday party. During the retreat I kept working on uncovering my blocks to money. The realization came when I was heading home, noticing the strong resistance to sending out invites with fresh self awareness.

I have been saying for years that asking for help is a sign of strength. But, as with all personal growth, there is always new work to be done in areas I thought I had handled. Having that time at the retreat to really examine myself and how I might be limiting my greatness introduced me to this new growth edge—I needed to open up to asking.

Sometimes, when I have an area of personal growth, I just need to practice. Get in there, feel awkward, cheer for myself and do it anyway. With practice, awkward things feel less awkward. Eventually difficult things become muscle memory and the resistance doesn’t come up as much.

I decided to embark on a Year of Ask. Like Shonda Rhimes and her Year of Yes, I would devote myself to a year of asking. Literally anything that comes up, big or small, that involves asking, I will just do the ask. I love the saying “If you’re not hearing no you’re not asking enough.”

So I started with my birthday party. My ideas for what I wanted to accomplish with my party were mighty. A holiday special for my Facebook Live, a brunch the next day, a Dolly holiday raffle. I knew if I wanted to go hard for my birthday it would require a lot of help since I couldn’t afford a caterer and I needed production help. My heart was telling me “Yes, yes, go hard Bevin!!” but something in me was blocking the execution.

My annual pic with the Zarou family!

The Year of Ask was the permission I needed to push through that block. And a birthday party is a great occasion to practice shameless asking.

Behind the scenes of my Facebook Live Holiday Special, which yes, included a BBQ as a stand-in tripod. My friend Leo provided SO MUCH HELP making this happen because I asked for her help!

I made all the big plans, I wrote up an epic Google RSVP form with about fifteen check boxes of ways folks could help. And it happened, we had enough chairs (thanks Kate and Jennifer!) and the food was fabulous and plentiful. And the pictures are beautiful. Way more people RSVPed than I thought would happen and it turned out Dara had been secretly pre-planning my birthday as a surprise proposal which explained why so many people were available and ready to help.

Keep up with our queer wedding planning on our Wedding Vlog!

So here I am, officially 39, having had probably the best birthday party I’ve ever had, running a pre sale for my first ever workout video for Fat Kid Dance Party, and asking away. Will you support my mission to make the world safe for people to love themselves in any amount? Link to support right here!

I’m excited to share with you how the progress in my Year of Ask is going and would love to hear from you. How have you opened yourself up to asking? What process do you use to feel the fear and do it anyway?

2012-12-19

How to Stuff a Femme’s Stocking

I only intend the title of this post to be a slight double entendre. It’s not Gay Sex Week, so this post is mostly just about last-minute shopping for Femmes who have a stocking you’re either creating or participating in. I was inspired by a conversation this weekend with a friend who is stuffing a Femme stocking for the first time (first time seriously dating a Femme who celebrates Christmas/Gaywitchmas). I was spilling my guts about what it is delightful to find in that stocking and I thought it would be helpful to share with you, dear readers. And if you’re the person who wants to receive these treats, Femme or otherwise, you could always print this out and leave it lying around.

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Important and perpetual disclaimer–I subscribed to the umbrella term for self-identified Femmes. All Femmes are different and there are a million ways to be a Femme and receive gifts as Femmes. So look through this list and see what strikes your fancy about the Femme in your life. Pay attention to what they like and you won’t go very wrong.

Okay, so I think a stocking should be delightful and diverse. A hearty mix of useful, whimsical, practical and shiny things.

Make-up

I have always loved treats from Sephora. You can usually get them from the end caps near the check-out line. They have lots of great things.*

A favorite of mine is the Philosophy lip gloss. (That link is to a set but I know they sell loosies at Sephora for about $6/$8.) It tastes amazing and it’s extremely shiny. Probably if you’re kissing the Femme you’re stocking stuffing, you might want to purchase a flavor that works for you. Other flavored lip glosses work well, too, but I am a devout believer in the Philosophy ones.

Nail polish is always a winner, and totally something you can grab at the drug store when you’re scrambling last-minute. The Femme folks I know who use nail polish tend to have quite a stash and it’s always fun to add to it. You can get the NYC brand nail polishes at Target for like $3. Glitter polish is always a charmer and I would be impressed if someone dropped the $9 for an OPI Shatter. Or if you know the Femme is hella into nail art, get her a nail art set! SHANY Nail Art Set is $25.

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A cute compact mirror is also a rad neutral stocking stuffer. If you don’t know what a compact mirror is, they look like this. Sephora has them. Get the Femme a design that seems to speak to their personality. All of the compacts I’ve ever had came as gifts and I really appreciate them.

Any other tiny sample of something fabulous and chichi is nice, too. I got a great sample of mascara once from my ex-GF that I loved (also from Sephora).

Fun Jewelry

Maybe the Femme in your life is a big fan of glamping and partying in the woods. Put in the stocking some glow in the dark earrings or a battery operated light-up necklace! Both bring the party to where you are.

A cute pair of earrings or a big bracelet (make sure it will fit their arm) also make a great stocking stuffer!

Bath Products and Pampering

LUSH is where I send anyone to get things for me and I know they won’t go wrong. All of their products are handmade, not tested on animals, natural, and they smell phenomenal.

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If the Femme is a bath taker (and you’ll probably know if they are or not) Bath bombs are amazing. I’ve gotten them with glitter, confetti, fragrance, soap flowers in them. You just pop them in the bath tub and they do their magic fizzy thing and create an incredible experience. The Sex Bomb is my favorite.

(I generally steer clear of those bath sets from the drug store. Most of those products aren’t great for the skin and could be toxic to the delicate flora of the vagina if this Femme has one of those. Just some Femme real talk for you.)

Massage bars (from LUSH or elsewhere) are great! They melt right on the skin since they’re mostly cocoa butter or something similar to that.

Massage oils are also rad! My mom just gave me a couple of bottles of arnica massage oil she got when she was in Spain last Spring and it’s actually really great. I mean, it’s nice to have someone to give you a massage, but even for the Femme without that, I used it on my heel when I hurt it during a work-out, since arnica helps sore muscles. But any massage oil with some good essential oils would be rad. Mall staple The Body Shop has some, too.

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I made this ornament myself in honor of my friends’ first Christmakkuh together.

Practical Gifts

I highly suggest you tread lightly in this arena. Part of stuffing a stocking is not filling it with useless junk that your recipient is never going to use. So I know a bunch of folks who all agreed that some practical stuff is really helpful. My friend’s mom always gives her a pack of razors, deodorant, other drugstore type purchases which would save her money over the year.

As a Capricorn I appreciate a dose of practical in the context of something larger (as long as there’s still plenty of whimsy involved). If you snoop in this Femme’s medicine chest or bathroom and find out the exact moisturizer they use (I’m talking exact, take a photo of the bottle and compare at the drug store) or the exact lotion, that could be rad. Why stuff a stocking with “filler” when it can be rad and useful?

Sexy Gifts

Are you doing it with this Femme? Do you have an open sexual kind of friend relationship? Lots of sexy stocking stuffers available to you!

Panties! A lacy thing is really nice to find in the stocking. One year a partner bought me lingerie that was too small but we ended up using it for ripping off. But do try to get the sizing right. A quick peek in a lingerie drawer can answer all the questions you might have.

Cute small sex accessories! Swing by your local small feminist sex toy store, like Self Serve Toys in Albuquerque, NM and ask them for stocking stuffer ideas! A magic bullet vibrator or a butt plug might make it a really happy holiday for both of you.

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My friend Leo took off her bowtie at a Christmakkuh party this weekend and several Femmes made audible noises. It was like watching Magic Mike in person, only Leo had no idea. This is why it is good to learn how to come correct and tie a bow tie proper!

Kitchen Stuff

If the Femme you’re shopping for is kitchen-identified, a couple of clever kitchen accessories are a greast way to go. I love this owl kitchen timer from my friend Mackenzi’s store in Queens. And this Vespa Pizza Cutter!

Big Fillers

If the Femme in your life is a crafter, you could stuff the stocking with fabric samples, like big swatches of tulle or even a poofy crinoline skirt. For those of you who don’t speak Femme, this is a crinoline skirt.

Photo by Randi
Photo by Randi. This is me and Victoria, showing our pal Clare where baby tutus come from.

You can get tulle at a fabric store. I have a stockpile of it for various craft needs at my home. Also, as a knitter, I love yarn but you should be sure you’re getting the right kind of yarn (something soft and natural fibery is a good choice) and stop by your local yarn shop or craft store to get it.

Also, body glitter or a big pile of craft glitter is never a bad idea, either.

And for whimsy, why not a coloring book with a set of crayons? Last year my BFF Brian and his BF Arnulfo got me the Cunt coloring book. It was hours of fun!

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Arnie colored that himself.

Feet Warmers

Socks (like these moustache socks!) and slippers are classic stocking stuffers! You can easily grab slippers at a small local gift shop or Target. Another great idea is a pair of tights! Tights are vaguely sized and at Target there are only like 3 sizes and you can probably guess which size the Femme falls in. I find the 1X/2X Target tights fit my 5’7″ 24W bottoms well.

I also love Avenue tights and personally don’t feel I can ever have enough textured tights in my life. But this is another lesson in paying attention which is the kind of thing that makes one a great date or good at courtship. Does the Femme wear tights in the first place? What kind do they usually wear?

And if you’re in a situation where you’re providing the stocking, you can get them at lots of places, like Target, any drug store, etc… I suggest pinning a brooch or a letter to the stocking for a personalized touch!

*My ex fiance hit the jackpot in my stocking the last Christmas we spent together when he just showed up at Sephora and said “I need stocking stuffers” and the shop girls really helped him out and everything he bought me was a winner. That was the last time I got a stocking but this year I got the cutest stocking-style Femme care package that really made me feel all glowy inside.

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!!

2012-06-11

Femme Solidarity Workshop at the Philly Trans Health Conference

As you may know, I have two nieces (by heart, not by genetics) who live in Philadelphia and I pretty much jump at the opportunity to go visit. Ideally I see them every couple of months but that is with varying success. I saw an opening in my calendar and decided to re-learn how to take public transit to Philly with a shih tzu now that I am living a car-free lifestyle.

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Time for sniffing baby heads is important in the life of an Aunt.

As luck would have it, a pal was driving to Philly and offered me a ride, the babies were at a party until the evening time so I had an afternoon available and could go with my pal to the Philly Trans Health Conference.

I went to the conference once before, in the early aughts (maybe 2003 or 2004), when it was tiny at the William Way LGBT Community Center and my drag king troupe (including the parents of the aforementioned nieces who were still long from becoming parents) was asked to perform as the evening entertainment in the sweaty lobby of the Center. In my mind the conference always looks that tiny, even as I’ve heard about it for years and how it has gotten more noteworthy. Even up in NYC there is typically post-conference hubub about the ubiquitous, often problematic Femme workshop and top surgery show and tells.

The conference has gotten really huge, it’s at the Philadelphia Convention Center. It’s also free, which makes it an amazing resource for trans folks, allies and healthcare providers. As my pal’s car of eager Brooklynites got closer to Philly and we went through the available workshops in the Saturday afternoon line-up (easily 8-10 workshops in each slot) we got really pumped and made a plan.

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Macy basically insisted on riding in Hadley’s lap.

It was sort of awesome to drive around looking for parking, seeing people we knew through the windows of the lobby (let us never forget how small our communities are) and various costumed superheros from the Wizard Con happening upstairs from the PTHC. We rolled in and quickly abandoned plans for the first workshop block as there were so many folks to catch-up with along the vendor roll.

I was really excited to learn about the Hearts on a Wire collective. They provide community support inside and outside of prison to incarcerated gender variant folks. Here’s a report they did on prison experiences for trans and gender variant folks. Did you know that glitter isn’t allowed in prison? Did you know that inmates held in women’s facilities are allowed some make-up and crafts and that inmates in men’s facilities are not allowed those items? There is a petition to change that! Imagine how a little clickie clickie action YOU can do RIGHT NOW could change the experience of an incarcerated person! Go ahead and sign the petition, I’ll wait right here.

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I forgot my camera for the conference so here’s some extra baby pictures.

I saw a bunch of other people at the conference, including meeting many blog readers! Thanks for saying hello!

I was excited to make it to one of the Femme workshops! That’s right, “one” of! There was a whole track of Femme workshops, so it wasn’t limited to just one.

The workshop I went to was called “Femme Solidarity” and facilitated by Almah LaVonn Rice, Jac Stringer and Katie Spencer. The facilitators created a framework for the discussion with a lot of safer space ground rules and a few ideas for topics, but mainly it was a space they created for Femme identified folks at the conference to, at this late moment in the conference, to discuss their experience and what was on their minds as Femme folks in that space.* I liked that the facilitators created a “stack”, where workshop participants could raise their hand and be added to the “stack” of names to be called on and then not worry about keeping their hand in the air. The conversation ends up a little disjointed but it does seem to flow and then more folks have a chance to talk, rather than just the pushy folks.

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Etta Pearl is learning how to snarl like the baby Femme she is.

I live tweeted the workshop and got quotes as best as I could truncate while things popped around the room. Ultimately, I really enjoyed that the discussion centered around addressing misogyny in queer spaces and how that affects spaces like the PTHC where femininity can be drowned out by a “dudely” privileging of masculinity. I thought it was a good conversation to have and in a free-form workshop like the one we were in, even though it didn’t really address Femme solidarity directly.

Here are my tweets:

Jac has a great pronoun policy. If you know pronoun use it, if you don’t, don’t use them or use general “they.”

“How do we validate each person’s experience with femme and acknowledge our own.”

“How do we merge femme dyke space and femmme fag space and cross gender binaries?”

“It is the responsibility of people in the club space to find the gaps and reach out to other folks.”

“In the past femme workshops @ #pthc2012 have been the white cis partners of transmen that ignored/marginalized experience of transfemmes.”

“The femme workshops have shifted. More inclusive. Has to do with leadership of workshop.”

Femme ally says “Conference is feeling very “dudely.””

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“Queer community can reinforce the same exclusions within itself of the heterosexual world.” It happens at this conference.

“These conversations mean there is misogyny in these spaces. Misogyny is hatred of anything not men.”

“Definition of misogyny arguably defined as oppression and depression of folks who aren’t ideal man. Affects everyone.”

“One of the hardest things of being a femme is the stigma about submission & obedience.”

“I have the opposite experience. Folks I know see femme as aggressive.”

“A lot of people have an extreme connotation with misogyny. The word has a strange stigma. Everyday things are sexism.”

“Worth remembering that misogyny can happen to anyone and can come from anyone. About perception of things femaleness/feminine.”

“Interrogation about lookism in Femme. Commodifying ourselves is violent.”

“Femmes trying to be seen as really tough feels like it is reinforcing stereotype that femme is weak.”

“Femininity in society is so manipulative. Changing femmeness in diff spaces.”

“How can we take on misogyny in femme space and sep from femme identity?”

“No one size fits all gender narrative @ #pthc2012. If this is going to be a coalition it needs to recognize there is dissent.”

“A lot of transsexual women do support the binary gender but don’t necc support gender non conforming folks.”

“Confronting the not femme enough stigmatizing in femme communities online.”

(At some point in here I pulled out the Amber Hollibaugh book I am re-reading and quoted about unlearning her internalized misogyny in order to come out and make community with lesbians–interesting that this is a process that was going on in the 70s and here we are 40 years later dealing with misogyny still.)

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We took a trip to Giovanni’s Room, one of my favorite gay bookstores. Referenced a lot in Kate Bornstein’s memoir.

“Trauma spreads. It is important to do our self care & release it.”

“Socializing (talking & working through socially) is healing & can help us work through our oppressions.”

“Important to decenter femme identity from the stuff we deal with because of being femme. Femme is a beautiful thing to move toward.”

“Aspects of femininity are powerful they hate & fight what is powerful. To me femme is acknowledged power.” @damienluxe

“We want to hear what inclusion feels like to you. We have an opportunity to build that together.”

So those are the tweets! It was an interesting discussion I was glad we had. What it really did was get me totally pumped for the Femme Conference happening August 17-19 in Baltimore! This year for the Femme Conference I declined to submit a workshop or do a panel or do anything other than one performance slot. I figured I could focus on one thing instead of spreading myself thin like I have done previously. I want to just enjoy the conference.

The Femme Conference is only $80 (and there is a discount if you sign up with five other people) and there is a hotel deal for $99 a night for 4 occupancy (meaning $25 a night sharing a room with folks). I hope you are able to make it! I’ve been to the Femme Conference twice, in 2008 and 2010. Both times it was extremely worth it and the 2008 one completely changed my life in some pretty big ways.

If money is an issue and budgets are tight, there are scholarships (applications due June 20) AND a rideshare/housingshare forum on the Femme2012 website!

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The fact that Etta Pearl sought out that Miss Piggy doll when I suggested it above all the other possible Build-A-Bears was heartwarming. Especially because that doll is actually a puppet. I’ll be real, I LOVE stuffed animals and I LOVE accessories and my first Build-A-Bear experience was magical beyond belief.

*At this point the conference was winding down, even though I had just gotten there. In some ways it felt awesome to have fresh conference energy. I totally know the feeling of being fried at the end of an experience like that.

2011-10-17

GAY SEX WEEK: The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Finding People to Have Gay Sex With You

Hi friends and welcome to NATIONAL QUEERFATFEMME.COM GAY SEX WEEK, where each day this week I am going to talk about GAY SEX to increase LGBT presence in the media. I thought that the first thing I would address about was how to find other people to have gay sex with you.

Conveniently, this solicited advice question landed in my inbox a couple of weeks ago. I offer some solid tips to you, dear readers, and some direct advice to someone who has a specific desire.

Dear Bevin,

I’m not sure who else to come to with this and you seem like the kind of person who doesn’t mind listening- so here’s my problem, I don’t know where to meet femmes that are into other femmes. I’m a cisgendered female and I present in a very feminine way and that also happens to be what I’m attracted to, but ever since I came out, I’ve dated butch identified women because that’s what I thought I had to do. I don’t want to do that anymore, I’m twenty five now and I want to be with someone that I’m actually attracted to.

My problem is finding them. All the femmes I meet either say really offensive things right off the bat (a big red flag for me is women who say, “if I wanted to date someone that looked like a man, I would just date a man”) or prefer to be with non femme identified people. Where are all the femmes that are into other femmes (and are also not racist/sexist/homophobic/mean and are body positive feminists)? They must be out there, right? Where do I meet them? Should I lower my standards?

I realize you’re not an advice column, so thank you for listening. Your blog is wonderful, it’s guided me through some serious issues and I will forever appreciate your willingness to be a voice in the dark.

Thanks,

NO FOFA FOR ME

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Femme on Femme! Miss Mary Wanna gropes Fancy Feast. Both will be performing on November 10th at Rebel Cupcake’s Cat Party! All photos by Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.

Dear NO FOFA FOR ME:

Thank you for the compliment about my blog! I love being a voice in the dark for folks. Or a voice in the glitter for other folks. I have every confidence you are going to get laid. Sometimes it really seems like you are a Femme wandering the desert wanting a glass of water to drink with nothing but mirages on the horizon but just like that (imagine a swishy gay snap) everything will change for you.

GETTING LAID TIP THE FIRST: Do It Yourself
This is a little bit of a trick answer, because before you do anything about finding a sex partner it really helps to be having an enriching solo sex life. Light candles, take yourself out on dates, take a bath, woo yourself. Be physically experimental. I’ll admit to often defaulting to being a lazy masturbator, but I think nothing attracts someone to you like the glowy glowy aura of having good orgasms on your own. During my “walking through the desert” times anytime I go out if I’m doing myself right I have more fun in the world and get more flirts.

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GETTING LAID TIP THE SECOND: Name Your Desire
You are already doing something right, which is you’ve found and named a desire. There is nothing in the GAY SEX handbook that says you only get to have sex with certain other kinds of gays. Femmes don’t have to just have sex with Butches, just like the sports dykes don’t have to just stay isolated to their own kind and lesbians who look like Justin Bieber don’t just have to have sex with pop star lookalikes. The queer umbrella is pretty magical in that way, folks who run in my circles have sex with all kinds of different gender presentations and preferred gender pronouns, cisborn or not.*

I know this is not true of all gay circles, what with gender and sex policing. Gender and sex policing makes it harder for other folks to get laid! That makes me sad. When it comes to sex I think the more the merrier. I want all of my fellow gay comrades to be getting as laid as possible.

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That said, I think the climate for how accepted Femme on Femme Action (FOFA) is changes from queer group to group. I believe really firmly in being the change you want to see in your community. Be really vocal about your desire, tell your friends you like Femmes. Most people want to help you get laid. I have a really specific kind of pairing I like to partake in (Femme/Fag**), I articulated it to a bunch of folks while I was walking through that desert, listened to that Stevie Nicks song “Leather and Lace” a lot and then it sort of happened for me. I didn’t do these things specifically to get laid but just to honor my desire (see below), and I think it happened for me because I articulated my desire and then let go of the results.

GETTING LAID TIP THE THIRD: Honor Your Desires
Another thing I want to make clear is you should never lower your standards. Being a picky identified person myself, I know that not lowering my standards means a lot of sex-free months between sweethearts, walking through that desert longer than usual. My mind is my erogenous zone and when I don’t like someone that much personally/politically I just lose my wood for them entirely. But it also means I am never spending time with folks just for the sake of getting laid. (Hence the importance of item one above.)

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Katie (center) wrote on PrettyQueer.com about how she is not that into sex. I think everyone should get as laid as they want, not everyone likes to have sex and I believe the right 10 minute person is out there for her who will do it to her while she watches Real Housewives.

GETTING LAID TIP THE FOURTH: Get Your Friends to Help
I think it is good karma to help other people get laid. It’s like this feedback loop of if everyone is getting laid I’m going to get laid, too, eventually. I am a natural matchmaker and keep my eyes and ears peeled for folks I know who are single. So tell all your friends what you’re looking for and eventually someone will know someone.

It is also super important to let folks know your relationship status! I always ask people’s friends if they are available. Lots of people are in open relationship situations. I think that if you have a Free Ass Pass or are Monogamish or PolyOneWay the onus is on you to let your friends know so they can help you get laid and help their other available friends zero in on you.

I also believe in starting your own community groups to create affinity. I am sure there are lots of other body positive, anti-racist queer folks near you hankering just as much as you are to find community and get dates. Whether you want to sleep with them is variable, but I find if you make friends with someone with politics that match up with yours they likely have friends who have similar politics and can introduce you. Community organizing is a great way to meet folks. I wrote up a blog post about starting a community organizing group.

I mean, do community organizing because you’re passionate about something not because you want to get dates (we’re not living in a sitcom–I can easily imagine Neil Patrick Harris’ character on How I Met Your Mother doing this) but if you’re genuinely pursuing your paths and your desires you will meet folks and have more dates.

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GETTING LAID TIP THE FIFTH: Rejection is Expected
Rejection is a practice. Nobody ever died of awkward. Anytime you are pursuing getting dates or laid it is going to involve rejection. The more you get rejected the easier it becomes and besides, why waste your time coveting someone who is not able to see how awesome and succulent you are?

GETTING LAID TIP THE SIXTH: Turn Getting Laid Into a Hobby
In the spirit of getting your friends to help, I asked a friend of mine who is getting very laid right now to send me some tips about how to get laid. They told me that getting laid was their main hobby, which is why they were so successful.

A) To improve your odds, go where the action is. Find out where like minded people who share your interest will be and show up.*** If you want sexual connection, go to a sex positive environment like a sex/play party or sex education event. Once there, talk to folks about what you are interested in and be open to learning if this is a new experience for you.

B) Persistence pays off so be prepared to show up more than once. Any kind of connection with folks is a combination of repeated presence over time and community requires participation. Find the groups or events that you feel drawn to and become a regular so people can get to know you and what you have to offer and vice versa. For the biggest bang for your buck, volunteer!

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Kit Yan!

C) Be open minded about your own desires. There’s a fine line between knowing what you want and going after it, and being too focused on a specific thing that might not exist exactly the way you envision it. Your best bet is to be curious about meeting people where they are and seeing how that resonates with you. Be open to being surprised so you can see what is actually being offered even if it doesn’t perfectly match your expectations.

D) Practice safer sex. Protect yourself and your community with pride. Know your boundaries of what is safe for you and learn how to communicate that to potential partners. This includes being able to say no to people who might be using substances that would impair their judgement. You want a hot and joyful connection that both (or all!) of you will remember with no regrets.

Sex is part of your lifelong journey of self expression. Since it’s the part with orgasms, it can be worth a little effort to step outside of your comfort zone and into something new and exciting. Enjoy the ride!

I hope this list helps you all find folks to have lots of GAY SEX with in celebration of NATIONAL QUEERFATFEMME.COM GAY SEX WEEK!

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*My favorite PGP is Majestic’s “gutteral moan.”

**I’m attracted to lots of different folks, including Femmes, but Femme/Fag (no matter the gender looks and acts like a Fag) tends to be my most common pairing and is oddly specific. Also, lots of folks say “[That person] is a Fag” to me a lot as though that should discourage me from pursuing it. But lots of queer folks do it a lot of different kinds of queer folks, including Muppet Femmes like me.

***Also, no matter your attempts to get laid, it is really important to show up for causes and parties and local businesses that are important to you. Your participation is important, your dollars matter and your community will shrivel up without your support. Don’t stop going to parties assuming they will always be there, keep shopping at your local store that caters to you and supports your community first.

2011-04-06

Guest Post: Dear Mustache by Jessie Dress

Filed under: Beauty,Guest Post — Tags: , , , , — Bevin @ 9:54 pm

My Austin-based friend Jessie Dress (oft-mentioned on the blog) has spent the last month growing out her mustache and chronicled the progress and her feelings on her Tumblr. I was impressed by her thoughtful interaction with it and pensive posts. I’ve been thinking a lot about Femmes and Body Hair for the past 13 months because I’ve been working on a FemmeCast episode about body hair. Someday soon I will get an intern and get more of my media projects finished!

Here is Jessie’s latest installment, but definitely check out the archives of a Femme Growing Facial Hair on her Tumblr!

xoxox, Bevin

****

Dear Mustache,

I feel like you should have a name by now, but you don’t. So… the whole reason I set out to grow you out is that I realized I’d been removing you for HALF of my life. That’s 13 whole years! Thirteen years of being ashamed of hair on my face, of wondering if I’d remembered the hairs at the corners, of wondering if someone was going to comment about you when we kissed for the first time.

Thirteen years is a long mother-fucking time.

I was pretty sure I had this shit down when I started to grow you out. I made it easy for myself, committed to this one step at a time (I’m still shaving the rest of my lady-beard) but man, I was NOT prepared for all the feelings I was going to have about this.

Yes, yes, I hear you. I know that I’m going through KIND OF A DIFFICULT TIME (generally) in life right now. That’s true. But man.

After a lot of thought, this is what I have decided it comes down to:

Living in my body is really fucking radical.

Really.

Now, that might sound a little self-centered, or whatever. But if it is, good. Because I need practice at being self-centered. And really. There is privilege that comes with my body for sure. I’m acknowledging that. But I live in a really visibly fat body. I make choices about how I dress that body that I’m not ready to give up to make my body less confrontational for people. And now, I live in a fat body that comes with a mustache (in addition to many other socially-unacceptable forms of body hair*).

But damn, mustache. I LIKE YOU. You are REAL SOFT. I wish that this picture could show people how soft you are, but they will have to trust that I am smiling because you are so very soft.

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Mustache, you’ve also been turning it out in the quantity department. I really didn’t think there were as many hairs as you’ve grown! I think this is one of the main reasons that I’m trying (one day at a time) to keep growing you. I’m trying despite the increasingly odd looks from coworkers, women in grocery stores, and teenage boys outside of gas stations. I want to know what my body is capable of.

I’m sorry for you, mustache, that I’m so (lady) femme. As I say that, I feel like I should delete it, but I’m going to leave it. Because I really do feel it. When I first started growing you out, someone told me, “don’t do that! all the fucking genderqueer kids are doing that these days. it’s so trendy.” Well, it isn’t trendy for me, because you’re not drawn on, and you’re not stuck on, you’re not held up on a stick. I grew you with my very own – VERY FEMME – abundance of VERY AWESOME androgens. I hate that it isn’t trendy for lady femmes to rock ‘staches. I get angry.

I know, mustache, we know some lady femmes who rock ‘staches. Well, pat those femmes on the back, they are doing hard, pioneering work! And their coworkers probably look at them funny.

I promise to keep taking it one day at a time. I promise to trust myself. I promise to actually tell Jennifer who waxes my eyebrows that I’m growing you out on purpose. I promise to keep talking about you. Just promise to be gentle with me, and to understand if/when I can’t do this anymore.

I love you more than I ever imagined I could,

Jessie Dress

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PS – You look super-fine with glitter lips.

PPS – Thanks to my super awesome roommate Malcolm for the photos!

*let’s be realllll, most all body hair is unacceptable on women.

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.

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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!

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