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

2016-01-14

Remembering Bryn

Second update: I was approached about this piece and asked to do a rewrite that, among other things, altered some language I used, clarified some of my language and directly addressed my interactions with Bryn around Michfest. I’m truly sorry if my piece caused anyone additional pain. The rewrite was reviewed and commented on by two of my friends, Mira Bellwether, who is a trans woman and a Femme, and a genderqueer identified Femme. It is important to me that the work I put out in the world helps the world become more survivable for trans women. It’s very important to me to respect the voices of trans women and work towards the most respectful and loving way to communicate about this devastating loss.

Update: The response to this post has been beautiful and overwhelming. I would love to keep adding links to more memories of Bryn, more of her writing and information about the memorial service on her birthday, February 7th (especially for folks not on Facebook). If you have links to more memories please comment or send me an email queerfatfemme at gmail.

From Sarah Schulman:
Dear Friends and Community:
We will be gathering on February 7 to remember our beloved friend Bryn Kelly, to recognize the beauty and depth of her life and to support each other in our love and grief. Details will be forthcoming from her family, her partner Gaines Parker, and from Kelli Dunham and other friends. Please share this information. Thank you.

Fundraiser for memorial costs.

This Friday Bryn’s birth family will be having services in Huntington WV.
Friday, Jan 22, 12p visiting, 1p service
Expression Church of Huntington
1539 18th St, Huntington, WV 25701
A group of WV/OH folks are attending, feel free to join, it will not be only birth family, you will not be alone.

I woke up this morning to two text messages from friends asking me to call them. I’m a Capricorn, I know a pattern. I know that means another queer friend of mine has passed. We love each other. We’re always in a race to beat Facebook to tell one another the important stuff. I never want someone to have the experience of finding out something devastating like this on Facebook, and I’m glad my friends think so, too.

I’m on West Coast time now, so I know I might always luck out and get a phone call before Facebook, because even though I’m gone from Brooklyn I still have patches on that quilt of Brooklyn queer community (as Quito so aptly said, today we have a Bryn sized hole).

brynhardfrenchnyc2010Bryn in 2011ish at Hard French in NYC.

I talked to Kelli, got the news, and had the awkward and necessary next step of figuring out who I am close to that I want to try to beat to Facebook. Bryn was in my dream a couple of nights ago. Fleeting. And since I had a dream about Glenn and Hana last night (we were on vacation) I took it as the Goddess’ sign that I should call. Glenn asked immediately if it was violence or did she take her own life. We ask these questions because it’s the lived experience of so many of us.

And also so is cancer. Ellie died two weeks ago. I have lost countless friends to cancer, heart attacks, stupid disease stuff and suicide. I am all about body autonomy and the choice whether to live or die is one that everyone should get to make. And at the same time, I’m not even through processing Taueret’s suicide less than a year ago.

bevinglenntaueret2009Found this photo of me, Glenn and Taueret in 2010 at Hey Queen while looking through my archives.

Anyway, I don’t usually eulogize right away but I wanted to make sense of this and also I wanted to let some friends and exes know about Bryn whose contact info I don’t have but who I suspect still read my blog. I use writing to make sense of things and, you know who you are and I hope you didn’t have to find out on Facebook.

brynatparty2010

I met Bryn almost ten years ago at a Mixer party (I think that’s what it was called) at Levi Braslow’s loft apartment. I was immediately captivated by her. She was hard to get to know.
Bryn was a trans woman. I identified with her as a fellow Femme and woman and someone who adored conventional masculinity delivered in a queer way, who loved parties and socializing but wasn’t actually comfortable at parties all the time.
She didn’t tell me she was HIV positive until years after we met (she got progressively more open with the world about it). She moved from rural Ohio to Michigan to New York City, if I’m remembering the whole trajectory. Even though she was from Ohio she was in rural Appalachia and definitely identified strongly with my West Virginia loves. She was queer country, through and through. She also told me moving to NYC when she did saved her life, because of the HIV services available there.

My friend Mamone shared a post Bryn wrote in January, 2015 to the facebook page for the Marshall University LGBTQ Office, in Huntington, West Virginia. Mamone knew her 20 years, from that time in 1996 through to present time Brooklyn. “Hi all. I just wanted to introduce myself. I visited the MU LGBTQ Office when I was a scared teen in 1996, and found tremendous community and support. Now I live in New York, where I am a writer and performing artist. So, if anyone is thinking about grad school or just moving here after graduation, feel free to friend me and ask me questions! Huntington still holds a very special place in my heart. ❤ http://www.brynkelly.com
Bryn emceed and performed at the queer country monthly night in Brooklyn the whole time it was running.

brynsummerspeakeasyoffemme2010At Speakeasy of Femme, a Femme Family event, in 2010?

Bryn was slow to get to know. I was in the phase of my life when we met (around 26/27) that I was quick to make friends. If I thought you were awesome I would trust you right away. She was more like a cat who comes into the room you’re hanging out in, scopes it out, but it takes a long time to hang out and chill. We talked about that, years later, when I realized that my overly trusting nature was getting me fucked over by people. She and I agreed there was probably a healthy middle between her inclination and mine. I wonder if that shifted for her?

She was an Aquarius, like Michelle Tea and Oprah (her words). Her birthday is coming up soon.

We were friends and we liked to party. I have a ton of summer drunk sweaty selfies with her. She was definitely a Winter hibernator. I rarely saw her then.

One of my favorite Femme moments with Bryn was when we were both flirting with the same out of town boy at a party who was hardcore flirty but being kind of vague with both of us. I found out later she eventually took him home. I high fived her when I found out, a win for one is a win for all. A lot of people default to Femme competition but I didn’t feel that way with Bryn.

brynatbuffe2012Me and Bryn at the August 2012 party Buffet.

A homebody who took such great joy hosting dinners and parties with amazing food. I am not a big football fan but anytime she invited me for the super bowl I said yes because of her food. She was the first Femme I knew our age who would cook a pork shoulder and helped me get over my fear of cooking large hunks of meat.

brynchrisokelly2008Bryn doing Chris’ hair for my 30th birthday party, Ascots and Bouffants. Miss you, Chris.

She cut great hair. She was a traveling hair stylist who could come to your house to give a cut. Like many of us who work in the queer community, she offered a sliding scale. She was extremely talented. Bryn eventually got a salon chair and started cutting in her house, which became a more intimate beauty parlor experience.

She was always a late arriver at parties. Going through my photos looking at memories of Bryn, I always know to look towards the end of the photos because Bryn was beyond fashionably late.

brynbunny2009

She was stylish, loved side boob and deep cleavage, had ever shifting hair, usually somewhere between reddish or blonde. For a brief period of time she went brunette and looked a lot like Snow White, she thought it was hilarious when I said that. One time I was late to Submit and saw her outside approaching. Her hair was mermaid blue because she had been experimenting with toner. She is one of the only people who I know who still had a consistent aesthetic even though her hair was always evolving.

brynheathernewyear2010ishThis was a super late night find of Bryn, something like 3AM on New Year’s Eve at Sweet Revenge which is now known as One Last Shag. We hung outside in the snow, drunk, celebrating. Yelling.

She was part of Femme Family–an important part. She trusted us enough to organize with us. She showed up.

Early at a Femme Family organizing meeting she said she had just gone to queer/trans yoga at Third Root and said she felt so free. I just remember the look in her eyes, we were in the lounge at Re/Dress. She was so relaxed and happy. She was usually kind of on edge, socially, as I think she loved being social and like many of us, had some social anxiety.

femmefamily2At the Femme Family coming out party in June 2009.

femmefamily1The other part of some of the organizers of Femme Family at that party.

She was a powerful witch, she was a great gossip and loved to throw shade. She was the kind of person you got dish from and dished to in a beauty parlor way and I knew she both loved me and talked shit about me and… whatever. We were honest with each other. Sometimes we were both Femme wolves who kept to our own and got over ourselves whenever we saw each other. Recently, when I ran into her, she had been up all night doing edibles and she had the sweet glow of someone who was high on socializing and on THC.

brynsweetbitch2008She was so delighted to give me this bottle of Sweet Bitch wine.

My friend Mira pointed out that in reading the eulogies for Bryn, most people knew a lot of Bryn but not all of her and I found that to be the case. She and I were both kitchen witchy but we never practiced together. I knew there was a lot more possible in our friendship but it didn’t all gel.

And then there’s the Michfest stuff. Trans women are women. Period. Folks who read my blog know I’ve been involved in working for trans women’s inclusion at Michfest for over a decade. The organization of the Festival intended that the Festival not include trans women. I’ve been working from the inside, working within a community, trying to change that.

Bryn was working from the outside, participating in Strap on dot org for years and attending Camp Trans, the protest camp across the street from the Festival grounds. The summer of 2008 we were both in Michigan at the same time, and we joyfully reunited at a Camp Trans “love-in across the road from the gate” as she put it. It was an educational and artistic workshop working towards inclusion, where attendees of the Festival were invited to attend. She performed a duet on her recorder with her boyfriend at the time.

Later that week she was given a ticket to the Festival by an attendee who wanted to pay for some trans women to attend the Festival. She came in with her boyfriend and I showed her around, with the joy of getting to show someone I loved a place that I loved. That summer, with lots of trans women on the land, felt like trans women’s inclusion was really possible and so very likely. I truly believed in my heart of hearts the Festival could be inclusive of all women, and I worked hard at it.

Bryn wrote a piece about attending the Festival, read it for a couple of performances and read it for my then podcast FemmeCast. (My audio archives are packed in a box en route to California right now, but I will link to it when I have it.)

Over time, after that Summer, Bryn became less convinced that it was possible and we didn’t have that many more discussions about it. On that issue we ultimately disagreed.

She was an incredible writer and performer, filmmaker and actress. She performed at Gayety, the performance series I curated with Kelli Dunham, and at Rebel Cupcake.
brynheelsonwheels2013After performing together at Heels on Wheels in 2013.

Her breakup with her physically abusive ex Scott Loren Moore a few years back was really hard on her. She did some amazing art about it, including a film for Elizabeth Koke’s epic performance art tribute to Sarah McLachlan’s Fumbling Towards Ecstacy in 2012. She won a Lambda Literary fellowship. She was always up for some deep gay weird art.

brynsweatysummerdrunk2008One of my earliest photos with Bryn. Sweaty, summer drunk, 2008.

I have gathered some links to her writing below, because you should hear from Bryn in her own words if you didn’t know her. She was special and magical and I’m really sad to not be able to read more of her amazing art. Hers was an important voice. She made a difference.

Bryn’s Website
Bryn’s Tumblr
Bryn’s Twitter
Captive Genders on Original Plumbing
Other Balms, Other Gileads
Bryn in the Golden Age of Huslters Video (she also did Kate Bornstein’s hair for the video!)
Dapper Dan and the Rise of the AIDS Punchline
Bryn’s work on Pretty Queer
Bryn was The Hussy on Pretty Queer. I always suspected it was her and she confessed in one of our gossip sessions. It’s good stuff.

bryncelebrationofpersonhood2008In 2008 I had a “Celebration of Personhood (as Opposed to Couplehood)” party on the same date I was originally planning to get married. I made these chicken wings as a reclamation of the chicken wing recipe my fiance and I had used.

I hope that if any of you are ever considering suicide, you consider at least paging through this mini version of Kate Bornstein’s important book Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and other Outlaws.

katebornstein2013ishAuntie Kate.

As someone who gets really internal when I get depressed to the point of suicidal, I need to remember that my self care is a daily choice and is a choice that helps me stay alive. Today, even though I’m still on the road, I went and worked out because it’s the best thing to do to keep my brain functioning away from depression. And it’s deep Winter, a friend just committed suicide and there’s all this change going on. Self care. All the texts with my thirty something Femme friends today are about self care.

bryntaueret2009I posted this photo of me and Taueret and Bryn after Taueret’s suicide last March. I never thought we would lose Bryn to suicide, too.

I’m sending out lots of woo and prayers to Bryn, that her passage to the other realm is smooth and easy. That she feels love and relief and peace. I pray for all of her friends and family, that they be held and know love in this shitty, unfathomable time. That all of her former friends and lovers know peace and light. That we can figure out ways to shift the world so that it is easier on people. That staying alive does not have to be a struggle. That we can destigmatize mental health care. That crisis centers that are financially accessible and queer and gender and fat and disabled friendly develop because we need them.

You are loved.

You are worthy.

You are important.

Please stay.

2015-05-24

Rebel Cupcake Dance Party and Cabaret Returns One Night Only June 19th

Hello beloved readers from all over and NYC friends! After a lengthy hiatus, Rebel Cupcake returns one night only for a special engagement at a huge venue with a lot of intention! This is a great event to come to town for in June! The night before the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island!

4777784616_d9d471f45b_zMe, Femmeceeing at Rebel Cupcake 3: Rebel Cupcakes at the Beach. Photo by Nogga Schwartz. You can tell it’s NYC summer in the photos for that show because everyone is glistening from the humidity!

Rebel Cupcake is not just a queer dance party, it is an intentionally body positive space where all bodies are good bodies and everyone’s flamboyance is encouraged and supported. It’s incredible dance jams with lots of room to move. It’s in an accessible space with gender neutral restrooms, a rarity in NYC nightlife venues. It has a 30 minute cabaret with three show stopping acts by diverse artists.

I Femmecee Rebel Cupcake and it is always my favorite thing to present the art I’ve curated with the crowd. When I started doing body positive nightlife I knew a show was important in setting a tone for the evening. It also really helps ease social anxiety and encourages people to mingle–I even give a moment for everyone who is looking to meet folks for make-outs or flirts to raise their hand. People have met their long term partners and besties at Rebel Cupcake! (And if you’re not looking to meet anyone and just dance, there’s space for that too of course!)

16774059314_72a62c4155_bMe and Fancy Feast, our long time resident Stage Kitten who got her start as a stage kitten for the Rebel Cupcake stage and is now a big-time burlesque artist in the NYC scene! Photo by Kelsey Dickey from the June 2012 Rebel Cupcake: Let’s Get Physical.

The theme this time around is Time of Our Lives, which is a riff on the newish dance jam by Pitbull and Ne-Yo about going out and partying even though shit in life is rough, and also a nod to Dirty Dancing because it’s a classic movie that was one of my favorites growing up. I always felt like Baby did going into that dirty dancing party back in the worker area of that resort when I started going out to bars and parties. Even now my social anxiety flares up in a new queer dance space. It’s always my hope to dispel that for folks as quickly as possible at my events!

For our June 19th show, I’ve engaged the services of the AMAZING DJ Precolumbian from Philadelphia. Here’s her bio, she’s extremely talented. Listen to her soundcloud!!

ChaskaWeb

Precolumbian is a Philadelphia-based genderqueer dj, musician, and media activist. Weaving together her Latina/Andina and Queer/Trans ancestries, her work operates as a medium for empowerment, decolonization, and community building. She has been transforming dance floors from Brooklyn to Mexico City, sharing the stage with Big Freedia, Kid Sister, Niña Dioz, A Tribe Called Red, Le1f, Cakes Da Killa and more. Precolumbian was honored with the 2013 Leeway Transformation Award for her innovative work in the club and she was a 2015 Official SXSW Showcasing Artist. Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/precolumbian, MTV Iggy: http://ow.ly/M6G71, Electric-LLama: http://ow.ly/M6GcN, The Media: http://ow.ly/MEXGi

Since this dance party is a celebration of life of sorts, I asked the artists to bring numbers along the theme of “What gives you life.” These are all folks who have done show stoppers before and I’m so excited to have them.

1492213_10201133982331866_567117264_oPhoto of Mizz June by Kelsey Dickey from Rebel Cupcake: BDSM Holiday Party.
Mizz June is one of my favorite people and her music and performance is so captivating. She’s the kind of person you see on stage and never forget.

merry-cherrie
Merrie Cherry is on fire with charisma. She’s a drag queen based in the Bushwick drag scene. She commands a room (I’ve seen folks in bars stop their side conversations transfixed by Merrie Cherry onstage) and I know in the next couple of years she’ll be a household name. (Read this article about why she’s everything)

1266088_10200733798247514_697370623_oPhoto by Kelsey Dickey from Rebel Cupcake: The Craft. There’s been a lot of mash-ups of BDSM and witchy spirituality at Rebel Cupcake!
Miss Mary Wanna has the most unique shimmy of anyone I know in burlesque and she’s bringing ROLLER SKATING BURLESQUE to the Rebel Cupcake stage. It’s an honor to have the facilities to host that kind of epic act.

1272782_10200733802567622_84972401_oPhoto by Kelsey Dickey.

Special Guest Party Host and one of my favorite fat queers Devon Devine of the legendary Hard French party in San Francisco will be joining us!
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Party Host: DJ David John Sokolowski of Hot Fruit / Psychic Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter

When I first started flyering for Rebel Cupcake in 2010 folks asked if there would be cupcakes and I said “Of course!” Which meant before every party I was making several dozen mini cupcakes. Until I prayed to the Goddess for someone to relieve me of the job and she blessed me with Morgan. She has been the Cupcake Princess for Rebel Cupcake for a long time. She’s a gourmet chef and baker, though it is not her all the time gig. (I can imagine if she ever decided to open a bakery or cafe she would be wildly successful, but I kind of love that it’s special just for Rebel Cupcake and folks lucky enough to know her to eat her delicious one of a kind cupcakes.) We’ll have gluten-free/vegan and a boozy gluteny version, free!

131170_4067480605562_1576758754_oHaving Morgan talk about the cupcakes on stage at the Rebel Cupcake: Toddlers and Tiaras show. She’s sooo good with a theme! Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

One of my favorite memories of Rebel Cupcake are her International No Diet Day cupcakes in 2013–she riffed off of grapefruit, reclaiming it from previous bad diets!

135211_4067475925445_1999806388_oIn hindsight I should have been archiving the photos of Morgan’s cupcakes with the description of the ingredients! Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Photos by Kelsey Dickey, our longtime Rebel Cupcake photographer.

1269191_10200733807367742_1043340212_oPhoto by Kelsey Dickey.

I was especially inspired to bring back Rebel Cupcake as a way to channel grief from losing two friends this March. Both were under 40 and one (Taueret) was a close friend of mine when I started Rebel Cupcake. She’s in so many of the photos from Rebel Cupcake when it was a monthly party, performed a couple of times and helped inspire several of the themes.

4777152381_bfe59cf329_zTaueret at the third Rebel Cupcake, adding some sizzle to Bambi Galore’s burlesque act. It was a really hot moment! Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

1417776_10201133974091660_1964427268_oTaueret at the most recent Rebel Cupcake (December 2013, BDSM Holiday Party Rebel Cupcake) with Fureigh, Vic and Dusty playing Leather Daddy Santa. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

4356548063_a3bfb905ec_zPhoto of DJ Sirlinda by DJ Lil Ray.

My friend DJ Sirlinda, who passed in 2012, was part of the very first few Rebel Cupcakes as the DJ. I wanted to honor folks who we danced with by an altar at the side of the stage. Please feel free to bring something (a photo, keepsake, token) that symbolizes a friend you’ve lose who you used to dance with to add to the altar.

Here are all the details. In case you hate waiting in line at party o’clock, advanced tickets get a priority entry line and are a bit cheaper than the door price!

Friday, June 19th, 2015 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Rebel Cupcake: Time of Our Lives
Littlefield, 622 Degraw St., between 3rd & 4th Aves, Gowanus, BK
Trains: 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, or Q to the Atlantic Terminal, F or G to Carroll
$10 pre sale tickets–priority entry line / $13 at the door
11PM Doors and mingling / 12AM Show

Rebel Cupcake is a body positive queer dance party for all shapes and flavors! Time of Our Lives is about dancing even though things are rough. It’s about the human desire to have a great time. Dance because it feels good. Dance because the music is amazing. Dance in honor of someone you lost you used to dance with. Or just come party with your friends.

Wear: Whatever makes you feel your 100% most authentic and fabulous self. Wear that outfit you can’t wear anywhere else. Wear short shorts for the first time. Wear what gives you life.

Rebel Cupcake began on International No Diet Day in 2010 and has received the following accolades:
*One of the 50 Reasons NYC is the Greatest City in the World, Time Out New York
*Most Eclectic Party, Go Magazine Nightlife Awards
*Best Emcee: Bevin Branlandingham, Go Magazine Nightlife Awards
*But best of all, the repeat compliment, “This is the party I’m most comfortable being my authentic self.”

Accessibility notes: The venue is wheelchair accessible. There are gender neutral single occupancy restrooms. Street parking near the venue. There’s a lounge area in the front of the venue with real chairs. The stage area is standing room, the show will be less than 30 minutes and if you need a chair for show accessibility I can reserve one for you, email queerfatfemme at gmail.com

830264_4533038204211_445095766_oTwerking at Rebel Cupcake: No Pants No Problem February 2013 party. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

2011-03-16

Ways to Tell a Queer Femme is Queer

There’s been a lot of buzz around the internets lately about Femme identity. I am unsure where the controversy began but I think it had something to do with this post on how to spot a queer Femme by Fuck Yeah Femmes. The curator of that Tumblr sent me a message asking me the following question:

Hi Bevin! I’m glad you liked my list of femme traits and tell-tale signs, I am interested to hear what you think could be appended to the list! Some people commented that the list was not “inclusive” enough and I definitely didn’t intend it to be definitive. Those are only my ideas, certainly a broader picture will emerge if many different femmes give their perspective as well. So here goes: “Ways to Tell a Queer Femme is Queer?” “Ways to Get a Femme Girlfriend?”

FYF certainly didn’t write a definitive list. I mean, it’s totally subjective and I read it as a playful narrative, almost a fantasy sequence. I love it because I see so much of my unbounded Femme sisters in it. I also understand the question about determining whether a queer femme is queer. It can be so frustrating to feel that we are “hiding in plain sight” and the chance to teach someone how to see us is really exciting. (As a side note, I plan to answer “Ways to Get a Femme Girlfriend” in a later post.)

IMG_8157.JPG
Spot a Femme in the Wild. The Femme author in her natural habitat, on stage. At my birthday party doing 9 to 5 at Rock N Twang Karaoke at my second favorite BBQ restaurant in NYC, Hill Country BBQ. It was so fun. I’m wearing a lei made of cookies and sex toys, a gift from Kit Yan.

The problem is, there is no one “us.” Identities like Femme are deeply personal and there’s no one way to be Femme. There are certainly overlapping characteristics and generalizations that exist–which is how we find each other and create community. Tenderly paw in paw we find ourselves a niche (or several) in queerdom. But it is essentialist to say “This is a trait common amongst Femmes,” because as soon as you think you’ve isolated one commonality about Femmes you’ll find a whole pile of Femmes who belie that trait. This is simultaneously awesome and complicated when you’re trying to spot a Femme in the wild.

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Spot a Femme in the Wild. The Femme author in her secondmost natural habitat, the dance floor. Photo by the ever so talented Amos Mac at Stay Gold in San Francisco.

Personal identities are fluid.
I’m 32 and while I settled into Queer Fat Femme about a decade ago, there are a few permutations I enjoyed for awhile but have since moved away from. I don’t feel comfortable with the term “High Femme” anymore. I think some people use it to mean ever so very Femme or indicate some extreme extent of feminine expression. I’m totally a girl who will wear bright make-up at all times of day or night and I feel completely comfortable over-dressing for any occasion because my self-expression matters more to me than fitting in. However, using the term “High Femme” just sounds like hierarchy to me.

170602_497668423433_592428433_6350102_211093_o
Fancy Femme? Flamboyant Femme? Giant Eyelashes Femme? How Many Blingies Can I Fit in My Hair Femme? I Do the Opposite of Coco Chanel and Add One Accessory Before I Leave the House Femme? Photo by Dee Dean Leitner from the Hard French Winter Ball.

I totally understand that it is a term steeped in history and tradition, and anyone who self-identifies as High Femme is fine by me. But in terms of my Femme expression and identity, I prefer to think of us as living in this gorgeous glittery rainbow venn diagram of overlapping adjectives, none “higher” or “lower” than another semantically or otherwise.

venn-diagram

Is this splitting hairs? Likely. Do I care? No. My personal identity is exactly that, personal and individually tailored to who I am. It gets to be as nuanced as I care for it to be.

Also, let’s keep in mind the heart and loins are complicated entities, their relationships with the individuals they’re attached to change often. We’re all going to be queer for a long time* and probably do queer really different twenty years from now.

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Jessie Dress tagged herself as a Glitter Femme.

Discussion of fluidity aside, let’s get down to brass tacks. How do you spot a Femme in the wild? I’m going to approach it from a different angle, which is share with you how I determine if someone is queer in the wild (leaving Femme out of it momentarily).

One thing I do is assume everyone is queer until they out themselves as straight. Straight people don’t have to worry about the pronoun game, and generally not particularly strategic about telling you genders of the folks they do it with. This game works for me a lot, especially because I typically out myself right away. Usually when you do that your fellow queers will find some way to out themselves and you’re basking in mutual rainbows of recognition.

When this doesn’t work and I spot no visible gay signifiers (Ani DiFranco tattoos, gay lady jewelry), I either ask them directly or ask their friends.

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Source.

Asking directly works for me because I have the sort of inquisitive personality and ability to put people at ease that nine times out of ten makes people feel okay telling me things. This is why I am a talk show host. However, this doesn’t always work and going to the friends to find out is great. This is also what I do when I want to know if someone is single and I am too shy to ask them.**

Now to deal with the Femme question. I think a casual, “So do you identify as Femme?” directed at the person is okay, but this question needs to be addressed with a lot of sensitivity and care. You may be Femme positive, but the person in question may not. I remember being told, just after coming out, “You’re a LIPSTICK lesbian!” and I felt so shamed about it! I didn’t know there were Femme positive communities out there, I didn’t know being feminine could be empowering and get me laid.

Casually dropping hints about Femme positive websites you visit or events you’ve been to/wish you could go to is a nice way of fleshing out identity and creating a safe space for that kind of stuff. Also a nice way to heavily hint about queer stuff.

And here’s the thing I’ve discovered through my personal relationship history anecdata: I’ve never seriously dated anyone who was Butch identified. I am super Butch postive, lord knows I love me a fat Butch. But, what I find attractive in another human is far more complicated than even personal queer identities. So if you’re out there looking to “spot” a queer Femme, I mean, maybe the Femme part isn’t as important. You do you, go to the kinds of events that have the kinds of people you want at them (or start those events), the right people are going to cozy up to you and you’ll be basking in the magic of the great rainbow queer venn diagram in no time.

*Hat tip to Glenn Marla for that nugget.
**Friends are great for the single question, too, because they’ll give you the real scoop. Relationship status is sometimes even more complicated than identity. “Poly but complicated rules,” “Single and totally off the market dealing with serious life stuff,” “In five long distance relationships and only looking to date locally.”

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