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

2013-09-03

Five Ways I’ve Learned to Embrace the Velocity of Change

A few years ago a friend of mine suddenly got a girlfriend. We were besties and spent a lot of time together, so I wondered why I was feeling weird about it. I was definitely happy for her, I liked her new beau and I was excited for her to get laid. I sat with the feelings for awhile and I realized what I was feeling was fear—specifically fear of change. I knew that changes in our friendship were bound to happen. We were both single and had a lot of nights free that we spent together. Eventually that situation changes.

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For this post I’m using photos from my Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip. I went on that when I needed to shake up the energy in my life.

I parceled it out and realized that the changes were really triggering my fear of abandonment. My parents divorced when I was 18 months old and my dad was mostly out of the picture while I was growing up. That’s a pretty classic recipe for adult fear of abandonment.

Once I could label that it gave me something to do on my side of the street. I could address my fear of abandonment without blaming or getting mad at my friend just for being happy. I don’t ever want to be mad at my friends for following their hearts and being happy! I want them to be happy. This fear of abandonment is something I’ve worked diligently to remove over the last several years, and it involves a lot of embracing the velocity of change.

I’ve noticed my friends going through a ton of big changes lately. Huge new jobs—dream jobs. Sudden moves. Losses of many kinds. A lot of them have gotten into romances in the last few weeks–it reminds me so clearly of that time where I thought I was going to lose my friend. I’m still having to remind myself often that I’ve weathered these kinds of friendship changes before and it is going to be okay.

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Being a hipster in Austin, TX at their monthly Femme night.

I’m positive all of these big changes aren’t just isolated to my friends. Since this is probably relevant to my readers, too, I thought I would do a round-up of some of the things I’ve learned along the way about embracing the velocity of change.*

1.Accept that change is part of living.

I like to remind myself that when things are changing and tranforming that I’m really living. The only constant in life is change. When I get a little dizzy with the “too much too soons” about change (because sometimes the good and the bad changes seem to happen in a flash without warning) I remind myself of that Pearl Jam song titled Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. For some reason, when I was a fourteen year old devout Pearl Jam fan I heard that song and I would get so afraid that would be me—changed by not changing at all. And given how resistant I was to change at that age (and for many, many years after) it is a miracle I have gotten as far as I have.

I’m also the kind of person who initially resists even the little changes (I have feelings when my roommate moves around the appliances on our countertops), so my square one about change is generally negative. Accepting change as a constant has helped me hop away from that negative box faster than I used to.

Since change in life is a constant, accepting that as true—we cannot grip the happy times just as we cannot escape all the hard times—is actually a relief. When I’m having a shitty feeling I like to chant to myself, “Everything is temporary.” That helps.

Re-envisioning change as a good thing, a sign that my life is dynamic and magical, works for me.

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Having my cards read by a roaming psychic.

2. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Similar to the sentiment above, sometimes seeking out change is a really good thing. I’ve made big changes in my life before—I moved across the country at age 21. That was the first big thing I ever chose to do that forever altered the direction of my life. And it wasn’t my first choice, I really wanted to go to law school at my alma mater but I didn’t get in. Rather than hang out another year in Davis and re-apply I just bit the bullet and moved to Camden, NJ.

This was absolutely the best thing I did for myself at that young age. Without friends, a sense of safety or comfort, I really had to learn who I was. And I found myself. The year after I moved I started identifying as queer, made peace with my body and learned that femme was a thing you could be and it was awesome. I don’t know how long those changes would have taken if I’d never moved. I don’t know if those changes would have ever happened! I had no idea how resilient I was until I had to be.

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Slow dancing with that dreamboat Jessie Dress.

3. Small changes are good practice for the big ones.

Despite my desire to see change as a good thing, I remain a contented, homebody earth sign. I am so comfortable with things I’m familiar with I have to consciously seek out the discomfort of change. I try to push myself once a month to go to an event that’s out of my scene, I encourage myself to do new stuff. The weird panic I feel even for something as small as taking an unfamiliar subway stop is actually great practice for the big changes I have no control over. The tiny panics are prep. And once I’ve done it once it expands my worldview just a little bit more.

I also like to instigate change just to shake up my energy. Moving things around in my room, doing a purge of a drawer, slightly changing my hair, getting a piercing or a tattoo, going on a trip, these all help me feel change energy in order to shift my perspective on my life.

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Macy interacting with some chickens.

4. Remember all the times I weathered change.

When I started getting that panic about, “OMG the summer is ending and all of my besties are in relationships and I am going to spend all of my Saturday nights alooooooone,” it was helpful to stop and remind myself I’ve been through this before. Some friends just bail when they start dating something. That’s not about me at all. (You know, when they become the “I have to check ‘our schedule’ friends.” And the friends I have now slipped in there for the friends who slipped away. It’s the ebb and flow of life. My closest friends, our relationships have weathered a ton of changes. Including long stretches of not talking or moving long distances. But those are the kinds of friendships where you can pick up the phone and it’s as though no time has passed at all.

I’ve realized I never know what a friendship is going to look like when it starts and it is only time that tells me whether it will endure the shifts in our lives.

Just like friendships, I’ve gone through a ton of other changes that, at first, felt like a huge crisis but eventually became great opportunities. The whole memoir I’m writing is basically about how I weathered some tremendous changes in my life. (My wedding was called off six months out, I lost my job of five years and six months later was forced out of my apartment.) The good thing about those changes was (spoiler alert) I learned how resilient I am.

When I got laid off again by a small business I worked at for a three years, I learned it definitely gets easier the second time around. Applying this even to unfamiliar change is really helpful to shift my perspective from fear to curiosity. I don’t know what life is bringing me with each new change, but I know I have a choice about how I look at it.

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We were in Louisiana long enough to stop for gas and this photo at a rest stop. Definitely need to get back there and do NOLA!

5. Use your shitty feelings to teach you about yourself.

As someone who likes to learn and grow, I’ve found that often my shitty feelings are trying to teach me something about myself. Like how my panic around my bestie getting booed up taught me about my fear of abandonment, often there’s a lesson in my resistance to change.

Leaning into the shitty feelings is something I learned from my life coach when I was being life coached by Lynnee Breedlove. He told me once that if you imagine shitty feelings like an ocean wave that going through them is the best way to get to the other side. (Rather than fight them or just get out of the ocean altogether.) He said he likes to send up a prayer of “Thanks” whenever he’s facing a yucky change, reminding him to stay in gratitude.

I’ve got a couple of book recommendations. One is by SARK, a thought leader I enjoy who writes playful and deep books. Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity is an amazing book! SARK details a year where she lost a partnership, the death of her mother and her beloved cat companion. She walks through the process of turning these losses into opportunities to grow. It’s playful and deep and taught me a lot about learning how to embrace changes as they come. There are a ton of questions to ask yourself, workbook style. But even the narrative alone, if you’re not ready for the work, is worth the read.

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At Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium in Atlanta.

For the spiritually inclined, I also really enjoy Transitions by Julia Cameron. She wrote the Artist’s Way, so when I saw this in a tiny twelve step bookstore I visited when I was traveling cross country I snatched it up. Lately I’ve been reading the bite size reflections on change before I go to bed. It’s really amazing perspective on the good elements of change that we often can’t see through our pain. I like it a lot. It’s non-denominational and talks about God in the Spirit/higher power sense.

The result of my friend getting booed up years ago? We drifted apart. But it wasn’t nearly as hurtful or catastrophic as my panic at the time acted like it would be. I weathered the changes in our friendship and I’m confident I’ll keep weathering all the new changes my friendships have to offer.

*I am borrowing this term from an affirmation in Badass Resilience: Black and Brown Femme Survivor Love and Desire Affirmations by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Keisha Williams.

2012-09-05

This is What Happened for Bevin at the Femme Conference 2012

My story about the Femme Conference 2012 is completely informed by what it took to get there and my frame of mind. Thus, it begins with the epic journey.

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The Goddess was really on my side getting me to the Femme Conference this year. I knew it was going to be sort of bananas, having been on a road trip and off the grid camping for the 17 days prior to Femme Conference, stopping home for one night only to throw Rebel Cupcake: Lonely Girls (the periodic slow songs were a big hit). This is really a cornerstone characteristic about me, seeing possibility where other folks would see “too much” or “too hard.” Because the option existed to roll all of these travels together I decided to do it.

I had set-up travel arrangements, accommodations and timing before I left, but then one of my pals had to bail the weekend before we were to leave. I was trying to get in touch with our other travel buddy but couldn’t really do anything about it until I was on the road. While on the road Wednesday, barely back on the grid, I touched base with my other travel buddy and she was able to easily solve her conundrums without me, which seemed right. Cut her loose and maybe not go. It seemed like doing the whole Michfest/Rebel Cupcake/Femme Con plan could work if I didn’t have to stop to strategize but problem-solving made it feel too overwhelming and stressful.

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One sort of pleading/processing post on Facebook yielded a room to stay in and a ride (the ride part was hard because most folks I knew were leaving on Thursday). Then, at Rebel Cupcake, 1:45AM, just hours before we were supposed to leave I got a text saying my ride had a family emergency so I was again at square one in NYC. I decided to leave it up to the Goddess about whether and how I would get down there. (Here’s the other thing about this multi-leg travel lifestyle–I didn’t have a ton of money to throw at solving these problems.)

I woke up Friday and booked the only available mega bus to Baltimore ($25, leaving at 1:30) knowing I might not make it to the stop on time. I re-packed in light of taking the bus instead of a car, making some intense clothing and beauty product compromises for the sake of space. I headed out and had big re-thinking thoughts on my way to the subway station knowing I probably was going to miss this bus. I decided nothing worth doing isn’t worth fighting for, so I would head out in search of Femmes ’til I got a real “No” from the universe and not just me second-guessing myself.

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Spoiler alert–I made it to the conference. Here’s Emma.

I took a cab from the subway to the weird, block-long MegaBus situation on 42nd Street and was told that the bus I was looking for was already gone but to “stand at the back of the line.” I was actually pretty surprised when, an hour later, I was herded onto a half-empty bus headed for Baltimore.

The bus stop is not anywhere near Baltimore itself, it is somewhere in the suburbs. Given my waning cell phone battery life and the 90 minutes of public transit I would have to contend with, I took a $50 cab ride to the hotel. It was sort of ironic that the Amtrak ticket probably would have cost me about $75 if I had jumped on it during their fare sale. That was no matter! My pal Hadley was waiting for me at the hotel to grab my bag from the trunk and whisk me away to our hotel suite and offered me booze.

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Bridget and her alternative housing arrangement.

I saw from the car a few Femmes parading in party dresses and got a little nervous. In that about to jump into a new culture way. I’ve been in this culture before but it always makes me a little jittery. I like to think it’s nervous like stage fright–because your audience matters to you. It’s really special to peacock for other Femmes. Put on what makes you feel the best and admire others. For me it is not at all about Femme competition, it’s about how one piece of glitter sparkles on its own but how hundreds of pieces of glitter shine infinitely more brilliantly. But here at Femme Conference we’re shining for each other and it’s ablaze and beautiful.

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Miss Mary Wanna.

So, back at the hotel I put on the opposite of a party dress. My Aerosmith groupie realness outfit packed really small and didn’t require ironing, so it made the cut. I had my share of whiskey to take the edge off the travel and get a little silly. I was still a little nervous. I also needed to eat dinner and know that self-care is essential in the life of a conference-goer. It is so easy to get caught up in trying to get to everything that you forget to eat, sleep and take care of your basic needs.

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We picked up Emma, Jenna and Nomy Lamm from the hotel (ours was about a 5 minute walk away). Nomy’s keynote was on Friday so I missed it but I have heard the themes self-comforting and resilience come out of my chats with friends. We got sandwiches and had a sandwich caucus.

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Nomy and a wrap.

Another session I missed was “In Fierceness and Vulnerability: Deconstructing and Resisting Femmephobia.” Kim Crosby, the presenter, has made the powerpoint available online and it is incredible.

The evening event at Ottobar was the FemmeSPEAK spoken word night. It is such a blessing to have so many incredible performers at one weekend, which means the evening events are epically long. I missed the first few performers but I did get to catch the tail end of my roommate Damien Luxe‘s Exorcism piece, a shortened version of Heather Acs “This is What We Have,” and a featured set of Fran Varian, whose piece in Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation is my favorite.

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Heather, performing. I was toting merch from her piece, a lavender tote that says “This is what we have.”

I felt so grateful to be on the floor and present for an actual anthem from Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha called “Femme is For Free.” She is going to post it on her blog really soon, but the power in her voice and the cadence and the words. It was why I was there. In that. Sometimes poetry just breaks you open and Leah’s done that for me before and she did it this time.

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I also enjoyed Dacia Holliday‘s featured performance. There’s a great quote from one of her poems.

“…fem(me) identity means: I love as hard as I fuck, and I fuck as hard as I fight.”

(Thanks to Jessie Dress for catching that.)

Settling into the event I was so caught up in the sparkle that before I got to the front to really immerse in the words I was in the back just seeing people, trying not to talk when folks came up to greet me so as not to distract from the performances. It was awkward, since I was so excited to see folks and triumphant that I arrived but so hearing the siren song of the words that are spoken. I remember turning around and seeing this total BABE behind me and doing a slow creep looking up and down her outfit when I noticed her seeing me and I was like dang, I’m caught being a creepster!* There were BABES GALORE at the Femme Conference.

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I mean like, daaaaang. It was also the hair, Elisabeth has this amazing queer pompadour!

After the show was over we stayed and danced a bit. With no prepared DJ we were enjoying the grace of sound guy at the booth plugging in for us but at the mercy of folks’ iPhone playlists for tunes and a lot of La Roux happened. But it didn’t matter! We were in a frenzy of Femme on Femme adoration and swirling around each other was exactly what we wanted. (Of course, as soon as the Gossip came on Bridget nearly died of excitement, fans of the Lesbian Tea Basket know her feelings.)

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Jenna and Hadley.

After the dancing we retired to our hotel suite, me, Hadley and Emma, with a guest Nomy. We had some great conversations in the suite and even though I missed out on some intriguing invites.

“SLUT PARTY AT THE SKANK PALACE ROOM 256! Bring yr slutty self and somebody else’s slutty self too. Lingerie and lace encouraged but not required. Xo.”–Actual text from my phone.

But a ten minute walk is a long walk after a long day of travel at 1AM and with a full day of conferencing to begin at 9AM the following morning. So I just settled into bed with Emma (totally platonically unless you want to imagine something else but your imagination is without consent from me or Emma) and cruised Facebook on my phone until I fell asleep.

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Sleeping soundly.

The next morning we naturally overslept for the first workshop session, though Haddles was up and at em and out the door before me or Emma got to getting. We scrambled to make it to “Mean Girls” in the 10:30 slot, a workshop given by my friend Amanda Arkansassy (aka Lola Dean) who moved to San Francisco two years ago and her hair is long and ombre now, like happens to Femmes in San Francisco. Their hair gets long and ombre! It’s a thing! Not for everyone, but lots of them go long and ombre!**

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The workshop was great, but full of process because it had like 75 people in it and it’s hard to put all of what you need to talk about when debunking Femme competition and mean girl behavior into 90 minutes, and how to maneuver that with the people and space allotted. Also I had given up coffee not long before and was still trying to get conscious so I spent most of the workshop actively absorbing not participating. First we broke down the whys and then the hows and then we talked about how to heal it. By consensus we actually spent an additional fifteen minutes into the lunch hour finishing the workshop. Amanda’s blog has a really great write-up from the workshop, I encourage you all to go read it. I’ll be here when you get back.

Porch talk, isn’t that an adorable blog name? I love it.

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Afterwards we were going to get lunch. I sort of tagged along into two groups that became one giant group, all of us chanting about getting cheeseburgers. We went for a ten minute walk and then we found a restaurant and by group consensus missed the next keynote in favor of having a sit-down and not rushed lunch. Sometimes I find these informal get togethers, the social aspect of conference-going, to be the most valuable. We did a go around*** at the table and talked about what we wanted to get out of the conference. We made tender connections, Rachel offered to do a rap duet with me as I am dipping my toes into song-writing to create a theme song for Rebel Cupcake.

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On the way back to the hotel we were in a clump of ten and seeing the reactions of the Baltimorians on the street was amusing. At some point a young man asked me (towards the back of the group) “What is going on? Y’all are looking fine!” I just smiled and kept going on our mysterious, babely way. It’s really powerful to roll ten deep.

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We got back to the conference for Caucus time, since Jessie Dress was slated to chair the Fat Caucus. We began with 25 folks that then bloomed to easily 45 while we were doing the initial go around. I was getting a little bit diet-talk-squigged-out because the go-around involved where people were with fat activism. This incites some folks to talk about diet history but when I’m facing a room of so many people talking about diet history I feel overwhelmed and like I’m in a Weight Watchers meeting. I like talking about diet history in context of healing and solutions and strategies, and is ultimately what I prefer to get out of these gatherings (along with community and naming struggle). Luckily, our moderator noticed when the go around had taken fifteen minutes and not even gotten a quarter of the way through the participants and we moved on.

By group consensus we agreed to address fat and health first as a large group and several folks talked about struggles with being fat activists who were addressing health issues and learning how to approach exercise from a Health at Every Size perspective and how that is either effective for them or not. There were a lot of things said but I didn’t take any notes.

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Deeply babely. I didn’t take photos at the Fat Caucus, either.

We decided to break into mini-groups for the last fifteen minutes and I took the role of facilitator for the small group on desire. Having to come up with questions on the fly I just asked the eight or so participants in our group how they have been hurt or healed dating while Fat and/or Femme. We also expanded the topic to discuss what it is like to be Fat dating a not-Fat person. Fifteen minutes felt very short but was also really nice to get the tender tiny discussion to round-out (ha) the Fat Caucus.

Other small group topics were health/disability, race/class, inbetweenies, your size is not my size.

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After the caucus I was heading to another workshop when I was enticed to stop by and visit with Diana Cage and Jessica Halem, two brilliant comic babes and we sort of folded into the Cocktail Caucus. We discussed many important things, including bad dating behavior and our lives.

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I made the wise decision to head to my hotel room around 5:30 knowing I was performing that night and was leaving for the venue at 6:45. I had the room to myself for a brief rehearsal and got as dolled-up as I could before going backstage. I knew sharing the stage that night with forty people (for real) was going to mean cramped dressing room space.

FemmesWerq, the burlesque show, was four hours long. The upstairs of Ottobar is a little bizarre. It’s a rock venue, so there are the typical graffitied walls and a million penises.

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The author may have borrowed a sharpie and left her mark.

It’s like two floors and there isn’t a real bathroom, there is a toilet on a raised stage inside one of the dressing rooms. Peeing in a public space not in a stall is a recurring nightmare of mine and so I feel, having done it backstage at the Femme Conference, it’s one of those things that I will now have exorcised from my psyche or something. Hopefully. With 28 acts to wait through, we definitely were going to need to pee a couple of times.

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Watching Femmes rehearse waiting for my tech needs to be met.

My act was squarely in the middle of the show, right after the intermission we never had. Watching all of that incredible burlesque got me uncharacteristically nervous before performing. My Lesbolesque is highly earnest and hilarious, not the studied art of seduction so many other burlesque performers were putting up. Notable performers were Vagina Jenkins, Dr. Ginger Snaps and a third performer doing an homage to Femmes of Color burlesque. Each performer took a Black burlesque performer and performed an act in homage to her, and then after the three performed there was a slideshow. It was stunning, I am a longtime fan of both Vag and Dr. Snaps with renewed vigor.

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Backstage with Vag, addressing the performers.

My friends the Miracle Whips, a feminist performance group from LA did an incredible piece in homage to vaginas and the various wobegone fates we can have in them. UTIs, yeast infections/bacterial infections and period cramps. It was magical performance art and hilarious and I loved it and want to see it again.

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Me and The Miracle Whips.

Two words: SNAIL BURLESQUE. To Rihanna’s “We Found Love.”

Snail Burlesque
Photo by Nicole Myles.

Backstage before my act my friend Miasia and I had a moment. When I get stressed I like to pray and I find it is really helpful for me to pray before shows as I find creating and performing an act of spiritual connectedness. So we had a wonderful moment, the two of us, asking for guidance and letting the love in and having authentic and beautiful performances. Miasia, of course, killed it. She’s such a fox and an incredible belly dance performer.

My act was the Lesbolesque act I created for Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession,” track one from Fumbling Towards Ecstacy. It is about coming out, finding myself, and finding my place in the Lesbian Community through Femme and Queer. The Miracle Whips were my surprise lesbian back-up dancers and I have no photographs.

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More backstage ambiance with Cameron.

Afterward I played matchmaker with a friend of mine, made out with a date, potentially hit on a Femme from far away who understood I was hitting on her but I was leaving for my date so I wasn’t sure if she really understood, and reveled in the incredible Femme on Femme babely energy of the place. Everyone was a Femme that probably liked other Femmes and everyone was visible. After the final act the place erupted. Folks were leaving for the conference play party, hotel room numbers were being texted around, my very drunk friend tried to tell me how to get to their house for the after after party. But I had booked some alone time in my hotel room and my thoughtful roomies had left safer sex supplies on the pillow.

Emma

Things at the Femme Conference got wild on Saturday night and there aren’t a lot of folks I know who didn’t get action if they wanted it on that balmy Baltimore evening.

The next morning was rough getting to the hotel in time, especially because we had to check out of our hotel and pack our garments. Hadley, Emma and I had a really fun time and decided to get brunch to go so we could at least eat and watch the Femmes promenade. French toast is better with Femmes.

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I had a fifteen-minute power catch-up with Leah while she prepared for her workshop, “Femme of Colour Survivors: Badass Resilience.” I genuinely appreciate that our friendship is often made up of soulful connecting, 90 minutes at a time.

I headed to the “Beyond Classy: Working Class Femme Power” workshop facilitated by Blyth (who you may recall from her guest post on this blog). I think Blyth is just amazing and I also know that class identity is something I struggle with talking about, even though I am so open about the other intersections of my identity. The structure was very thoughtful. Channelle was the moderator, Blyth, Kirya Traber (an amazing spoken word performer), and Arti were the panelists. Each panelist took about fifteen minutes to tell their story about growing up poor or working class and how that intersected with their Femme identity. Then there was a Q & A for the panelists, and the last twenty minutes or so was open to the voices of working class or poor Femmes in the room to talk about how Femme had intersected with their class identity (I hope I am remembering that prompt correctly) and then finally, one word or phrase that was a takeaway of strength from their upbringing. (For me it was “Living on the edge.” Other folks said “Independence,” “Looking fabulous on a dime,” “Beauty pageants,” “Resilience.”)

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The crowd for the workshop swelled from the initial twenty to at least seventy folks, crammed in. Blyth was so overwhelmed she threw herself on the floor.

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Blyth passed around banana bread made by her grandmother and I called it “Working Class Femme Communion.”

Let me tell you, it was an emotional hour and a half. I learned new things about other peoples’ experiences but the stuff that was hardest was the naming of experience that was so much of my own. Like moving thirteen times before I turned thirteen. I had never thought about how that was about being poor or working class. And Chanelle called out experiences of internalized classism in a way that blew my mind.

I was really grateful I made it to the workshop and I have so much to unpack from it in my creative work, in my personal life. I am so grateful to Blyth for creating that space and so grateful to Arti and Kirya for being on the panel.

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Before the workshop got full.

Afterward was the second caucus time but I needed to get caucused with some Feelings cake and ended up spending some good time at the cafe next door to the hotel with some Femmes processing the workshop. The closing plenary was next where we talked about the Femme Collective and how the conference went. Did you know you can get involved on the Steering Committee for the 2014 conference? It is a bunch of work to make it happen and the conference is entirely volunteer-run.

The ride home was great. I was with Hadley and Emma and we got sandwiches from Charmington’s, which is now my favorite Baltimore haunt. It was a good debrief and I was so grateful I got to go to the Femme Conference and participate in this soul-opening, glitter encrusted experience.

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*The hilarious-we-became-friends-later-that-weekend post script to that is she didn’t notice me being a creepster, she recognized me from my blog so she was having an “OMG it’s Bevin!” moment while I was full-on checking her out. Hi Elisabeth!

**Side note, should I have ombre hair? Should my hair be tri-colored? Maybe I should do that instead of cutting it shoulder-length again? I know I’m a Brooklyn Femme but what if I go SF Ombre??

***Go Around is conference-speak for doing a round table of everyone’s name and some other information about them. Often/always at Femme Conference they involved Preferred Gender Pronoun, where you were from and something else related to the topic at hand.

2011-05-29

Hot Piece of Hipster: Summer Genderqueer Hair

I think a lot about hair. I just had a discussion with a friend of mine about why we have no overlap in the folks we sleep with though we are both 32 year old queer fat femmes who live in the same borough. Given how small the community we queers roll in, I have overlap with friends of mine all over the country. This friend said she has a thing for people with bad hair and I said “Aha! That’s it! I only date people with good hair.” It’s really the very first thing I notice about someone when I am attracted. Hair, style, tattoos in that order.

So when my friend Max Voltage from Portland asked my opinion about good genderqueer summer hair looks I was totally into the task of compiling favorites. And with Max’s permission I repost my email below so that you out there looking for summer genderqueer hairstyles might benefit from my research. (And for those of you who do not start out with hair like Max, I’ve thrown a few favorites that I didn’t suggest to Max below.)

Here’s a picture of Max’s hair, I took it from a bizarre angle at Hey Queen in April while Max was in Brooklyn on tour:

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Here’s a picture of Max from a less extreme angle:

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Here’s what I wrote to Max:

First I considered your hair strengths. Your hair is really good as it is, though I totally understand wanting to do something different for the summer. But you have this very distinct look about you, with the sexy sideswept bangs that works really well with your face shape and I think any cut for you should enable you to keep that sideswept bang situation in your repertoire, even if most of the time you change it up.*

Maybe it’s the weather or something like that, but for the summer in general one keeps in mind getting the hair off the neck for cooling off purposes and humidity (at least on the east coast, not sure about Portlandia summertime humidity). So I looked for cuts that keep the length in the front but got some of the hair off the neck. I poked around my good haired friends on Facebook, my favorite style blogs and then did a search for genderqueer on tumblr.

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Photo by Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.

When you asked me for summertime hair, I immediately thought about my friend Nic Switch. They are a genderqueer porn actor and starred in my queer retelling of the Outsiders as Pony Boy. Hair was an important factor in our casting (the whole cast had great hair). Attached are two photos of Nic, one from the front and from the side.

I like that Nic keeps their hair longish on the sides (which is still shorter for you) and combs it forward while instead of just having the generic genderqueer fauxhawk (yawn) Nic does a bit of a pompadour/duck tail lift. The lift also has some good height to it.

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Obvy this would involve some product, and product is helpful for anti-humidity.

Now that we’ve gone into nouveau greaser territory I must also taut the pompadour. Pomps come in all sizes these days and I love a casual summer swoosh above the head. With the length of the sidesweep you’ve got good pompabilities. The pomp would also enable you to keep some of the length on the sides though cutting most of it to maximize summer comfort. Attached is a photo of Jessie Dress, my femme friend who is rocking a hot genderqueer pomp these days. You could do something similar, a little to the side which would maintain a bit of the signature sideswept Max look. You could also optionally have fancy curly sideburns. This would require a more heavy-duty hair product along the pomade spectrum.

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[As an aside, I cannot blog about pompabilities without shouting out my pal Alix of the Inverted Eye who sports my favorite queer pompadour.]

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Me, Ains to the left and Alix to the right at Rebel Cupcake/Hot Box collision in Oakland.

Eric from True Blood has some damn sexy hair. His hair is a side part and swept up with some lingering strands towards the face. His hair is also even longer on the sides but clean cut around the base of the head (no rat tail). It’s not quite hipster sexy, it’s just traditional fashionable boy sexy but I think it could work well for you.

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The last look I attached is some damn sexy summer sidesweep. If you kept your sideswept bangs and maybe deepened the part a bit toward the side (What side do you part on? Left? Right?) and cut the back part off, cleaning up the base of it, you could get this look. It’s dramatic and awesome.

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I found this look on one of my favorite style blogs, Ironing Board Collective. I want to be their fat style correspondent!

Also, are you open to color? I think a few highlights of a honey brown, just something a bit lighter than the brown you have now would make a huge difference in your look, brightening it up for summertime.

***
I know I was specifically researching for Max’s needs, but I need to throw some honorable mention summer looks for other folks who don’t have the length situation Max does.

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DAAAAAAAANG. Lafayette is looking so hot this summer in this season four True Blood promo photo.

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Danielle is a hot Texan.

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When I thought of good short hairstyles I immediately thought of the gorgeous creatures in this photo I stumbled upon on tumblr a few months ago. The hair sculptures are amaaaaaaaaazing. I know the hats are all wintercore or whatever, but I ache to find out who these folks are and how they work their summer looks.

Maybe next I’ll do my round up of how I beat the humidity and heat with my own long, thick mane.

*I think hair is an important part of branding. Max is an event producer, performance artist, and violinist. Branding/hair is something to consider.

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.

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.”

2011-02-22

Get into it: Femmes and Friends Fa(t)shion February

My friend Jessie Dress is a miracle. Not only did she design that awesome redo of the fatphobic PETA ad, she starts some amazing projects to gather people around things she’s passionate about. Example 2: Co-founder of Austin’s Femme Mafia Chapter.

I present for your joy and eye candy her latest idea, Femmes and Friends Fa(t)shion February. It’s basically a community outfit blogging project, mostly by queer fat femmes and their friends and allies from different body types and sexualities. Jessie said, when launching it, “I want to see your hot ass! I want to see people wearing work clothes, or house clothes, or going out to dance clothes. I want to know where you got what you’re wearing, and what you did to make it fit your body and your life.”

I have been an almost daily contributor to the blog. I put all of my entries on my own tumblr, peppered throughout the month.

I participated for a few reasons. One, I am friends with Jessie and I like making her happy. Another was because my bestie Mackenzi pointed out to me when I was trying to do the math to afford* a Sweettooth by Cupcake and Cuddlebunny dress that I have more clothes than anyone she knows and many of those outfits she’s never seen. So it was an impetus to pay attention to what I’m wearing, take stock and purge some of my wardrobe.

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Shark dress. My first contribution.

I learned a lot from outfit blogging almost every day. It is really hard to get a full outfit picture taken unless you have friends who are willing to be patient with you. It also helps that I work part-time at a store, so on those days I got a fellow Shop Girl to help me out.

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The first time I repeated an outfit, but I remixed it with a different cardigan/tights combo.

I also learned not to put so much pressure on myself. One day I took a picture of what I was wearing and I suddenly understood why some celebrities only leave the house after taking a photo of their outfit. I thought my business casual outfit was flattering, but not so much in a photo. I didn’t love the outfit and I decided not to blog it.

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I think a creepy angel head belt is totally to opposite of business casual.

I watched my bouffant get bigger as time wore on for the busiest party/gig weekend of this month, from Rebel Cupcake on Thursday through Nerd Love on Monday. There was a lot of hair action.

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Right in the middle of that period of time, wearing my Femme Flannel outfit.

I contemplated posting my loungewear, but when I’m wearing loungewear I’m typically working or lounging, not messing around with a camera.

Catifabulous did a write-up of the project in the blog Sociological Images. Fatshion February definitely had some limitations in terms of the participants (namely, very few people of color and above size 24 folks), but I still think it was fun and gave me a fresh perspective on my wardrobe.

I liked looking at all of the different ways people wear their clothes and the stories they tell about them. I also like to know where people get their clothes and how much they spend on them. I included that info on my outfit blogs when I knew what I spent on something.

I never realized this, but I typically compose outfits consisting of one item that is pricier and many other, under $10 pieces. I also never noticed that I privilege jewelry that’s at the top of my heap, so I’ll wear the same four or five necklaces in rotation until I go hunting through the box/shelf/many jewelry organizer bags I have. Accessorizing is often something that is an after thought for me.

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My favorite outfit of the month is almost always for Rebel Cupcake. This was my ‘fit (except my sparkly pink heels) for RC: Erotic City. Also pictured, Mackenzi.

And it’s not too late to get into it! The Femmes and Friends Fa(t)shion February tumblr page explains how to submit!

*See, I work at a resale store and sometimes I make some store credit, so I rarely pay cash for my clothes. This makes a big difference in the life of the broke artist.

2011-01-21

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Sleeper Crushes Edition

Sleeper Crush: Similar to a sleeper agent, a sleeper crush is someone who has a crush on you that you don’t know about. I know from later confessions there were lots of people who had sleeper crushes on me when I was a teenager (haaaaay, girl scout camp) that I was oblivious about. Sadly, I knew not how to smoke out the sleeper crushes so I was unable to take advantage of the possexibilities* (haaaaay, late bloomer).

The invention of social networking, and especially Facebook has made having a sleeper crush much easier. With no way of effectively tracking the stats of who looks at your profile on the daily, how will we ever know who has a sleeper crush on us?

Sometimes a sleeper crush manifests for you when you’re monogs with someone else. In that case I just call it “bookmarking” someone for later, putting the sleeper crush to bed until you have room in your heart/relationship negotiation for someone else.

“This dry spell is out of control. I wonder if there are any sleeper crushes on my Facebook who want to take me out for some date steak.**”

Going Out of Business Sale: My friend Jessie Dress declared this term during a skype date the other day. This is when someone moves away and suddenly they are the hottest queer in town. Seriously, it happens so often. Move away, broadcast it, and you’d be amazed at how it really gets people spurred to action. There’s something exhilarating about only getting a chance to do it for a few weeks/days.

Beware, though. I had a friend meet her love during her Going Out of Business Sale and then they had a complicated, sad parting and then moving across the country to join her 3 months later thing. But it’s all happy ending, they’re still together.

“If I declare a Going Out of Business Sale will it smoke out the sleeper crushes in my queer community?”

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Sophie just moved across the country (the most recent of four friends in my immediate social circle who moved out to the Bay from Brooklyn) but I don’t know that she actually had a Going Out of Business Sale. I just miss her.


Lesbian Tea Basket with me and Jessie Dress!

Making Bad Decisions: In the spirit of sparkling hard in 2011, I am now totally into using “bad decisions” as a euphemism for lots of things relating to making mischief–going out and drinking too much, being too loud, late night texting “Where are you we are having soooo much fun! You should be here!”, going after a red flag waving queer.***

I am so drawn to making bad decisions lately! It’s not like I am turning into a wild woman (I’m a party promoter who hardly drinks at her own parties) but I am loosening my tight grip on behavior and just having fun this year.

“I went way out of my way to walk to Heather’s house at 11PM on a Wednesday to try to get her to go make bad decisions with me at Metropolitan Bar.”

Bluetool: My BFF Brian brought this to my attention. This is when someone using a bluetooth device appears to be talking to themselves. Also anyone who is wearing a bluetooth device as an accessory. Bluetooth devices are not earcuffs. They are for function not for fashion.

“The other day during my wait for tasty brunch at the Morning Glory I passed the time watching a bluetool with bad hair walking back and forth and looking cray.”

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Brian and I toasting sausages on sticks at the sheep & wool festival. Brian is a self-proclaimed bluetool.

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Bluetool, put that thing away you’re on a date!

*Nod to the ever fabulous Femmes Guide to the Universe.
**Date steak: Steak bought for you on a date. That you don’t have to pay for and then you follow up with a good make out or some sex. See also, Steak and Blow Job Day.
***Note: I am doing well not going after any red flag wavers for the moment. A departure from my history treating red flags like air traffic control. However, I am totally counseling friends to just walk eyes wide open into big red flaggy situations. 2011… fuck it! At least when you see the red flags coming it won’t surprise you when they act all red flaggy, doing the things the red flag queers do.

2010-04-22

Allergies!

I have said before that vulnerability is a sign of strength. Through my sneezy haze this morning after a fitfull night unable to breathe, I asked the twitterverse for everyone’s favorite allergy tips.* Tonight’s trip to the coffee shop for the third cup of the day (so tired and woozy from congestion and meds) confirmed that I am not the only sneezy, sniffly mess in Brooklyn.

I am still fairly new to seasonal allergies. They started a three years ago for me and for awhile I thought I was just allergic to my office in North Jersey because I would drive out there and develop a bad sinus headache. It occurred to me it had more to do with the time of year and the density of flowering trees than a dislike for office parks and fluorescent lighting.

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Suggestions from the twitterverse:

1. Zyrtec-D: Jessie Dress suggested that it takes about three days for it to really work. I am trying this now, the 12 hour kind, first thing in the morning. Sarah Biz thinks that Zyrtec with no D at night is perfect for her. She finds the D drying. I know I need some preventative sudafed to keep me from getting a sinus headache.

2. Alavert D 12 and Claritin work for other twitter followers. I couldn’t find the former at CVS today.

3. Taking lots of Vitamin C is the suggestion from Golda at Body Love Wellness. She says inundating herself with C is better than anti-histamines. I am still on my grapefruit a day kick and now adding emergen-c early in the day to supplement my nighttime multi-vitamin.

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Cherry trees along the esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

4. Tylenol Sinus. My mom taught me this for sinus headaches when I started getting them. My mom is extremely scent sensitive and has had terrible allergies for as long as I can remember. I couldn’t even start wearing perfume until I moved out of the house, and forget about incense. Tylenol Sinus is pretty much the only medicine that works for my sinus headaches.

5. Jacq from Sugar recommends acupuncture. I know a lot of folks who swear by it though I have never tried it. I am likely to start soon if these allergies stay crazy. I’ll go see Geleni at The People’s Acupuncture of Brooklyn. Everyone I know is going to her and she is reportedly quite good.

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6. My friend Sophie swears by Counter Attack. You can get it in the Whole Body section at Whole Foods or from Amazon. It has worked for me to stave off colds, so I am hoping it can work for allergies. I’m using it as part of the Vitamin C assault.

7. My mom also told me about this sinus rinse thing she and her wife are huge fans of for preventing allergies. I did it tonight for the first time and it feels hella weird but my sinuses felt so much better afterward. Right now I am so hell-bent on feeling better I’ll try anything.

8. Local honey. My yoga teacher, Jyll, tipped me off to this for preventing winter colds, but apparently it also works for allergies. You can get it at the farmer’s market.

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Sam, my big sis from my sorority, enjoys Lebanese desserts in Astoria, Queens. There is a lot of honey in those desserts, though usually I just have a tablespoon of local honey on my oatmeal.

I am trying to be the kind of person who takes action instead of complaining, so I feel my multi-pronged somewhat scattershot attack on allergies at least makes me feel like I am doing something instead of just suffering.

My humidifier is set up and ready to go to help me sleep a little better tonight. If you’re out there suffering from allergies, consider me your sister in the struggle. Let me know what helps!

*Last year I did a terrible job of keeping track of what medicine worked, so I have all of these half empty boxes I am dabbling from. This past week has proven that Claritin with no sudafed does not work for me. Now I am going to just put that box in the giveaway pile.

2009-12-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I love Cherry Poppins.

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

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

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

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Femmes at Femme Camp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2009-11-03

Hair Bling!

This year I started getting really into hair bling. It all began when I first got my bouffant, around Halloween 2008. I accidentally let my hair grow out (read: got laid off so I stopped being able to afford regular cuts) and I finally went in to see Carla, my hairdresser at Balance Salon in Jersey City. She convinced me to keep the length, did my cut and then passed me off to a fellow stylist to give me a bouffant. “It’s like an open marriage, I’m just going to watch.”

That bouffant changed my life. Having been traumatized by tangles in my hair at an early age I was afraid of teasing it. Spending 10 minutes working out tangles every now and again is so worth it to have high hair. Sometimes I use a bumpit but never when my hair is truly close to Jesus.

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Big hair means a big place to stick fancy things in. I am really into hair bling of all kinds. I even have a line of hair bling at Re/Dress, priced really low, the proceeds of which help feed my hair bling habits.

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Actual hair bling I made, friend bought at store, and wore out in the wild.

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Actual hair bling part of my habit, modeled by Jessie Dress. It’s a turkey dinner.

I think anyone can use hair bling. If you don’t have a lot of hair, stick a clip on a headband and put it on your head. Poof! It’s like a mini hat, only, you know, a bird.

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Dapper Dandies can use hair bling to add a little flavor to their hats.

Here you’ll see a gorgeous purple leather fascinator clipped to a grey hat modeled by Eddie Adonis, of the Charm City Boys in Baltimore. They’re hosting the International Drag KingCommunity Extravaganza in October 2010.

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I was doing some personal shopping for him to add sparkle to his wardrobe for IDKE in Tuscon.

My friend Sarah Deragon makes some elaborate and extremely fancy hair bling. Her stuff blows my mind. I got this hot pink feathered number and wore it on a night on the town (Sister Spit the Next Generation tour) and then at work the next day. Hair fascinators do not have to be just for going out!

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If you love the stuff in Sarah’s store Looks Good From the Front, leave me a comment here with your dream hair bling (specific flower? specific woodland creature?). The most creative answer gets a coupon to use in the Looks Good from the Front Etsy shop.

And for those of you in the New York City area, in my capacity as the reigning Miss Re/Dress NYC, I am hosting a craft fair! My line of hair bling will be there, as well as a trillion other great vendors! Come support your community and arts for the holidays!

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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.

2009-08-18

Turning Rage into Productivity

When I get enraged about stuff, especially frustrations with dating and the like, I take my rage and channel it into productive things. Usually my community building work, my writing or performance. I got the greatest email this morning from my friend Jessie Dress.

Have you seen this PETA ad? It’s everywhere right now.* Chris’ little sister, who is a vegan and a fat ally, took her rage to PETA and instead of getting a nuanced response from them, just got some fat hating “Fat people WOULD feel better and be more healthy if they ate vegetarian.” Not actually acknowledging any biodiversity or anything that makes bodies different. Fat=death to PETA. Also, let’s not forget how completely misogynistic they are, and constantly striving to exploit women to “sell” veganism.

Okay, I couldn’t start off this post without a rant. I tried.

Anyway, so Jessie’s email to me, in the line of taking your rage and doing something productive with it:

Dear Bevin,

So today I was having a fucking shitty ass morning at work, and every time I went to facebook to try and escape my work and life drama, I kept seeing that fucking shitty PETA ad. It was pissing me off, and I decided to make some improvements. I posted it on FB, but also wanted to send it along to you because well, we were talking about Arts & Crafts and I thought you might appreciate.

hope your ‘danna planning is going well! Let me know when you have them finished, bc I’d for sure like to grab one of each!**

xoxo

jessiedress

Here it is! It makes me have so much joy!

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*As a side note, I want to point out that I was at my fattest when I was a vegetarian. And when I was vegan, guess what, I was still fat!! For me meat is something I crave. I feel healthiest when I can get a good balance of meat, veggies and fruit. And as an animal lover I feel really good about making ethical, local choices regarding meat and feel grateful and lucky there are a lot of small grocers that carry that kind of meat nearby.
**Jessie has been kindly walking me through doing DIY screens and what what for FemmeCast merch.

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