For the notorious RBG

I dreamt I saw RBG in the grocery store

pushing a cart
down the canned food aisle
in a black Adidas tracksuit
Her crocheted collar
a white flower
blooming in her chest

I told her I was sorry 
we had asked her to hold on
for so long

She smiled and nodded
then went back to work
filling her cart
applesauce
sardines
blackberry jam

#RIPRBG

I’m still here

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Philly Pride flag

I started thinking that I didn’t have anything to say.

Or at least that no one needed to hear what I had to say.

I heard the whispers of old ghosts telling me that my story isn’t relevant.

So, I was quiet. I worked. I listened. I planted flowers and a cherry tomato plant and rescued a jalapeño seedling that the cat had mostly eaten except for the stalk.

I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read the the new Ivan Coyote book and lots of poetry, especially poems penned by young Black men.

We’re flying a Philly pride flag for pride this year. It’s the first time that we’ve flown a big rainbow flag at our house. Every time I see those bright colors rippling against the blue of the sky, I swell up a little inside.   

I’ve remembered that those of us who wear the label “other” have a duty to speak our truth.

I don’t have to shout

But I have to say

Hey

I’m here

I’m still here

And this is how it is for me

* * *

Happy Pride!

Words of wisdom

The Petco clerk tells me she’s like a cockroach.

“I’ve see everything, honey. This ain’t gonna kill me.”

Justin Bieber

Who wore it better? Bieber or the lesbians?

She wears a pair of one-size-too-big jeans cinched at the waist by a thick brown leather belt. Her hair is styled like Justin Bieber’s circa 2012. Her laugh is loud like shattered glass.

“And if it does, I’ve got news for you. We’re all gonna go sometime.”

For some reason, her bravado makes me feel better.

Mr. Rogers said in times of crisis to look for the helpers.

I say look for the helpers.

Also, look for the butches.

I walk to my car with necessary supplies: cat food, litter and some words about not being afraid.

* * *

What words of wisdom are getting you through these tough times?  Please share.

 

A birthday, bread pudding and Sheila E.

Your favorite butch had a birthday on Monday. I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t you have one of those last year? And why is this blog always about you?

Anyway, I’m getting over a cold, so it was a quiet celebration. W took me out to dinner at a local pub, and we brought home a chocolate bread pudding that we shared in bed while watching The Office. I highly recommend this activity.

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Shelia E. is in the house.

The day before my birthday, I had purchased tickets to see Sheila E. at City Winery in Philadelphia and then tweeted about it. On my birthday, Sheila E. responded with an enthusiastic “See you there!” followed by the prayer hands emoji and a dancing woman emoji. Which pretty much means that Sheila E. is my new girlfriend. I feel like this is a butch-femme coupling that people can really get behind. Also, this is me living the glamorous life in 2020 y’all.

But really, the best part of my birthday was being around W and other people who love me. One of the kids took me out to my favorite diner for breakfast and another gave me a Wonder Woman journal. And my family and friends called or texted to say Happy Birthday. I’d say that’s a birthday celebration fit for any butch lesbian king/queen. Like Sheila E says, “without love, it ain’t much, it ain’t much.”

* * *

W turns the big 5-0 this year, and we’re planning a vacation in the Caribbean. Looking for recommendations for an LGBTQ friendly resort.   

 

 

Living the life

download (1)Last night, I attended a wine tasting and poetry reading hosted by my book group at a local independent bookstore.

We sipped wine and ate chocolate and gabbed. I shared a poem called “Boomerang Valentine” by spoken word poet Andrea Gibson and a poem I wrote that was just published in a collection of gender-neutral love poems.

In between wines, I boasted about some pieces I’ve written that will be published later this year.

“I’m living the life,” I joked.

And then I wondered, what if I am living the life? What if this is it?

downloadMy stomach did a little flip like Charlotte Flair performing a moonsault. Woo!

I looked around at our group of 20 women who had come out to drink wine and listen to readings about love on a freezing February night.

Wine. Women. Words.

Living the life.

If you haven’t picked up Andrea Gibson’s new book, Lord of the Butterflies, I urge you to do so. Gift it to yourself or a loved one. Gibson is a spoken word poet who writes about gender, love and growing up liking only the boys they wanted to be. Their words will break your heart and repair it so it beats truer than it did before.

pommeIf you want more poetry, try Put Into Words, My Love by Pomme Journal. This petite book, which is about the size of a brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tart, contains 57 gender-neutral musings on love, including my poem, “things that glow.” The accompanying line illustrations will make you smile. It’s the perfect I Love You gift for everyone on your list.

Who are your favorite poets? What are you reading these days? It’s been awhile. Let’s catch up.

 

 

 

It’s your boi R-Bango

download.jpgA few weeks ago, W and I spent the weekend in the Big Apple with friends.

On Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed slices of New York pizza, visited a used bookstore and saw Network on Broadway starring Bryan Cranston and the lovely Tatiana Maslany.

In the evening, we caught a burlesque show at a place called The Slipper Room in the lower east side. It was hot and crowded and almost impossible to get a drink, but as W said many, many, many times, “Naked girls are always good.”

On Sunday, we had a late breakfast and then walked through Times Square on our way back to our hotel.

And that’s when things got a little bit dicey, and I became involved in an urban street grift.

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It’s tricky to walk around New York City It’s tricky, it’s tricky

A couple of young people in Adidas tracksuits–think Run DMC but younger and without the gold chains–were handing out something to folks passing by.

Initially, I waved them off and said, “No thanks.” But they were persistent.

“It’s free,” they said. “Free, free, free.”

Everyone knows this butch loves a bargain, but even I know better than to accept items from strangers on the street.

“It’s music promoting racial equality and gun control,” they explained. “And it’s free.”

At this point, I had become separated from W and our friends and was just looking to make a quick exit.

I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t for racial equality and gun control and world peace and voter rights, so I accepted a CD and square of laminated paper that contained a qr code for a music download and started to walk away.

“Don’t you want me to sign it?” one of the young men asked.

I really didn’t, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

“Sure,” I said, handing him back the CD.

“What’s your name?”

“Rae,” I said.

“You mind if I call you R-Bango?”

“Sure, that works for me,” I said, trying to be all cool and stuff.

“I’m gonna make it out to R-Bango with the pretty eyes.”

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Me ready to move to NYC in stereotypical lesbian fashion.

This guy was as smooth as freshly pressed flannel, and he had me in the palm of his hand. I now had a cool big city nickname and was getting noticed for my best feature, my green eyes. If this is what city life is all about, R-Bango was ready to relocate.

And then he asked for a donation.

R-Bango reached into the front pocket of her jeans and pulled out some folded-up one dollar bills.

“Oh, we try to stay away from the ones, R-Bango. By the way, you should give your barber a big tip.”

This guy knew that the way to a butch’s heart is by complimenting her fresh high and tight. R-Bango reached into her back pocket and extracted her wallet. She handed over a $20. She was on vacation after all.

And then the next person in the group held out his hand. “Aw, hey, what about me? I’m the producer.” R-Bango handed over another big bill.

“What about me?” a third person asked.

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Proof that R-Bango is worldly and street smart. 

R-Bango was starting to figure things out. She had seen Paper Moon when she was a young tomboy and knew a grift when she saw one $40 later. She put her wallet back in her pocket and forcibly made her exit, walking past the outstretched hands before her.

As she caught up with W and her old friends, she wondered if her new friends had really liked her haircut. And if they actually thought she had pretty eyes.

Her wallet was lighter but she didn’t really care.

She had something money couldn’t buy.

A good story.

And a cool new name.

Word. From your boi R-Bango.

* * *

Leave a comment and I will give you your own cool big city nickname. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gender musings

IMG_2991I took my cat to the vet for a wellness check this week. Her name is Magic the Cat and she is nine years old and she is beautiful and she is my best friend.

“Hello, tiny man,” the vet said to Magic, who is obviously a tiny lady cat.

She called Magic a “tiny man” two times.

This was worrisome on multiple levels because Magic is a girl and a cat and not a man at all and where did this vet study veterinary medicine?

Perhaps projecting my own feelings about being misgendered onto Magic, I was too embarrassed to correct the vet.

They who?

I got “they’d” a few weeks ago.

I was waiting in line at Petco. Another register opened up. The cashier waved over the woman standing behind me.

“They were here first,” she said, motioning to me.

It felt weird. Not bad. Just weird.

IMG_2972Gender Memoirs

I have a story in a new book, Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity published by Columbia University Press.

It’s an essential read if you’re curious about gender and everything associated with that six letter word. These stories will make you laugh and cry and re-think everything you thought you knew about gender.

I found myself identifying with many of the stories. Especially this feeling of invisibility that so many of the contributors write about, as well as a constant questioning of one’s other-ness. Am I trans enough? is a question that comes up in many of these stories, as well as a section of the book.

My takeaway is that gender is overrated and you should live your life in a way that makes you happy. Whatever that looks like.

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Cue the Charlie’s Angels theme song.

I mean, who doesn’t love Cheryl Ladd?

I did a book reading a month ago or so at a local LGBTQ center. It was mostly attended by a bunch of older lesbians who fully appreciated all of my Charlie’s Angels references. (After the reading, one person shared that she came out to her mother by explaining she was in love with Cheryl Ladd. We all nodded our heads. Us, too, Cheryl. Us, too.)

After the event, a woman who identified as butch approached me and asked if she could ask me a personal question. Basically, she was questioning whether she qualifies as trans and whether her life would be easier if she allowed herself to accept a trans identity. She wanted to know if I felt the same.

I have.

I’m still figuring myself out.

I’m not a “he.” And “they” feels wrong.

In fact, I don’t really like “she” or “her.” They just seem more socially acceptable in my case.

Butch is seen by some as its own gender, and that has resonated with me for the past decade or so.

I’d rather be called handsome than pretty.

Boi has a nice ring to it.

I have a Pretty Boi tee that makes me happy.

I try not to worry so much. The only thing I really know is that who we are is constantly changing and evolving. If we allow it to.

I always come back to this quote by Herman Melville from Moby Dick:

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

* * *

How about you?

The Flannel Files is Dyking Out

CoverArt (1)The Flannel Files has a new obsession (besides Bryce Harper, Captain Marvel and my new Instant Pot).
It’s a podcast called Dyking Out hosted by New York City-based comedians Carolyn Bergier and Sarah York.
You had me at Dyke, Carolyn and Sarah.
On each weekly episode, Carolyn and Sarah invite a guest to “dyke out” with them about a topic relevant to the LGBTQ world. But if you ask them, it’s really just another way to advance the gay agenda.
Dyking Out is smart and fun and bingeable, much like a canister of Pringles. And very, very queer. So, yeah, think gay, rainbow Pringles, which really should be a thing. Call me, Kellogg’s. It’s the perfect podcast to listen to when you’re using your Instant Pot, driving to a dyke march, browsing online for a new pair of sneakers … oh heck, it’s the perfect podcast to listen to when you’re doing pretty much anything.

Carolyn & Sarah photo by Jenni Walkowiak 2

Please note, Carolyn and Sarah passed our flannel test prior to this interview.

The Flannel Files is riding a streak of good luck these days. The Phillies are 4-1 and I had an opportunity to chat with Carolyn and Sarah about Dyking Out. Here’s what they had to say:

Flannel Files: There are so many podcasts out there today. Why should folks tune into Dyking Out?
Dyking Out: Anyone who wants to take a break from heteronormative content and have a good laugh while learning something new about queer living will get just that out of Dyking Out with us. Also, our guests get to talk about topics that they normally aren’t asked about or don’t get to dive into on other podcasts, so I think we offer up some pretty diverse perspectives and unique content.
FF: In the show’s description, you talk about advancing the “gay agenda.” How do you define gay agenda?
DO: The gay agenda to us is taking the shame that societal norms, religion, and conservatism has instilled in LGBTQIA people and replacing it with joy and pride. We do that by inviting people in the community to share their truth, from struggles to triumphs and everything in between, so that our listeners can hear relatable stories that help them feel less alone or othered.
FF: I heard you scored Rosie O’Donnell as a guest on an upcoming podcast to be recorded during Pride Week. Who else is on your dream guest list?
DO: Our dream guest is really anyone with a perspective different than ours with whom we can have a fun/funny conversation. Some of our favorite episodes have been with people who have very little name recognition. But also Wanda Sykes, Samira Wiley, Ellen Page, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Abbi Jacobson, Leisha Hailey, Desiree Ahkavan, Lena Waithe, Alanis Morissette, Gillian Anderson … not that this is something we think about constantly.
FF: What are you listening to and watching these days?
DO: Most recently I watched that Queer Eye episode with Jess, the rad lesbian in Kansas City. (I don’t usually watch the show.) I cried a lot. I’ve been listening to Sir Babygirl and also revisiting Tracy Bonham’s “The Burdens of Being Upright.” I just met her at one of Jill Sobule’s shows, and she wants to play our show at Stonewall sometime! Sarah’s re-watching The L Word from the beginning, and also watching anything BUT Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
FF: That episode of Queer Eye is a real tear jerker. I mean, if a butch like me ever cried. So, let’s get really personal. Who’s your celebrity crush?
DO (Carolyn): It’s always changing for me but right now, Gillian Anderson for sure.
DO (Sarah): Kyrsten Sinema
FF: You’re stranded on a desert island. What three things stored in the pockets of your cargo pants keep you sane?
DO (Carolyn): A notebook, a pen and sunscreen
DO (Sarah): A charged cellphone and two power banks to re-charge it.
FF: On The Flannel Files, we talk a lot about lesbian stereotypes. What’s the most stereotypical thing about you?
DO (Carolyn): I’m legit grossed out by 95% of men. The sound of a man snorting back his snot triggers a very unpleasant, visceral reaction in me. I briefly had a male roommate and just hearing the force of his stream when he peed made me cringe.
DO (Sarah): My favorite thing I own is my leather jacket, and I want a motorcycle to complete the aesthetic.
CarolynSarahFF: Speaking of stereotypes, who’s the butch and who’s the femme?
DO: When we go to H&M, Sarah shops in the men’s section and I only look at lady suits.
FF: What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
DO (Carolyn): In college, I made out with a lot of men to score free drinks because I hated being at straight bars and that was my way of coping.
DO (Sarah): People are always shocked to learn that I was in a sorority
FF: You’re both from New York City. What are a couple of queer things to do in the Big Apple?
DO: Dyke out with us the last Monday of every month at our stand-up comedy show at Stonewall! Also, there are SO many queer things going on. There’s a happy hour meetup called C U Next Tuesday at 3 Dollar Bill in Brooklyn, there’s Switch N Play, a queer burlesque collective that performs at branded saloon.
* * *
Listen to Dyking Out on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify and follow on Patreon, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You won’t regret it.
* * *
What are you dyking out over these days?

 

Praying to Saint Bryce

I’ve been in a funk lately.

Not the good kind of funk like Prince’s “Housequake” or Rick James’ “Superfreak.”

But the other kind.

Let me put it another way. My mood has been Orange Is the New Black, Season 5, which everyone knows is the darkest of all six seasons.

I haven’t been blogging or doing any other kind of writing. I haven’t been doing much at all, besides watching cooking shows. For some reason, I find them comforting.

IMG_3004The Phillies had their home opener yesterday.

I lit a candle like I do every year and prayed to the baseball gods.

This year, I prayed to Saint Bryce, the saint of the long ball and beautiful hair. W bought me this overpriced Bryce Harper candle the last time we were in the city.

I asked Number 3 to help power the Phillies to a winning season. And also asked for some hair-styling tips. I mean have you seen the magnificent head of hair on this guy?

It is truly glorious, said the envious butch.download

What do Bryce Harper’s hair and opening day have in common? Both are magical.

Opening day is a fresh start. With 162 games in front of you, anything is possible.

As I watched the candle burn and stared into Bryce’s intense steel blue eyes, I felt a little lighter and a little brighter.

IMG_3006P.S. I ordered these custom Nike Air Force 1s to match my baby blue Phillies cap with the heather gray brim. They are so beautiful that I cry each time I take them out of the box and hold them.

* * *

Are you a baseball fan? How did your team fare on opening day?

I Want to Be with You Everywhere

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Yes, I was wearing a flannel shirt.

W and I were in Atlantic City for the weekend.

We spent about five minutes in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino before we were overwhelmed by the grandness of it all. The lights, the bling, the music, the noise. We stood there in the lobby like a pair of lesbian Country Mice lost in the big city. 

After checking in, we retired to our fancy room, splurged on room service and then headed out to a Fleetwood Mac concert. That’s why we were in town. Fleetwood Mac was the last band on my concert bucket list.

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The OG (Original Gypsy).

At 70, Stevie Nicks still has it. She was decked out in a raven black dress and black fringed shaw, clutched a tambourine in one hand and even executed her trademark triple twirl at the end of “Gypsy.”

The band was in fine form and played all its hits.

Mike Campbell from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn from Crowded House stood in for Lindsey Buckingham, who is not touring with the rest of the band. Fleetwood Mac celebrated Tom Petty in one of its encore songs by playing “Freefall” while a montage of Petty photographs, many of which showed him playing alongside Nicks, played on the big screen.

After the concert, W and I went out for a nice pasta dinner. We ended the night by grabbing some gelato and heading back up to our hotel room. A.C. was just starting to heat up, but what can I say? It was past our bedtime.

The next morning, W found a nice spot for breakfast, and we ate eggs by the bay before heading home.

It was a short getaway, but I feel rested and rejuvenated and in love with my wife.

 

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