Leaving Normal: An Interview

middleagebutch:

I had an opportunity to sit down for an interview with Mrs. Fever over at Temperature’s Rising.  She’s doing a whole series on coming out and asked if I would participate and lend my butch perspective.

Mrs. Fever has been a Flannel Files follower since back in the day and one of my all-time favorite commenters.  Go check it out.

Bonus: There’s an excerpt from my book at the end of the interview from that time College-age Butch got busted checking out a girl’s ass.  You know you want to read that.

Originally posted on Temperature's Rising:

An Interview with Rae Theodore, author of Leaving Normal

The Flannel Files Rae is better known in blogland as middleagebutch, and is the author of The Flannel Files, a blog about living beyond the gender binary.

Rae (aka middleagebutch – click the pic to link through to her blog) has several snippets on her blog that touch on coming out moments and has a chapter devoted to Coming Out in her first book, which was published on June 26th.  She talks about the realities of life and love and relationships within the context of knowing, understanding, and embracing her authentic self, and she does so with poignancy and humor.  The questions in this interview are based on information she’s shared previously.  Rather than spend a lot of time *telling* you what an engaging author she is, I figured I’d let her *show* you, in her own words.  Read on…

{Links to pertinent posts…

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Throwback Thursday

xx

Baby butch in Dad’s shoes.

“How did you not know?” W asked when she saw this photo.

“Geez, I was 2,” I replied.

But still, you can see my penchant for men’s shoes, especially Converse sneakers.  And my good sartorial taste.

Even at 2 years of age, I liked to bust gender stereotypes and expectations.  I also had a developing sneaker addiction.

* * *

What about you?  Do you have a picture that foreshadowed who you were destined to be?

Living the dream and sneakers

Guys, it’s been a crazy week.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality AND my book was released.  Coincidence?  Yeah, probably, but I’m still taking credit.

I had a big gay book launch party at a local coffee shop.  We raised a total of $300 for the local Gay-Straight Alliance and the public library, which can now purchase a small collection of LGBT books.

Playing off the superhero theme, we used BAM! POW! napkins and handed out caped bookmarks.

Bam!  Pow!

Everyone was a superhero that day.

I was dressed in my butch finery.

I rocked this bowtie and these suspenders at my book launch party.

I rocked this bowtie and these suspenders at my book launch party.

And I wore these AWEsome Wonder Woman chucks.

Wonder Woman chucks

Holy Hera!  How awesome are these shoes?

I wasn’t walking but flying.  It was like each foot was soaring in its own invisible jet.

I’m not sure if it was the sneakers or the thrill of seeing a lifetime dream come true.

Hotter than a butch in flannel in August

Leaving Normal: Adventures in GenderHot off the presses!  Really hot like pizza cheese that burns the roof of your mouth hot.  Ruby Rose hot.  Ghost pepper hot.

Melissa Etheridge “Somebody Bring Me Some Water” hot.

To buy a copy on Amazon, click here.  (Both print and Kindle versions are available.)

To buy a copy from Weasel Press, click here.

The Kindle version is currently sitting at #39 for both LGBT memoir and gay studies on Amazon.

Let’s show the world what a little butch power can do.  Buy a copy or two.  Reblog this post or share on Twitter or Facebook.  Request a review copy.  Help me spread the word about what it’s like to live in the gender margins.  Be my superhero sidekick (spandex optional).

It takes a village to write a book

Here’s what happened when I joined a writers’ group a few years ago.  Wait a minute, you guys already know how this story ends.

If you’re interested (I know there’s some writers out there in the blogosphere who follow me), you can read how my writers’ group provided me with the fuel to write my book.

Just click here to link to the Women’s Writing Circle.  You’ll find my guest post and lots of great writerly resources.

The soundtrack to my life

Grease albumWhen I started writing my book, I noticed a theme.  Besides a love for the ladies (here’s to you Farrah Fawcett and Olivia Newton-John), music played an important role in my life.

The soundtrack to my pre-teen days is the two-record album Grease, perhaps coupled with the theme to Charlie’s Angels“Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy …”

My friends and I bowl on a team we name “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bowlers.”  We are not fans of the Beatles’ classic album but of the Bee Gees remake.

John Mellencamp’s “Warmer Place to Sleep” had been playing on a boom box right before I have my first kiss.

I come out after praying using the words to the AA Serenity Prayer and the lyrics to the Prince song “Controversy.”  Ok, so most people know those lyrics as the Lord’s Prayer, but I was a heathen back then.  And the Purple Man was about as close to religious as I got.

Tell me about it, Middle-age Butch

Tell me about it, Middle-age Butch

I’ve gone through the book and made note of all of the quoted song lyrics and music references.  (I’ve even included the Charlie’s Angels theme song and “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” which is how this baby butch felt about Olivia in her skintight black leather pants and red high heels.  Have mercy.)

So, yeah, the soundtrack to my book.  You can listen to it here via Spotify.

If it puts you in the mood, you can still pre-order a signed copy of Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.  Follow the instructions here.

You can pre-order a copy from my publisher here.

Or, if you’re the patient type, you can pick up a copy on Friday when the book goes live on Amazon.

* * *

How about you?  What songs would be included on the soundtrack to your life?

* * *

Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender Soundtrack

1. Superman by R.E.M.

2. Black Leather by Joan Jett

3. Controversy by Prince

4. Munsters – Theme Song

5. Lola by The Kinks

6. Like the Way I Do by Melissa Etheridge

7. Charlie’s Angels – Theme Song

8. More Than a Woman – Bee Gees

9. Hopelessly Devoted to You — Olivia Newton-John

10. Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee – Stockard Channing

11. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme by They Might Be Giants

12. Don’t Give Up on Us by David Soul

13. Warmer Place to Sleep by John Mellencamp

14. Laverne and Shirley Theme Song

15. A Little Bit Country-A Little Bit Rock ‘N Roll by Donny & Marie

16. Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash

17. Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel

18. Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses

19. American Pie by Don McLean

20. Seventeen by Winger

21. Talk Dirty to Me by Winger

22. Runaway by Bon Jovi

Riding the rollercoaster

Rainbow decalI am a moody butch.  Have been since I was a teenager holed up in my bedroom with the rainbow decals on the windows and a Joan Jett album playing on the record player.

When I was in my twenties, I was prescribed Prozac for the first time.  I spent more than a decade taking the white-and-green capsules.

Since being diagnosed with major depression, I have always been acutely aware of my mood.

I let myself have off days.  I will stay in bed watching old professional wrestling footage and seeking solace from Ben, Jerry and Little Debbie.

I try not to let one off day morph into two.  On day three, I will force myself to get up and shower and at least try to be a productive human being.

Lately, I’ve been riding a high from the book (which comes out in one two three four five six seven days not like I’m counting or anything).  So many good things have been happening.  It’s all so heady and exciting!  Like a Melissa Etheridge concert.

Problem is I can’t seem to maintain that high.

As high as I feel one day, I feel that low the next.

It’s like riding a rollercoaster.  I’m not a big fan of rollercoasters.

Ask Middle-age Butch

Dear Middle-age ButchDear Middle-age Butch,

My family and friends know and accept that I am a lesbian, though they’ve only known for a few years now, and I think they are still getting used to the thought of it. My mom, however, is not really accepting of butch lesbians. She’s never honestly given me a reason, but she is very judgmental. I only dress femme because I live in her house, but I’m getting rather tired of suppressing the fact that I am butch. Do you have any advice or suggestions?

Signed,

Suppressed Butch 

Dear Suppressed Butch,

That’s a hard one. You live at home with your mom, so you don’t want to make waves. But you’re not being true to yourself. What’s a closeted butch to do?

Try talking to your mom and telling her how it feels for you to “dress femme” to please her instead of butch to please yourself.  Do you feel sad?  Angry?  Humiliated?  A girl’s desire to live her life as a flannel-loving, sturdy shoe-wearing butch is something most people don’t get.

Keep the lines of communication open.  Encourage your mom to ask questions.  Be patient.  It took you awhile to figure out how you feel most comfortable expressing yourself.

Butch women don’t fit societal standards of feminine beauty, and there’s the problem.  Why on earth would you want to wear cargo pants and a V-neck tee when you could wear strappy sandals and a floral sundress?

I remember when I got a real short haircut.

“Rae, your grandmother would be so disappointed,” my grandfather said to me. My grandmother was dead at the time, so I don’t think my short hair was really bothering her.

I remember going to a college bar all butched out and having a guy grimace when he looked in my direction.

I remember the first time someone called me “sir” in front of my mother.  I thought she was going to die.

But enough about me.

What I’m trying to say is that it takes balls to be butch.

But some see great beauty in our special blend of feminine and masculine.  We are handsome devils.  Ask any femme.  Check out some photo projects like Meg Allen’s Butch.  Maybe a pictorial approach would help your mom understand.

In the meantime, read anything you can get your hands on by Ivan Coyote.  Read Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues.  Listen to “Ring of Keys” from the Broadway musical Fun Home and try not to cry.  I dare you.

Connect with other butches in your community.

Connect with other butch bloggers.  There’s a bunch of us out here.

Remember that butch is more than what you wear.  It’s who you are.  No one can take that away from you.

Hope that your mom comes around, but find other people to support and celebrate you until that happens.  Maybe when she sees how happy you are being you, she’ll get it.

Love yourself.

Be your best butch.

* * *

This was an actual question from a young butch.  What do you guys think?  What advice would you offer?

Middle-age butch is changing the world

Superhero powLast week, a friend threw a fancy luncheon to celebrate my book.

On my way to her house, I stopped by a local shop to purchase a small hostess gift.

I told the shop owner I was going to a luncheon and asked for gift suggestions.

When I went to pay for the gift, she asked about the lunch.

Normally, I don’t divulge a lot of information about myself when I am out in public.  What you see is what you get.  Middle-age woman.  Or boy.  Heck, you know the drill.  But I was in a generous and giving mood because friends! free lunch! afternoon cocktails!

“A friend is having a special lunch in my honor because I wrote a book,” I said.

The shop owner congratulated me and we started talking about writing.

When she asked questions about the book, I handed her a promotional business card.

“I was just talking to my daughter about this the other night,” she said.

Apparently, they had gone on a mother-daughter shopping excursion for a bathing suit.  The  teenage daughter wanted board shorts like her dad wears.

“I didn’t even know what board shorts were,” she said.

“I wear board shorts,” I told her.

So, we talked about board shorts and the fluidity of gender and girls who want to wear what their dads do.

I couldn’t wait for W to get home so I could tell her about my day.  About the special lunch of grilled chicken and shrimp, organic beer and a duo of desserts.

And about my conversation with the shop owner.

“Most writers say that if they are able to touch one person’s life, they are a success,” W reminded me.

“I know,” I said.  “My book isn’t even out, and I’m already changing the world.”

So, yeah, a little dramatic.  But the day’s events left me feeling large and in charge and, well, yes, very, very butch.

Doing butch stuff

Guys, I fixed my microwave oven.

Seriously.

Diagnosed the problem.  Ordered a new part.  Swapped out old part for new.

How butch is that?  I’m feeling like a badass butch.  Or, badass butch of the Realm of Small Appliances.  It’s somewhere near Middle Earth or Grayskull Castle.

But whatever.  And still.

It’s going to be a butch-tastic weekend!

* * *

What’s the butchest thing you’ve done recently?