Category Archives: Gay & Lesbian

March madness

March was a crazy month.

I turned 50. Which means I’m vintage.

I got my AARP card, which I thought would make me super-sexy in W’s eyes. “She’ll have the Grand Slam,” I imagined me ordering for her at Denny’s and scoring points, as well as a sweet 15 percent discount. She just looked at me weird when I flashed the shiny red card at her.

I had a fun party that W put together with all of my friends and a top-of-the-line party bus that only played 80s music (including that Georgia Satellites song I love) and made stops at a local concert AND Victory Brewing.

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No real flannel shirts were harmed in the making of this cake.

W had a custom cake made for me in the shape of a flannel shirt.

I got tons of loot. Notebooks and pens and wine and beer and gift cards for books. All of my favorite things.

I wore my new sneakers. Puma classics, black suede. So sweeeeet.

There’s more. On the night of my birthday, W gave me a bunch of little presents. We aren’t big gift givers, and I knew she was throwing me a birthday bash, so I wasn’t expecting much. Maybe a new necktie, a book, something emblazoned with the Wonder Woman logo.

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I misspelled Seattle during the recreation.

She had created a handmade Scrabble board. Each box contained a set of Scrabble tiles. The tiles spelled out: TICKETS, SEATTLE, ALASKA, OLIVIA.

I don’t have a big bucket list. Just a few things I want to do, a few places I want to see. I’ve always wanted to spend a few days in Seattle. Take a cruise to Alaska. And go on an Olivia Cruise.

W had started planning all of this last summer without me suspecting a thing.

At the end of June, we are flying to Seattle for a few days. We’ll be there for Seattle Pride, and we already have reservations for brunch in the Space Needle. In Seattle, we’ll be boarding an Olivia cruise ship and setting sail for Alaska.

“It’s too much,” I said for much of March with a giant grin on my face.

There’s a part of me that still thinks it’s too much. Too expensive. Too extravagant. And that I’m not worthy.

I’ve been trying to silence those voices and be grateful. Grateful for being able to cross things off my bucket list. Grateful for an adventure, something to look forward to. Grateful for a cruise on a luxury liner filled with lesbians.

But mostly grateful for a wife who so carefully planned a special birthday and a trip of a lifetime for me.

It’s hard to be on this side of love. The receiving side.

But I’m trying.

So far, 50 is like a new pair of sneakers. Pretty sweet.

To ‘sir’ with love

download.jpgRachel Maddow is my spirit animal.

Last week, she was interviewing a congressman on her TV show. At the end of the interview, she says, “thank you, sir.”

The congressman responds in kind. “Thank you, sir,” he says. “I mean, ma’am,” he quickly corrects.

“It’s alright, I answer to both,” she says without missing a beat.

I bow to Maddow.

I wish I was quick on my feet. It’s probably why Rachel Maddow has a TV show and I don’t. But whatever.

imagesSometimes I don’t mind being called “sir.” Other times it bugs me. I’m fickle like that.

But then I read the comments to my last post:

“Would kill to be sir’d,” someone wrote.

“I’m jealous you get called sir,” another reader wrote.

I’m going to stop complaining. And try to roll with it, channeling my inner Maddow.

* * *

What about you? Do you hate being called “sir”? Love it? Or fall somewhere in the middle? Care to share your best response to being sir’d?

Assorted butch news and other stuff

“And this gentleman is?”

He arched one eyebrow so it pointed directly at me.

I found myself crafting this response in my head: I’m not a gentleman.

But then I couldn’t say those words, because I pride myself on being a gentleman.

“My name is Rae,” I said, leaving him to figure out the rest.

IMG_0745It’s the hair. I haven’t been misgendered for a long time. Then blam. My hair becomes too long to spike up and sits on top of my head like a lid. There’s a bit of an overhang. It’s like having a little roof over the front portion of my head. It’s the Barney Rubble look that I wrote about here.

What’s a butch to do. Keep calm and Barney Rubble on. Someone make me a T-shirt, please.

In other news, I finally saw The Lego Batman Movie. Now, W and I pew-pew each other and the cats with our invisible laser guns after she gets home from work.

In more other news, check out this cool new documentary called Gender Troubles: The Butches. You can view it for free through March 28, sir.

Oh, one more thing, I’m giving away copies of my book, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender, on Goodreads. You can enter to win here. You know you want to. Hurry, time’s almost up.

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What’s new with you?

 

Today I’m a 50-year-old boy

I turn 50 today.

It’s weird because most days I feel like a kid. A young boy somewhere in the age range of 12 to 17.

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Sir, I’ve been reading this great blog called The Flannel Files.

Most people I know say they don’t feel like adults either. Which means we’re all living in a giant Peanuts cartoon. No adults for miles–just an occasional wah wa-wah in the distance. You can call me Peppermint Patty. Or sir. Take your pick. Even though this lesbian doesn’t rock sandals.

 

W is throwing me a big party on Saturday complete with a party bus. I don’t know the details, so the rest is a surprise.

But today we’ll spend a quiet evening at home with the kids.

We’ll get pizza or some other takeout. I’ll open presents.

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Super sweet.

I already bought myself these cool black Puma throwbacks as a happy-birthday-to-me gift.

I’m thinking of treating myself to another pair in baby blue.

“Like my eyes,” I told W.

“Yes,” she said.

“My eyes are green,” I said.

“I meant they would compliment your eyes,” she said.

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Super sweet, too.

She doesn’t understand how sneakers work.

I’ll wait for next weekend to see The Lego Batman Movie. Maybe as a reward for getting our taxes ready.

“No thank you,” W said when I first asked her if she wanted to see the movie. She has since agreed to see it with me. Because pity, I guess. But whatever. It’s The Lego fucking Batman Movie.

And I’ll save some birthday money for comic books. To spend at that new store in Philly W said we could visit the weekend we see Cabaret.

I suppose 50 means I’m wise. At least wiser than I was at 49. If I’ve learned anything these past five decades, it’s be true to yourself. Live your authentic life.

Even if you’re a 50-year-old boy/woman and that means sneakers and comic books and The Lego fucking Batman Movie.

Life is too short, folks.

* * *

What Peanuts character are you? What’s your favorite type of sneaker? Put them together and make some kind of drag king/queen name. You know you want to. C’mon, it’s my birthday. Humor me.

Love,

Pat Puma

 

Leaving the center empty for God

 

downloadI’m still reading Maggie Nelson’s memoir The Argonauts. This story about Nelson’s relationship with her “fluidly gendered partner” Harry takes a look at the hot button topics of sexuality, gender and what it means to be a family.

It’s been taking me longer than usual to get through this slim book of less than 150 pages. It’s a heavy read, packed with thoughts and insights that seem best suited for slow, meditative pondering.

In the pages I read last night, Nelson writes about a lecture she attended given by poet and professor Anne Carson in which Carson spoke about the concept of leaving a space empty so God can rush in.

imagesNelson said she had heard about this concept from a boyfriend who was into bonsai. In bonsai, people often plant a tree off-center in the pot to allow space for the divine.

“But that night Carson made the concept literary,” Nelson writes. “I went home fastened to the concept of leaving the center empty for God. It was like stumbling into a tarot reading or AA meeting and hearing the one thing that will keep you going, in heart or art, for years.”

That’s what I’m thinking about these days. Leaving the center empty for God in my writing and in my life.

The Argonauts is a terrific read. Dense and intense but worth the effort.

P.S. I’ve been sleeping better.

I find that when I’m focused on social media and the news, I have a bad day,” I told W yesterday at dinner.

“And when I stay away from social media and the news, I have a better day,” I told her.

“Then stay away from social media and the news,” she said like a Sapphic sage.

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Night, night, you big butch.

That’s been helping, plus W has been rubbing my face with lavender butter before bedtime. She rubs the thick cream on her hands and then smooths it on my forehead, my temples, the back of my neck and a little under my nose.

It smooths over the jagged edges of the day. I have been sleeping like a baby these days.

Plus, it makes me feel like I’m being taken care of, which is a nice feeling right before bed.

We just ordered a new batch of butter. Check out Renaissance Lavender on etsy if you are in need of a magic sleeping potion.

Compassion dammit

I can’t sleep at night. I’m up worrying about what’s happening in my country. I keep reading tweets in my feed until there are no more new ones. Then I refresh the top news stories. I switch back and forth between Twitter and the news until there is nothing new to see and it’s as safe as it’s going to be to go to sleep.

I had my writer’s group today and we wrote to the prompt of “hope.”

“I hope the world doesn’t end tonight when I close my eyes and pull up the covers,” I wrote.

Everyone laughed a big, loud nervous laugh as if to say, ha! isn’t that funny because I’m waiting for the world to end, too. Like minds and all.

I’ve been trying to work on a bunch of stories. I start them but am having trouble finishing. I’m having trouble focusing.

These things come easier: stressing, blaming, feeling angry.

I try to remember that everything can be boiled down to two things–love and fear.

And if someone is acting out of fear, we should treat that person with compassion. Even though I want to throw a bucket of fire ants on them. Or make them watch Ishtar ten times in a row.

But I’m not there yet. I’m back at hey, get on your knees and apologize for what you’ve done. And, we told you so (while blowing a big, fat raspberry).

Right now, I need to unplug for longer periods of time. And be kind to myself so that I can be kind to others. Don’t forget to strap the kindness mask to yourself before assisting others. It’s a saying, people.

I wore my new Superman socks today and they gave me the courage to get through the day.

I treated myself to a pizza for dinner, but the cats knocked it on the floor before I could finish it. Because they are assholes and obviously part of whatever alt-right, fascist conspiracy is going on right now.

I had lunch with my writer friends.

There were donuts at writing group today.

Tomorrow is a new day. I have more Superman socks (it was a three-pack). After Thursday, all bets are off.

What I’m trying to say is that you’re not the only one feeling nervous or anxious or stressed.

Don some superhero gear, drink your favorite beverage, order takeout (unless you have asshole cats). Get together with friends. Read a good book at night. Howl at the moon. Take hot showers until your skin turns pink. Whatever you’ve got to do to get you through. Beer, too. And flannel sheets and dirty haikus.

And then compassion, folks. So much compassion you need extra napkins.

Until then, I’ll be here on my ipad typing more words.

No apologies

img_0962Tired of feeling unworthy

I ate an entire carton of blackberries

$3.99 a pop

In the middle of today

With no apologies

To you

Or anyone

Not even the President

 

I didn’t care that the fruit stained my fingertips purple

Marking me like a thief

As I plucked each piece from the plastic box and

Plopped it in my mouth

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What are you unapologetic for today? 

A funny thing happened on the way to the march

W and I drove to Baltimore today. We are staying in Baltimore tonight and leaving for Washington, D.C., super early.

After we walked around the city for a bit, we went out to dinner at a nice Italian place.

The waiter spotted the safety pin on W’s shirt and started up a conversation.

W tells him we are going to the march tomorrow.

Before we know it, he is telling us about his partner of 25 years and how today’s inauguration has left him heartbroken.

“Us, too,” we say.

As he waits on us, he occasionally sits down and asks us questions and shares bits of his life with us.

“Tell him your analogy,” W says.

“She works with cancer patients,” I say. “Donald Trump becoming President reminds me of these stories she tells about people having these weird accidents and breaking an arm or a leg. When they get a scan, the doctors find a tumor. The broken arm or leg ends up being a blessing in disguise because it’s revealed the cancer. It’s brought all of the problems to the surface so they can be cured.”

“That’s one way of seeing the good in things,” he says.

“If it wasn’t for all of the bad stuff going on, we wouldn’t be talking to you right now,” W says.

The three of us nod our heads.

As the waiter brings us our meals, he slips us an extra carafe of Chianti and then another.

My wine glass is full as I eat my eggplant parmesan. And as I wipe up every last bit of sauce with bread.

“Maybe all of this Trump stuff isn’t so bad after all,” I say to W as I drink my wine.

“Maybe Trump was right,” I add. “It’s day one and he’s already made America great.”

I salute her with my glass of wine. My full glass of free wine. Free wine scores huge points in my world. Bigly huge.

“I wonder if we’ll have free wine every night for the next four years?” I ponder out loud.

At this point, I am pretty buzzed.

And then the wine is gone.

And we pay our bill.

The waiter hands us a brown paper bag containing a hunk of tiramisu and a cannoli. Free Italian desserts. As if the night couldn’t get any better.

We say our goodbyes. W hugs the waiter because she’s a hugger and gives him her safety pin. I wave like the queen of some foreign country because I am weird and aloof.

And as we walk out of the restaurant, I think that we’ll be okay. No, I know in my heart that we’ll be okay.

We aren’t alone. We have each other. 

And now we have a reason to reach out to each other, talk to each other, comfort each other.

Plus, free wine and dessert.

What to bring to a march

A pocket-sized notebook and pen to chronicle the day’s events.

Dr. Martens

These boots are made for marching.

My brown Dr. Martens eight-eyelet lace-up boots. Sneakers would be a bit more comfortable, but years from now I want to be able to point to my feet and say “these are the boots I wore to the march.”

Soft, warm socks.

My outside voice.

My wife. “Remember when,” we’ll say all those years from now when we are slower but wiser and counting our shared adventures on our crooked fingers and toes.

One clenched fist to raise in the air.

Men's underwear

Protest (under)pants

Clean underwear. Aren’t we always supposed to be wearing clean underwear when risk is involved? Just in case. Because what if and what would your mother say? But I wear men’s boxer briefs, which will only embarrass her. I’ll wear clean underwear anyway! Because hygiene. And as a symbol of my individuality! Statement underwear! Protest underwear! No one can make me wear women’s panties! Underwear knows no gender! Power to the boxer brief, people.

Jeans.

A T-shirt emblazoned with an appropriate message.

Cash.

An endless supply of head nods for the other butches in attendance.

iPhone to take pictures.

A copy of my big butch memoir in case I run into Leia Delaria, the world’s most famous butch.

Wonder Woman

Thanks to Wonder Women everywhere!

Thoughts of those whose deeds and words and music have gotten me to where I stand tall and proud today … Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Wonder Woman, Anne Lamott, Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, Ivan Coyote …

Anger, frustration.

Hope.

Possibility.

Pride.

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Did I forget anything? What are you bringing?

March on

x5tli34r_400x400W and I are making plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington next Saturday.

On Friday, we are driving from Philadelphia to Baltimore and staying overnight.

We will be heading to D.C. early Saturday morning.

We are coordinating with friends and looking into parking and keeping an eye on the weather.

A few weeks ago when I mentioned the march to some friends, they told me to be careful. “There will be protesters,” someone cautioned in a heavy, serious voice. It was as if they were telling me about something I hadn’t considered like the Beltway getting backed up as early as 3:00.

It was at that moment that I realized that most people have not had to deal with a someone shouting into a megaphone and waiving a sign in their faces and telling them they are going to hell.

Note: If you are gay, this is something that happens to you on a regular basis when you gather with other gay people. Even in 2017.

“I’m a lesbian,” I said. “I’m used to it.”

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Are you going to the Women’s March on Washington? Have you ever been to a march? Have you ever experienced protesters?