Category Archives: Gay & Lesbian

Happy #ButchAppreciationDay

imagesI hope you have someone in your life who:

Likes to run her hands over your slick-as-velvet head after you get your hair cut real short.

Calls you “baby.”

Tells you she gets turned on when you wear that ball cap backward. You know the one.

Likes when your necktie matches her dress.

Rubs your back when you’ve pulled a muscle.

Thinks every flannel shirt you own makes your eyes shine.

Is okay with you wearing your “dressy” T-shirt to that event you’re going to.

Tells you you’re cute and you believe it, even though you’ve never felt cute a day in your life.

Is the yin to your yang.

Asks you what you’d like her to wear when you’re going out on a date.

Still flirts with you regardless of the fact that you’ve been together for more than a decade.

Traces your scars (the ones you can see and the ones you can’t) with her fingertips when you’re lying in bed at night.

Makes you feel like a rockstar, even though you don’t play any instruments.

Tells you your tattoos are sexy.

Appreciates the hell out of you. Not despite those things that make you you but because of them.

* * *

I posted this a year ago. It still holds true.

A big silent head nod to all of my fellow butches on our special day. I’m going to have a drink and toast to you all tonight. Cheers!

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The butch is back

So, it’s been a while. Remember me?

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Gratuitous picture of one of my cats.

I’ve been busy with life. Kids and cats. The wife. But mostly life. Ups and downs.

I know, it’s no excuse. You felt abandoned. I hear you, and I’m sorry.

The real reason I haven’t posted in almost three months is because I’ve been thinking about this blog and whether it still suits me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my posts and the many on-line relationships I’ve formed through The Flannel Files.

The Flannel Files was the start of so many good things for me. It was my entry into writing and, in many ways, the lesbian community.

I was looking for my voice, and I found it.

At the time, I needed to blog anonymously. I wasn’t strong enough or confident enough to write under my own name. I didn’t know who I was as a writer and was still figuring out where I fit in the LGBTQIA alphabet. I was vulnerable (never, ever repeat this) and needed to wrap myself in flannel-forged armor.

I’m not the same person.

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You know you have 1. Or 3.

I have a new book launching in a few days, and I’m figuring out my intentions for that book. I’m deciding how I want to move forward with my writing. And how I want to move forward as a butch lesbian in a world in which we’re about as rare as a lesbian who doesn’t own a caribiner.

So, this isn’t farewell.

If I do end up leaving The Flannel Files, I’ll give you a proper goodbye. Maybe not a hug but a firm handshake and a silent head nod directed at all the butches out there.

And of course, I’ll hold the door open for the femmes before I close it shut.

Because I owe you all so much. These words are mine, but you’ve read them so gently and with such an open and generous heart.

MyMotherSaysDrumsAreForBoysBefore I get too teary (butches don’t cry, their eyes sweat), I want to plug my new book, My Mother Says Drums Are for Boys: True Stories for Gender Rebels. The e-book is available now for pre-order and will be available for sale on Aug. 1. The print book will be available a few days after that.

Buy it and read a letter from me to my mullet, instructions on how to be an Amazon and a list of songs I was obsessed with that should have alerted me to the fact that I liked girls way back in the day.

“Hot for Teacher” anyone?

 

 

 

Buzz cut

IMG_2316 (1)So, I did this a few weeks ago. The annual warm weather purge of old hair.

The quiet, steady buzz of the razor, a no. 2, removing most of what was. Chopping down the old strands of brown as if they were trees impeding new construction.

My head now sleek and aerodynamic like a red rocketship.

I’m ready to launch myself to a new place where no one knows my name.

* * *

Post script:

For the first, two weeks I wear a baseball cap and marvel at how well a cap fits on a freshly buzzed head.

IMG_2333Now, it’s at that weird in-between phase I call “the Sluggo.”

Sometimes I wonder why I got my hair cut so short in the first place.

But most times, I focus on the way my hair feels like velvet on the back of my head and how it dries after a shower with a quick shake of my head.

And how the cosmic wind will feel cool and powerful on my bare head as I soar between the interstellar dust clouds and try to swallow the stars.

* * *

Have you gotten your summer ‘do yet?

 

Love birds

downloadOn my way home from my writers group, I saw two black crows by the side of the road. Giant crows with blue-black feathers and full, rounded breasts.

As they walked around inspecting the ground, each held a mouthful of dried straw, wild and tangled like a pile of fried noodles. No doubt, they were building a nest.

I smiled thinking about how nice it is to have a partner in life. Someone to share a cold gray March day. Someone to help build a cozy nest.

Today’s feelings: happy, grateful

* * *

What makes you happy these days? What are you grateful for? 

A visit from the butch patrol

The other day, someone left a comment on this blog’s “About This Butch” page. She informed me that it was impossible for me to be a butch because I had been married to a man and had had a child with him.

Stop “appropriating” the word “butch,” she ordered me. images (1)As if she had the authority to do so. As if she owned the word “butch” and got a royalty every time someone used the term. Or was in charge of deciding who can be a butch and who can’t, perhaps based on some scale that takes into consideration how many pairs of cargo pants a person owns, if they’ve ever played softball and whether they drink Earl Gray tea.

download (1)Not too long ago, I wanted to be a gold star lesbian pretty much more than anything in the world. (Well, not as much as being Olivia Newton-John’s dance partner in the Shake Shack at the musical number at the end of Grease.)

I’m a work in progress, but I’m learning to accept my journey. That’s what makes me who I am. Or at least that’s what they say.

This might be what most makes me a butch:

I didn’t bloom like a flower.

I cracked myself open like a geode.

And took a risk that everything I had hidden deep inside would shine.

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Interview with the author of Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home

Happy Friday! I’ve got a special treat for you.

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This is Lara Lillibridge. She likes Joan Jett and writing memoir and people who resist the binary.

Last year, I was at a creative nonfiction conference and met Lara Lillibridge, and we became instant BFFs. Well, we didn’t actually meet at the conference, but I did hear her read from her book, Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home. And immediately tweeted her about wanting to read her book.

Anyway, I suppose that’s how introverts interact at conferences. Writers, am I right?

The BFF thing is totally true though.

Here’s something else that’s true–Lara’s book totally rocks. Like Joan Jett, who we both adore. See, I told you we’re BFFs.

In a nutshell, Girlish is Lara’s memoir about growing up in a house with a lesbian mom and lesbian step-mom. It’s both hilarious and heartbreaking. Inventively told from the point of view of Girl, Girlish reads like a fairy tale that has gone horribly awry. You’ll find yourself rooting for Girl and a happily-ever-after ending. You’ll have to read the book to find out if she gets one.

Girlish_final coverGirlish confronts such timely topics as feminism, mental illness and gender roles and stereotypes. It’s a must read, not only for gay and lesbian parents and their children, but anyone who has ever struggled with finding their own place in this strange world.

You can pre-order Girlish here.

If you have questions or comments for Lara, please leave them below.

And now, The Flannel Files interview with Lara Lillibridge:

FF: Many Flannel Files followers are lesbian parents. From your personal experience, what was it like growing up with lesbian parents (a lesbian mom and lesbian step-mom)? Best part? Worst part?

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So much toast with sugar.

LL: I’m asked this a lot, and you’d think I’d have a good short answer prepared by now, but I don’t. The truth is, day-to-day life was mostly eating toast with sugar, going to school, eating toast with sugar, playing in the backyard, eating more toast with sugar. Our family only seemed different when we encountered other people.  Being bullied for having lesbian moms was definitely the worst part of it, though I wasn’t exactly a trend-setter fashion-wise anyway. I suspect I would have been bullied regardless, but there is something special about being bullied about your sexual orientation, or your parents’ sexual orientation.

I think as an adult one thing I appreciate is how I don’t have the same built-in stereotypes about queer people that many people—including many queer people—have. Sure, I got fed the same societal BS everyone is fed, but it was countered by my parents and our community of lesbian friends. So I don’t have any of that negative judgement ingrained in me that so many people fight against.

FF: You write about being raised to defy the norms of society. Was this a good or bad thing? How does how you were raised seep into who you are today?

LL: First of all I didn’t exactly choose to be different. I wasn’t necessarily being defiant as much as oblivious. I’d like to think of myself as bravely going against popular opinion, but it wasn’t the case. Left to my own devices, I don’t know how defiant I would have been. Yet, there was more good that came of it, I think. To this day, I have trouble understanding why people get all caught up in what other people think, particularly about sexuality and gender, outside of safety issues. I had a lot of repercussions for being different, but living through the experience gave me the certainty that I can take it and keep going.

FF: How have your experiences affected your own parenting style?

LL: I totally shelter my children as much as possible—pretty much the opposite of how I was raised. I suspect the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle, but I’m not there yet.

FF: I’m curious about the title of your book, Girlish. You refer to yourself in the book as “Girl,” so why the title Girlish?

LL: The original title was Girl, and when I was working on the cover design I did a google search to see what books it would be listed near on Amazon. Much to my chagrin, there was another memoir titled Girl with a gorgeous cover similar to the original look I was going for. My critique partner suggested Girlish as a play on both being girly and not-quite a girl at the same time.

FF: What are you watching these days (TV or movies)? Who’s your Hollywood (or non-Hollywood) crush?

LL: I’m currently watching Jessica Jones, Sneaky Pete, Madam Secretary and Designated Survivor. I’m a binge watcher, so I tend to eat through online series as quickly as possible.

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Sara Ramirez as Kat with the shaved head on Madam Secretary

Crushes…I should give a disclaimer that personality colors how I see people, and since I don’t know these people IRL, they might be total shit balls and then I wouldn’t see them the same way anymore. But if we’re talking just a physical beauty kind of crush, I recently discovered this model named Tzef Montana who is gorgeous. I kind of have a thing for Sara Ramirez, but only as Kat with the shaved head on Madam Secretary—not as the long-haired Callie in Grey’s Anatomy. I like people who resist the binary.

FF: If you could make one law, what would it be?

LL: I meant to say something cute about all people being given kinkajous to carry around, but the school shootings and overall gun violence has so broken my heart that it has to be addressed. While I have some ideas, I’d really like to form a brain trust to attack the issue from multiple angles. It’s bigger than just one law.

FF: Who are the authors who have inspired and influenced you? Who are you reading these days?

LL: I’d like to have a retreat with Jeanette Winterson, Lidia Yuknavitch, Maggie Nelson, and Jenny Boully. I’d just sit at their feet and eat cookies and listen to them talk amongst themselves.

FF: I would be right there with you but with a bag of cheese curls.

LL: I’m currently reading an ARC of the novel THE ONES WE CHOOSE by Julie Clark that is scheduled for release May 8, 2018. It’s a great story about an intentionally single mother and is filled with all sorts of scientific stuff that makes me feel smart and fills me with wonder for the natural world. Check out this line, “…mtDNA does not combine with genes inherited from your other parent but is passed on, whole to you. It will live inside of you—the story of your mother, and her mother, and all the mothers who came before.” That gave me goosebumps.

I’m also reading MODERN GIRLS by Jennifer Brown with my mother. My mother and I have had a strained relationship as my memoir’s release date got closer, so she and I are doing this family book club thing where we are both reading this book simultaneously so we can talk about the characters instead of talking about our family.

FF: What’s your next project? 

LL: I have a zillion projects going on.

I’m about ready to shop my second memoir, Mama, Mama, Only Mama! It’s a humorous book about parenting after divorce, and encompasses my six years as a single mother and our transition into cohabitating with my SigO, who never had children.

I also have a series of children’s books I’m working on about my moms’ travel adventures. I think kids need books with queer characters that aren’t supposed to be life lessons in diversity, but rather are interesting books who just happen to have queer people in them.

I’m working on a draft of a novel that explores sexual mores and gender, but that’s sort of on the back burner at the moment while I figure out how to become better at writing fiction.

Lastly, I’m writing a story just for my family that I read to my kids every night at bedtime. They are interested in my career as a writer, but are too young to read Girlish, so I wanted them to have something they could be vested in—they are my first readers, and they like to give me advice about the plot and characters, though I don’t always take it. I still hate to be told what to do.

The big cover reveal

Drum roll please …

So excited to share this with everyone:

MyMotherSaysDrumsAreForBoys

That’s right, it’s the cover for my second book!

(Oh, the irony of that call for a drum roll.)

Can’t wait for you all to read these new stories about butchness and being a gender rebel. You’ll have to wait for August, if everything goes as planned, but I promise it will be worth it.

For now, you can check out my Author’s Page at Regal Crest.

Look for more book-related news to come, but I’ve been bursting to share this super bad ass cover.

Someday, I hope to be as cool as my book covers.

Happy Monday!

Manuscript update and special request

Hey there Flannel Filers!

I’ve been so busy working on my new manuscript that I fear I’ve neglected you.

How are you? Don’t be like that. You know I love you.

Anyway, more about me.

My new book is called “My Mother Says Drums Are for Boys.” It’s a collection of stories and other musings about gender, coming out and, of course, living as a butch.

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Thumbs up to you, too, Amy!

I write about Joan Jett, Janet Jackson and which is the better Indigo Girl to name drop on a first date. Amy Ray. The answer is Amy Ray.

In my book, I’d like to include a list of things people have been told are only for boys (or girls). The color pink, unicorns, G.I. Joe action figures …

Like the title of my book says, my mother told me drums are for boys, and I  still feel the sting of that 40 years later.

Have a great weekend, everyone! And thanks for your help!

* * *

What were you told was only for boys or girls?

 

 

 

A Christmas miracle flannel style

‘Twas perhaps the merriest Christmas of all for Flannel Santa had run out on Christmas Eve to buy a few extra gifts for the kiddos.

You see, Flannel Santa had been struck by the Christmas Spirit and had extra cash to burn.

Of course, Flannel Santa bought new flannel shirts for the lads.

A belt and hat for one, a leather wallet for another.

And 12 packs of Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew for all.

On Christmas Day, the youth wore their shiny new flannel shirts.

So, soft and warm! they exclaimed.

And Flannel Santa beamed with pride.

The day couldn’t get any better.

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I’ve got one hand in my pocket … because my flannel shirt has pockets!!

But then Flannel Santa reached into the sack-o-Santa stuff and pulled out one last gift. One last flannel shirt.

The shirt was red and black checked. Perfect for Christmas Day.

Thick and warm and as soft as Sofia Vergara’s hair.

The shirt fit Flannel Santa like a glove (except it was a shirt).

And Flannel Santa smiled.

But ho, ho, ho, what was this?

Pockets? In a flannel shirt?

Pockets!

Pockets!

Pockets!

It was a Christmas miracle—a flannel shirt with pockets. Which made this the merriest Christmas of all!

* * *

Here’s hoping your Christmas was filled with surprises. And perhaps a new flannel shirt with or without pockets, if that’s your jam.

How I decided to not be a Grinch this year

“Let’s not get a Christmas tree this year,” I say to W. “We’re too busy to get one and set it up. The kids won’t enjoy it, because they never come out of their rooms. Plus, we can save the $100.”

“Oh,” she says in a quiet voice. “This might be the last Christmas we have in our house with the kids.”

But her voice is soft so I know I’ve won. No traveling to the Christmas tree farm, overpaying for a tree, lugging it home and into the house. No making sure it’s perfectly straight, stringing the lights, placing the ornaments just so and yelling at the cats to get the hell out of the goddamn tree. No boxing up the decorations and dragging the tree to the curb some weekend in January when the branches have started to droop and vacuuming pine needles for weeks and weeks and weeks, even though the tree has been long gone and is now barely a memory of Christmas past.

downloadI rub my hands together and smile a big smile.

I feel a little bit bad. But I’m busy. So busy. With work. And other things. My manuscript is due in January and I’m freaking out. I haven’t written a blog post in for-ev-er.

Three days before Christmas, I start feeling a tad more bad.

Because W deserves better. She deserves a Christmas tree.

So when she is out for the evening, my son and I drive to a nursery and get a tree like we used to do in the old days, pre-W.

All of the trees are $45. My son wants a Charlie Brown tree, but I’m paying so I pick out a not too big, not too small tree with a straight spine.

imagesShe’s tall and slim with excellent posture like Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.

“It’s not going to fit in our car,” my son says.

“It’ll fit in the trunk,” I say. “Don’t you remember how we used to carry our trees in the trunk of our car.”

He says he doesn’t. He always says he doesn’t remember.

The kid at the nursery binds the tree and starts jamming it in the trunk of my Nissan Altima. He looks a little like the Grinch shoving Cindy Lou Who’s tree up the chimney for repair.

Hela barely fits in the trunk of my car. My son and I smile big goofy smiles at each other as the kid struggles with the tree. His smile saying see I told you. My smile saying see I told you, too.

On the way home, my son says we should have saved the $45.

“It’s a waste of time and money,” he says. “It’s going to take you two or three hours to get it set up.”

“One or one and a half,” I correct him. “But that’s not the point. It will make W happy,” I say.

I don’t tell him my secret wish for him. That I hope someday he has someone in his life who is worth such expense and bother.

He shrugs his shoulders.

“Plus, I got to pick out a tree with you,” I add.

At home, he helps me put the tree in the stand.

He doesn’t want to cut the plastic netting and watch the tree spread its arms or help string the lights or put on the star like he used to. He’s 18 not 8, and I ache for those 10 years.

IMG_2164I take my time and wind three strands of lights around Hela. When I’m done, I pull the lights to the front of the branches, the way W likes them.

Next, I put on the string of purple beads that W always had on her tiny tree in her Philadelphia apartment. Back then, I thought it was a strange—purple beads on a Christmas tree. Now, our tree doesn’t seem complete without them.

I place the silver star on the highest branch. A gold star below it.

The silver star was the one W always placed on her tree. The gold star was the one my son and used to decorate our tree.

When the kids were young, they would fight over which star we should use. We always used both to keep the peace. Now, it’s tradition.

I wait up for W, admiring my handiwork: a skinny tree with lights and purple beads and a silver star and a gold star.

“Oh,” she says when she comes home.

“I was going to ask you if we could get a tree,” she says.

“I’m sorry I’m such a Grinch,” I say. “I don’t mean to be.”

I kiss her.

“I know,” she says. “But you usually come around.”

She cries a tiny bit.

download (1).jpgAnd I feel good. Like my heart has grown three sizes today.

* * *

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

(Especially you Grinches out there! You know who you are!)