Tag Archives: appearance

Pretty

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Me and Dorothy.

“Hi, Pretty,” Dorothy Allison says to me in a southern lilt that could melt three-feet of snow in Philadelphia in February.

I have my book opened to the title page of her memoir and hand it to her to sign.

“You’re another tall one,” she says. Her eyes sparkle.

Allison has just headlined the “Literary Adventures at Sea” program on our Olivia cruise to Alaska where she talked about feminism and lesbian literature and liking the tall butches because they’re fun to climb.

“It’s an honor to meet you,” I say. “I’m a writer, too.” I try to play it cool–Dorothy Allison … no biggie–as butches often do.

When I catch up with W back in our room, she asks how the signing went.

“It’s a good day when Dorothy Allison flirts with you,” I say.

Later, I can’t stop thinking about the word “pretty.” Allison hadn’t used it as an adjective but as a noun.

“Hi, Pretty,” she had said.

I’ve never liked being described as pretty. It always carries with it a feminine connotation.

pretty: “pleasing by delicacy or grace,” the Merriam-Webster definition reads.

I like the concept of pretty as a person or object, especially when the word glides from the lips of Dorothy Allison.

Pretty.

A sunset.

A tree-covered mountaintop.

An eagle soaring in the ice blue Alaskan sky.

A butch still trying to come to terms with her appearance in this pink/blue world of ours.

 

 

 

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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?