Tag Archives: book

Here’s what put the “Fest” in OutFest

Philly PrideI think I’ve finally recovered from OutFest.  If you don’t know, OutFest is the national Coming Out Day block party in Philadelphia.  Tens of thousands of people attend every year.

This year, I paid for a table to promote Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.  I sold books, handed out business cards, talked with anyone who stopped by and raffled off some sweet bowties to people who signed up to follow The Flannel Files.  A big shout out to all of my new followers!

I pretty much broke even after adding up all of my expenses.  But still, it was a beautiful gay day.  And me and W’s anniversary day to boot.

So, here are my top 10 highlights from OutFest:

10. Everyone who stopped by and talked Fun Home the Musical and “Ring of Keys” with me.  You really know how to make a butch’s day.

9. Those people who gave me fist bumps and high fives and said “I respect that” after I gave them the elevator pitch to my book.

8. The woman who wanted her picture taken with me because I had written a book.

7. The mother who wanted to buy her fresh-out-of-the-closet teen daughter the book, but the daughter wanted nothing to do with the book or me. “Buy it for yourself,” I told the mom.  And she did.  God bless you, mom and good luck.

6. All of the butches in all of their ball cap and cargo shorts and spiky hair glory. You are my tribe.  (Silent head nod.)

5. The guy who told me that he liked the cover to my book.  “We should all wear capes,” he said.  Amen, brother.

4. All the bois who read the back of my book, nodding their heads and saying “yep” to growing up tomboy, being called “sir,” etc.

3. Drag queens.

2. Me and W wearing matching “I Love My Wife” buttons and having everyone congratulate us when they learned it was our anniversary. I felt that people were truly happy for us and understood how big a deal it is that we were able to marry.  Marriage is something our community doesn’t take for granted.

1. Dinner out at a Cuban restaurant with family and friends after.  Our friend who married us last Oct. 11 — the “Right Reverend” — toasted us.  And everything came full circle.  And all was right in the world.

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Leaving Normal: An Interview

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.

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).

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

Book stress

My book comes out in about a month.

xx

Me.

I am so stressed that I have a huge cold sore on my face.  Yep.  The motherfucker skipped my lip (apparently, lip cold sores are for sissies) and erupted right there on my face.  I am like that craggy face guy from The Fantastic Four or the Elephant Man.  I can’t be sure as I have been avoiding mirrors and shiny surfaces.

“Don’t look at me, I’m hideous,” I tell W.

I have forbidden her from making direct eye contact with me.

Actually, I think it’s best that everyone refrain from looking at me or even in my direction, at least for a few months, I suggest.

xx

On second thought …

It seemed like a good idea to write a memoir.  Until right before it’s available for purchase.  Then not so great.  Like New Coke.

I am re-thinking my decision not to use my Middle-age Butch alias.  Or my other pen names: I. B. Butch, I.P. Daily (that was me) and Sexy Handsome Beast.

When I am telling W all of this — 1) don’t look at me and 2) pseudonyms rule — she notes that I am smiling a lot for a person on the verge of a memoir-induced psychotic breakdown.

xx

This is me 24/7 these days.

I tell her that’s normal.  Extra smiling = crazy.  Everyone’s seen The Shining, right?

I don’t admit that I’m excited about the book.  I only admit that I’m nervous.

I’m feeling vulnerable and exposed.  I’m worried about what people will say.  I’m worried about being perceived as a freak — a boy-girl mutant, a girl/boy oddity — to those who don’t understand.

W tells me it’s too late to take it all back now.  The wheels have been set in motion.

I try to remind myself why I wrote my story in the first place.  Through the writing process, I learned who I am, as a person and a writer.

But I wasn’t writing for that me.  The today me.  I was writing for the me who existed three or four decades ago.  The young girl who didn’t know she had options.  Who didn’t know gender isn’t carved in stone.  Who didn’t know she could marry a girl.  Or shop exclusively on the left side of The Gap.  And that the world wouldn’t end if she did those things.  In fact, her world would just start beginning.

I try to remember that my story is important.  That all of our big butch stories are important.  (Silent nod.)  That all stories about those who live in the margins and on the fringe are important.  We are underrepresented in literature and largely misunderstood.

I try to remember that I wrote the book for that one person who will recognize herself in the pages and feel not so alone, at least for a few minutes.

That is the power of books and stories and writers.  We read to know that we’re not alone.

I try to remember all of that as I sit here scared and unsure of my words.

What’s in a name?

Name tag

So, you’ve all seen it.  I know you have.

My name.

It’s right there on the cover of my book.

I’ve gone from anonymous blogger to author who shall be named.

Note: Middle-age Butch is not my real name.

I’ve enjoyed blogging anonymously for the past two years.  It allowed me to open up and write about whatever I wanted.  And be more flannel-y and cool than I really am.

But now the jig is up.  And I’m not even Irish.

When I was a kid, I used to hate my name.  It was seven letters long and contained every vowel except “u.”  It rhymed with “Crayola,” kinda.  It was French.  These things do not make for a cool name.

In second grade, my teacher, Mrs. Ruth Dixon, shortened my name to Rae.

I'm like this but butchier

I’m like this but butchier

At about the same time, my grandmother started calling me Rae.  Her favorite movie was The Sound of Music.  I was Rae, or “re,” her drop of golden sun.  So yeah, I’m like a butch Julie Andrews.

And it stuck. Rae.

Not a bad name for someone who gets called “sir.”

It’s one letter away from Ray.

I think I’m just feeling exposed these days, what with my memoir less than three months away from its premiere.

I’ve never had to worry about my family reading my blog.  It was something I did privately.  Under a pseudonym.

I worry about what they will think about the book.

More specifically, I worry that they will be embarrassed by the book.  Not so much by how they are portrayed (this isn’t the lesbian version of Running with Scissors … which would be Running While Scissoring, I believe).  But just by the fact that they have a daughter who sometimes gets mistaken for a man.  Or young boy.  Or Boy Scout.

ElephantWe don’t talk about anything in our family.  I have this great line that didn’t make it into the book: The elephant in the room was our family pet.

So having a book published is like airing our dirty laundry in public.  Even though it’s my dirty laundry.  And yes, those are my boxer briefs thank you very much.

I had thought about publishing the book under a pen name.  Maybe Girl-Who-Hasn’t-Worn-Skirt-Since-Grade-School.  Or Little Flower Stamen-Pistil.  Did I mention that I’m part Cherokee?  But couldn’t come up with a suitable moniker.

I guess I need to adjust to being a little more open and honest.  To putting myself out there.  Not so much with the rest of the world.  But with those who claim to know me best.

Prepare for launch!

Rocket launch

Mark your calendars, folks.

I have an official launch date for my book.

Leaving Normal: Living in the Middle of Boy/Girl comes out June 26.  That’s three short months from today.

So exciting!  So scary!

W and I have just started planning the book launch party.  We’re looking for a local LGBT charity to donate a portion of the profits to.  We considered adopting a softball team, but it would probably involve way too much paperwork.

As far as the book goes, I’m picking out cover art now.  I have it narrowed down to three covers.  I need to make a decision soon but keep changing my mind.  I just got back first edits, which I’m going to comb through this weekend.

It all seems so surreal.  I was updating my blog a few weeks ago and got to cross off “write a book and have it published” from my bucket list.  Such an awesome feeling.  I pounded my chest like Tarzan and actually high-fived myself like a big giant butch dork.

I’m looking ahead to marketing.  Making lists.  Sending out e-mails.  Thinking about press releases, guest blog posts, etc.  Three months will go by really fast.

So, here’s where you come in.  I need your best promotion ideas.  You know me.  Lovable butch with a fondness for flannel.  You know about my book.  A heartwarming tale about a lovable butch with a fondness for flannel.

Pitch me your best book promotion ideas.  Think outside the box.  Because isn’t what this book is all about.  Living outside the box.  Those M/F boxes.  And every other box related to gender.  Get inspired.  Get crazy.  Get butch.

I’ll even make it worth your while.  Best idea wins a free bow tie.

Your pick ... posies or paisley.

Your pick … posies or paisley.

So, get to thinking.  Can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Book review: Freak of Nurture

Freak of Nurture by Kelli DunhamHave you ever felt like a freak?  Well, lesbian comic/writer Kelli Dunham has, and she’s written about some of her freaky life experiences in a new book appropriately called Freak of Nurture.

Full disclosure #1: Kelli very graciously sent me a free copy of her book to check out.

Full disclosure #2: Kelli and I might have been separated at birth, so I should probably alert you to the possibility that we are long lost sisters or brothers or “um whatever” as Kelli would probably say if she was here right now.

Just like me, Kelli often gets mistaken for a dude, and we’ve both been called “faggot” once in our lives.  However, I have never been mistaken for an errant Boy Scout or Macauley Culkin, which makes Kelli Dunham perhaps the greatest butch in the universe.  (I’m thinking that Kelli and I should pitch our own TV series.  Something like “Two and a Half Bois” or “Mad Sh’men.”) 

And just when I thought that I was the only lesbian who ever thought about bedding Sarah Palin, enter Kelli Dunham.

“Ok, Middle-age butch,” you might be saying.  “We get it.  Kelli Dunham is great because she’s just like you.  But why should we read this book?”

Can you guess which is Kelli?

Can you guess which is Kelli?

Well, my Flannel followers, because the book is hysterically funny and brutally honest and poignant and heartbreaking.  Imagine a book penned by someone channeling Ellen Degeneres, Abe Lincoln, Mother Teresa and the Bronte sisters.  All at the same time.

And here’s the thing.  I am a total snob when it come to literature.  I have a degree in English, I make my living as a writer, and I don’t have enough free time to read books that aren’t up to my personal standards.  Freak of Nurture easily passed my test.

Some highlights:

  • Being “sir ma’amed.”
  • Creating a new gender identity of “um whatever.”
  • Teaching a nun how to masturbate.
  • Advising readers not to respond to requests to pass the potatoes at the family dinner table with “Yes Mistress,” even if that is your typical response in your own home.

The book has its serious moments, too.  Kelli has lost two partners to cancer, performed volunteer work in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and spent some time as a nun.  These chapters are raw and heartbreaking, but Kelli manages to find small touches of humor in these moments of devastation.

As Kelli says, “What doesn’t kill us makes us funnier.”  And that, my friends, is the central theme of this beautiful and brilliant book.

You can find out more about the book here, including how to order your very own shiny copy, and link to Kelli’s Freak of Nurture blog.