Tag Archives: humor

Gender musings

IMG_2991I took my cat to the vet for a wellness check this week. Her name is Magic the Cat and she is nine years old and she is beautiful and she is my best friend.

“Hello, tiny man,” the vet said to Magic, who is obviously a tiny lady cat.

She called Magic a “tiny man” two times.

This was worrisome on multiple levels because Magic is a girl and a cat and not a man at all and where did this vet study veterinary medicine?

Perhaps projecting my own feelings about being misgendered onto Magic, I was too embarrassed to correct the vet.

They who?

I got “they’d” a few weeks ago.

I was waiting in line at Petco. Another register opened up. The cashier waved over the woman standing behind me.

“They were here first,” she said, motioning to me.

It felt weird. Not bad. Just weird.

IMG_2972Gender Memoirs

I have a story in a new book, Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity published by Columbia University Press.

It’s an essential read if you’re curious about gender and everything associated with that six letter word. These stories will make you laugh and cry and re-think everything you thought you knew about gender.

I found myself identifying with many of the stories. Especially this feeling of invisibility that so many of the contributors write about, as well as a constant questioning of one’s other-ness. Am I trans enough? is a question that comes up in many of these stories, as well as a section of the book.

My takeaway is that gender is overrated and you should live your life in a way that makes you happy. Whatever that looks like.

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Cue the Charlie’s Angels theme song.

I mean, who doesn’t love Cheryl Ladd?

I did a book reading a month ago or so at a local LGBTQ center. It was mostly attended by a bunch of older lesbians who fully appreciated all of my Charlie’s Angels references. (After the reading, one person shared that she came out to her mother by explaining she was in love with Cheryl Ladd. We all nodded our heads. Us, too, Cheryl. Us, too.)

After the event, a woman who identified as butch approached me and asked if she could ask me a personal question. Basically, she was questioning whether she qualifies as trans and whether her life would be easier if she allowed herself to accept a trans identity. She wanted to know if I felt the same.

I have.

I’m still figuring myself out.

I’m not a “he.” And “they” feels wrong.

In fact, I don’t really like “she” or “her.” They just seem more socially acceptable in my case.

Butch is seen by some as its own gender, and that has resonated with me for the past decade or so.

I’d rather be called handsome than pretty.

Boi has a nice ring to it.

I have a Pretty Boi tee that makes me happy.

I try not to worry so much. The only thing I really know is that who we are is constantly changing and evolving. If we allow it to.

I always come back to this quote by Herman Melville from Moby Dick:

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

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How about you?

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The Flannel Files is Dyking Out

CoverArt (1)The Flannel Files has a new obsession (besides Bryce Harper, Captain Marvel and my new Instant Pot).
It’s a podcast called Dyking Out hosted by New York City-based comedians Carolyn Bergier and Sarah York.
You had me at Dyke, Carolyn and Sarah.
On each weekly episode, Carolyn and Sarah invite a guest to “dyke out” with them about a topic relevant to the LGBTQ world. But if you ask them, it’s really just another way to advance the gay agenda.
Dyking Out is smart and fun and bingeable, much like a canister of Pringles. And very, very queer. So, yeah, think gay, rainbow Pringles, which really should be a thing. Call me, Kellogg’s. It’s the perfect podcast to listen to when you’re using your Instant Pot, driving to a dyke march, browsing online for a new pair of sneakers … oh heck, it’s the perfect podcast to listen to when you’re doing pretty much anything.
Carolyn & Sarah photo by Jenni Walkowiak 2

Please note, Carolyn and Sarah passed our flannel test prior to this interview.

The Flannel Files is riding a streak of good luck these days. The Phillies are 4-1 and I had an opportunity to chat with Carolyn and Sarah about Dyking Out. Here’s what they had to say:

Flannel Files: There are so many podcasts out there today. Why should folks tune into Dyking Out?
Dyking Out: Anyone who wants to take a break from heteronormative content and have a good laugh while learning something new about queer living will get just that out of Dyking Out with us. Also, our guests get to talk about topics that they normally aren’t asked about or don’t get to dive into on other podcasts, so I think we offer up some pretty diverse perspectives and unique content.
FF: In the show’s description, you talk about advancing the “gay agenda.” How do you define gay agenda?
DO: The gay agenda to us is taking the shame that societal norms, religion, and conservatism has instilled in LGBTQIA people and replacing it with joy and pride. We do that by inviting people in the community to share their truth, from struggles to triumphs and everything in between, so that our listeners can hear relatable stories that help them feel less alone or othered.
FF: I heard you scored Rosie O’Donnell as a guest on an upcoming podcast to be recorded during Pride Week. Who else is on your dream guest list?
DO: Our dream guest is really anyone with a perspective different than ours with whom we can have a fun/funny conversation. Some of our favorite episodes have been with people who have very little name recognition. But also Wanda Sykes, Samira Wiley, Ellen Page, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Abbi Jacobson, Leisha Hailey, Desiree Ahkavan, Lena Waithe, Alanis Morissette, Gillian Anderson … not that this is something we think about constantly.
FF: What are you listening to and watching these days?
DO: Most recently I watched that Queer Eye episode with Jess, the rad lesbian in Kansas City. (I don’t usually watch the show.) I cried a lot. I’ve been listening to Sir Babygirl and also revisiting Tracy Bonham’s “The Burdens of Being Upright.” I just met her at one of Jill Sobule’s shows, and she wants to play our show at Stonewall sometime! Sarah’s re-watching The L Word from the beginning, and also watching anything BUT Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
FF: That episode of Queer Eye is a real tear jerker. I mean, if a butch like me ever cried. So, let’s get really personal. Who’s your celebrity crush?
DO (Carolyn): It’s always changing for me but right now, Gillian Anderson for sure.
DO (Sarah): Kyrsten Sinema
FF: You’re stranded on a desert island. What three things stored in the pockets of your cargo pants keep you sane?
DO (Carolyn): A notebook, a pen and sunscreen
DO (Sarah): A charged cellphone and two power banks to re-charge it.
FF: On The Flannel Files, we talk a lot about lesbian stereotypes. What’s the most stereotypical thing about you?
DO (Carolyn): I’m legit grossed out by 95% of men. The sound of a man snorting back his snot triggers a very unpleasant, visceral reaction in me. I briefly had a male roommate and just hearing the force of his stream when he peed made me cringe.
DO (Sarah): My favorite thing I own is my leather jacket, and I want a motorcycle to complete the aesthetic.
CarolynSarahFF: Speaking of stereotypes, who’s the butch and who’s the femme?
DO: When we go to H&M, Sarah shops in the men’s section and I only look at lady suits.
FF: What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
DO (Carolyn): In college, I made out with a lot of men to score free drinks because I hated being at straight bars and that was my way of coping.
DO (Sarah): People are always shocked to learn that I was in a sorority
FF: You’re both from New York City. What are a couple of queer things to do in the Big Apple?
DO: Dyke out with us the last Monday of every month at our stand-up comedy show at Stonewall! Also, there are SO many queer things going on. There’s a happy hour meetup called C U Next Tuesday at 3 Dollar Bill in Brooklyn, there’s Switch N Play, a queer burlesque collective that performs at branded saloon.
* * *
Listen to Dyking Out on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify and follow on Patreon, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You won’t regret it.
* * *
What are you dyking out over these days?

 

Praying to Saint Bryce

I’ve been in a funk lately.

Not the good kind of funk like Prince’s “Housequake” or Rick James’ “Superfreak.”

But the other kind.

Let me put it another way. My mood has been Orange Is the New Black, Season 5, which everyone knows is the darkest of all six seasons.

I haven’t been blogging or doing any other kind of writing. I haven’t been doing much at all, besides watching cooking shows. For some reason, I find them comforting.

IMG_3004The Phillies had their home opener yesterday.

I lit a candle like I do every year and prayed to the baseball gods.

This year, I prayed to Saint Bryce, the saint of the long ball and beautiful hair. W bought me this overpriced Bryce Harper candle the last time we were in the city.

I asked Number 3 to help power the Phillies to a winning season. And also asked for some hair-styling tips. I mean have you seen the magnificent head of hair on this guy?

It is truly glorious, said the envious butch.download

What do Bryce Harper’s hair and opening day have in common? Both are magical.

Opening day is a fresh start. With 162 games in front of you, anything is possible.

As I watched the candle burn and stared into Bryce’s intense steel blue eyes, I felt a little lighter and a little brighter.

IMG_3006P.S. I ordered these custom Nike Air Force 1s to match my baby blue Phillies cap with the heather gray brim. They are so beautiful that I cry each time I take them out of the box and hold them.

* * *

Are you a baseball fan? How did your team fare on opening day?

I Want to Be with You Everywhere

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Yes, I was wearing a flannel shirt.

W and I were in Atlantic City for the weekend.

We spent about five minutes in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino before we were overwhelmed by the grandness of it all. The lights, the bling, the music, the noise. We stood there in the lobby like a pair of lesbian Country Mice lost in the big city. 

After checking in, we retired to our fancy room, splurged on room service and then headed out to a Fleetwood Mac concert. That’s why we were in town. Fleetwood Mac was the last band on my concert bucket list.

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The OG (Original Gypsy).

At 70, Stevie Nicks still has it. She was decked out in a raven black dress and black fringed shaw, clutched a tambourine in one hand and even executed her trademark triple twirl at the end of “Gypsy.”

The band was in fine form and played all its hits.

Mike Campbell from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn from Crowded House stood in for Lindsey Buckingham, who is not touring with the rest of the band. Fleetwood Mac celebrated Tom Petty in one of its encore songs by playing “Freefall” while a montage of Petty photographs, many of which showed him playing alongside Nicks, played on the big screen.

After the concert, W and I went out for a nice pasta dinner. We ended the night by grabbing some gelato and heading back up to our hotel room. A.C. was just starting to heat up, but what can I say? It was past our bedtime.

The next morning, W found a nice spot for breakfast, and we ate eggs by the bay before heading home.

It was a short getaway, but I feel rested and rejuvenated and in love with my wife.

 

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The butch had a birthday

il_1588xN.1657769796_4smlI’m another year older and another year wiser.

I enjoyed a low-key birthday celebration with my beautiful wife, who agreed to see a movie about the world of professional wrestling with me. Now that’s what I call true love.

We capped our night out with dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

W was up last night with heartburn, and I suffered the consequences of eating leftover Mexican food for breakfast. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I’m questioning whether I really am any wiser than I was last year.

W got me some thoughtful gifts:

A little red flask.

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An RBG jersey:

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Plus, tickets for a concert featuring rock goddess Joan Jett.

Looks like this butch made out like a bandit because all I really wanted was to spend the day with my wife.

Mood: content.

 

 

 

 

With thanks on National Coming Out Day

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Just this giant tub of popcorn. Oh, and these three lesbian films.

Thank you to the clerks at my local Blockbuster store who rented me all of those lesbian movies when I was trying to figure out if I was a lesbian. You were always kind and professional and never gave me a sideways glance, even when I rented When Night Is Falling two times in a row for, ahem, “research.”

Thanks to Melissa Etheridge for her 2001 memoir The Truth Is … that I read and re-read when I was coming out. And for the album Yes I am, which turned 25 this year. If Melissa could announce to the world on the cover of an album that she was, I knew I could tell the people in my life that I was, too.

Thanks to the Indigo Girls. Along with Melissa, you provided the soundtrack to my coming out. Rites of Passage was so aptly named.

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I still love you, Jess. Always and forever.

Thank you to Jessica Stein. I was coming out in real life when you were coming out in the movie Kissing Jessica Stein, even though you weren’t really gay and ended up with the guy at the end. Helen was super sexy. What were you thinking? Anyway, when I was sitting in the movie theater with my Raisinets and newfound knowledge, it was like we were both coming out together.

Thank you to my therapist who organized coming out groups for women married to men. I thought I was the only one in the world. And to all of those women who participated in those groups. It was an honor to come out alongside you.

Thanks to Sisters, the lesbian bar in Philadelphia, that provided a safe meeting place for people like me. And the cute bartender who always called me “hon.” (Yes, I know she called everyone “hon.”)

Thanks to Ellen and Billie Jean and Martina and k.d. and Rosie.

Thank you to my brother who told me he just wanted me to be happy. Seemingly small words that I still remember to this day.

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I’m gay! What are you going to do about it?

Thanks to Xena: Warrior Princess, who I caught in reruns that summer. I drew my warrior strength from you. Aieeeeee!

Thank you to my friends who just nodded their heads. “Of course,” they all said.

And to my wife, who has to come out again and again because she’s not a butch like me. You do it with such grace and aplomb.

Thank you to all who came out before me and paved the way. The life I live today is possible because of you.

To everyone in my life who accepts me for who I am, you allow me to be myself every single day. You might not think you’re making a difference, but you are.

Happy National Coming Out Day!

(This post is an edited version of something I posted back in 2016.)

* * *

Who do you need to thank for your coming out?

Love and salad

imagesW and I celebrate our wedding anniversary today.

We agreed not to get each other anything.

I plan to pick up a small cake and Olive Garden takeout as a surprise. W loves Olive Garden.

We’ll probably watch something on TV. Maybe the next episode of Wynonna Earp.

Nothing fancy. Just comfortable.

We’ll eat our dinner and watch a show.

W will let me raid her salad for all of the toppings she doesn’t like–onions, black olives and pepperoncini–and place them on my own. Hey, I’m Italian.

I’ll think about how lucky I am. All of those extra salad goodies every single time.

And how I’ve found my perfect match.

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Why are you and your partner a perfect match?

 

 

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?

 

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.