Tag Archives: LGBT

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.)

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Who do you need to thank for your coming out?

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Girls with guns

W and I are watching Wynonna Earp.

In one episode at the end of season one, there’s a pair of sinister twins.

“Sinister twins are my secret fantasy?” I tell W.

“I bet they are,” she says.

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It’s true. I’m an #Earper.

And then before we know it, the Earp homestead is under attack, and Wynonna and her sister Willa are busting out of the barn with guns ablazing to save the day.

They pick off the bad guys one by one. Blam! Blam! Blam!

W and I cheer and then we both make a heh, heh, heh noise, which translates to good lord that was hot.

And then I start thinking about the overall hotness of girls and guns. What is it about that combo?

I’m pro girl but anti gun.

Put the two together and it’s a totally different ballgame.

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Xena, I miss you.

I should clarify. It doesn’t need to a be a gun. Some other bad ass weapon will work like a sword, for example (see Xena: Warrior Princess).

What is it about bad ass women?

I’m talking Charlize in Atomic Blonde, Uma in Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, Carrie in Star Wars, Linda in The Terminator.

Do we want them? Or do we want be them?

Are we living vicariously through them? Pretending that we, too, have the power to eliminate our enemies or correct an injustice with one shot from Peacemaker?

I can’t help but notice that most of the bad guys are, well, guys.

Is every TV bad guy a stand-in for men who put us in boxes and tell us to smile? Men who are boys and will always be boys. Men who got but never gave.

Does every bad guy represent sexism or the patriarchy or the system? The boys club or the locker room? Those things that hold us down and push us back and tell us we’re not good enough, never were and never will be.

Is that why we get a charge out of seeing them taken down by a woman after all and in such dramatic fashion?

Or are girls with guns simply hot?

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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?

 

 

Is there such a thing as too gay?

MyMotherSaysDrumsAreForBoysI ponder that question on a guest blog on the awesome Women and Words.

Read all about it here.

If you leave a comment, you’ll have a chance to win a copy of my new book.

Or just go ahead and buy a copy. You know you want to.

 

 

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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

The big cover reveal

Drum roll please …

So excited to share this with everyone:

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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!

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What were you told was only for boys or girls?