Tag Archives: Melissa Etheridge

Gratitude (#NationalComingOutDay)


Just these three lesbian movies please and a pack of microwave popcorn.

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 never batted an eye, even when I rented When Night Is Falling two times in a row for “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. If you could announce to the world on the cover of an album that you were, 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. Somebody bring me some water. Please.


I still love you, Jessica Stein.

Thank you to Jessica Stein. I was coming out in real life when you were coming out in your 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.


Xena, you are a badass babe.

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.

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

Thanks to everyone in my life who accepts me for who I am and gives me the courage to be myself every single day.

Happy National Coming Out Day!

* * *

Who do you need to thank for your coming out?


The starting is the hardest part

I didn’t want to get up this morning. I mean, I had gotten up yesterday morning. Two days in a row seemed like a lot. Like I would be pushing myself too hard.

From my supine position, I balled my hand into a fist and raised it in the air like the angry lesbian I can sometimes be.

Why does my life have to be so hard? I cried. Life is so unfair!

It was like I was at a Melissa Etheridge concert with my raised fist and hot words. Somebody bring me some water!  My mind’s a burnin’ hell! Except I was lying in bed in my comfiest flannel lounge pants and a thermal shirt.

And then I got a shower. And put on clothes. And grabbed a quick breakfast.

I went to my writers group.

It felt good to participate in life.

Sometimes I have to force myself to get out of bed. To go through the motions. To put one foot in front of the other. To have faith that everything is going to be ok. Today was one of those days.

My default is to stay in bed buried under the covers. It’s like a giant womb in there but much drier.

If I’m ever missing, you’ll know that’s where I am.

I had this mousepad made a week or so ago. I try to remember this right before I start writing or before I have to do something else that feels scary.

* * *

What about you? How do you get up when you’re feeling down?

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).

Riding the rollercoaster

Rainbow decalI am a moody butch.  Have been since I was a teenager holed up in my bedroom with the rainbow decals on the windows and a Joan Jett album playing on the record player.

When I was in my twenties, I was prescribed Prozac for the first time.  I spent more than a decade taking the white-and-green capsules.

Since being diagnosed with major depression, I have always been acutely aware of my mood.

I let myself have off days.  I will stay in bed watching old professional wrestling footage and seeking solace from Ben, Jerry and Little Debbie.

I try not to let one off day morph into two.  On day three, I will force myself to get up and shower and at least try to be a productive human being.

Lately, I’ve been riding a high from the book (which comes out in one two three four five six seven days not like I’m counting or anything).  So many good things have been happening.  It’s all so heady and exciting!  Like a Melissa Etheridge concert.

Problem is I can’t seem to maintain that high.

As high as I feel one day, I feel that low the next.

It’s like riding a rollercoaster.  I’m not a big fan of rollercoasters.

Becoming me, un-becoming other stuff

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything.  Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”

— Unknown

I scribbled this quote on a post-it note a few months ago.  It struck a chord and then got buried in the pile of paper that lives on my desk.

Blank slateI used to think we are all blank slates at birth and that life writes on those slates with chalk and Sharpie markers and spray paint and whatever other art supplies the universe has at the ready.

Now, I’m pretty sure we start out as fully formed works of art buried in blocks of marble.  Life is all about chipping away at that block until we are revealed, perfect, beautiful, glorious.  The way we had been all along.

Yesterday for Mother’s Day, I bought my mom a white mug that simply stated, “You Are a Good Mom.”

I wanted her to know that.  I wanted to tell her sorry for being such a difficult kid.  A moody child.  A girl who was perhaps more boy and who came without instructions.  (P.S. There was no mug that said all that.  Stupid Hallmark.)

I know my mother did the best she could trying to mold me into a respectable young lady.  Some 30 years later, I am still trying to undo all of her well-intentioned doing.

I know I am a challenge.

Climbing fencesIn my wedding vows, I quoted the Melissa Etheridge line: “You found out to love me, you have to climb some fences.”

W commented the other night that she wasn’t doing so well climbing those fences.  (Yes, Glitter-Gate reared its sparkly head once again.  You can read about that here and here.)

“You know it’s me, not you, right?” I asked.

She nodded her head.  She wasn’t didn’t seem convinced.

I try not to apologize for being me.

But I am still difficult and moody.

And there is no rulebook for loving a girl who is perhaps more boy.

Middle-age Butch to embark on crazy writing journey

Dear Flannel Files Followers,

Your favorite butch is taking leave from blogging and her sanity for the month of November. Yes, I will be partaking of National Novel Writing Month.  For those of you who are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s a commitment to write 50,000 words in one month.

Melissa EtheridgeConsider it challenging and insane, like trying to count the number of lesbians at a Melissa Etheridge concert. 59, 60, 61 … Did I already count the one with the short hair?

I have an idea for a novel. And very little free time.  Which should make for an interesting combo.

Plus, I’ve never written a novel before. Or even fiction for that matter.  I’ve always found enough material examining my own life, self-involved butch that I am.

I will try to check in once in awhile. Because I just can’t quit you people!

Fifty thousand words in 30 days. Talk about crazy.  Talk about butch.

StraightjacketSend good thoughts or straightjackets, in flannel, preferably.

If you’re doing NanoWriMo this year, give a shout back. Misery, company and all that good stuff.

Middle-age Butch



P.S. Supplies purchased today from big box store.

Red Bull and Skinny Pop

What I learned about love (and bowties) on my wedding day

Keep calmW and I were going to say “I do” in about two hours. I had this marriage thing, this love thing down.

I have been married before.  And civil unioned.  Practice makes perfect they say.  Third time’s the charm.  This time around, there would be no surprises.  How could there be?  What could this 47-year-old butch not know about commitment, about love?

A group of friends and family were at the pavilion stringing up lights and placing vintage Mason jars filled with fall flowers on the picnic tables.

W and I were at home getting dressed.

I knew to stay out of W’s way as it would take her longer to get ready, W being the bride and all.

I was looking good.

I was looking good.

I took my time and put on my jeans and white button-down shirt, rolling up the sleeves just so. I slid on my custom Converse with the wedding date emblazoned in back and laced them up.  I folded up my vows and placed them in my front shirt pocket.  Only one thing left to do.  I flipped up my collar, wrapped my bowtie around my neck and went to use the mirror in the downstairs bathroom to tie that bad boy.

I almost got it on the first try. But then my nerves got the best of me.  Despite all the YouTube videos and the bowtie tying drills earlier in the week, I just couldn’t get it tied.  I took some deep breaths and kept trying.

One side longer. Over, under.  Long side out of the way.  Form a bow.  Long side down in front.  Taco, taco.  Stuff.

Now I was sweating. A lot.  I brought my iPad in the bathroom for video aid.  Still no luck.

Stay calm. You can do this.

I thought a change in venue might help, so I tried the upstairs bathroom.  There was no bowtie tying magic in there.

I was starting to panic. And curse.  We had to leave soon.  What if I couldn’t get the bowtie tied?  I had been blogging about this damn bowtie for a month.  What would I wear?  It was too late to run out and buy a necktie.  And at this point, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to tie a one of those.

“I can’t do it,” I yelled out to W.

“Yes, you can,” she encouraged.

I ventured into our bedroom where W was getting dressed.

“It’s too hard,” I said, pouting like only a middle-age butch and a six-year-old girl can.

“I don’t want to hear it,” W said. “I have to put on Spanx.  You want to trade places?”

I quickly left the bedroom and continued my futile attempts at tying a bowtie. I swore more quietly so W wouldn’t hear.

One side longer. Long side out of the way.  Form a bow.  Long side down in front.  Taco, taco.  Stuff.

Time was running out. We were already running late.  The bowtie is aptly named the Jack & Ennis after the leads in Brokeback MountainI can’t quit you or tie you! I yelled out to no one in particular.

It was time to think alternatives. Glue gun.  Or maybe nail gun.  I needed tools of some kind.  Possibly a Dremel.


I almost looked like this guy.

Or maybe I could wear the bowtie like a tiny, jaunty silk scarf. Or tie it in a big bow and wear it Colonel Sanders style.  Desperate times and all.

I retreated to the bedroom one last time and sat down on the bed next to W. W grabbed her iPad and watched a two-minute YouTube video.  She tied the bowtie perfectly on her first try.

“Just so you know, I will learn how to tie my own bowtie,” I said.  It was my attempt at piecing back together my butch bravado that lay scattered in tiny shards on the floor around my custom Converse.

“You don’t have to,” W said.



When we got to the pavilion, W pointed out my bowtie to some of the guests.

“Doesn’t it look great?”

I just smiled and told everyone that I had pulled on my own underwear in the morning and that’s about all I had done. That is pretty much the truth not true at all.

We had about a half hour before we were to say our vows. Usually, I’m not good on the fly, but I was able to work the bowtie into my vows.  It was the least I could do.

Here are some snippets:

You are the first person with whom I share good news and bad.

You are the person I go to when I am feeling down, scared, unsure or frustrated.

You are the person I look for when I am feeling happy or triumphant and want to share my good luck and fortune.

And you are the person I go to on my wedding day when I can’t tie my bowtie.

* * *

There’s a line in a Melissa Etheridge song that I quote to you all the time.

“You found out to love me, you have to climb some fences.”

You climb those fences with grace and most times even a smile on your face.

But isn’t that what love is? Climbing fences.

And that is my promise to you. To love you, to support you, to encourage you, to forgive you.

And climb those fences every once in awhile so you know that I am here and that I’m not going anywhere and that you are worth the extra effort every single time.

I figure I scored some butch bonus points for admitting that I didn’t tie the bowtie.  (And working in a Melissa Etheridge song.)

* * *

Today, I’m fairly confident that I will be able to master the tying of the bowtie. I mean, I can drive a car and give a cat a pill and remove spaghetti sauce stains from a white shirt.  But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.

I like the idea of having W tie my bowties from this day forward.  While W is tying, we will laugh about our wedding day and my bowtie tying ineptitude and how she saved the day.  We will be reminded that we are not on this journey alone but have a constant companion to share the ups and downs of life.  I will remember that I can’t do everything on my own — contrary to what my butch ego says — and that there is wisdom and courage in asking for and accepting help.  And that I am so very lucky to have by my side a strong, competent woman (who happens to excel at tying things) as my wife.

Middle-age butch goes on tour (#mywritingprocess)

Go ahead and throw your panties, girls.

Go ahead, girls, throw your panties.

It’s a blog tour, folks. But it’s a tour nonetheless, which makes me a rock star like Melissa Etheridge. In my own mind anyway, and that’s really all that matters.

I was invited to participate in the #mywritingprocess blog tour by my blogging buddy Maia Morgan. Maia blogs over at The Saltwater Twin. Maia is finishing up her essay collection called, natch, The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures. In Maia’s words: “It’s a collection of linked essays about survival, fear, redemption, love, religion, art, boyfriends, girlfriends and dogs. It’s about the way we make myths and meaning from our lives and forge our identities through story.” What’s not to like. I encourage you to check out her blog because she’s smart and funny and thoughtful and likes words as much as I do.  Maybe even more.

So, more about me:

What am I working on? If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m currently writing a memoir/creative nonfiction book. It has a working name of Leaving Normal. Seems that Girls was already taken, as was Puss in Boots.

Tell me about it, Stud.

Tell me about it, Stud.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I would say that my work is kinda, sorta like the stuff written by Ivan Coyote. At least that’s the closest thing that I’ve found. Certainly, those are big boots to fill. Ivan is a hero of mine, to say the least. But my story is different than Ivan’s. For one thing, I write a whole lot about Olivia Newton-John.

Why do I write what I do? For some reason, small moments of time have stuck with me. Three words said by a stranger on a stairwell. A birthday gift from a classmate. A pair of sneakers spotted in a parking lot. I never knew why I couldn’t shake these memories. I’ve held onto them all of this time so that I could break them down and write about them and piece them together in order to make sense of my life. So, yeah, it’s like a flip book. Each story running into the next one to make a picture that is my life.

This is how it starts.

This is how it starts.

How does my writing process work? These days I feel like a sculptor. I do a quick brain dump — usually with pen and paper — writing down a story as quick as I can. I include images, words, phrases, anything that pops into my head. And that’s when the sculpting begins. I keep carving away. The one thing that I’ve learned about writing is that it is a process. It can’t be rushed or hurried. Most times, I can finish a chapter in a few days, but something won’t feel quite right. It might be the ending. Or the beginning. Or something in between. I’ll need time to sit on it, to think, to be still and quiet and discover the right words, the perfect turn of phrase. I have brilliant moments in the shower and just before I go to sleep at night. When I’m in these reflective moods, I keep a Moleskin notebook and pen tucked away in my back pocket.

When everything has fallen into place, I send it off to my three critique partners for feedback. Sometimes they say it’s perfect. Sometimes not. But their comments are invaluable and allow me to go back and tighten things up.

Next on the #mywritingprocess tour. You don’t need tickets to get front-row seats for four of my favorite writers:

* Vicki Gael calls herself “an impatient writer.” She’s working on a cozy mystery and a sci-fi story, both at the same time. That’s talent for you. She’s also a member of my writers’ group. Vicki just started blogging at Rumpled Ruminations.

* Here’s how Karelia Stetz-Waters and yours truly became blogging BFFs. She read one of my posts and then told me how funny I am. That’s all it takes, folks. Anyway, she’s a college professor by day and a writer by night. Karelia is a published author. It seems like every time I check Freshly Pressed, one of her posts is being featured.

* She’s only 27, but she writes like a young Dorothy Parker. If Dorothy Parker wrote about tormenting her boyfriend and getting a steal on laundry detergent. Julia Boriss’ posts on J-Bo.net are smart and funny. I read one of her Freshly Pressed posts and have been a stalker fan ever since.

* My newest virtual buddy is Widdershins, who writes fiction, science fiction and fantasy. Writing is her passion and profession. Widdershins writes novels and stories always with lesbian characters. What’s not to like about that? (Really, every story should have a lesbian character or 12.) She blogs over at Widdershins Worlds. Plus, she gives really great advice and laughs at my jokes. This is very big with me.

* * *

What about you? What’s your writing process like?

Love and flying monkeys

Originally, this was going to be a post about Valentine’s Day.  Something along the lines of “Middle-age butch’s guide to wooing your gal in three easy steps” or maybe “What to buy your butch on the most romantic day of the year.”

For those of you keeping score at home, I’m pro Valentine’s Day.  I look at it as an opportunity to go that extra mile and show that special someone that you really do care.  Besides, I’m a hopeless romantic — butch on the outside/soft and mushy on the inside — so Valentine’s Day is a great excuse for me to show off my romantic chops.

images[7]Usually, I’ll send W flowers at work.  Cook a nice Italian dinner at home and serve a special dessert.  A typical gift would be a “to-my-wife” card, a box of chocolates from a local candy shop and something small like a book or a CD.  If inspiration strikes, I might write her a poem or a love note.  Or gift her with a coupon for an oil massage later that evening capped off by, well, I’m sure you get the picture.

This year, Valentine’s Day will be subdued because W’s beloved grandmother passed away yesterday evening .

As I laid beside W in bed this morning trying to support and console her, I thought that this is what love is all about.

It’s not long-stem roses or $6.99 Hallmark cards decorated with ribbons and glitter.  It’s not a box of fancy chocolates or a pair of boxers covered in arrow-pierced hearts.  It’s not giant stuffed animals or plastic pink handcuffs or even the score to La Boheme or a book of poems by Pablo Neruda.

imagesCABVJVEJIt’s wrapping your arms around your lover when she weeps and asking her if she’s ok a thousand times, even though you know that she isn’t.  It’s holding her hand as she falls asleep and letting her sleep with the TV on because she doesn’t want to wake up and be engulfed in silence.

It’s making a joke about buying Kleenex in bulk just so you can see a smile cross her face for a half a second.

It’s cooking her macaroni and cheese in the blue box because she asks for it in that small, quiet voice and bringing her freeze pops in her favorite flavors and diet Cokes because it’s all that you can think of to do.

It’s letting her know that you’re here if she needs you, if she needs anything, and then giving her space.

It’s being there for her, even when you’re not right next to her, and telling her that everything will be ok.  That we’ll get through this, this next hurdle, together and knowing deep down that it’s true.

When it comes to the un-Hallmark version of love, I often quote Melissa Etheridge (what card-carrying lesbian doesn’t?), especially this line from “Like the Way I Do:”

“You found out to love me you have to climb some fences.”

imagesCA3TBALZSo true.  In my case, the fences W climbs aren’t white picket.  They’re 12-foot barbed wire fences guarded by flying monkeys.  I can be a bastard to live with.

And that’s the thing about love.  It’s not all roses, and candy hearts and teddy bears.  That’s only the fun part of it.  The idea of love.  Love on the surface.

Deep down love is climbing a 12-foot barbed wire fence and swatting away winged primates to make your way into someone’s heart or to let her know that you’re still there, you always were.  To say, “hey, I love you, you moron, can’t you see that I’ve climbed all the way up here and cut off most of my pointer finger at the first knuckle just to show you that.”

Real love is saying something, anything when you don’t know what to say.  It’s trying and failing and then trying again.

It’s helping your lover grieve a loss when you’re not at all sure how to go about doing that.

It’s being there though, and going through it together.

You had me at Beyonce


I was just sitting here at my computer daydreaming.  About last night’s Super Bowl.

I’m sure you’re thinking that’s not so out of character for Middle-age butch.  You are, after all, a flannel-clad, masculine-leaning, sports-obsessed lesbian, you might say.  Isn’t watching football mandatory for your kind?

Why, yes, I did watch the game.

But the truth of the matter is that I really wasn’t that into it.  I’m not a fan of either team.  The match-up didn’t excite me.  And I gave up betting on sports years ago.


Beyonce performs at the Super BowlBut then there was Beyonce.

Looking all Amazon warrior in that black leather outfit/lingerie.  Like the fucking queen of the Amazons.

Her long legs stretched all the way to the top of the Superdome.  I’m pretty sure that’s why the power went out.

Now, I have never been a Beyonce fan.  I’ve always preferred TLC over Destiny’s Child.  I usually like my rock stars a little more edgy (see Melissa Etheridge), and soulful (see Melissa Etheridge) and angry lesbian (see Melissa Etheridge).

But then there was Beyonce.

Shaking her perfect hips and wagging her finger.  Looking all Sasha Fierce.

The all-girl band didn’t hurt, either.  Damn.

I politely clapped after each number.

The kids kept telling me that Beyonce can’t hear me.

They are rude and impertinent.  And know nothing about sports.

Besides, it really didn’t matter.  During those 12 minutes, it was just me and Beyonce.

So, the highlight of Super Bowl XLVII?

The half-time show.

I’m pretty sure someone is going to be showing up soon to revoke my Butch Lesbian card.