Tag Archives: queer

March on

x5tli34r_400x400W and I are making plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington next Saturday.

On Friday, we are driving from Philadelphia to Baltimore and staying overnight.

We will be heading to D.C. early Saturday morning.

We are coordinating with friends and looking into parking and keeping an eye on the weather.

A few weeks ago when I mentioned the march to some friends, they told me to be careful. “There will be protesters,” someone cautioned in a heavy, serious voice. It was as if they were telling me about something I hadn’t considered like the Beltway getting backed up as early as 3:00.

It was at that moment that I realized that most people have not had to deal with a someone shouting into a megaphone and waiving a sign in their faces and telling them they are going to hell.

Note: If you are gay, this is something that happens to you on a regular basis when you gather with other gay people. Even in 2017.

“I’m a lesbian,” I said. “I’m used to it.”

* * *

Are you going to the Women’s March on Washington? Have you ever been to a march? Have you ever experienced protesters?

 

What to buy a butch

W is easy peasy to buy for. She likes things that sparkle (silver jewelry), things that smell good (handmade soaps) and things that taste good (salted caramel chocolates and Cheerwine cherry soda). Plus, purple things and pretty things and spiritual things and soft things. Also, scarves and bags and really good socks. See what I mean?

She thinks I’m hard to buy for. I tell her that I’m not. Butches are easy. Hey, not like that. But you know what I mean. If you’re struggling to find something to buy your masculine-of-center girl for the holidays, read this handy-dandy list:

Handy-dandy list

imagesCheck out the wristbands and cuffs at Lucky Dog Leather. W bought me wide black and brown leather cuffs on one of our first Christmases together. I loved them. I still do. They are cool and stylish and need I say very, very butch.

Is your girl a sporty butch? Get her tickets to a game. Or a jersey or other team gear. We can never have too much. I tend to like the old-timey vintage stuff. Make sure you know her favorite teams and players.

downloadIf she’s a reader, get her a copy of Ivan Coyote’s Tomboy Survival Guide. If you want to see a butch cry, watch her read this book. Really, any of Coyote’s books are great, but this is their latest. And do I dare say best?

I have to give a shout out to My Booket List, which was created by a friend of mine. Your book loving butch can record all of those books she wants to read in this cool little journal.

If she’s a writer, try a Moleskine notebook and a silver astronaut pen (you can pick up both at Staples). I’ve always got these hiding out in my pockets. Just in case.

If she’s into comics, there’s tons of cool Wonder Woman stuff out this year. Pick her up a copy of Jill Lepore’s Wonder Woman, which details the history of the Amazonian Princess. Wonder Woman’s story follows the rise of feminism in this country. It’s a fascinating read.

Beer her. If she’s a beer fan or fanatic, pick out some new craft brews for her to try. The staff at most beer shops are knowledgeable and can steer you in the right direction. Create a custom six-pack just for her. Nothing says I love you like beer.

download-1Buy her a new necktie or bowtie. One that matches her eyes or your new dress. One in her favorite color. One that you think she’d look particularly handsome in. We love it when our ladies buy us ties. It makes us feel special and sexy.

Make it personal. There are tons of sites that let you create personal merchandise. Think mugs and tees and hats. How about a T-shirt that says “World’s Best Butch” or a mug that just says HANDSOME? I’ve had good luck with Zazzle and Shutterfly.

Make her something. We like it when you use your hands. Get crafty and make her a Sharpie mug (look for instructions on the Internet) or knit her a scarf. Bake her favorite cake or pie or whip up a batch of your famous tomato sauce.

download-2Socks. A good pair makes us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, too. You can buy those butch socks here.

How about a fun pair of fleece PJ pants? Find a design that matches her passion. Star Wars, Harry Potter, beer, football … You name it, they make it. Or a fleece blanket.

Flannel. Need I say more?

Oh, and you. You know that’s all she really wants, right?

* * *

What do you like to gift your butch? If you’re a butch, what do you like to get?

 

Boots

img_0139I buy my first pair of Dr. Marten’s before I come out. Before I know I’m a lesbian.

I buy them at a teen-oriented store in the mall that I’m too old to be shopping at.

Brown boots. Seven eyelet lace-ups. With the yellow stitching at the bottom, circling like the moons of Jupiter.

In many ways, my coming out is fluid. A smooth continuation of who I am. An ocean wave that sweeps over me and keeps going.

After I come out, the boots seem to have purpose. I stand taller in them. I stomp harder in them, the AirWair rubber soles bouncing off the pavement like basketballs.

I wear them on dates.

I wear them to piss my mother off.

I wear them when I’m angry.

I wear them when I’m not.

I wear them as a calling card. Rae Theodore, Lesbian, they say with each step.

Friends of mine are planning on attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration. It’s not a protest against Trump or the election results but a march to shed light on women’s issues, including sexual assault and workplace discrimination. You can read more about it here.

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I ask W if she wants to go.

“You want to change the world with me?” she asks.

“Yes,” I say.

I look at the route of the march. Two miles from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House.

I need to break in my boots before January.

* * *

Do you have something you wear that makes you feel powerful?

Politics and parents

My parents came by yesterday to pick up my son for a few hours.

They were supposed to be at the house at 4:00.

I was downstairs working in my pjs. I hadn’t bothered to shower. Because what was the point after Tuesday night.

A few minutes before 4:00, I had planned on going upstairs. Hiding in my bedroom.

“Tell your grandparents I have a headache,” I was going to have my son tell them.

I should mention they are Republicans. I assume they voted for Donald Trump.

I didn’t want to see them gloat. I didn’t want to talk about the election.

A few minutes after 3:00, I heard a knock on the door and then my mother’s voice.

Shit.

My mom and dad came into the house. Sat down in the living room while they waited for my son.

We made small talk. We are experts at small talk. The smaller the better. We have advanced degrees in small talk. Olympic medals in small talk. My middle name is Small Talk. We talked about watch batteries and apple crisp. I told you we have the small talk thing down.

“How late did you stay up last night?” my mother asked, dipping a toe into that territory.

I said my community is heart broken over the election results.

“I’m sure they are,” my mother said.

Her response seemed genuine.

I said I’m afraid of losing the civil rights  my community has worked so hard to obtain over the past few years.

imagesQ8TUA5UX.jpg“That won’t happen,” my father said in that fatherly Ward Cleaver way. In that serious voice with that serious tone. That voice that said there is no monster under the bed. That voice that explained that the noise coming from outside isn’t a bad guy but something blowing in the wind.

For the record, my parents weren’t smug. They didn’t gloat.

But right now, I can’t separate politics from what I’m feeling inside.

As I sit here and write this, there are tears in my eyes. (I know, I know, no one wants to see a butch cry.) I feel an emptiness in my chest. There’s a gaping hole inside me.

It’s that feeling of not being good enough.

imageshchwj0s6It’s that black sheep feeling.

Feeling like a second-class citizen.

Unimportant.

Flawed.

Wrong.

Bad.

I remind myself that I’m almost 50 years old. Grow up already. But I’m forever searching for that pat on the head. These two words: “good girl.”

I don’t think that hole inside will ever go away. It’s been almost half a century.

imagesZBKZUV9O.jpgSometimes I don’t notice it. I fill it with other things like friends or work or my writing until it is stuffed full like a Hefty Flex bag.

But when I am still and quiet, I can feel the hollowness. The void. And I wait for my body to collapse around that empty space.

It never has. I am stronger than that. Made of steel and wire. Cinder blocks and rebar.

I wish I didn’t have to be.

 

 

 

Fortune keeper

images2The little white paper slips from fortune cookies are all over my side of the bedroom, scattered like confetti.

W and I will eat Chinese in bed on the weekend and watch a movie. We’ll read our fortunes to each other. I’ll usually toss my mine on my nightstand if it’s good.

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

Sometimes travel to new places leads to great transformations.

The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.

But then a breeze from an open window or the blast of air from a book being dropped nearby or the wind created by a rustling sheet will cause them to fly into the air like snowflakes.

I never throw them away. Except for the silly ones.

You like Chinese food.

Help. Trapped in cookie.

I’m superstitious. Even though I’ll tell you I’m not.

img_0677Sometimes I’ll bundle up those small white strips and clip them to the filing cabinet near my desk.

All of those wishes and good thoughts in one thin stack.

How can I not have good fortune if I hold onto them all?

* * *

What about you? Do you believe in fortune cookie fortunes? What are you superstitious about?

 

Perfect

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This is Sammy Long Legs.

We have weird cats. Sammy has long legs like a professional basketball player. He lays on his back with his body curved like a question mark. His head is at a constant tilt as if he is forever wondering what was that? what was that? He likes to have the top of his head scratched. If you do it right–hard with the tips of your nails–his lip will flip up like he’s Elvis and he’ll show a single tooth.

Last night, Sammy was laying stretched out on my lap, and I was telling him about the book of essays by Ann Patchett that I’m reading. And about how he is such a good, good, handsome boy. W reached over to pet him and tell him what a good, good, handsome boy he is, and he did that Elvis thing and showed his one tooth.

“How come I can love him just as he is but I can’t love myself like that?” she asked.

I didn’t have an answer.

“You can,” I said in a way that annoyed even me.

We are all perfect, but we don’t live that way. We’re always striving for something else, something better, something different, something more or maybe something less.

We’re too hard on ourselves. We expect too much. We’re all broken from childhood, broken from life and we’re doing the best we can with our shattered selves.

Maybe that’s why we search for love. For someone who will love us in all the ways we can’t love ourselves. Someone who sees our beauty when we can’t. Someone who holds us when we feel like we don’t deserve to be held and tells us all of our good points until we finally start believing them. Like they are truths that were there all along.

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More cats.

Here’s the thing about me and W. We’re opposites.

She’s flip flops and tank tops and let’s sing all the words to Les Miserables at the top of our lungs. She’s car window open, hair blowing, naked toes pressed against the inside of my windshield. She’s lick the side of my face when I’m grumpy just to get me to smile.

I’m bright white T-shirts and cargo shorts and NPR. I’m crew socks, new sneakers, hair short and tight. I’m Windex and right angles and notebooks with lines. Always lines.

I could have chosen a thousand girls. But I chose W.

Sometimes she has to remind me that I like her wild ways.

“C’mon, you like it when I leave little toe prints on your windshield,” she says.

“No. I don’t,” I say. I roll my eyes and make that face.

But she knows it’s not true. I know it’s not true.

I like her quirks and oddities. Those things that make her unique. Those things that make her W.

Those things that make her perfect.

* * *

What makes your significant other perfect?

Ahem. Announcements and stuff

Guys, here I am. It’s been way too long. I think I was still wearing flannel the last time I posted. We’re stuck in what they’re calling a “heat dome” here in the Philly burbs, so no summer flannel for this butch. 

I’ve been busy, folks. I haven’t been ignoring you because you think Cindy was the best Brady ever. Everyone knows it was Jan. Or because you’re a Yankees fan.

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Maybe a crown AND a cape like professional wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler wore back in the day.

You’re looking at one of the newest authors to sign with Regal Crest, a powerhouse in the world of lesbian literature. I’m sure I’ll get a crown or velvet cape any day now, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

I just finished the manuscript for the new book.  

Remember when you were a kid and you were playing outside and the whiffle ball got stuck in the gutter or the kickball landed in the creek? You always got a do-over.

This book is a lot like that. I had a chance to go through the current version of Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender and make edits. Tighten it up. Really, that’s every writer’s dream–one more chance to edit. I know, we’re weird creatures. 

Plus, the second edition, which is being billed as an author’s cut, has added content. New stories I wrote this past year specifically for this project. You’ll get to learn more about Middle-age Butch when she was big butch on her college campus and didn’t even know it. And of course, the book will include more of the those butch-tastic tales everyone loves like the hunt for the perfect buzz cut and the time-honored tradition of the clandestine butch nod. If you turned your head just now, you missed it.

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My trophy looked like this except it was invisible.

Also, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender was short listed for an award in creative nonfiction by the Golden Crown Literary Society. It didn’t win, but I still feel like a winner.

While I’m making announcements, I should mention that I’ve started my next book. The working title is Love Is Like Tiny Cheeseburgers: Essays from a Butch Romantic. Basically, it’s about me and W sitting in a tree and other stuff that makes your heart beat faster.

Hope you all feel like winners these days. Because you are. Big, beautiful winners. Now go hoist your invisible trophy over your head and shout out that you’re number 1!

* * *

Ok, I told you what’s new with me. What’s new with you? Share one new thing. A new movie, a new book, a new place you visited. Anything. Go.

Moonbeams

images[8]“You’re not drawing me,” W says. She says it in an innocent way with her eyes wide and bright and a bit of a grin starting on one side of her face. She says it as if she’s daring me to sketch her there in the June sunlight.

I’m sitting on a folding chair with my little red Moleskine notebook and my silver astronaut pen. I’m pretending to sketch her as she sits on a folding chair across from me.

“Of course I’m not drawing you,” I say. “I’m a writer, not a drawer.”

“Draw me with words,” she says.

“Okay,” I say.

We are at a yoga/wellness festival with our prayer flag for Orlando.

“You’ll love it,” I had told her. “You’ll feel at home with all the other hippies.”

“Maybe I’ll go full-on hippie on you some day. With dreadlocks, the whole deal.”

She says it like it’s a deal breaker. Like I will stop loving her with dreadlocks and bare feet that peek out from the bottom of her flowy tie-dye skirts. Like I will stop loving her with hairy legs and armpits and the scent of patchouli following behind her like a puppy.

“Don’t you know I don’t love you because of your hair?” I say.

What I don’t tell her is that I love her hair. The way it is long and brown with a few strands of silver that look like they were sliced from the moon.

It is the best part of her. The outside part that shows her inside light.

I don’t tell her I know her secret: Her heart is the moon. That’s why she has moonbeam hair.

Instead, I tell her I don’t love her because of her hair.

 

 

Dads and daughters

images[2]Growing up as a tomboy (or mini-butch), my dad taught me how to do the important things in life:

  • Fish.

Keep score at a baseball game.

Throw a split finger fastball.

Shoot pool.

Tie a necktie.

Shoot a layup.

Cook breakfast.

Be loyal.

Be patient.

Never force things.

Work hard.

Keep calm (before it was even a thing).

And always listen to your wife.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

* * *

What did your dad teach you?

 

Love

Like you, W and I we are heartbroken over Orlando.

I sat at my computer much of Sunday trying to work and trying not to feel. I was unsuccessful at both.

I had an overwhelming urge to do something. Anything. I could feel the itch on my skin.

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See that word in purple caps?

I glanced over at my filing cabinet and saw a poster for a yoga/wellness festival that a friend of mine is putting together. A single word in purple ink caught my eye: LOVE.

I sent off a clumsy e-mail. Can we table there and raise money for Orlando? I asked. Maybe hand out rainbow ribbons. Maybe do something else. Just brainstorming right now. Let me know.

An hour later, I got the go ahead. A 10′ by 10′ spot and three free passes to the event.

The next day, W came up with a plan. I ran around most of Monday securing supplies.

 

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Here’s a portion of the flag.

On Monday night, we arrived at a local UCC church for a prayer vigil for Orlando. We started our prayer flag there. Those in attendance wrote messages of love and support for Orlando. They tied the rainbow-colored strips of cloth side by side on a rope.

We will take the prayer flag to the festival on Saturday. We will spread love. We will be love.

Because isn’t that what’s it’s all about?

Being able to love openly and freely and safely.

As a butch woman, I think about safety more than W. I’m what you call a hundred footer. From 100 feet away, everyone knows I’m gay. (Or thinks I’m a dude, but that’s a different post.) Every time I reach for my wallet in my back pocket or straighten my necktie or use the restroom that corresponds with my gender, the skin on the back of my neck stands up because I know I could be in danger.

Orlando is a reminder that we are not safe. Not even in those places we thought we were. Especially in those places.

It is also a reminder that we have work to do. I have recommitted to writing my stories and sharing them with anyone who will listen.

So, on Saturday, we will wear our rainbow colors. We will hand out rainbow ribbons. We will collect prayers and messages of support and donations that we will forward to the LGBT Orlando Community Center.

Maybe it won’t matter, this elaborate arts and crafts project. Maybe it won’t make a difference. Maybe it will.

I think about the conversations I’ve had this past week.

I think about my 60-year-old transgender friend telling me about waving the hell out of a giant rainbow flag at a prayer vigil in Philadelphia and marching around City Hall with his cane. You, friend, are my role model.

I think about the middle-aged Latino man I met at the local prayer vigil. He had just come out after having spent most of his life in the closet.

I think about the older woman who grabbed a strip of orange cloth on which to write her message to Orlando. Openly weeping, she told me how she had lived in a small town growing up and how her gentle-hearted brother had been terribly bullied.

At least we are doing something.

We are showing we are not afraid. That we aren’t going away. That we are proud of who we are.

We are starting conversations.

We are talking about the one thing we know about. The one thing we know like the back of our lover’s hands.

thFA256KIZLove.

Orlando will make us love harder and fiercer. Today, I feel more in love with W than ever before.

We are experts on love because we’ve risked it all for love.

Here’s what we know in the deepest place in our hearts: Love is love.

And love always wins.

* * *

If you’d like to take part in our prayer flag, leave your message in the comments section. I’ll transcribe your message on a strip of cloth and tie it to the flag. We will be sending the completed prayer flag to the LGBT Community Center in Orlando.