I am currently formulating an article for a magazine publication on my personal experience and feelings concerning my own ‘visibility’ as a masculine identified Butch lesbian. This post is relative to that article and notes I am making. I appreciate and encourage all / any feedback, publicly in comments, or privately by email or in phone conversation. ~MainelyButch
My visibility as a very Butch lesbian, often mistaken for a guy, has played both negatively and positively in my life. As a more dominant personality I believe that my Butch-ness suits me perfectly. To those who know me; who are around me daily or often, they have never known me to be any other way. I have lived very out and proud for decades now. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was far more concerned about the negative aspects of my masculine presentation, even to the point of trying to “tone it down” at times – resulting in disastrous gender failures on my part. Dresses just don’t fit my personality…and make me feel like a bad drag queen, but put a nice crisp suit on me and I shine like a new penny.
My experience over the last 50 years has led me to this point where I have become super comfortable in my own skin. It took me years of therapy, shedding a bad drug habit, personal illness from the drug habit, and a battle with alcohol, self destructive behavior unmentionable and finally understanding that NONE of that was going to change the ‘predicament’ that I was in, i.e being a very masculine Butch. Once I accepted myself, the world seemed to fall in line with me and I have been a much happier individual.
It wasn’t all roses, there were many times that I have felt very much like I was caught between worlds; between female and male, where while it felt right to me I could tell and see that it wasn’t ‘right’ with the majority of people that I encountered. I would get the scowls, the looks of “is that a girl or a guy”, the questions like “so, do you wanna be a dude?” and things of similar annoyance to me. I got the shouts in the streets of “DYKE!” and even when I was in the Army I encountered the jealousy of male soldiers when I would talk to women in our unit. I encountered fist fights over my sexual choices, over who I chose to be, and over my own prejudiced view of the world. I thought that it should never be a big deal who anyone chose to love or to have sexual encounters with, but society didn’t quite fit with my ideal.
Publicly I always am just me. I’ve always been an emotionally private person. I don’t share my thoughts or my emotions well with anyone. I never let anyone close enough anymore to hurt me. I can compartmentalize my life like no one’s business, and I am damned good at it. It’s a learned skill; Butch emotional deficit disorder I call it. I’ve been accused of being cold and calculating, I’ve been accused of not caring, of being mean and of being self centered. It’s none of those things, it’s just that I keep YOU at that distance from my heart where you can’t do any harm. Locked in there are the secrets to my soul; the secrets that bring ME to my knees, and that’s something that you don’t need to know.
When I am in public with a woman on my arm I am the most visible; the most vulnerable. At those times I not only have my own personal being and space to safe-guard, but I have that of my partner as well. Generally I see only very feminine women, thus they are not usually used to the looks that we garner as a couple. Being seen with me, is to be seen in many ways. I am fiercely protective and take no prisoners. If I am publicly disrespected you best believe I will stand up for myself, or my partner if that’s appropriate. I always feel a little bad inside about the sort of ‘outing’ of the person that I am with, but I figure if she wants to be out with me, then she deserves the same respect that I command and she will damned sure get it if I have my say.
I believe that we all should live our lives as our authentic selves. I am very glad that I do not hide who I am or who I love from anyone anymore. The days when I did, even the days when I was still a little uncomfortable with it, are so dim in the recesses of my minds eye that I can’t see them clearly anymore; nor can I go back to understanding the why of those times, or the reasons by which I formerly justified those actions. I know that not everyone chooses to live as openly or honestly as I have done, and for them that works (maybe) or it seems the thing to do. But it makes me sad that people hide such large chunks of their lives and personalities just to appease others and their theories of what is right or wrong…that just pisses me off.