I’ve always been the black sheep of my family…always the outsider and the odd ball. I’ve rather reveled in it, instead of seeing it as a “bad” thing. Black sheep were used by herders to keep a count on their sheep, they would put in one black sheep for every 50 sheep or so in their herds. Black sheep are not always unsupported, I happen to come from a socialization and cultural background that values the support of all individuals in the herd, so to speak. It is possible to feel like the black sheep in families and peer groups that are supportive, as well as in those that are not. Even if we receive no overt criticism regarding our values, there will likely be times when it seems that relatives and friends are humoring us or waiting for us to grow out of a phase.
Among the LGBTQ community I feel like a black sheep because of my outwardly very Butch appearance and attitude. It’s been difficult for me to make friends within that community — unless they are of like mind about the Butch-Femme dynamic. I understand that not everyone understands the dynamic or the values that I put behind my beliefs. But it’s my way, and it works very well for me. The most difficult part has been finding good partners who are Femmes or closet to Stone Femmes, and who actually “identify” as such. I hear from women that “I don’t know how I identify” line quite frequently, and it’s those women that I have the most difficult time communicating with because we just aren’t on that same wave length about most everything.
Butches get labeled the black sheep almost across the board. Not feminine enough, not masculine enough, not trans* and often Stone. Many black sheep respond to the separateness they feel by pulling back from the very people to whom they might otherwise feel closest and embracing a different group with whom they enjoy a greater degree of commonality; i.e. other Butches, Genderqueers and Transguys. The brotherhood of that group is what sustains me and keeps me being proudly Butch.
I’ve learned that you can’t always explain Butch to someone, they either get it or they don’t. It’s not easily explainable, but If you are around me you will pick up on my nuances and get the gist of the idea. As a Butch I don’t act girly at all. I don’t have the emotional reactions that many women have (this could also be the result of my continued use of Testosterone low dose). I don’t understand many of the reactions and emotions that are natural to other female bodied people.
I chose to be exactly who I am and who I feel that I was meant to be. If you can move beyond comparisons and accept the differences, you will come to appreciate the significant role your upbringing and socialization have played in your life’s unique journey. My upbringing was a very good one in preparing me to face a world of obstacles. I believe my parents knew at a young age that I was going to face some difficulties along the way due to my androgynous way of being. While I tried to fit my square pegged self into the round holes of adolescence and young adulthood, it just wasn’t happening. Once I came out and began living as the Butch I am today I felt a great sense of relief and happiness come into my life.
In time, most black sheep learn to embrace their differences and be thankful for those aspects of their individuality that set them apart from others. We cannot expect that our peers and relatives will suddenly choose to embrace our values and offer us the precise form of support we need. But we can acknowledge the importance of these individuals by devoting a portion of our energy to keeping these relationships healthy while continuing to define our own identities apart from them.
The people in my life are important, each in his/her own unique and individual way. They’ve all influenced part of who I am today. While my life is filled mostly with straight people, they do seem to understand and accept me in ways that the LGBTQ community seemingly cannot fully do. All I really ask for is respect and the ability to live my life as peacefully as possible.
I write this as I am thinking of what it’s been like for me living in rural Maine and being part of a sort of sub-group under the Trans* umbrella. I’d say the LGBTQ umbrella, but that particular umbrella can still be very much exclusive of Butches and Femmes. I feel much more understood, accepted and comfortable with my Transgender and gender variant comrades.
As I venture back out into the dating world again I gave pause for thought on this. It’s not easy dating as a Stone Butch in Maine. Nice Femme women are hard to find, hard to detect and often invisible as they are in most communities. Because I am shy and because of where I live I basically have to hang a shingle on my social media pages to attract what I am seeking in a partner. I don’t date other Butch identified individuals out of personal preference, but I surely appreciate a good Femme woman. I know I need to make myself more available and more visible by being in the right spaces, but damn I hate the bar scene! Peace!!! ~MB