Role Models

So, I got up on Monday and made the decision in my head to drag my ass out of the stupid funk that I had gotten into, change my attitude and to have a good week.  And…it worked.  I’ve been very upbeat all week.  And tonight I even invited my parents over to my place for a small backyard cookout.  It was awesome.  They even seemed to relax and enjoy themselves.  The place looks mighty good, and they were pretty impressed with all the work I have done and how it looked.  That made me very proud and put a big smile on my face.

For my whole life I have been trying to please my father.  I don’t know why; perhaps it’s because he is my father and I have the utmost respect for the man.  As a young person I envied him, emulated him and secretly wanted to be just like him.  Of course I was too young to understand all that that really entailed – like now I know I don’t want to be just like him.  He’s politically my polar opposite, and I could never go there.  But as a man of principles and eithics I always put him on a pedestal and tried to live up to what he wanted…or what I thought that he wanted from me.  In my 30’s I realized this constant need to please my father had been a real problem for me all of my life.  Therapy opened that door for me and taught me a lot.  Yet, still today it gives me much pleasure when he is pleased with me for some reason.  I’m sure the therapist would have a lot to say about it still.  I also fear the man immensely.  I fear his anger, his disapproval and his hate.  I avoid him most of the time, but there is a part of me that would really like to be closer to the guy.  It’s an emotional rollercoaster for me, one I am sure I will continue to deal with until the end.

Role models are important to young people.  When I was growing up I had my parents as role models.  Like any child I watched them intently and copied those things that I admired in them.  My Dad was a super strong dude, a Marine, then a cop, then a builder and business owner.  He is the epitomy of masculinity.  As a youngster I already understood that I was attracted to women, I thought at the time that I was supposed to be a boy and some mistake had been made.  I felt like a boy.  I acted like a boy.  I tried to copy the masculine traits of my father.  Many times I remember standing in the bathroom door watching him shave.  Is there really anything more masculine than shaving your face?  I think not.  Each pass of the razor over his face would make this “szzzh” sound as whiskers yielded under the sharp blade.  I always wanted to shave…to make that sound and feel the razor on my skin.  Of course, this desire kind of dissipated as I grew older.  I eventually became aware that I am female and that wasn’t going to change, but that I could still be as masculine as I felt and that it’s okay to just be me.

I get notes from younger LGBT people occasionally talking about how they need good role models in their lives.  Often these kids are secluded in more rural parts of the country where there isn’t a visible gay community of any kind for them to reach out to.

I sympathize with them because when I was growing up I didn’t have any other lesbians around me to reach out to either.  Always knowing that I was different from the other girls I hung out with, and hiding it like hell.  I wish that I had had role models, that I could have come out at a younger age and not had to go through all the crap that I put myself through when I was struggling with my own sexuality, thinkin I was going to hell and that I was some kind of freak.  It would have helped me to know that I wasn’t alone in the world, like I felt I was.

In today’s world we have the opportunity to BE good role models for those young LGBT people coming up behind us.  They are watching us.  They want to know what to do, how to do it and what needs to be done.  They want to carry on the legacy, the pride and the fight for equality.  We need to be aware of them; encourage them and nurture them.  It is our job to show them the way and to explain to them where we have been; where we came from.  We need to remember that the world has become more open than it ever was when we were growing up and coming into our own as adults.  There are new dangers out there now with the internet and globalization of things.  But there are still the old dangers too…the hate, the hippocracy, the homophobia and the violence.  Keep them alert, aware and yet don’t embed them with unnecessary fear of being themselves.

We each have a story, a history, and a way of being in this crazy world, it’s important to pass that knowledge on to the future.  In being role models we need to tell our stories, tell how we dealt with things, how hard it was and how rewarding it is.  We need to pass on the pride of the LGBT community; pride in overcoming so many obstacles and in living loving lives despite much of the world being against us.  And show them that you can lead a great, productive and contributing life no matter who you identify as.

So that is what I think about when I think about being a role model to younger LGBT individuals.  I want our community to be more cohesive, to come together and to be a stronger voice for all.  And I want those who are younger to realize that community is important and supporting one another is vital to our mutual survival.  What do you think?  Are you being a good role model for those who look up to you in life?

Peace.  ~MB

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Those Darned Definitions…

cropped-cropped-cropped-001.jpgMan!  Has language changed some radically since I’ve been walking this green earth.  Daily I am surprised by the “new” use of “old” words; the newer definitions and meanings of some.  Start with the word we all know and use in a zillion different ways:  Queer.  Now we know the dictionary meaning to be “odd or unusual” to be short.  But then we all know the meaning when it’s used to describe someone’s sexual preference for the same sex…i.e. “He/she is queer as a three dollar bill.”  meaning that he/she is gay…another word…Gay….now that is supposed to mean “happy and joyful” by the dictionary, but when used to describe me it means I like pussy, and I’m a bit queer.

Today’s LGBT world (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, for those who may not really know what the letters represent, seriously.)  Yes, where was I …in today’s world we are constantly changing up language.  It’s a far cry from what it was like in the 70’s when I was growing up.  Or the 80’s when I was just coming out and defying the world with my gayness.

There are so many words now to describe or to define who one is in the world.  I could not possibly do justice to all of them here, but I will take a stab at a few of the more common ones just for fun.

There’s the all famous Butch.  The definition of Butch varies so widely now that I am not sure if I am even still Butch!  Hell, it seemed easy when I finally did define myself as such, it felt wholesome and right.  I was a masculine presenting woman.  Butch.  It is my identity, my definition of me.  But what it means to me and what it means to other people can really be confusingly different.  I define Butch for myself as a masculine woman.  A woman who is more comfortable walking the masculine side of the binary, but who is not a man and does not necessarily want to be a man.  (Some people are convinced that all Butch women secretly just want to be men – both straight people and other LGBT people have been known to say this more than once).  I want to wear my jeans and workboots; flannel shirts are a must to my Butch wardrobe.  I don’t walk like a girl, or talk like one.  My voice is very deep, raspy and quite often mistaken for a male voice on the phone.  Plain and simple for me, it’s just how I was constructed by life.   I am a masculine woman, a Butch to the core.  Of course, this is just my definition and will certainly vary from yours or someone elses.

Femme is another widely varying word.  It’s gained some serious notoriety and popularity in the last 10 years I believe.  We have had the word Butch for so long and it’s been more popular for the last 100 years than I think Femme has been.  In my experience I didn’t really have a word for the type of women that I found super attractive until I discovered the word “Femme”.  To me Femme means a very feminine presenting woman.  A woman who revels in the glories of being very feminine appearing, acting and who is often attracted to her polar opposite – the Butch.  (I know this is not always the case, I am aware that Butch/Femme is only one dynamic, and that there are others, please don’t shoot me).

Now there are all these fun descriptive words that you can throw together with Butch and Femme.  There’s about 100 ways to be Butch or to dilute it, which ever you think is happening. Personally, I think the dilution factor is more of what is taking place.  Historically we know that the Butch-femme dynamic kind of started as a cover so that women could see one another  and appear to be a hetero couple…they were hiding from the law and society basically. There’s a LOT more to the history than this, I am seriously over simplifying here for brevity.

Today we have baby Butches, Tomboi Butches, Soft Butches, Hard Butches, Stone Butches, Daddi Butches, etc. etc.  I am sure I have missed a dozen or so other types here…but you should get the gist of where I am going with this. It’s a hard thing to just say Butch is Butch nowadays, because there are so many layers and depths to each “type”.  If you look in Wikipedia or do a Google search for any one of the types you are bound to come up with more reading than you probably need to get to the point.  You can be whatever you choose, and you can define it in any way you want along the squiggly line of the binary.

Same with the femmes, you have the high femmes, diva femmes, lipstick lesbians, queer femmes, and that list goes on and on as well.  I am not as familiar with it as I am with the Butch side of things, obviously and for obvious reasons.  All I know is that I really love femme women.  And the way they embody their femininity is up to each one of them, they can put on a baseball cap and pull the pony tail through the back and still be a diva femme.  It’s all in the attitude I have come to realize with femmes.  They have this great attitude about femininity and they revel in it.

Today’s younger crowd has a ton of other new words too that I just don’t understand.  I’ve come to the realization that I am too old for some of this new wording. But I want to learn!

Personally, I used to identify as a Stone Butch.  I am not so sure about seriously identifying with the “stone” part any longer.  I’m just not sure exactly what stone means to me now.  I know that I am not a “touch me not” Butch, as the word “stone” is supposed to imply in some circles.  I don’t care for some things; for some forms of touch, but I do like to be loved on quite a lot!  I enjoy sex, and sometimes I think the the inference to “stone” is that he/she is not someone who likes to be touched or who enjoys any kind of sexual touch.  I have to say I enjoy both.  While I have my limitations, and my boundaries that doesn’t negate the fact that I am human and need human interaction and touch.  Hell, I love sex.

Stone is a word that gets thrown around a lot more as I’ve noticed lately. I even see it in reference to “stone femmes” now, which I never encountered before say the last year or so.  I’m not sure of how that definition would read or what it would be.  Perhaps one of you readers have more information on this one, or some anecdotes to share on it.  I see it on Fetlife quite often and wonder about it.

So, these are my more random thoughts for today’s blog.  I was just pondering word-smithing and how radically language in the gay community has changed over the decades. Words seem to come into fashion and fade just as quickly sometimes.  It’s interesting as fuck.  You may see me write a bit more about this, perhaps from a more serious angle next time, tonight I am in a fun mood and wanted to keep it fairly light.

Rock on.

~MB

 

 

 

Social Media, Comments, Replies and the LGBT Community

Comments, Posts, Replies, etc….here, there and everywhere.  We post little tidbits, our daily experiences, incidents we have watched or participated in somewhere along the line, etc.  And directly under those posts, on every social platform website that I know of, is a place where readers can leave “comments” and generally “like” the post.  Notice there is never a “dislike” or thumbs down icon?  That baffles me.  I think all sites should go back to the 1-5 stars rating system for posts.  

Social media websites, in my understanding, are for us to communicate and talk to one another – right?  Don’t you think that’s what they are for?  .And if you do not care to hear the “comments” or feedback of other people who are reading your posts there is generally a way that you can either “hide” the comments so that ONLY YOU see them, or so that no one can make a comment or rate a post.  You can also make it so that comments must be “approved” before they show publicly on some social venues.

So, what am I driving at here?  Well, I do my posts to have conversations with people; to sometimes just see what others are doing for the day, what their opinion may be about something I posted, or to get other ideas about something that I did, said or that happened to me.  Often the comments are interesting and give me more fodder for thought.  Sometimes they are stupid and are left by trolls – I ignore or delete the troll comments.  Then there are the comment Gremlins, who just wait for you to post so they can send some negative, derogatory or belittling comments your way.  Guess it just makes them feel good.  But you won’t see the Gremlins posting anything of their own that would give you the idea that they are serious about blogging or putting their own experiences out there because they either don’t have the ability to express themselves well in writing or filming, or are personally afraid of their own Gremlins and can’t take the heat.

I always try to be respectful when posting a comment on someone’s post or blog.  I never post to harass anyone, or to school them, but just to put in my own two cents on whatever they had to share in their post, and perhaps to share MY experience with similar circumstances if they are telling us of an incident in their post.  The idea is to have a conversation…or so I believe.  And I also believe that comments are part of the conversation and do get other people to read the post, and the comments.  Which then gets them into the conversation too.  This makes the original post successful – it got us talking – sometimes about more difficult subjects even!  

Public comments aren’t always just for the original poster’s benefit of the sharing experience, but are for the following audience as well.  They got one idea in the post, and maybe other ideas and views in the follow up comments.

In my last blog I said that I had been holding back on my own writings and videos online because of my not wanting to deal with the negative commenters, gremlins, and outright haters.  That was me feeling vulnerable and allowing my fear to dictate my behavior. But as I said in that last blog I am no longer going to let those negative Nancys ruin my pleasure in writing and vlogging.  And I meant that.  

I personally commented on a Facebook post today which I thought was just contributing to a conversation by adding my different view of the topic and also telling of one of my experiences with that same topic’s longer term outcomes.  I did it out of just basically just simply commenting; never gave a thought to it being seen as negativity – which it  was in a way as I was messaged privately and told that she felt that I was schooling her —  which was definitely NOT in my thoughts or my intentions at all. I respect this particular person and do follow her work and enjoy it. I was merely trying to add to the conversation.   

Her removing my comment because she considered it to be me trying to “school her” just inspired – and compelled – me to write this blog.  Again I will say, my intention was NOT to school her about the topic, but to relate to her MY experience with another side of the topic.  

The poster did direct message me afterwards and explain that she removed the comment because it pertained to something that she had “already addressed” in previous posts.  And I appreciated her further explanation, and the very nice conversation that we had.  She’s a good egg, and an important part of the community in my opinion.  But let me dwell on the “already addressed” part of that for a minute because this is something that actually bugs me a little.  I have encountered this “I posted about it before” thing with a few people.  This is especially encountered on Youtube.  People are like, ” if you want to know what I said about blah blah blah I did a video in 2007  – go look it up!”  I think that’s a lazy ass answer from a vlogger to an interested viewer in my opinion.  And often, on Youtube, it’s said with some snide attitude to the viewers too…not cool at all.  

If a blogger or vlogger doesn’t want to repeat answering a question, or discussing a topic again, then when someone asks they should find the link to the previous piece done about it (if you keep a good index of your work this should be a no-brainer) and perhaps private or pulicly message or email the link(s) to the person inquiring and thank them for their interest in the work, for watching or reading and engaging in the conversation.  In my world, this is the polite and professional way to handle an inquiry for information or opinion on a topic that you may have previously addressed, maybe even in detail, in any previous post whether it be in a written blog or in a Youtube or Vimeo video that you may have done.  

This is also the poster’s opportunity to ask the interested party to also make a comment or do some writing or filming themselves about the topic after they see the poster’s work done on it.  This does a couple of things…it keeps important conversations going, and it inspires more thought all around, it can be the catalyst to get a new person blogging or vlogging, it can also lead to the original post/blog being seen by more people (which is always good) and it can spark new, shoot-off conversations and topics.  

ALL of these things are very important to us in the blogging world.  A good blogger wants to build their audience continuously, and wants to be the flame that starts the fire of good conversation; start the discussion which leads to more good things, like change, making more people aware of the different sides of a topic, and the ultimate of changing someone’s mind – making an ally out of former opposition.  And all of this helps us build community and supports change and growth of individuals and even groups.  

I am all about building more closely knit LGBT community.  I live in a place where it’s more difficult to interact with other LGBT people on any kind of a regular basis – rural America.  There are millions of us living this way, out here in rural or suburban areas where it’s just more difficult to have much of a localized community of LGBT people and allies.  It’s always been more difficult for us living outside of the city life.  So blogging and social media are generally my daily chance to interact with my peoples!  I very much enjoy having conversations, being part of discussions, and knowing that I am not alone in the world with my thoughts.  

My girlfriend and I have to really plan to get out to see other Lesbians when the mood hits us.  Occasionally the local Gay men’s club will put on a Saturday afternoon “Tea Dance” for women only, which is really nice of them, as they do understand that the women seeking the company of other women in our area are without our own club.  There are “meet-ups” but they are mostly down towards Boston, and that means at least an hour’s commute each way.  There is a local meet up that was started in February, but I just got an email notice that it needs a new leader within the next 7 days or it will be taken down from the meet up board – of course it will, they want someone to pay the monthly fee charged for having a Meet-Up page.  I am considering saving the group, but haven’t quite made up my mind.  The other leader quit fairly quickly for some reason, makes me wonder why.  And I tried to contact her but she’s removed her email from the account so I couldn’t even do that.  

So, social media is our friend.  And the internet brings us the news of the LGBT community – nationwide and worldwide, which is good.  We both have our blogs, and we will continue to write because it’s something that we both love to do anyway.  We will be attending Pride events in Portland Maine and possibly in Boston Massachusetts, which are both about an hour from us in opposite directions, in June.  I’m sure I will post video accounts of both events when we go!  In the meantime, I hope to encourage everyone to blog, write, reach out and connect with each other and continue to build community around yourself, the support is needed by everyone in some way or another.  And remember to listen to and mentor those young LGBT people in your life, even in your online connections, and remember to reach out when you need it too!  The community is there, we just need to tighten it up a little!!!Image

As I always say “Rock on!”  ~MainelyButch