The Gender Revolution?

It used to be so much more simple!  It used to be that you were either gay or straight, period.  Or at least that is how it was in my world growing up in the 60’s/70’s and partying my ass off in the gay bars in the 80’s…it used to be easier I believe.  I’m not knocking anyone’s gender or orientation choice here, just saying that it’s gotten VERY confusing for me.  I was just reading this article on npr.org titled “A New Generation Overthrows Gender” by Jon Brooks.  It was posted on Facebook, thus I clicked the link and knew I was in a world of word trouble immediately. 

First word I came across that is fairly new to me is “agender” – which according to the article means neither ale nor female.  The particular person in the article used the pronoun “they” instead of he or she.  Ok, so I am really, really trying to be okay with this.  I am really trying not to be internally phobic, or form an immediate opinion – because I know I don’t like it when people do that to me.  BUT I just don’t get it. 

Second word I came across related to this is “Transgender”.  Thank God.  A word that I know and can understand to some degree.  Transgender meaning someone who has changed from one gender to the opposite gender.  Transitioned.  More on this later. 

Third hurdle here “gender-fluid”…which means (according to kid in the article) that you feel like a guy or girl at different times.  I can somewhat relate to this.  There are definitely times for me that I get this twinge of feeling like a girl, but normally I just feel like a guy – although I know I’m a girl.  Confused yet? 

Fourth stumper “non-binary gender” meaning not female and not male according to the binary gender scale.  I’ll see if I can locate a picture of that old scale before I publish this.  But it’s like if you give Female a 1 and Male a 10, and you rate where in the scale you may fall or feel that you fall. 

Near the end of the article they bring up “gender non-conforming” – which I can definitely fully relate to.  I am one who does not conform to the gender norms of female.

And of course we have the weird word “cisgender” meaning you identify as you were sexed at birth – either male or female.   

Then it dives into Gender Vs. Sexual orientation Vs. biology….yes, it gets very in-depth for a minute here:

“Gender identity is different from gender expression, being different from biology” says Adam Chang, a consultant with Gender Spectrum, a provider or gender identity resources and services in Berkeley, CA.  “Identity is what you know in your heart and mind, and expression is external – hair, makeup, roles you take on in society.

“Biology of course, means physical attributes that have always been used as a proxy for gender,” Chang says.  “And all of those are different from sexual orientation.”

((HOLY SHIT BATMAN!))

Chang goes on to put it this way:  “Sexuality is in and of itself not enough information to reveal a person’s gender identity.”

I am 55 years old.  I am Butch.  I have said before that Butch is my identity.  Lesbian is my sexuality. Female is my gender.  Even THAT feels confusing at times.  I’m SURE it is confusing to those who don’t know me, or anyone like me.  Simply put, I’m a Butch Lesbian.  Lesbians are women (females) who prefer relationships with other women (females).  Or so it is in my world today.  There are so many new words that I can’t possibly keep up anymore.  Especially living in rural America where most of my contact with the rest of the LGBT world is via the internet.  Where we have no real “formed community” to fall back on or to learn alongside. 

I have seen a LOT lately about our youth and transitioning genders.  It worries me a little because the human brain is not fully developed until around the age of 25.  This is part of why we make so many stupid choices and dumb decisions when we are in our teens.  I’m afraid that if kids (under 21) are looking at things like transitioning physically with surgery and drugs that they will be doing things that are not reversible in their young futures.  AND I personally just don’t think they are old enough to be doing things like surgery or hormones. 

THAT is my personal opinion on it.  I understand that we are seeing a sort of “gender revolution” happening, that kids have access to all sorts of information that we did not have when I was growing up.  I never even knew the word “transgender” existed or that people could even change genders if they wanted to.  Sure, I was a tomboy, and there were times I am sure that I wished I was a boy, but I am happy with being a woman today and who know what I would have done had I known or had the means as a kid to change my gender.  It would have been a tough one for me I bet.  So, in many ways I am happy to have grown up when I did before all of this revolution and changing stuff came to the surface. 

I have young female friends who are considering transition.  One, in particular that I am thinking about.  I have been trying to be a good Butch role model and influence, answering questions and being a bouncing board for her venting.  But she is edging closer and closer to transitioning.  She’s now 17, I’m just not convinced that she should make that kind of a life altering decision before she’s 25.  Now, saying that I don’t see any harm in her presenting as she wishes.  I am just against early surgery or hormones. 

I know some will disagree with me.  It’s the elephant in the room sometimes even.  I am not anti-trans, and I have many trans friends who I love dearly for exactly who they are.  I respect their choices and decisions.  But most of them that I know made those decisions in adulthood, not in a pre-pubescent fog of “who am I?” or on a whim to fit in with the “in” crowd, or do the new fun thing. 

My fear is that the kid does this, transitions, and then at 25 the kid looks at every adult in her life and gets very angry at them for not stopping things until she was really old enough to make that kind of life-altering decision.  Know what I mean?  Adults are supposed to protect kids from themselves; from making irreversible mistakes, and what if transitioning turned out to be just that mistake that the kid makes and regrets at maturity?  I would hate to be in those shoes. 

Kids are maturing way faster than ever in todays world.  Information travels at lightening speed through the internet and across the world wide web.  We know things that we never knew, and probably never would have known, had it not been for the interenet – some good and some bad.  I think it’s great to explore sexuality and gender and to discuss our views based on the information at hand.  I just hope these kids today are doing their research and not just following a fad that could leave indelible marks.

The rest of the article goes on to talk about suicide rates (40% of trans-identified people attempt suicide), sexuality, and society.  It seems that while many more people are adopting identities of various names across the gender spectrum, that fewer are actually physically transitioning now.  Perhaps that is because we are making it okay to be who you are without having to completely change your body.  All in all it’s a very good article that everyone should take 20 minutes to read and gain some knowledge from.  I do think it’s very cool that kids are encouraged to live as their authentic selves, to express themselves and to be who they ARE in the world.   

So, check out the article and let me know what YOU think.  Peace.  ~MB

This is a highly controversial topic and I respect that everyone has their own opinions and views.  Please be respectful of everyone reading if you comment, which I invite you to do, below. 

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

 

 

 

Response: MichFest and The Controversy…Who Qualifies as a Woman?

Ah, the infamous Michigan Women’s Music Festival is approaching (I believe it’s in August, don’t quote me)…and this the “war” of who “qualifies” to attend and who does not has begun…or actually just continues.  I am writing today in response to the posting by ButchFemmeListings concerning the controversy over attendee qualification.

First of all let me say right up front, I have never attended MichFest nor do I seriously think I ever will.  Simply because of the piddly in-fighting and what I believe is unnecessary arguments over “who qualifies as a woman”.  This has been going on for years from what I have seen, and my reading about it year after year and my reading the rants of feminazi’s about excluding Transwomen from the festival has left a sour taste in my mouth.   That and I don’t do extremely well in large crowds, especially when you combine tons of estrogen, alcohol and tempers, it just turns me off, so I elect not to attend this festival.

That being said, I would like to chime in with my two cents about this controversy of TW (Transwomen) and WBW (women born women) – the two camps of contention.  It seems that the WBW do not recognize TW as women thus they do not feel that the TW should be allowed inside of the exclusively women’s festival, which is billed as a safe space for ALL women. Yet, one camp of women seem to not recognize another camp of women as women…does that make any sense??

As ButchFemmeListings had to say:

After all we have read and heard on the topic, it seems to us it has been established that there are two camps, and we think it has also been established that neither side is going to see the others as the right path; each side has grown in a different LGBTQ/socio-political environment and time, and thus each side’s needs are DIFFERENT.

CAMP CHANGE: mostly under 40-ish folks who think Michfest should change, get up with the times and be for anyone who identifies as woman/womyn.

CAMP HONOR: mostly over 40-ish folks who think Michfest should respect the past and continue to be for womyn-born-womyn as it always has been.​

If we go by this scenario I should be on the side of “Camp Honor” at 53, but I am actually going to stick my neck out here gladly and say that “Camp Change” is the best idea.  And is spelling women with a y really necessary?  I mean it is a WOMEN’s music festival, I don’t think that they exclude straight women, nor is it exclusively LGBTQ (although that is the main focus, we all know).  It’s a big gathering of women and women’s bands/artists such as Melissa Etheridge and others who appear to entertain the crowd. Last year they had bands bow out over this big “controversy” about allowing or not allowing Transwomen to attend.  (Bravo!)

Some say let each group create it’s own event.  Separate us, yeah that’s the ticket.  Like we aren’t already a very fragmented LGBTQ society here in America.  I am definitely against the separation idea.  I actually believe they should open it up to all women – regardless of the “born with a vagina” or not.

I also have another question, I haven’t seen addressed in this particular blog..what about us who don’t pass easily as women, like me?  I am super Butch, have had top surgery and take low dose testosterone….does the “Camp Honor” still recognize ME as a woman?  I would think so, but I am leery of this already.  I am thinking that my masculine presentation may put some women out; make them uneasy that I am too masculine for their girls club.  (That might concern me more if I were to really want to GO to this thing).

I find festivals to be very clique driven to begin with.  You have people who will divide themselves by class and interests, you’ll have the singles looking to hook up for the weekend, the hard core partyers just there to see how fucked up they can get, and the other various little social cliques….I’ve never done well in the clique societies.  I am a loner, and while I make friends easily I am not interested in dealing with the bullshit I would have to watch and be exposed to if I were to go.

Here in Maine we have an LGBT camp out that focuses on outdoor adventure sports called Camp Camp.  It’s a well organized all inclusive camp where the focus is on outdoor sports and adventure.  It’s probably not as interesting as the full on party atmosphere of some of these other festivals such as MichFest.  I’d rather spend the extra money and go up to Camp Camp…IF I were really interested in going at all.

Around New England there are tons of these fesitvals from P-Town’s Women’s Week in May to Boston Pride and The Pool Party in August.  There is something for everyone, and MichFest should be also an event that should catch up with the times in my opinion and welcome all women identified individuals.  It’s time to stop the in-fighting about genitalia and gender, and start to accept people for who they are.  Not just at these fesitvals and parties, but throughout the LGBTQ community at large.

What do you think?  ~MB

Here is what MichFest’s leader has to say, I agree wholeheartedly with this.

http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=67561

Think About It Thursday

“This week for Think About it Thursday, I ask you to tell us what you thought you wanted to be when you grew up. Did you become what you dreamed of?”

This is a tricky question for me.  There are things you, as a child, would say you wanted to “be” when you grew up…like I wanted to be an archaeologist focusing on anthropology.  Yes, I was a brainy kid that way.  I loved to discover things about history, anything old fascinated my young brain.  Arrow heads were totems from the Gods to me!  I still have my first arrow head, found over on Manson Road in Kittery at my Aunt’s house when they were putting in a baseball diamond on her property.  It’s pretty cool and it’s still a treasure to me.  

I still love that stuff today.  I will read National Geographic magazines cover to cover.  I am deeply interested in Anthropology, or the study of human beings.  Archaeology is more the digging for the relics of old, and that is still something I love to stay up to date on as well. I never did go to college, so obviously I never became a college educated archaeologist or anthropologist.  But I think I am an amatuer at both, and I still love both fields and am interested in anything to do with them.  

The second part of that question “Did you become what you dreamed of?”  Now there is the rub in this TBT theme for me.  Yes, I became the person that I had dreamed of as a kid.  See, when I was small, and growing up, I always dreamed of loving a good woman and having a life with women romantically instead of boys or men.  I kept this a secret until I was an of-age adult to the best of my ability.  Maybe there were a few I didn’t fool, but I damned sure tried.  My self-imposed closet where I kept my secret sexuality was a place of safety, because I knew those I was growing up with would never accept or understand this part of me at that time.  It was too early in the 60’s/70’s for that kind of awareness, tolerance, and acceptance to be available to me – or really anyone!  Thus, I just had my dreams of a very different – yet kind of the same – kind of life for myself. I wanted to be in love like those straight friends and relatives of mine that I grew up around, just that I wanted it to be with someone who was female like me.  

I didn’t fully understand my sexuality as a child.  But I knew that it was definitely different, and different could not be good.  Funny how a child can comprehend when something should not be told or talked about.  Personally I kept my own secret locked away deep inside of me until I was 19 years old.  By that time I had left home, left those I knew all my life and who knew me, and was far away in the military, serving my country.  

That’s when I discovered that I was not the only “freak” who thought this way!  I met other women who desired the company and love of other women.  At first I had some serious homophobia about it.  They talked about it, they acted on it and they seemed to enjoy it, which in my well trained brain was wrong.  Like most in my era we had been brought up straight and to believe that homosexuality was wrong.  I personally never heard the “God wrong” scenario back then, but perhaps that’s because we were not overly religious in my household.  Church was something we did on holidays or when Dad got into it for a few Sundays.  I could only dream of a life of living as an out-lesbian – a word I never knew until I was about 14 years old and heard it from other kids, then looked it up in my dictionary.  I dreamed of it being normal that I would have a wife and we would live together in a little house with a picket fence and a dog. 

Today is a different era.  Today I do live as an out lesbian and without much fear.  Sure, there’s always some fear, fear that you will run into someone who hates you for just being you, because they for some reason hate LGBT people.  I think it’s more that they do not understand that LGBT people are just people with different sexual desires and practices than our straight counterparts.  Although I think most of us are doing the same basic things in the sack, just in slightly different ways! *smirk*  

I usually try to be considerate of other peoples beliefs.  I know my lifestyle doesn’t always agree with their ideals or their religious convictions.  I try to steer clear of those people and just live my life.  And I have a damned good life.  I have a loving family that accepts and supports me; that loves me as I am.  I have friends who do the same.  I keep a nice home and have a dog and I date women exclusively.  So my life IS as I dreamed it would be for the most part.  I also dreamed I would be a writer and one day write books…well, I write, but I have yet to put that book together.  One day I do hope that that part of my dream will also be a reality.  

So while I never became an archaeologist or anthropologist, I did grow up and find the dream of being true to who I am in this world.   I was lucky to learn many trades, most having to do with construction of one sort or another, thus I have a knack for building and fixing things that I am always honing.  I had military training that taught me focus, determination, and how to be a dependable, respectful person in this world.  I have a Masters Degree in street education, learning the seedier side of life during my 20’s…learning about homelessness, addiction and the challenges that people face daily in life.  I have learned about inequality in this world, seen it first hand, and have stood up to fight for equality for all people.  I’v stared death in the face and chose life.  I’ve buried friends and their dreams all because of a fierce virus that took us all by surprise in the 80’s.  By 1999 I had lost 14 friends to AIDS and was living with HIV myself.  But I chose life, I chose to live my dreams and to fight like a wildcat.  Modern medications have been my friend and have kept me alive and healthy for many years now.  I only wish they had been available earlier for my lost friends.  

So my answers to the questions of today’s Think about it Thrusday, is yes, I am living life as I dreamed it could be for the largest part.  I’m not rich or famous or some highly recognized anthropologist, but I am a good, honest, loving person who lives life every day, in the present, to it’s fullest as much as I can.  I wake up happy and warm.  I take care of business as it needs, and I tend to my relationships with other people with care and consideration.  I hope I can continue to spread the love and continue to make changes in my life and the world that are good for both!  Rock on.  

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

The Proverbial Line

“Everytime that I am misgendered I am reminded that I do not fit; that I am not this.  I am not that.”

 ivan e coyote from “Gender Failure” (on Youtube clip about ivan and Rae Spoon’s Gender Failure performances).

I can relate with many of ivan’s stories and have all but the very latest (which IS on order!) of ivan’s books.  I am sure that most of you know who ivan e. coyote is but here’s the short, sweet bio from their page:

Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of six collections of short stories, one novel, three CD’s, four short films and a renowned performer.    http://www.ivanecoyote.com/

My chosen community is the LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer -and yes, you may add several other alphabetical letters to it as well, but for brevity here I will stick with LGBT for today.

I have been doing a lot of reading of articles on blogs and websites; in such places as HuffingtonPost.com, Autostraddle.com, in WordPress blogs and other online sources lately.  Most of what I have been reading has been related to gender identity, sexual identity, transgender struggles, and things written by and for the LGBT community and it’s allies.  These topics interest me very much as I can relate to most of what I read in some way or another, and they provoke more thought and inspire me to do more writing myself.

I love to write.  I have written and have been passionate about the writing process since I learned to write as a child.  It’s my passion; my home.  One day I hope to be brave enough to start submitting some of my writings for publication – which has always been my dream.  Writing is a creative art to me, although I write about things that I have experienced, and to explore my own views and opinions about things.  I write about things I am interested in and/or concerned about; things that have an impact on my life, or the lives of people that I love and care for in this world.  In recent months I’ve let my fear of rejection and critical feedback prevent me from pursuing my dream – and often from just simply writing a blog about something that strikes a nerve in me.  I have never felt that my writing was “good enough” or that people would care about what I had to say in my articles.  And I have always been a bit shy about letting people read my personal musings or know my authentic thoughts, views, and the stories of my life and how I became who I am today.

I am inspired today to write this because of all of the reading that I have done over the past week and due to my personal gut response to much of what I have read.  I feel some responsibility as an individual in the LGBT community, to add some of my thoughts and reactions to the articles – and comments left on them by others.  I am concerned about the world, and about my community; about friends and loved ones of mine that also may have read some of the serious hate and negativity that I so uncomfortably read.  I don’t feel that I can just continue to ignore the hot-bed topics that affect me, people I love and my beloved community, by continuing this self-censorship and not saying what I think and feel here.

I have remained fairly silent out of my own fear of the comment gremlins and of exposing myself to the discomfort that I am sure the main writers of the articles that I have read – have gallantly exposed themselves to so publicly.  Yes, they are the creative warriors in my opinion.  They took up their battle shields and stepped into the ring of fire to stand tall for what they believe are their truths.  They all are seeing the situations and battles going on around gender identity, trans identity, gender equality, sexuality and – even though I am sure they have also read some of the hateful stuff that I have read – they were all brave and courageous enough to stand their ground and let their own truths be known. They voiced their own opinions and laid their own vulnerability on the proverbial line.  I seriously respect those writers, even if I do not completely agree with them all of the time, I do very much continue to respect their courage and their rights to be heard.

So much goes on in our world every single day.  The media explodes with a new stories of discrimination, bigotry, ignorance and hate crimes so often now that I think some of us are starting to become numb to the reality of these things; almost to the point of accepting them as “just part of life in 2014” now.  And I personally find that incredibly sad and upsetting.  Those who are speaking out and who are defending our rights, and often even themselves by stating their own views and intentions as individuals, do so with the highest risk of personal attack online by hate groups, hate filled individuals, religious conservatives, prominent political figures and even from individuals and organizations who are supposed to be part of our own LGBT community!  (I am sure the list of attackers is much longer, but I am just listing some of the more visible here)  THAT is why I am compelled to speak out myself, and put my own voice out there too.  Those who write from their hearts and experiences inspire me and I think that every person deserves to – and should – speak out about things that affect them; about their own personal experiences, preferences and no one should have to just accept those assumptions that other people have (or want) to put upon us as LGBT people – regardless of which letter one chooses to stand under.

“It’s not the critic who counts.  It’s not the man who points out where the strong man stumbles or where the doer of good deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the person who’s actually IN the arena; whose face is marred with blood and sweat and dust who – at the best – in the end knows the triumph of high achievement and who – at worst – if he fails he fails daring greatly.”

Theodore Roosevelt speech “Man in the Arena”

I am a Butch Lesbian, very visible, and very proud.  I am often misgendered, and am also often reminded that I do not quite fit into the more mainstream Lesbian community.  My presentation is, and always has been, very masculine; very androgynous.  I grew up in southern Maine, the eldest of 5, my parents were very young when I entered the picture; but they provided a nurturing household full of love and proper lessons that would carry all of us into adulthood with good ethics and fine manners.  Growing up I knew that I was Lesbian as far back as I can remember – although I didn’t know what it was “called” until I heard the word “Lesbian” at the age of about 12 years.  Somehow I knew it wasn’t going to be good if other people knew this about me – ever.  So I learned to keep my secret very well hidden until I left home bound for Army basic training at 18.

I was a serious tomboy growing up.  Mowing the lawn shirtless until I was about 10 was my favorite thing to do.  Pretending I was a boy was my other very well kept secret.  Somehow I made it to adulthood without anyone ever knowing my feelings; my sexual preference.  By the time I reached early adulthood I was hearing the “you should dress more like a girl” thing quite often.  I hated dresses and broke out in hives at the mere thought of nylons – which were popular in the late 70’s thru the early 80’s.  I managed to escape home for the Army, and don that uniform – same for men or women – with much pride.  I came out early in my Army service although it was against regulations at that time, I managed to complete my service commitment without being “outed” and kicked out of the military – which would have completely ruined my family relationship with my father at that time, so it was a good thing I was never discovered!  (I do have lots of funny stories about almost getting caught!)

I tried to disown or hide my gender identity for many years.  I was far more comfortable with being “just a lesbian” than with being identified as “Butch” or “Dyke” (both were seen as derogatory words in the 80’s).  Although it was pretty obvious that I was Butch, I tried to “act” otherwise and hated being referred to as Butch back then.

It wasn’t until around 2005 that I finally came to grips with my gender identity, and started to relax into my authentic self as a Butch Lesbian.  I spent many years agonizing over it; and it caused me much emotional trauma at times.  I never quite “fit” anywhere in the gender spectrum, let alone the Lesbian social scene.  I tried “softening” up my look by growing my hair longer, wearing more jewelry and even wearing some girly clothing – generally shirts, never did I give up my guys jeans!!!

Before the computer and internet the LGBT world was very much smaller.  Our chat rooms were dimly lit gay bars, usually in very seedy locations.  We would hide our cars -never parking “near” the bar for fear of being “discovered” or questioned by anyone about “if” we were “in that bar”.  Even the clothing that some of us would leave our houses in (on our way to the bar) would be discarded and our “bar clothes”, which often would be uncovered in the trunk of the car, usually along with a bag of pot and pack of rolling papers!  My Drag Queen friends would hurriedly apply make-up in my rearview mirror, smacking lipstick onto Kleenex tissues to remove the excess.  Those were the good ‘ole days for MainelyButch, the days of no computer networking.  We drove cars without seatbelts and club drugs and all the while thinking that we were seriously “hiding” our true LGBT selves inside the concrete walls of the Paradox Club.  We had no cell phones.  We used back-door entry ways and sported hickeys covered by a half inch of liquid foundation make up the next morning.  We partied, danced, huffed Poppers, and had sex with wild abandon in the most unlikely of places sometimes.  We had some damned good, rowdy, but loving times.  Face-to-face was how you “met” people, made dates, and had sex…there was no keyboarding, computer monitors, or sexting in that world at that time.

….then September 24, 1982 came and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control in DC) used the word “AIDS” for the first time. Although HIV was not officially declared the “virus that causes AIDS” until May 1986 and On September 17, 1986 President Ronald Reagan mentions AIDS publicly for the first time, and many of our previously happy worlds came to abrupt halts in shock, that soon turned to fear and anger…lots of guys were getting sick, dying and NOW the President had “SAID” the word, and our community was completely changed forever.   I shall save that part of my life experience for future writing, as it is a very big piece of the puzzle of who I am today.  And it is an important part of tragic history of the LGBT community, and deserves it’s own blogging space.

As the internet became more and more popular and I sort of became immersed in the techno-geekery of it, I began to explore gender and all of it’s variants.  I found Butch books, cd’s and with Youtube came short videos – of Butches similar to me!   My comfort level with my gender presentation; with my androgyny and my more masculine preferences, began to feel more “normal” to me and much, much more nurturing to my inner self.  I devoured whatever I could find pertaining to Butchness and my more male presentation.  I questioned myself repeatedly about my possibly being Trans, FtM, but I could not find that comfort in the thought of being a man that I found in being a Butch.  I read the book “Butch is a Noun” by S. Bear Bergman and then I knew my true identity as a Butch. I love that book and I owe a world of thanks to Bear Bergman for writing it and sharing those experiences and views with me.

Now the internet is just part of all of our daily lives.  It’s our connection to the world beyond our front door.  Most of us rely on the web in some way or another to get us through our days, whether we are working or playing.  Us writers retired our old typewriters – which are now considered collector’s items – and gleefully adopted the “delete” button, allowing us to all throw away the white out and erasers!  The day I discovered Microsoft Word my entire life turned up-side down and changed.  I could now write for hours without tearing paper out of the roller and screaming at the typewriter for making mistakes.  I could “save” my work and password protect it so that I didn’t have to “hide” my journals or the folders full of typewritten pages from whoever I was afraid would find it and (gasp!) read it!    Yes, the internet and computers changed the entire world.  Things now move at lightening speed. Hell, by the time I finish this particular piece most of it will either be out-dated or I will have encountered more online that provokes further furious typing across my laptop keyboard!

One thing that continued to evolve and grow is me, myself.  Since I have settled nicely into accepting – even celebrating – my Butch self I have been a far happier individual.  I enjoy my Butch masculinity, the hair on my legs and my deep, raspy voice which used to make me very self-conscious during my years of denying my authenticity.  I only wish that I had found the path to my true feelings and allowed myself to just BE fabulously Butch, long before I did.  I realize that I could have saved myself a ton of emotional pain, and from the self-abuse that I put my body through while I was busy hating it. I am glad that today I understand myself, and I’m proud of who I am; who I have become since emerging from the tunnel of shame and insecurity.

In my personal writing, blogging and vlogging  ( Http://youtube.com/mainelybutch  ) I am publicaly stepping into the ring, or onto a stage, where my own fear of the critics and haters – of their comments and negative remarks, insults and hateful stuff “inspires” me to try to stay “small” in my own visibility sometimes.  I don’t like this at all.  It’s a form of self-censorship and defeats my purpose in writing/vlogging I think.  It makes ME reconsider what I post/write/say or film and that’s just not right in my opinion.  I hate feeling that way, it feels like I am somehow ashamed of myself and my own creative work.  And as a very out and loud Butch I already feel the vulnerability of my own gender presentation, and there is nothing more vulnerable than creating something; putting it out there in the world using our writing craft, and having it attacked and torn apart by those who don’t have the bravery of their own to take up the topic and let THEIR own words voice their opinion publicly for perhaps that same kind of attack; and being told that they aren’t “good enough” or that they are “wrong” in their views.

I try to be aware of my audience and I will even invite the critics  to take a seat.  Just know that while I see you and I hear you, I am not going to be threatened – by negative, argumentative, hateful or hostile comments – into not saying my piece anymore; nor will I be harangued into not being allowed to speak my own truths, and give my views and opinions as well.  You are welcome to come in, but I am not interested in your feedback unless you are in the ring of fire as well; putting your writings and opinions out there for us to all better understand you and where you are coming from with your comments and remarks, and that you are not just sitting on the sidelines making snarky remarks and belittling writers for their views, opinions, choices and/or for who they are and what they may represent with their words.  Particularly those who have the courage and are brave enough to make themselves visible and vulnerable in this community discussion, knowing that they are opening themselves up for possible attack by haters and nay-sayers.

If you have alternate opinions, morally differing views then I invite you to take your keyboard and begin your own piece on what you think of all of this inner-community policing and shaming that has been the topic of many of these blogs – mine included.  I am interested in hearing as many views and serious conversation on this as possible, and while I have my own personal thoughts on most of it, that doesn’t mean that I cannot be swayed to see something from another angle and rearrange a piece of the puzzle in front of me.  I am open minded, and while I am opinionated I am not without the ability to change my mind.

Everyone has a story inside of them.  And each person on this Earth has a unique identity – unique to them and them alone.  There are stereotypes about all kinds of people, places and things.  There are as many labels as there are cans or people to put them on!  Some like them, and some don’t, it’s personal choice; individual preference and no one should just accept someone else’s definition of them, but should create their identity and present it as a masterpiece to the world; creating an identity that they are personally proud to own and wear with courage in the face of fear!  Your identity doesn’t have to consist of a “label” or any kind of “stereotype” – all the world asks is that your identity be authentically YOU.

So, on this rainy day today I have been inspired to dive back into my more serious writing and to improve this blog and it’s contents.  I also want to make sure that fewer and fewer young Butches and Gender Queer people get sucked into that hole of blackness that brings them shame and sadness concerning who they are, where they come from, how they started life, where they are today in that life, or anxiety about their families, friends, and people who love them.  We can all learn from one another, young and old alike; black and white; gay and straight, rich or poor…we all bleed red and cry tears of water and salt.  We are all human beings who have feelings and who feel pain sometimes more often than pleasure.  By keeping open minds and tender hearts we can treat one another with a sort of identity respect that previous generations did not have the opportunity to have for themselves.  But we do need to remember that they fought the battles that brought us to the very place that our community is right now.  They have earned our respect and our gratitude – and our apologies in many ways as well.

“Right now, the endless flap over the gender community’s language is a hot topic, with RuPaul’s televisedshemale and tranny games highlighting the question of who gets to say what in our balkanized communities. The language cops, in this case conservative trans women who object to their use under any circumstance, want tranny and other such words completely banned. I understand the arguments against the insult, but I don’t think these torch-wielders realize that transsexual women do not own the experience of gender crossing or the language created around it. Both the experience and the language have a long and hard-fought history across many groups; our history books are full of these stories. In seeking to blot out our internal language of historical words like tranny, the thought police are essentially burning books, one word at a time.”  Calpernia Sarah Addams, The Advocate

http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/04/17/op-ed-burning-books-one-word-time

This excerpt is  from one of the articles that I read in the Advocate today, by Calpernia Sarah Addams.  The full article link is well worth your time to click and read!  The comments from her critics and from her allies too, are numerous and show the passion within our community surrounding the discussion of Gender and the way some try to be the “word or thought police” telling others that they cannot “use” certain words, or that these words are insulting to some.  As Calpernia says, our history shows no one group owning the experience or the language created around gender crossing.  We can’t just bleep out words because they offend – if we did that half the dictionary would be blot-outs and page removals!  We need to be sensitive to our audience and to the very real possibility that there have been experiences had by some that have turned certain words into reminders of hate, bigotry and violence.

Of course, I have certain words that I have chosen not use in my own personal speech or writing vocabulary, because I find them to be offensive myself, and thus choose not to use them.  My vocabulary certainly isn’t devoid of offensive words though, as those who follow me on Youtube can surely attest!  I can cuss like a trooper, and am not always “Politically Correct” but I do try to be “emotionally correct” and not attack anyone’s personal choices.  I like to believe that I do a pretty good job at showing human decency and respect for people as unique beings, regardless of their differences from me, or their differing opinions, views or what I may see as skewed moral compasses.  Everyone should be heard, so that are ALL able to learn from one another; understand our differences better, and build a better, more compassionate, loving and inclusive community.

 

 

 

How do you define “Butch”? Response…

ImageHow do you define “Butch”? Does Butch always mean “female”?

Butch is fierce, strong and rough, yet gentle.  Butch is no-nonsense, yet silly sometimes.  Butch is a generally tough exterior, yet a sort of teddy bear on the inside.  Butch is that feeling that you need to fix everything…even when you know you can’t.  Butch is not crying in public…at least trying not to!  Butch is steeling emotions on the surface, and dealing with them when you are alone.  Butch is getting up and doing what needs to be done even when you are sore, hurting and really don’t want to do it, but you do it anyway – because you are Butch. Butch is never letting them see you sweat.  Butch is shopping in the men’s department and anguishing over which dressing room you’ll be banned from.  Butch is avoiding public bathrooms as much as physically possible and using them at great risk of possible violence.  Butch is brushing off (and secretly smiling) all of the “sirs” and “young man” comments that those in the unknowing world dish out to us. Butch is standing up for what is right, even if it means getting our asses kicked.  Butch is good.  Butch is true.  Butch is flexible and giving.  Butch is whatever defines you, or how you define it for yourself. 

I am Butch. And I am proud.