Archive for July, 2010
The Femme Conference 2010: No Restrictions is happening in Oakland, CA in just three short weeks. There’s still time to register!
I attended in 2008 in Chicago and it was a pretty amazing experience. I took away so many conversations about identity development and expression, about visible physical markers and femme fashion. I would love to attend again, maybe next time.
Recently, I was chatting with a femme friend who was in from out of town about being in leadership or facilitator positions within this gender world, and how many baby femmes and baby butches feel lost and alone when they’re coming to these identities. “I always tell them, read your history!” she said. There are lots of books out there, actually, that discuss the same things we are going through. Sure, they might be a little dated; sure, we might have a better sense of how to break identity alignment assumptions than those writing thirty years ago. But we do not have to reinvent the wheel: much of this work has already been done for us, and even has already been recorded and written about.
So, as a countdown to this fantastic conference, I’m going to feature a couple of different femme tomes that are really important in the heritage of the femme world—or that have been to me. If you haven’t read them, I highly recommend it.
The first, and most recent publication about femme identity (as far as I know) is the two-volume set Visible: A Femmethology edited by Jennifer Clare Burke and published by Homofactus Press.
Visible: A Femmethology is a collection of personal essays from over fifty contributors who explore what it means to be a queer femme. Award winning authors, spoken-word artists, and totally new voices come together to challenge conventional ideas of how disability, class, nationality, race, aesthetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, and body type intersect with each contributor’s concrete notion of femmedom.
Though the book launched more than a year ago, the book’s website still has some very valuable stuff, including a large list of contributors, if you’d like to look up some inspiring writers, and mini-interviews with them about what it means to be femme.
The cover was a bit controversial, when it came out, but there are some male authors in this book who explore their femme identity, so I can understand that they intended to show that femme is not something that exclusively belongs to cis women.
I’ll admit, I’m a little biased with this book, because I have a piece in Volume II called A Love Letter to Femmes. Dacia recorded it for me last year, when the book was coming out, so there’s an audio recording of me reading it, if you’d like to hear it. But even if I didn’t have a piece in it, the collection is a great read and will I think inspire any femme to feel less alone. Most of the focus in this anthology, probably because of the title, Visible, is on the invisibility of femme identity and the ways that, particularly, straight folks assume femmes are also straight. I have my own thoughts about invisibility, mostly about sovereignty and the outsider complex that many of us feel, but regardless of my own opinions, I know visibility is something that pretty much all femmes feel at various times, so it’s an important thing to study and bring light to and discuss.
Order the two volumes directly from Homofactus Press (if you’d like the small indie press to get the most benefit), from your local independent queer feminist neighborhood bookstore, or, if you must, from Amazon.
“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.” —Hafiz
I haven’t found an official psychological definition of the Outsider Complex, but I think it does exist in those circles. Maybe the phrase seems common sense enough that nobody feels the need to define it somewhere. You can tell what I mean by it already, right? The occasionally overwhelming obsession of being an outsider, which sometimes means either putting oneself in a position of being an outsider (be that consciously or unconsciously) and often lamenting “not fitting in” or not being part of the status quo.
Well, let me tell you something: the status is not quo. It seems like just about every marginalized group has their own sense of the Outsider Complex, but I think queers are susceptible to it in our own ways. Especially genderqueer queers. Especially kinky genderqueer queers. Especially kinky genderqueer queers who grew up in a place that insisted, over and over and over, that fitting in, climbing the social or corporate ladder, following along on the assembly line, is the only way to live one’s life.
And as usual, I believe that if we can name something, define it, study it’s parameters, that when it comes up in our own lives, it will feel easier to deal with, because we have some sort of Big Emotional Reaction and we can point our finger and say, “Outsider complex,” take a breath, and have some sort of context for what’s happening. I believe that making the process conscious will improve it.
I’ve been talking about the Outsider Complex a lot lately. Everybody’s got their own version of it, I think—even most straight white Christian republican cis guys, I would argue, still get their own healthy dose of it, perhaps it’s just an inevitable side-product of this individualist culture. But it’s been coming up for me because Kristen’s version of it and my version are very different. And sometimes, that has created some tension between us, because I just didn’t get where she was coming from.
See, I grew up in Southeast Alaska. If you’ve been following along with my column Mr. Sexsmith’s Other Girlfriend, you know all about it; I’ve been writing about my relationships with places a lot over there. Not only did I grow up very much outside of suburbia, American cities, and even American farmland, I also grew up with hippie parents who don’t buy much into pop culture, I grew up vegetarian, I grew up with a lot of pagan influences. Combine that with my particularly unique name, and just those factors alone gave me a sense that I was different from the time I was little. But instead of feeling like that was a problem, I saw it as a badge of uniqueness. I like being different. I like being outside of mainstream culture.
So yeah, I do have an outsider complex, but it acts a bit differently than other people’s—in particular, than Kristen’s—and different than what I observe in the queer communities as a whole. Generally, I think the outside complex works more as a badge of shame, thinking ourselves inferior because we don’t fit it.
For many of us, hitting puberty and discovering that there’s something “different” about ourselves, even if we don’t quite pinpoint our gayness or butchness or transness until later, was the turning point, the place of no return, before which we were “one of the gang” and just going along like all the “normal” kids, and perhaps we have this deep-set feeling that if we could just get back to that, everything would be alright.
Perhaps that too is partially a loss of innocence process, where we learn something new and we can’t ever go back to when we didn’t know it, even if we wish we could.
Some of this Outsider Complex can also be growing up queer without any sort of queer influence. No older queers, no peers, no mentors, nobody who even said words like lesbian or gay or queer or kinky or butch or femme or trans or whatever. I think that’s changing, more and more, what with that little revolutional technological thing called the Internet, and with the advances in the gay rights and gender movements in the recent years, so perhaps kids today (oh my god did I just say that? I’m old) are growing up with much less of a sense of the Outsider Complex, just by their very different exposure to queer culture.
I continue to see this manifested, though, in so many ways with queers who are adults now, who have been out for a decade or more, who do take part in some sort of queer community: there’s still this sense of isolation, of being different than, of being not fully accepted or not fully understood for who you are or what you love.
I even think it is sometimes used by us in martyr-type ways: oh look how much of an outsider I am, oh look how different I am than everyone else, you couldn’t possibly understand me, woe is me woe is me. In the worst case scenario, perhaps.
It’s something personally I haven’t quite struggled with. And I don’t say that with any sort of hierarchy or judgment attached to it, one is not better than the other, it is just the way it is. Certainly I have my own complexes and issues, regardless of whether I have this one.
So to witness it in others is curious. What’s going on there? I want to ask. And when I see it in others, it breaks my heart a little. How would I ever explain how deeply you do belong? How common it is, to feel this way? How many thousands and thousands of other queers and kinksters and butches and femmes and whatevers just like you there are out there?
Maybe it’s because I spent years reading Wild Geese every single day, memorizing it, reminding myself, “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, / the world offers itself to your imagination, / calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – / over and over announcing your place / in the family of things.” Maybe it’s because I was never indoctrinated into Christianity and have never believed in hating myself. Maybe I’m just really lucky, I don’t know.
So tell me, readers, Redhead Army Sugarbutch Fans, queers of all spots and stripes: Does this make sense? Do you witness this outsider complex in queer worlds? Is this something that you experience? How? Have you been able to address it and get past it? Or is it something you struggle with ongoing?
Want to join us?
If you’d like to join in on the conversation, even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can follow the conversation we’re having with the hash tag #pornoparty—so if you join in, please include that hash tag on your Tweets so we can see your comments!
If you don’t have the film, don’t worry—you can do the video-on-demand thing and watch it over at Hot Movies For Her. If you sign up for a new account, use the discount code SugarButch (not sure if the caps are required or not, that’s how they set it up, even though the B is not capitalized) for 20 minutes free. It’s only 90 minutes long, so it’s a start!
I’m sure there’s a way to live-update the Twitter feed on a post, and I’ll look into it tomorrow and see if I can make that easily happen, but you might have to just go check Twitter tomorrow. It should be fun!
Remember those Heart 2 Heart bondage cuffs? The ones made of red leather, that are perfectly fine, average, pretty, well-constructed? The Heart 2 Heart blindfold goes with them, as part of a set, along with the collar and whip, neither of which I have gotten my hands on yet, but I am curious to. There’s something about a set of matching things that is just so … cute. I like that idea.
Like the cuffs, the blindfold is pretty much as you’d expect. It’s leather, with an elastic strap, little hearts cut into the leather on the front side, red stitching, and black suede on the underside.
The thing about getting products off the Internet is that you can’t really try them on. I got it out the other day to play with Kristen, restraining her wrists to the bedpost, pulling the blindfold on, and then getting the hitachi out. The blindfold was a little bit big for her, she’s on the small side and it didn’t quite fit right on her face, the elastic wasn’t quite tight enough so that it didn’t slip and slide when she squirmed, and the bridge cut out for the nose was just a little too big, so she could kind of see through the middle. Not that I was doing anything that I didn’t want her to see, really, but just for the sensory deprivation, and I think sometimes it was a bit distracting.
(She didn’t seem to mind.)
I forget how much I like blindfolds. I don’t have any nice ones, just some cheesy ones that probably came in a fancy overnight traveler’s kit. I really like blacking out my eyes, though, both when I’m trying to calm down, like at night, going to sleep, and when I’m meditating, and when I’m getting off. Sometimes I even put a pillow or eye-pillow over my eyes to block the light.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite fit me, either: It’s a little too tight, a little too small. It cut into my nose a little, the edges are just a little bit sharp where the leather is cut, and it wasn’t that comfortable.
I love the idea of a set, and I am now really craving an upscale blindfold, but I’m not sure this was the one. I’d love another leather one, the silky ones seem too flimsy I think, but I’ll make sure to try it on first.
I spent almost a week on this after I saw the film. It turned out to be a bit of an opus, about six pages long, and AfterEllen.com graciously told me they would run it.
Here’s a little teaser of my thoughts:
What if this depiction of that trope, of that storyline of lesbian-sleeps-with-a-man, is actually a step forward? It’s actually a step away from the old versions of this story? It’s something new. We haven’t actually seen this before. What if it’s a sign that we’re actually getting farther from this trope, rather than recreating it yet again?
Untangling that trope means entering into some grey areas, unseeing the black-and-white of this issue and looking at some of the larger contexts and contents; reigning in our own projections a little bit to consider this with fresh eyes, from a place of a beginner’s mind, without quite so much anger directed at this trope. I know that sounds like you have to give up your very warranted anger, but that’s not quite what I mean. It’s just having enough looseness to be able to allow new information to be observed, even if we already think we know exactly what we’re looking at.
Because that’s really the problem here, isn’t it? We hear “a film in which a lesbian sleeps with a guy” and we roll our eyes and get that disappointed, sinking stomach feeling, and we pretend that we aren’t disappointed in yet another depiction of us, of me, of my life, my legitimate love, my legitimate orientation, in a mainstream film that had so much potential, so we squish that potential and we squish that disappointment and we try to sound so damn smart about the wrong that is this film that we might actually miss the film itself, what it’s saying, and what it’s doing.
And go see this film. It is really beautiful.
It’s a perfect temperature here in Portland, which means, yay, that button-down and tie I brought for my workshops tonight and tomorrow are going to work out just fine.
If you’re in the area, come by one of the workshops!
Gender & Rol
Wednesday, July 21st, 2010, 7:30pm
at She Bop, 909 N. Beech St, Portland, OR
Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 7pm
at Fascinations, 9515 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR
Free! And, pick up $10 gift card for all those who come! Now that just-right cock or harness will be even cheaper.
And of course tomorrow I’ll be visiting Powell’s. And seeking out amazing vegetarian restaurants or cafes … got any recommendations?
I was being a jerk. Not sure the details are all that important, I just got up on the wrong side of the bed and everything was bothering me and it was 95 degrees outside and I was mad at the world. I made the mistake of thinking that running errands in Manhattan would make me feel better. Get some things done, knock things off the to do list. Did I forget that I don’t deal with heat well? (Can I stop complaining about the heat already?)
Plus, the errands were unsuccessful. I’m only a recent Mac owner, my MacBook is about a year old, and I’ve never had to go into the Apple Store for service before. My power cord shorted out over the weekend (anybody out there have an extra one lying around? Will trade) and I didn’t know I needed an appointment at the Genius Bar, so i just went in. Plus, my iPhone 4G, which replaced my ancient 3G since I broke the screen when I dropped it on a playground in Alaska, is getting a terrible signal and I’d just heard about the booster cases Apple is giving to 4G owners. Of course, you have to do that on the website, not at the store, and they’re unavailable/out of stock. We shall see how that goes.
Combine my disappointment, my not working cell phone, my powerless laptop, with the heat, not to mention the crowds of Soho and then Union Square, and I was ready for a drink.
What I’m saying is, I was spending all my energy trying to keep it together as Kristen and I shopped for peaches and tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market.
By the time we got home I’d picked a fight, then started to backpedal out of it. We were both upset. I was being a jerk. I couldn’t seem to calm myself down or shake this “everything sucks” mood. I apologized; I knew I was off, and I said so. I tried to state what I needed, I tried to remove myself to give myself time to calm down. I could have done better. I gave up and took a nap.
Hours later I woke up a little reset, Kristen and I had a decent evening, dinner and a movie, sitting close on the couch, being more careful with each other.
Later still, after we got in bed, I pulled her close as we snuggled in together and kissed her, a physical apology for my distance that I was trying to make up for with closeness. I wanted to be closer still, feel her everywhere, make it up to her, be inside her. I still felt fragile and a little thin, but the want was growing as we kissed. I got flashes of my forearm across her chest, holding her down. Adding some extra bruises to the two on her inner thighs, which are blooming nicely. I saw flashes of fucking her fast and hard and furious and it made me hot, eager.
I kissed her again, let my hands slip under her green tank top, one fingertip into the top of her undies. She sighed, kissed me back, hands in my hair, and I felt myself melt a little into her.
“Play with me?” I asked, quiet, our mouths still nearly touching.
Her whole body responded with a flush of heat that rippled through her. “Of course baby. What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know.” C’mon, I chided myself. Say something. “I feel the instinct to be mean. But I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t know if that’d feel good, after how I treated you today.”
“You could be my mean Daddy. I like it when you do that. It would be okay.”
I was quiet. Not sure it was a good idea. I’d rather not be so torn. I’d been torn all day.
“Or you could be small,” she whispered close to my ear, stroking my hair.
Even the words felt like a relief. I nodded. “Just … take care of me for a while?” She nodded back and kissed me again, a little more commanding than usual. Her lips were sweet, tongue soft, warm, and I started to get lost in the kiss, in the feel of her next to me, touching me.
“Give me your hand,” she said, and took it up and under her shirt, to her breast, firm and round and soft in my palm. I ran my fingers over her nipple like it was a fence I was walking by, brushing it as it grew more stiff, then pinching it hard, and the arch of her back made the growl return to my stomach. Strength. Power. Maybe I need some of that. She squirmed and let out a little cry as I twisted and pulled, then took a huge handful and kissed her.
I like her nipples in my mouth. Supple and soft. I have never been, as they say, a “breast man,” never quite got it like others seem to. Don’t get me wrong, I feel and play and suck and pinch, especially when I know that’s what she likes, but maybe it’s because my own aren’t very sensitive that I didn’t used to derive a lot of my own pleasure from playing with them. Recently, though, that’s been different. (Have I written about this before?)
I was starting to salivate, to get that itch for that feeling of smallness and sucking, when she said, “Will you suck on my tities, sweet boy?” I smiled, then bit my lip to hide it. Pushed her shirt up farther and took my arm out from under her neck, lying back down over hers, a little bit of role reversal, allowing her to give me some needed comfort for perhaps the first time that day.
I lowered my mouth down to her nipple, rested my head on her arm and against her chest as her hands pulled my head closer, and sighed. Her areola puckered in my mouth, against my tongue. Her skin was sweet with that salty wisp of sweat and summer. I sucked her in deeper and used my teeth to hold her there. She gasped. I flicked my tongue, then widened it and lapped at her nipple, thick long strokes over and over.
“Ohh that’s good … that feels so good.”
I let myself get lost in the sucking. Let it feel like nourishment, let myself be filled. I pictured energy pouring out of her, down my throat, pooling in my belly, and kept drinking it in.
After a minute I shifted, brought my mouth slowly off and over to the other, brought my weight slightly over her so I could free up my right hand. I cupped her tits and kept the angle in my mouth, then dragged my hand down her stomach and hips to her thighs, which she easily parted, a nonverbal request. I slid my hand into her panties and found her wet, dipped my fingers in slow.
I lifted my mouth and looked up at her. “May I?”
“Yes, mmm yes,” she murmured, leaning back into the bed and pressing her cunt toward my hand.
I wet my fingertips and traced her lips around her clit, flicked it, stroked it. Bit at her nipple. It didn’t take long; she started writhing, breathing, “Oh that’s good, that’s my good boy, my good boy,” and came, shuddering against me.
I kissed her mouth again and she stroked my neck, held me to her. “That felt good baby.”
“I like to feel you do that. Like to touch you.”
“You made me all wet, you made me feel so good.” She kissed me again. “Suck my nipples again, sweet boy?”
I lowered my mouth again, settled next to her as she kept me cradled.
“Did that make your cock all hard?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said quietly, not looking up. “A little.”
“Did that make you want to touch it.”
I murmured something between an “um” and a “mm.” Hesitant and feeling shy. That boy-feeling of exposure, vulnerability; you can see how much I want this by the strain against my zipper, the uncomfortable hardness, the pressure.
Of course, I don’t really have that. But there are moments, like when she starts talking about it, that this feeling comes up, and this is the best I can do to explain it.
“Touch it,” she said quietly. “Touch it for me. Tell me how it feels.” She knew I wasn’t packing. She meant my cock, my other cock, my little cock I sometimes call it, my dick, my clit.
I reached down to feel under the boxers I’d pulled on to sleep in, found my cunt wet and lips swollen, my clit—my cock—hard and slick. It felt good to touch. Like I had permission, like I could take my time. Like relief from the tension that had mounted in my body during my bad mood all day. Like release.
I dragged my fingers along lazily for a minute, touching, relaxing, with a massaging touch, building arousal. I thought she might ask me to go get my big cock, so I didn’t want to come quickly. Let’s let it build.
“How does it feel?” she asked into my hair, arms still wrapped around me.
“It feels good. Hard. Thick and big.”
“Mmm. I like it when it gets hard and big. Then you put it inside me, don’t you, my sweet boy? You like to put it in my pussy.”
Quickly, the flash of pushing my cock into her, her tight resistance, the way she opens up and wraps around me was in my head. My cock pulsed harder. I could barely respond, her nipples still in my mouth, still needing the distraction and permission of sucking.
I started rubbing my
clit cock faster, jerking it a little, keeping my fingertips wet. My muscles got harder, too, contracting in my thighs and ass and stomach, starting to clench down and press into my hand. My knees straightening out, toes curling, then knees opening out to the side, legs splayed.
I let it build until I was almost ready to come and then backed off, took my hand away for a second, concentrated on sucking at her tits again, a little harder, a little deeper into my mouth, tonguing her nipples and swallowing as I breathed and concentrated on the heat building between my legs.
Only a quick break, a quick moment before I reached back down and started rubbing my clit again. Moaning through my full mouth, pressing myself against her, her arms pulling me toward her chest and keeping me close to her as I got closer, closer. Stroking up and down and, if I was being really honest, I would tell you I was thinking about my other cock, my big cock, the go-to one I usually use, and whose weight I miss hanging from my hips if I don’t wear it a few times a week. The girth of it in my hand, what it’s like to slip over the head and feel the ridges, feel its tip against my palm. What it’s like to slide inside of her.
More noise from my mouth. Growls and grunts and heavy breathing and convulsions as my chest and stomach contracted.
“Are you getting closer, sweet boy? Come for me. Come on, jerk that cock for me.”
I kept my fingers low and felt the tension hard and swollen under my fingers. Just a couple more strokes, just—there—just—closer, my fingers in fierce rhythm getting harder, quicker, as fast as I could go, “Yeah, yeah, fuck,” I started trying to exhale more, I’m holding my breath, pushing my hips up to meet my strokes.
“That’s good baby, that’s so good,” she keeps murmuring.
I’m ready and it burst out of me as I pulsed and thrusted, stroking fast and hard once more, twice, three times, my body convulsing in the microseconds between, shuddering as the shock waves faded, gasping as I calmed and tried to keep letting go, still feeling ripples of release through my whole body. I realized her nipple was still in my mouth, loosely held so I could suck in air, and I let up to take a full breath, let it out slow. Still shuddering. Still tingly all over. And as I relaxed I released even more, letting something out, some tension I’d been holding on to, something bigger, who knows what, something stored deep in my muscles, and tears started rolling down my face and toward my ears, I started gulping, soft sobs between breaths. Just a few before it passed, faded, and my breath smoothed.
I turned toward her again and sighed, rested against her, kissed her. I was spent. It didn’t take long to fall asleep (in a slightly wider embrace, still affected by the heat).
I woke the next morning feeling scrubbed clean, not a trace of that bad mood left in my system, pulled her close, smelled her skin, felt her shoulder with my cheek. Everything is much better when I remember how lucky I am to wake up with this beautiful girl every day.
Have you nominated your favorite sex bloggers for the Top Sex Bloggers 2010 list yet? Just leave a comment with your favorites before July 31st.
And it’s going to be delicious. I can tell already. Mark your calendars! And see the whole schedule over on queerliterarycarnival.com.
Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
August 10 @ The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm.
August’s theme is HEAT WAVE EROTICA, starring:
Tamiko Beyer (Drunken Boat)
Rachel Kramer Bussel (In The Flesh)
Mildred Dred Gerestant (OUTMusic Spirit Award)
Kit Yan (Mr. Transman 2010)
About the performers … Read More
My Sideshow co-host and co-producer Cheryl B. is guest curating for another New York City queer literary reading series, Queer Memoir. Queer Memoir is a bit different than Sideshow (or In the Flesh or Red Umbrella Diaries or Drunken! Careening! Writers! or the Bluestockings Poetry Jam & Open Mic) as it features people who are not necessarily performers or professional storytellers sharing their lives and stories.
Cheryl’s guest theme is Sober, and it happens this Saturday, the 24th of July at the Queers for Economic Justice performance space in Manhattan. Come! I’m going to do my best to make it, and then likely go to Butch Burlesque at Dixon Place later that same night.
Guest curator and host Cheryl B. presents the sober-themed edition of NYC’s premier queer storysharing show, Queer Memoir, starring: Joshua Bastian Cole, Cora Leighton, Katie Liederman, Melissa Febos, Sophia Pazos, Terence, & Tina Goerlach
About the storytellers … Read More
This week’s Sideshow: Queer Literary Carnival was the theme of Freak Flag, and the show was fantastic.
I’m not much of an event photographer (certainly not compared to last month’s beautiful shots by Syd London), but I got a few of the readers this time, and Kristen took some video that I’ll work on uploading also.
The rest of the shots are up over on the Sideshow blog, at the new domain queerliterarycarnival.com.