Kelli Dunham: Mini-Interview
Kelli Dunham, writer, comic. kellidunham.com
1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
I love the word butch for myself but also love the umbrella term masculine of center which seems to encompass a lot more folks in a very positive way. I’ve learned over the years that I don’t have to do what Grace Moon calls “Butch/Femme realism” to be butch. I don’t have to fix cars or even be tough. I’m not tough, I cry at dog food commercials, I cry on the subway. I like that part of myself, and I’m glad as I’ve gotten older that I’ve been able to move away from needing to pretend to be the strong and silent type (which I ain’t) in order to be butch.
2. Which words and labels, if any, do you use to describe yourself and your identities?
Butch, Mama Butch, Genderqueer (if describing myself to folks under 30, usually), Wanna Be Glitter Butch. And Boi, but only to those with whom I’m close. Like my girlfriend calls me boi, and have another close friend who calls Munchkin, who is her own variation, I think, on boi. I think people who are closer to me (rather than those who see my on a stand up comedy stage) see me as more Boi than Butch.
3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
It doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t have listened since I already knew everything. But for starters:
“Saunter in a dignified manner away from the flannel drawstring pants. NOW!”
“Good fucking Lord goofball, you can wear men’s underwear and you’ll be FINE!!!”
“Don’t wait for the grown-ups. They aren’t coming. You’re the grown-up now and you get to make it up as you go along.”