Archive for December, 2010
I had the pleasure of reading at Kathleen Warnock‘s New York City literary series Drunken! Careening! Writers! on Thursday night in celebration of the new release from Cleis Press, Best Lesbian Erotica 2011, in which I have a story.
Kiki DeLovely, Xan West, Charlotte Dare, D.L. King, Theda Hudson, and I all read excerpts from our pieces included in this year’s book, and Kathleen read from her introduction (and was her all-around amazing hostess self).
It was a blast of an event. It’s become a little bit of a holiday tradition, since BLE always comes out around this time of year and Kathleen has hosted the official New York City kickoff for quite a while, for as long as I’ve been in New York anyway. Kathleen always jokes, “Pick one up for grandma. Perfect gift.”
It’s my favorite erotica series. The quality is always amazing, and the 2011 edition is no exception. I think Kathleen said there are contributors from six different countries this year! I had to mention it in my recent Cliterotica: Lesbian Erotica Roundup for Lambda Literary Foundation, regardless that I have a story in there it’s an incredible anthology.
Here’s the description:
Edited by Kathleen Warnock, Selected and introduced by Lea DeLaria. In Best Lesbian Erotica 2011, women find love and lust in all the right places – kitchens, cars, dance clubs, dungeons, and even a flowerbed. This year’s guest judge is the anything-but-shy Lea DeLaria, the multi-talented writer, stand-up comic, singer, and actor. She has selected work from some of the best-known writers of lesbian erotic fiction as well as debuts of startling new talents. A 1958 Mercury Park Lane rides like a sexual time machine in D.L. King’s “Walk Like a Man.” In Betty Blue’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” a lost boi encounters a firespirit on a romantic celestial plane. In Kiki DeLovely’s “The Third Kiss,” a woman discovers it’s not a good idea to tell your crush your dreams about her – unless you want them to come true.
"I think of "butch" as being a synonym for being a more masculine woman. When I was younger, I thought that butch meant tough, and I worried I wasn't tough enough. I love pretty ladies and I used to think the only way to have a pretty lady love me back was to be more tough."Read More
"I would tell my younger self that you didn't have to be freaked out as a feminist because you wanted a "penis" to make love to your girlfriend."Read More
"I haven't always identified as "butch," but it was definitely my first queer identity. There have been people who have told me I'm not butch, and people who have laughed in my face if I said I wasn't."Read More
The Butch Lab Symposium is meant to be a cross between a blog carnival and a link round-up, where whoever wants to chimes in on a particular topic around butch identity and we all have a conversation.Read More
The problem with butch identity—well, any identity category of social, sexual, political, geographical, or other significance really—is permission. If you get past the problem of stereotyping, of course, and how stereotypes are based on fact but simplified, sprayed down with fake plastic snow and called a tree when in fact they don’t grow or move or change or catch breezes or encourage nesting.
The problem with butch identity is permission. Who gives you permission to be butch? Are you butch “enough?” I questioned myself. I wasn’t sure I bought in to what I saw reproduced around me. So I sought out mentors: S. Bear Bergman, Ivan E. Coyote, Patrick Califia, Karlyn Lotney, Jack Halberstam. People whose writings I could adore secretly in the dark and examine with a microscope, searching for myself hidden between the lines.
“You’re not that butch,” others would say to me. “Oh don’t say that,” they’d shush me with pursed lips after I dropped That Word into casual conversation. As if I’d just called myself something insulting, something demeaning. A bad word. Butch is a bad word, one of those locked and loaded words used against us by classmate and teacher alike. Such a different, awkward, not-right way to be, according to the eyes of the world.
But I didn’t see it that way. From the minute a girl—a femme—I was madly, stupidly, unrequitedly in love with leaned in and whispered, “I think you’re butch,” I knew it was tattooed on all the walls of my heart and when they split this body open they’ll find those five simple letters ink-stamped over every organ. Butch heart. Butch lungs. Butch stomach and trachea and diaphragm and sternum.
I saw it as an honor.
(I still do.)
And so I started reading, and I saw it as a lineage, connecting me to dozens of other writers and thinkers, radical activists and dapper dressers, people I could look up to for style, advice, insight.
But still: Was I enough? Was I “faking” it? Was I an imposter? Goddess knows that’s the most dangerous thing to be.
My experiences told me no, this is real, but my head took convincing. I craved permission. A card to carry, a gold stamp: certified, verified, “real” butch. I tagged along, hanging on my mentor’s every room for approval, validation. I consumed like I’d been starved of knowledge of my own people—which I had.
Ultimately, it wasn’t anyone else who gave me permission: it was me. I splashed around enough to know that while I didn’t have the answers, no one else did either. They only had guidelines, ideas, what had worked and what hadn’t, the stories of their own piecemeal patchwork lives. But boy, did we have questions.
Questions like: What is butch? What does it mean to me? I savor these questions like a fine rich dessert. I turn them over and over in my mouth with my tongue. And as much as I crave their answering, I crave the questions they raise even more.
So here’s what butch is, for me: Permission. Permission to be myself, that little solid stardust shiny nugget I feel somewhere in my core, like a diamond lodged between L5 and L4 of the lumbar spine vertebrae. Permission to wear what I like, to love who I desire, to play how I crave, to decorate and adorn my body how I choose. To experience all the things this world has to offer, without guilt or obligation, but with curiosity and an open heart and experimental hands. Permission to be right where I’m at, regardless of whether that’s where I was yesterday. Permission to explore and seek pleasure, to connect and create friction, to question and make change. Permission to be exactly who I am, doing exactly what I’m doing, to have bright burning faith that everything I do works toward the greatest liberation for everyone, as much as possible, all the time, in all ways.
And just in case you need it: I give you permission, too.
"The older I've become and the more comfortable I have grown in my own skin, I have realized how much of myself is tied into the word "butch"."Read More
This is the new butch project I’ve been cryptically describing for the last few months: www.butchlab.com.
Here’s what’s over there right now: the Inspiration list, which is the new Top Hot Butches database of folks; the Symposium, which is the blog carnival link round-up (the first of which will be posted later today!); and the Butch Lab blog, which you can subscribe to for updates on the project, interviews, announcements, and all sorts of other things.
I have so much to say about it, so many things to describe and explain. HUGE THANK YOU goes out to the interns who have made this possible: Kyle, Lauren, Sarah, Roxanne, and Yvette, I am so grateful for your help in compiling the Inspiration list and for helping me knock around ideas.
Please forward the URL widely, comment, share, and keep up with the new project. I really hope you enjoy it.
t to, since I used to write up everything, and since that night was particularly notable and so hot.
This was my gift to her, yesterday. I’ll post a shot of what she got me later.
It’s a garter flask. And if you promise not to tell Kristen, I’ll tell you that it came from You-Nique Garters on Etsy and they come in lots of colors.