Archive for January, 2011
The first time I tried on a chest harness was at a leather festival. I put it on over my tank top and quickly admired myself in the mirror looking like a gay boy leather daddy top, which is really my only association with those x chest harnesses. As much as it seems like they would be worn by bottoms, and used for restraint, it seems like they are more commonly associated with the tops doing the restraining.
Maybe that’s just me, and I’ve somehow superimposed my own biases on the whatever images I’ve picked up along the way.
I was planning to use this x harness in a photo shoot, but that has yet to happen. I still think it might, someday, and I think these harnesses look particularly bad ass, so it could be a useful prop. I have a particular vision of how I want to be posed when I have this photo taken, but what I visualize and what turns out to be the best shot aren’t always the same, so who knows what’ll happen when I actually get around to capturing some images. That’s partly why I’ve had this harness for such a long time but still haven’t written it up—I thought I’d post a photo, since how much is there to really say about this type of object?
Really I’m not sure what kind of uses this harness has aside from as a prop in a photo. Or maybe as a fetish outfit to a play party, if I remembered it and dressed up ahead of time. I haven’t taken it out during sex, well, ever, and I’m not sure I would. But I still like having it in my toy box, and hopefully I’ll come up with some good uses for it aside from just to look pretty. Any ideas?
Seal Press recently released a much needed addition to queer identity narratives in the anthology Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women edited by Candace Walsh and Laura Andre.
What do you think of when you think about a coming out story? Typically in this culture, the main character of a coming out narrative tends to be a teenager, either pre-teen or late teens, someone who either has always been a bit different or is suddenly hit with the sexual revelation that they might be gay. Despite that coming out as a teenager seems, to me, to be actually a somewhat recent phenomenon, and that people coming out even ten or fifteen years ago were more likely to be college-age rather than high school age, which I would largely attribute to the rise of the Internet and the vast amount of information easily accessible by just typing “gay” into a search engine or, at this point, speaking one word into a search program on a smart phone, there is still a significant lack of literature available about people who come out later in life. Though the coming out process continues to happen younger and younger, the dominant stories are still about people in their tumultuous twenties, which is frequently when we formulate and articulate our adult sexual identities, often for the first time.
But what about someone coming out in their late thirties, forties, fifties? What about someone who has spent most of their life heterosexual, married and raising kids? Often, these stories are not reflected in queer literature and culture. We tend to value and legitimize the folks who express that we “always knew” that something was off about us, queer identities that started giving hints in childhood and were full-on signs by our adolescences.
Which is why this anthology is a much needed addition to the body of work on queer identity; we have so few stories about what it’s like to form these identities later in life. In this book, “later in life” is defined quite broadly, as some of the participants are still quite young and have, in my mind, had fairly typical coming out experiences.
While I was reading through these essays, I felt that it was important to keep in mind that they are personal reflections about the authors’ own experiences, and while there is great value in telling those stories, and this book is beginning to fill a neglected gap, they are not necessarily radical or particularly theoretical, and in fact perpetuate many stereotypes about lesbianism and gender in particular. In fact, the consistent commentary on gendered lesbian stereotypes in so many of the essays made me wonder if those stereotypes were a reflection upon the editors’ beliefs. Perhaps the reader was meant to assume that these were former stereotypes that the narrators held, and that their understandings have deepened and become more complex, but none of the essays directly addressed the vast inaccurate outsider observations toward the lesbian communities and none of the essays directly took on any sort of understanding of how complex gender identity and expression is in the queer and lesbian worlds.
I know that a complex understanding of gender is a lot to expect, and that I am particularly critical of representations of gender that are heteronormative and perpetuating stereotypes, but I was disappointed in the consistent portrayal throughout this book. I do think it is an important to add to the dominant paradigm of coming out and coming to queer identities, and certainly it gives a solid base on which others can now build. But I am cautious in recommending it, since I think it perpetuates more stereotypes than it challenges.
[When I think of "butch,"] I think of me, by default, or people like me, who have too much style when we walk into the men's section at the department store. The word "Butch" is sexy, it's strong.Read More
I've been a stud, a dom, a butch, and a boi across my journey of life. It's been important to claim my identity as a masculine of center womyn, to make peace with myself. I prefer female pronouns and as long as you don't call me lady or m'am, we'll be fine.Read More
Yes, this is a bit of an advertisement for queer porn director Shine Louise Houston’s newest project Heavenly Spire, but it’s also a commentary on masculinity in porn.
I’m sure I don’t have to work too hard to convince you that for as many limited, limiting, stereotypical, heterosexist notions in porn that exist for women, there are just as many that exist for men. Men are portrayed as the domineering, dominant, in charge, virile, muscular, top character in virtually every way in the porn industry, a depiction that hurts and polices the vast range of male sexualities—just as depicting women as the receptive, passive counterparts is hurtful to women.
And while there is a huge world of queer porn out there, most of the ethical, thoughtful, gender-aware is trans or female, and there hasn’t been many explorations of masculinity through video and porn.
Here’s some wording from the official press release of Houston’s beautiful Heavenly Spire project:
After making a name for herself directing beautifully shot dyke/queer porn, Feminist Porn Awards’ Visionary Director Shine Louise Houston has turned her sharp eye to the gays.
Vivid-Ed director Tristan Taormino touts Houston as “one of the most influential, groundbreaking and talented queer filmmakers of this century.” Advocating that women watch gay porn, Taormino enthusiastically took note of the new site, commenting: “It features a group of ethnically-diverse models and couples, genuine chemistry, and Houston’s signature stunning cinematography.”
By dedicating the site to masculine beauty and sexuality and how it manifests on different bodies, Shine Louise Houston pushes the boundaries of a new visibility in gay porn: HeavenlySpire.com equally casts queer males as it does transsexual men. This inclusion is a rarity in gay male pornography.
Models share an intimate interview where they disclose their personal fantasies, describe their sexuality, turn-ons, and what they physically like about themselves and one another.
While partially inspired by her love for gay male porn, Houston’s vision for HeavenlySpire.com came mainly from within. Says Houston, “Heavenly Spire is a personal project for me. Accepting my own masculinity has really allowed me to feel okay with desire for masculine people. Exploring it on the site really looks at male bodies the way I want to.”
It sounds all smart when described like that, huh? And yes sure, of course it is smart, it is intentional and thoughtful and the filming is just fucking beautiful. But let’s not forget that it’s also way hot.
Sometimes as a dyke I am a little hesitant to recommend porn with cisgender men in it, as I can frequently get the “ick factor” reaction from other dykes: “Ew.” But as someone who is increasingly cock-centric, and, I’ll admit, sometimes a bit fascinated to the point of fetishizing cocks, I have got to say that this site is not just thoughtful and beautiful but also fucking hot.
So thank you, Heavenly Spire, for being a sponsor of Butch Lab, and for bringing new and exciting visions of masculinity and a masculine sexuality into the porn world. I can’t wait for the DVD.
Artist Elisha Lim is now also selling Queer Love Cards at their Etsy shop.
Says Elisha: “The cards are about a queer way of being in love, with things like butches saying “Hey Handsome,” transfags saying “Hey Beautiful,” and genderqueers saying “Hayy” and “I Like Your Cardigan.”"
Just in time for Valentine’s Day! I’m sure I can think of a few people I could send these lovely cards to … Etsy.com/shop/elishalim
They also sent along a couple images to show off here on Butch Lab! Enjoy:
This generation of butch identified / masculine of center individuals are changing what it means to be butch - making it bigger and more accessible for those to come and it’s all being documented in real time through social media - it’s a very exciting & fascinating time.Read More
Join us at Sideshow on February 8th with readers Melissa Gira Grant, Rohin Guha, Aimee Herman, and Christa Orth.
Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival – Achilles’ Heel
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, February 8th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
Find out more about the readers!
Being butch has always been part of my queer identity. When I was young my friends and I loved to talk about “what kind of butch are you?” Now that I’m headed into my silver fox years it’s just an identity that has sat well with me for a long time. And I acknowledge other butches out there as much as I can, with the butch nod or a “hi.”Read More