Photo by Michelle Bandach
1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
Well, to start, I have the word tattooed on the back of my right arm, if that tells you anything. It is a central part of my identity. The word represents the way I walk in the world and represents the sisters and brothers who have come before me. It is a part of my herstory. By owning my female masculinity I own the word butch, thus, I own myself. I want to be an example for young baby butches out there, to show them that you can be a womyn in the world and have complete freedom to express your natural masculinity, because it is fucking natural! And goddess damn!, you can look good in a suit and tie. Being butch makes me feel empowered and proud! It is my other butch sisters and brothers (and definitely the femmes out there!) that make me feel special, loved and embraced. Everyone should feel that way and that is why supporting, not criticizing, each others identities within the queer community is very important.
Butch also provides me with opportunities to build community. When I attended both Butch Voices conferences in Oakland and LA, I was able to see the huge variety of folks who identify as butch, making me feel like I was not alone, yet a part of something. I think that embracing female masculinity and butch-ness is on the rise. Or at least I am pushing for it!
I was a “tomboy” all of my life and began to identify with the word when I was dating a femme and I started exploring the butch-femme dynamic, fucking and playing with gender roles. When I met the first butch-femme couple in my life, who were tied to a feminist community, I saw how the femme adored her masculine partner and thought… hey, maybe I can be as boyish as I want and maybe my hair can be as short as I want and still be a radical lesbian feminist as well as desirable in the world. In fact, I think becoming more butch has made my sex appeal go way up! Not only because it is sexy, but because I am expressing who I am in a way that makes me feel like my authentic self, and THAT is sexy! Butch is beautiful and butch is handsome.
2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
Queer, feminist, butch, dyke, womyn, lesbian, poet, musician, activist, lover, amazon. Sometimes the order changes, but that is how it came out today.
I feel proud to inhabit all of these labels. A lot of folks feel like labels, identity politics, etc are so passe. I find power and unity in the labels that I choose. They help guide me in the world and have been helpful signposts in the growth and change that has occurred in my life.
3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
Don’t worry. Your body is beautiful. You’re not confused. You do have a dick, you’re just not old enough to buy it/them yet. :)
4. Anything you would like to add?
A thank you to Butch Lab for creating space to let butch voices be heard. Praise Butch!