Open Relationship Mini Interview with Roma Mafia: Acknowledging the Worst Parts of Yourself

Roma Mafia, www.romamafia.com

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

I’d wanted to open up my relationships since I was in high school, but I thought I was alone – it never occurred to me that there was an entire community of people out there having healthy, communicative, consensually open relationship structures. Because I was disconnected from that community and didn’t have the language to articulate my needs and desires, I was unfaithful in my earliest relationships to maintain my own happiness, and I regret that. So, in short, I wish I’d had more information sooner, or the wherewithal to seek it.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

Situational jealousy. Being poly is harder for me when I’m in an emotional or vulnerable place – all I want to do is feel the warm, protective reassurance of my primary partner. It comes so suddenly sometimes – I’ll have an awful day, and all of a sudden can no longer stomach the thought of my partner going out on a date that night. There’s no way to “fix” this, I’m afraid, but my partner and I have certainly learned how to better deal with it. I’ve turned introspectively to try and determine the warning signs that indicate when a period of vulnerability is coming. I’ve examined why my “panic mode” necessitates I cling to my partner – why I feel like I “need” that specific support, why I “need” to assert my possessiveness at that time. And I’ve explored other options – calling a close friend to be with me during those times instead, for instance, or even seeking comforting company with another trusted play partner. A work in progress, of course, but I’m lucky to be surrounded by extraordinary people.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

Speaking of extraordinary people, I’ve met countless numbers of them since I opened up my first relationship (4+ years ago). My poly identity came hand in hand with my kink identity, though, so opening up can’t take all the credit! But I truly feel as though I’ve met the most sensitive, intelligent, and creative people through non-monogamous avenues. In addition, I’ve come to know myself incredibly well. Being non-monogamous means that you’re constantly asking yourself to acknowledge a lot of really difficult subjects, the worst parts of yourself, really, and be willing to consistently reevaluate them and commit to evolving. Finally, I’ve become a superb (though not perfect!) communicator and mediator, and it’s worth mentioning that I’ve had the best sex of my life since opening up, both with my primary partner(s) and others I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with along my journey.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Spark: Free Agents

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

This certainly doesn’t apply to every relationship. But in our case, I wish I had realized that we are both interested in very very different sorts of people and have very different communication styles, and that it works out much better if we are not trying to play with the same person as a couple. In the beginning, it tended to happen that one of us would bring someone in to play with, and the other would be lukewarm but go along with it anyway. This always lead to a lot of awkwardness and bad situations where one of us would no longer want to play with the third but the other did… For me, it works out much better if we are both free agents.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

I identify as queer and have always had attractions to a wide range of genders, but my wife has always been very uncomfortable with me playing with cisgendered men. It’s something we’ve dealt with in a variety of ways with varying success… initially, there was a lot of resentment and misunderstanding and hurt feelings, then a long period of time where it was an unquestioned rule. Since then we’ve had some really good conversations about why she feels that way, and started to put it back on the table as possible. When I didn’t understand why it was her request, I abided by it but always chafed and resented it…when she started opening up more to me about it, I had a lot more empathy and could accept it. So communication has been paramount. And really, I think age and experience has mellowed us both significantly.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

The ability to play around with other people! I really am at my absolute happiest when I’m juggling two or three flirtations, and I love the tension and excitement of sorting out new partners. I’m deeply unmonogamous by nature, and I would have a very hard time settling down with one person forever. I could do it of course, but I’m much much happier not having to!

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

My wife and I have been together since high school, and open pretty much the whole time. Our relationship, our own identities, and our “outside” relationships have both changed so much over time, and there have been periods that were very difficult. But in the past year or two it feels like we’ve made huge breakthroughs both personally and in our ability to communicate with each other and know what we want. It feels like we’re finally settling in to a good, solid open relationship style.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Yarrow: Complex Organic Poly Web

On Friday, I sent a request for information from friends and acquaintances and smarty-pants folks in my life who I know have experience with polyamory and open relationships, as an attempt to mine my network for more insight and information about some of the difficulties of open relationships that Kristen and I have been going through lately. The interviews have been pouring in! I’ll be publishing them periodically in the next few weeks, and at the end of the series I’ll open it up for your input and thoughts on these questions too.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Yarrow

Yarrow, sunflowerriver.org

I always feel like I should state my subject position when coming into this kind of dialogue, so, for full disclosure/context: I identify strongly as poly, and have been functioning that way since 1998. I’ve had exactly one monogamous relationship ever (though at the very outset, I didn’t have language adequate to describe my desires or lifestyle, besides “dating around”), and when we tried to open it up to polyamory, it didn’t go very well. That was 1998; a lot has happened since then. Presently, I have two long-term primary partners with whom I live in an intentional community (I’m married to one of them), and two friends-with-benefits relationships with other people. My partners also have other partners. This web changes regularly, in a highly organic fashion. Nobody has “veto” power over anybody else, and we all place a high value on communication and emotional integrity. We tend to describe ourselves as an organic poly network. There are lots and lots of ways to be poly in the world; this is what we do.

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

I mostly wish I had had access to good role models, or any recognition that there is no single, one-size-fits-all, right way to do this. I knew very few other poly people when I began to recognize it in myself, and I developed all kinds of wrong ideas as a result. So: just because you’re dating someone, doesn’t mean you need to date the other people they’re dating. It also does not mean you need to love the people they love. It helps if you like them and you can all have dinner together, but it’s not required. This seems self-evident, but it’s not, and I see other people go through this as they move into polyamorous expression. Also: reality checks are vital, particularly with regard to one’s partners’ other partners. It is way too easy to tell yourself a story about what that person thinks and feels, to over-interpret casual actions or statements, to invest everything with excesses of meaning. And it’s very important to not do that. You want to know what they think or feel, ask them. And trust that they are honest with their response. Don’t try to “read between the lines.” Have integrity with your own responses to such things, engage in full disclosure (gently and tactfully, but with complete integrity), and other people will generally do the same.

Also: over-communication can be just as damaging as under-communication. Balance is important. Learning to identify when I am overwrought and will change my mind tomorrow, or feeling something too strongly to know what I will want the next day, was an incredibly important step towards functional polyamory. Another way to say that: sifting the apparent needs of the moment out from long-term needs is an extremely helpful step.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and
how have you overcome that?

At first, when I was in a mono relationship opening to polyamory (about 14 years go) the absolute hardest thing was to be honest with myself about what I wanted. To have internal integrity. I believed strongly that I was supposed to want certain things: a single life-long love, that elevated my existance to a meaningful plane; a soul-deep connection with a single other individual that would permeate all aspects of daily life and make them extraordinary. (Culturally, we teach our children to want this. And I’m not saying it’s not out there, BUT: it’s very much not a one-size-fits-all solution to the idea of relationship; it doesn’t have to take place inside the context of externally-committed monogamy; and where it intersects with the abdication of personal responsibility, it can be completely unhealthy, and can create dangerously unrealistic expectations.) So, I was mired pretty deeply in an internal struggle with that paradigm. And I lied to myself that I wanted that level of daily-life-interweaving, instead of independence. And I lied to myself that I wanted to want only one partner. I lied to myself about what I wanted from that partner. Getting through that tangle took a couple years, and completely destroyed that relationship (I am very fortunate that we are still friends). The hardest part about it, was figuring out what I really did want, and then ACCEPTING that. Making it be okay to be who I am and want what I want. No matter what that looked like to the overculture. Figuring that out, and then being able and willing to communicate it to my partner, was earth-shatteringly difficult. But once that happened, and we recognized that we needed irreconcilable things in a partnership, we were able to move forward (by breaking up and letting each of us take our own paths), and each of us was able to grow emotionally and spiritually, to come into ourselves, much more fully. Getting past the self-deception was the most challenging thing.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

Self-actualization, and full actualization of each relationship I find myself in. Each new connection with another person can become whatever it is meant to become on the entire spectrum of friendship and intimacy. I am free to fall in love, and my partners are also free to do so. And we have each others’ full support in doing so, and in getting through hard times in relationships with each other or with others. Having several perspectives when something goes wrong is incredibly helpful; different people can offer fantastic insights into events and situations, and help the affected people see their way through difficult things. I have partners with whom my emotional relationship is profoundly deep, rich and complex, and others where our connection is more playful, and i get to have all of those things. Also, I get to *be* different things for different people; nobody around here has to be everything for anybody. If I really want something and it’s not going to happen in one relationship, it may come very naturally in another. I thrive on variety; this rich complexity satifies very deep needs in me. I am an independent agent who lives fully and deeply enmeshed in a strong, complex web of support, encouragement, and connectivity. I love everything about that.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I experience polyamory/monogamy as a type of orientation spectrum, not unlike gender or sexuality. This can be a really helpful way to think about it; some people are really wired to be happy one way or another, in a monogamous relationship only, or in open relatinships only, while lots of people live in the flexible middle ground somewhere, and could be happy with any of a number of relationship styles when things line up right. People’s relationship orientation can grow and change over time, just like their sexuality, gender orientation or gender presentation. Where a given individual falls on the spectrum at a given time is not something to attach value judgement to — you get a certain thread in the poly community that believes that polyamory is “more evolved” than monogamy. that’s bullshit. putting each other down to lift ourselves up only creates more division instead of creating understanding and community. there’s no right or wrong about wanting to be with a single partner or multiple partners, any more than there’s a right or wrong about being with a male or female or genderfluid partner.

Gaga Feminism Giveaway! And Q&A with Jack Halberstam

I—like, I suspect, many of you—was first introduced to Jack Halberstam’s work in college, where I read Female Masculinity in a gender studies class. Jack’s work has been largely influential on the gender binary critiques and to many people that I have studied and read since, and of course influential on my own ideas about gender and performance and masculinities too.

And, he’s got a new book out! The book is called Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal and it’s published by Beacon Press, officially released yesterday, September 18th. It’s an incredibly readable book—like Jack said in my interview with him for Lambda Literary Foundation earlier this year, it’s on an unacademic press and intended for a wider audience. So even if you’re not a theory buff—and I’m not, though I do love theory—it’s a very good read.

A Few Quick Questions for Jack Halberstam

(It’s intimidating to interview one of your mentors! Thanks Jack!)

1. When you discuss the concept of “gaga feminism,” which you say is a feminism “that recognizes multiple genders, that contributes to the collapse of our current sex-gender systems, [and is] a feminism less concerned with the equality of men and women and more interested in the abolition of these terms as such,” (p25), I find myself identifying deeply. I run in many communities which are more invested in that than in the analyzation of the male-female binary, and often feel disillusioned with the mainstream feminism movements which have less concepts of breaking down the system and more that seem to maintain it. How can gaga feminism help queers and genderqueers and other marginalized communities get our message farther into the mainstream, to continue to influence the larger culture? What barriers keep our gaga feminist perceptions of gender from reaching the mainstream, and do you have any suggestions for how to continue the activism of working to break down those barriers?

Great questions Sinclair! As you say, it is frustrating to see so many people acting as if male and female are totally stable categories and as if all the changes in technology, in social formations, in sexual identities and in the visibility of queer bodies have made no difference whatsoever! I hoped and still hope that GAGA FEMINISM would have some appeal as a more mainstream and readable book and that it would be able to circulate complex ideas about sex, gender and fast-changing technologies of gender in an accessible and fun way. That said, there have been a few books out recently like How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, The End of Men by Hanna Rosin and Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb that purport to be feminist analyses of men, women, marriage, work, love and family but actually they mostly shuffle around the same old cliches about hetero reproduction and hope for the best. GAGA FEMINISM begins with the premise of taking a longer tradition of anti-marriage, anti-capitalist feminism seriously and joining it to new queer theory and queer forms of life.

2. I loved your writings about The Kids Are All Right (which start on p54). I enjoyed that film quite a lot and have had many elaborate conversations about its construction, but you articulated some new things I hadn’t heard. I am especially curious about what you said about depictions of relatively sexless long term (lesbian) relationships, as I have been theorizing a lot lately about keeping the spark going in a long term commitment. You’ve been with your partner for many years now—do you have any tips or suggestions about staying sexually connected and satisfied while building something long term?

Well, my point there was that straight culture likes the idea that lesbian long-term relationships are more prone to “fizzle out” that others because women are the kindling rather than the spark when it comes to romance…pardon the metaphor but you get my point. Heterosexual mainstream conversations about desire love to depict women as the ones who create an environment for love and romance and men as the ones who set the whole thing on fire. For this reason, when you have two women, the old narrative goes, you have a lot of love and cuddling but no real…spark! So, The Kids Are All Right feeds into that narrative and assigns all the sexual energy to the sperm donor dad. But that was just one of many reasons I found the film disappointing. As for tips on staying sexually connected etc…sorry dude, I am a terrible advice columnist!!

3. You talk quite a bit about butches and butchness in this book (p86). I do a lot of organizing around butch identity and community, including some work for the BUTCH Voices conferences (and of course your book Female Masculinity has been a huge influence on my understandings of genders). You mention the concept of stone and melting the stone in particular, which is something that I discuss and think about often. I tend to define stone as “having control over how one’s body is touched,” which is not quite the same as impenetrable or not ever receiving sexual pleasure or stimulation. Have you noticed that the caricature of stone butches as “rigid or immobile or frozen” (p86) has changed as we are entering an age of gaga feminism, with more depth of understanding and multiplicity in our definitions of gender roles in general? How can we continue to break down those frozen stereotypes and build something unique and open, with more room for people to be expressing themselves authentically and not feeling stuck in limitations of labels?

Yeah, definitely. I was just using the example of the stone butch in GAGA FEMINISM in order to say that we assign pathological narratives to masculine behavior when it appears in the butch (inflexibility or impenetrability becomes neurotic) but not when it appears in a man. If the man does not want to be penetrated, then he is, well, normal! And in fact, if he does want to be penetrated, then he is suspect. I think GAGA FEMINISM is about recognizing the rapidly generated new forms of desire, embodiment, orientation that proliferate all around us and developing new systems for naming them, owning them and inhabiting them.

**

J. JACK HALBERSTAM is the author of four books, including Female Masculinity and The Queer Art of Failure. Currently a professor of American studies and of ethnicity and gender studies at the University of Southern California, Halberstam regularly speaks and writes on queer culture and gender issues and blogs at BullyBloggers.

Giveaway! I have one copy for one lucky commenter …

Thanks to Beacon Press, I’ve got an extra copy of Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal to give away. I’ll pick a number at random on Monday, the 24th of September, and the corresponding commenter will get the copy.

In order to enter, simply leave a comment on this post and tell me one influential book you’ve read about feminism, or one book about gender, or something you love about Jack Halberstam, or something else entirely. Make sure you leave a valid email address; anyone can enter. I prefer to mail the book to someone in the US, because I’ll be paying for postage—so if you are outside the US, I might ask you to kick me a few bucks to cover the cost of mailing you the book.

Tomorrow’s Gaga Feminism Blog Tour post will be at The Qu—check it out.

Gaga Feminism was sent to me from Beacon Press to review. Thanks Beacon! Pick up your own copy at your local feminist queer bookstore, or, if you must, from Amazon.

Mini Interview: Jiz Lee

Porn star, JizLee.com, @jizlee, Facebook

Photo by Nikola Tamindzic (homeofthevain.com) for Fleshbot.

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

My relationship to the word “butch” was integral to my current identity as genderqueer. It’s a verb I like to visit now and then to describe my experiences within androgyny. My butch is generally easy-going, and brings me closest to my casual, gender-neutral life-style. Dress-up occasions tend to bring out the more flamboyant parts of myself, depending on the context, my butch helps me stand apart and express genderqueer visibility.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Lately I have been enjoying the flexibility of the words genderqueer and queer. I feel like the fluid nature of identity can allow me to feel free and open with others about the complexities of my gender as well as the variations of my lovers’ genders. Also, I’m falling in love with the word “androgyne” again.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I wish I could teach my younger self about sex ed and open relationships, so that my younger self could not only be more responsible, but also help my peers around these issues. I don’t regret anything of course because it’s all added to who I am now, however I wonder what might have changed had I even known the difference between sex and gender as a youth. I’ve met some young adults who were raised in progressive educations and it is so wonderful to observe this openness. It makes me optimistic for a more sex-positive culture.

Angie Evans: Mini-Interview

Angie Evans, singer-songwriter, performer, musician.
www.angieevans.com & www.facebook.com/angieevansmusic

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!

Wendi Kali: Mini-Interview

Wendi Kali, Writer/Photographer
wendikali.com & astrangerinthisplace.blogspot.com

Photo by Kina Williams

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

My relationship with the word “butch” has changed over time. There was a period of time when I felt it was too much of a box to put myself in and I questioned whether or not I actually identified as butch. Over the years I have learned that the word encompasses many things and has so many definitions. For me, the thing about words and titles is that I can take them and define them for myself. I like to think of myself as mostly a guy but also a woman. I like things that are stereotypically things that guys like and I present as masculine but that’s only a small part of who I am. I am a complicated being filled with thoughts and feelings and likes and dislikes with a little bit of mystery locked in there. I challenge gender stereotypes on a daily basis simply by existing in this world. I have grown comfortable and almost proud of the fact that I am called “Sir” on a daily basis. On the outside I may look like a man, but under these boots, jeans and t-shirt, I am all woman. Comfortable and confident in these clothes and in this skin. I am me.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I identify myself as a motorcycle riding butch lesbian, writer, photographer and self-explorer learning to love and accept myself. I will answer to “Sir” or “Ma’am” but prefer to be described as “handsome” rather than “beautiful”. I am a woman who enjoys binding, packing and moving fluidly between genders.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender

Since I didn’t come out until I was 30, I’d like to tell my younger self that being gay is an option. Your parents, family and friends may have had a hard time with it in the beginning but they would have figured out how to be ok with it because you are an awesome human. It’s ok to only want to wear boy’s clothes and play sports with the guys. It’s ok to have crushes on girls and your best friends. You are a girl who likes girls and it’s ok. No matter what anyone else thinks. Love yourself just the way you are.

Tobi Hill-Meyer: Mini-Interview

Tobi Hill-Meyer
Trans Activist, Writer, and Pornographer
www.nodesignation.com, www.handbasketproductions.com

1) What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

For quite a while I felt like I couldn’t transition because it would mean that I’d have to be femme in a way that was uncomfortable for me. The genderqueer butch expression that I saw on female assigned genderqueers worked well for me, but when I was being perceived as male it was next to impossible for that to be visible on me. One day a friend told me, “You know Tobi, you can be a butch trans woman,” but it took a few years to sink in.

When I did transition and was having a hard time at work, I tried for a year or so to dress more feminine, hoping people would be more likely to get my pronouns right. It was difficult for me, but I kept a separate butch wardrobe that I only wore on the weekends – ironically, it was the most like a crossdresser I ever felt. Eventually I decided to screw trying to fit into other people’s images of gender and just be myself. Being butch is an important part of that.

2) What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I used to call myself a butch-femme switch, because even though my life has been punctuated with social pressure to be femme in ways that didn’t work out for me, I still find occasion when I want to do femme my own way. I dropped that term, though, when I realized that I was probably butch 98% of the time. Now I keep it simple and just call myself butch, or maybe andro-butch and occasionally andro-femme. Of course I’m also genderqueer and trans, pansexual and a dyke.

3) What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I think the key thing would be to tell my younger self “What you want is possible, you can be who you are,” and perhaps offer other words of encouragement. Any specifics or “spoilers” would only deny myself the insight and perspectives I have learned from figuring it out myself. Although, I might not be able to resist sharing a few amazing sexual experiences both as encouragement that you can be a trans woman and butch, be desirable, and have great sex, as well as reassurance that the things I was once most anxious about eventually turned out just fine.

Bonus: Anything else you’d like to add?
As a butch I think it’s important to speak to my relationship to femmes, femmephobia and the privileging of masculinity. I certainly get crap for being gender non-conforming (on top of crap for being trans), but as a butch trans woman it’s easier for me to separate being gender non-conforming and being masculine. I can easily see the difference between how people treat me when I’m gender non-conforming and masculine as opposed to when I have been gender non-conforming and feminine.

Even in queer and trans spaces I can see how masculine folks are more readily assumed to be radical, with it, and hip, where feminine folks are more readily assumed to be conformist, ignorant, and conservative. I have even noticed that difference just in how I’m treated on those days that I’m doing femme as opposed to my more usual genderfuck and/or butch. I’ve found myself connecting well with a number of femmes and I believe part of that is how my experience of transmisogyny that gives me better insight into femmephobia. Similarly I think that, at least for the femmes I’m spending time with, their experience of femmephobia has made it easier to understand transmisogyny.

Miriam Zoila Perez: Mini-Interview

Editor at Feministing.com; Founder of Radicaldoula.com. www.miriamzperez.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or id

entity “butch?”

While I think there is a whole crew of people now who are reinventing what it means to be butch, I came up feeling afraid to claim it in case people decided I wasn’t butch “enough.” My butchness isn’t particularly tough, or hard. My masculinity is more akin to queer male masculinity–faggy butch, you might call it.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I would identify with the label genderqueer before the label butch, although I like both.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I wish I could tell my younger self not to be so self-conscious, not to care so much about other people’s judgments. There is room for all of us inside these labels, and the way we reinvent them is what keeps things interesting.

AT: Mini-Interview

AT, Psychologist, Writer, Jock, Artist, Blues & Swing dancer.

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
Butch says it as no other label can. Butches, for the most part, present tough and perform tender. I love the word Butch as it well characterizes the stuff of Butch.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
Butch guy and Transmasculine.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
Thanks to me as frequently I give my younger self a big pat on my back for having never once wavered throughout my entire life in my presentation and performance of my identity, sexuality and gender as a Butch guy and Transmasculine. Everywhere I held fort, as a former teacher, getting my graduate degrees and later, in my years of private practice. I strutted my stuff and swaggered and loved special women all as the jock I was, athletic prowess and all taking my space the same as I did as a teenager able to kick a high and distant spiral while barefoot. The same too I did at thirty-something at Jones Beach out in the ocean far from shore, with my swimsuit tied around one ankle and swam naked in the deep ocean. It was my return to shallow waters and the shore fearing each time I would reach down to my ankle and discover my swimsuit no longer there. :-( It takes guts to live Butch!

Bonus: Anything you’d like to add?
Feminism near destroyed Butch and Femme, their attempts to bury us deep in a graveyard and to be forgotten and dismissed. Feminism failed at that, notwithstanding the years of pain and suffering on the part of so many Butches and Femmes forced underground, their presence denied during the many years of Feminism. Remember: only Butch and Femme existed pre feminism! I am deeply appreciative to the Butches today whose persistence of who they are validates our identity, gender and sexuality. It is the zing of the strings in my heart!

Jenni Olson: Mini-Interview

Jenni Olson is a writer, director, curator, filmmaker, and co-founder of PlanetOut.com. She is also director of e-commerce at WolfeVideo.com and author of The Queer Movie Poster Book. www.butch.org

Photo by Cheryl Mazak

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

Butch is a word that helps me speak proudly about a very important aspect of myself. I love that it enables me to embrace so many of my unique and special qualities in a celebratory way and to connect with others who are interested in dialogue about gender difference in society (especially other butches, and the girls who “get” me).

Like the word “queer,” the word “butch” has an outsider quality which reflects the reclamation of an identity that our larger society has historically (and currently) held in contempt. Proudly flying this flag is the first step in my personal manifesto of gender integrity in the face of perennial societal disapproval. It is part of a journey towards wholeness, healing and self-esteem — a journey which becomes somewhat easier as I get older, stronger and smarter. Somewhat.

2. Which words and labels, if any, do you use to describe yourself and your identities?

Butch dyke, lesbian, queer. I am not a “gay woman.” I love that my kids call me Mom! I also proudly claim Q. Allan Brocka’s hilariously honest term from his Logo series, Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All The World: “Versatile Top.” I am also a closeted bisexual.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I would start with the currently popular phrase: “It gets better.” And then recite what I just wrote above in Question 1.

Claudia Rodriguez (aka C-Rod): Mini-Interview

Writer, activist, teacher/student, parent. agentezeroocho.blogspot.com

C-Rod is also part of the performance group Butchlalis de Panochtitlan.

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?” 

Butch is word that I’ve grown to embrace, I love being butch but sometimes I hate the baggage, mostly expectations and misconceptions others, friends and foes, impose on me because my gender presentation is butch. This is a poem which, I feel, truly encompasses my relationship with the word butch:

To my butch scholar

Butch aesthetic…
what does that mean?
Reflect what you see before you into words.
make sure you address my big boobs
and expand on how my tight ass
makes you salivate at the thought
of your fingers
sliding up and down your keyboard
as you recreate me, separate me, turn me upside down
and label me.
ME-your idea!
For you to relive every time you, she, I read.
Butch aesthetic?
that captured by your eyes
digested by your mind
and ends up on everyone’s tongue.

Reflect what you see before you into words.
Please include the smells-
is that hot wax or the smell of hot skin?
Hear that?
Your heart beating in MHz at the sound
of the whip against my back,
Um, my moans.
Butch mystique?
That surrounding my butch Papi
who stirs fag/boi/tranny fantasies
you fucking me in your mind
as you witness
gender fucker
fucking
gender fucker
performing Butch identity against what is Queer/Butch.
Gender fuckers gender fucking,
performing Butch identity against what it means to be a chicana/butch
butch violating butch…
This is butch to me…

I feel the marks of my identity
I’ve been the butch top in this femme-butch matrix
where my desire IS draped in femme fatigues
where my identity manipulates my desires
Where I’ve enjoyed being somebody’s bitch
Really, I just want to be ok
with wanting to be manipulated by you.
Feeling your cock-hard Domness
Top this sub
makes my cock hard
femme or butch both can top me the same
as long as I get spanked the way I want to be spanked.

The personal is political
but the political is not always written on the skin
I know you see me as a cabron…ladies don’t deny it
But can you tell I like to fuck boys/bois?
Yes
I am
one of those butches that flew over the coo-coo’s nest
the kind that fucks other butchas…
go ahead and say it “where are all the real butches.”
Act surprised that I’m down with getting down butch on butch?

Hola Papi,
I was thinking about you, how the other day you stretched yourself out before me, slid your hand under your boxers and touched yourself. You scooped some of your juice up! I know cause I saw as you first smelled your scent then ate it. As if nothing you slid your hand down there again. You face twisted this way and that with pleasure and lips parted with your moans. You got the legs twitching, chest heaving types of motions. I watched until your eyes rolled to the back of your head with satisfaction and closed with bliss.
Here I go again
Talking all that little boy fetish (gag motion, and bj motion)
I like short hair, ( here voice over comes on, continue bj)
peach fuzzed, tittie tottin’ cara de niño
The prettier the better
I’ll say it
Son mi cochinita pibil
Carne tierna y picosa.
Won’t I ever quit
Shed this skin
Step into the post pony-tail dyke
Post-drag king
Post-andro
Post-trans
Post post
Post Pomo
all I want is to step into my post-heroic masculinity
Stop suppressing mine to uphold others’
Does it make you feel good?
Does it heave your imaginary man pecks
to put me down? To walk around me like everything is cool
even though you didn’t play by the rules,
Then I’m down to let you
If you think you’re Top enough to top this.

Reflect what you see before you into words….

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
Lesbian, jota, gender queer, gender fucker, papi, sub/slave, switch, Chicana, lesbiana, sinvergüenza

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender? 

The void of not having female masculinity role models will haunt you like a missing limb. But don’t worry little one, one day you’ll figure out how to step into your/my post-heroic masculinity stop suppressing your’s/mine to uphold others’. You have to have lots of love and compassion for self and it will be returned ten-fold to you.

Raquel Gutierrez: Mini-Interview

Performer, writer, arts promoter in LA. myspace.com/butchlalis & raquefella.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I love butch; it is onomatopoeic. You have to say it like you really mean it for it to register its true power. Being butch scared me, which obviously means I really wanted it. I’m in my mid-30s and these boots have finally been broken in just right. So, as I age, butch feels richer, more deserved than it did when I was a baby gay colliding blindly into language of identities and anarchy of desires. It was an arduous road getting here and it was worth it.

Is butch an insult? It has never been enough of an insult to warrant my having to comment on the banality of someone’s limited observation.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Bilingual. Brown. Butch. Los Angeles. Napoleon Complex. Performance Writer. Pretty. Queer.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

Take it slow; subvert the scarcity model of relationalities; feel emboldened to ask partners a fuck ton of questions before having sex; lovingly challenge mentors out of their uncritical machismo even if it means risking invalidation; find, create and nurture a radical gender genealogy; believe what people tell you about themselves; take extra doses of vitamin Compassion; and to state my truth like my life depended on it.

Grace Moon: Mini-Interview

Grace Moon, Writer, artist. gracemoon.net | @gracemoon

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
Me and butch go way back. We had a brief falling out in my early 20’s, we rekindled our relationship later that decade. We now enjoy each other immensely, albeit with some disagreements here and there. Relationships are a growing process.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
Queer, lesbian, dyke, butch, trouble, left of center but not centrist.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
Don’t worry one of these days, one of these pretty girls will want to date you. Come to think of it, the message hasn’t changed…

4. Anything you’d like to add?
“Butch is a noun and a verb.” (c) gracemoon 2011

Daddi Dice: Mini-Interview

Dice is a 23 year old lesbian women, who identifies as a stud, and a cool collected Aries. “I have a open mind. When it comes to life, it’s to short to be shy.”
@iStrapStroke & Crashpadseries.com under the character “Dice”

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

When I think of the word “butch,” I picture the old school lesbian with a buzz cut and one dangling earring of a cross on the right ear. When I was a kid, that’s what I heard, that’s what the more masculine lesbians where called. I think of it as a old lesbian term. Also, when I think of butch, I think of the word “dyke”—both to me are old school lesbian terms.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

The term I closely identify with is stud. A stud is my generation’s butch. Some people say that within the LGBT community when they hear “stud” they automatically picture a blk, hispanic, often times Asian aggressive more masculine female, emerged in the hip-hop culture, but when you hear butch more then likely your going to think of an androgynous/masculine white female. A stud/butch to me is a beautiful/handsome women who is masculine. A stud/butch has a style close to a male and when in a relationship we wear the”pants.”

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

If I could tell my younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender I would let myself know that it’s okay to be the way I am. When I grow up there will be others like me if I would just open my eyes.

When I started dressing more tomboyish in elementary I use to have a lot of problems with the girls in school. I always got random questions like, “Why do you dress like a boy?” My answer would be, “It’s comfortable.” I realized in middle school that it was more than “It’s comfortable;” while all the girls in my grade where experimenting with make-up and shorter skirts, I was stealing my mom’s dildos and making panty harnesses for my favorite one. In high school most girls had already had sex with men and was more open to trying something new, so to speak it got easier to get laid, I was a attractive women with a boi swag, girls loved it.

Syd London: Mini-Interview

Photographer, sydlondon.com
Photo by Maro

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

When I think of “butch” I think of the women I’m attracted to rather than myself. Butch is beautifully mind blowing to me. It’s the contrasts of masculinity and hardness in a person who still has the soft skin of woman that drives me crazy. It’s the refusal of butches to kowtow to society’s “should’s” that I continually admire. There truly is nothing sexier than butch to me.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

This is a question I’ve yet to truly answer. I think of myself as a proud dyke and many other things but haven’t found a word that truly encompasses all of me. Though my drag name Syditious does contain a bit of me. In the end I’m just me. I love to play with the biggest power tools I can get my mitts on but I also like to make soap and developing fragrances. Go figure.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

There’s is so much I wish I could tell my younger self. In many ways I try to communicate those things to our queer youth now through my photography. Above all I’d tell myself to hang on. Life isn’t easy, that’s part of the nature of it – BUT things are going to get so much better than I ever dared dream. If you told me ten or fifteen years ago that I’d be a pro photojournalist covering our exquisite community I never, ever would have believed you. I wish I could tell myself about the queer family that I’ve found and am lucky enough to be part of. And I wish I could tell myself that one day not only will women actually cheer for me as a drag king but also there are women out there who will like me for me ( when I came out at 15 I thought no woman would ever like me, let alone kiss me. I wish I could tell myself about a few of the hot make out sessions I’ve had over my life). And I wish I could tell myself about the love and support the community gives me, though I don’t think I could have believed me. Or you. Or anyone.

Bonus: Anything you’d like to add?

As un-butch as it sounds, I wish I could give all the butches who came before me and helped pave the road a big bear hug of gratitude.

Ivan E. Coyote: Mini-Interview

Writer & performer. ivanecoyote.com
Photo by Eric Nielson

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

After many years of rambling and banging around in the “identity and labels” aisle of the english language, I have happily settled on butch. It is a big and beautiful enough category for me, and includes enough other folks that I can identify with and see as my family, my blood.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Butch, queer, writer, artist, storyteller, Yukoner. There are others, but those are the first that spring to mind.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

Be kind. At least try to be kinder. To yourself, and to others around you, both strangers and intimates. You are just figuring all of this gender stuff out yourself, and things you think are absolutes right now will one day seem a lot more blurry, and complicated. Respect the differences of others, and honour who you know you are in your heart.

AJ Stacy: Mini-Interview

Host, Tuna Talk

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “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.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I really don’t like to label myself too much, but people always ask if I’m FTM or Butch or if I’m transitioning or whatever so, based on that, occasionally I like to clarify that I’m just BUTCH, I’m just AJ, I like to dress better than a straigt guy.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

If I could sit my 18 year old, crazy self down, I’d tell myself to go out and have fun, don’t be so shy, speak up for what you want and what you believe in and don’t wait for things to happen, make things happen.

Visit AJ’s online video blog Tuna Talk

B. Cole: Mini-Interview

Activist, advocate, teacher, community leader. brownboiproject.org

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
I came of age as butch but it never fully reflected Cole. As I was growing up, butch was much more common in the white queer community. That’s why I came up with the term masculine of center. I wanted to be able to acknowledge my place within this amazing community of womyn, recognizing the diversity and power of defining ourselves across a spectrum.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
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.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
Spend your time with people who respect and love you for who you are, even if it’s different from them. We live in a society that has a deep aversion to difference. Love it, cultivate it all around you. It is what makes life the most interesting.

Gina Mamone: Mini-Interview

President & CEO, Riot Grrrl Ink. The Largest Queer Record Label in the world.
Photo by Grace Moon

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch”?

My relationship with butch has evolved over my life. From coming out in college in rural West Virginia in the mid 90’s to living in modern day New York City. I have a very broad concept of gender especially in regards to identity and fluidity.

I did not come into my butchness like some, I was born into it – my mother jokes to this day that there was no need for me to “come out”. I grew up in rural Appalachia in the buckle of the bible belt. In the early 80‘s before there were mandatory curriculums of inclusion and tolerance in the public school system. I was bullied and teased constantly at school, it was a hard way to grow up. Butch was full of negative connotation for me in the first part of my life. Then I came out and I learned to find positive images of butch & gender variance in my community and I learned a new definition of the word. The more people I meet, the more art I am exposed to – my definition of butch & gender gets bigger and bigger – it will always be evolving.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I identify as a Tender Hearted Gender Queer that has a nougaty Deep Lez Center with Hillbilly tendencies.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I was bullied and teased constantly about my gender expression in elementary school (see attached elementary school photo). By the time I was in Jr. High & Highschool, I was dressing to fit in and growing my hair long. I had learned to not let anyone know who I really was. I would go back and tell my younger self about Dapper Q, Bromance and the Flatbush Freakshow…. the big beautiful world that awaits out there once all of the queers find each other on the internet… start to mobilize & create. I would also tell myself that American Apparel Manties will change your life, have a wicked respect for your herstory / history, there is truth where you come from and to take better care of my vinyl.

I LOVE what is happening now – the fostering of butch identified community though grassroots organizing. I look at things like Butch Voices & Butch Lab happening all over the country and I see people coming together to create safe space, share resources, organize n’ mobilize, get inspired and most importantly, connect to community and I get hella excited. 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.

Rachel Venning: Mini-Interview

Owner, www.babeland.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

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.” I feel a lot of solidarity with other butches. It’s really not easy being butch. Just dealing with people’s reactions and my projections of their gender phobia.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Butch, dyke, lesbian and queer. Kinky. Some feel more comfortable than others.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

My younger self thought she knew it all, so cocky! I’d tell her to be more gentle and compassionate- people have a lot of different ways of growing into themselves. Oh and I’d tell my younger self to take more risks, and have sex with more people. I was not enough of a player in my playing years. More of the uhaul type, alas.

Adrienne “Aj” Davis: Mini-Interview

Organizer for the Butch Voices conferences, www.dreadedmemes.org

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I proudly use that word. Although it took me about ten years after I came out before I truly embraced that identity.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Butch. Geeky butch. Nerdy butch. Nerd. Geek. Geekgirl (or geekgrrl). Academic butch. Scientist. Alpha Geek.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I would tell myself, “Self, don’t worry about how others look at you. Don’t worry about how this might play in the black community. Embrace who you are because you ARE sexy, you ARE beautiful, you ARE alluring—but not in the conventional manner that women are seen as expressing those attributes. And yes, Virginia, you can be as academic and urbane as you wish and still be a butch.”

Kyle Jones: Mini-Interview

Writer, parent, lover, perpetual student. www.butchtastic.net

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
‘Butch’ is one of the words I use to describe myself. I’ve experimented with different identity terms over the years, and ‘butch’ is one that I come back to over and over again. I currently use butch to describe my presentation, as an adjective more often than as a noun. When I describe myself as butch, I mean to say that I am masculine in appearance and mannerisms. I wear clothing from the men’s department, cut my hair short and don’t mind when someone refers to me as ‘Sir’.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
When I talk about my identity, I say that my sexuality is queer, my gender is genderqueer and my presentation is butch. I also use the words transgender and trans-masculine to identify myself, as a female-born person who’s gender identity does not always line up squarely with my body.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
I would try to explain how fluid and changing identity is, that what we see as a rock solid personal identity can change over the years, as we grow and experience more in life. I would encourage myself to explore sex more, to experiment and play, to see the fun and playfulness of sex and not be hung up on judgements about what should, or should not, turn me on. I would try to explain some of what I know about gender now, which is much less rigid than my viewpoint when I was younger. Back then, I was very much trying to find the one gender that worked for me and that kept me bouncing back and forth until recently, when I finally realized that I didn’t have to choose. Gender is not only fluid and unfixed, we can experience multiple genders concurrently, or even feel a lack of gender identity. Gender is much more fascinating than I imagined 20 years ago.

Joe LeBlanc: Mini-Interview

President and Conference Chair for Butch Voices. butchvoices.com | @BUTCHVoices

Photo by Kristin Kurzawa

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

My relationship with the word and identity of butch has been a complex one. I hesitated using it at first as a descriptor for myself since I did not “fit” the stereotype for a number of reasons. So much was wrapped up for me upon first glance in the identity of butch – hair style, clothing, class, age, race, sexual preferences, boundaries, underwear, shoes, etc… in order to use the identity for myself. Or so I thought. I thought that I had to already have it all figured out, and have it all in place in order for me to identify as a butch. Not knowing any other butches impeded this process, because I only knew what little I saw about butches. The disassociation the lesbian community was having at the time over anyone who looked butch, much less identified as butch, didn’t really help matters either.

Over time for me, it became less about my needing to fit a specific equation of x + y + z = butch. I began to see that it was more about how I felt inside. I did a lot of internal work around the various facets of myself in regards to my preferences. When I gave myself the permission to get beyond the stereotypes, I could relax and start to become at home with the word. For me, butch is an identity that is personal, as well as sexual and political, too.

With doing community organizing with BUTCH Voices, I have seen ‘butch’ as a polarizing word. For some it has become more of an umbrella term that continues to bring folks together both online and in person, who in the past would not have been in the same room. For others it is a word that gives them the idea that they can ape the worst traits in men. Being a misogynistic asshole does not make someone butch. I enjoy when people can use their preferred identities to start conversations, find commonalities, but not dismiss the differences, or abuse privileges sometimes afforded to us for presenting masculine. Finding strength in the diversity of what butch means is key for us as a segmented community. The identity we choose for ourselves is not the end all, be all about us. It’s only the tip of the iceberg. We can stay divided over semantics and assumptions, or we can find common ground and actually work together to combat the many issues that we all face no matter the language we choose for ourselves.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I am a lover of language, so I do have some strong personal relationships with certain words around my identity such as: butch, genderqueer, transgender, masculine of center (from B Cole and the Brown Boi Project), dyke, feminist, activist, queer, and gender non-conforming to name a few.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I would tell my younger self to not to be so in a rush with the need to figure it all out. But I’m not sure that my younger self would listen. My life’s lessons had and continue to have to be experienced first-hand, which isn’t good or bad – it just is. I am constantly learning more about myself and adding this knowledge and reforming opinions I have along the way. Such is life, and it’s more about the journey than the destination.

Anything you’d like to add?

Butch is what you make of it, and there is no one way to be butch.

S. Bear Bergman: Mini-Interview

Writer, performer, activist. www.sbearbergman.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

Butch was the first way I ever really felt seen, or desired. Butch is how I was recognized, and it’s how I was made. I love many of the ways of butchness, and even the ones I really do not love I can at least understand. The part of me that is a butch – not a butch lesbian or a butch woman but a butch as its own whole and true thing – is both the toughest and the tenderest part.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I identify as queer, transmasculine, and as a butch; as a husband and father; as a Jew, and as a storyteller.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

Calm down. You don’t need to know, or do, or try, or be, or have everything sorted out right now. There’s time, and being patient will make you less annoying.

So Brown: Mini-Interview

Musician, kickstarter | myspace.com/sobrown | Bad Love video

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
I’m not really sure about my relationship to the word “butch”; I’ve always just felt I was a male-ish spirit and tried to honor that.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
Occasionally, when trying to convey my aesthetic to a new person, I’ll say something like, “think along the masculine spectrum. What would Johnny Cash be doing?” I’ve always done what boys did without really thinking about it. I do also love the Native-American concept of the Two-Spirit, a person who is a third gender and has qualities of both. That always resonated with me.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
I’d say, “Young So, try to be kind to yourself, try not to self-destruct. One day you will have a really beautiful life, and you’ll be able to write awesome songs about all the hard years along the way, and you will have an important place in the world surrounded by lots of people who love you. You are perfect just the way you are and you don’t have to choose about anything. Just be.”

Anything to add?

I guess the only other thing I’d add is that I’m really looking forward to making more openly gay music videos for my songs!

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!”

AND

“Good fucking Lord goofball, you can wear men’s underwear and you’ll be FINE!!!”

AND

“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.”

Elisha Lim: Mini-Interview

Elisha Lim, artist. newhearteveryday.blogspot.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I’m a gay butch, I’m attracted to other butches. That seems to immediately abandon a lot of butch stereotypes. Domineering, possessing or even providing for a feminine person doesn’t profit me, and I hope I can always confront any accompanying butch sexism, in myself and my surroundings. I’m a proudly feminist butch.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I’m queer, I’m trans, I’m a they, I’m a s/he, I’m easily confused, but one thing’s for sure, I’m always thrilled when you call me handsome. In other words butch forever.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender

Oh man, this question can bring tears to my eyes. You never needed to be a girl! You’re something else, and it’s okay, and it’s natural, and it’s as old and real and sure and plain as the birds and bees.

Bonus: Anything to add?

I’m working on 100 Butches, 100 Femmes (with Leah Lakshmi) and a wall calendar called The Illustrated Gentleman.

John Gagon: Butch Mini-Interview

John Gagon, data application programmer

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

My relationship with the word is that it carries with it something that’s not necessarily pure masculine and not necessarily rough and tough, it’s more the voice, appearance, trim hair, compatible with leather and less so with silk/feathers/lace or ghetto-silk (nylon). It’s not too stylish, it’s plain, feels Jimmy Dean, cool and relaxed and comfortable in skin. It also has a ballsy feel and while not necessarily rough and tough, it can be and it can be prone to a little anger. It’s adventurous and playful, not overly ticklish. Can be emotionally sensitive but not too physically sensitive, can play dom and appreciate masochism. Not too shy of verbal… or anything. The masculinity is incidental and it’s not always macho or aged. A spikey haired boy is butch just as say a biker. There’s often a mechanic penchant, it can be a little intellectual too and suave. It’s more rough around the edges than just leather and chain with cigar and scowl. It’s all a bit butch but the visual is less soft, shiney, no sequins, not flashy or sensitive/impractically fashioned. It’s pragmatic and useful. Someone who is butch can serve but also expects some loyalty or submission in return. Butch lesbians are butch if they like to crop their hair but they can have long hippy hair or something else. A good pair of jeans and cap, tshirt are butch. Usually not in a dress unless it’s cultural like sarong/kilt etc. But it can bend and mix. A bearded dude in a burlesque wedding dress or a female in a suit can be butch but a bearded man with lipstick and a roll of the eyes/queen is not so much. A soft lipstick lesbian is not going to seem butch except in that general appearance just like bears and leathermen can have lisp and peakybrows.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Butch, burly, scruffy, woofy, natural, bearish, (insert animal here), hairy, wolf, pup, dog. The butch honorifics tend to be masculine: master, sir, boy, pup.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I would tell my younger self that sex isn’t evil, isn’t going to damn me to hell if I love someone or fornicate. that religion is dogma and unrealistic. That gender is flexible. We are all a bit hermaphroditic in our brains. I would promote safer sex, responsible sex (disclosure of risks), honesty with self. Don’t do things for others, do things for yourself. Rules are not absolute. I would reveal more of what I’ve found out through genetics and research… that while it’s not a choice, honesty is a choice and so in a sense, you can promote the freedom for people to define themselves. I’d teach myself love, trust, a bit more about what BDSM is all about. A bit more about finding the right guy.

Kestryl Cael Lowery: Butch Mini-Interview

Kestryl Cael Lowrey
Performer/Writer/Activist
pomofreakshow.com/kessmain and/or kestrylcael.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I didn’t learn what ‘butch’ was until I had been out for several years. It was the same summer I got my first motorcycle jacket, and a lover asked if I had read ‘Stone Butch Blues.’ Of course, I hadn’t; I devoured the text within days, which then led to library searches and more and more reading as I found a sense of history. I was amazed to learn there was a word, an identity, a community that matched what I’d been doing (I thought) on my own. Looking backwards, I came into butch.

For me, butch is the best word I’ve found to articulate the way that I do gender. Over the years, my own interpretation of ‘butch’ has grown and shifted—and I know this will continue as I live in/with ‘butch’.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I’m suspicious of labels, but I use a lot of them. Queer, butch, dandy, trans, leather, Daddy, performer, artist, activist, writer, scholar, and theorist are the ones that I use most frequently.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender

For sex and sexuality: It’s okay to have a lot of sex. It’s also okay to not have a lot of sex. Either way, get your first cock, and make sure it’s a good one. It will make all the difference.

As for gender: It will always be complicated. Trust me, you don’t want it any other way.

Ellis: Butch Mini-Interview

Musician, ellis-music.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I identify as a butch woman. 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.

But now I’m realizing that toughness isn’t as strong as I thought it was, or at least it is different than I thought it was. Now, for me gentleness is king and I’ve found kindness to be the path to a more steadfast and stronger me.

So my understanding of what it is to be a butch woman looks different then it used to, maybe softer in some ways, less defensive. And, happily, it turns out that my pretty lady loves this gentle butch!

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Butch, queer, woman loving woman, woman, buddhist, peaceful warrior, runner, musician, songwriter, human …

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

Hmmm… I would tell myself to relax and be patient more.

I’d tell myself that sex isn’t about being someone who is good in bed or having to perform. When I was younger, I had a bit of defensiveness about wanting to be as good as I thought maybe a man would be. Now I know that it’s so not even the point! Loving someone is loving someone. The parts aren’t a big thing. Connecting to the person you are with and loving them is better when there is vulnerability and real sharing.

I would also tell myself that there is a joy in discovering who you are and really the thing that matters most is cultivating the heart. I would encourage myself to care about the feelings that come up as a butch woman living in a culture that doesn’t see or recognize butch. I would tell myself that the fear, inadequacy, anger, and sense of outsider-ness that I felt wasn’t about me, and that it is a result of being in a culture that doesn’t recognize the butch woman.

Vittoria repetto: Butch Mini-Interview

poet, poetry host, chiropractor, applied kinesiologist
vittoriarepetto.wordpress.com
www.drvittoriarepetto.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
It’s an ID that I’m comfortable with and femmes and other butches see the butch in me. Old guard lesbians from my life have a problem seeing it but that is their problem.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
My tag line is the hardest working guinea butch dyke poet on the lower east side.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
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.

Emma Crandall: Butch Mini-Interview

Emma Crandall
Brooklyn, New York
writer, college professor, organizer, fashion inspiration

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

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. So many people assume “butch” is a rigid category, but I don’t find that to be true. Still, I like how polarizing butch can be as an identity/identification. I love our history as butches. For me, butch is the only word that explains my past experiences, my particular lesbian heritage, and my style of queerness.

2. Which words and labels, if any, do you use to describe yourself and your identities?

BUTCH BRUT.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I think I had really good instincts as a young queer, but I should have trusted them more. I always interrogated identities and made up my own vocabulary. I understood my queerness as something that was inborn but also creative. I feel really lucky that I had that knowledge at a young age.
Oddly, I think the biggest thing I would teach my younger self would be about self-protection. I put myself in damaging situations just because I didn’t feel valuable yet, or didn’t know how to love myself. I want queer kids to know they don’t have to put up with all the damage that’s thrown at them, from within our communities or outside of them. Standing up and saying, “This is violent and damaging to me and it has to stop” is one of the most empowering things you can do.

Patricia “Cacahuate” Manuel: Butch Mini-Interview

Patricia “Cacahuate” Manuel
Elite amateur boxer
USA Boxing profile

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

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”. When I was younger, I was self-conscious of having my sex misread by other people. Eventually as I grew up I realized that there wasn’t necessarily a contradiction between my female sex and my masculine gender identity. For me, this is the meaning of butch and it truly expresses who I am.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Like I stated earlier, butch is probably the best word/label to describe me. I usually don’t care much for whatever words people use to identify me. Unless of course I feel like I can make a joke of it.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I’d definitely tell my younger self, “Cut your hair off. The chicks will totally dig it.”

Quick Anal Interview: YOU!

Okay folks, Anal Week is coming to a close, you’ve had a chance to read Quick Anal Interviews with Dylan Ryan, Bailey, Tawny, Madison Young, Sophia St James, and Erudite Hayseed. Perhaps you read through some of those thinking, jeez, they left out this really important thing!

Well, here’s your chance: I’d like to hear YOUR answers to the quick anal interview questions! Here are the questions, add your answers to the comments.

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?
2. What lube do you recommend?
3. What position do you find excellent?

Any bonus perspective, tip, story, or thing that you’d really like to share?

Anal Week has been a really fun project, I’ve learned a lot in collecting all this data, Kristen and I have had some great conversations, and I’ve had some great comments and emails from folks saying they have had similar reservations, but that these tips and perspectives are encouraging.

Please do chime in, if you’d like to add something.

Quick Anal Interview: Erudite Hayseed

This is the last of the Quick Anal Interviews! Anal Week is coming to a close … just one more thing to go, and it’ll be all done. Thanks so much for reading. This quick anal interview is with Erudite Hayseed, author of Confessions of a Southern-Fried Kinkster.

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

Tongue work, all day tongue work. Look, the prospect actual anal penetration, be it finger or otherwise, is pretty intimidating. Of course you have to ease into it that’s basic info and all. But the tongue, the actual art of analingus, is like a soft slippery key to a whole new facet of lovemaking. I’ve yet to find a partner that doesnt like it. Sure, one’s who thought it was strange of me to do it ( at first anyway ), but everyone tends to like it. That can lead to more play later. When people say “go slow,” folks have a tendency to think that means the actual act of preparation leading up to the actual fuck. There needs to be more “go slow” in relation to easing your partner into the idea of play.

While I consider anal sex to be a “No surprises” zone for most things ( and any guy who says that he just popped his dick in and went to town is either fulla shit or nursing some bruises around the head and face ), the odd surprise tounge swipe is a great way to get into the swing of things. Heck, sometimes it feels even better than the actual penatrative act, if my Lady is to be believed. But it does relax things, and it definetly shatters some hangups your partner might have.

2. What lube do you recommend?

Boy Butter. It was developed by Eyal Feldman, this brilliant gay businessman who owns and operates his website and who personally worked to create what he figured would be the best anal lubricant on the market. It’s silicone and coconut oil based, washes off with water, and just seems to last so much longer than any other lube I’ve tried ( and I’ve tried extensively ). They even make a desensitizing blend ( good for those who are just starting out or those who are working with a larger size ), water based if you’ve got any sort of silicone allergy. The price is fair, especially for such a groundbreaking idea, and the packaging is just adorable. Seriously, give it a try.

[ Quick note from Sinclair: silicone based lube does NOT go with silicone toys, so DO NOT use it if you’re using butt plugs or strap-on cocks that are silicone. Also, many sex educators are really against desensitizing anal creams, they can be dangerous. ]

3. What position do you find excellent?

Depends on what I’m doing. For rimming, I likefor Lady to basically lay down with her knees under her stomach, kind of sitting on her feet–it gives the best access to everything, the entire themepark of waist-southernly delights. Thats good especially for kinkier fare, and the application of bondage tape and an eager tongue tends to add up to a very, very fun time.

For the actual act of lovemaking, I tend to use a position that is popularly referred to as the “Prone Bone” wherin your partner lays flat on his/her stomach with legs closed. I will warn that this position should only really be used if you know what exactly your partners limits are. My girlfriend likes it rougher than most, with almost no way to get out of her predicament, so that position is just the best. Doggystyle is okay, but I feel like I sacrifice a bit of my actual thrusting power with it, and if we’re doing it, daggone it we’re doing it.

Any bonus perspective, tip, story, or thing that you’d really like to share?

Toys can be an intimidating thing, but if you’re comfortable enough with rocking the whole vibe/dildo set, I have to suggest a butt plug. For one, they come in just about any size, and for two, they are the ultimate in preperation. A good, small buttplug for the first time user is excellent. For one, it’s something you can slide in and not worry about holding, which is a big hurdle for a lot of people, myself included: I dont mind taking the time and all, but just sitting there with a couple of fingers up your partner while she adjusts can get a tad boring. If your partner is especially tight, like mine, it turns into this whole waiting game atmosphere. I’m a decent hand at dirty talk, but I can only keep it up for so long.

Another great benefit is that the butt plug is a good bridge between vaginal and anal sex. Trust me, it makes everything on the pussy end of things much, much more fun. The space that is normally afforded to your invading fingers or cock is filled up, creating a tighter feel and angling whatever you’re doing upwards, which can really up the chances of ( or the intensity of ) a pure penetrative orgasm. If you’re already past the first couple of stages of involving anal play ( discussion and light teasing/fingering ), this is honestly the next step to go.

Thanks so much!

Best Anal Scenes in Queer Porn

According to me, anyway. Essin’ Em and JD Bauchery also gave their opinions for Anal Week (which has extended longer than a week, but is still tagged, so it works. You don’t mind, do you?), but at this point, I’ve done enough queer porn watching and research to have gone through the scenes I wanted to and picked a list.

Warning: these photos are NSFW. I don’t post a lot of explicitly nude photos here, I know, I try to keep it at least kind of safe for work, but I just can’t resist putting some really great screenshots in this post, so you know what you’re missing, if you haven’t seen ’em.

All screenshots were snagged by me through Hot Movies for Her, and reprinted only to promote the films.

1. Dylan, Jiz Lee, & Jo in The Crash Pad (Scene 1)
Directed by Shine Louise Houston for Pink & White

I have a special place in my queer-porn-lovin’ heart for the original Crash Pad. It’s the project that launched The Crash Pad Series online, and has raised the bar for queer porn production everywhere. Shine Louise Houston set up a wonderful premise—that there is this mysterious apartment called the Crash Pad, which you can acquire the key for, and go there to fuck—that has led to scenes that are real, not campy, not bogged down in falsified plot, but still capable of some twists and turns.

Like this one: Dylan & Jo are having a good time fucking in The Crash Pad until Jiz and Jiz’s date show up too. Jiz joins in, while her date watches, and the resulting threesome is hot. The Crash Pad also sets up the porn careers for Jiz, Syd, and Dylan, and thank goodness it did. Isn’t the world a better place because we get to watch these beautiful, skilled queers fucking? Absolutely.

2. Syd Blakovich & Jiz Lee in The Crash Pad (Scene 3)
Directed by Shine Louise Houston for Pink & White

Syd Blakovich (credited as Shawn) and Jiz Lee are popping off the screen with chemistry in this one. I’ve heard some of the backstory (some of it they explain in the bonus features of Superfreak), that they hadn’t had sex in a few weeks and weren’t sure if they were going to continue fucking, so this might be their last hurrah. Thankfully for us, it wasn’t, and they’ve gone on to making a ton of queer porn, with each other and on their own.

In this scene, they both look very boyish (boiish?), lean, and super-short hair, and the intensity is riveting. Syd’s rimming is pretty amazing to watch, as is Jiz’s squirting all over Syd, later.

3. Rozen Debowe, Syd Blakovich, Jiz Lee, & Donny in No Fauxxx Roulette (Scene 5)
Directed by Courtney Trouble for Reel Queer Productions

Yeah, it’s Syd & Jiz again—I want diversity in this list, but they are just in so much good porn! So: here we’ve got director Courtney Trouble (who runs No Fauxxx) in a great video collection of scenes. This one is my favorite by far (I don’t even remember the others in this film), I’ve watched it quite a few times. Rozen Debowe—who I think is so incredibly hot and who, I’ve heard, has retired from porn, and who I think should make more—approaches a bartender, spreads her beautiful long legs, and proceeds to get fucked by three butches. Or, three masculine-ish-queers, if they don’t identify as butch.

In this screenshot, Rozen is on top of the bartender, Donny, Syd has a Pure Wand in her ass, and Rozen sucks Jiz’s cock. And, it gets better. Plus, they’re on a pool table.

4. Lorelei Lee, Princess Donna & Dana DeArmond in Superfreak (Scene 5)
Directed by Shine Louise Houston for Pink & White

Lorelei Lee and Princess Donna have done quite a bit of hot queer porn also, appearing in The Crash Pad Series and on various other sites. In this one, they’re joined by Dana DeArmond, and Lorelei is topped with some really hot anal, mostly with fingers and rimming. They’re sexy and clearly very skilled (though I have to kind of ignore all the whimpering of Lorelei and humming that the two top girls do. Maybe you like that kind of thing, I find it distracting). In some of the interview scenes, Donna and Lorelei say, “I wish we could’ve gone all the way,” in discussion of anal fisting. It’s illegal to show fisting on video, did you know? Not on the web, though, so you can find some great stuff in The Crash Pad Series.

5. Dylan Ryan & Trucker Cash in Roulette Dirty South (Scene 2)
Directed by Courtney Trouble for Reel Queer Productions

I couldn’t leave out my favorite porn couple! Dylan Ryan and her real-life partner Trucker Cash are so damn hot in this scene. I love the bright colors, the clothes they’re both wearing, that slightly rickety table that they fuck on, the way Trucker warms up her ass before taking out his cock and fucking her until she comes hard, shaking and swearing.

When Trucker unzipped and I saw he was packing the Goodfella, I thought, wtf? That cock is so small! But then, turns out it is a very good size for anal. Note to self.

6. Nicole Chatte & Peter Danger in Heartland: A Woman’s POV (Scene 1)
Directed by Madison Young for Reel Queer Productions

This last one comes from director and porn star Madison Young. She introduces the scene and explains that she found this couple because they’d contacted her online, and they agreed to be filmed.

I had a crush on Nicole the second she came onscreen. It’s filmed by Peter, I think—or, if not by Peter himself, than from Peter’s point of view of seeing Nicole, so we don’t get too many shots of him (too bad, cause he seems really hot and skilled, I’d like to watch him more), but I did like watching Nicole. It starts off with a beautiful blow job by Nicole, and leads into her getting fucked hard while she’s backwards in this beautiful worn-in leather chair. It’s a bit more amateur-ish than the others, but I especially love the way Nicole guides her lover, saying, “will you start out with the small one, then use the bigger one?” and then, later, “faster, go faster,” which Peter happily obliges. The scene is really sexy and goes on for a while, with various different positions. Nicole even asks Peter to fist her, at some point, but since that can’t be shown on the video, we don’t really get to see it.

Whew! Okay, that covers it, my current favorite anal scenes in queer porn.

While porn isn’t the best place to learn how to do a certain act, it can certainly be inspiring to watch and recognize how much pleasure everyone is having from the things they’re doing. It’s definitely been inspiring to me to try more.

Did I leave out YOUR very favorite scene? Which one looks like the one you’re going to rush out and watch right this minute (or, as soon as you can)? Got any must-see recommendations for me from Essin’ Em or JD Bauchery‘s lists that I haven’t included?

Anal Scenes in Queer Porn with Essin’ Em

Who comes to mind when I say “queer porn expert”? For me, it’s Essin’ Em, aka Shanna Katz, queer femme and porn lover extraordinaire. Since I’ve known her, she’s worked at Hot Movies For Her, Eden Fantasys, and now Fascinations, and she’s traveled the country doing workshops—even recently one on feminist porn. She was glad to offer some suggestions for anal scenes in queer porn; here they are.

Photo of Essin' Em by Half Moon Studios

There is the Vai/Jiz Lee scene in CPS that I LOVE because it’s Vai’s first time giving anal play (especially strapping it on and fucking someone) to someone, and it’s just fabulously fun to watch her love it and experience it.

Then of course, there is that super hot queer gang bang in Roulette with Rozen DeBowe, who just takes it in all three holes (including using the Njoy Pure Wand) from three hot andro/butch/genderqueer studs, on a pool table, in the middle of the Mission. Hot hot hot (especially because I’ve now met half the cast AND been to there it was shot).

I LOVED the sceen in Couch Surfers: Trans Men in Action where Dex Hardlove DOUBLE anal fists two of his greedy pigs…with lube boy coming it, bandana on the face and all to add lube as needed. It inspired me so much that I re-enacted it, with vaginal fisting with two bottoms and my lube girl (bananda and all) during a fisting class in Denver last year.

I love Dylan Ryan and Madison Young’s “Spa Day Gone Horribly Wrong” type of scene on Everything Butt. Is it technically a queer porn producer? No, but Madison and Dylan made it hot and sexy queer porn regardless, and really queerifyed kink that day.

Of course, how can we forget the hot anal in the original Bend Over Boyfriend with Carol Queen? This often gets left out of queer line-ups, but to me, it’s some of the first, hot queer porn, and in this case, specifically anal. Pegging your lover’s ass really fucks with so many expectations and binaries, and Carol was doing it years before people were even talking about it.

Thanks, Essin’ Em! Whew—I’m almost done compiling my own list, I will have that to share with you all soon. I’ve got a few more things to watch first.

Anal Scenes in Queer Porn with JD Bauchery

I’ve been compiling and asking around about the best anal scenes in queer porn, and I’ve got a bit to report.

If you’re one of those folks who thinks that lesbian porn is generally oriented toward men as viewers and producers, I encourage you to think again. Yes, there is plenty of bad lesbian porn, but the amount of queer and feminist porn that is getting made these days is a bit mind-boggling. Personally, I can’t keep up. I’ve got a long list of films to watch that I still haven’t seen, and directors like Courtney Trouble and Madison Young and producers like Good Releasing keep making films faster than I can keep up.

I asked JD Bauchery over at Hot Movies 4 Her for some of her personal recommendations for butt scenes in queer porn, since she is WAY more of a pro at queer porn than I am.

And here’s what she recommends:

Which of these have you seen? Any in particular that you recommend?

Quick Anal Interview with Lissa

1 – Tip – I’d say the most important component of anal sex is trust. Trust your partner, trust yourself. If it doesn’t feel right, for either partner, stop, pause, back off a little bit, try again. Change positions, move around. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Don’t be afraid to make a mess! Trust is key.

2 – Lube – I’m not sure I have a favorite. Whatever we happen to have on hand, really. I like Probe for an all purpose lube.

3 – Position – On my side, with one leg up. For me, anal sex is very intimate. Being on my stomach takes away some of that intimacy for me. I love being able to see my partner’s face, reach out to her, talk to her. For more power/control exchange situations, bent over any piece of furniture is glorious, especially if there is a vibrator nearby and my hands are behind my back. Two favorite positions for completely different reasons.

Thanks Lissa! Follow her on Twitter at @swtlissab.

Quick Anal Interview with Sophia St. James

Sophia St. James

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

I think a person needs to be mentally ready for anal sex. Many go into it thinking it’s not gonna be the much different than vaginal sex and the feeling IS much different. And though anal sex can be quite enjoyable, the feeling can be uncomfortable for many. Personally, when I first started having anal sex it wasn’t my favorite. It was a little hard to get pleasure from it. But over time, I have become a huge fan of anal play/sex. Another thing that can help is anal play. Rubbing, touching, and licking can all be very erotic and stimulating. It can also help relax the muscles and allow for easier insertion.

2. What lube do you recommend?

I personally love Liquid Silk and Pink. They are the least irritating to my tissues and they last much longer than any lube I have used.

3. What position do you find excellent?

My favorite sexual position for anal sex is doggie style. I am more on the rough side of play, so I find that in the position, more BDSM/fetish play can take play that I enjoy. Plus it seems to open things up a little bit better.

Any bonus perspective, tip, story, or thing that you’d really like to share?

I like the ‘work-up’ approach. Start with playful touching and rubbing, then licking, then fingers, eventually working up to something larger. It’s sensual and erotic, not mention it helps me to get into it more and relax.

Hope that helps some!

Thanks Sophia! You may remember her from such films as Bordello, which is where I first saw her. Visit her site at sophiastjames.com.

Quick Anal Interview with Madison Young

This Quick Anal Interview comes from Madison Young, feminist, art gallery owner, and porn star. If you haven’t seen her come on camera, you are missing out, it is a glorious thing to watch.

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

When doing anal play its important to remember Jane Fonda’s advice “Don’t forget to warm-up.” Stretching isn’t just for yoga or before a morning jog. If I’m planning on doing anal play with my partner or for work I like to warm up before hand. First I like to warm up with lube and a finger or two. Slowly insert into your anus and relax your sphincter muscles and let you anus suck in and relax around your fingers. Then start to slowly move your fingers further into your rectum. This also helps to lubricate the inside of your anus and rectum. I also really love butt plugs and feel like it is a great way to turn on your partner in public as a form of foreplay to wear a buttplug on your date. This also gives your anus plenty of time to warm up and get stretched and ready for different types of anal play when you get home. I highly recommend the silicone b-bomb from GoodVibes.com from Tantus.

2. What lube do you recommend?

I’m a big fan of lots of silicone lube. Swiss Navy is my preferred brand right now. It provides the the perfect slick lubrication for anal play that doesn’t dissipate too quickly. They also have a neat pump so you don’t have to fumble with the cap to the lube when you are in the moment.

3. What position do you find excellent?

It depends on what type of anal play you are engaging in. If I’m fisting my anus, which I love to do, I like to be standing and raise one leg onto a table or chair so it opens my bottom up more and makes it easier for me to reach around. I also like a standing doggy for anal sex with a partner or doggy style. Usually I like to back up onto the hand or cock to adjust myself and have my anus relax around the hand or cock before lots of fucking ensues. Anal play can be incredibly pleasurable and is much easier for me to orgasm this way than through vaginal penetration.

You can see Madison’s work on many sites, including NoFauxxx, Hot Movies 4 Her, and her own domain, madisonbound.com. Thanks Madison!

Quick Anal Interview with Tawny

Tawny calls herself an enthusiast, and says, “It’s my favorite form of intercourse.” Here’s her quick anal interview.

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

-Masturbate a little, or have a vibe in place on your clit if you’re being penetrated and are nervous. You’ll relax easier, and be less focused on whether or not you’re freaking out (as the penetrated, obvs.)

-Breathe slowly and steadily. Anal can almost be meditative in the right mindset, and if you’re focused on your breathing and relaxing your rectal muscles, you probably will feel pleasure rather than pain. That’s been my experience, anyway.

2. What lube do you recommend?

Maximus is great.

3. What position do you find excellent?

The best position for me has always been doggy style. If whatever cock/toy I’m taking is rather large, I prefer to be bent over something so I can relax as much of my body as possible and have a hand free for the masturbation I mentioned above. (My ex-boyfriend preferred to lay on his back, but that never worked as well for me.)

Any bonus perspective, tip, story, or thing that you’d really like to share?

Honestly, one of the coolest and most zen-like experiences for me has been getting better at anal stretching. It’s erotic, trust-building, and requires great concentration. I’ve never been much of a meditator before, but I can tell you that I definitely prefer my blank slate states with something in my ass.

And story-wise: One of the most ridiculous sets of orgasms I’ve ever had (and I’m easy to get off, so we’re talking a LOT of orgasms) was being fucked in the ass with a Crybaby vibe in my vagina and my boyfriend (doing the fucking, obviously) holding the remote. We were yelled at by the neighbors, who were inside their house next door. So, I definitely recommend combining anal with vaginal penetration and a vibrator, if you’re comfortable with that.

Quick Anal Interview with Bailey

These tips are from Bailey (@bailey21975), who wrote to me after seeing my call for interviewing anal enthusiasts on Twitter. More quick anal interviews coming up!

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

I’d suggest gloves (or condoms, if you are using a toy instead of fingers/hand), for several reasons. Safety, if you aren’t fluid-bonded with your partner. Gloves make certain that any scratchy nails are not going to cause even incidental damage. In my experience, wearing gloves makes the lube last a bit longer without being absorbed. Also, wearing gloves means that if you decide to go from anal sex to vaginal sex on a whim, you strip them off, toss them aside and have at it! No risk of putting bacteria where you certainly don’t want it, and you don’t have to head to the bathroom to scrub your hands, potentially killing the mood. I’m a big fan of gloves for anal play, myself.

2. What lube do you recommend?

If you’re planning on buying just one lube for all purposes, my recommendation is Liquid Silk, all the way. It doesn’t get tacky, it lasts a long time, doesn’t have an unpleasant smell, taste or texture — which is important to me, because I never know where I might want to put my mouth later. Liquid Silk is best if you’re looking for an all purpose lube, but if you’re going to have a separate lube for anal, Maxxximus is the way to go.

3. What position do you find excellent?

Whatever position is the most relaxing for the bottom, ideally. For me, whether top or bottom in this activity, my preference is on hands and knees, head down, ass up. It makes for great visual presentation, and you can see exactly what you’re doing.

Thanks Bailey—follow on Twitter @bailey21975.

Quick Anal Interview with Dylan Ryan

The second quick anal interview features porn star Dylan Ryan, one of my favorite people to watch fuck on camera, and anal enthusiast herself. When I started brainstorming queer porn scenes to feature here (upcoming!), two of hers came immediately to mind. Here’s what she had to say about anal sex.

Photo of Dylan by Aslan Leather, as featured on Dylan's website
Lube:

Maximus. Hands down the best one I’ve found. Stays cushy without getting gummy. I feel like most people don’t know it… which is funny because it’s sooo good.

Position:

This is hard to describe, but I’ll try. Technically it’s doggy, BUT my upper body and chest is completely on the bed. And then the boy is on top, but he actually puts his legs on TOP of my legs, and moves his cock up higher, in a more downward and less directly into the ass angle. His hands are on the bed on either said with most his lower body on top of me. We call it the SUPER DOG!

Basically, it puts more of his body weight on me. And the angle … it feels less OOMPHy. That’s the one thing about anal, I love it really hard, but the direct right-into-the-ass feels too much like poop, like “I’m filling you up with air.” But with more of an angle that feeling goes away, and there’s more sensation, less blowing up like a balloon.

In this position I feel very mounted, too, which I personally dig. It feels nasty and taboo.

Tips:

I like to do anal after I’ve already cum. So, stick to what you know, get off, and then give it a shot. Usually I’m raring at that point: the body is relaxed, the adrenaline and serotonin are flowing.

I’m really into rimming these days, and I don’t see that suggested very often. Rimming is an AWESOME way to start anal. It feels AMAZING and relaxes everything, and there can be some tongue penetration to get things started.

People tend to get really cerebral about anal, and I understand that, but internalizing all the stuff about it hurting sets people up. If anal was more a regular part of sex in people’s lives, it would be easier to do. Approaching with caution helps with injury, but the anus is pretty damn elastic. If it was something that was less associated with pain, I think people would practice and explore it more. Especially for women, the concepts around it are “oh no, thats going to hurt” as opposed to, “lets find out what I do and don’t like about it.” Just like vaginal or oral sex, everyone has different likes/needs, and exploring those can be icky and painful and weird and not hot, but it can also be amazing and sexy and hot and illuminating. Anal should be part of that package in a positive way!

Dylan Ryan is making the world a better place, one porn at a time. Follow her on Twitter @thedylanryan and check out her new website, dylanryanx.com.

Quick Anal Interview with Charlie Glickman

In the spirit of Anal Week, I’ll be doing some quick interviews with sexuality educators, porn stars, and anal lovers to get the conversation going. Here’s the first one, with sexuality educator Charlie Glickman.

A few tips:

1) try it out on yourself before doing it with a partner. If you’re going to be the giver, it’ll help you understand how sensitive and delicate the anus is. If you’re going to be the received, it’ll give valuable info about how you like to be touched.

2) do something else (simultaneously) that you enjoy. A vibe on the clit, a hand on the cock, whatever. Arousal makes anal play easier and it helps your body connect a familiar pleasure with new sensations.

3) pay attention to your mood. Anxiety and fear can cause the anus to contract, making anal play more difficult.

Lube: silicone, especially for external massage or getting started. Eros or Swiss Navy are nice. Thicker gels work better once you’re in the rectum because they give a bit more cushioning. Please Me Gel is a good one.

Position: hips above the head. Elbows and knees is good. Or on your back with a pillow or a Liberator Wedge under the hips. In that position, it can also be helpful to prop the knees up with pillows so the muscles can relax. Remember- anal penetration is about relaxing the anus, so the less work the other muscles are doing, the easier it’ll be.

You might find these useful: Anal Sex and An Introduction to Anal Play at Good Vibrations

Charlie Glickman has been a sexuality educator since 1989 and joined the staff of Good Vibrations in 1996. He holds a doctorate in Adult Sexuality Education and is certified as a Sexuality Educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. See more about Dr. Glickman or read his work at his blog, or on the Good Vibrations Magazine.

Butch & Trans In Conversation: Interview with Cody

When I went on that gender tirade back in August, Cody & I talked a bit about the butch/femme identities, and I was really curious about the ways that my arguments translated into arguments for why trans identities are subversive genders as well. He was graceous enough to agree to be interviewed about his gender opinions. Here’s the transcript.

Sinclair: I’m looking over the transcript of the chat we had a few weeks ago about butch/trans identity…

Cody: Okay. Are we beginning the interview? Should I put on my game face? Not that gender is a game or a construct. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that Id joke about something so serious.

Sinclair: That’s a great place to start. If gender is not a game or a construct, or a “role,” what is it?

Cody: Well, Actually, I was kidding. I think it’s all of those things, and none of them really. Gender is whatever you make of it. I also think (and I’m going to get a little woo woo here so bare with me) that gender is also this internal thing something you feel, some, internal energy that informs you about yourself. This is obviously informed by outside forces etc. But not completely. Does that make sense?

Sinclair: That absolutely makes sense. I’ve been writing a lot on Sugarbutch about the ways that butch/femme are not reproductions of some sort of heteronormativity, and I came up with a couple of major arguments about why those genders, though appearing to be hetero, are actually subversive of the whole sex/gender binary, and compulsory gender as a whole. And while I was writing this stuff out I kept thinking, you know, I bet these same arguments apply to the trans identity as well. It’s frustrating – I still hear so much transphobia kicked around in the queer/dyke communities.

Cody: Yeah, there’s a lot of that. But watch out, we all THINK about kicking back now and again.

Sinclair: Oh yes. I kick back, that’s for damn sure. So my question is, how do you think those arguments translate? More specifically, how is the trans identity subversive? Because it appears to be a heteronormative reproduction, especially (obviously) when the trans man is straight, or dating femmes or straight girls.

Cody: Well, the simple answer is that simply by the nature of my physical body [my trans identity] is subversive. And when I am dating femmes, the identity is subversive for a lot of reasons, but if we want to get down to bones here, I’d say the ways in which we have sex are subversive. Also, here’s something I realized the other day that made me laugh: I can never ever have straight by the book hetero-sex. It is physically impossible for me to do so. If that doesn’t make me fucking goddamn subversive I don’t know what does!

Sinclair: I love it! Hell yeah!

Cody: To get back to the question: what I mean about the nature of my physical body, is actually something I’ve been having a weirdly large amount of dialogue with folks about lately. This discussion of my junk (and by junk I mean my genitals) because that’s really what it comes down to in most discussions about trans shit: “What have you got between your legs?” Which has, frankly been making me very angry lately. Because, hell, I’m not a shy dude, but when people (even people in my queer community) are asking me about my dick (or my cunt) I feel kind of well, a little put out. But then again, this is how we end up understanding each other. By our genitals and how we use them to fuck, and how all of this informs who we are presenting to the world (meaning our gender).

Sinclair: Interesting – so that equation is, genitals plus fucking equals gender presentation. That seems accurate, although I would say that’s not everything that goes into gender.

Cody: No, of course not. But for the purposes of this particular vein, yes.

Sinclair: Would you tell me more about what you said about the nature of your physical body? I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that yet. By the nature of a trans body? Born into one sex, but altering it physically?

Cody: Yes. I mean, the fact that I’ve altered or am merely presenting my body in a different way from which I was told upon birth it was, makes the mere nature of it subversive. I mean, it’s a small part. But it’s an argument I like to use, because it’s easy to understand, and If people make you feel uncomfortable (which you totally aren’t, just an example) it’s a good shut down.

Sinclair: Ah I see. And it’s subversive because our sex/gender binary paradigm says that your body informs your nature? Or – your biology informs your self, perhaps is a better way to put it? I don’t want to put words in your mouth here.

Cody: Exactly! No you’ve got it. The binary says that my body should inform everything, right? So if I change my body, I’m fucking with the entire paradigm!

Sinclair: I like that. I know what you mean, I feel that way about the butch identity, too. And that’s one piece of that “butch/femme are not reproductions” argument, definitely. That it fucks with the sex/gender paradigm, by its very nature.

Cody: Definitely. The fact that it is NOT what it seems on the surface makes it so subversive.

Sinclair: Are there places that you feel the trans identity does become reproductive, perhaps sometimes in a negative way?

Cody: There are all kinds of ways that the transmale identity can become negatively heteronormative.

Sinclair: You mentioned before that you have noticed trans men rejecting the butch identity when they transition, perhaps because butch never fit them, and yet that’s something that you have held onto.

Cody: Yes! [I did not] reject the butch identity in favor of my trans identity. It’s more about embracing it because it INFORMS my trans identity. I figured about butch stuff (re: myself) around a similar time in my life that I was discovering trans stuff.

Sinclair: The identities seem closely aligned – or can be. Some of my best trans guy friends have explored so much about butchness with me.

Cody: Its funny, my best friend and I would sit down, and he would tell me about butch stuff, and it was SO HARD for me to understand it (because I was scared I think) and I would explain Trans-ness to him and he would balk. Now, well, now we are both butch trans men.

Sinclair: What changed? Was there a moment when butchness “clicked” with you?

Cody: Well, I think we were both scared, of all of it, of identity politics. Of talking about all of this. I don’t even think we knew at the time, that what we were talking about was so huge. We were just trying to work things out with ourselves and the people we cared about. God, saying that makes me feel like it used to be so much easier before we had to worry about a whole community, too! I mean, it wasn’t suddenly I passed the butch test with myself, but over a period of time, things started happening that helped me to nurture that part of myself, and understand that’s what I was doing. The other thing [that happened was] that I started meeting femmes. Something that I had never really experienced before. Where I grew up there was an incredibly small pool of queers.

Sinclair: How did that start altering your identity?

Cody: While now my butch identity is strong enough to stand alone, in the beginning [of its development], in order to build yourself up, let’s be honest, we need femmes. Let’s be really honest and say, butches need femmes all of the time. [What changed was that] I stopped feeling so ashamed of the ways in which I was masculine, and the ways I wasn’t. I worked out how to feel less shame about being a butch, and about being a man. The man part took way longer.

Sinclair: What was different about the man part & the butch part?

Cody: The butch part I think was easier, because honestly I had more support from those around me about it. The man part, well, I got a lot of shit about. The man part made me into a patriarch. Dykes, butch dykes, femme dykes, lesbians, straight feminists… In the small community I was working shit out in, the backlash was INCREDIBLE. I didn’t call myself a ‘man’ until I had been out as trans for years, partly because of that. I identified almost exclusively as a Butch-Trans-Boy

Sinclair: That [backlash] is so sad. We need to be allies!

Cody: It is [sad]! I had this idea, that if I didn’t align myself with the identity of being a man, I didn’t have to take responsibility for any misogyny.

Sinclair: Yes! I think that’s the same reason it took me so long to come to a butch identity, because I was picking and choosing very carefully what traits of masculinity I wanted to adopt, and I was scared as hell about betraying my feminist politics and enlightenment.

Cody: Funny, when you are trans, when your gender is male, no matter your history, you’ve got to ‘step up to the plate’ about it. It was like, white guilt. Plus, being a boy is all about fun and flirting and whatever. It’s easy!

Sinclair: That’s a huge concept. So, dare I ask? How does one do that? Step up to the plate about it?

Cody: Take fucking responsibility for yourself! Stop forgetting about your feminism because you have passing privilege. I think it’s almost more subversive to be butch, or to be a man, and be a feminist, if you are stepping up to it.

Sinclair: I like that. Is this why we have a serious lack of butches (and/or trans feminists) but we have this new fad of “boi” and “bro”? So many dykes I meet who I would perhaps label as butch tell me they don’t identify as such, but sometimes do identify as boi.

Cody: I think so. I think that’s a big fucking part of it. It’s fear. It’s [seen as] not hot to be a butch, or a man. Because you have to work for it.

Sinclair: It amazed me how much I felt socially policed while I was still coming to this butch identity. All those comments from other butches about toughness, competition, objectifying women. I still get those comments – they just don’t effect me as they used to. One comment would throw me for a loop for days.

Cody: Every time someone put down my butchness, or my male-ness, I regressed like YEARS in my discovery and comfortability with it.

Sinclair: [Masculine identities are] so sensitive! I wonder if this is also what teenage boys go through, all that fag/pussy-bashing stuff.

Cody: Homophobia: the deconstruction of masculinity. Homophobia is all about the construction of masculinity. It’s more about gender than sexuality – sexuality is a part of it, but its more about gender. It’s all about ‘othering’

Sinclair: And [it’s about] misogyny. I would say that’s perhaps because masculinity has historically been defined as not-woman, not-female, not-feminine, and as the gender revolution opens up more and more places for women to occupy, and expands the definition of feminity, that the space that masculinity can occupy becomes smaller and smaller.

Cody: Instead of cutting out any way that it’s okay to be masculine, why can’t we just look at better ways to be masculine?

Sinclair: Which is why I still think we need a masculine-gender revolution. It’s brewing, I think, and trans guys are at the forefront.

Cody: I think you are so right! But we aren’t alone, I think butches are up there on the line with transdudes about this masculine gender revolution. I think we have to hold each other up. This may all sound very idealistic, and utopian, but you’ve got to dream right?

Sinclair: Absolutely. This is what I aim for, even if I feel that it’s going to be a hard bumpy road to get there.

Cody: Oh, man, is it EVER.

Sinclair: So how do we encourage the butches & trans men to be aligned? For some reason, we are often so threatened of each other.

Cody: I think by doing what you and I are doing right now: by fucking talking to each other. By realizing that we’ve got a lot in common, even if it’s scary. By being okay with the fact that this doesn’t mean either one of us is presenting ourselves wrongly. Trans men aren’t ‘abandoning’ the community, and butch women aren’t too scared to ‘man up.’

Sinclair: Well said – that neither of us are presenting ourselves wrongly. That’s a big part of the intimidation factor, isn’t it? That these identities are so fragile, so hard to grow and to maintain, but then when we see someone with something so close to us but very different it becomes a worry that somewhere I’ve made a mistake.

Cody: Exactly. Also, we’ve got to keep in mind, that for some trans men, the ‘trans’ part of our identity fades once we have passing privilege and we’ve all got to respect that. I think that the queer community has a serious peter pan complex going on. Butch ‘bois’ and tranny ‘bois.’

Sinclair: So, you’re talking about respect a seeming rejection of queerness?

Cody: To be honest, there isn’t a cut and dry answer to it (which I think you know and is why its so hard). Every single trans man is different. Sometimes, it IS about rejecting queerness.

Sinclair: Of course. I definitely agree with you about the Peter Pan complex – especially when it comes to the butch/male/boi/tranny boy identities. It’s safer to stay young, perhaps? Not as much examination of identity is required?

Cody: Exactly, and its CUTE, right?! It’s so cute to never grow up.

Sinclair: It’s safer, too. And cute means not threatening. Because when women move into a masculine identity, they are moving UP in the hierarchy, which is threatening.

Cody: Uh huh. Not threatening means no need to examine masculinity means no responsibility. “Oh! Isn’t it cute that that little butch boi just called his partner a bitch?” Gross.

Sinclair: That’s an aspect of masculinity that I don’t want to take on, that I have worked SO HARD to reject. This is why we need a masculine manifesto and revolution!

Cody: You are very right! Also, the word revolution gives me such a hard-on for change!

Sinclair: Oh, that is seriously hot.

Cody: Of course! T-shirts anyone? Also, I really appreciate you even asking these questions about how to not hate on the trans. :)

Sinclair: Thanks! And likewise I really appreciate you answering my questions! I suppose the last thing I want to ask you is something I hesitate to bring up, which is that idea about trans-ness as a fad. it is definitely becoming more prevalent, and it does make me sad to loose the butches, and I am concerned about it as a ‘trend’.

Cody: Mm…Okay. Well, I want to tell you first that I’m glad you brought it up. It’s a hard question to answer/dialogue about.

Sinclair: It is hard to talk about. ‘Cause, you know, I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s identity. But it definitely comes up in conversation; at least, it does with the dykes. Not so much when I’m talking to trans guys.

Cody: Because I think this is why butches and transmen have a lot of disconnect sometimes, this issue puts us all on the defensive.

Sinclair: But at the same time, I know people who have transitioned and then transitioned BACK, I know people who have ALMOST transitioned and then at the last minute decided not to. It makes me nervous that younger and younger kids are doing this seemingly on a whim.

Cody: Here’s the thing. I think that in some ways it is becoming a fad. Just like when all the girls in high school I knew were bi. Yes, I’m comparing the two. This is VERY controversial of me to say and if a lot of dudes read this they might vote me off the island. But sometimes I feel like my personal struggle is getting fucked with and devalued because dudes are making this whole trans thing into a big goddamn joke. Like its something fun. Here’s the secret: Being trans ain’t fun most of the time. It’s not fun to realize that you feel fucking uncomfortable in your skin, or uncomfortable with the way your gender is in the world. It SUCKS. It ain’t fun to get your shit cut open and cut out and stick yourself with a needles every two weeks for the rest of your life. But, young (and by young I mean, new to transition) dudes are making it all into this GAME. It makes me very …well, it makes me very angry. My fucking life and experience isn’t a game, and it ain’t fun. It wasn’t EASY for me to, figure shit out, to be alone, to find a doctor who would give me T, to pay for surgery, etc. Also, I think its GREAT when people fuck with gender for themselves, when they work out how they feel most comfortable, I think that’s AWESOME ‘cause that’s what I did, am doing. But don’t make me feel like shit ‘cause my struggle doesn’t align with your PARTY.

Sinclair: So what is that other part for you – you don’t align with the party?

Cody: I just got so hot under the collar. Okay, I guess what I’m saying is, when people turn all of this gender business into a big game, it’s a way in which they aren’t willing to examine their privilege. Because that’s hard, right? My struggle don’t play. My life is hard, and I’m down for it. I’m down to work on it.

Sinclair: Ah, so it’s about privilege and examination? That makes sense. That’s exactly the places where gender is the most frustrating for me, skating by on some sort of butch/masculine privilege without even realizing that’s what it is, no examination, no understanding of what you’ve taken on.

Cody: It’s like walking around with a bandana tied over your eyes, and putting your nasty little fingers everywhere.

Sinclair: I don’t know, maybe for some people this identity comes more “naturally”? I just feel like I really really had to WORK at mine.

Cody: I mean, its all ‘natural’ in a way, cause it ends up making sense and feeling like you are at home when you work it out. It takes a much stronger person to realize something about their identity, feel comfy in it, finally! After all of this time! And then KEEP working on it, to keep improving upon what is there and makes you feel good.

Sinclair: Yeah, it really does take constant work, I definitely agree. Everything can be refined, everything is a process, all that. And gender is so complicated! We live within this huge gender system, and it is the source of major agony/pain for pretty much everyone involved, in my opinion. Those places where gender is liberational, and subversive, and fabulous, they are worth navigating the fucked up system for. But man that takes a lot of work.

Cody: Very, very true! All of it. Why can’t we take the shit we need to work on, plop it right down into a comfy space, get out the glue sticks and go at it?

Sinclair: Glue sticks! I love it. I guess first we have to MAKE a comfy space, for everybody involved, right? A forum in which to discuss these things, for as many people as possible. Which is definitely one of the goals of Sugarbutch — to bring this stuff TO LIGHT so that people feel more comfortable exploring, sharing, and articulating to begin with.

Cody: Which is hard, cause we are an exclusive goddamned bunch, aren’t we? Our communities are so INTENTIONAL, that I’m not willing to compromise. But, if we keep creating dialogue and space for those we WANT to work on this with, it will bow out. Get bigger. We are talking grass roots here. But that’s where I operate best. With my hard-knuckled fists working the wood of the problem. Yo! That’s why we butch! That’s why femmes are femme! Because we WORK.

Sinclair: It’s that old quote from Airen Lydick: “Femme is knowing what you’re doing.” As in, being aware and conscious of the identity you are developing and presenting and taking on. And maybe that comes back to other gender questions I have, too, about how to view these roles as celebratory rather than confining, as liberational rather than limiting — by creating dialogue and space to explore all aspects of these complicated identities.

Any closing thoughts?

Cody: Just that this is the beginning of the conversation. Include my email address ([email protected]) and my blog address (codycoquet.blogspot.com), and encourage people to write if they want to discuss/ask anything of me.

Sinclair: Thank you, so much, for the conversation.

In Which Viviane Interviews Me

Questions from Viviane over at the Sex Carnival

When did you start blogging?

in 1998 I started the only feminist blog there was called Feminist Media Watch. it was collaborative, and got extremely popular, at one point we had about twenty-five authors and had very high traffic. I’ve had a personal blog here or there since about then too, which has moved around.

What do you like about blogging?

my most successful blog projects have always been deeply personal, semi-anonymous explorations of my relationships, sexuality, and personal dramas. I’ve met some fantasic and wonderful people through my blogs, many of which have stayed in my life for many years.

Is blogging a major or minor way of connecting to other people for you?

Both, I suppose; it is a major source of deep connection for me, in that I am often sharing serious and intimate information about myself, but I do a lot of socializing in my peer groups in person too. So though it is major, it is not my only source.

Where’s your blog? Do you use a free hosted service (Blogger,Wordpress, Livejournal, AOL, Google Pages, etc.) or do you have your own domain and web server?

Both; I have four domains, and accounts at blogger and wordpress. I primarily blog at a blogger account at the moment, the others are more stagnant.

What do you do to promote your blog or your writing (using tags in your post, blog roll, del.icio.us, Digg, Pingoat)?

very little, actually. I always visit my commenter’s websites and try to link to them, to encourage them to come back and comment/write more, and I go to their sites and comment on their writing too. so I guess I’m more into individual advertising than any sort of major site promotion. Every once in a while I get on a kick and try to make my profile on technorati or feedburner fancy, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I contribute to sugasm sometimes, that always enhances my traffic. Other than that? I try to write every day, so people will visit every day, but that’s about it.