Is genderqueer (or butch) a stepping stone to transitioning?

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Question: if you had been assigned male at birth, all else remaining constant, do you still think you would have identified as genderqueer? i.e. how much of it do you think is an innate identity inherent to who you are, and how much of it political? In a hypothetical society where we actually had full gender equality and the boxes of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ were much wider than they currently are, do you think you would still consider yourself genderqueer, or would you then be comfortable being one or the other?

I’m a trans guy who used to identify as genderqueer, but for me it was more of a stepping stone because I was afraid to come out all the way (like gays who falsely identify as bi at first). A lot of what you’re saying resonances with my own gender history, so I’m curious where the difference lies, given that I’m someone who continues to be uncomfortable with misogyny and male privilege but still wants very much to be seen and treated as male. Or is *that* the difference?

—ASQ, on Coming Out Genderqueer

It is definitely true that I don’t have investment in being seen and treated as male, but I DO have investment in not being seen or treated exclusively female. There’s a subtle difference there. And sure, maybe that is the difference between me and a trans guy. Definitely a few of my close trans guy friends have a very similar gender history to mine, too, and then at the final step 128 or whatever, mine says, “and that’s why I’m butch!” and theirs says, “and that’s why I’m a guy!” Being seen or treated as male doesn’t feel important to me or my sense of self, at least not currently. I reserve the right to change my mind on that at any point, if and when it shifts, but that’s been true for almost fifteen years now, so I am starting to relax into thinking it will remain true for a while. Butch feels good. Genderqueer feels good. Trans feels good, but mostly as an umbrella descriptor, as a community membership. More trans-asterisk (trans*) than capital-T Trans, but either are okay. (Kind of like how lesbian and dyke are okay, too, almost good, but mostly just adequate, though not quite accurate.)

I have a LOT of thoughts about all of this—especially how I identify, and my own gender journeys—that are way more complicated than the “Coming Out Genderqueer” article above. That article is purposefully distilled, attempting to talk to people who aren’t in any gender worlds. It’s a rough sketch beginning of all of that, at best, and sometimes broken down more simply than I mean to for the sake of accessibility.

Honestly, there’s no way I could answer “if I had been born male would I still be genderqueer” etc etc. I have no idea. For as much as I study gender constantly, I’m not really sure what being born male would have changed. Everything? Nothing? I just don’t know. I have speculations, but it seems unnecessary to entertain to me. And “if we had full gender equality and the boxes of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ were much wider than they currently are, do you think you would still consider yourself genderqueer, or would you then be comfortable being one or the other?” I have no idea. A society which had wider expression of gender than ‘man’ or ‘woman’ wouldn’t be where I live, so how many other things would have to change too? I’m a buddhist, I believe in interdependence—I don’t think we could change one big thing without a whole lot more changing, too.

I’d say that my most important identification is in being in-between, or outside of, a binary system. Would that still be true if I was male? I don’t know—probably. Assuming that I would have roughly the same personality, would still be a writer, would still really love satsuma oranges, would still crave the ocean, would still get stunned looking at the stars, would still find so much joy in swing dancing—assuming all those personality things were still true, then yes, I assume I would still crave being on the outskirts of things, the margins, where the weirdoes live, on the borderlands (to borrow from Anzaldua). I like the view from here. I get a better view, though it disenfranchises me a bit, too. The edges of things, more than anything else, seem to be where I am drawn. Not to one particular thing—masculinity, or genderqueerness, or transness. It isn’t about those things so much as it’s about being on the edge, for me.

And, a part of me is softly hurt by your comment, of yet another person asking me yet again, basically, if or when I am going to transition. Or rather, if butch is a stop over on the train to maleness. Or, if I was male, would I “have to” be genderqueer. I can’t tell you how many dozens (hundreds?) of people—butches trans men femmes, genderqueer agender androgynous queers, all sorts of genders, over the years, friends and lovers and people who talked about me rudely behind my back, so many of them at one point or another said something, either directly or indirectly, about my—and often, EVERY butches’—inevitable transition. I think butches get this all the time.

I think it’s quite a common story for many trans guys to spend some time presenting as butch, or as masculine identified women in some way, or as genderqueer, or as rejecting gender in some way. Like you wrote—(like gays who falsely identify as bi at first). Yes, that is sometimes part of the story. But it doesn’t apply to everybody all the time, and just because it happens sometimes doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who find a butch identity and stay there, people who never transition to male, who never secretly wish for maleness, or to be seen and treated as male.

Folks in the bisexual identity—to continue to borrow your example—get this all the time too, with people around them assuming, at least for quite a while in the beginning, that bi will be a stopover to gay town. Sometimes it is. But sometimes, it isn’t.

So, is genderqueer a political identity for me? Fuck yes it is. Is it an innate identity? Uh I mean how can we know what’s “innate” and what’s learned, especially when it comes to gender? But say, for a minute, that I do know—I would answer, Absolutely yes. Which one is more powerful? Fuck, I have no idea. That’s like asking me to rank my oppressions, or tell you whether I identify as an Alaskan or a writer first. I can’t hierarchize those. It is a radical, political act to reject the two-party binary gender system, and I like radical acts. I get off on ’em. It also feels like home in my body in a way my body never felt like home when I was dressed up more femininely, and never felt/feels like home when people refer to me by he/him pronouns. They/them and genderqueerness and in-between feels like all kinds of parts of me can be acknowledged—not “the man and the woman,” because for the most part I feel like those don’t even apply. None of the above. But the writer and the Alaskan, the swing dancer and the cockcentric top, the pretty good cook and the freelancer, the stargazer and the reader, the masculinity and the love of ice cream. The traits that I have that are traditionally masculine, the traits that I have that are traditionally feminine, and whatever in between.

I want to be able to pick + choose whichever ones suit me from whatever possible category. And I want others to have that ability, too, should they want it. I think it’s possible.

Also, I’m sorry—I don’t mean to be snappish about this, and I explicitly DID say, go ahead and ask questions. So, thank you for asking. I’m trying to answer honestly as best as I can, and honestly? Part of me is frustrated with that question, and the commonness in the queer worlds. I am heavily invested in butch as an identity all its own, regardless of the other genders or identities that that person carries too. I am invested in butch identity not only politically, not only for other people, but for my own sake. I am invested in my butch identity. Am I going to always be butch? I don’t know. Do I have secret longings to be male that are unrealized? Not currently, from the best that I know about myself, no.

Do I reserve the right to decide otherwise in the future? Fuck yes.

But … I hope, if I do decide I want to transition, to identify as male, to be perceived as male and treated as male, that I will honor the 35+ years (or, I suppose, arguably, the 15+ years, since I was mostly some other figuring-out-puzzling-frustrated version of me until I was about 20) I spent as a female genderqueer trans masculine butch. One of my most touching moments at BUTCH Voices in New York City in 2010 was when someone, during our ritual/keynote, held up a stone and offered: “My commitment to my trans voice is to honor the butch woman I was for 40-some years.” I know that many trans men were never butch, that if they were a masculine-presenting-woman for some length of time it might’ve been part of their transition, part of their path to male, part of survival, the only option they had, or who knows what kind of other things, and perhaps they never fully occupying the claimed identity of butch. And, similarly, some butches are never secretly wishing to be men.

I only speak for myself, but I, for now, am eagerly comfortable and loving the in-between of genderqueer.

BUTCH Voices 2013 conference starts tomorrow! “What are you doing after that, Sinclair?” “I’m going to Disneyland!”

Oh hey there! So, the BUTCH Voices 2013 conference starts tomorrow. I’m at the conference hotel as I type this, in fact, sending out last minute press details and doing last minute updates to the website.

Speaking of the website …

Doesn’t it look fantastic? I’ve been managing the Media Team throughout the summer, but the last three weeks we have been in FULL high gear, with details and edits and errors and last minute additions. I’m so very grateful to all the people who have been putting in many hours to put the polish on the media presence. THANK YOU Miriam, rife, Roma Mafia, Amber, Angela, Broch, Kaye, B, and Tootie for all of the hours of work you put in.

I’ve been learning management in a trial-by-fire kind of way … I have only managed in small ways in the past, with some personal service relationships and some intern management experience, so this has been intense. I did hire a couple of interns for the summer, also, but because I’ve been traveling and so insanely crazy with all the things I’ve been doing for BUTCH Voices, I have barely had a chance to delegate tasks yet. I have a lot of ideas, though, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to my own tasks, writing more smut, launching my coaching business, and finishing some of the projects that I’m really excited about.

I’m really looking forward to the conference. Now that my job of setting up all the media is almost—almost—done, I can actually enjoy some of the amazing things that are going on. We’ve got a big Kick Off party tonight with an ally performance, a welcome from an Oakland city councilperson, an artist’s reception, and a meet and greet; and then tomorrow the workshops start, and the first keynote happens, and there are community dinners and a film night; Saturday is a BUTCH Nation performance in the evening after the first keynote and a day of workshops; and Sunday there’s a spoken word show (that I am performing in!) and the closing party. Whew!

So after that, what’s next? Well … I keep saying, “I’m (we’re) going to Disneyland!” And while I’m half-joking, I’ve also been having conversations about what my personal “Disneyland” might be, what it means as a metaphor.

Did I mention that I just signed a lease for an apartment in Oakland? Yeah, so I live in the Bay Area now. That’s kind of a big deal, though it’s also kind of overshadowed by this giant national conference. So part of my personal Disneyland in the weeks to come is going to be settling in to my new place, getting unpacked, going to estate sales and thrift stores and finding some key comfortable furniture, and then getting back to my own work. I’m really excited to set up the new apartment, and I really like it, it’s part of a house, really big and has beautiful old wood, was built in 1901, and it has a yard! I can’t wait to start growing things in the ground, that’s perhaps the most exciting part. I definitely have some shock about being in a new place. After traveling near constantly since January (or since last fall, really), I have kind of gotten used to being on the road. But now, it’s starting to hit me what I left behind in New York, how I completely disassembled the household I built for almost ten years there, how many things I just got rid of, cutthroat-style, and how much I am still grieving for that loss. It’s starting to stare me in the face in a different way.

I’m also going to be extremely focused on my own self-care for a while, and keep asking myself, “What would feel pleasurable for my body right now?” I’m really excited to be having some new ventures planted and just beginning to grow, and I can’t wait to reveal them to you, and to write more. I miss writing. I have loved management and event planning and identity politics and wording and branding and all the things that went into this media, but I miss putting stories together.

So, you’re coming to BUTCH Voices right? In spirit, at least? Tweet us and use #bv13 and I’ll retweet you from the @BUTCHVoices account. And follow along! It’s going to be quite the weekend.

Want to promote your cool thing at the BUTCH Voices conference?

The third biennial national BUTCH Voices conference happens August 15-18 in Oakland, CA, and we are looking for awesome things that our conference attendees would want to know about.

Who are our conference attendees? Butches, AGs, studs, tombois, and all sorts of masculine of center identities, and a huge range of folks who want to spend some days talking about those kinds of identities. Largely queer, but not entirely.

Do you have:
– Flyers for your newest project?
– A little gifty item that could go in our conference swag bag?
– An exciting win for the BV raffle?
– Some amazing products to vend at the conference?

We want ’em!

Or maybe you want to take out an ad in the program? Heck yeah!

Deadlines are fast approaching, so let’s get going with this if you want to be involved. Contact lizwe@butchvoices.com to sign up and arrange the details.

Press passes and press kits are available if you’d like to cover the conference for your media outlet.

Want to attend the BUTCH Voices 2013 Conference for free?

BUTCH Voices 2013 national conference postcards are here! Rife designed them, and I love how they turned out.

Now, we just have to get ’em out into the world. And that’s where YOU come in. We are forming Street Teams in the Bay Area in California as well as in all the cities where we held Community Conversations in 2012-2013: Dallas, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Toronto.

If you are in one of those cities and want to help out, here’s what you’ll get:

  • Big thank you from BUTCH Voices!
  • Volunteer hour credit: 4 hours of volunteering = ticket to one day’s worth of the BV 2013 conference.
  • The fuzzy-inside feeling you get when you’re helping to build community. Aww.

Contact the Volunteer Coordinators to volunteer, at volunteer@butchvoices.com.

streetteam

Press release follows:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY

Contact: Sinclair Sexsmith
Media representative, BUTCH Voices
+1 (917) 475-6316
sinclair@butchvoices.com

Opportunities available with BUTCH Voices: 2013 Street Teams!

June 24, 2013

Oakland, CA: BUTCH Voices, the organization which will host its third national conference August 15-18, 2013, in Oakland, California, has opportunities for volunteers to distribute flyers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in July.

“Volunteers for BUTCH Voices can volunteer in exchange for comped days at the conference,” said Meg McEachin, BV board member, “but Street Team members can rack up volunteer time before the conference even starts. For four hours of volunteer time, we’ll give you a one-day ticket to the conference; for eight hours, two days.”

“It’s a great way to give support and a helping hand to the organization,” Meg added, “and for folks to get financial assistance to attend the conference.”

BUTCH Voices Street Teams are being formed in Dallas, Seattle, Portland, Toronto, Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Oakland. “We’ll have Street Teams in all cities where 2012-2013 BUTCH Voices Community Conversations took place,” said Meg.

People interested in participating in Street Teams should contact the Volunteer Coordinators at volunteer@butchvoices.com. Postcard-sized flyers will be provided to you by mail and you must have them distributed by the beginning of August.

BUTCH Voices expects more than 300 attendees for the conference. More information can be found at www.butchvoices.com. Further inquiries can be sent to Sinclair Sexsmith, Media Board Chair, at sinclair@butchvoices.com

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BUTCH Voices Call for Proposals due in two days!

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From the BV press release:

BUTCH Voices third national conference has extended our call for proposals to June 21st, 2013. We are currently seeking workshops submissions of all kinds, and in all formats: films, performances, skill shares, readings, meditation, and movement—anything and everything that addresses the cultural, sexual, emotional, physical, and psychological relationships that arise in the lives of butches, studs, tombois, aggressives, machas, etc. We are open to all perspectives–queer, feminist, womanist, neither or beyond! We particularly encourage proposals by and for people-over sixty, under twenty-one, by and for the working-class, people of color, and persons with disabilities.

“We have incredible submissions so far,” said Joe LeBlanc, conference founder and board chair. “We have received so many authentic, solid, and heart resonating responses that we want to leave the window open just a bit longer.”

The BUTCH Voices National Conference, happening at the Marriott Oakland City Center in Oakland, California on August 15-18, 2013, has happened twice before and boasted community conversations and regional conferences between national conferences. Each national conference has brought together hundreds of people to discuss issues related to masculine of center identities.

“There is currently a thread on our facebook page,” said Sinclair Sexsmith, media chair of the BUTCH Voices board, “discussing what kind of workshops the attendees would still love to see happen. Ideas range from latino/a butch identity to butch trans women to butch fashion to youth to allyship to hairstyles. We are expecting a wide range of offerings at the third conference. As always, the programming committee’s choices will center around our three initiatives: community building, social and economic justice, and physical and mental health. But there will be a lot of fun, playful things thrown in there, too.”

The full call for proposals is on the BUTCH Voices website at http://www.butchvoices.com/call-for-proposals .

BUTCH Voices expects more than 300 attendees for the weekend gathering in August. More information can be found at www.butchvoices.com.

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Exploring Gender Through Photos: The new headshots by Meg Allen

I had some new headshots taken, with the aim to actually capture some joy and pleasure and fun, instead of someone who has “been through the ringer” and “in the wars”. I’m spending a lot of time thinking about my business and what I’m doing and how I’m representing myself, in no small part thanks to the Catalyst Conference I attended in DC in March and Barbara Carrellas’s Urban Tantra training for sexuality professionals.

BD Swain (who is a butch kinky erotica writer—if you aren’t following her blog, you should be) hooked me up with Meg Allen, whose portraits immediately resonated with me. Meg is also working on a portrait project she’s calling BUTCH which features—wait for it—masculine of center folks.

Working with Meg and talking about photographing butch identity, what makes it different than photographing other gender presentations, how to encourage butches to feel more at home in our bodies through photography, and a dozen other things, made me think about all the other butch portrait projects that have been popping up lately, like BUTCH: Not like the other girls by SD Holman and the Butch/Femme Photo Project by Wendi Kali. I’m starting to put together a panel for the BUTCH Voices conference that is full of photographers of butches and I want to address exactly those questions.

BUTCH Voices call for proposals is open, by the way! Submit art, workshops, lectures, panels, or performance ideas before June 1.

I know for me, having my photograph taken changed significantly after I came to a butch identity. I actually started liking how I looked in photos. I actually kind of recognized myself. I spent some years obsessively taking self-portraits, from 1997 to about 2002, and maintaining personal photo blogs online, and one of the major reasons for that was experimenting with visual representations and markers of gender. After I came to a butch identity that I was pretty solid and comfortable with, somewhere in 2001 or so, I took fewer and fewer self-portraits and felt much more at ease having my photo taken by others. Having professional photos of me taken, starting in about 2006, has continued me on that journey of finding myself through visual representation and continuing to feel comfortable with the way that I look, my gender, and my body.

Which is yet another reason why I started craving new headshots for the summer. I want it to reflect where I am, and how I feel about myself and my work. They needed to be updated.

Here’s about 30 of my favorites from the shoot. I’m still experimenting with which will be my new avatar for Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and for the sidebar and my about pages, so I might pick one and then change it up in a week or so, test some of them out.

If you can’t see the photos, here’s a link to the full set on Flickr.

Here’s the other thing about these photos: they look like me. They don’t really look like “Sinclair,” they don’t look like some persona I’m putting on, they look like me, how I look on a pretty much daily basis, how I look when I’m hanging out with friends or teaching a workshop. Maybe if I would’ve dressed up more that would be different? Maybe it’s the sweater over the polo, too casual for this shoot somehow.

Not that that’s a bad thing, exactly. I am aiming for more integration. The difference between me and my “Sinclair” persona/character gets thinner and thinner. It’s just kind of … odd. Unexpected. Interesting.

What do you think? Which ones are your favorites? Any advice for headshots or representing my work?

“Conversations Build Communities”: BUTCH Voices To Hold 3rd Biennial National Conference in Oakland August 15-18, 2013

BUTCH Voices is still looking for volunteers for the Steering Committee, Board, and some sub-committees if you’re interested in helping make the 2013 conference run. It’s great experience and a great way to build and deepen community. Check out the job descriptions and opportunities available.

flyer2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY

Contact: Sinclair Sexsmith
Media representative, BUTCH Voices
+1 (917) 475-6316
sinclair@butchvoices.com

“Conversations Build Communities”:
BUTCH Voices To Hold 3rd Biennial National Conference in Oakland August 15-18, 2013

February 26, 2013

Oakland, CA – The BUTCH Voices 3rd biennial National Conference will take place in Oakland, CA at the Oakland Marriott City Center August 15-18, 2013. The BUTCH Voices Board and Steering Committee are excited to continue our core initiatives: focusing on community building, social and economic justice, and physical and mental health.

The mission of BUTCH Voices is to enhance and sustain the well-being of all women, female-bodied, and trans-identified individuals who are Masculine of Center.*  We achieve this by providing programs that build community, positive visibility and empower us to advocate for our whole selves inclusive of and beyond our gender identity and sexual orientation. Our community is vast and growing and we have many identifications that resemble what the world knows as our “butchness.” We recognize our diversity as having a foundation rooted in butch heritage. We welcome the on-going development of movements intentionally and critically inclusive of our gender variant community. BUTCH Voices is a social justice organization that is race and gender inclusive, pro-womanist and feminist.

The official conference theme is “Conversations Build Communities,” which is an extension of our off-year regional Community Conversation gatherings. We have had Community Conversations in Boston and San Francisco, and in March in Seattle. There are gatherings in progress for Dallas, New York, Toronto, and others TBA. These community conversations in local cities will continue to encourage the elevation of discussion around these identities leading up to the national conference.

“The conference will be an amazing event for masculine of center folks and our allies to convene nationally and discuss issues relevant to our lives today, share our stories, network, attend workshops, sessions, social events, and performances,” said Board Chair and Founder Joe LeBlanc. “It’s an incredible opportunity to come together and be a part of the larger conversation, and witness the myriad of masculine identities.  It is life changing for so many of us to attend a gathering of this size, and take these conversations, resources, and connections back home to our local communities and beyond.”

A call for workshop presenters, performers, artists, and other contributors for the national conference will be announced soon. The BUTCH Voices Board is still seeking more members for the national conference Steering Committee, which will help produce and oversee the conference. If you’re interested, visit http://www.butchvoices.com/opportunities-available-with-butch-voices/ to view the opportunities available with BUTCH Voices and get in touch.

Subscribe to the BUTCH Voices newsletter online at BUTCHVoices.com to stay informed of the future conference announcements.

Further inquiries can be sent to Sinclair Sexsmith, Media Board Chair, at Sinclair@BUTCHVoices.com

* Masculine of center (MoC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer/womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine etc.

# # #

Opportunities with the BUTCH Voices Media Team

In addition to teaching workshops and traveling everywhere, one of my other major jobs recently has been working as the Media Chair on the board of BUTCH Voices, gearing up for the 2013 national conference. It’s starting to pick up—we’ve got a lot of stuff going on, and there will just be more between here & the conference.

Most notably, the BUTCH Voices website has a facelift!

Doesn’t it look great? I wish I’d taken a full-screen screenshot of the old website, it looks so different. I’m now the web editor there, and still looking for folks to work with me on the Media Team. I’m really excited about the conference and this is a unique opportunity to work behind the scenes to make it happen, and gain some experience and expertise in the web and media fields.

Media Team (Reports to the Media Chair)

Benefits include: cultivating butch community, discounted entrance into the BUTCH Voices 2013 National Conference in August, service to your community, volunteer time, media experience of all kinds (social media, web content management, print media), working directly with Sinclair, and more!

You should be: masculine of center identified, trans-positive, coming from an anti-oppression framework; have some time to volunteer, self-motivated, able to work on tight deadlines, have a reliable computer & internet access where you can stay in touch at least on a weekly basis.

Tasks include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Responsible for completing tasks relating to the website, social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc), newsletter
  • Design components for print and web using BUTCH Voices branding standard colors, fonts, and logos
  • Respond promptly and keep in contact
  • Available for last-minute tasks and able to complete assignments within 24-48 hours
  • Timely and efficient, hard working, able to take direction and ask for clarification, able to work in a team environment digitally from a home office
  • Reliable internet access, computer access; some HTML skills, WordPress, CMS, text editing, Photoshop, and graphic design skills are a plus
  • Keen eye for detail

Interested? Contact me, sinclair@butchvoices.com, with your resume and a few brief paragraphs about why you’d like the job and what you can offer. I’m excited to get this team going, to practice my management skills, and to make the BUTCH Voices 2013 conference excellent.

Hey Seattle! Beauty and the BUTCH April 27, a BUTCH Voices Benefit

Please forward widely!

Announcing … Beauty and the BUTCH: A 2013 BUTCH Voices Benefit

seattle

BUTCH Voices in conjunction with Lily Divine Productions and the Center for Sex Positive Culture invites you to indulge in an evening of deliciously BUTCH revelry, hot performances and choose-your-own play party adventures.

Saturday, April 27, 2013
7pm – doors open – socializing, raffle ticket sales, negotiations for later adventures
8pm – Lily Divine Productions presents a thrilling show of tantalizing teases from queers of all genders!
9:30/10pm til 2am – BUTCH Voices and the Center for Sex Positive Culture present one amazing queer play party

Get your tickets in advance at http://beautyandthebutchseattle.eventbrite.com/
Price for admission is $25. We will be offering a discount to attendees of LDP/Debauchery at $20.

At the Center for Sex Positive Culture (Main Space)
1602 15th Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119

Open call for raffle items and date auction candidates – send information to Joe@BUTCHVoices.com

Details about the play party from the CSPC:

Want to have sex? Want to do bondage? Want to hang out and socialize? Want to spank or beat on someone? Want to poke someone with needles? Come on in and have some fun and support a good cause! Dungeon equipment as well as all of the side rooms and the back room will be open for play. Be forewarned, depending on play styles of attendees, it may be loud.

There will be a Men’s-only event in the adjacent Annex & Raw spaces, but the Main Space will be open to queers of all genders and orientations. If it is allowed here at the CSPC, it is allowed at this party!

All proceeds from this Benefit will support the 2013 BUTCH Voices Conference (taking place August 15-18, 2013 in Oakland).

More information about BUTCH Voices: www.BUTCHVoices.com
More information about Lily Divine Productions: www.lilydivine.com

BUTCH Voices Community Conversations in San Francisco & Boston

Community Conversation in San Francisco

BUTCH Voices presents our first Community Conversations event happening on December 15th, co-sponsored by the Queer Resource Center at City College San Francisco.
Capacity is limited to 60 attendees. So RSVP today. No cost to attend.

RSVP with your name and contact information via email: registration@BUTCHVoices.com

Saturday, December 15, 2012
10am-3pm
at City College of San Francisco
50 Phelan Avenue
Co-sponsored by BUTCH Voices & City College’s Queer Resource Center

Schedule:
10:00am -10:30am Welcome
10:30am – 12:00pm Session 1
12:00pm -1:00pm Lunch on your own
1:00pm – 2:30pm Session 2
2:30pm-3:00pm Wrap up

Community Conversation in Boston

BUTCH Voices presents our Community Conversations event happening on Saturday, February 16th, co-sponsored by ButchBoi Life and Boston University’s Queer Activists Collective.

Capacity is limited to 50 attendees, so RSVP today. No cost to attend.

RSVP with your name and contact information via email with Boston in the subject line to: registration@BUTCHVoices.com

Location:
Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism at Boston University
775 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215
Date: February 16th
Time: 9am – 5pm

*Accessibility information for the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism *

For handicap accessibility, there is an elevator down to the basement of the student union where the Center is located.

Public transit and parking:
The nearest T stop (the Boston transit system) is BU Central on the B branch of the green line. Parking is available on the street, but all other lots require permits, so it can be tough to find a spot.

About the Community Conversations

Folks have enjoyed our regional and national conferences and asked for more BUTCH Voices events in their towns. We’re looking to help make those happen where we can. In our ‘off time’ from producing our National Conference, we’re holding Community Conversations in various cities across the United States and Canada.

While our regional and and national conferences are open to all, these Community Conversations are specific to folks who identify as butch, stud, and other masculine of center identities – in order to hold space for each other and foster ways to connect and build community. As always, as an organization we do not make the distinction as to who fits those identities, we leave that up for individuals to decide for themselves.
Topics will be generated by the individuals and groups who attend. We expect regional differences to affect which subjects, philosophies, and concerns each group will focus on. Our goal is to have 20-50 people attend each Community Conversation gathering, and we hope to encourage dialog, connection, and networking as we gear up for next year’s 2013 BUTCH Voices National Conference.

In conjunction with the Community Conversations we are also producing fundraisers for BUTCH Voices. Funds will be split between local organizers to assist their attendance at the National BUTCH Voices conference and with BUTCH Voices National.

We are currently working on Community Conversations and fundraising events in, though not limited to, the following cities: San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Portland OR, Boston, Atlanta, and Dallas. As cities and dates become available we will announce them here on the BUTCH Voices website, and get the word to you just as soon as we can. Be sure to sign up for our updates and e-newsletters to stay in the know about all things BUTCH Voices here. www.BUTCHVoices.com

If you are interested in being involved in hosting, fundraising, or coordinating a Community Conversation in your city, contact BUTCH Voices outreach at volunteers@BUTCHVoices.com.

Also! Save the Date – BUTCH Voices 2013 National Conference – August 15-18 in Oakland, CA. Registration and calls for submissions and performers coming soon

Beauty and the BUTCH: BUTCH Voices Benefit in San Francisco

Oh, San Francisco.

Why you gotta be so cool? I am having trouble enough keeping our relationship long-distance. And now, this …

I can’t be there this time, but please, please, go for me and have an amazing time.

Beauty and the BUTCH: A 2012 BUTCH Voices Benefit

You are invited to indulge in an evening of deliciously BUTCH revelry… Bask in the decadent sights, bold sounds and the brilliant energy of everything BEAUTIFULLY BUTCH*! The mystique and myth are nothing compared to the raw beauty of butch truth…

Saturday September 15th, 2012
7:00pm – Midnight

at The City of Refuge UCC
1025 Howard Street – SF CA
$5-15 sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds

7:00pm – Doors Open
7:30pm – Butch Briefs Part Deux – a Mini Film Festival
8:00pm – Beauty and the Butch Live Performances and Fashion Show
9:00pm – Butch Ball with DJs JacATac, Black and Ryan

FOR ADVANCED TICKETS
RSVP HERE: http://beautyandthebutch.eventbrite.com/

BUTCH ATTIRE defies simple elegance… we have a swagger all our own that many have tried to duplicate but few have achieved

BUTCH ART breathes a magnificently unique masculine
mixture of the sacred and the profane into what is much more than a label… it is an experience

BUTCH MUSIC gives us all permission to dig deep into our spirits and howl our TRUTH, our TENDERNESS, our unabashed BRAVERY and our brash movement without boundaries!

Updates from BUTCH Voices: Events, Open Positions, Call for Bloggers

So maybe you’ve heard, but I’ve got an exciting (official) announcement: I’m on the board of BUTCH Voices working up to the 2013 National Conference as Media Chair. This is my second board position and I’m really excited to work with this organization. I don’t know if I’ve ever attended a conference as diverse as BUTCH Voices, both in race and in ability and class and culture and perspective and all sorts of other things, and I’m thrilled to be part of the team.

We’ve got a lot of exciting things in the works between now and the 2013 National Conference (which will be in August in Oakland, exact dates TBA). We won’t have Regional Conferences this year like we did in 2011, but we are working on some Community Conversations, which will be gatherings for folks who want to come together and discuss butch and masculine of center identities, and conclude with some sort of party. The first scheduled is in San Francisco on September 15th and more details on that will come soon (the organizers are still looking for folks interested in performing, entertaining, or donating raffle prizes).

We also have some open positions on the board, steering committee, programming committee, and media team, and I’m looking for bloggers who are interested in posting or cross-posting to the BUTCHVoices.com blog. Want to get involved with that? Email me, sinclair@butchvoices.com.

I’ll also be helping to put on the New York City Community Conversation, so if you’re interested in being involved with that—performing, donating raffle prizes, etc—let me know.

Here’s the whole of the newsletter. Subscribe here and be the first to receive the next newsletter.

    BUTCH Voices Summer 2012 Newsletter

    Greetings, BUTCH Voices attendees, participants, presenters, lovers, allies, sponsors, and more!

    You haven’t heard much from us since the 2011 National Conference in Oakland, but we’re beginning to get our ties out and polish up the wingtips so we can hve some exciting events and productivity between now and our 2013 National Conference.

    In this (new!) BUTCH Voices newsletter, you will find:

  • BUTCH Voices Organization updates
  • Open positions
  • Community Conversations in 2012/2013
  • Call for Contributors: butchvoices.com
  • The 2013 Conference

BUTCH Voices Organization Updates

First, because obviously you’re dying to know, here’s what’s new at BUTCH Voices!

We have a revised board, consisting of:

Joe LeBlanc – Board Chair
Mary Stockton – Finance Chair
Redwolf Painter – Strategic Impact Chair
Sinclair Sexsmith – Media Chair
Adriana Batista – Resource Development Chair

We held our 2012 board retreat in April in Oakland, and in it we solidified our goals for 2012 and 2013, which include adding some organizational structure, getting our media plan going, and working on events for our off-year (more on that later). We are still looking to add a Member At Large to our board, and various other positions to the Steering Committee (more details about our open positions below).

We are also excited to announce that we have a new Advisory Board, which consists of people who have been super supportive and involved in varying capacities with the work here at BUTCH Voices in the past. They are joining us in an official advisory capacity for the organization and our communities at large.

Advisory Board members:
Krys Freeman
Q Ragsdale
Sharon Bridgforth
Rajkumari Neogy
Tobi Hill-Meyer
Jun-Fung Chueh-Mejia
Ryann Holmes
B. Cole
D’Lo

Read their full bios here on the BUTCHVoices.com site.

And of course, we are moving forward with the ultimate goal of organizing the BUTCH Voices National Conference in 2013, which will take place in August in Oakland. We are still solidifying the exact date and location, but you will be the first to know!

Open Positions

The BUTCH Voices Board of Directors are currently looking for volunteers to add to the BUTCH Voices Board, the National Conference Steering Committee and Subcommittees.   If you’re looking to volunteer time on a ongoing basis and want a specific role on the team, we have a few that are open.  Priority will be given to folks identifying with the butch, stud, masculine of center identities, but allies should also feel free to apply.  All positions are unpaid and volunteer based.

Two BUTCH Voices Board positions currently open:  Secretary and Member at Large. Multiple BUTCH Voices National Steering Committee positions currently open, including: Performance Chair and Co-CoordinatorSponsor/Vendor Chair and Co-Coordinator, and Media Coordinator. We are currently also seeking volunteers for a Media Team for communications and online projects, and Programming Committee.

For detailed descriptions of the open positions, and for information about how to send your resume to BUTCH Voices, see http://www.BUTCHVoices.com/opportunities-available-with-butch-voices/

Community Conversations

BUTCH Voices is excited to announce that during our off-year, 2012, we will be holding regional “Community Conversations” in various cities around the United States and Canada to promote connection, elevation of conversation, and community building for masculine of center folks and our allies.

We are aiming to hold Community Conversations possibly in, though not limited to, the following cities: Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Portland OR, San Diego, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Oakland, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Vancouver BC, and Toronto. We are currently moving forward with Seattle and New York City in fall 2012, and we will get those dates to you just as soon as we can. We hope other cities will soon follow!

SAN FRANCISCO has already been announced: Save the date! September 15th 2012 will be a Community Conversation and afterparty, Beauty and the BUTCH, featuring entertainment, fashion, and a raffle with many exciting prizes. More details on the BUTCH Voices website.

Topics will be generated by the individual groups who attend, and we expect regional differences to affect which subjects, philosophies, and concerns each group will focus on. We expect 20-50 people attending each Community Conversation gathering, and we hope to encourage conversation, connection, and networking as we gear up for next year’s 2013 BUTCH Voices National Conference. The Community Conversations will also serve as fundraisers for BUTCH Voices, and funds will be split between local organizers to assist their attendance at the National BUTCH Voices conference and with BUTCH Voices National.

If you are interested in being involved in hosting, fundraising, or coordinating a Community Conversation in your city, contact BUTCH Voices outreach at volunteers@butchvoices.com.

In August 2013, BUTCH Voices will present our third bi-annual national conference located in Oakland, CA, exact dates TBA.

Call for Contributors – BUTCHVoices.com

BUTCH Voices is seeking writers, bloggers, vloggers, photographers, and multi-media generators to contribute to www.butchvoices.com. Posts are ideally 500-750 words, 5 photographs, or one video with short description. Content should include something about masculine of center identity in any capacity, be it promotion for an art project, musings, or calls for contributions or collaborations. Contributions are unpaid but do you will receive a byline, which includes a one-line bio, link to your project, exposure to our thousands of followers, and our gratitude. Content may be cross-posted and do not have to be new, so long as they are relevant to masculine of center identities, adhere to our mission statement, and follow anti-oppression fundamentals. Contact Sinclair, media chair of the Butch Voices board, sinclair@butchvoices.com for more information. If you are interested in contributing, send Sinclair one sample works, your one-line bio, and your any relevant links to your work.

The 2013 BUTCH Voices National Conference

… is in progress! We are securing a venue and exact dates in August, 2013, even as you read this. For now, keep it in mind and plan to be in Oakland to join hundreds of masculine of center folks and our allies to continue discussing, connecting, playing, partying, philosophizing, laughing, and crying together.

Thank you for your ongoing support and contributions to BUTCH Voices!

Sincerely,

Joe, Mary, Wolf, Adriana, and Sinclair
The 2013 BUTCH Voices Board

In addition to wanting bloggers for the BUTCH Voices website, I’m also looking for a Media Team that will work under me:

Media Team’s tasks (Reports to the Media Chair)

  • Responsible for completing tasks relating to the website, social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc), newsletter
  • Design components for print and web using BUTCH Voices branding standard colors, fonts, and logos
  • Respond promptly and keep in contact
  • Available for last-minute tasks and able to complete assignments within 24-48 hours
  • Timely and efficient, hard working, able to take direction and ask for clarification, able to work in a team environment digitally from a home office
  • Reliable internet access, computer access; some HTML skills, WordPress, CMS, text editing,
    Photoshop, and graphic design skills are a plus.
  • Keen eye for detail

Interested? Want to work with me for a year? Want to learn what I know about running a community website, butch identity, outreach, and communications? Want to take part in forming the 2013 BUTCH Voices National Conference? I’m looking for some committed, smart, flexible folks who are interested in contributing—get in touch with me at sinclair@butchvoices.com.

I am excited about this trajectory for BUTCH Voices, and thrilled to be part of it.

A Little Bit About Butch Voices, Butch Nation, and “Masculine of Center”

So, a group of folks who were on the Butch Voices board have broken off and created a new organization, Butch Nation. If you keep up with this kind of drama news, you probably have heard about it. See the press release Butch Nation released, Butch Voices press about it, Sasha T. Goldberg’s letter about what happened, and an interview with Krys Freeman on Velvetpark.

I’ve been asked for my thoughts on what’s going on by a few folks. To be honest, I’m not sure what I think exactly. My understanding, based on reading those links above (and more), is that it is a) partially a personal rift, based on who knows what, and b) partially an issue of semantics, about the terms “masculine of center” and “butch” specifically. I can’t really speak to what’s happened personally between the groups—I don’t know, I wasn’t there, and for the most part, I’m not that interested. I mean, my wish is for us all to get along, but people have different ideas about how to run things, and it’s ever possible for rifts to arise when working closely with anyone (in fact, it’s nearly inevitable).

So I don’t know what to say about that part. But I can speak to the semantics, and my opinion about these (incredibly loaded) terms.

(While fully acknowledging that words are powerful, and the right word is incredibly important, and identity is complicated, I also think it isn’t worth the community rifts, and I’m not eager to get involved in the nitpicking of the argument. Still, I’m putting forth my two cents.)

The word “masculine of center:”

My understanding is that the Butch Voices revised mission statement includes this word as an umbrella term, to encompass a myriad of identities. Also from the mission statement: “Masculine of center (MoC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer/ womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine etc.”

The term is meant to be more inclusive than a term like “butch,” which is loaded for many people, and which has historically been predominantly adopted by white folks.

This isn’t the first term to come around that has attempted to encompass these many masculine queer identities—remember transmasculine? That was a hot one for a year or so there, but was declared too problematic to keep using, particularly in the ways that it wasn’t inclusive enough of trans women.

Maybe this begs the question of whether or not an umbrella term is necessary at all. As someone who writes about this stuff frequently, my opinion is that yes, it is important to have a term. Not only that, but it’s important to see the connections between us, to look at the places where we overlap, and to use those to build bridges and build stronger community activism and connection around our shared oppression. Because all of us within these individual identities, we may or may not date the same type of person, we may or may not have the same spiritual beliefs, we may or may not identify as feminist, we may or may not wear the same type of underwear, but there is something that unites us: our masculinity.

(I would argue that our masculinity is intentional, though I know there’s some disagreements about that. I’ve also heard, lately, people arguing that they are “butch women,” and therefore “not masculine,” but I’d like to challenge that there is a fundamental difference between male and masculine, and that a woman can be masculine and still be women.)

Having something to unite us is powerful, and most of the words that this world has come up with to use as an umbrella term haven’t been far-fetched and uniting enough. Is this term? I don’t know. Personally, I like the term “masculine of center.” I wouldn’t use it in a sentence to describe myself, like I wouldn’t introduce myself by saying, “I identify as masculine of center,” but I would absolutely say that I identify as butch and that I believe butch falls under that umbrella, just like it is a sort of trans-ish identity, sometimes, for me, as well. I wouldn’t correct someone if they said I was masculine of center. I also don’t tend to identify myself as a “lesbian,” I’m much more likely to call myself a dyke, or, even more so, queer, but I wouldn’t correct someone if they called me that. It’s not my identity word of choice, but it is accurate.

Holding so tight to one singular identity word and no others gets us into such rigid places. When one word and only one word is an accurate description of one’s self, then of course a larger umbrella term will feel bad. And of course one will only feel good about being connected to and associated with other people who identify with that term. The problem is, I think, that the term itself is just a starting place. It’s just the thing that starts these deeper, elevated conversations, the invitation to say, “Okay, what does that mean for you? How did you come to that word, that identity? How does that identity play out in your daily life?”

Because, like Dacia reminded me when we talked about this last week, the map is not the territory. Even if we have mapped something out with language, what matters is the application to our daily, minute-by-minute lives. And what matters is, to me, the connections that we make, the interconnectivity we find with others who are struggling through similar issues that we are, and what we do about it to move ourselves forward.

I know identity politics are incredibly loaded—fuck, the words I call myself have been vastly important to me, I’m not trying to belittle that struggle. It is huge. The act of naming one’s self, especially in the face of oppression and marginalization, is complicated and powerful. I just hope that we can have more looseness in some of these discussions, as they go forward.

One more thing about masculine of center … I’ve read a few places, in response to this Butch Voices/Butch Nation stuff, that the word “masculine of center” reinforces the binary, and that gender is more complex than a linear spectrum, etc etc.

Funny, I never think of “masculine of center” as implying a linear, 2D scale, with masculine on one side and feminine on the other. All sorts of shapes have centers, and I tend to think of the gender map as a 3D circle, a galaxy even (though that is much harder to map), or perhaps a shorthand of a 2D circle if I’m trying to simplify it a little more.

I ran across this on Tumblr not too long ago, and it’s stuck with me:

From the creator:

Because it’s already established, I have put F, standing for Feminine gender, as red, and M, standing for Masculine gender, as blue. Going nicely with the pansexual flag colours, I have put O for Other gender (though part of me feels I should have put Third gender) as yellow. … Each gender/colour fades down to centre, where I have put A for Agender. …

With this wheel, you can say “I am somewhere between masculine and other, but it’s not a really gendered gender” and it makes sense, because you point at light green (which looks like turquoise, but this was the best wheel I found). You can say “If I’m anything, I’m feminine” and it makes sense, because you point at light pink.

And bigender? Sometimes *here* and sometimes *here*. Genderqueer is anything that isn’t red or blue, I think.

I think there are more genders than just this, but I also think it’s a pretty good place to start. Definitely a vast improvement from the linear spectrum, and I like the idea of all those gradient colors.

So my point, if I have one, is that I like the word “masculine of center,” and I think it’s useful for trying to unite many, many folks who struggle with a masculine identity in the queer worlds. As I’m continuing to be a part of building a better understanding of female masculinity and butch identity in this world, I think it is incredibly important to be talking to other people who have overlapping or complimentary experiences to my own, and to swap theories and survival tactics, to share war stories over beers, to have some respite before we go back and fight the good fights.

I believe the folks behind Butch Voices are doing an incredible job at being inclusive, open, and transparent in their vastly difficult task of bringing together dozens of identities to connect and unite in these conferences. I haven’t been to the national conference yet, but I’m very much looking forward to it next week, and as someone who has spoken quite a bit with Joe LeBlanc and other BV core members, and who was part of the Butch Voices NYC committee last year, and who this year has been volunteering as part of the national web team, I have some knowledge of how this organization is being run, and it seems professional, open, and excellent.

That’s not to say that, if I knew more of the details about what’s going on, I might not have some critical feedback, but it seems clear that they are doing their best, and I’m impressed with what’s happening.

I hope this conversation will continue next week, and I imagine it will. Perhaps as I learn more I’ll have more to share with you all about what I think and what’s going on. Meanwhile, I feel open and curious about these conversations, and interested in finding out more ways to have better, and deeper, connection, and elevated discussions around all of our identities, singular and collectively.

What’s Happening in August

Holy crap, there’s a lot going on this month.

Events with Mr. Sexsmith

Tuesday, August 16th, 8-10pmCock Confidence workshopCamouflage sex toy shop in Santa Cruz, CA

Wednesday, August 17th, 8-10pmCock Confidence workshopGood Vibrations, San Francisco, CA

Date TBACock Confidence workshop at the Butch Voices conferenceOakland, CA

Date TBAOwning Your Birthday Suit: Embodiment for Masculine of Center Folks, co-presented with Amy Butcher, at the Butch Voices conferenceOakland, CA

Sunday, August 21Spoken word performance at the Butch Voices conference. More information TBAOakland, CA

Events in New York City You Shouldn’t Miss

Thursday, August 4 , 8pmRed Umbrella Diaries, www.redumbrellaproject.comHappy Ending, 302 Broome Street between Forsyth and Eldridge, Manhattan, NY

Friday, August 5, 9:30pmBUTCH BURLESQUE: AN EVENING OF SWAGGER. Co-curated and hosted by Victoria Libertore and Lea Robinson. Lineup: Moe Angelos (Five Lesbian Brothers), Crystal Balls, Drae Campbell (Miss LEZ 2011), Molly Equalty Dykeman, Luscious von Dykester with music by Tina Richerson, Jessica Lurie Alto AND Butch Burlesque students making their debut: Kestryl Cael, Prince Kim & Slapshot N. Tickle.

Come see these butches and friends strut their stuff with the bravado and swagger only Dixon Place is hot enough to handle. Hot, queer women flirtin’, titilatin’ and takin’ it off with the originality and swagga only a butch can pull off. As Jace Everett says, “We wanna do bad things with you.”

HOT! Festival at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, between Rivington and Delancey. Tickets: $15 in advance/ $18 at the door. Student/Senior $12 in advance/$15 at the door.

Sunday, August 14th, 10pmThe Femme Show comes to NYC! Guest Artists: The Crimson Kitty and others TBA.

The Femme Show is queer art for queer people, with a variety of diverse perspectives on queer femininity that can be thoughtful, sad, funny, sexy, and fun. On their August East Coast tour, a stellar cast will bring The Femme Show’s unique perspective on femininity, gender, queerness and sexuality to cities throughout the Northeast. Now in it’s fifth year, The Femme Show uses dance, burlesque, drag, spoken word, puppets, and more to give audiences new ways and new reasons to think about gender, femininity, and desire.

Wow Cafe Theater, 59-61 East 4th Street, the Fourth Floor, $12 at the door

Saturday, August 27th, 10pmSubmit Party, submitparty.com, a BDSM play party for women and trans folks onlyBrooklyn, NY. For exact location call 718.789.4053 or
email Red@submitparty.com

I am now booking fall events for colleges and traveling nationally. I’m heading to Dark Odyssey Summer Camp in September, and looking to visit Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle, and others in the near future. My schedule is kept up on mrsexsmith.com/appearances if you want to see if I’m coming your way.

If you’re interested in bringing me to your town or college, check out what S. Bear Bergman wrote: Bear’s Guide to Getting the Artists You Want. It’s got some great tips for how to fundraise and make an offer to bring the people you admire to come do some custom work just for you & your friends. (Hint, hint.)

Last but not least, here’s my 2011 workshop offerings in a PDF so it is easy to download, you can also download my one sheet PDF or high res photos in my press kit). Get in touch if you’re interested in booking me, you can contact me directly—mrsexsmith(at)gmail—or my booking company, PhinLi, at bookings(at)phinli.com.

bklyn boihood & Butch Voices Party in NYC

I won’t be in town, but if you are, don’t miss this.

By the end of July we will be wrapping up the production of our 2012 calendar!

Join bklyn boihood, Butch Voices and other sponsors and allies in a celebration to wrap up this amazing experience for our models, photographers and contributors.

Kweer folks, a sexy venue, and fresh music on deck as folks mingle with the models, bloggers, photographers, partners and friends that make the bklyn boihood experience possible.

We’ ll have a raffle, giveaways, and a very special opportunity to experience the behind-the-scenes chemistry that makes this iconic calendar such an amazing experience. Hang out with the bois, see slide shows of calendar footage, meet models, hear/give feedback, PRE-ORDER the calendar and/or support any way you can!!

Date: Saturday, July 30th, Doors: @ 7
Vibe: Chill, Lounge, Grown & Sexy, Bar
Venue: The Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard Street (LES)
Cost: $10 Suggested

Boston & Syracuse This Week!

I’m off tomorrow to Boston for two workshops—Cock Confidence and Afternoon Delight—until Wednesday, then Friday I’m heading upstate to Syracuse, New York, to do a Radical Masculinity workshop.

I’ve been updating the details in that “What’s Happening in February” post that’s been at the top of the Sugarbutch feed since earlier this month … Has that been useful for you folks, or do you find it annoying? It’s a new thing I’m trying.

Hope you can join me at one of these workshops! Here’s the details:

Cock Confidence: Strap-On 101 Workshop at Good Vibes in Boston

Tuesday, February 22nd, 8pm
Good Vibrations, 308A Harvard Street in Brookline, MA

Many of us have experience with strapping on, packing, and playing, but there are lots of new products out there on the market that might be exciting and that you haven’t encountered yet. Plus, she’ll delve into some cock confidence, getting into the psychology of penetration, and discussing what it’s like to shoot from the hip.

(Thanks to Syd London for the great photo!)


Cock Confidence at Butch Voices NYC (photo by Syd London)

Afternoon Delight: A workshop on sex toys and getting what you want in bed at Harvard in Boston

Wednesday, February 23nd
8-10pm
Ticknor Lounge in Boylston Hall (right by Mass Ave)
Harvard, Boston, MA

Produced by Girlspot, the queer women’s group at Harvard. We’ll explore how to turn up the heat on our sex lives, what gender expression and performance has to do with sexuality, and all the fun tools we can use in the bedroom—from vibrators to strap ons to butt toys to light bondage and sensation. Includes a sex toy giveaway! Open to the public.

Radical & Responsible Gender Masculinity, Misogyny, and Feminisms at Syracuse, NY

Saturday, February 26th, 1-4pm
Syracuse University
Hall of Languages 102
Syracuse, NY

Academics break down and deconstruct gender. How do we build it back up radically and responsibly? How does one adapt masculinity or femininity “positively?” How do we become responsible about gender? How do we continue to break down the gender role restrictions that are hurtful and traumatizing? How can queer communities and spaces be improved by gender reflection? Open to the public; RSVP to Lauren Hannahs at lbhannah@syr.edu

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.

Define: Masculine of Center

I’ve been throwing this phrase around a lot lately, but I realize I haven’t actually defined it or credited it. For me, it came out of working with and attending the Butch Voices Regional Conferences this year, as we used it frequently to describe the myriad of masculine identities we were seeking to gather and discuss.

According to Butch Voices:

Masculine of center (MOC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer/ womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine etc.

In contrast to transmasculine, which was the last catch-all masculine identity label that made the rounds, masculine of center doesn’t necessarily imply a linear progression or hierarchy, I even think of it as a circle, kind of like a color wheel where the center point is gender-less or genderfluid or all genders and all the various kinds of gender expression and identity dance around it. And while “masculine of center” is definitely in contrast to “feminine of center,” it isn’t necessarily in opposition, as they play off of each other, interdependent and interwoven.

Seems like a useful term, to me, to describe the breadth of masculine identities to which I sometimes want to refer. What do you think?

… But Butch Voices Portland is This Weekend!

Hot on the heels of the Butch Voices NYC Regional conference, Portland is hosting their own Butch Voices this coming weekend, October 1-3. And I’ll be there!

I debated attending Portland’s conference—after all, these conferences are regional, so why attend in a region so far from where I live? But I adore the West coast, if you’ve been following Mr. Sexsmith’s Other Girlfriend you know the love affair I have every time I go visit a city on the I-5 corridor. It’s where I grew up, it’s the culture I know and feel most at home in, it’s what I crave and miss, and, eventually, I think it’s where I’ll end up. (Not sure when, exactly, but it seems right to be headed back that way, eventually.) So it feels important to me to attend.

I’ll be there Friday for the SWeLL performance, and then at the conference on Saturday, and reading my new butch poem, “Unsolicited Advice To A New Butch,” at the spoken word event on Sunday. Here’s the details:

Butch Voices Portland
9:30AM-10:45AM
Telling Our Stories: Writing Workshop with Sinclair Sexsmith

Everyone is the expert of their own life. Everyone knows themselves, their stories, their triumphs, their heartaches, better than anyone else. We all come from somewhere. We all have had struggles, heartaches, successes, breakthroughs, knockdowns, sideswipes, joy, that have brought us from the people we used to be to the person that we are today, and we butches have our own unique and similar stories. The rewards of starting to tell these stories, to write them down, to have others witness our stories, can be massive. The power of words to name what has happened in your lifetime can be spiritually and psychologically healing, can bring together communities of like-minded people, and can even write our selves into existence and change the world. Join writer, blogger, and activist Sinclair Sexsmith in a personal writing workshop about bringing out own inner stories out, finding the stories of our lives that are begging to be told, trusting the wisdom of our own inner voices, and finding the courage to share our stories with others. We will discuss blogging, places to read your work, editing, basic craft, and other inspirational butch writers. Bring paper and something to write with, there will be writing prompts.

Gender/Queer
Sunday, October 3rd, 2pm to 5pm
at In Other Words, 8 NE Killingsworth, PDX
Free and open to the public!

Gender/Queer is a spoken word/poetry event, that will happen on Sunday, October 3rd at In Other Words. Start time is 2:00pm and we’ll burn a fire under your feet till 5:00. The event will feature an open mic, as well as several featured performances. This event will be emceed by our PDX favorite MC Sossity Chiricuzio, notorious for her fabulous work with Portland’s one and only Dirty Queer.

The goal of this event is to offer a stage for the voices of butch identified women, transmasculine studs, aggressives, and any other individuals that find their identity on the gender queer continuum. We are also welcoming all allies to participate in this event. Gender/Queer offers an opportunity to shout out our stories through art and poetry and encourage a community oriented activism that demands social and economic justice as well as equal rights. It is a stage where artists can freely express their work on queer identities, sexualities, wants, desires, politics, you name it.

ASL interpretation provided by DHOR

I won’t be making it to the LA Conference, though I’d love to. Next time, maybe.

See you in Portland!

What happened at the BUTCH Voices NYC Conference

So BUTCH Voices NYC is over …

And it was fantastic.

I want to tell you all about it, and I barely know where to start. It was thrilling to work on a committee which was so invested in working, and whose skill-sets were all so complimentary. Primarily, I worked with promotion, copy, images, and event planning & promotion, as well as hosting some of the events over the conference weekend too. Which tend to be the things I’m good at, and the things I most like to do, in terms of putting on an event. There were a lot of logistical details that I was less concerned with, personally, but the rest of the Core Committee was so on top of it, I didn’t have to worry about it—I could just do the parts I was particularly good at.

It’s the first time I’ve been such a key organizer for a regional conference, and I had a wonderful time. I learned a lot about organizing and producing big events. I think I might go into a little bit of withdraw after working so closely with the other organizers—Kelli, Kawana, Lea, Paris, Emma, Emilie—I’m hoping we can organize a post-event gathering to debrief and talk about what’s next. (There’s already some discussion about another New York regional conference in 2012.)

But: what happened at the actual conference?

The Friday Night Social Event

Friday night kicked off the conference with Speed Friending at Anti-Diva. I was surprised and impressed at how many masculine-of-center folks came out for that. It was great to have a kick-off event where everyone came with the assumption that they would meet other people, everyone was more open and talkative than usual. We planned on having Melissa Li perform an acoustic set, but there were some technical difficulties and Melissa never did go on. But oh the rest of us did … on and on, talking to each other and about the conference the next day and about the other events that were planned for the weekend. Many folks were in from out of town, and not everyone who came planned on attending the entire conference, but was interested in meeting butches (for various reasons).

Just about as I was ready to retire, a text came in from Kelli, conference “chair,” if we had one of those, to both myself and to Emilie, along with a photograph of the conference space: we had a wall! A genius contractor had saved our asses at the very last minute by coming in to help us divide up the very large QEJ Performance & Conference space into three separate spaces where we could hold two workshops, registration, and the hospitality suite. Not only did it look amazing, it ended up being constructed out of cardboard, twine, and tarps. It was more than I would have expected—when I arrived on Saturday morning—and it was perfect. Em and I were so thrilled, we actually high-fived—a move I do not usually participate in, but it was apt.

And then the conference started …

After getting things up from the car and helping to open up registration, the first thing I did was to attend a workshop with Corey Alexander called Doing Relationships with Emotional Armor: For Stones and Our Partners. I’ve flirted with stone identity, and definitely have some emotional armor, so it was interesting and intense to bring those things to light and discuss them openly. It was a difficult subject to begin the conference, but set the tone for the depth and personal level of discussion throughout the day.

I took a brief break to prepare for the Cock Confidence workshop I was leading in the third workshop block, and then joined the impromptu discussion. Conference organizers intentionally left some physical space empty such that active discussions could happen, either folks could bring up new topics they felt weren’t being addressed or could continue discussions started in the workshops if they felt inspired to do so. So a few people decided to lead an open discussion on responsible masculinity, which was very fruitful and touched on many topics and conundrums of masculinity that I frequently contemplate. It was great to hear other perspectives on these things that often really get to me, that I spend days thinking about, or talking about, or writing about. The question of “What is responsible masculinity?” was posed, and much discussion of misogyny and feminism commenced. One of the major points made was the ways that expectations can be oppressive, and that though our identities may appear to be something someone knows and can identify, and therefore draws all sorts of conclusions about (e.g., masculine of center -> butch -> top -> dominant -> dates femmes), that one has to actually ask and observe that particular individual to see if any of those things are true for them—and they may not be!

We also discussed butch competition and policing, and how to build more butch community. Someone said, “The only way to eliminate butch competition and enhance butch camaraderie is to acknowledge each other.” Which, I think, was beautifully put and I wholeheartedly agree. We spend a lot of time circling each other silently, and it is a thin line, if at all, between that and competing.

Cock Confidence

Next, I ran downstairs to Cock Confidence & Strapping It On, which is a workshop I’m doing many times this fall (already at Purple Passion and Conversio Virium in New York and Good Vibrations in Boston). I was greated by a packed room, and people just kept streaming in—it didn’t hurt that I had two Aslan Leather harnesses, three Vixen Creations cocks, and one Tantus cock to give away, I’m sure!

I started in on my workshop contents about confidence and communication when there were a few questions and comments, rapidly, from attendees. I’m paraphrasing here, but basically what was said was, “What about butches who bottom, and the ways that can be seen as emasculating?” and then, “What about women who are survivors of sexual assault, and for whom penetration is difficult or traumatizing?”

Whoa. Big, huge topics.

Which I will gladly write about here, I have plenty to say about them (watch for future/soon essays), but on which I was not prepared to speak, or lead a discussion. I had a lot of (prepared) material to get through, so I explained that, and said, those are both way important questions and I would love to have a discussion about them, that I was not prepared to hold the space for that discussion now. But, I proposed, I will do some talking about toys, do the raffle, then adjourn early and folks can go off and explore another workshop, or stay here for Q&A and we can discuss those things. I also said: Thank you, for bringing that up. I am used to doing this workshop at sex toy stores (mostly with an audience of hetero couples) so those questions are definitely Cock Confidence 301 instead of 101, and I love that the Butch Voices NYC crowd really raised the caliber of the discussion.

Thank you for that, all of you who were there.

I think the room understood my point, so I kept moving on. I talked about toys, my favorite and the most popular harnesses and cocks, answered some questions, and pulled names out of the bucket to see who would take home some new toys. I’m going to work on a Cock Confidence Product Guide and let everyone know the things that I recommended and where I recommend getting them.

The conversation, when it continued, was a much smaller group and we ended up more CR-style, discussing our personal challenges and experiences.

It was definitely the best Cock Confidence workshop I’ve ever facilitated, and it was so much fun. Wish I could give away toys every time I do that workshop! To be clear—I give away these toys, and I work with these companies as a sponsor (of sorts) of Sugarbutch because I adore their toys so much, not the other way around (I don’t adore their toys because they’re a sponsor). I’m pretty picky about the toys I give away, and while I have tried out all sorts of products, even if I suspected they would be awful, I won’t give away things I think are awful.

Butch Representation in Media

Off I rushed to the Media Panel, where I moderated a discussion about butch visibility, mainstream media, working in the media, and how we use the media to further authentic images of ourselves. It was a great discussion with Madison, Grace, Mamone, and Dasha, and the attendees had many questions and comments about race, participation, othering, and success. I didn’t feel like we had a point that we really hammered home in this workshop, but then again, we didn’t really have a point that we set up to make when we formed this panel, so that was okay.

At the end of the panel, we went around the room and everyone there introduced themselves and did their thirty-second elevator pitch about what they do. It was fascinating to see the caliber of talent we had in that room, all together.

The Community-Building Keynote

The keynote at Butch Voices NYC was non-traditional in that we didn’t want to have one singular person speak for all aspects of masculine of center communities, and since it was a one-day conference we didn’t have time—or money—for multiple keynote addresses. So Kelli and I planned a community building keynote ceremony that was a commitment to our butch voices, and it turned out beautifully. It was incredibly moving, from start to finish.

It all started with a pebble, a river stone—everyone received one at registration. I took them from my own rock collection (remember my this I believe poem? “rocks in my pockets”?) I counted out 180, which didn’t even make a dent in my collection, to make sure we had enough for everyone, then added a few handfuls more for good measure. I have collected rocks over the years from just about any place I have visited, from Bournemouth in England to Ocean Shores in Oregon to Washington state to Southeast Alaska, where most of the rocks are from. The pebble beaches are the best up there. It’s become a bit of a collection, that therefore I subsequently have no idea what to do with. It doesn’t make sense to display them, not really, not beyond a few rock stack formations here and there, so they’ve been in a box for years. Seriously. A box of rocks. Useless and taking up valuable New York City apartment space. I’d be glad to donate them to a garden or beach, but most green spaces around New York are so manicured it doesn’t make sense to leave them there.

But a ritual—it was a perfect use for (some of) them. I was so pleased to pass them on in that way.

Before we started the ritual, we spent a moment with the Memory Wall we had constructed to add names to, people who are no longer with us but who came before us and whom we want to remember. And right away, the room got heavier, we focused, I felt immediately moved.

We all got a rock when we checked in at registration. The seven of us organizers stood up to explain about the ritual, what we were going to do and why, each taking turns. We explained that the rock had absorbed our personal experiences of the day, our individual voice and perspective, and that we were going to add that rock to the collective pile of our community’s experiences, similar and related, yet different and varied. We invited anyone who felt moved to participate—allies too, but whom were also invited to witness if they felt so inclined, as we need witness to our statements, commitments, and very existence—to come up to our make-shift alter, one at a time, and speak aloud the sentence, “My commitment to my butch voice is,” or “my commitment to butch voices is.” Folks were invited to substitute whatever words they wanted to for “butch,” if that wasn’t their identity word of choice, such as queer or genderqueer or stud or aggressive.

I wasn’t prepared for how moving it would be. I wrote the majority of the script that we read (which only dawned on me about halfway through the ritual, I wrote the keynote), and the whole time I was just crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t be cheesy, but would be honored and respected and come across the way I wanted it to. It did—and it went beyond my expectations, like much of the conference did, above and beyond. It was moving, enlivening, big. Many of us teared up. Many of us said hard things that would not have been easier to say in other places, but which felt safe to reveal. Many of us murmured or clapped or responded as each person who felt moved came up to place their rocks in the wooden bowl on the make-shift alter.

Paris closed the ritual by having everyone repeat a line that Kelli and I came up with, based on the Core Initiatives of the Butch Voices conference: “Our commitment is to stand together, to take care of each other, and to make the world a more just place.”

And with that, everyone could take a rock home with them, if they felt so inclined, and we adjourned.

What a day.

I’m still reeling from it all.

And yet … right after the keynote, Kristen and I rushed downtown to get to Bluestockings Bookstore for the Butch Voices Speak Queer Memoir/Sideshow mash-up reading/performance. I posted photos and a wrap-up of it over on the Sideshow blog today, but expect more photos from Syd London (official Butch Voices NYC photographer!) as those get processed.

And more articles, more thoughts, more things from me, too, as that all gets processed.

I feel so much gratitude toward the folks who came and were involved. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it.

Butch Brunch in NYC Tomorrow

September’s Butch Brunch is coming up tomorrow, September 18th, at 11am in the East Village of New York City, at Cafe Orlin at 41 St. Mark’s Place. Want to come? Please make sure to RSVP to me—either by email or by Facebook—so I will know how big of a table to get.

I’m sorry to say, it’s Yom Kippur, so the folks are fasting or observing might not be able to attend. I am sorry about that—it was the only Saturday available in September for me to host it, so it was the only option. There will be one more, after the Butch Voices NYC Conference is over, on October 16th, so hopefully if you are observing tomorrow you can still attend that one. Or, of course, perhaps I’ll see you at the Butch Voices NYC Conference!

Check out the photos from the Butch Brunch in August, it was a great time. We chatted about our relationship to the word and identity butch, how we identified, what we thought about the evolution of this identity. It was a great casual conversation.

Butch Brunch is co-sponsored by Butch Voices NYC and Sugarbutch, so we are adapting Butch Voices opinions about what butch means. From ButchVoices.com: “We are woman-identified Butches. We are trans-masculine Studs. We are faggot-identified Aggressives. We are noun Butches, adjective Studs and pronoun-shunning Aggressives. We are she, he, hy, ze, zie and hir. We are you, and we are me. The point is, we don’t decide who is Butch, Stud or Aggressive. You get to decide for yourself.”

Cafe Orlin i a pretty big place and they’ve got a $6 plate of eggs & potatoes & toast, and it doesn’t get cheaper than that in Manhattan. Please RSVP on Facebook or email me to let me know you’re coming so we can get a head count. They don’t take reservations on the weekends, so I plan on being there early to get a big table. See you there?

Review: Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

Countdown to the Butch Voices NYC Conference: 2 Weeks

Did you see that? Does it really say “2 Weeks” up there in the title. Um, reality check. So much to do! And I’m going camping with Kristen this weekend. She’s already made her famous (or what should be famous) potato salad. Which seems like a bad plan (the camping, not the potato salad) because there is so much to work on. But I’ve been working all week, and am still re-integrating after the New Mexico trip, so this will be good for me, I know. And we’re going to our favorite campsite that we’ve visited so far, still on the hunt for the perfect one, far enough from the city that it’s quiet and spacious but not so far that we have to drive all day to get there. I think I will be sneaking away during the days to find a coffee shop with wifi in the northwest Catskills so I can spend a little bit of time on The Smut Machine, aka my laptop, working on Butch Voices media.

Meanwhile: I’m counting down the Fridays with classic and modern butch book titles that I highly recommend because the Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City (and then in Portland and LA) is coming up in just two weeks. If you haven’t registered yet, now is the time! We are very near capacity and can only hold so many folks in the space, so make sure you put your name down if you want to come. The workshops and the schedule have been announced, and they look fantastic, it’s going to be a great day. Stay tuned for the full announcements of events around the conference, on Friday and Saturday nights.

I’m really talking about classic butch titles here, so I can’t not talk about Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg. How many of us have had someone give us a copy of this book, early on, perhaps before we even know ourselves, and say, “I think this is you”? How many of us first felt like we were tapping into something larger than our own struggle when we started reading about Jess.

I had the opportunity to hear Leslie speak here in New York a few years ago, for her newer book Drag King Dreams, and it was thrilling. I love that about New York, that sooner or later, everyone does some sort of gig here, everyone comes through. It’s a magnet for some of the most amazing writers and activists and I do not discount the value of that (even in all my complaining about the big city).

If this book has been on your list for years, if you always meant to get around to it, if you kept meaning to read it, consider this a sign: it’s time. Go pick up a copy from Paperback Swap or your local indy bookstore or heck, even Amazon.

From Alyson Press, the publisher:

Published in 1993, this brave, original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgendered existence. Woman or man? That’s the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue–collar town in the 1950’s, coming out as a butch in the bars and factories of the prefeminist ’60s, deciding to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early ’70s. This powerful, provocative and deeply moving novel sees Jess coming full circle, she learns to accept the complexities of being a transgendered person in a world demanding simple explanations: a he-she emerging whole, weathering the turbulence. Leslie Feinberg is also the author of Trans Liberation, Trans Gender Warriors and Transgender Liberation, and is a noted activist and speaker on transgender issues.

Leslie Feinberg’s website has some other great information about the book, including the covers that were published in countries outside the US, a video of her reading from the book, and her afterward to the 10th anniversary edition.

When I was at the Lambda Literary Awards last year, the honored Leslie Feinberg, but she was too sick to appear and give her speech—someone else, her publicist I believe, gave it for her. So she hasn’t been doing many appearances, but I hope she is still writing.

She has been publishing quite a few photographs through Flickr and Twitter (@lesliefeinberg) if you’d like to follow her there. And of course more information about her work is over on her site, transgenderwarrior.org.

Pick up a copy of Stone Butch Blues directly from Alyson Books, or head out to your local independent queer feminist bookstore, or, as usual, if you must, from Amazon.

What’s Happening in September

Events! Oh there are many. I’m busy in September. I’m going to try a new format and give you a monthly overview of my appearances, readings, and events at the beginning of the month.

Twitter Porn Party: Tight Places
September 8, 9pm EST 6pm PST
Hashtag is #pornparty
Log on and watch the hashtag for discussion of the new Good Releasing film Tight Places: A Drop of Color with @mrsexsmith and @garnetjoyce

SIDESHOW: Queer Literary Carnival
Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
Produced & Hosted by Cheryl B. and Sinclair Sexsmith
The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A in NYC
doors at 7:30pm, show at 8pm
queerliterarycarnival.com

Butch Brunch
Saturday, September 18th
Cafe Orlin, East Village, New York City
RSVP on Facebook

A Dyke’s Secrets of Cunnilingus
Thursday, September 23rd, 7pm
Purple Passion
211 West 20th Street, New York, NY
I’ll be bringing some things to help us do some tongue-strengthening exercises. It will be a good time.

Butch Voices: New York City
Friday through Sunday, September 24-26
New York City
more on ButchVoices.com

Butch Voices Speak: A Sideshow/Queer Memoir Mashup
Saturday, September 25, 7pm
Bluestockings Bookstore
Lower East Side, New York City

Review: Dagger: On Butch Women

Countdown to the Butch Voices NYC Conference: Four Weeks

I’m still on vacation. But I wouldn’t deprive you of the Butch Voices countdown! Sugarbutch will resume regular posting on Wednesday, September 1st.

The Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City (and then in Portland and LA) is coming up in just four short weeks. (And as someone who is part of the organizing committee, can I just say: GULP. So much to do!) And in honor, I’m counting down the Fridays with classic and modern butch book titles that I highly recommend. Just in case you want to start that butch library you’ve always been saying you might.

Dagger: On Butch Women edited by Lily Burana and Roxxie Linnea Due is, heartbreakingly, out of print. But it still exists out there in the world, especially with all the online booksellers. It was published by Cleis Press in 1994 and remains one of the only anthologies about butch identity out there … in fact, it’s the only one that I know of. There are other books on butch identity (as I’ll feature in the next few weeks!), but nothing quite like this.

I came across it when the Femme Top loaned me her copy and I immediately went out to pick up my own. It remains something I flip through and contemplate frequently, full of interviews, personal essays, analysis, gender dynamics, love letters to femmes, and touching stories of female masculinity out of compulsory femininity.

Pick it up at your local bookstore (who does used book searches, hopefully) or online, if you must, through Amazon.

And don’t forget, there are lots of great events coming up in September around the Butch Voices conference, starting with Butch Brunch on September 18!

Boxers Off! An Evening of Butch Burlesque in NYC

I’m going to be out of town … so you all better go for me!

Photo by Syd London, www.sydlondon.com, from the last Butch Burlesque night at Dixon Place, August 2010

Boxers Off! An Evening of Butch Burlesque
a fundraiser for BUTCH Voices
With your emcee Lea Robinson

Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher St.)
Saturday, August 28th, 2010, 7pm
$10-$15 Sliding Scale

BUTCH Voices is proud to present Boxers Off! An Evening of Butch Burlesque. Join us and explore the representation of butch identity in a bold, new, sexy way. Lea Robinson emcees this evening of hot and campy burlesque from some of New York City’s finest performers, including Becca Blackwell, Dapper Q, Glenn Marla, Luscious von Dykester, Natt Nightly, Kelli Dunham, Drae Campbell & Kimberlea Kressal appearing as SirMamSir and the Missus, Molly Equality Dykeman, Paris, Dom Juan, Daddy T.Y.E, and of course your host Cocoa Chaps!

All funds raised will go towards the BUTCH Voices NYC Regional Conference on September 25th.

RSVP for this event on Facebook. Have a great time! And if you go, report back on how it was, so I can know how it went? I’m sad to miss it (but then I think of the hot springs, and I don’t feel so bad).

Oh Yeah! Butch Voices Conference in NYC

So I’ve mentioned that the Butch Voices conferences are coming up, but I haven’t actually officially done a post and announced it to y’all! So just in case you want to take the day off (I’m looking at you, Ali), mark it on your calendars and work it out.

It’s not a butch-only conference—partners, allies, femmes, genderqueer, and non-identifying folks of all kinds are welcome to attend. Assuming that you have respect for and see value in discussing and paying attention to butch identity, of course, since that’s the focus of there conference.

Here’s the mission statement, and the description about what “butch” means, from ButchVoices.com:

The mission of BUTCH Voices is to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of self-identified Masculine of Center* people by providing activities and programs that build community and empower individuals to advocate for their whole selves inclusive of and beyond their gender identity and sexual orientation.

Who we are: We are Butch Voices. We are woman-identified Butches. We are trans-masculine Studs. We are faggot-identified Aggressives. We are noun Butches, adjective Studs and pronoun-shunning Aggressives. We are she, he, hy, ze, zie and hir. We are you, and we are me. The point is, we don’t decide who is Butch, Stud or Aggressive. You get to decide for yourself.

* Masculine of center (MOC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer/ womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine etc.

So there are four regional conferences in 2010, after the national conference in 2009. There are plans to have another national conference in 2011, every other year and on opposite years from the femme conference. The first regional Butch Voices conference was in Dallas in June, and I hear it was a great success.

Next up is the regional conference in New York City. It will be held Saturday, September 25th, 2010 at the Queers for Economic Justice Performance and Conference Space, at 147 West 24th Street, in New York City. On site Registration will be on the 4th floor.

The day-long BUTCH Voices NYC Regional Conference will include workshops, panels, a butch hospitality lounge as well as a very special keynote celebration of our history and community of butches.

Evening events will also include: Butch Voices NYC 2010 Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mash-Up at Bluestockings Bookstore and Cafe as well as a later Butch Voices Cabaret at a Brooklyn club.

If you’re coming from out of town, please email Kelli Dunham directly at kellidunham(at)gmail.com so we can assist you with any hospitality needs.

I’m thrilled to be helping with media for this conference. I’ve never planned a conference before, actually, so it’s good experience, and the other folks on the steering committee are so experienced and organized and hard-working, it’s been a delight so far. I’m working on putting together the conference program (or I will be, when I get back from vacation) so if you have ideas for queer and/or genderqueer organizations who might want to give us money advertise in the program or sponsor an aspect of the conference, please do get in touch.

I recommend registering for the New York City conference as soon as possible, if you’re planning to come! We have limited space, and we expect it to be full.

After the day-long conference, we’ll adjourn to an evening of entertainment, including a very special Queer Memoir/Sideshow mashup “Butch Voices Speak” performance at 7pm at Bluestockings, and then a later Butch Cabaret in Brooklyn. More details about those as I get them!

The weekend after the New York City regional conference is the regional conference in Portland on Saturday October 2nd , then the weekend after that is the regional conference in LA over the weekend of October 8-10. I really hope to make it out to Portland, but I’m trying to figure out how to fund my trip. (Anybody out there in Portland looking for a speaker to visit your college over the first week of October?) I might do a fundraiser of sorts.

If you run a blog or website, perhaps you’d like to put up a sidebar image to help promote the conference? Or write a post on it, telling your readers about it? Mention it on the message boards you frequent? Tweet about it? Put it on Facebook? Send an email to all the people you’ve ever met? Seriously, every little bit helps. This is happening mostly through grassroots effort and word of mouth.

At New York City’s conference, I’ll be moderating a panel on Butches in the Media (mostly, creating our own media and self-promotion) and doing a workshop on Cock Confidence. And of course, I’ll be co-hosting the Butch Voices NYC 2010 Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mash-Up. I’ll let you know what, if anything, I’ll be doing in Portland.

So? Will I see you there, perhaps?

Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mashup for Butch Voices NYC

Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference
in collaboration with
Queer Memoir
and
Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
present

Butch Voices Speak: A Queer Memoir/Sideshow Reading Series Mashup

7pm Saturday, September 25th
Bluestockings Bookstore, Lower East Side, New York City

Hosted by Kelli Dunham, Sinclair Sexsmith, Cheryl B., and Genne Murphy

www.queerliterarycarnival.com | www.queermemoir.com
www.butchvoices.com

Call for performers: Butch Voices Speak: A Queer Memoir/Sideshow Reading Series Mashup

Butch Voices New York City regional conference is happening on Sunday, September 25th, and Queer Memoir and Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival have teamed up to bring you an evening of stories, performance, and readings from queer butch voices.

Are you interested in participating? Butch Voices Speak is currently in search of people willing to stand up and tell your quick 6 minute story. You need not have performance or writing expertise, just an interest in telling your story.

QUEER MEMOIR IS an opportunity to give voice to our collective queer experiences, and preserve and document our complex queer history for writers, performers, and anyone with a queer story to tell.

SIDESHOW IS serious literature for ridiculous times, hosting established writers, performers, comics, and storytellers who have literary experience.

Q: Should I submit to Queer Memoir or Sideshow?
A: Is this a personal story written by you about something happened to you? Submit to Queer Memoir. Is it more literary, or are you a seasoned performer or writer? Send it to Sideshow.

To be considered, email queermemoir@gmail.com or sideshowreadingseries@gmail.com before September 1, 2010, with your name, website, brief bio, and a brief 1-3 sentence proposal of what you’d like to read.

A celebration of Butch Voices

Upcoming fundraiser in Brooklyn for the Butch Voices conference in Oakland this fall! There is a lot of information on the Butch Voices website that details the conference’s goals, what BV is about, and the logistics of the conference in Oakland in August.

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Announcing A Celebration of Butch Voices…

An evening of performance, fashion and general butch mayhem to celebrate the diversity of Butch Voices with performances by award-winning gender illusionist Dred; Nedra Johnson, poet Renair Amin and dorky dyke comic Kelli Dunham. The evening will include a fashion show developed with the help of Paris Amari of the Sophisticated Aggressive Gents as well as a butch cook-off.

May 9, 2009, 9:30 PM until 2 am
Re/dress
109 Boreum Place
Bergen Street stop on the F/G train
Brooklyn NY
Admission is only five bucks

For more information contact kellidunham@gmail.com