Introducing Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival

You may have heard me mention the queer reading series that Cheryl B. and I are starting in New York City. Well, it’s official—it’s starting April 13th at 7pm at Sapphire Lounge in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith

Premiere Event April 13 @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street at Avenue A, NYC
Doors, 7pm. Reading, 8pm.
Free! $4 beer/well drinks special
RSVP on Facebook!
Follow us on Twitter! @sideshowseries

This month’s theme is SECRETS, starring:
Kate Bornstein
Sam J. Miller
Seth Clark Silberman aka PhDJ
Kathleen Warnock

Lambda Literary Nominees Featuring “This One’s Going to Last Forever”

The Lambda Literary Award nominees were announced today, and as usual I’m making a checklist of ones I’ve read, ones I’d like to read, and the ones I think will win be finalists. And, as usual, the only transgender content is in the specific “Transgender” category, though the “Bisexual” category has split into fiction and non-fiction because, it seems, there are finally enough nominees to warrant it. Are there really that few books on trans and bisexual issues? Puzzling. Overall this year, there are 112 finalists in 23 categories. I’m sure there’s got to be a book or two or five in there that you’d love to read. Check it out.

Special congratulations to Nairne Holtz, whose book This One’s Going to Last Forever (Insomniac Press) was nominated in the Lesbian Fiction category. Holtz has a short story called “Bait and Switch” in Best Lesbian Erotica 2009, an anthology in which I also have a story, and when we were both in New York City at the end of 2009 for the annual Best Lesbian Erotica reading at the Drunken! Careening! Writers! reading series at KGB bar, hosted by Kathleen Warnock (who is coming to read at the very first Sideshow!), and I have had a chance to read This One’s Going to Last Forever. It is a collection of short stories and a novella. Here’s the description:

This One’s Going to Last Forever reflects both the naive optimism of those who have yet to learn about love and the cynicism of those who feel that by now they should know better.

Clara, a university student working at the McGill Daily, discovers that in love and politics, commitment is often more imagined than real. Kelly and Sonya share a bond that has less to do with love than with their dependence on each other and a succession of friends who supply them with heroin. A middle-aged man who performs drive-through weddings dressed as Elvis realizes, as he marries his first same-sex couple, that the only domestic partner he is ever likely to have is his ailing father. But when he ends his latest relationship, an unlikely friendship results.

The characters in these darkly comic stories and novella may be searching for love in all the wrong places, but they are also able to find love in the most unexpected places.

The Lambda Literary Foundation recently relaunched their website and it’s quite spiffy, by the way.

New Book! Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica

Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica Edited by Tristan Taormino is due out February 16th, and I have a story in it! (I believe it is The Diner on the Corner, also published in Best Lesbian Erotica 2009.)

There are very few books exclusively focused on butch/femme erotica—Back to Basics edited by Therese Szymanski is the only one I can think of—and I’m thrilled to see another one come into print. Cannot wait to get my hands on it!

“Butch/femme is erotic iconography. Butch/femme is bulging jeans, smeared lipstick, stiletto heals, and sharp haircuts. It’s about being read and being seen. Sometimes it’s about passing or not passing. It’s about individual identity and a collective sense of community. It’s personal, political. It’s a sexual electricity and power exchange. It’s the visceral space between the flesh and the imagination.” — from the introduction by Tristan Taormino

From Cleis Press’s page about the new book:

Does the swagger of a confident butch make you swoon? Do your knees go weak when you see a femme straighten her stockings? In Sometimes She Lets Me, Tristan Taormino chooses her favorite butch/femme stories from the Best Lesbian Erotica series.

Even if you think you know what goes on in the bedroom between femmes and butches, these 22 stories will delight you with erotic surprises. In Joy Parks’ delicious “Sweet Thing,” the recently arrived town librarian shows a butch baker some new tricks in bed. On a chase through the woods, the stud in “Tag!”, by D. Alexandria, find her baby girl by scent alone. And the girl in a pleated skirt gets exactly what she wants from her Daddy in Peggy Munson’s “The Rock Wall.”

Includes contributions by Alison L. Smith, Joy Parks, S. Bear Bergman, Amie M. Evans, Samiya A. Bashir, Rosalind Christine Lloyd, Kristen Porter, Tara-Michelle Ziniuk, D. Alexandria, Anna Watson, Shannon Cummings, A. Lizbeth Babcock, Sparky, Elaine Miller, Isa Coffey, Skian McGuire, Jera Star, Toni Amato, Peggy Munson, Sandra Lee Golvin, and Sinclair Sexsmith.

Tristan Taormino is an award-winning author, columnist, editor, and sex educator. She is the editor of Hot Lesbian Erotica and fourteen editions of Best Lesbian Erotica series as well as the author of The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. Tristan is a former columnist for the Village Voice and currently has a column in Taboo; her writing has appeared in Velvet ParkVibeSpectator,The Advocate, and more than 15 anthologies. She has been featured in more than 200 publications, including the New York TimesRedbookCosmopolitanGlamourEntertainment WeeklyDetailsNew York magazine, Men’s Health, and Playboy. She has also appeared on CNN, MTV, Oxygen, the Discovery Channel, The Howard Stern Show, Real Sex, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, Scarborough Country, and over 50 radio shows. Tristan directed the adult videos the Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, Tristan Taormino’s House of Ass, and the Chemistry series. She lives in upstate New York. Visit Tristan at www.puckerup.com.

SXSW and Austin-bound in March

I’m going to be on a panel at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas in March, thanks to Trish Bendix of AfterEllen.com. Bil Browning from the Bilerco Project will join Trish and I on the panel, and Fausto from Feast Of Fun will moderate the discussion.

The panel is Engaging the Queer Community, and the description is “A discussion on maintaining successful and active blogs and social networking sites that are geared toward the LGBT community and its niches.” It’s set for 3:30pm on Saturday, March 13th, though the location is still TBA. Some of the questions the panel will attempt to discuss are:

How do you reach new readers?
How do you utlize social networking to reach the LGBT audience?
What can web series and video blogs do for your site?
What’s the best way to balance entertainment-focused content with relevant LGBT news stories and political issues?
How do you avoid getting your site blocked because of its gay/lesbian content?
How can you manage to address several generations that are all part of the same community?
How do you build an online community without becoming a social network rather than a journalism-based site?
What is the responsibility of LGBT blogs/websites/online communities?
How should the online world of the LGBT community deal with issues on “outing”?
How can LGBT sites with specific niches manage to not offend the other parts of the community (i.e. lesbian sites covering transgender issues, etc.)

Simple! No, just kidding. This is complex stuff, but very interesting. I’ve never been to Austin or to SXSW, I’m looking forward to it, though I’m already a bit overwhelmed by the number of panels that same day and the density of the event. I’ll be traveling with Kristen, which will automatically make it better.

I know it’s really expensive to come to SXSW, so if you’re in the Austin area and would like to come say hello, I’ll be doing a Sugarbutch meetup on Saturday, March 13th, probably at a dyke bar in the evening, 8pm.

I don’t have any other events planned while I’m visiting—though if you live there and want to book me to speak at your college, queer independent feminist bookstore, or sex shop, contact me mmkay? (I know that is extremely unlikely given that SXSW is going on, but hey, who knows.)

I won’t have as much time as I’d like to explore a new city that I’ve never visited, I think it takes more than a couple days to really get a feel for the place. I will be researching dyke bars, indie bookstores, sex shops, and public parks especially—those are my favorite places to visit when I see a new place. Any recommendations for me? Where should I go while I’m there? Also, food. What are the restaurants we should not miss? Are there any good vegetarian places?

So what do you say? Will you come share some Jameson with me in Texas?

Happy Solstice Crash Pad Series Membership Giveaway

Though I did grow up celebrating Christmas, my family is not particularly religious. I’ve been to Christian church services probably less than a handful of times (I can think of twice, off the top of my head). The past few years, I’ve resolved to celebrate the holiday as winter solstice, rather than Christmas – we’re getting more and more broad in our “happy holidays” wishes, more inclusive, I think, in the mainstream, and the difference of celebrating on the 21st instead of the 25th is negligible.

My family still does gifts on Christmas morning, and that’s fine with me – tradition, familiarity, ritual. But being some form of pagan & buddhist, what I’m really celebrating here is the darkest day of the year, and the return of the light.

Winter solstice is an astronomical event. It has to do with the placement of our Earth in the solar system, the rotation of the Earth’s axis, how we spin around the sun. It is the day – in the Northern hemisphere – where the hours of daylight are the shortest, and from here until summer solstice, they build to longer and longer hours of daylight.

The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun [in the Northern hemisphere] at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the Winter Solstice lasts only an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used as Midwinter to refer to the day on which it occurs. More evident to those in high latitudes, this is the shortest day, and longest night, and the sun’s daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time. – Winter solstice at Wikipedia

That last part is especially interesting to me – that most cultures have holy days around this time of year, that many of the festivals involve pretty lights or candles (to signify the darkness and cold days), family gatherings (to signify love and support despite the potential affects of SAD), gifts (to show how we are cared for), and resolutions (symbolizing rebirth and renewal). And to me, the ritual that is the least stripped of human prosthelytizing is the one that celebrates the earth, the seasons, the move around the sun, the changes in our relationship to light.

I’ve often mentioned the Wheel of the Year here on Sugarbutch, and have often said it is something that I’d like to more intentionally observe. And the combination of Kristen’s obsession with eating seasonal, local foods, means that I’d really love to throw four wheel parties next year, at the solstices and equinoxes. (There are four lesser holy-days too – candlemas, beltaine, lammas, samhain – that occur at the midpoint between a solstice and an equinox, and I would love to do something to acknowledge them, too, but I’m not sure what – probably not a whole dinner party, just lighting a candle and acknowledging the day – perhaps with a blog post – would be plenty.)

So, Kristen made dinner: butternut squash soup with ginger, garlic, and peanuts, kale with garlic and butter, baked sweet potato fries, and cardamom-orange sugar cookies, on Monday, December 21st, in celebration of solstice, and we talked about the rebirthing process, the things we wanted to allow to blossom in our lives as the days get longer through to the summer solstice.

This is the post where I wish all my best to YOU all, readers and visitors, friends and strangers. Thank you for reading, for following along, and I wish you the best and brightest in this dark time of year.

Oh, but my spiritual beliefs probably aren’t why you’re reading this post. What you really want to know about is the giveaway, right?

Well here it is: to warm your midwinter, I’m giving away one single two-month long level 2 membership to The Crash Pad Series, which I am constantly touting as THE BEST QUEER PORN available. Hands down. No contest. Anytime Kristen and I watch anything else, we usually say, “well, it’s not Shine, but …”

I made up this rule for myself oh, about ten years ago, that I would never pay for porn on the internet. And it’s pretty easy to keep that rule, with all those big amateur porn sites and an easy enough Google image search and all the trailers and freebies at the good porn sties, sure. But as soon as I got a Crash Pad membership, I kicked myself: why didn’t I do that sooner?! It really is that good. It might not even be the best queer porn, it might be the best porn, PERIOD. The skill and smarts and aesthetic and filmmaking … even the premise! I love it. I anxiously await the next episode.

There are so many different types of queer folks depicted in their scenes, no matter what kind of queer you are attracted to, or what kind of sex you like to watch, there is tons of it in The Crash Pad Series. Strap ons. Vibrators. Punky girls. Tattoos. Piercings. Shaved heads. Femmes. Butches. Long-term lovers. Skilled rope work. Belts. Flogging. Slapping. Fisting. Anal. Knives. Force. Negotiation. Melted wax. Punching. Threesomes. Squirting. Sweet lovemaking. Begging. Dirty talk. Oh yeah, there is a little bit of everything.

For some of my favorite scenes from The Crash Pad Series, check My Favorite Scenes in Porn Flicks. And if that’s not enough, watch this teaser, featuring Julie and Michelle Aston.

The Crash Pad Series also puts out DVDs, many of which I have reviewed here on the site, but for about the price of the DVD, I’d recommend instead a one-month level 3 membership, which has permissions to download the videos that you like. Then you can test it out, go through and find the ones you want, and download them. The DVDs generally have about 5 scenes on them, but with a site membership you get access to every episode, and can save your favorites.

Tell ’em Sinclair sent you. (That’s the same as using that link < —- to purchase a membership, since if you do it through my links on this site, I get a little bitty kickback from the purchase. I’ll even do my Elvis impression for you: thank ya, thank ya very much.)

How generous of The Crash Pad Series to offer a membership to one of you lucky folks! Thanks!

So, to enter this little giveaway:

Leave a comment with one thing about the holidays: why you love them, what your favorite family ritual is, how hard it is to be queer and deal with extended homophobic family (h/t Essin’ Em), the ways you keep your kinkiness under wraps in order to be “appropriate,” your blessings for brightness in the wintertime, your favorite thing about winter, the way you celebrate this time of year, or something else entirely. You get the idea. The winner will be chosen at random from the comments on Monday, 28 December, after we’ve all had a chance to eat with our families and come back to our queer lives.

Visions of Sexual Freedom

Need a fabulous gift this holiday season? Don’t know what to get your (least) favorite boss or your Grandma? Well! Here ya go: the New York City Sex Blogger 2010 Calendar: Visions of Sexual Freedom.

You’re welcome.

This year’s calendar features 16 bloggers, including myself, Audacia Ray, Calico Lane, Abiola Abrams, Jamye Waxman, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Melissa Gira Grant, Elizabeth Wood, and plenty of other hot pinups, and benefits Sex Work Awareness, a fantastic non-profit organization that puts on the annual Speak Up! media training workshop.

This year, I was photographed with Audacia Ray by Amanda Morgan and featured in April – which has my birthday, Sugarbutch’s inception date, and Dacia’s birthday.

ss_cal
Me, my photo in this year’s calendar with Audacia Ray (photographed by Amanda Morgan), and Kristen (and her amazing princess dress) at the Sex Blogger Calendar Party in New York City. Photo by Nick McGlynn (thanks!), more photos from him in this set.

The theme for this calendar was “SEXUAL FREEDOM,” and while Dacia and I were discussing what to do, we both were inspired to feature something very New York-y, since New York has been a big part of sexual awakening for both of us. I moved here almost five years ago now, and my sex life and sexuality has changed significantly since I did.

We talked about iconic photographs and couples that we could imitate or reproduce, and eventually settled on the famous shot of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square. Amanda was totally game for it (though she insisted that we shoot early in the day so we’d have the best light), I hunted down a sailor suit, Dacia queered up her nurse outfit, and voila, there’s the shot.

Vj_day_kissThe original photograph, V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was taken just after the radio announcement that World War II was over – that the US had “Victory over Japan” – on August 14, 1945. This is a significant time period particularly for queers in the US, as World War II brought people massively congregating in coastal cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. For the first time in US history, more people lived in urban environments than in rural environments, and suddenly, queers were finding dozens, hundreds of others like us. This led to those sudden “oh my god I’m not alone” revelation moments, the increasing recognition of the systematic marginalization of us because of our sexuality, and, ultimately, activist organization and the birth of the gay rights movement!

Post-WWII and the subsequent activist movements – like the second wave of feminism – also gave rise to all sorts of new sexual activism, which is absolutely the root of the work I do today. Safe sex, STI information, sexual health, sexual choice, sexual advocacy, sexual agency, ability to have control over how many children we have and how far apart they are, birth control, knowledge, BDSM skills, gender theory, power theory … all of that is built upon earlier movements. And all of those movements, and their intersections, allowed me a significant study of gender and sexuality that has lead me here, to Sugarbutch, and to the 2010 New York City Sex Blogger Calendar.

I bet you can think of a couple people on your holiday list who have been nice enough to get a gift like this calendar, hmmmm?

All proceeds from the calendar, don’t forget, go to Sex Work Awareness which puts on the annual Speak Up! media training workshop. Help support the efforts of this wonderful and much-needed organization through the purchase of a calendar!

Calendars ship upon order and cost $20 a piece plus $3.25 for shipping. And – as a special holiday bonus – through the holiday season, when you buy the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar you will also get a free MP4 download of the 25 minute director’s cut of Audacia Ray’s film Dacia’s Love Machine, which debuted last year in Berlin. (Link to download will be provided on checkout.)

The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman

exitS. Bear Bergman has a new book out, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, which is a collection of personal essays, mostly on gender. And to celebrate, Sugarbutch is helping to kick off a virtual book tour! Thanks, Bear! Thanks, Arsenal Pulp Press!

Bear also wrote the book of gender essays Butch Is A Noun, which I’ve mentioned on this site more than a few times. It is one of the only books written about butch identity in the last ten years so it’s certainly influential to my work and philosophies on gender in general. There are some clips and excerpts from Butch Is A Noun available online and I highly recommend them. That first essay, “I Know What Butch Is,” I quote from often and go back to frequently, I just love Bear’s writing and style in that piece.

When I published Top Hot Butches in the Spring earlier this year, Bear was listed as #48 and was one of the factors of me including trans men in the list of butches in the first place. If I excluded trans men, I would have to exclude Bear, and Bear wrote pretty much the only book on butches in the last ten years – did that make sense? Not really. I thought it was extremely important to include Bear, specifically, which opened up the door to include other trans men as well. Of course, not all trans men identify as butch, but at the time I didn’t think I could include some trans men and not others … and the inclusion was problematic. I do not want to start hashing through that here, this is about Bear’s work, after all, but I really appreciated Bear’s supportive emails and contact around the list and that controversy.

Lots has happened for Bear since the publication of Butch Is A Noun. Ze addresses this right away, in the second essay: whereas during the first book, ze was for the most part perceived as a dyke, partnered with a woman, and lived in the suburbs, and now Bear is pretty much perceived as a fag, partnered with a guy, and living in a fairly big city. This transition from “suburban-dyke-me” to “city-fag-me” seems to have altered Bear’s relationship with masculinity a bit, and many of the essays in The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You address this unpacking of masculinity, tracing it back through history and family (I especially liked the discussions of masculinity through the lens of Judaism and his particular family experience of ‘being a man’), and discussing what it means in some new life contexts.

Arsenal Pulp Press provided this lovely little blurb:

Alternately unsettling and affirming, devastating and delicious, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, is a new collection of essays on gender and identity by S. Bear Bergman that is irrevocably honest and endlessly illuminating. With humour and grace, these essays deal with issues from women’s spaces to the old boys’ network, from gay male bathhouses to lesbian potlucks, from being a child to preparing to have one; throughout, S. Bear Bergman shows us there are things you learn when you’re visibly different from those around you―whether it’s being transgressively gendered or readably queer. As a transmasculine person, Bergman keeps readers breathless and rapt in the freakshow tent long after the midway has gone dark, when the good hooch gets passed around and the best stories get told. Ze offers unique perspectives on issues that challenge, complicate, and confound the “official stories” about how gender and sexuality work.

I’m still working my way through the book, I haven’t finished it yet, partly because I’m savoring it. I could zip through it a bit faster than I am, but I really appreciate Bear’s perspectives on all of this and I love having access to someone’s inner thoughts about gender, masculinity, queerness, transitioning, love, life … all of those little things, ya know. Sometimes it feels like my own mind eloquently written down, sometimes the concepts are a bit foreign and I have to stop and go over it again. I don’t agree with everything, and there’s some tension between butch and trans here that I am finding fascinating and particularly hard sometimes, but I am so grateful for Bear’s work.

Aside from the virtual book tour, Bear is on an actual book tour, too! Check out the schedule on sbearbergman.com for dates and appearances in Columbus, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, & more.

Pick up The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, Essays by S. Bear Bergman from Arsenal Pulp Press, or from your local independent (feminist, queer, radical) bookstore.

The two Crash Pad memberships go to …

#5, Becky
and
#22, Bettina!

Thanks, everybody, for commenting and starting this discussion about our favorite porn stars. I know it was a completely informal poll, but I may make up a list from it so we who are very unfamiliar with queer porn can do a bit more, ahem, “research” …

You can always head over to Hot Movies For Her and download 20 minutes of hot queer porn — that’s 10 extra minutes than you usually get when opening a new account at HMFH. I don’t know how much longer that special link will last, so get in there while ya can!

Also: still two more give-aways to come (and then NO MORE for a long time): sex toy cases from For Your Nymphomation, and a gift basket from Come Together.

Letter to myself: enough moping

Dear Mr. Sexsmith:

Enough moping already.

In case you haven’t noticed, it is day three and Barack fucking Obama is still the presidential elect. Hello, even his name is radical! None of that Franklin George James John William. We didn’t just imagine that beautiful acceptance speech in our progressive liberal little heads. He’s already started a fantastic website for his Transition Project at www.change.gov and I have never felt so connected before to my government.

Yeah, maybe the expectations are pretty goddamn low after the most unpopular president in modern history. But still, Obama is positioned to be a fantastic leader and creator of change – and, more than that, an inspiration: not only the first black man elected president but also a progressive, liberal, forward-thinking, grassroots-organizing problem-solver who is positioned to help heal the (supposed) divisiveness of the red-state-vs-blue-state divide in this country.

I, like this country and like the rest of the world, am currently crushed out on Obama – and that doesn’t necessarily last, I know. I’m sure eventually we’ll start discovering that he never eats the heel of the loaf of bread or he always leaves his socks in the middle of the floor or he forgets to put the bathmat down, but meanwhile, the honeymoon phase sure is fun, isn’t it?

And maybe, what if, just possibly, the relationship develops into a solid, steady improvement? What if we have common values, common interests, good communication, mutual adoration?

Ah, courtship. I love that feeling of such raw potential.

Speaking of adoration, I am consistently touched whenever I see President-Elect Obama with First Lady-Elect Michelle. (I bet you can’t really use “First Lady-Elect” like that, but I like it.) They adore each other, and it’s beautiful.

What? What’s that? Oh, that little gay marriage thing? Those millions of people who voted that straight marriage is different than gay marriage? That marriage is a “sacred institution” that gays would defile and corrupt?

Or how about the little bee in all of our queer activist bonnets when we realized that voters care about chickens, but not about gay marriage? Or when voters passed 9 out of 10 marijuana initiatives on Tuesday, but gay marriage is still seen as the destruction “the family”?

Yeah, it sucks.

But HELLO, did you think this was going to be easy? Remember what you’re doing here: dismantling the heteronormative nuclear family through both the institutional religion and bias and tradition of the church AND the monolithic ultimate power of the government.

Did you think that was just going to happen overnight?

Did you think the conservative bigots were just going to hand it to us?

Did you think it would be easy?

The Girl in the Red Dress

The Girl in the Red Dress

At first I’m trying to ignore her. I have my latest review book, Best Lesbian Bondage Erotica; I have my iPod on to some soothing lofi mix Muse made for me; I have lube in my pocket for a quick jerk-off session before we arrive in New York. I need all the sanctuary and release I can get before returning to that hyper-stimulating city.

But she’s making a big show of her many bags, heavy, designer luggage, and she – being tiny petite thing – seems unable to slip them all into the overhead luggage rack.

The only other person in this car is a man in the back who has been snoring since I got on. I think about telling her to just leave her suitcases on the seat next to her, but her jaw is set, her sensuous mouth twisted in a sneer, and as she begins to climb onto the train seat to reach the rack better, I sigh and, reluctantly, get up to help her.

“Please. Let me,” I say, sliding behind her and putting my hand on her waist to guide her out of the way, then taking the heavy suitcase out of her struggling grip and nudge it onto the metal rack easily. She’s got a great ass in those tight jeans. Her eyes are wide, then she drags her gaze along my arm to my face. I watch her watch me. She looks like Penelope Cruz, all dark hair and big pools of dark liquid eyes.

“Um,” she says. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it,” I answer, a bit dismissively, now offering my hand so she can get down. The train doors buzz and are about to close, we’ll be in motion shortly. I pick up her other bags and one by one put them up into the rack above her seat. She takes off her thin white sweater and sets it with her handbag next to her, and watches me.

I groan a little with the weight of the last one. She notices. “Thanks again,” she says, and I detect a slight accent, French maybe, though she looks Spanish. Her words are a little airy, already pulling Vogue Milan out of her purse and turning her attention to it, a tiny sideways glance at me to see if I’m still standing next to her, waiting for my good-dog biscuit.

I retreat back to my aisle seat. We are facing each other, opposite sides of the train. She is absorbed in her magazine. I put my feet up and crack open my book, start reading through the bondage stories. She takes out a compact and lipstick and fusses with her mouth, repainting, touching her fingertips to the edges of her lips, then wipes microscopic flecks with a tissue. I don’t watch her, but she periodically sweeps her eyes over to me. I rest my hand on my neat little package as I read through the story by Toni Amato, “A Girl Like That:”

She’s the kind of girl who brings out the worst in me. Coming on all hip and cool and all into sex, rubbing some part of herself all up against me every chance she gets. I’m not saying all the things my people taught me about women are so great, but I’ll tell you what, where I come from, that kind of girl is called a cock teaser.

It’s like there’s this small thing, like those stars they talk about, those White Dwarves, sitting deep and low in my belly, and this girl comes along, doing her number, and that son of a bitch just goes nova.

She makes the worst part of me want to do the best it knows how to teach her a thing or two about fucking.

I’m stroking my cock unconsciously through my jeans when I notice someone looming next to me, and it’s her, she’s returning from the bathroom with a clutch in her hand, I didn’t even notice her get up. The girl smiles, almost, and pushes past as though I am taking up the entire aisle, or maybe to show off her gorgeous ass in those tight, tight jeans.

The train lurches and opens its sleepy doors, the man in the back of our train car is moving at half-speed and makes his way off the train.

We’re alone.

She notices too. She’s looking out the window but keeps stealing glances at me. The conductor comes through and says nothing to either of us, just takes the small pieces of paper on our seats, the remnants of our tickets.

I go back to my book. I finger the bottle of lube in my pocket and think this would be a good time to go rub one out, then get absorbed in a story about a dyke cop who is passing as male in a straight club, picks up a girl and takes her, handcuffed, out to her truck. I nearly reach my hand into my pants.

“Um, excuse me?”

She’s standing, still in her seat but leaning forward over the seat in front of her, facing me, ass tipped to the side, front of her button down revealing creamy skin, long dark hair swinging. She smiles when I look up, flashes me an intentional smirky pose that she has practiced in the mirror – her seduction look. “Would you help, I have to … I need … something from that bag.” She glances up at it.

I put my book down and tug at my jeans to cover my hard-on. Clear my throat. “Sure.”

I get up and move toward her. She kneels and reaches for it, her back to the aisle as I come up behind her and reach up.

“This one?” My mouth is close to her ear.

“No, not – yes, that one,” she says as I touch the smaller suitcase. She reaches up to help me, bending slightly forward, as we both ease the weight of her bag down onto the seat. And I swear she rubs right against me, pushing back, just a little. Maybe I’m imagining it. Yeah, sure Sinclair; you just happen to have a boner and this girl offers up her ass on a silver platter.

I back off. Return to my seat. Again.

“Um, thanks!” she calls.

I toss a half-smile over my shoulder. “Don’t mention it.” She pulls a bundle of fabric out of her bag and I don’t watch. I don’t pay attention. I can’t see it. I shouldn’t be watching, but I am. It is slinky and red. She finds a few other bits and tucks her hair behind her ear, gathers an armful of clothing, makes her way toward me, down the aisle, to the bathroom at the back of the car.

She’s in there a while. I try to concentrate on my book, to not wonder what she is doing, what she’s slipping into, who she’s meeting when she gets off the train, not to imagine being that somebody so filled with lust and permission that I’d fuck her right on the platform, couldn’t even control myself long enough to wait until we went to dinner, drinks, a show, whatever it is she’s dressing up for. My breath is quickening and my hands are starting to do that aching thing where they are pulsing with grip, wanting to hold push grab press punch slap.

She makes her way back to her seat like the aisle is a runway, like she’s coming in for a landing. Each step deliberately placed. Legs precisely angled and separated and her gait is sharp, strong. Her red dress swings from her hips, past her thighs, to her knees. A few bracelets jangle from one arm, simple and slim. She’s pulled her hair up high on her head, into some sort of ponytail, then twisted around itself in a beautiful knot.

I watch her as she closes the distance to her own seat. I don’t drool. I am not drooling. I try not to drool at the sight of her ankles, her calves, the hints of the backs of her knees as her dress swings. I wipe my mouth. Her ankles cross just slightly, which makes her hips curl and switch like a figure eight. Like a come-hither finger.

I swallow. Breathe in. And quickly open my book, flustered, and turn it to the page I was reading as she slides onto the train seat and I snap out of my spell.

Of course – of course – I am too zealous and the book slides out of my hand, skittering out into the aisle. I take a sharp breath in and some spit goes down the wrong way, I start to choke, cough, loudly, as I jump up to retrieve the book.

Oh good lord. I get ahold of myself. Straighten up, book in hand. Clear my throat. I don’t look at her. I can’t see her. I am sure I am five shades of crimson and I steal a glance her direction, she’s covering her mouth, that perfect smirky smile, eyes dancing, looking away from me. Obviously she saw everything.

Fuck.

I resettle. Book in lap, adequate breath in lungs. I sneer to myself. Re-open the erotica. Do you have to be so obvious? I yell at myself in my head. You dumbass. Real smooth, Sexsmith.

She’s going through her open case next to her, I can see her arms moving but can’t see what she’s doing. Then suddenly she’s up, out of the seat and back in the aisle, pads down toward me as if she forgot something.

I catch a whiff of her perfume as she walks by. Dizzying, intoxicating. The swish of her skirt. I watch her little toe-heel trot down the aisle. My body acts without my mind and I reach for her. My hand on her hip. Lightly at first, but then she doesn’t pull away and I grab her harder. Both hands and I stand, pull her toward me, her back to me, and she is still. I can’t see her face but I can feel her breath through my hands, she’s holding it. Surprised. Waiting.

I lift her skirt in the back to reveal her perfect ass. A work of art. A combination of genetics and squats and hundreds of hours at the gym. She knows it. She’s bare under her red dress, no panties, no stockings. Perhaps that’s what she forgot. I can’t resist, I palm the apple of her ass, caress the flesh, spreading her cheeks and opening her slit.

She lets out her breath, finally, and it comes with a breathy moan, just a little.

And I’m gone. The slightest noise from her lips and all I can feel is what it’ll be like to be inside her, to feel her body curl around my arm and buck and thrash and grasp as she comes. I’ve got to feel it. Got to make her.

I press against her back. Her neck is bare, hair up, and my mouth is just at the corner of her jaw, below her ear. I reach around her and pin her arms to her sides, pressing her back to lean against me, and she arches, thrusts her hips up, feels the cock behind my fly. She lets her head lean back against me, lets me take her weight.

“Bend over.” Right next to her ear. Barely audible.

I release her from her hold. She turns her head just a bit and her face is quizzical, open, lustful, a tad resistant. I run my hand up under her dress firmly, continue to drag it up her back, then press, hard, on her shoulder blades, bending her over the train seat in front of her.

“I said bend over.”

Faster now. Unbuckle and unzip. The dress pushed up to her waist, one hand on her lower back to keep her hips tipped up to me. Her asshole is dark pink, a burst between her cheeks, perfectly smooth, and her ass is perfectly round, my thighs are already quivering and hips pulsing, so ready to fuck.

I grab one of the condoms I always keep tucked into the inner pocket of my bag. Roll it on. Spit into my palm, and again, lube up my cock. Spit again at my two fingers and shove them at her hole.

I hear her gasp – “ah” – just once – and she glances back over her shoulder, eyes heavy-lidded and dark. I push on her upper back again.

“Head down.”

Her body shudders at my voice and gives in. A ripple of submission through her backbone and I feel to my toes the way it makes every hair on my body stand up, clench, awaken.

Cockhead at her asshole, I enter her easily, so smooth. So tight. The resistance of her ass is just more friction and tension between us and I want to tear into her. Split her apart. Harder now. Faster and she’s taking it so well, “so good baby,” I whisper to myself, fuck it’s so good. She keeps her legs strong and pushes back against me. It’s not enough lube and I remember the bottle in my pocket and laugh to myself. What kind of pervert am I to carry lube on the train?

I pull out and squirt it right on my dick, smear it, and ease back into her.

Oh yeah, give me that ass. Give it to me.

The girl in the red dress has her arms braced against the seats, bracelets jangling. We hit a rhythmic sliding stride and she brings her forearm down in front of her, leans forward, brings her other hand between her legs. Immediately I feel her knees weaken and press together, back arch and spine curl and oh it’s beautiful. I bring my hand up her spine to her shoulder blades, then her neck, take a handful of hair and keep her steady. She pulls against me, not to get away, but to heighten sensation. Struggling has such varying degrees. She doesn’t want out, she wants more.

I take grips on her hip and hair. Slam against her hard, pull out slow. Slick where my cock is fat inside her, swelling and eager. Resistance and tension. She tips even further forward onto the seat until she’s held up by it, lifted at the waist, hand furious between her legs, thighs pressed so hard together, on her tiptoes straining up and tipping forward more, further, until she lets one foot come up off the floor and bend at the knee, toes curling.

She is starting to let go, really let go, become undone at the seams, and she can’t keep the tension in her muscles so she stops resisting my hand in her hair, my palm against the flesh of her ass, holding her cheeks apart, fingers gripping her hipbone. But I don’t let go, I just hold her stronger, tighter, take her a little deeper as she opens, opens deeper, opens hard, and every hinge in her body loosens, I feel it from inside pulse and ripple and again, and again, until she is gasping, chest heaving, crying out, gasping for air. And I ease up, slide in slow, press hard and sweet against her as orgasm fades, shudders, and her body rebuilds itself anew.

I pull out and let her rest. We are quiet a moment. I release my hand from her mess of hair and caress her neck gently, let my hand drape across her hips and thighs, even find her hand, wet and warm from her own liquid, touch her fingertips gently.

Her breathing calms. She sighs, once. Reaches up to brush her hair from her face and I stand, tuck my cock, zip up, run my fingers through my perfectly messy hair to assess the damage.

She stays where she is, leaning for support over the bench seat. I pull the skirt of her dress down over her hips with a shit-eating grin on my face and smack her ass once, a little harder than I meant to, but playful, and she gasps and tenses, then stands. Her makeup is smeared. Her face is still open and sweet from the release but it changes as she watches me. I gather my book and pocket bottle of lube and put them back in my bag, pick up my jacket and slide my arms into the sleeves.

She’s still watching. Eyes wide. Breathing.

“We’re here,” I say. The train is slowing and I can just make out the tunnels of Penn Station as we arrive in New York City. She blinks. Opens her mouth to say something.

I grin. Lord she’s cute. I kiss her cheek as I slip by her and remove her heavy suitcases from the overhead racks. I notice strappy black high heel shoes at her seat and my mouth waters.

Heaving the last of the bags down, I turn to her again. She’s still by my seat, now empty, one finger in her mouth, looking a little shy. I smile and nod, once, a goodbye-take-care-have-a-nice-night gesture, and turn to the door as the train comes to a full stop.

“Um!” she calls after me. I look back. “Thank you?”

I give her a long glance from her ankles up to her legs to her hips and belly and breasts, the disheveled red dress, hair tumbling from its neat design on her head. She’s stunning, really. Delicious.

“Don’t mention it,” I say, and step off the train.

8against8: We are not the enemy


Another photo project: We Are Not the Enemy

Please send work-safe photos with “We are not the enemy” somewhere in the image to [email protected] LGBT pals and groups are welcome; couple status is not required.

I don’t know who these hotties are, but I want to meet them. More photos at the We Are Not the Enemy Blog.

Film screening: The World Unseen

Here’s a brief little break in the political activism of this week to bring you a small announcement about a (free!) film screening TOMORROW in Los Angeles. Might be just what the doctor ordered to get our minds off of politics for a minute, eh?

The World Unseen is “an amazing story of race, love, and strength set in 1950’s South Africa.” The synopsis is as follows:

In the pressure cooker of apartheid South Africa, two women meet and their worlds are turned upside down. Miriam is a traditional Indian mother – hardworking and self-effacing. Amina breaks all the rules by driving a taxi and setting up a cafe with a local black man. In the face of outraged disapproval, their friendship flourishes. But the price, for Miriam, is the discovery of impossible truths about her marriage. In a system that divides white from black, black from Asian and the women from men, what chance is there for an unexpected love to survive?

More information on the film – including some beautiful, beautiful stills of the film – at www.theworldunseenmovie.com

The film is screening in LA tomorrow:
Thursday, October 23 at 7:30PM
Regent Theatre (614 N. La Brea Ave), Los Angeles
Shamim Sarif , the writer/director, and Sheetal Sheth, star of the film, will be at the screening to do a Q&A following the movie.
If you’d like to attend, RSVP to 310-967-7286

See more photo stills from the film, they look just beautiful. I’m excited to see it! Fans of queer/lesbian films might also recognize Lisa Ray – one of the leads – from Water, which is also fantastic.


On Matthew Shepard, and Not Getting Eaten Alive

On October 6th, 1998, Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming, beaten, and left for dead – because he was gay. He was taken to a nearby trauma hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, and died on October 12th.

I lived in Fort Collins at the time. I was not out, I was living with my high school boyfriend of five years. Nobody I knew was talking about it, aside from the brief acknowledgment in order to look away. There were protesters at the hospital. The Denver newspaper announced that he had died before he actually died.

I remember crying. I remember being so confused as to how this could’ve happened. I remember being terrified to come out in that environment, so I stayed in the closet for two more years.

Years later, after I was living in Seattle and came out and was building an amazing queer community, I saw Matthew’s mom Judy Shepard speak at my college. I’m paraphrasing here, but I remember a few things she said so deeply: “I’m just a mom,” she said. “I’m not an activist, I’m not a historian, I’m just a mom of a really great kid who died because he was gay. People ask me all the time, what can I do, and I always tell them: Come out. Come out everywhere, all the time. People discriminate because they don’t think they know any gay people. They don’t know that the guy they go bowling with is gay, that their office neighbor is gay, that their dry cleaner is gay. They think gay happens “over there” in big coastal cities. Until everyone starts realizing that gay people are just like them, discrimination will keep happening.”

I tell that to people a lot, especially baby dykes (or baby fags or baby queers) who are struggling with coming out. It’s our number one place of activism: to be who we are. To let the soft animal of our bodies love what it loves. It is not easy for any of us, but for some more than others, as there are still very real consequences to coming out and being out, not just with our families and parents (especially) but in our daily lives.

I was searching for some Judy Shepard direct quotes and came across this article from 2001, which relays more of the thoughts I’m trying to articulate:

Matthew came out to her at the age of 18, three years before he died. He decided in his own time and space when to tell his parents about his feelings on his sexuality and how that was important to him. After explaining how she and her husband dealt with Matthew’s coming out, Judy believes that “Your goal in life is to be the best and happiest you can be. Be who you are. Share who you are with the rest of the world.” Come out. Come out to yourself. Come out to your family. Come out to your friends. Be who you are and don’t hide in the closet of fear. Take pride in who you are through and through. […] In closing, Judy illustrated her thoughts that if the corporate world of gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals would come out and be true to themselves, their lives, and the world we live in would be a better place. Maybe Matthew would still be here today. ‘It’s fear and ignorance that killed Matthew. If fear is shed, the violence will go with it.’ Acceptance of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals would not allow fear and ignorance to exist as hate.
Erie Gay News report on Judy Shepard at Mercyhurst April 3 2001.

Years after I left Colorado, when I was in Seattle and studying writing, especially formal poetic forms, I wrote an acrostic poem about Shepard. The acrostic is a form you’ve probably played with as a kid, at least – you take a word and make each letter in the word the first letter of the line of the poem. In this case, the assignment was to write an acrostic about a place, capturing both the essence of the geographical space and an event that occurred there. The title is a reference to the date he was attacked.

    MATTHEW 10:6 (Acrostic)

    Framed in thick oak trees, equidistant, streets
    Open to fields marching toward undisturbed horizons
    Regulation-height lawns burn with summer’s oppression
    Tearing boys from youth, from breath. Behind

    Cinnamon foothills, anger and ignorance sprinkle
    Obstructions in the north winds. An easy tragedy
    Laughs. Tail lights disappear, tangled in this inevitable
    Last night – train whistles whisper, keeping company
    Infused with ghosts. Plucked from a fence,
    No one blinks – hospital doors swing shut.
    Shepard boy releases. The world watches the moon set.

review: Lipstick on her Collar

The most recent Pretty Things Press anthology called Lipstick on Her Collar and Other Tales of Lesbian Lust landed on my desk recently, and I took my time reading through it.

I love lesbian erotica books … I think for many queer women, it’s one of the first places where we begin to access the languages of lesbian desire and sexuality, and as such they can be very powerful, transformative books, not just jerk-off material but also an introduction to entirely new concepts and ideas. I’ll never forget some of the early books that did that for me, like Breathless: Erotica by Kitty Tsui and Best Lesbian Erotica 1998, which became roadmaps and secret-tellers.

I’m a bit picky about my erotica these days, though. There’s more and more of it out there, and what turns me on is butchtop/femmebottom aligned writings, fairly exclusively. I can read through other anthologies and appreciate the writing, the characterization, the plot lines (no, seriously!), but I don’t tend to find myself putting the book down to go jack off.

This book, though, has an impressive number of butch/femme scenes. This is partially because, I imagine, the anthology includes “lipstick” in its very title, thereby encouraging more of the gendered play than many lesbian erotica anthologies usually include.

Three, in particular, stand out: Kingdom Cum by Scarlett French, about a femme seducing a drag king after a drag show; Femme Princess by Ellen Tevault, about a femme in a bed death relationship who answers a butch’s personal ad and reawakens her sexual desire, seeming to uncover her own gender fetish at the same time; and Now and Then by Barrett Bonden, about a butch’s return to her long-term femme lover, which ranges from quite smutty and dirty (especially in the dialogue – “Get up on the bed, slut. Hands and knees, ass in the air.”) to very sweet and long-term lesbionic.

Don’t get me wrong, the whole book is not butch/femme oriented stories. But there are a few great ones, as well as some femme-femme scenes, a decent story dealing with body ability where one of the characters is in a wheelchair (its inclusion made me realize how very little body-ability diversity there is in these types of anthologies, in general), some strangers, some long-term lovers, and a couple of my favorite lesbian authors, including Skian McGuire and Rachel Kramer Bussel.

It seems Alison Tyler is doing some great books with Pretty Things Press, and I’m glad to see a lesbian anthology with more gender included in their catalog.

weekend, part two: dancing

Weekend, part one: flogging

I slid my cock inside her swiftly and she took it easily. Let out a little cry, lifted her ankles around my hips. I was hungry. I could feel her opening, could feel how she could be filled.

“Get up,” I said after a while. I lifted myself off the bed and began switching to my other cock, the bigger one. “Turn over.”

She started to, up on her hands and knees, and I reached my arm around her hips and pulled her off the side of the bed, her pussy at my cock’s height perfectly. I took a palmful of lube and fucked her, hard, deep.

Moans and cries from both of us as I pounded into her. Fucks like that I swear I can feel my cock thickening, getting harder, being restricted and pulled into her cunt by her tight rings of muscles. She’s discovered that she can lift her legs off the floor and wrap them around my waist when I fuck her bent over the edge of the bed if she has the right grip on her hands (because it’s just the right height), which gets my cock ever deeper.

I moved my right hand around to her clit and she shuddered, I took a small grip on my cock to test the lube and moved back to her clit, swollen like a berry on a vine, thick, slick, sweet. I moved my other hand to her hair, pulling and holding her body so I could fuck harder. Shifting my pace, slowing excruciatingly and she was shuddering and gasping, nearly thrashing on the bed.

Faster again, slightly tilting my pelvis to aim for her gspot, fingers working her clit and lips stretched taut as she thrust back against me. I felt her thighs shudder, once, twice, as she squeezed and gasped, then came, nearly yelling into the bed.

We disentangled, breathing hard, little sighs of pleasure. She pulled herself up lengthwise on the bed and I went to her, legs scissored around hers, hand in her hair, one by her hip, head to her breast. She rested her hand on the back of my head and kept it there, weaving through the short hairs on my neck. Her fingers began to unravel me, to pull me apart, so tender, and I let go.

“You’re so sweet to me tonight,” I said, pulling myself up so our faces were next to each other on the pillow.

“You never let me be.”

[ Is that true? Maybe. Maybe I’m doing something that she interprets as keeping her at a distance, as pushing her away. I don’t think that’s how I intend it (is it?), and sometimes I even wish she’d touch me more. I don’t wish it enough that I have asked for it (at least, not often, just once, the only time we showered together). ]

We pillow-talked for a while. “Did you like flogging me?”

“Yes. Very much.”

Let me elaborate: flogging is tangible power. Energy sparkling and crackling up and down my arms, my shoulders, all through my back. Rhythmic breathing, rhythmic swinging, and everything becomes hyper-sensual, hyper-senstive. I can detect a change in the air current, can hear a door open across the apartment building’s hallway. I feel her breathing, feel her breath, can see it visibly moving through her body. I sense the depth of the blows: that one too light, still too light, ah yes just right. Keep it there. Keep it just there. Then suddenly – too hard, and she gasps. I want to pull back but I so love the way she whimpers and squirms, just a little pain, just a little uncomfortable, then her muscles release, her voice releases when I let up, and that’s it, that’s the moment I crave, the supple giving in, the letting go, the release of what you don’t even know you’re holding on to.

Let go, let go. You don’t need it. All you need is this beautiful body, this beautiful breath.

In pillow talk, the subject shifted to dominance, to submission, to force. She knows I like it when she struggles. She’d like to play with that more, she said. I’d like her to say no, I said.

Then, I’m not sure how it started, but it did. Kissing, probably; isn’t that always how things start?

It’s a blur. Me looming over her, using the weight of my body (I must have more than 50 pounds on her) to hold her down. Force her legs apart. And she let out a string of words: “No no no no no,” whimpering, softly, turning her head side to side into the pillow as she tried to get her wrists out of my grip, “no no no no.”

“Yes,” I whispered, firmly. “Oh yes.”

She arched her back, tried to kick me and I got my calf against her knee and my hips between her thighs. Both wrists in one hand and position my cock.

“You’re going to take it. I’m going to fuck you.”

“Nooo …” Was she crying now? Gasping and her face felt wet when I took a grip on her hair and force her mouth to mine. It scared me a little, maybe I was hurting her (is she in physical pain? Are her knees okay, her shoulders?), and it scared me that I liked how much she was resisting me. How much I liked it when she won’t let me in.

I raised myself arms-length from her momentarily and paused. “You’ve got a safeword now, little girl. You remember what it is?”

She nodded a little, meeting my eyes briefly, and they were almost calm. Dancing. I felt releif.

“I’m not going to stop unless you use it. You’re gonna be mine tonight. My girl.”

And I pushed my thighs up to open hers, my knees sliding under her to force her pelvis up, her legs apart. My weight was shifted forward on my forearm, holding her arms down. She resisted my attempts to kiss her and whimpered more, moaning a little, cries inciting some sort of pulsing urge in my core, my pelvis, my hands in fists, down to my toes where I pushed against the bed firmly.

I slid inside slow and she shuddered, gasped, chest heaved and sank into the pillows and she let out a moan despite herself.

“You’re my girl tonight. Mine.” I said into her neck as I closed my teeth against her tender skin to keep her there, an animal instinct and she can’t move without ripping herself.

“You’re my girl.” I said again. “Say it.”

I felt her breath on my ear, her fingers clawing at my shoulderblades as she pulled me to her as I pumped my hips against her, thrusting, pressing, circling, and she pulsed under me.

Just a whisper: “I’m your girl.”

“That’s right. That’s right, baby. Say it again.”

“I’m yours, I’m your girl.”

I brought my mouth to hers, and we slid into the fuck, rocked together. Rocked deep.

Lesbian stereotypes, reclaiming language, and activism

Yet another case in point: Butch, skinhead, wife-beating, pint drinkers? “Butch, femme, dyke – what kind of lesbian are you? Jeni Quirke explores the negativity surrounding lesbian stereotypes.”

Hey, sounds like a pretty good idea, exploring negative lesbian stereotypes, yeah? Right away, I’m skeptical of her inclusion of “butch” in that title, but I’m curious. Let’s read.

[L]esbians and bisexual women are also guilty of holding stereotypical generalisations and assumptions about each other based on appearance and personality. The words ‘dyke’, ‘baby-dyke’, ‘lipstick lesbian’, ‘pretend lesbian’ and ‘political lezza’ are too often thrown about the lesbian community, at work, in the pub or even from a friend to a friend in a jokey and cheeky way.

So why is this still happening, in a supposedly very tolerant and gay friendly society? It’s quite straightforward for all involved – stereotypes[.] … [W]hy do lesbian and bisexual women also carelessly use the terms ‘butch’, ‘femme’, ‘dyke’[?] … Is it internalised homophobia? … most women don’t even realise they have it or are displaying it.

So, when words to describe lesbian identity categories – such as dyke, baby dyke, and lipstick lesbian – are used by heterosexual or gay men who are excluded from and based in ignorant assumptions about the group, it is because of stereotyping, but if lesbians actually use these terms, it is from a place of internalized homophobia.

The use of words such as ‘dyke’, ‘butch’ and ‘femme’ from a lesbian individual or group are almost always meant in a negative way. Often, the only positive times you will hear the words spoken will be from a lesbian who is referring to herself, such as ‘Yeah I’m a butch dyke, but so what? It’s who I am.’ For the individual and for onlookers this proud and defensive statement will seem a very noble and bold thing to say. This it is, but it could also encourage the use of such stereotypes by heterosexual and non-heterosexual people.

So here she’s saying, when I define myself and call myself what I want to be called, when I reclaim the words for myself, it appears to be “very noble and bold,” but really it’s encouraging stereotypes. Who cares if it’s empowering to me in a development of my own gender identity, in putting myself in a historical and cultural context where I recognize the gendered struggles of my foremothers and forefathers and and forebabas and forepapis, really it’s just an invitation to oppress me. Not buying it.

If we are using offensive terms to one another in our own community, then what chance is there that straight people and gay men will stop using them? Are we re-enforcing the terms? And if so why are we doing this to each other and to ourselves? … Possibly the thought that ‘stereotypical’ lesbians such as ‘butch dykes’ are re-enforcing people’s generalisations and giving lesbians a bad name. … Could it be that society on the whole has become addicted and accustomed to using labels or labelling[?]

So now this author claims that butch dykes are giving lesbians a bad name and reinforcing stereotypical lesbianism. Oh, I recognize this tune.

And also, a word about labels: where we are in our cultural identity history, right now, in the West in the early 21st century, we reject labels. Pretty much entirely. Constantly, people are saying “don’t box me in,” “don’t restrict me,” “I’m bigger than that box,” “I’m more than a label,” et cetera. We are not addicted and accustomed to labels. I absolutely think it’s true that labels can be restrictive and limiting when applied without any leniency, and I think it’s true that culturally, we used to have more of a sense of defining people by their gender, age, race, economic status, ethnicity, family history, class, social status, religious beliefs, et cetera – by all of the factors of social hierarchy. But this is precisely what the various activist movements of the 20th century have been working to change, and in many ways, it absolutely has changed. Labels are generally now seen as bad and restrictive.

The well-known and common female stereotypes such as femme , butch and dyke are only there so other people and sometimes even ourselves use to categorise all the ‘types’ or ‘breeds’ of lesbians neatly away into a fileable drawer. [Emphasis added.]

Oh, now I’m just sad. The only reason butch exists is so others – or “sometimes even ourselves,” (implying, of course, how sad that is, that our internalized homophobia is so bad that we limit ourselves so awfully) – can categorize us?

Goddammit, this is just so inaccurate. There is a long history of butch, femme, and genderqueer WARRIORS who are changing laws, making strives, marching in protests, fighting for rights, being visible, working hard, raising kids, making families, contributing to thriving communities, loving, living, and being ourselves.

And now, this perspective of the author of this article becomes even more transparent: the things she is saying here are flat-out gender-phobic. Probably out of ignorance, rather than intentionally malicious, but still. This author clearly cannot imagine that any femme, butch, or dyke would ever be authentically empowered by these labels (as opposed to falsely empowered through internalized homophobia) or claiming them out of some sort of intentional, conscious, educated, contextualized narrative of queer culture, life, identity, and empowerment.

I haven’t even started about the power of reclaiming words, here, which this author completely discounts as even remotely possible. Yes, the word “dyke,” for example, has been used by outsiders to marginalize and oppress people within that group. But part of the process of legitimizing that identity is to take the words that have been used to oppress us and revision them to be valuable, which, by proxy, revisions the identity as valuable as well. This also deflates the potential of the insult: if the word no longer has any negative connotations, and someone shouts “dyke!” from across the street, we can recognize that he’s a) being blatantly and ridiculously homophobic, b) attempting to insult us, and c) stupid and ignorant if he thinks homophobia is acceptable. It’s much easier for this type of encounter not to sting, and not to be taken seriously, when we are used to throwing around the words that are attempted to be used as insults.

Aside from that, there’s the linguistics of it all: “lesbian” sounds like the technical term, like dentifrice instead of toothpaste. It sounds like something you could contract or pick up, it’s long – three syllables – and fairly awkward in the mouth. “Dyke,” however, is short, powerful, with strong, shit-kicking consonants that pops on the tongue. Stronger, tougher, thicker, more powerful.

The author of this article closes with this:

We should all join and work together to end other people’s preconceptions, generalisations and stereotypes by not doing it in and to our own community.

Yes, I agree in part – we should end preconceptions, generalizations, and stereotypes. But what this author is describing is not “doing it in and to our own community” necessarily. People – everyone, women and lesbians and yes, even dykes – have our own agency, our own ability to define for ourselves who we are and what we are doing with it. To speak from outside of a community who uses this language intentionally about the choice of using this language is belittling and offensive, implying that I couldn’t possibly know what I’m doing by using this language.

And I know some of you are thinking, “well, Sinclair, you’re a bit different than the average butch, after all,” but ya know what? I haven’t found that to be true. I have found that most butches I know are incredibly intentional about their identities, and have beautiful things to say about what it’s like to navigate the world as a butch-looking woman, often even if they don’t identify with the label, culture, or politics. Same with the femmes. Butch and femme are no longer default identities to which one gets shoved into the minute one comes out as a lesbian. Queer, dyke, butch, femme – those words are marginalized, othered, looked down upon in many ways. It takes work to come to them, work to claim them, and work to keep them functioning.

This author, like the majority of folks out there – lesbian communities notwithstanding, unfortunately – are missing some key elements and understandings of the history of gender radicalism, what it means to reclaim language, and what it means to adopt these identities. Articles like this really get my boxers in a twist because they appear to be a conscious, intentional analysis of what’s difficult or challenging within the lesbian communities, but in fact, they are reinforcing gender misunderstandings and further marginalizing those of us who do play with gender intentionally, celebrationally, and beautifully.

you like those breasts, eh? wanna keep ’em?

Cynthia Nixon has sent a message to us gay women: learn the facts & take control of your breast health.

Don’t forget those breast exams too – they say it’s so important to detect cancer early. (Doesn’t it feel sometimes like it’s not whether or not you will ever get cancer, but when, and how early you will find it? Sometimes I feel like we live in a scary time, when we’re so susceptible to such mutations of our bodies.) So don’t forget to do those breast exams, your own, your girlfriend’s, your lovers, your fuckbuddy, your booty call … I do find it’s best if you ask first. Just sayin’.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has lots more information on their site at komen.org.

pink & bent: queer women art exhibit in nyc

The opening reception for Pink& Bent: Art of Queer Women is tomorrow night here in New York City. One of the contributing photographers, Sophia Wallce, sent me a few of the shots that will be in her show. I love them all, but this one might be my favorite – the colors in the background are so stunning.

I first saw Sophia’s work because of her project called Bois and Dykes, which has some beautiful photographs of female masculinity shot in New York City. It was fascinating to look through this project of hers; the photos are just so familiar. She even shot my weekly happy hour watering hole and the barber I see about twice a month.

Here’s the information about the exhibit.

Pink& Bent: Art of Queer Women
Curatated by Pilar Gallego & Cora Lambert

Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation presents
Pink & Bent, an exhibition of international artwork by queer women.
Exhibit runs May 21-June 28th

The Leslie/Lohman Gallery
26 Wooster Street
New York, NY 10013
(between Canal & Grand-closer to Grand)

Hours: 12-6pm, Tues-Sat, closed Sat-Sun
Tel. 212-431-2609

Opening reception: Tuesday, May 20, 6-8pm
Panel discussion: Thursday, May 29, 6:30-8pm
Women in the Arts Speak Out
$7 suggested donation at the door

call for interviews with lesbians

Just got this from Felice Newman, author of the Whole Lesbian Sex Book (which is fantastic, by the way). She’s conducting interviews for her next book and is seeking lesbian, bi, and queer women couples who have been together for 5+ years to talk about your sex life.

If this is you, do it! We need more voices talking about our honest stories out there. Contact information and more detail follows.

Lesbian bed death, Butch/femme dating, and More Femme Worship (Plus Q&A)

I’m in Salt Lake City for the long weekend, so hopefully I’ll have some time to catch up on writing and these questions. Thanks for asking them! Some of them are very complex and I want to give them good thought.

5. Mm asks: How does one (or more appropriately two) keep passion from waning in a long term monogamous relationship? It’s been done, but how?

Oh man – I won’t pretend to be the authority on this one. I have had two major long-term relationships, one for five years, one for four years, the latter of which was one of those LBD (lesbian bed death) situations. So I seem to be alright at sustaining some sort of time – though ultimately, all my relationships have ended, so I’m not sure I’ve got the secrets here.That said, I do think I have some ideas about what it is that I can and will do to sustain passion in a long-term relationship the next time I get the chance to practice.

  1. Talk about sex. Talk talk talk. It’s fun! It’s sexy, it’s intimate. Let go of inhibitions and let your partner into your dirty dirty mind. Make lists of things you’d like to do. Make lists of things you’ve never done and probably would never do. Fill out sex surveys – like the purity test, or a BDSM checklist – together. Fill out the fill-in-the-blank questions, you may be surprised at the answers. Make a list of things you’ve done and didn’t like but might be willing to try again. Maybe this is just my compulsive list-making, but it’s useful information, and it forms a common vocabulary for you two to both discuss your wants, desires, fetishes, interests. 
  2. Do sexy stuff together. Watch porn, or, if you don’t like porn (though I gotta say, dyke porn is getting better and better and better, you’re missing out if you haven’t tried out some of the recent stuff), read erotica aloud to each other. Go to sex toy shops together. Share your fantasies. Plan some elaborate fantasy scene. Explore!
  3. Figure out what turns you on, and don’t be afraid to own that. Look for someone with complimentary turn-ons, or discuss your newly discovered turn-ons with your partner. It amazes me how few people really know what deeply “does it” for them, or, even moreso, who are in relationships with people they can tell about this stuff. (Oh, you should see the email I get sometimes about this.)
  4. If things are working, we’ll both be growing, individually as well as together. In theory, our values will be so tightly aligned that the interests and pursuits that we meander through will keep each other interested, rather than putting distance or difficulties between us. But, that said, don’t assume the relationship will be between the same people in two, five, ten years. One of my favorite novels of all time, The Sparrow, has a quote in it that goes like this: “I’ve been married five times over the last fifty years to five different people, all of whom were named George.” We should grow and change. We just gotta give each other the freedom to grow, and recognize that that means, potentially, that we may grow apart. 
  5. Ultimately, I think, it’s all about sexual openness. The people I’ve seen who have been able to sustain things long-term have been deeply open. Experiment! Try something you’ve never done, then try it again – just because you tried it once and didn’t like it doesn’t mean you’ll never like it. See which edges you can push. Take a class, take a workshop. Open up, let go.

All this advice is sounding very cliché. I don’t like giving general advice as a rule … wish I had some more specific answers for you here. Other readers? Tips for sustaining a long-term passionate relationship? Hell, if you are IN a long-term, passionate relationship, how do you do it? What makes it work?

6. Dosia asks: What would you say is the best way for a girl to approach a hot butch in a bar/at a dyke march/behind the counter in a cafe/in class? How do we make those connections — not just for sex, but for friendship? Hell, it doesn’t have to be specific to butch/femme dynamics, how does it work, this meeting other queer women?

If there’s only one piece of advice to give about starting – and maintaining – conversations with strangers, dykes or butches or femmes or friends or potential hotties or whoever – it’s this: find common ground and elevate the discussion.

My mom told me that once upon a time about my (former) hostile work environment. And I tell ya, it fucken worked.

Find common ground: that is, when you hit upon a topic with which you are both familiar, attempt to deepen it. When you discover you both like art, go inside of that – elevate the discussion. Ask another question: “what kind of art do you like?” “Have you been to that exhibit at the Met?” “Do you paint?” “What kind of medium do you use?” “What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever done?” “What do you wish you could do?” “What made you get into that?” …see what I mean? Once you hit a common topic of interest, deepen the discussion by asking as many questions as you can about the different aspects of it. It’s hard when you don’t know anything about the topic – it’s hard for me to bullshit sports, for example – but when I actually know something about it, I can ask intelligent questions that, who knows, may even compliment my own understanding of the topic.

That said: there are a few good books I’d recommend here. The Art of Conversation and, cheesy as it may sound, The Game, a memoir about pickup artistry (with many grains of salt and a critical eye, of course).

Certainly there’s not just one way, and the trick is to find your own way, the way that works for you with your unique set of interests and talents. My way and your way are probably different. I know, that’s a lousy answer, but unfortunately it’s also true – what makes you interesting, what do you love to talk about? I am often talking to girls about their gender presentation at bars, and I quickly discover in that conversation which girls share a similar vocabulary for gender that I do (major turn-on), and which are performing some sort of femininity out of some sort of compulsory default (major turn-off).

Lesbians travel in packs, especially to bars, dyke marches, cafes, so it’s really difficult to actually a) gain one’s attention, b) keep one’s attention, and c) have an actual conversation of connection. That’s where the find common ground comes in, but I definitely understand that it’s hard to actually say something, hard to “break the ice,” to make contact.

I mean, I think this is hard for everybody, but particularly difficult because of the ways that lesbians stay huddled with their friends when out at social events, in public. Why do we do that? Maybe it’s a predator-pray kind of instinct, where it used to be so much more dangerous for us to be out on the town, and we remember that, as a community. There is safety in numbers, after all. From the specifically butch perspective, these are some things that would make me seriously take notice:

  • Ask me to light your cigarette (even better if you then say “I don’t actually smoke, I just wanted to talk to you,” because for one, I’m an ex-smoker, and for two, smoking, as romantic as it is (sigh), will severely damage your body and that is, ultimately, a turn-off. I should add that to the list.)
  • Compliment me on my gender (no, I’m serious!) – “hey, I noticed your gender from across the room.” “hey, you look like a old-school butch / faggy butch / dapper dandy / prettyboi – do you have a particular word for what it is you do?” “Your gender is quite noticeable.  You got a gender philosophy?” 
  • Offer to buy me a drink. It’s an easy excuse to get somebody talking. Say, “I wouldn’t want to presume to insult your possible dominant or chivalrous abilities, but can I buy you a drink?” Boy howdy, that’d definitely get my attention. (I’d say: “No. But you can allow me the pleasure of buying you one.” And then you’d giggle, and we’d talk and flirt until I eventually took you back to your place and fucked you in the foyer. Hey wait, how’d this become a sex story?)

These are things that would absolutely appeal to me, not sure how butches-as-a-whole would really respond. But that’s all I can speak to, really, is my own experience – other butches (and any folks who don’t identify as butch): what would get your attention? Don’t be afraid to be a little bold. Lesbians rarely are, but it’s my experience that we respond extremely well to boldness. Also, after you get to talking, it’s okay not to have a plan. And it’s also okay to let your nervousness come through as charming. “Uh, that was my one idea for a conversation. Now I’m drawing a blank ‘cause you’re kinda cute.  Got any topics for discussion?”

7. Cyn asks: … (see the first batch of answers)

8. Duck asks: Could you explain how the remaking of femininity has been “successful?”

Still working on this one ….

9. Miss Avarice asks: Have we yet figured out the subtle differences between straight girls and femmes at first glance? Does it really come down to a hunch in the end? Also, has writing SB changed you?

The only way I can say that I know the femmes from the straight girls is that, sometimes, I “just know.” And hell, I’m not even right all the time! I err on the side of caution, though, assuming someone is straight until proven otherwise – although “proven otherwise” is a broader and broader category, often as broad as “she’s talking to me, must mean she’s queer (in some form).” So yeah, it comes down to a hunch – it’s more than just a hunch though, it’s an energy. It’s gaydar, it’s a sixth sense that I can’t put my finger on. I wish I knew! I’m working on some writings on “gender energy,” we’ll see how those go.

Writing Sugarbutch has absolutely changed me. I was just looking back at where I was two years ago, and while I knew I was butch, I was so much less articulate and able to claim it in ways that I do now. Sugarbutch has been key and essential to my own personal development of gender identity. It’s plateauing a little bit, in the last year or so, but I still have some realms to explore (the “sex” part and the “relationship” part, namely). One big way Sugarbutch has measurably changed me, especially in terms of gender identity, is that I – as Sinclair – exclusively go by male pronouns. I write “Mr. Sinclair Sexsmith,” and in the few interviews I’ve had, I’ve asked to be called by the set of he/him/his. I don’t go by male pronouns in my non-pseudonymed life, though I really love being able to play with both.

It’s changed me in other ways, too, though; I’ve been able to let a persona wander free and explore lots more of that toppy/butch identity, and it’s definitely strengthened my own expression of it.

10. Zoe asks: How did you develop boundaries for your blog? How do you decide what to write about vs what to keep private? Who would you be most worried about finding it?

I established the boundaries early on, with the tagline “sex, gender, and relationship adventures” – that’s what I write about. Occasionally I get the impulse to post links, or media, or general bitchy writing, but I ask myself: is this about sex, gender, or relationships? Otherwise, no. Axed. (I suppose I should add “self-awareness” to that list, though really, usually it’s self-awareness about sex, gender, or relationships, so it applies.)

I don’t have hard rules about what to write vs what to keep private. Sometimes, a date or a situation or a new revelation just begs to be written about, and I do. It’s instinctual, I guess. Occasionally, I hesitate – usually in those situations I write it all out anyway, and then ask one of my trusty advisees to tell me whether or not it’s appropriate to post. Most often, they say no, for whatever reasons, and confirm my suspicions.

Who would I be most worried about finding Sugarbutch … I suppose I wouldn’t want my boss at work finding this blog, especially considering how many hours I spend on it while I’m at work. And while there are many of these entries I’ve written that I would send to my mother, I wouldn’t particularly wish her to find it, either – though, my family being what it is (completely non-confrontational) I’d probably never know she’d run across it.

I would never want to get an email from Callie with her comments about what I’ve said about her on this blog (note to self: when are you going to get around to password protecting the old Callie entries?). I don’t actually know for sure whether or not Callie knows about this blog. My logical self says yes, of course she does, how could she not; but, on the other hand, I can’t imagine she wouldn’t have mentioned it. I guess we had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing going on.

I’m really open about this stuff – sex, gender, relationships – and most people in my life know that I write here. I used to keep it much more of a secret, but as it’s been developing from a personal journal blog to a more thorough non-ficiton-essay blog, I share it more and more. Plus, I spend so much time on it, I like to talk about it and bounce ideas around.

Nostalgia for the Butch/Femme Dynamic

Sometimes I hear people say they wish they lived in the 50s and 60s so they could experience the butch/femme dynamic, or they “miss” it even. Team Gina has that line in their song: “Sometimes I miss the butch/femme dynamic / ’cause only girls in carharts make me panic.” When I think about it, it’s kind of odd, coming from a couple of twenty-something girls. It’s an interesting sort of nostalgic feeling for a time that we didn’t actually witness.

Can you really miss something you didn’t actually live through? Seems like there’s a better word for it than “miss” or “nostalgia,” because it’s actually longing for another time. But it’s deeper than that – it’s a historical connection to that time, an inhereted lineage that I really do miss and sometimes long for.

Though the gender revolution/s that are currently happening – especially around butch/femme – are a resurrection of something of the past, maybe it’s actually more more accurate to call it something new – a similar idea resurfacing in a new way.

I certainly didn’t grow up with any sort of model of the butch/femme dynamic, not in my own family – where actually there was a strong rejection of gender roles, falling on the not-rare 70s feminist argument that gender inequality is based on gender difference and gender expression. And yet, I feel connected to the butch/femme dynamic, I feel like a part of it, both currently and along some sort of historical axis.

I’ve been reading Riki Wilchin’s book Queer Theory, Gender Theory lately, and one of her major arguments (so far) is that gender activism got pushed out of both the feminist and gay liberation movements of the mid-1900s because of the ways that the conservative right backlash was using gender deviation as personal attacks against the people in the movements. Now that both of those movements have come so far, and been so successful, we are finally able to unearth this genderphobia that has been prevalent all along and attempt some activism around that.

What’s interesting about that to me is the ways that genderqueerness had to go underground, hidden, shameful, through these liberation movements, and now we – quite often it’s the folks like me, twenty-something, queer, children of the revolution movements of the 60s and 70s – are picking up the torch in our own, new way. And hell, the gender revolution happening seems more radical now than that butch/femme nostalgic time for which some of us long – look at the trans movement, the trans rights, the genderqueer and intersexual activism and knowledge that is getting more and more mainstreamed.

Review: Mia-Z (harness)

The Mia-Z Harness by Outlaw Leather, out of Seattle.

I’ll entice you with the one key little detail here, then you should head on over to Eden Fantasys and read my full review.

Here’s the thing about this harness. It’s gorgeous & comfortable, and you can strap a cock on, la la la, just like you usually would, but then … then? The way the front leather triangle is built, you can add a second cock that will slip right inside the harness wearer (assuming the wearer is female bodied).

It’s like an instant double, with any of the two cocks you choose.

I discount my own penetration pretty easily … but this reminded me how different orgasms are when my own cunt has something to grip.

Take a look at more photos, specs, and my full review …

be a gay Santa!

An acquaintance of mine sent this on to me, she is going to be playing Santa at Sylvia’s Place Homeless Youth Shelter again this year, and they need donated gifts for queer youth.

If you want to be a Gay Santa, they’ll send you a “dear santa” letter from one of the youth, and then you an drop off or mail the gift with their name on it back to the shelter. if you’ve got the means, it sounds like a really fun process to be a part of! I’m excited to participate.

More information about Sylvia’s Place: We provide emergency shelter to homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City. A 2006 report from the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force estimates that a third of homeless youth identify as LGBT. In New York City, this means that something like 8,000 to 10,000 youth are without shelter every night. This has led many to refer to this as an “epidemic” of homelessness among LGBTQ youth. Find out more…

Gay Santa wrote:

Happy Holidays from Sylvia’s Place Homeless Youth Center! We are hoping you will consider being a ‘Gay Santa’ this year.

To participate, send us your postal mailing address and you will be sent a “Dear Santa” letter from a homeless young person asking for a gift. Wrapped gifts, labeled with the young person’s name, can be mailed or dropped off at the shelter: Metropolitan Community Church , 446 W 36th st, NYC NY 10018

Our goal is to make sure each of our young people receive a gift this Christmas. With your support, we know this goal will become a reality.

Many thanks and warm holiday wishes,

Kate Barnhart, Director
MCCNY/Homeless Youth Services
446 W 36th St, NYC NY 10018

Top 10 things I love about being gay

  1. There’s that whole fucking women thing. Yeah, I like that.

  2. It challenges all sorts of compulsory hegemonic systems and encourages new ways of acceptance, tolerance, living, and loving

  3. The community! We have such fighters, artists, activists, lovers – I love our arts and culture, our philosophies, our theories

  4. Drag kings, drag queens, and queer burlesque

  5. That we are a lineage of kisses; because we do not inheret our legacies through our blood-related families, we must claim our heritage through our desire, love, play, and kisses

  6. Getting over the “ick factor” – which is what I’d call a lesbian’s aversion to men (and masculinity) or a gay boy’s aversion to women (and femininity) – and creating alignments with all sorts of genders within the queer spectrum

  7. The synthesis of feminism, gender, and sexual revolution

  8. The brilliance and hilarity of our (mainstream) queer celebrities – Ellen, k.d., Harvey Feirstein, John Waters, George Michael, Jenny Shimitzu, Rosie – and our media – Better than Chocolate, But I’m a Cheerleader, Bound, Queer as Folk, Brokeback Mountain, Will & Grace … and dozens more. They really are forging through.

  9. The Pride Parade & Dyke March. Stonewall. Knowing where I come from. Honoring traditions, and making new ones

  10. I do have a great toaster oven from all those young’uns I’ve converted …

"Lesbians found guilty … "

I don’t usually post about news or current event type of things, but I’ve been following this story since it started and I’m really sad about it today:Lesbians found guilty of attacking a straight man: their lawyer said, “These are seven decent and nice young women who came into the city to have a good time. They were hit upon by an abusive homophobic man. Now they’re all going to state prison.”We are, still, not safe.

If you do click through that link – which I thought to be a rather sympathetic telling of the sentencing, on the girls’ side – watch out for the comments at the bottom. I am actually really shocked: “They deserve what they got.” and “They deserve to go to prison for a long time. Good riddance.” and “guess what, you poor little girls, you can’t stab people!” and “why weren’t they charged with hate crimes?”

Oh, god, it’s just heartbreaking.

They weren’t charged with hate crimes because hate crimes are intended to protect minorities. It goes along with the argument for “reverse discrimination” – such a thing, in my opinion, which does not and can not actually exist, because the consequences to descrimination against someone in the majority are very, very slight, are not institutionally implimented into society, and have very little to do with systemic disadvataging of the marginalized.

Homophobic attacks on the street are terrifying, and have real, serious, current, deadly consequences. These slurs that the man was yelling to the group of women, they were not “just words” and “harmless,” they have serious consequences, serious reprodcussions in a homophobic, heteronormative society such as ours.

Queers need protection, and sometimes need – NEED – to fight back. I don’t think they should have stabbed that man; I am a pacifist and believe seriously in non-violence, but we weren’t there – we don’t know – he could have been so threatening that they needed to physically defend/protect themselves.

I am really sad for those girls. It makes me want to take action, act up, do something in a way that few events in the gay activism realm have recently.

This is why I watch Boston Legal. I haven’t kept up with this season (I wait for the DVDs), but if they haven’t already, I really hope they use this incident.

I won’t even begin to mention the whole partial-birth abortion/Supreme Court news, or the Virginia Tech shooting, or that CNN released all the videos and letters of the shooter, that has also been hitting the fan in the past few days. Any god, anywhere, help us all.

"Queer butch" does not equal "lesbian"

I’ve mentioned this before, I think, but: I am a performance poet. I write, and perform around New York City usually a few times a month; I’m involved in a writing group and a book group. I take this pursuit very seriously.So, as such, I have a bio that I use to describe myself; the first line describes me as a “queer butch writer,” specifically.

A few weeks back, I was asked to be a judge for a state-wide performance poetry competition for high school students that is happening this Thursday. I’m not going into the details (not that you probably couldn’t find it, or that this won’t totally reveal myself) but that they are high school students is relevant, because the coordinators for this event asked me, after receiving my bio, to “tone down” the language so as not to be potentially misunderstood, potentially inviting problems from the “upstate and rural” New Yorkers who are “not as tolerant as we are down in the city.”

One woman actually said, I kid you not, “I mean, I don’t have a problem with it – I have LOTS of gay friends.” Which, though she was trying to comfort me, is a really horrible thing to say. Of course! It is never YOU who is oppressing ME specifically – it’s all those other people, ruining the fun for everyone.

Plus: she is implying that, if I called myself a queer butch, and IF someone was offended for whatever reason, there would be reason to be afraid. That that person would be RIGHT to be offended. That they could create a LEGITIMATE complaint that would potentially damage the organization.

If that’s not true, the organization would be strong enough to stand up and say, no, actually, this isn’t a problem, there is nothing wrong with someone calling themselves a queer butch, and if you have a problem, that’s your fucken problem.

But: I really want to participate in this. I really want to go, network, be a visible queer butch for these high school kids.So I agreed to change the word “queer” and emailed my revised bio back, leaving in the word “butch” – i.e. “self-defined butch lesbian writer” – explaining that gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things, that I’ve worked hard to claim this word and that I feel it is integral and important to my identity and my self-definition.

But, no go: “we are still really afraid that [the word butch] has the potential to be misinterpreted by some of the attendees. We completely understand that the word has significant and special meaning for you, but we’re afraid that it won’t mean the same thing to others and that it might have the potential for causing a backlash from a parent or teacher.”

I sat on it over the weekend, and toyed with ways I could be subversive and still participate in this competition. Wear a work shirt that says “butch” on the patch. Get “butch” tattooed on my foreheard. Include “marginalized freak lesbian writer” in my bio.

“Queer butch” does not equal “lesbian” — and that is exactly the point. Exactly one of the reasons why I call myself those words. POWER.

And? It’s a POETRY competition. This entire event is all about words, and they are asking (telling?) me to change mine. To choose words that are less scary so their homophobic uptight audience and participants don’t have to be shaken in their little privileged suburban worlds. That is the entire point of my poetry, of my artistic fucken mission even.

I suppose, under all the frustration and hurt cracking feeling in my chest, this is reminding me why I do this kind of work, why I want to be visibly queer, why I want to use words like butch and dyke and cunt and queer, words that have power. This is exactly why I need to go to that competition, to walk in and LOOK like a queer butch dyke and then talk and sound like an articulate, emotional, thoughtful POET.

Because I seek to be a bridge. I want to become suspended between worlds, create new pathways over which to travel.

And, actually? THAT – being a bridge – may even be my more powerful, stronger artistic mission than what I just mentioned about shaking things up. Those two things do go together, I think, despite seeming to contradict, and I seek to do them both.

I’m working on a formal letter, conceding the point because I want to participate but officially stating my position in protest, but meanwhile, I have agreed to let my bio be changed to describe myself as a “lesbian writer.”

I hope they won’t be disappointed when I, a queer butch, show up.