identity politics, Interviews

John Gagon: Butch Mini-Interview

John Gagon, data application programmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

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