essays, identity politics

To the femmes on whom I’ve crushed this past year

If you think I’m not kicking myself for not making a move when I had the chance, you’re wrong.

I wish I made a move. Although really, I wish I had had the capacity to make a move. Explain it through the spoon theory, call it the grieving process, call it heartbreak, call it post-poly trauma and fear—whatever it was, I was not in the place to play, fuck, open myself up, make an offer, make a move, or hell, sometimes even flirt. I wish I had been.

These past eighteen months, there were moments my life continued on without me, me being pulled along behind the autopilot me who somehow managed to eat and sleep (no small feat). Sometimes, I had no idea you, beautiful kick-ass femme, were there, making a move on me, giving me The Eyes, putting yourself out there. Sometimes, three months later I found your email in my inbox and felt puzzled, where’d that come from? Why didn’t I even see that before? Wtf? Sometimes, I got so excited and turned on and pleased to receive an offer from you, and I plotted scripted wrote schemed what I would say back, and by the time I actually went to reply, it’d been too long and the connection felt broken.

Time is wonky in grief, in heartache. I wanted to be in an open poly playful place, and so I think sometimes I came across that way. But in retrospect, I was more shell than soul, more fear than fire. I couldn’t bring myself to our interactions—maybe you didn’t know. I didn’t know, either. Rather than defend myself, I just want to tell you that our moments, whatever we had, were special to me, and let you know that I wished I’d been there with my whole self instead of the half-ghost version you got of me.

To D:

Who took me out on a walk and talked so sweet of flowers and foliage, who held my cheek so gently in your palm before we kissed. Who wrote me a tender-hearted letter that broke my heart a little with kindness. Thank you.

To N:

Who fed me the most amazing wine and cheese and pot and smiles (that way your eyes smoke your lips part velvet you toss your bangs), you nourished me when I was incredibly dark. I’m sorry I didn’t know it better at the time. I still feel I owe you an apology. I still think of your hair falling in my face and on my skin, and how your lips felt when you whispered in my ear. Birds and photographs and more wine, and I hope you found an amazing place in New York to shine your gifts.

To A:

Your legs for miles and the way you move, your laugh and quick wit and ease. We’ve basically co-topped, more than once even, and when you made it clear you wanted to play (I think your text said, “I’d like to suck your cock,” thank you for being direct) I froze. Saw you the next day and neither of us spoke on it. Didn’t even text you back until later. In another context, I would’ve begged for the chance. I still feel like a dunce for that one. I’ve learned so much about poly watching your relationship(s) from a friendly far, and I admire how you play and hold people in such high respect. I can’t wait to see you perform again. The way you move your body … I can’t take my eyes off of you.

To C:

And your curls and handfuls of ass and knee socks and drag act. I still have your dirty story in my inbox and I feel stupid for not writing you back. I hope that wasn’t our only chance to play, because I can fuck better than that. Maybe someday I’ll work up the courage to ask you if I can prove it.

To J:

My beautiful (temporary) canvas, thank you for letting me mark you up, paint bruises and scratches and teeth marks into your gorgeous skin. And thank you for the photos after, they came at a time where it helped to be reminded of my own power, and the ways stunning creatures like you will sometimes allow me to borrow some of yours.

To T:

My fellow judge, the only one who asked me about my pronoun, the one I knew was ‘my people,’ particularly when you dipped your head just a little and then egged me on in writing: “And then what happened?” I barely remember the dirty fairy tale we started to tell, but maybe sometime we’ll get to finish it.

To D:

A kind of femme I almost don’t recognize in writing, but I recognized your markers. I recognized you in person. Your ferocity calls me still. I wish I’d had time energy spoons spunk to write you languid sexy stories you would read over your tea, slitting open the envelope with a dirty knife. I’m intimidated by your politics and youth and clarity. I ache to think of your mouth, my hands on your skin. How will I get another chance? I hope to be more ready when I do.

To L:

And perfect crisp white hotel sheets, and joints in the park, and your lipstick that never came off, and the way your hair looked in curls on the pillow in the mornings, and how much I wanted to stay sequestered with you, and your patience empathy understanding holding, and your gentle fist, and your heart-shaped mouth, and your jeans on the grass by the airport. I got a piece of myself back because of that weekend, a piece I didn’t know I was missing. Watching your hands speak I remembered those words I’ve hidden deep, wondered if you were speaking to those places when you slid inside me. I have already mailed you a dozen little ‘thinking of you’ packages in my mind, but in reality I have had no follow through. (Not just with this. With everything. Unopened mail unpaid bills unorganized paper.) I know you understand grief. Do you also understand how much I am grateful for you taking your time with me? How rare it has been for me to let someone explore those inner canyons? Thank you for being strong enough to offer to hold me, and for letting me return the exploration of your own folded in secrets. I want more of you, want to fist your hair again, bruise your knees against the floor, hold you down. Want to kiss your ankles and make an offering on my knees, though nothing really compares to what you gave me when you plucked me out of my chest and handed me back to myself. Thank you.

And to you:

You who attended my workshop in Noho or DC or Seattle or Chicago. I noticed your eyes, the way you bit your lip, how you looked me up and down, how you checked out my package, how you waited your turn and didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to say either. There is often a performer/audience teacher/student power dynamic I try not to exploit (unless, you know, I have permission). But let me be clear here, now: I noticed you. Fuck, I wanted you. My mouth watered at that glimpse of your skin. Maybe I was particularly worked up that night before I even arrived, but more than once I didn’t wait to get back to my hotel before remembering your mouth and twinkle and just-barely-too-long of a glance, and I got myself off. Coming with a grunt and a sigh in a stalled bathroom, keeping someone waiting, licking off my fingers and thinking of your lips.

At another time, in a different year when I was not so lost, I would have tried to ask, to flirt, to be bold, to make it clear I was game if you were, to have boundaries, to ask for yours, to try things, to write you back, to be curious, to connect, to feel our hearts beat together (if only temporarily). I may have missed my chance, but I still want you to know that I think you’re extraordinary, and whoever did get the chance to feel your fingertips roam, to taste your skin shined with sweat, to read the book of your scars, to hear your breathing shallow and release, to be anchored down by your weight, was lucky. I barely know you, but it seems clear to me that you are luminous.

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.

21 thoughts on “To the femmes on whom I’ve crushed this past year”

  1. Tracy says:

    I am very envious of these fellow femmes..but I’m glad that you felt such a connection from each experience.. Loved this post.

  2. TK says:

    I believe in works in progress. In reading a chapter and putting the book down for later. In foreshadowing. I also believe in waiting to see if the time is right, and if not, remembering passed notes and giggling and blushing. XO.

  3. Ash says:

    I am not one of the Femmes to whom you’re writing here…but this post makes me wish I were. Sending thoughts of calm and health. <3

  4. femme says:

    Oh, my. This was lovely, and very sexy. I wish more people would write about their crushes like this.

    1. femme says:

      And I second (third?) their sentiments. Ha!

  5. Claire says:

    Though this wasn’t directed at me, it made me feel happy all the same. Thanks for starting my day with a smile. :)

  6. JacksofHearts says:

    Gorgeous. I love the way you love femmes. (I love them too, in a wonderfully confusingly intimidating do-I-want-to-be-you-or-fuck-you sort of way.)

  7. Lyn says:

    Who wouldn’t love to be seen as luminous for someone? I know I would! Lucky femmes, and somehow, I’d be willing to bet they know it, and agree that they are lucky, despite the missed connections.

  8. Ashley says:

    Lovely, indeed. Thank you for hitting publish, they’re each beautiful in their own way.

  9. clarkeroyale says:

    Oh God, Sin! I feel like one of those lovely women.

    Those glancing connections are so important – i forget sometimes how deep they go and how meaningful they can be. It is good to remember and honour them.


  10. Staci says:

    The last couple weeks I have wanted to comment. I haven’t. Why? Spoons. Thank you so very much for the link to The Spoon Theory. I have not known how to explain it to myself or those around me what my daily life is like. Thank you for the words.

    I read. Every word. Every post. For 4+ years now. Thank you. You truly do not know how or when something you write will change someone’s life.

    In regards to the rest of the above words. Just beautiful.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Sinclair says:

      Thanks Staci—very glad I could introduce you to that concept! A handful of folks I know who do ability activism stuff use it often, but I think it applies to everybody really. We can all relate. And sometimes I have more spoons than others for sure. This past year, grieving has left me so spoonless.

      Haha it sounds kind of silly to use in sentences like that, but it’s such a good shorthand.

      And thank you for reading for so long :)

  11. Jane says:

    I’m not one of the femmes to whom this is directed, but I feel like I should thank you, anyway. Thank you. This felt like a love letter to queer femmes as much as a crush letter to D, N, A, C, J, T, D, and L.

    I’ve been reading sugarbutch for a long time — since it was new, maybe? I don’t comment often because we don’t know each other, and I don’t want to be presumptuous. I’m sure there are many readers like me. We’re out here.

  12. every femme on earth says:

    oh man, did i ever need that. while i’m sure none of this is directed at me, it’s so delightfully vague at the end that we all get to pretend. thank you.

  13. Made me *sniffle* – this is so tender & precious, dear one.

  14. Annie Anthony says:

    Beautiful. Powerful.

  15. Heather says:

    Sorry you were in a dark place. I have to admit that I’ve been in a fairly similar place myself, as of late. But I’m glad that you are coming out of it. I’m glad that you’re looking back and seeing the missed opportunities. It means you’re healing.

    Your letters were beautiful.

    And damn if I didn’t wish I was the girl who attended your workshop!!

  16. SB says:

    Yes yes yes yes yes! Love it.

  17. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. It seems to me as though while you may feel your life was on auto pilot you still took a moment to enjoy your journey. That really is what is most important.


  18. Ms. Cat says:


Leave a Reply