Do Your Little Turn on the (Fall) Catwalk

Kiddos, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that it’s thiiis close to being Fall, AKA the Season Superior to All Others (an indisputable fact). I’m also thiiis to moving into my new apartment located in a very gay-friendly neighborhood. The bad news is that I’m still in the fray of the packing/cleaning/sobbing-quietly-while-rocking-back-and-forth-in-a-corner phase of moving and I don’t have the time/mental fortitude for a proper post this week. I’m very sorry and will buy you all flowers to apologize once I become rich.

The post that I originally planned for this week (now postponed til next week) was about fall fashion – specifically, butch fall fashion, as I am butch and really don’t understand the mysterious trinkets and baubles that they sell in the women’s side of stores. I was going to take pictures of my autumnal wardrobe additions thus far, but I forgot and now they’re all packed up in boxes and bags with the rest of my life, so that’ll have to wait.

But wait, there’s more good news! In a fit of magnanimity, I’ve decided that it doesn’t have to be all about me all of the time (just, you know, most of the time). So instead of next week’s post focusing just on my style, I want to hear about your fall fashion choices as well. Butch or femme or somewhere in between, share your best fall clothing, accessories, or entire outfits. Pics are greatly encouraged! You can also email me your chic suggestions at prufrock1019@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter. Next week, I’ll put everything together and we’ll have ourselves one hell of a good-lookin’ new post.

Now, werq!

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What I Did on My Butch Appreciation Day

Well folks, another cherished holiday has come and gone. No, I’m not talking about National Spumoni Day (the Italian part of my heritage is very disappointed that I needed to Google “spumoni”). I mean, of course, International Butch Appreciation Day! This is actually the first year I’ve heard of this joyous occasion (is this the first year it’s existed?) and I’m completely honored/stoked that we butches have finally earned our own holiday, placing us in the elite company of “molded Italian ice cream made with layers of different colors and flavors, usually containing candied fruits and nuts.” So, I thought it would be fun to share with you all how I celebrated – or rather, was appreciated on – this special day.

My one and only complaint about Butch Appreciation Day is that it fell on a Thursday. Since I have a Big Person Job where I’m expected to work during the day or something ridiculous like that, there wasn’t much time for celebrations on August 18th. The GF and I caught a screening of Play in the Gray, a documentary about Boston-based drag and cabaret troupe All the Kings Men. I highly recommend seeing this, especially if you’re a gender-nonconformist like me (read more about my thoughts on Play in the Gray and drag on Diffuse 5). We topped off the evening by chatting up fellow Boston queer scene members and then going out for sushi (insert obligatory “lesbians love raw fish” joke here).

To make up for the lack of time on actual Butch Appreciation Day, we decided to move the main event to this past weekend. You see, my GF knows the not-so-secret path to my heart, which runs directly through my stomach. So naturally, the best way to appreciate this butch is through copious amounts of delicious food. And man, was I ever appreciated. Warning: the following images will make you desperately wish it were closer to lunch:

Homemade baked macaroni and cheese. I'm somewhat of a mac and cheese connoisseur, though the kind I make for myself comes in two packets (pasta and dried neon yellow powder) and is ready to eat in three minutes. This beauty took about an hour and involved using an oven and other advanced technology that I have yet to master.

 
Anybody that knows me knows that two of my greatest loves in this world are dessert and comic books. For Butch Appreciation Day, my GF took the “kill-two-birds-with-one-baking-pan” approach and made me Marvel superhero banana cakelets with cream cheese frosting, using this ingenious invention from Williams-Sonoma. Behold, true believers, Earth’s Mightiest Sugar High:
 

Dessert, assemble! Clockwise, from the top left: Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor

Pretty awesome, huh? She even kept me out of trouble let me express my creative side with the extra cake batter and frosting. The results of my decorating experiments were a bit more, um, avant-garde:

These heart, star, and moon cakes represent the futility of modern human existence.

As you can see, I had a pretty amazing Butch Appreciation Day/Weekend. Now, I want to hear about yours! Butches, how were you appreciated last week? Femmes, what did you do for the butch(es) in your life, and what’s on your Femme Appreciation Day wishlist? Share your stories (and photos, please!) in the comments.

Dear My Boobs, We Need to Talk

The following is an open letter to two of my longest-term companions, Right Boob (“RB”) and Left Boob (“LB”).

Dear RB and LB,

Hey guys. How are you doing? It’s been a while since the last time we really talked (maybe right before our most recent awkward gyno appointment?), and there’s a few things that I’ve really been meaning to discuss with you.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but you two have come up in quite a few conversations lately. My online butch network and I have been swapping a lot of advice about bra shopping, binding, and generally dealing with our chests. I even was interviewed in a video by The Bois Department where I (in somewhat tipsy form) explained my feelings about you two.

I hope my bluntness doesn’t come across too harshly. It’s true that our interactions have been a bit, um, uncomfortable for some time now. I mean, if you had a Facebook profile, our relationship would probably be listed as “it’s complicated.” Even so, you do know that I want you around, right? I do. I just have a funny way of showing it.

You see, RB and LB, there are many times when your presence is absolutely invaluable. These occasions typically take place in a bedroom, but they’ve also been known to pop up in a shower, on a living room sofa, and occasionally, even on a dining room table. You know exactly what I mean. These are moments when you are appreciated, celebrated, even loved. Believe you me, I try to make these moments happen as often as possible.

But there are other times when, well… I don’t know how to say this in a more gentle way, so here it is: Sometimes, my boobs, you’re really embarrassing to have around.

It’s not that there’s something wrong with you. There isn’t! In fact, I’ve been told by kindly femmes that you are both actually quite nice. Not to bust out a tired phrase, but it’s not you, it’s me. You and I, we’re just too different. I take such pride in my masculinity; it’s incredibly important for my butchness to be seen, recognized, respected. And I just feel that, with you two around, that’s sometimes difficult.

I mean, look at yourselves. You’re so…feminine. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. You know how much I love femininity. I cherish it, just…not as a part of me. I’m so afraid that, if people see me with you, they might not also see my butchness. What if they think that, because you’re so feminine, I also must be feminine by association? What if your presence erases mine?

You’ve probably noticed the lengths that I go to to make it look like we’re not together. I’m sorry that my bras have gotten so much more restraining. I’m sorry that I feel the need to mask your presence under baggy clothes. I’m sorry that sometimes I’m so unhappy to walk by a mirror and, despite my best camouflaging efforts, to see you so plainly in it.

I know you think that I hate you, but I don’t. I just don’t know what to do with you sometimes, my boobs. I don’t know how to make us work in a way that doesn’t shame me or hurt you (and I know those tight sports bras can hurt like hell). But I’m trying, I swear. I’m trying. Just stick with me, ok? Not that you really have any choice.

Love,

Bren

Let’s Talk About Sex (Some More)

Hey there, pervs! This is just a quick note to let you all know that the Beaver Whisperer is once again available to solve all your sexiest problems. There’s no topic too taboo, no query too kinky, and no mess too sticky for the Beaver Whisperer! Send all your butch-femme love makin’ questions to bcb.beaverwhisperer@gmail.com, then keep checking back here at Buzz Cuts and Bustiers for some family-unfriendly answers.

Keeping with that sexy, sexy theme, look for a post later this week about boobs. Specifically, my boobs and my Feelings about said boobs. Everybody likes talking about boobs, amirite? Hooray for boobies!

P.S. Boobs.

Queer Family Means Nobody Gets Left Behind

The concept of family has been on my mind a lot lately. As some of you already know, I had a pretty rough visit with my parents a couple of weekends back. I’ve been out to them for quite some time now, but I still never really know if or when the We-Don’t-Approve-Of-Your-Lifestyle beast will rear its ugly head. That weekend, it was on a full-blown rampage.

Though I’m in my mid-twenties and I know logically that they can’t actually do a damn thing to me, the wrath of my parental units – especially my mother – is still something I dread. The topic of this blowout? My hair. My oh-so-butch hair. It seems that my parents hate my hair even more than they hate my gayness (which they also hate a whole lot), because to them, it means I’m “trying to be a man.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Hetero World, it’s that failing to conform to your societal gender expectations – being a “manly” woman or a “girly” man – is a dire sin, even if it didn’t make the official Top Ten.

When mainstream society is feeling charitable and decides to allow dykes some space in which to exist, this space is always reserved for the “hot” lesbians. You know exactly what that means: the ones who look like straight women (or, if this is porn or pop music we’re talking about, actually are straight women). There is absolutely no room for butch or genderqueer dykes in this teensy little space, because like most things in our society, human value is determined by The Male Gaze. Basically, if straight cis men don’t want to fuck you and you don’t want to fuck them, you don’t even exist; when you do somehow manage to exist, you’re a punchline, the subject of ridicule, disgust, or violence. This is not to suggest that my femme sisters don’t experience their own version of cultural erasure, because they sure as hell do. I mean, nobody’s ever accused me of not being a “real” lesbian, or assumed I’d be up for a threesome with some douchebag and his girlfriend, or said I was just waiting for the right dick to come around. From where I’m standing, the Male Gaze views femmes as something to conquer, while viewing butches as something to destroy.

So, back to my family. It’s become very clear to me that my greatest failings as a daughter revolve around my uterus. My uterus will never produce grandbabies the way that my parents believe grandbabies should be produced. My uterus will never be draped in a wedding dress (or any dress, for that matter) and walk down the aisle next to a pair of testicles, on the way to produce grandbabies. My uterus will grow old inside a body that doesn’t have a use for it, a body that has no interest in all the things my mother’s Cosmo magazines think it should care about. Don’t talk to my parents about adoption. Don’t talk to them surrogates. Don’t talk to them about artificial insemination. None of this fits into their grand-grandbaby-making scheme of things. Nope, all they see is a daughter who wants to be a son (except, I don’t actually) and is too embarrassing to bring around their coworkers or elderly family who “would have a heart attack” at the sight of my uncompromising butchness. So it is.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty craptastic after such an emotionally combative weekend. So what did I, the modern, socially-networked lesbian, do to cheer myself up? I tweeted, naturally. I sent out a few “FML”-style tweets, mostly to distract myself from the crazy around me. I never expected what happened next. My email lit up with tweets and messages from so many of my followers, offering support, solidarity, anecdotes about their own homophobic relatives, and even personal phone numbers to call.

I was completely floored. I never could have anticipated such an outpouring of kindness from people I’ve never even met before. Full disclosure: I got a little weepy (I’m secure enough in my masculinity to admit that). It was just…incredible.

All this brought to mind a line from one of my favorite Disney movies (I’m also secure enough to admit this), Lilo & Stitch. In it, a little Hawaiian girl named Lilo explains the meaning of family to her furry talking space alien buddy (makes perfect sense). “Ohana means family,” says Lilo. “Family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.”

LGBT people often find shelter in their chosen family – the friends and community we create in the vacuum of biological family support. We lift each other up, calm each other down, and generally do all the things that a family is meant to do. And so to my queer ohana, I’d just like to say: thank you.

The Spirit of Stonewall and a Glass of Jack

I’ve sure you all spent the weekend obsessively refreshing the Buzz Cuts and Bustiers homepage, rending your garments and screaming at the sky, “WHERE, OH WHERE IS PART TWO OF BREN’S NYC GAYCATION?!” Well dear readers, your long national nightmare is over – here it is!

As I mentioned before, one of the must-dos of my trip was visiting the Stonewall Inn, the little bar that launched a thousand Pride marches. What I didn’t mention was how awful my timing is. I somehow managed to arrive at 53 Christopher Street about four hours before it opened. I don’t know why I assumed it would just be open whenever I showed up, just waiting for me to grace it with my presence, but I was quite wrong. Needless to say, I never got that drink, but I did get some awesome pictures of the outside and of the Gay Liberation Monument across the street in Christopher Square Park.

Where it all began. Note the faded Dorothy dress in the window. The Stonewall Riots took place after the death of Judy Garland, and legend has it that grief over her passing helped fan the flames of rebellion. We just really love our showtunes, OK?
The Gay Liberation Monument, sculpted by George Segal. Originally approved in 1982, it wasn’t installed until 1992 due to public opposition. Not gonna lie – this monument made me a bit misty-eyed.
 

Standing in front of the Stonewall was a very powerful experience, because I’m sentimental like that. I really do believe that it’s the responsibility of the community – especially us younger gays – to remember and honor our history. The freedoms that we enjoy today, as well as the freedoms that we’ll enjoy in the future (there are many battles left to fight and win), are all possible because a group of queens, queers, and outlaws got tired of being pushed around and decided to push back. I hope we and the generations to come after us keep the spirit of Stonewall alive by continuing to push back.

By the way, if you’re already planning for next year’s Pride (I am), Christopher Street is a great place to go for rainbow-colored everything. Two words: Rainbow. Tie. Also, there’s a sex toy shop roughly every three feet and a costume/leather shop roughly every five. It’s pretty much the gay Champs-Élysées.

The third goal of my Big City Adventure was to visit a full-time dyke bar. My beloved Boston, great as it may be in other aspects, is shamefully lacking an all-gay-all-the-time space for women. Sure, we have our weekly bar nights and monthly club events, but it’s just not enough. So I was pretty excited when I arrived at Ginger’s, a gay lady watering hole (heh) in Park Slope.

I’m not really sure what I expected to find inside Ginger’s. Maybe I hoped to find a crowd of weathered butches and old school femmes – the characters from Stone Butch Blues, basically – ready to take me, a newcomer, under their wings. What I did find was, well, what one would probably find in any local bar on a rainy Tuesday evening: a handful of regulars – all couples – who were there for an after-work drink and had no interest in talking to a stranger. Granted, it was early; I’m told that anytime before 11:00 is early in New York, even on a work night. The Puritan last-call-by-2 AM Boston bar scene has ruined me.

I ordered my Jack on the rocks from the cheerful gay male bartender (who didn’t card me) and took a seat at a small table. As time passed, I made fleeting eye contact with a few patrons, but that was the extent of my human interaction. I began to wonder how pathetic I looked, sitting alone in the corner, nursing my drink and glancing around furtively. I must have appeared to be, at best, desperate and single, and at worst, an alcoholic (for the record, I’m none of the above).

One thing that did make me smile was the stud/femme couple playing pool together in the next room. I love coming across any butch/femme or stud/femme pairs when I’m out and about, and these two were pretty damn adorable.

Anyway, after I had finished catching up with my buddy Jack, I left Ginger’s and headed back to the hotel. Even though my visit hadn’t gone exactly as planned (but when does anything in life?), I was still glad I had gone and given some money to help save the endangered species known as the Gay Bar.

My time in NYC was brief, but the knowledge and images I collected while I was there will stay with me for a very long time. And I’m totally going back to Stonewall for Pride next summer, to raise a glass to our rich gay hi/herstory. Cheers!