Update on Butch Voices Boston Community Conversation

Is it really, truly, honestly almost February? Sweet gay Jesus, where does the time go?? Life has been a flurry of planning, partying, and general queerness lately, so my sincerest apologies for being such an absentee blogger. I promise I will put up an actual respectable post on here soon, but for the moment, I want to give you all an update on the Butch Voices Boston Community Conversation on February 16th.

First off, slots are filling up fast! The room caps at 50, so get on the guest list ASAP! Here’s the event on Facebook, but please also RSVP all official-like by sending an email with your name and contact information with “Boston” in the subject line to: registration@BUTCHVoices.com.

Secondly, BIG NEWS ZOMG: We now have an OFFICIAL Boston Community Conversation after-party! Join us for a mixer and dance party at One Night Stand, Boston’s newest – and hottest – queer club night. (The first ever One Night Stand was a massive success last month, hurrah!) If you’ll be in town and want to check out the action, make sure to sign up ahead of time on the VIP list for half-priced cover. Just tell ’em ButchBoi Life sent ya.

And last but not least, I hope to see many of your smiling faces on the 16th, dear readers! This is the first ever event like this in Boston, so let’s make it a great one, team.

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2012 in Review: Thanks for the Memories

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 42,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 10 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

42,000 views?? Holy smokes! I’d like to extend a big, butch thanks to all for a banner year, dear readers. See you all in 2013 – let’s make it the best yet!

Dyke Events to Watch Out For: One Night Stand and BUTCH Voices Hits Boston

Happy Friday, dear readers – and Happy Hanukkah to all you lovely Jewish queers out there! I’m coming at ya today with not one, but TWO major announcements about upcoming events that I’m helping to organize. It is the season of giving, after all, and I’m about to give you a couple very good reasons to be in Boston this winter.

First off, following on the successful heels of our first butch-femme mixer, ButchBoi Life and MadFemmePride are joining forces once again to bring you a night of mingling, games, flirting, dancing, and the commitment-free debauchery that we are so skilled at: One Night Stand. A collaboration with DJ Jodi Entertainment, Studio A Entertainment, DJ Moxie, DJ Double D, Super Squirrel, Zurma Productions and Kristen Porter (of Dyke Night fame), One Night Stand will be at Who’s On First (19 Yawkey Way, Boston) on Saturday, January 19th from 8:00 PM to 2:00 AM. The evening begins with our butch-femme mixer from 8:00-9:00, then we’ll segue right into the epic dance party. The best part, besides the fact that yours truly will be there to greet you? It’s cheap! Sign up for the One Night Stand VIP list to receive a half-price cover at the door – and please be sure to check off ButchBoi Life in the “I heard about this event from” section.

In February, BUTCH Voices, ButchBoi Life, and the Boston University Queer Activists Collective are totally stoked to bring you BUTCH Voices Community Conversation: Boston edition on Saturday, February 16th from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM in The Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism at Boston University (775 Commonwealth Ave., Boston). A sure-to-be-amazing day of discussion panels and community building, the conference is free to attend; however, space is limited, so PLEASE RSVP by sending an email with your name, contact information, and “Boston” in the subject line to: registration@BUTCHVoices.com. We want to cover a wide range of topics that day and are still taking suggestions, so if there’s something that you think should be part of the conversation, leave it here in the comments or on the FB event page. If you’re in Boston and are interested in helping moderate sessions that day, that would also be pretty sweet and I’ll probably give you a hug/high five/fist bump to say thanks (depending on your preferred method of bro-ing out, of course).

So, in summary: Lots of great stuff on the horizon in 2013, I am insanely busy and insanely excited, and also you should probably move to Boston.

“Sir” for the Holidays

There is nothing unique about what I’m about to say. I am not the first queer person to have an awkward relationship with her heterosexual parents. I am not the first masculine-of-center female person to be misgendered by strangers. And I am certainly not the first human person to dread going home for the holidays. I’ve heard stories much like the ones I’m sharing here time and time again, from community members near and far, in all the soul-bearing corners of the internet or painfully hip coffee shops or shabby Women’s Center living rooms where such conversations are born.

These stories are always delivered in that half-confessional, half-exaggerated eye roll sort of tone that serves well to turn painful things into good jokes. We queers are masters of that particular brand of humor. “My great aunt is going to ask me if I have a boyfriend yet. It’s a holiday tradition.” “I wish I could wear my new tie to Christmas dinner, but my mother would declare World War Three.” “The priest looks at me funny during Midnight Mass. Maybe I’ll give him a wink this year.” “Thank Gay Jesus for spiked eggnog.”

The mystery of the whole season is why we – or at least, I – keep going home for the holidays, despite the fact that “home” is now less “place where I grew up” and more “interrogation room decorated with tinsel.” Part of the reason is that, despite being a devout atheist, I love (secular) Christmas and will probably one day turn into a butch version of Clark Griswold, risking life and limb to staple 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights to my roof. I also love Thanksgiving because, I mean, food is my favorite.

The other part is that very famous and inaccurate “definition of insanity” – that is, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Maybe this year, there won’t be any fighting about my haircut. Maybe this year, my mother won’t start crying about never having grandkids. Maybe this year, I can finally wear that awesome tie. Somewhere deep in my brain, there is an unfinished Norman Rockwell painting of familial holiday bliss and I am, apparently, determined to get it framed.

Thankfully, I have over the years perfected my method for handling seasonal strife at my parents’ house (the key is to distract my mother right off the bat by asking about the latest drama in her workplace, thus ensuring that the conversation will have nothing to do with me for the remainder of that day; repeat for as many consecutive days as necessary). The real challenges are those in-public moments of awkwardness and, well, “Sir”-ing.

I’ve gotten so used to being mistakenly called Sir, Mr., Brother, Man, or any other testosterone-based honorific that I am actually more surprised when strangers get my gender right. Not that I enjoy being called “Ma’am” (which makes me feel like a spinster), or “Miss” (which makes me feel like school girl), but hey, at least those people are paying attention and are not completely unable to process the notion that one can be simultaneously masculine and female without rupturing the time-space continuum.

While my daily misgenderings are par for the course for me, they are a source of supreme humiliation for my mother. I’ll never forget one particularly torturous dinner out when the waiter, an older mustachioed man, referred to me as “Sir” for the duration of the two hour meal. This awkwardness was compounded by his compulsion to end every single sentence with either “Sir” or “Ma’am.” A solitary “Sir” could perhaps go unnoticed, but after the 20th one, neither my mother nor I could pretend we didn’t hear. My father, who is half-deaf, was blissfully unaware of this entire situation and enjoyed his meal while my mother’s face tried on every possible hue of red and I seriously considered escaping through the kitchen.

A few years ago, my parents decided that cooking a big meal was too much work for just the three of us, so we began having Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant. There are a few advantages to that plan for me. One: blowout arguments are discouraged in public settings. Two: No clean up. And three: While my parents have a dry house, the restaurant has a full bar. (Hello, pumpkin martini.) There is one big disadvantage: See above horror story. And so for me, Thanksgiving quickly replaced Christmas as Most Stressful Holiday Involving Family.

I started this past Thanksgiving dinner with a panic attack appetizer after discovering the restaurant’s tradition of giving each female diner a rose after dinner. Besides being sexist, antiquated, and just plain weird, this policy put me on edge because I knew that the peace (or lack thereof) of our drive home would be determined by whether or not I got one – that is, whether or not my mother was publicly embarrassed by her giant butch dyke offspring. Thus, I sat there sweating and wondering desperately if I would receive a rose that evening, like the weirdest Bachelor episode ever.

I was calmed somewhat by our waitress, who in her infinite grace and wisdom did not use a single honorific during the meal. She was also quite cute and thought I was funny (or at least, was paid handsomely enough to pretend to think I was funny). Nothing soothes frazzled nerves quite like a pretty girl laughing at your jokes.

The meal went by smoothly and gluttonously enough, and soon it was time to face the flowers. I had cobbled together a plan between bites of pie, but I would have to time it just right. While my parents were putting on their coats and the hostess, giver of roses, had her back turned, I slipped past them all and triumphantly held the door open.

Success! I had foiled the hostess’ insidious, gender-normative plans while simultaneously appearing to be well-mannered. My mother was none the wiser, as she had also missed the opportunity to be flowered, despite her extremely obvious womanhood, and my father was just happy that the biggest debate on the way home involved what to do with the leftovers. And so there was peace on that Thanksgiving evening. A temporary peace, as Christmas dinner looms larger on the calendar, but peace nonetheless.

Let’s all just take it one holiday at a time.

Update: I’ve Been Doing Stuff (Just Not Blogging Stuff)

Hey there, Cyberland! It’s been another long time no type. Maybe I should just start saving all my resolutions for the New Year, just to be safe, eh? Now that I’ve got you all listening to the RENT soundtrack (as if you weren’t already doing just that), I want to give you a quick update about something I’ve been working on that I am REALLY SUPER STOKED ABOUT. No, it’s not a blog post (though a legit one of those is coming very soon, Butch Scout’s Honor) – it’s a real live, in-person event for real, live persons!

As you may already know, I’m the co-founder of an organization in Boston known as ButchBoi Life that serves as a social club/support group for butches, studs, bois, and all masculine-of-center queer women. Mostly we have discussion group style meetings, but sometimes we put on “after hours” events. This time, we’ve teamed up with the lovely ladies of Mad Femme Pride to create the first of hopefully many mixers. Hooray for queer community building!

Our first mixer is next Saturday, the 8th from 12:00-2:00 PM at Sacco’s Bowl-Haven in Davis Square, Somerville. Come for the bowling, pizza, and libations; stay for all the ridiculously good-looking butches and femmes! Pretty nifty, eh? If you’re in the area, I sure hope you stop by and see my amusingly awful legendary bowling skills in action. You know you wanna…

Another thing: My favorite local queer book club is back and better than ever! Our next book will be Fingersmith. I’ve never read any Sarah Waters (I know, bad lesbian I am), but I did see the Tipping the Velvet miniseries. Her stuff is sexy, yes? I’m hoping it’ll be sexy enough to get me through the close to 600 pages in that book before mid-January. If you’re a fellow Boston area queer who also likes books and hanging out with other queers, leave me a message here and I’ll give you the deets about how to join the fun. Last meeting, there were cookies and eggnog. I’m just sayin’.

ANOTHER ‘nother thing: Queer Open Mic is still going strong! The next meeting is this coming Thursday, the 6th at 7:00 PM at Unity Somerville. I’ll be there, sharing whatever piece I manage to write for this blog next week, and so will be many crazy-talented queer writers, poets, and musicians (I almost typed “magicians,” which I WISH).

In summary: Boston is a really queer place and I love it. I also love you all, and that’s why I will buckle down and WRITE WRITE WRITE next week. Until then, have a good weekend and stay warm out there, kiddos.

Our Bodies, Our Binders: An Introduction to Chest Minimizing Magic

Hey, team! Remember how last week I promised I would keep you all posted about my Quest for the Holy Binder? Well, I think I’ve finally completed my mission – or, at the very least, I am satisfied enough with current results to rest on my laurels for a while.

Originally, I was just going to write about my own experiences with the magical “order, try on, get super frustrated, mail back/exchange, repeat” process known as binder shopping. In a fit of altruism, however, I decided that I should do what I can to help other butches/trans guys/gender-fuckers have a less stressful experience. As my version of “doing what I can” usually translates into “writing something for the internet,” I came up with a sort of Binding 101 post for my Diffuse 5 fashion column this week. Open your college ruled notebooks, kids, because class is in session:

Diffuse 5 Presents: Binding for Beginners

A New Beginning for Buzz Cuts and Bustiers

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” – T.S. Eliot

I struggled so long and so mightily over how to start this post that I finally had to turn the steering wheel over to an old friend who is much more eloquent than I will ever be. Thank you, Thomas.

As you all might have noticed (or at least, those of you who are still checking in here, bless your loyal hearts), it’s been over two months since the last post. The best way to explain this chasm, the only way that seems to sum it up adequately in my mind, is to say that those posts two months back came from a different world – a world which no longer exists – than today’s post.

If you follow me on Twitter (again, bless your loyal queer little hearts), you probably already know this, but to get everyone up to speed: I am now a single butch. In fact, this right here is the first post ever on Buzz Cuts and Bustiers to be written by said single butch. This is significant for a number of reasons:

  1. My life now, at the summer’s end, is radically different than what it was at the summer’s beginning.
  2. How I write about said life will no doubt be different (maybe less radically so) than how I once wrote about it.
  3. I’ve never been single while writing in this blog, and so this is a new and scary thing, but also maybe an exciting thing.

I know how much the queer community (and, really, most communities) love juicy gossip, so it is with a twinge of guilt that I must inform you that I will not be writing about the details surrounding the expiration of my relationship. Some things are too private to even write about here, a space where we talk frankly about things like strap-ons and oral and boobs. Yes, I do have lines, even if they are drawn in strange places.

So what exactly have I been up to these past two months, besides being an absentee parent to this blog? The most accurate word is: rebuilding. The destruction of one way of existing often calls for a lot of clean up before a new way of existing can be built in its place. Social lives and personal schedules and long-term plans all have to be redesigned and reconstructed. Above all that, most of my rebuilding has focused around my mental health. I’ve been living with anxiety and increasingly inconvenient panic attacks for a year now, and a good deal (but not all) of that was the direct result of the relationship I was in. Today, the panic attacks are far less frequent, mostly replaced by a less crippling but still maddeningly persistent undercurrent of anxiety. Small victories, I suppose?

The biggest step I’ve taken on this road to reconstruction is seeking professional help. I’ve had a psych evaluation (which sounds much scarier than it actually was) at Fenway Health and I’m currently wait-listed to be placed with an appropriate therapist. As of last week, I’m nearing the top of that very long list (queer-centric therapy is in high demand ’round these parts), so I’ll hopefully be seeing someone within the next few weeks. Please be so kind as to cross all available digits for me, dear readers.

Getting into therapy is a really big deal for me. It’s something that I’ve known, in the back of my mind, that I should be pursuing for years. I’ve avoided it for so long out of a mixture of pride, stubbornness, and denial. I was raised with the (extremely false and unhealthy) belief that therapy is for “crazy” people. In my mind, that has long translated to: “I am not ‘crazy,’ therefore I don’t need to be hogging resources that people with ‘real’ problems need,” and/or “If I go to therapy, people will think I’m ‘crazy.'” These thought processes are deeply stupid for a number of reasons, including:

  1. “Crazy” is a false construct that only over-simplifies a wide range of highly-individual mental health needs.
  2. My mental health needs are just as (if not more) important than my physical, dental, and visual health needs, all of which I’m glad to have monitored by a professional.
  3. Almost everyone I know is or has been in therapy at some point.

I’ve had some conversations with friends over whether my reluctance to admit that I need professional help is a “butch thing” or just a “Bren thing.” I think it may be a mixture of both. I get so wrapped up in taking care of friends, family, and partners that I more often than not neglect my own needs. When someone I care about requires support, that takes precedent. “I can take care of myself.” “I’m fine.” “Don’t worry about me.” “I’m tough.” I think many other butches will admit to operating the same way. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it could even be a noble thing! – but all good things in moderation. In my case, I was so focused on helping someone else keep their mental and emotional house in order that I didn’t notice how badly my own foundations were crumbling before it was very near too late. I hope to never make that mistake again.

In addition to therapy, I’ve also been working on making my new life as full – and hopefully as happy – as possible. I’ve been continuing to write about queer fashion and community events for Diffuse 5 and to work with my co-founder to keep ButchBoi Life a vibrant and growing community. I still volunteer at Out to Brunch every month and spend time with/find inspiration from my queer elders. To make my life even gayer, I’ve started attending a queer open mic and a queer book club. It’s pretty damn awesome to meet so many fellow queer writers, poets, and literary nerds, I must say.

I’m also actively exploring the Wide World of Binders and my options for dealing with those “I hate my chest; make it go away” days. It’s been hit and miss, but I think I’m getting closer to finding the right binder for me. I’m sure you’ll hear all about it when I do.

Last but not least, I got my third tattoo, something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s a tribute to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” which you all know I have many deep Feelings about.


So, to summarize this naval-gazing fest (it’s a lot for a Monday, I know): I’m back, and maybe better than ever. Or, at least, I think I will be with time. Stay tuned and we’ll find out together.