drink it up.
Butch Wonders wrote a nice little piece on the “additive effect of butchness” a few days ago. I’ve been mulling it over – it struck me deeply, simply because it’s exactly what I’ve struggled with my whole life.
As a terminally shy person, it’s a battle to be just who I am in any given moment.
As a terminally shy person in a profession that rips the throats out of shy people, I feel under fire almost every day.
My butchness makes me a target.
My butchness has very rarely been additive. It is a deep part of me that I have attempted to sequester in full view for over twenty years. Some weeks I am still embarrassed by it every single day, and that’s part of why I keep writing here. I’m trying to shine a little flashlight into myself, coax myself out from under the floorboards.
My PGF once said to me, “You know, people can see that you’re gay.”
Even though I was wearing men’s boxer briefs under my all-menswear outfit, with my gf sitting on my lap, listening to Ani DiFranco in my Park Slope, Brooklyn apartment – I nearly burst into tears.
And I’ve been out since I was 13, so one would think it would get easier. “It Gets Better” and all that Trevor Project stuff. Well, in the words of one very astute filmmaker who participated – for me, “It Gets Marginally Different.”
Here’s one of my darkest confessions: I’ve never been proud to be queer, under all my bravado. I’ve never tried not to be, but I’ve never fully embraced myself. I’ve shrouded myself in shame, and it creeps up on me in my best moments. (Although, once in therapy I was asked what I feel best at in the world. My short answer was “flirting with girls.”)
Even in the company of other butch women, my butchness has often caused me distress. Because I don’t seem butch enough there, either. So I put on a show, upping my masculinity, puffing out my feathers, only to leave the party feeling phony.
BUT – the weird paradox is, I love it. I love my butch sensibilities. I love the attention I get from girls because I walk that masculine/feminine line. I don’t want to just be a regular woman who dates women, I want to look different too. I love that straight people can’t quite put their finger on me. It just makes me want to crawl away and hide at the same time.
When I was a little kid, I would put on shows for the adults around me, only I wouldn’t announce that I was doing I show. I would just started doing whatever nearby and hope they looked at me and praised my talents, and if I sucked then it was fine because no one was watching. These days I feel like I’m performing my gender expression within the same parameters.
The question always comes down to: what am I so afraid of? The answer seems to be: to be seen clearly.