Archive for November, 2008

Rosario

I didn’t grow up in a Catholic household but I did grow up in a very Catholic culture. I participated in Catholic events and culture to an extent as well but, I must confess…

I think I’ve only prayed a whole Rosario (rosary) once at the velorio for a friend’s mom.
There I remember being self-conscious about my lack of finesse when it came to all the Catholic rituals and requirements but nonetheless being swept away on the tide of Padre Nuestros and Avemarias. It was soothing, much like chanting which I came to later in non-Christian ways.

And although I’ve owned several Rosarios I’ve never used one for its proper purpose. I have a strange dark love for religious iconography and, well, kitsch. And a deeply spiritual love for sacred objects, regardless of the worship tradition they originate from. Some things are just sacred regardless of the entity/ies being worshipped.

The other day on the train I watched an older, obviously latina, obviously mestiza, beautiful woman with her Rosario. She looked anxious, and was intent upon her beads. And for a minute or two I envied the simplicity of that ritual. I envied the escape into the words that more than meaning have a rhythm that transports me back to my abuela, to sitting around on borrowed chairs at one velorio or another (not that I’ve attended that many), it’s a rhythm that is in my blood somehow, as much as salsa, as much as the crashing of warm waves on the rocks, as much as the song of coquis.

diostesalvemariallenaeresdegracia

I realized even at a very young age that I couldn’t hang with the rhetoric of the church, I couldn’t pray for the pope, I couldn’t get down with the whole virgin thing (and I mean the mythical kind, my own was easy to upkeep considering I hadn’t discovered queerness yet). But I was fascinated with the images, with the static statues, with their sad eyes, their outstretched hands, I was fascinated with the beautiful virgins, staring at them for hours under the guise of prayer, with the pretense of lighting candles.

But the words lost their literal meaning to become a song, a chant, an intimate murmur.

My grandmother taught me to say Avemarias. She bought me images of Maria Milagrosa to bless and heal me.

Diostesalvemariallenaeresdegraciaelsenorescontigo

I prayed. I prayed the words with the same satisfaction as I muttered a random Wordsworth poem I’d memorized, or a Shakespeare sonnet. The words were happy on my tongue, a welcome litany of distraction. But I learned my rosario in Spanish. To this day I default to Spanish when it comes to structured prayer. A few of the questions asked to determine what a person’s first language is are: what language do you pray in? (both) what language do you count in? (both, it confuses the shit out of people when I’m counting out loud) what language do you curse in if you are hurt? (both) I’m the rare creature who is a native speaker of two languages. And yet when it comes to this ritual that isn’t even truly mine, it has to be Spanish.

diostesalvemariallenaeresdegraciaelsenorescontigobenditatueresentretodaslasmujeres

There’s something so blissful about escaping into a prayer that requires no thought, no agreement, no consideration of ones blessings or troubles. It just is. And it was prayed by my greatgrandmother in much the same way…there’s power in that, even if the words don’t mean much to me. And considering my greatgrandmother makes me wish I had a Taino prayer to hold close to my heart. The Yoruba prayers I have handed down to me are synchretized. No less authentic but the roots cover more area and less depth. Avemaria the prayer of the colonizer (the first one) but still stirs me.

diostesalvemariallenaeresdegraciaelsenorescontigobenditatueresentretodaslasmujeresybenditoeselfrutodetuvientrejesussantamariamadredediosruegapornosotrospecadoresahorayenlahoradenuestramuerteamen

Even though the ritual is contradictory and foreign it is still something so close to me. Even though it belongs to a church that oppresses my people, that is homophobic and misogynistic at its core. But still it’s there. And if I picked up a rosario right now I wouldn’t know how to do it. Thank gawd for google! I don’t know what prayers go where and one of the rezos I don’t even know. But I would know to fondle the beads and think of abuela. I would know to fondle the beads and think of MamaTea. I would know that it is a sacred, intimate, and very feminine in my experience act.

I don’t think I could lose myself that way though. I wish I could. I would like to get lost for a while in something that requires no thought and no effort. Not like meditation where the more stressed I am the harder I have to gently and lovingly SHOVE the thoughts away.

A ritual that does it all for me and takes me away to sit on the laps of my foremothers for a while and be.

Perhaps tonight when I light my candle to La Milagrosa I’ll thrown in an Avemaria or two.

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Se hizo luz

Ya no busco la luz de tus ojos

para que alumbre mis caminos

ni la luz de la certeza de amores pasados, de caminos trazados, de suenos a destiempo

La luz emana de mi piel cobriza

La luz emana de mis dedos agiles

La luz emana de mi espiritu guerrero

de un poema desobediente y fugaz

del baile de sonidos sobre mi lengua

Se hizo luz.
Me hice luz.

On the cover!

Of the Gay and Lesbian Times (exclusion duly noted):
“Race Relations: How racism exists in our community”

On the cover no less.

In the feature article Palmer and Pena draw on specific instances of racism in our community as well as larger systemic issues. They draw on interviews with Prof Chong-suk Han (“A Different Shade of Queer: Race, Sexuality and Marginalizing by the Marginalized”) to explore the status of People of Color in Lesbian and Gay communities as double minorities. Johnson (Guide to Gay Life on About.com) is also quoted when contesting the privilege implicit in the idea that “We’re assumed to be gay first, and then our other identity second.” Preach on!
The paucity of non-white gay images is discussed as well as the systemic ‘whitewashing ‘ of the community.

I have to say I was impressed with the depth of discourse in this article and very much heartened to see it as the feature article in one of the main l/g publications in socal. In fact I’ve picked up extra copies to share with peeps.

I’m hoping this feature story, along with the many voices speaking out in our community help to bring about the difficult discussions that are necessary to foster truly inclusive communities.

Now if we can work on adding the Bisexual and Transgender in there that would be so very fabulous. *sigh*

Long Beach Rally November 15th: One Latina’s Voice

The Long Beach Wed-In and Rally was a great success. I was not able to stay till the end due to another commitment with the South Coast Chorale to sing at the Well’s Hospice Memorial Service, but what I saw was empowering, well attended, and entirely encouraging.

My message was well received and I’ve been asked to share my message so, here it is, minus the energy of the crowd, the embellishing, the cheering, the righteous response, but nonetheless my truth which I was blessed to share today:

“Like all of you I was wounded by the passing of Proposition 8. I am hurt by it.

As a Queer Femme I am hurt by the fact that voters in the State of California have chosen to take away my civil rights–OUR civil rights. I’m hurt by the suggestion that my rights are debatable, expendable and not in fact INALIENABLE.

As a Latina I am hurt by some of what I’ve heard in the LGBTQ community. It hurts me to hear that as a person of color my membership in the Queer community is suspect. I’ve heard a lot of anger toward people of color, specifically African Americans and Latinos. I’ve heard blame, saying that we were responsible for the passing of Prop 8. Not only is that statistically inaccurate–if anything we helped close the gap, from 22% in 2000 to less than 4% this time. Not only is it inaccurate but it is divisive. It denies the diversity of the LGBTQ community. It denies our allies. And it puts us in the position of US versus THEM when many of us are both us AND them.

As a Latina, si cuento. I am an integral part of the community. We all are. All of my communities. I am not the other. We are one.

It hurts me to hear intolerance directed from my people to my people.

I honor the pain we are all feeling but I see it as an invitation to change.
I see it as a wake up call to our community that is bigger than Prop 8. That speaks to justice and community and inclusion.

We have an opportunity to continue to organize and advocate for change.
An opportunity to look at our comunidad and make sure that No Queer is Left Behind.
To ensure that the legal rights we have already gained are being upheld:
the laws that protect us from discrimination in the workplace
laws that protect youth in schools from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
We need to KNOW our rights and make sure we are protecting ALL of our freedoms.

And we can learn from our history. Stonewall has been brought by many people, I see signs and images commemorating our past. Let’s not forget who started the movement: it was butch women, queens, transgendered people, people of color and white people. United. Let’s stand and recognize.

We have an opportunity to build unity and inclusion. To see not only how can we get support from our potential allies but how can we BE allies to other disenfranchised communities.

A few things have been proven through our protests, vigils and marches in the state of California and now, nationwide:

We are a diverse and beautiful community. An amazing familia.
Our community includes all ages, races and ethnicities, socioeconomic class, religions, abilities.

We are a powerful community. And amazing familia.
We are a resilient community.
We will not be silenced. We will not be overlooked. We will not settle for less than igualdad. Equality.

We can share the energy and see that every issue is a lesbian issue, is a bisexual issue, is a gay issue, is a transgendered issue, is a queer issue
Immigration reform and rights is our issue
Homelessness is a queer issue
Drug addiction is a queer issue
Affordable housing is our issue
Education is our isse
Racism is our issue
We are everywhere

We are being called to action. Prop 8 is one piece of the picture and we will stand firm, we SHALL overcome.
And we can use this to build stronger communities, to ensure that all members of our familia are included and honored.
And we can take this chance to build bridges with allies to eradicate bigotry, eradicate oppression, eradicate senseless hatred and division in ALL of our communities.
We can be agents of change
for equality
for peaceful vibrant communities
and for diversity.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice EVERYWHERE.”

We will not stand for injustice.”

From the heart…

I’ll be speaking at the Marriage Equality Peace Rally and Wed-In tomorrow in Long Beach (flyer below). I spoke at the rally last week and I’m not yet ready to process that. So now I’m doing preemptive processing. When I was invited to speak I asked what focus would be best for the event given the balance of speakers.

When I helped with organization for last week’s protest I expressed my concern over the divisive and racist rhetoric circulating in the community over how poc voters caused prop 8 to win. Not only is this untrue but I’m hearing really distressing comments. Really ugly assumptions. And a lot of misunderstanding. I was invested in ensuring that the event last week was able to unite and heal and so I spoke to that effect.

So, back to the answer to my question, what should I speak about. I was asked to speak from the heart and asked to address my concerns as a person of color.

I agreed to do this knowing that I am going to this protest alone.
I agreed to do this knowing that I am going to talk about some difficult painful and ugly issues and that in doing so I will be baring my soul, the deepest realest parts of me, exposed for the crowd.
I agreed to do this knowing that I have been called to do so, that I have a responsibility to do so, that I have an opportunity and I have to honor it. I must honor my commitments, my integrity, my values, my beliefs.
I agreed to do this with an instant knot in my stomach knowing that it will be raw. And that I can do it.
From my heart.
De corazon.
Y si se me escapa una lagrima, ni modo.

Latina. Queer Femme. Not willing to be fragmented. Not willing to have my identities pitted against each other. No more. Nunca mas.

So, I’ll be representin’. Will you be there?

Marriage Equality Peace Rally and Wed-In

The Center Long Beach in coalition and solidarity with community leaders and activists will join cities all over America for the National Day of Support for California Marriage Equality.

This peaceful rally will take place this Saturday, November 15th, 10:30am-1:00pm, at Long Beach City Hall, in the courtyard area.

The event will include a current legal status update regarding Prop 8, what your marriage means now, as well words of hope from our interfaith and political communities.

WE ARE PLANNING A “WED-IN” (Wishing to End Discrimination & Inequality Now) AT THIS EVENT…wherein we will have a minister symbolically marry all those in attendance (LGBTQA) to the commitment of ensuring Marriage Equal Rights for all!!

Attire: We thought it would be fun for those in attendance to wear “wedding attire!” This is completely up to you (What do you all think?).

Additional info:

Parking: Parking is located in the City Hall parking structure on Broadway/Chestnut….also at the Pike parking on Shoreline/Chestnut (South of Ocean) and along Pine Ave.

Intent/Purpose: We ask all in attendance to remember that the underlying tone of our event is PEACE….This is not intended to be another protest but to unite in solidarity toward our common goal of Marriage Equality and community support through understanding.

Legal Compliance: Those in the Long Beach Police Department are our friends. We have been working closely with many of them regarding this event. It is important that we listen to their instructions and follow all laws.

Ingress/Egress: Make sure you enter and exit the premises in an orderly fashion. When the event is over at 1pm, it is important that you disperse in an orderly fashion. Please obey all traffic laws and do not obstruct traffic.

Safety: Please do not bring signs with sticks. Sticks are considered a weapon by law enforcement officials statewide and should not be brought to the rally.

This event was organized by community activists, leaders and workers from Prop. 8. They include:

The Center Long Beach; Elisa McConnehea, Police Chief’s Advisory Group; Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride; Human Dignity Program; Kevin O’Grady, ADL; Choices of Long Beach; LB Lambda Democratic Club; Rene Castro, CCEJ; Long Beach Nicherin Buddhist-Soka Gakai leaders; Robert Garcia; Justin Rudd; Diana Lejins, gigi Acevedo; Tom Crowe; Brian Frederick; Jordana Nichols; Cory Allen; Dr. Becky Kuhn; Kristen Sifers; Tim Campbell; John Pill; Thea Mateu; Jamie Hall; Jake Orlando; Rev. Sandra Olewine; Rev. Sunshine Daye; and Rev. Jane Galloway

This was also attended by the offices of Mayor Bob Foster and Council Member Tonia Reyes-Uranga

Also in attendance were Commanders Jay Johnson and Cynthia Renaud, and Sergeant Razo

For more information or to see the agenda for the event, go to http://www.centerlb.org

Femme mentoring

I hate the (misogynistic) stereotype that femmes are vicious and catty to each other, that we can’t be friends because we are too busy scamming on each other’s butches.

I’ve met tacky femmes who do tacky shit like hit on your date, I’ve met tacky butches who hit on their buddy’s date, I’ve met tacky femmes who hit on butches while out with a butch, and I’ve certainly encountered enough tacky butches who think it’s smart to hit on me while they are out with a grrl. Tackiness knowns no gender presentation or id.

I was pondering femme networks as I reread an essay in Bergman’s “Butch is a Noun” where ze described the process of “Passing it On” and butch mentoring. And my initial reaction was one of envy and sadness at what I first though was an utter lack of parallel relationships in the femme community. But then, upon further examination I realized that it doesn’t look the same as Butch schoolin’ but I have experienced Femme mentoring on both ends.

When I first came fully into Femme (ooh that sounds fun doesn’t it?) I was part of a community in NYC that was very strongly butch-femme. And while I give a lot of credit for my ah-ha! moment to my first butch lover, once I realized it was something that was mine and not just something that depended on this incredibly hot butch I started the process of truly owning this identity that encompassed so much that I had always been and done and never had language for before.

Some older femmes in the community gave me pointers, usually in the shape of small comments about how to keep our butches in line. That sounds squicky but the context in which they were delivered and the way in which these graceful femmes imparted their wisdom made it clear that it was a dance, that they were showing me their steps so that I could incorporate them into my own instinctual sway.

And then there was a femme who I saw as competition (yes the same one who wore the hot shirts). And in a way she was. We were both interested in the same butch who flirted with us both and probably bedded us both. But I quickly realized that I wasn’t threatened by her because she was gorgeous, which she was, but so was I; I was threatened because she had something I didn’t and I wanted it. She had this air about her, this energy that demanded to be worshiped, she was a high femme and she condescended to teach this fledgling femme, 10 years her junior a few of her own tricks. We had a tenuous friendship, causal, cautious, not entirely devoid of competition, and not yet at that place where competition is part of the game fierce femmes play with each other where we compete with the knowledge that we are equally fabulous and that the butch being admired is lucky to have our attention. I wasn’t there yet. She taught me how to honor my natural instincts to elicit adoration and worshipful attention. She taught me how to work my charms and how to be unafraid of using my sexuality as a playground. She taught me most by example, by letting me sit in her presence, arrogant shit that I was, yet respectful of my elder and fellow goddess.

A lot of what goes on with butch mentoring as I know it, some of which I learned first hand having gone from a shortlived butch (adjective) phase, but most of which I get second hand from friends, a lot of it has to do with presentation, with fitting into gender identity, and of course some of it is about grrls. Things I’ve known to be workshop topics are the delicate issue of chest gear, whether it be binding or finding the prefect sportsbra; there’s packing: how to find the perfect equipment, how to strap, how to go out packing, how to use said equipment in the bedroom (like the euphemistic approach?), underwear is also a topic of discussion I know of. There’s the issues of dealing with the pressure of being butch in a society where that marks you as other and as potential threat. There’s the difficult territory of gender identity. And there are brotherhood codes that are taught, often subtly. Some of the old fashioned old school points of etiquette are also shared.

As femmes, we don’t need as much schooling in these areas. Having been socialized to be feminine, we’ve already learned how to do our hair and makeup, learned about mani pedis and other grrly rituals. Some of us went through one of the schools of feminism that teach us that femininity of this sort caters to the patriarchy and that to empower ourselves we must eschew lipstick. So, some of us have to go through recovery for that. But that process of owning and queering femme presentation is, in my experience and observation, a largely individual one. We share hair and makeup tips after getting to the point where we own it. So, a lot of femme mentoring has to do with the Care and Handling of Magical Creatures — ie butches. A lot of it has to do with sisterhood and power. A lot of it has to do with building allies in invisibility. A lot of it has to do with the cohesion of an identity that is so superficially similar to conventional heteronormative femininity and yet so radically different.

I got a crisis call from a friend over a year ago (has it been that long, really?) who having been heterosexual had discovered her queerness and been involved with a woman. She called me for femme advice. She needed mentoring and identified me as the femme for the job. Of course I was honored and was happy to go take her out and teach her how to flirt, teach her some of the steps in the dance that would allow her to take it on and freestyle on her own. And a lot of what I shared with her was by example, the intangibles of being femme that words don’t adequately capture, until you’ve sat and seen a regal high femme work a room.

There’s also the schooling of baby butches by femmes. While it’s a different dynamic entirely, I think it’s also a fun way to initiate baby butches into the dance. A few months ago I was out at a bar with my date. I had been their earlier before he got there hanging out with a friend from out of town who thought it was awesome that I saw “my butches” in shifts with my date arriving shortly after she left. This cute lil butch had been paying attention and happened to be sitting at the table with some guys I was talking shit with. So she ended up participating in my interactions with my date. Suddenly my well seasoned butch date and I were schooling this butch, taking her under our wing for a bit and encouraging her, giving her advice and affirmation. We both gave insight on how to approach the grrl she’d been crushing on, the grrl that made her palms sweaty and her heart race… the butch perspective and the femme advice blending together in the dance we know and love.

Then another young butch wanted to express interest in me. My date, being a great dancer, graciously established that I was with him but that she could approach me regardless, that I was a friendly sort. I so thoroughly admired his suave, confident and respectful move. That was definitely a swoon moment. Young butch #2 also came under our combined tutelage. Fashion, kicking game, confidence, we covered it all. And it was fun to observe the different approaches we had to teaching the dance.

Going back to my initial reaction of envy over butch networks, I think more concretely what I am struggling with is how to create those networks in the absence of strong butch-femme queer community. I have not found my space as a queer femme here, and that can be lonely. And I know it’s lonely for butches as well. I’m trying to find that, I’m trying to foster it and create it, but in the meantime nostalgia sometimes leaves a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.

Petition to Re-Open Proposition 8

To sign the petition click here!
To: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

I, myself, and many Californians I know are disgusted with the hatred that the passing of proposition 8 brought. I am asking you to read this over, THE FACTS, not the propaganda. Open your mind for a minute, and realize that this is terrible for future generations as well. How do you know that your future children or grandchildren won’t come to you and tell you they are homosexual? Wouldn’t you want your child to live a life in which the love they found was supported? Plain and simple, if you are an American, you should believe in preserving the constitution. Proposition 8’s passing took away the 14th amendment for a group of people, and I would like to give it back.

Facts v. Fiction
Proposition 8 would eliminate fundamental rights for a group of Californians. It�s unfair and it�s wrong.

Fiction: Prop 8 doesn�t discriminate against gay people.
Fact: Prop 8 is simple: it eliminates the rights for same-sex couples to marry. Prop 8 would deny equal protections and write discrimination against one group of people�lesbian and gay people�into our state constitution.

Fiction: Teaching children about same-sex marriage will happen here unless we pass Prop 8.
Fact: Not one word in Prop 8 mentions education. And no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it.
California�s top educators including Superintendent of Schools Jack O�Connell and California Teachers all agree: Prop 8 has nothing to do with education.

Fiction: Churches could lose their tax-exemption status.
Fact: The court decision regarding marriage specifically says �no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.�

Fiction: A Massachusetts case about a parent�s objection to the school curriculum will happen here.
Fact: California gives parents an absolute right to remove their kids and opt-out of teaching on health and family instruction they don�t agree with. The opponents know that California law already covers this and Prop 8 won�t affect it, so they bring up an irrelevant case in Massachusetts.

Fiction: Four Activist Judges in San Francisco�
Fact: Prop 8 is about eliminating a fundamental right. Judges didn�t grant the right, the constitution guarantees the right. Proponents of Prop 8 use an outdated and stale argument that judges aren�t supposed to protect rights and freedoms. Prop 8 is about whether Californians are willing to amend the constitution for the sole purpose of eliminating a fundamental right for one group of citizens.

Fiction: If Prop 8 isn�t passed, people can be sued over personal beliefs.
Fact: California�s laws already prohibit discrimination against anyone based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This has nothing to do with marriage.

Fiction: Pepperdine University supports the Yes on 8 campaign.
Fact: The University has publicly disassociated itself from Professor Richard Peterson of Pepperdine University, who is featured in the ad, and has asked to not be identified in the Yes on 8 advertisements.

Fiction: Unless Prop 8 passes, California parents won�t have the right to object to what their children are taught in school.
Fact: California law clearly gives parents and guardians broad authority to remove their children from any health instruction if it conflicts with their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

Sincerely,
Sign here

March against Prop 8 in Long Beach Friday Nov 7th!

Voice Your Disgust With The Prop. 8 Outcome

‘MARCH DOWN BROADWAY’

TOMORROW, November 7th at 7pm

(from Redondo to Hamburger Mary’s)

Meet @ Broadway & Redondo before 7pm

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD

(Do you really want to continue feeling like a 2nd class citizen?)

Please spread the words to your family and friends. We need to keep this effort alive and in front of the public media.

Femme Breasts

There’s something about Femme Breasts, or maybe it’s specifically Fat Femme Breasts, that always seems to cause a stir.

When I first came into my Femme identity, first discovered, embraced and queered the label, I discovered the power of cleavage. A Femme I admired and despised, ooh I can be trendy and use the word frienemy, taught me a few lessons and I soaked it all in. She was full figured, fat, chubby, whatever where are the lines? And she was gorgeous. She wore the best shirts. Looked like she’d been poured into them. She looked round and delicious and cleavagey. And once over beers she schooled me in the allure of breasts. I went out the next day and bought new a couple of new shirts. Low cut. Sparkly. Close fitting. No more baggy flowing shirts for me. I went out looking curvy and showcasing my breasts and I got all the butch attention I wanted. Bingo!

Now, about the girls… for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of admiring first hand… I’m not especially large breasted for a big grrl. I’m very much pear shaped, and while I do have beautiful breasts (let’s be honest here) I’m not stacked.

I still tend to wear revealing outfits. Many of my ‘going out’ shirts and dresses are low cut, some dangerously so. And that’s not counting my corsetted expeditions out. And I always get attention. But the curious part is the range of reactions I encounter. My breasts elicit a wide variety of responses:

Variations of butch reactions: from frat boy approaches to the more sophisticated and sexy admiration with stops in between

Gay boy responses are usually fascination. They want to touch them. They want to feel them. They often try to do so without my consent. That doesn’t go over well. Sometimes they want to poke them. Sometimes they are kinda scared. Always fascinated though.

Queens usually adore my style.  Birds of a feather I guess…

Straight men. Well, really, who gives a fuck.

Femmes either bond with me as fellow empowered temptresses or hate me. There isn’t much room in between.

Straight females don’t seem to care.

But Lesbians… wooooah! I have consistently found that non butch-femme identified lesbians tend to have the most fucked up reactions. Of course, not all of them but the strongest reactions I’ve garnered have come from this group. They are offended by my breasts. They are offended by my presenting in a very sexual way. They object to my outfits, my nails, my makeup. They are uncomfortable with
my tits.

A recent majorly fucked up interaction just added to this perception. In the midst of conflict over disgusting racial epithets, some monumental ignorance and disrespect, this woman had nothing better to say than to bring up my outfit: a rather revealing hot pink shirt and the fact that my breasts were spilling out. Apparently that is offensive to lesbians (according to her). The logic of that evaded those of us who tried to make sense of it. It’s not the first time I’ve run into that logic though.

Going back to my babyfemme days I participated in a few lesbian groups that were not butch-femme in membership, and having my authenticity contested based on my dresses, my exposed cleavage, my red nail polish. The incongruity of it baffled me then and has baffled me since. Having had my outfits boycotted by a group of people in the recent past, I understand that something about my cleavage is disturbing. But I’m still not sure what. It’s not like I’m going out wearing nothing but pasties. Okay not in these contexts at least. It’s not like I have EVER made a move on another person’s lover using my rack as bait. Nor would I. It’s not like the beauty is so simply astoundingly unparalleled that people are crazed by lust and envy. I am simply a beautiful fat grrl with low cut shirts and dresses. Not posing for juggs. Not in the next victoria’s secret fashion show.

And here’s where I get stuck… is this just a fat femme thing, or do all femmes get this? I know from some friends that they also experience it, but I know a lot of voluptuous grrls and not so many slimmer grrls. Is it fat sexuality or is it femme sexuality that is skeery? If I were more modestly proportioned would my tits be less of an issue? Is it a queer problem?

I know this much:

People in the butch-femme communities don’t tend to get their knickers in a twist about my rack, and furthermore I’m usually modest in comparison to some of my sisters.

People in queer communities don’t tend to get their knickers in a twist about my rack, I either get admiration or just a sense of live and let live. Generally people don’t give a fuck.

People in kink communities don’t tend to get their leathers in a twist about my rack. Even in vanillaish contexts, I’ve never encountered negativity about my attire.

People in the poc communities I participate in don’t seem to be phased either. As in the other categories I’m not counting unwanted sexual advances. Bigger women are sexy in black and brown communities I interact with and cleavage is not scary.

So. Is it just white lesbians that I offend? That might be what it boils down to. Something about a fat brown femme being unabashedly sexual is threatening.  Something about my lack of shame or false modesty seems to be threatening.  The fact that I am confident and sexy seems to be threatening.  The fact that ultimately I don’t give a fuck if others like me or not because I like myself, seems to be threatening.

And I wonder why that is.  I wonder why my presentation is so uncomfortable for people.  Why my comfort can elicit so much discomfort.

I may wonder, and really would like to understand but the fact is, I can be wearing sweat pants and a fucking tshirt and I’m still sexy, I’m still sassy, I’m still threatening.  The part of this that bothers me is the assumptions that seem to get piled on to justify the reactions.

The assumption that I’m catering to male sexuality, which in fact I couldn’t give a flying fuck about.

That I am a slut, when in fact, I’m very selectively slutty: very much so with whomever I’m involved with, and I’m picky then.  And while I’ve been in open relationships and poly relationships, I tend to be monogamous (albeit sometimes unconventionally so)  by nature, I don’t do emotional multitasking well.

That I am going to hit on people or their partners when in fact, I don’t roll that way.  I’m respectful of other people’s relationships and my own, honest to a fault, and I don’t do the downlow.

That I am a slave to patriarchy.  My femininity and my sexuality are mine, I celebrate them, queer them, recreate them, transgress and reshape them.  The patriarchy does not live in my push up bra, and my mascara wand is not a phallic symbol (not that I have ANYTHING against phallic symbols, that’s a whole nutha story though).

That I am less intelligent, moral, ethical, capable because my tits are partially exposed.  How that makes sense is beyond me.

Or, one of my favorites: that I’m in denial about being fat, because heaven forbid I be both big and sexy.  Maybe when I squeeze into a size 12 I can be sexy, but not now, plus sized means wear tents or cutsey tigger or tweety bird oversized tees that hide my yumminess.  Cause then you won’t be able to see that I’m fat whereas my outfits that don’t hide my curves, that show off my beautiful round belly as much as my breasts are a sign of denial, not empowerment.  If I just layer enough,wear shit tacky enough and big enough, you just won’t be able to notice that I’m big, because big is never sexy.  Mhmm.

These assumptions bother me because many of them go against the core of who I am.  Who I am is just as much loyal and honest as it is sassy and sexy.  Who I am is just as much ethical and respectful as it is perverted and beautiful.  Who I am is just as much domestic, loving, gentle, as it is assertive, confident, outspoken and righteous.  I’m way too complicated for monochromatic characterizations based on my bra size.  As we all are.

Ultimately though I’m not covering up.  If you can’t handle my low cut shirt, you can’t handle the rest of me anyway so my tits might as well be the barometer.

While I’d like to understand, I’m not holding my breath, at least not unless I’m spilling out of my corsets while waiting.