Sneak Peek – Butch Lesbians of the 20s, 30s, and 40s Coloring Book

BUTCH cover

Coming this June from Stacked Deck Press! The starch of a well pressed shirt, the oiled hair and hint of aftershave, the flash of the pinky ring, and the declarative gaze of the woman who dares to embody such a statement.

Pathologized as Inverts, criminalized as cross dressers, and categorized as perverts, our butch heroines not only survived, but were poets, pilots, speed boat racers. They were proudly butch as women, sometimes passed as men, and all the while endured scrupulous societal gaze.

Beautiful, handsome, and ever charming, these 1920s-1940s Butches await your celebration, your admiration, and, of course, your color schemes.

Cover butch: Frieda Belinfante, a member of the Dutch Resistance during World War II, drawn by Avery Cassell and colored by Jon Macy. Edited by Jon Macy and Avery Garland Cassell. Forward by Sasha T. Goldberg. Drawings by scads of talented artists. More to come! 

 

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Butch-Butch Romance

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I’m genderqueer and have a masculine presentation. I’m also predominantly attracted to butch dykes. Butch dykes are the ones that cause me to run into lampposts in hormone-induced confusion, blush maddeningly, and make nervous pompous conversation in hopes that they find me enticing. Of course there’s more to attraction than a sharp haircut, a well-kept manicure, and knowing eyes, but that’s a start. My powerful urge for a butch-butch or tranmasc-butch relationship is not a common desire in the dyke community, and is even surrounded by an foggy miasma of taboo.

I’ve never been adept at analyzing my sexual desires and proclivities, nor have I seen the need to discover their origins. Sexual passion and attraction is primal and intuitive; for me, analyzing my desire would be like charting my creativity or my daydreaming. It would remove some of the magical and transformative powers of sexualty and passion, and replace that energy with something more distant and removed. In some perverse universe, it boils down to whether you want to fuck a spreadsheet or a cheetah, and the answer is obviously a cheetah.

Part of the reason that I wrote Behrouz Gets Lucky was to see my personal desires expressed in fiction. I wanted to read about a masculine dyke/trans/queer couple that was over the age of fifty. I wanted them to be deeply in love, at ease with their bodies, sexually experienced and kinky, witty, and possessing an egalitarian relationship outside of the bedroom. I’d find a rare smutty short story that featured a masculine/dyke/trans/queer couple, but nothing in dyke fiction. There wasn’t even a graceful vocabulary for this attraction.

One of my beta-readers for Behrouz Gets Lucky was an urban middle-aged gay man. Jon did not realize that Behrouz and Lucky’s relationship was unusual, and questioned me about the judgemental attitude they were encountering with some of their friends. There’s a couple of scenes at a potluck; in the living room scene, a leather daddy pal says, “I thought all butches went for high femmes with glossy red manicures, seamed stockings, fuck-me heels, and long black glossy hair. And most of the transdudes I know end up becoming gay men. I’m surprised you two hooked up at all. I mean, how does it work? And who’s the top?“, and in the kitchen scene Poppy says, “…don’t you think it’s a little weird? I mean two masculine-of-center folks dating each other? Butches usually date femmes, you know. I mean, it’s okay for fucking, but not for romance.

Generalization upon generalization is heaped in this rubbish pile until it topples over under the weight of assumptions and expectations. Butch-femme couples are normal. Even if they were dykes pre-transition, transmen become gay after they start taking testosterone. Butches are so horny that they’ll fuck each other in a pinch, but only in a pinch. Butches are all tops. These are all generalizations that I’ve heard repeatedly in the dyke community until they seem factual. Why do we judge one another, and why do we restrict ourselves?

Personally, I’ve only been in one longer term butch-butch relationship, and our relationship ended for the usual reasons, none having to do with our butch gender identity or presentation. She was predominantly attracted to butch dykes and transdudes, but had been attracted to femmes in the past. Later, I dated a sweet butch woman that finally confessed with a great deal of embarrassment and shame that she’d found herself becoming attracted to butches instead of femmes for the first time at age 50. She went on to tell me over french fries and hamburgers that she thought I was hot despite the fact that I wasn’t femme. The word “despite” stung my heart and I stopped seeing her. Butch-butch or tranmasc-butch relationships are not unheard of, however they’re definitely rare, and for me they’re the four-leaf clover in the meadow of love.

Desire is a quagmire; a bog of cultural expectations, traitorous hormones, and mystery. Desire is also a playground; a forest, deep and dark with silvery moonlight shining through the leaves, streams meandering, and mossy beds. Like Popeye says before swigging a can of spinach, “I yam what I yam.” Don’t limit yourselves. Be big. Be badass. Be strong. Come out, butches who adore butches…butches who want to bury their fist in another butch’s cunt, who want to drink morning tea together in a post-coital stupor, who long to share their necktie wardrobe, and walk hand-in-hand through the farmer’s market. Come out, wherever you are.

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Behrouz and Lucky’s Overnight Yeasted Waffles

still life w waffles

These are Behrouz and Lucky’s famous overnight yeasted waffles. They’re best eaten with a side of crispy pepper bacon, hearty French butter, and not too much maple syrup…or better yet, a dollop of blackberry compote or brandied banana sauce. Add a pot of strong tea or coffee and a mix of Nico, Leonard Cohen, Marlene Dietrich, and Mark Eitzel for a luxurious Sunday morning.

About waffle irons; I bought mine on Etsy from a charming woman in Texas. It is vintage, chrome, circa 1960s and works great. I highly recommending buying an older used waffle iron. They’re attractive and made well.

Continue reading

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Butch Lesbians of the 20s, 30s, and 40s Coloring Book

FriedaComing soon – Butch Lesbians of the 20s, 30s, and 40s Coloring Book! Get ready for some bad-ass bulldagger fun! Jon Macy and I are editing a coloring book of butch dykes from the 1930s to the 1940s to be published by the queer-tastically powerful Tara Avery from Stacked Deck Press. The forward will be written by the always astute and witty Sasha Goldberg. Here’s a little tipple of a taste of butch pleasures to come; Frieda Belinfante, a member of the Dutch Resistance in WWII drawn by Avery Cassell.

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Book Review – Girl Mans Up

girl mans upIt made my day when I won Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard in a giveaway from the author’s agent. I think it might have been the week that Kellyanne Conway went off about spying microwaves; it certainly was a week full of leaking pipelines, mean-spirited healthcare legislation, and devious Russian espionage. Girl Mans Up was a welcome reminder of the possibility of normalcy in this country, and for that I was extremely grateful.

For fun, I typically read broody Scandinavian mysteries, modern queer fiction, or biographies of dykes behaving badly. I’m queer myself and write adult queer fiction. I’m the grandparent of a 10-year-old transgender grandson, so am interested in any fiction for youth that features masculine-of-center characters, particularly books that I can buy him. He goes to a progressive school where there are trans and butch classmates and parents, and needs YA queer fiction for entertainment. Having said that, this is the first YA queer fiction that I’ve ever read.

Girl Mans Up is well written. I particularly appreciated the culture clashes between Pen’s parents and Pen, even towards the end when her mom comes around, but her dad remains reluctant. That is realistic. I enjoyed the Olivia’s natural reaction to her unplanned pregnancy and to her abortion. It would have been a cheap and easy shot to have her feel regret after getting her abortion, not relief, but M-E held true. The actual day of the abortion contained just the right combination of accuracy, emotional growth, and sadness. The turning point for Pen was when she stood up for her identity and moved in with her brother, and Olivia’s moment was her abortion. Growing up is a process, and these were peaks in that process.

The ratio of drama to placid everyday life was high, but these are teenagers, where they are living in that intense and awkward period of bursting into adulthood while being riddled with hormones. It’s an emotionally challenging time to say the least. There was something off with the bullying little gang of classmates. Was it too neat? Too black and white? My impression is that it was missing someone. Colby is a total jerk; maybe he needed a smidgen of likability, or at least an inkling that he was nicer when he was younger.

I have a fondness for butches, so it’s great to see proud baby butch representation. My impression is that butch dykes are underrepresented in YA fiction, but I could be incorrect. As a side note, it seems that there are scads more books about trans girls, than there are about trans boys in early readers and maybe YA too. I’d love to see more early reader and YA books about butches, trans boys, and masculine-of-center dykes. If I’m wrong, then give me recommendations!

I recommend this book for any teen over 12/13 years old or so, but especially children that may be bisexual, gay, transgender, genderqueer, or lesbians. I do think that straight kids and adults would enjoy and certainly benefit from reading Girls Mans Up. It’s themes are inclusive of all genders and identities. Unfortunately, Girl Mans Up is a tad too old for my trans Pokémon card collecting, bow tie wearing 10-year-old grandson, but I think he’ll like it in a couple of years. I’m saving the book to give to him in 2019.

Gender identity addendum: I read other folk’s reviews on Amazon prior to posting this review there. Aside from one woman who pointedly wrote, “This is not a transition story; it’s about embracing female masculinity”, the consensus seemed to be that Pen was transgender. That was not my take at all. My personal experience is that identity is fluid; it is not uncommon for a person to change from femme to butch, or femme to transgender, or butch to femme etc. There is a galaxy of possibilities related to gender and identity. Pen may change her identity in a year, five years, ten years…or she may never. I saw this much more as a butch dyke coming out narrative, than a transgender coming out narrative. I’m curious about what M-E Girard has to say!

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