In an effort to dispel they myth that butches are a dying breed, two women are asking others to share their stories of living butch.
After attending a workshop on Butch Erasure at the recent F: feminist conference in Sydney, self-identifying butches Pagan Kael and Sand Woods saw the need for a collection of powerful personal accounts of love, discrimination and pressures to change in a world that doesn’t quite get it.
“The need is high for positive and out-there images of butches in the community,” Kael said.
“I would like butches to tell their stories, to show we are here. We’re not a dying breed and being butch is not a pit-stop to transitioning. Young ones coming out, I feel, need to know that there is a place for them to be butch.”
“Both of us feel strongly about the visibility of butches,” Woods added. “We aren’t necessarily viewed positively within the mainstream lesbian community or the wider community.”
The double-sided sense of isolation has historical and political roots, for which feminism has copped considerable blame. Once considered the norm within the lesbian community, the butch-femme dynamic became particularly problematic during the second-wave feminist movement and was denounced as nothing more than aping the straights.
“I’ve very interested in knowing butch stories pre-feminism,” Kael said.
“In my youth I saw femmes being unacceptable until they cut their hair short, took their makeup off and wore flat shoes.
“Butches were told we just wanted to be men, and both were supposedly betraying the feminist cause.”
To Woods, the anthology is in part about seeing whether women’s experiences of being butch have improved and whether “pride and acceptance have reappeared in butches after my generation”.
“We hope people take from the anthology a sense of understanding, acceptance, pride and a sense of history. A sense of belonging and having somewhere to fit for younger butches.”
info: To submit a story, email firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Living Butch Facebook page.