Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Love Letter to the Other Butches

There's never only one beginning to a story. But if there were, I would have to say that the story of this blog (or, of my journey into gender acceptance) began with a butch. The Catalyst, I called her at the time, the one who shattered the glass bubble of my isolation. I met her on a Friday night and bought my first men's dress shirt on Saturday morning. She was the first person to call me a butch, too, decisively stating that it was obvious in how I moved, how I held myself, my very energy. I think she might have saved my life.

Since then I've had the good fortune of meeting and getting to know other butches as well and every time it's like a little miracle to me. The sense of quiet in my head, the knowledge that I'm not alone and that someone in the room has my back in a way no one else can. And the way we can play, goof around, show off--somehow snowball fights are instantly inevitable--just be the boys we are--in the most relaxing way possible. (Nothing to prove, no one wondering why that girl is tagging along and trying to keep up.)

And then there's the understanding and the shared experience. Here's a little anecdote about that. My brother didn't want me to be 'out' at his wedding. He invited FG (this being just a few months after our own ceremony, which he attended) but he didn't want to have to explain to his new wife's (foreign, non-English-speaking) family that we were a couple, that we were married. "They wouldn't have understood," he told me later. "If I had told them you were married, they'd have thought you were a male transvestite." Well, I thought, but a particularly unambitious one. (I wore female clothes to his wedding but strictly shirt and pants still.) Anyway I've told this story to two different butch friends. And both reacted almost the same way. One winced, as though I'd thrown cold water in her face, and nodded slowly, swallowing as though she could taste my pain bitter in her own mouth. And the other winced, too, and brought her hand instinctively to her chest: "That stings."

We know the geography of one another's pain. We have the same dark maps etched in our own souls.

My buddy Jess wrote a brave post today asking for help in getting top surgery; click over and check it out. Asking for help is so much harder, in my experience, than simply drowning in pride. I admire Jess enormously and this post reinforces that. And reconciling our transmasculine, genderqueer souls with our bodies (and all the social expectations our bodies incur) is no simple matter, I know that too well from personal experience. The saving grace is that we are here for one another.


Jess said...

We are definitely here for each other, aren't we. It means a lot to me that you posted this.

Thank you, Leo.

Anonymous said...

Dang it that I'm not a butch, I love love letters! ;) This was a very sweet post written by someone who has obviously grown so much this year. I've said it a hundred times & I'll never stop saying it, thank you for being out there & fighting so hard for all of us. You guys deal with a lot of garbage from people in a way that many of us are protected from. We are all a family together but the butch bond is something really special. Much love!

Kyle said...

I know it's meant a lot to me to find you and Jess and Holden and Sinclair and others and to feel that sense of brothership we can give each other. We may not all come from the same place, and we may not have the same destination, but there is a lot we can relate to each other on. I feel very fortunate to be able to share my journey with you all.