Every month on the second Tuesday at The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A, in the East Village of New York City. Doors open at 7:30pm, reading promptly at 8pm. FREE! But we will pass the hat for donations to the performers.
Here is the text from my reading on 6/8/2010
How I Found my Inner Butch
Hi, my name is Jack and I write about sex on the internet. We are a rare breed.
I was a little taken aback when Sinclair asked me to speak at Sideshow. I was also honored and scared and impressed with him. You see I’m not particularly queer in the way I feel a lot of people use the term, though I’m certainly not straight, or hetero-normative or what ever the opposite of queer is.
Queer is, at this room demonstrates, very much a spectrum.
Anyhow, let me explain to you How I Found My Inner Butch
Like many of my generation I was a boy raised by women. It’s like being raised by wolves, only with synchronized menstrual cycles.
I grew up in a two family house with, at different points, three to five women living in it and me being the only male.
My mother, forgive the possibly politically-incorrect term it is hers not mine, is a fag hag. A full on Will and Grace hag with a cadre of gays and a collection of Barbara Streisand records.
Then there was my aunt, the intellectual lesbian who lived out different but equally well defined stereotypes with her “pulled up her her breast” pants and her blasting the Indigo Girls and moving in with her girlfriend on the second date. People can and are often very happy being caricatures.
There was my mother’s best friend, a gynecologist, I’m serious, and her best friend’s two teenage daughters who would make me sit in their bubblegum pink room as they had fashion shows and did there hair.
So yes, I was raised by women, it was a childhood very much infused with estrogen. As well it was infused with feminist thought. I was very much in a household that was in the middle of a first wave vs second wave feminist debate and I was often dragged into the conversation. I grew up understand woman as peers and I went out into the world treating them as such.
Sex and sexuality were pretty common topics at the dinner table. As were gynecology, obstetrics, abortion and various other lady-part topics that seem to make men cringe but I simply found as charmingly anecdotes.
What I’m trying to say is that it took me twenty something years to figure out how to “be masculine.” I learned to shave by watching razor commercials and TV shows. I learned to tie a tie from a webpage. I learned to be a act like a “man” from reading books.
So, much to my mother’s chagrin, I ended up liking girls. I like them a lot. I like boys too, I mean, not just in general, but in a sometimes I kiss them sort of way, but I think it would be a stretch to call myself bisexual. All these titles are are ambiguous as they are limiting anyhow.
As difficult as it was to figure out how to be a man, figuring out where I fit into society, queer or straight society has been an even rockier road. I didn’t understand for a long time that identity has little to do with biology, especially things as complicated as butch or femme.
So that leads me to the theme of tonight. You see, I never owned a suit, I mean I nice suit, until a few years ago. I had a funeral tie and a job interview tie and I never really figured out how to exert my identity. I came to think that’s what the internet was for.
How I came to find my butch self is a strange story in itself. It’s very much tied into how I found out I’m kinky. It was also very much a part of me taking a look in the mirror one day and seeing an ordinary exterior of an extraordinary person and wanting to do something about it.
At some point I found myself in pink ties and dark suits. I found myself in cufflinks and straight razor shaves and all of this traditional masculine things that were so very foreign and exciting to me. I found my strut and I found my confidence. I found the outside to match my inside and it has made me a much more complete person.
So here I am, trying to become a dandy. I’m not sure how dandy fits into the spectrum of butch/femme. Was Oscar Wilde butch? Perhaps he is somewhere in the middle of the path between Marilyn Monroe and Leather Tuscadero. Playing with my little span of the gender spectrum and fucking with gender as much as I can and it is an adventure. Identity is a very strange thing, especially now where we are so aware of it.
I look around and feel excited to be part of tonight, like in some way I’m more accepted by a group I’ve always felt both a part of and separate from. I’m excited to have people recognize that idea of butch can very much be someone dressing their cis-gender. That queer is more than LGBT; that the letters go on and on. What queer really is, is the opposite of limited. It is the opposite of binary only. It’s always what I’ve been and always what I’ve looked for in others.