Femme Friday – The Femme in the Picture

This year at our annual SAGE Table, we asked participants to send in pictures so we could have a slide show. There were some really cute ones, of kids at the Drag Prom, family shots, dykes with their pets, and more. Throughout the evening, though, I kept an eye on one particular black and white photo, probably from the 1950s. In it, a butch/femme couple faces the camera straight on, not really smiling, but looking pretty satisfied with themselves.

Last night’s beautiful photo reminded me of other old pictures of queer folks from the past. In these photos, queer story shines out at us, still brilliant, but also so mysterious. What were those daily lives like, after the camera snapped and time continued on its way? I especially love coming across old pictures where there is a femme, like the one last night. I always wonder, who was she? How did she experience herself as a lover, a partner, a participant in a life she was almost certainly not expected or raised to live? What did she call herself? What did she call her lover? How did they talk about who they were and what they did together?

I imagine she was sometimes, maybe often, angry at the isolation, the cruel messages from family and society. I bet she got pissed off at her butch here and again, who would have had her own struggles. And I also see joy in those old pictures. Defiance, a cheeky “we’re getting away with something and you can’t stop us” attitude that I recognize. The way it all falls into place as you find yourself, body and soul, in the arms of the kind of person all those men never were and never could be and then that person revs up your turn-on higher than it’s ever been revved before.

Did the femme in the picture think about how precious she and her queer friends and lovers were? Did she know, in her femme heart, how much a part of nature her queerness was? Like Anna in The Well of Loneliness, did she make every effort to embrace and find beauty in the hidden world she now had access to?

We know so many sad stories, the drinking, the violence, both within the queer community and coming from straight people, the isolation, mental and physical illness brought on or made worse by the ravages of oppression, but that wasn’t everybody’s life every single minute of every single day.

When I look at her smiling or hugging her butch or cutting up with friends in wild costumes or kissing the head of her little dog, I want to allow the femme in the picture to have had a full, complex life. Not just a trajectory of grief, and “oh it must have been so hard back then aren’t you glad we live now and there’s equal marriage.”

The femme in the picture certainly had her sorrows, but I know in my own queer femme heart that she also had sweet get-togethers with friends she loved, good relations with at least some of her family members, acceptance into a community where she was appreciated and seen for who she was. Oh, and didn’t she have a whole lot of mind-blowing sex, honey baby? She did, of course she did.

Deep gratitude to the femme in the picture. Her life is an integral part of the queer femme history that blesses and informs our present-day queer femme lives. 

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! New Femme Friday feature for fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

 

Published in: on November 9, 2018 at 5:17 PM  Comments (3)  
Tags: ,

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – FREE LEONARD PELTIER!

The National Day of Mourning is coming up, and for as long as I’ve been going to it and for much longer than that, a letter from Mr. Peltier is read, and, as we march through the streets of Plymouth afterwards, we chant, “Free Leonard Peltier!” May this be the year that Mr. Peltier is there in person.

Leonard Peltier Freedom Riders, both two- and four-legged, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for your dedication and fortitude; thank you for your giant hearts and the love you bring.

https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/news/leonard-peltier-freedom-riders-reach-white-house-after-1-500-mile-spirit-ride-aZX2UJuTHEqGHBvOoApb4w/

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Crow Prayer by Miel Rose

For the earth, for each other, for community and caring, here is a prayer by my dear femme sister, Miel Rose. May our collective love align with the power of the universe to shift us all towards deep and lasting healing.

Bless Us, Crow

Let us find the right tools

For the right job

At the right time.

May the faith we hold in ourselves

And our own capabilities

Never waiver.

May our connection to Source

Remain strong

A constant line to nourishment

To wisdom.

When we are bogged down in the details

Let us gain inspiration from you

And fly to the tallest vantage

To survey the whole.

With hearts overflowing

We thank you.

Miel Rose is a witch and healer living and practicing in Western, Mass. She offers her gorgeous wares, femme-made and filled with femme love and healing, including hand embroidery, sacred votive candles, altar cloths, skin medicine, magical honey sweetened chocolates and more at her etsy store, flame and honeycomb.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Pingy Dingy Wednesday – Ironwood Pig Sanctuary and a little Wendell Barry

I often say to Tex of an evening as we’re cleaning up after supper, “I wish we had a nice little pig!” (“I don’t,” is the inevitable reply.) But if we had a nice little pig, we could feed it our scraps, just like we did at Camp Plantation, my hippy farm camp: all leftover food went into the pig bucket and from there, into the pigs. Alas, Tex is right, having a pig in the ‘burbs would not be practical, but I can at least support this amazing pig rescue place:

http://www.ironwoodpigsanctuary.org/

Also, when I hear about the latest horror inflicted on all the animals on this planet, I can recite “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Barry to give myself the strength to keep showing up and putting one foot in front of the other for all the creatures with paws and claws and hoofs and fins who are so precious and so vulnerable.

Ironwood Pig Sanctuary and Wendell Barry, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for the hard work of rescue and art with which you grace the world.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

–Wendell Barry

from Collected Poems 1957-1982

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Our Cherished and Neglected Gifts

For me, creativity is paramount. I am an acolyte and a worshiper of creativity. It was a beautiful moment when I realized that my creativity permeates everything I do, that it’s not just for my writing. This freed me up and helped me understand that I haven’t been wasting my time when I’m not able to write; I’ve still been accessing a bubbling well of creativity, a well that will never run dry.

However, even though, like love, creativity is unlimited, what I have trouble remembering is that I have my own physical, emotional and spiritual limits. If I spend hours and hours dreaming up more and more exciting and unique projects for my students, I go to bed never having touched the YA manuscript that is waiting patiently for me. If I can remember to trust that my creativity will be with me when I’m teaching, which it pretty much always is, then even the most mundane lesson will become exciting and useful, and the energy I still have can be used on my most cherished and neglected gift, writing.

“Why do I run from what I love the most?” Tex lamented to me the other day. She’s been drawing and painting again, something she’s always loved but had neglected for many years. “So why is it so difficult to just draw?” I don’t really know, but it’s certainly something I ask about my own writing. Is it that I’m afraid I’ll fail? That it will suck me in and I’ll never want to do anything else?

Perhaps it has something to do with being someone, like Tex, who is blessed with multiple interests, especially when some of those interests, like teaching or organizing, are rewarded so tangibly in that I’m paid for my work or I can see the results of organizing an event for young queer people very clearly and right away.

Not so much with writing. It’s hard, it’s lonely, and a lot has to be taken on faith: I truly believe that there are readers out there who feel a little less alone because they read one of my stories and felt a connection, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever really know the exact impact of my work.

A lot of the time, my many interests feel like noisy fledglings, all demanding to be fed. It’s exhausting! If I take on the role of mama bird, I can never settle down, since if I stop stuffing worms down the babies, they might die. But hold on, maybe that’s the wrong metaphor. Gems. What about gems? Gems never stop shining, even if they get buried in the dirt for a while. And even if you never go back to them, someone else might dig them up later and they will shine for that person just as much as they ever did for you. And if the other babies aren’t going to die, why can’t this harried mama bird choose to surrender to the love of her life? Choose to drink those deeper draughts that nourish the more complex and difficult creative work of writing?

I wonder, femme sisters, what is your cherished and neglected gift? Whatever it is, would you, for me, brush off the dirt, give it a little shine with your sleeve, and hold it up to the sunlight so that we might all bathe in the radiance?

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Published in: on October 29, 2018 at 4:26 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Femme Friday – Sinister Wisdom: A Multicultural Lesbian Literary & Art Journal

On the cover of her card celebrating Sinister Wisdom’s 42nd birthday, Anne-Lise Emig describes the journal as providing: diversity and courage, levity, graciousness and strength, lesbianism, wisdom and sanctuary. Since 1976, Sinister Wisdom has been our rock and our heartbeat. The latest issue, #110, is edited by Cheryl Clarke, Morgan Gwenwald, Stevie Jones, and Red Washburn. The topic is “Dump Trump: Legacies of Resistance.”

Bless you, Sinister Wisdom, for Joan Nestle’s “Lesbian Polemics, Without Apology,” where she loves, encourages, and accompanies us in our resistance: “A profound polemics never to be ashamed for its insistences. I am never just a Jew anymore, I am an ‘anti-Occupation Jew.’ I am not just a lesbian anymore, I am an ‘anti-Trump lesbian.’ Once ‘lesbian’ was a modifier, now it needs to be modified while our resistance to the growing power of oligarchs must never be. This resistance must be constant, driven as much by the promise of our past knowledges as by our wise despairs. Sappho, a throwaway moment in lesbian history so often, refused even the poetic meters of the warmongering classes. Refusing to sing of ‘arms and the Man,’ of the heavily soldiered ships in the harbors, she created lines where women’s bodies embraced, strong in their declaration of desire and wise in their comfort with ironic refusals. Oh how persistent her fragmented voice, her condemned voice, her banned voice, has proved. Lesbian polemics, the imaginative body speaking to the unjust State, the deviant turned ‘refusnik,’ calling out the doggerel of Trump nationalisms.”

Bless you, Sinister Wisdom for Teresa Hommel’s incredible article about the dangers of electronic voting, “Democracy or Trump: Our Choices Now.”

Bless you, Sinister Wisdom, for the transcript of a Queer Conversation with Morgan M. Page and Sarah Schulman about the suicide of Bryn Kelly, a friend of both of them, where they discuss “conflict, care, and community.” Sarah says, “I do not view Bryn’s death as a failure of our community, but rather as a wound on our loving, caring yet fragile community assaulted regularly by a punitive and indifferent system. We must stop destroying ourselves, while letting the institutions that are hurting us, stand, unopposed. In this case, our love could not overwhelm that institutional cruelty and abandonment. But that does not diminish how much we all give each other, and the beauty and the power and the wealth of how much we all love and care. We have to stay alive, and fight like hell for the living.” And Morgan: “And, for us, Bryn’s whole life wasn’t just being trans. She was a very active member of the queer fun community in Brooklyn. She was – even though she did not identify as a lesbian – very active in the lesbian community. In fact, she once judged lesbian fiction at the Lambda Literary Awards, and she posted about it on her blog. She was like, ‘my favorite activity is judging lesbians’ [laughter]. And so, to me, I think sometimes we fall down a bit of a rabbit hole where we think that only a person who is exactly like this person can talk about this person and I think that doesn’t talk about the truth of who that person’s community was. You know, it doesn’t talk about the many different communities that person can be part of.”

Bless you, Sinister Wisdom, for all these and more. For being there for us for all these years.

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! New Femme Friday feature for fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

 

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday — Black Power Blueprint

I’m a St. Louis girl (ok, University City, right next door), and was just recently thinking about when we were bussed to Jr. High in 6th grade. My elementary school had been very mixed, but there were kids at our new school who had been in all-white or all-black environments until that year. I remember how unsettling it was to realize that the adults had no clue how to deal with the resulting problems.

Just the other day, one of my students had to read an essay for another class by a black man talking about how he is perceived by white people; just the fact of his body becomes charged, dangerous. One of the study questions was, “Is this essay still relevant today? Why or why not?”

Black Power Blueprint, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for all your love and hard work. Dear readers: Donate. Support. Volunteer. Take heart. Don’t stop loving.

https://uhurusolidarity.org/2018/05/07/black-power-blueprint-in-st-louis-making-black-power-a-reality/

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Published in: on October 24, 2018 at 2:43 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Always Being Everything

Women’s Week in Provincetown, MA is always a highlight of my year. One of the highlights of this year’s Women’s Week was Mimi Gonzalez’s writing workshop. One beautiful sunny morning, we met in the parlor at Roux, a lesbian-owned inn on Bradford St.. There were about 10 of us, including the owners of Roux themselves. Mimi started out by welcoming us, letting us know that she wanted to create safe space for us to be in community, and that she was offering this workshop in that spirit, passing on love she herself received in her recently-completed MFA program.

Quoting the gospel of Thomas, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you,” Mimi asked us to give ourselves the gift of being present, of bringing forth, especially if we’ve denied this impulse in the past. Then we did a free-write responding to the prompt of centering yourself in space, landing in your body, where you are right now, and how you feel. We were asked to keep the pen moving on the paper for five minutes.

Sisters. Five minutes. In just five minutes, I brought forth so much. An excerpt:

The sun on our backs coming into this orange room onto Mimi’s beautiful curly hair and I am here with someone from the publishing panel and a femme colleague and my friend from the Fun Run and am I here as a writer or as a teacher? Observing Mimi’s generous, lovely, sweet presence as she welcomes and loves us into this space – can I just be a writer? Do I always have to be everything – writer, activist, teacher, editor, professional queer? Can I give myself the gift of coming right into my writer’s soul and the soul of my writing – what I have been praying for?

It was Tex who pointed out to me that I’m always working. It just never occurred to me that taking notes on books and newspaper articles, analyzing movies and tv shows, jotting down things heard on the radio that connect to projects I’m working on, or may work on in the future, was work. It’s just how I do, how I relate to the world. But it is work, and it can also get in the way – ok, it almost always gets in the way – of relaxing, just being, just experiencing. One more email, one more note, one more intense discussion about my theory on this or that public figure or movie… This happens so frequently that Tex asked to implement a No Intense Discussions First Thing in the Morning rule so she could get out the door to work in good trim, and I do my best to comply, despite being READY TO ROCK when I wake up, partly due to not being able to turn off my brain.

I would not be surprised if many of you, my queer femme sisters, sometimes find yourselves in a similar dilemma, especially about the more quiet parts of your natures, say, the part of you that would like to finally plant something in that sweet patch of earth outside, or take time to learn more about the utterly amazing horseshoe crabs, or write or draw or just sit and be for land’s sake – anything that requires shutting off the busy and drawing down deep on the soul.

Busy is rewarded, and queers seem to be particularly prone, thank you homophobia, heterosexism, misogyny and all your foul relatives. We feel the pull to provide, model, mentor, teach, accompany, rescue, proclaim, produce, react, educate, and on and on, when maybe, just maybe, all of that could be accomplished in dropping everything but one thing. Not forever, not for always, but for sometimes. Can you give yourself the now-and-again gift of “just” being a gardener? A lover? A poet? If so, the energy that is flittery and far-flung, your precious, unique, amazing femme energy, will pool and thicken, turn rich, potent, delicious. Don’t think product; think connection. Connection to systems of love, bolstering them rather than armoring up and fighting systems of oppression. Of course we need to do both. But personally, I spend almost all of my time on the latter instead of the former, when I am beginning to understand that the former is the one that can really fuel revolution.

My darlings, today honor your revolutionary femme energy with the soul-nourishing freedom to be still. Go deep. Be and be and be just one thing today.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Femme Friday – All of the Below and So Much More

Happy Friday, Beautiful Femmes! This is for all of you, for all of us, for all the kinds of femmes we are! Thanks to Liz Nania for modeling and allowing me to feature her fabulous bag!

 photo.JPG

 

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! New Femme Friday feature for fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Published in: on October 19, 2018 at 1:00 AM  Comments (1)  

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Saint Harridan and “Saint Swagger” by Melanie DeMore

For several years, Mary Going and the crew at Saint Harridan provided incredible, loving service to butches, trans men, and other folx who wanted to wear men’s clothing but weren’t able to find a good fit or (and especially) a good shopping experience. Alas, Saint Harridan went out of business in 2016. We miss you!!

Tex has one of Saint Harridan’s suits, and we were just sorry it didn’t come along soon enough for her to get married in! She’ll wear it when we renew our vows in Ptown next year, though.

Mary and Melanie, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for the work you did for our community, for your integrity and strength, for the suits, the music, and thank you, thank you for the swagger!

http://marygoing.com/saintharridan/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XINhLF2BsJU

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Published in: on October 10, 2018 at 12:57 PM  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , ,