When I Was Your Age — A Meditation for Queer Femmes

The freckle-faced young white femme shows up at the meeting wearing dark purple lipstick, her curly red hair in pigtails, her feet in high-heeled silver boots. Today, members of the QSA are going before the school board to educate them about LGBTQ+ identities and issues. The young femme speaks knowledgably and with great passion about demi-boys, demi-girls and other identities, about the reasons you might want to put your pronoun in your signature line, and about the ins and outs of queer community online. She is thirteen.

When I was your age, I was wearing Beatles t-shirts and obsessing over John Lennon. My best girlfriend and I waited on the sidewalk outside of the Dakotas and finally saw John leaving. We were too cool to ask for an autograph, just fluttered about, telling him how much his music meant to us.

The young Latinx femme wears fire engine red lipstick and gauzy scarves. One of her paintings takes up the whole wall, part-graphic novel, part-geometric tromp-l’oeil. Her passion spills out in her laughter and her mad dashes as she greats friends and fans, guiding them around the gallery. She is twenty-two.

When I was your age, I was trying so hard to be straight. I thought something was broken inside me, that my romance was broken. I couldn’t write, or only if I tricked myself by listening to music as I sat in front of the typewriter, pretending it wasn’t a big deal, that it wasn’t anything, really. I chose to date mean, unavailable straight guys, perhaps in an unconscious move to self-sabotage myself. I didn’t have words for being queer and didn’t come out for another eight years.

Dear young femmes, when you are my age, may your long, queer lives have given you lots of sex and joy and adventure and satisfaction. May you be loved and loving, creating your art, weathering life surrounded by your darlings. May you have made a difference in the world.

When you are my age, may you be held in community and in family, resting secure in your femme wisdom.

Just as I am.

Every Monday (or Tuesday), I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was a fabulous straight femme, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

Published in: on February 28, 2017 at 4:35 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday — Constance Clare-Newman, The Bio

Can I tell you how much fun it is walking the streets of Ptown with Constance and witnessing her fearlessness as she sweetly and with genuine curiosity asks likely passers by, “Do you identify as butch/femme?” This because of our ongoing and hopeful organizing to make butch/femme space in Ptown, not as obvious a task as one might think!

Constance is such a dyed-in-the-wool, caring and gracious community member, showing up for her people on both coasts. Check out her efforts to get a real dance floor installed in the Ptown rec center:



and read about her beautiful femme life below!

Deep gratitude to Constance!

Constance has over forty years of extensive experience in various movement disciplines. Raised by a ballet dancer mum from Australia, she was dancing before anything else. But being a horse crazy girl, Constance chose horses over dance and grew up to be a horse trainer and a riding teacher. Constance rode dressage professionally throughout California and spent four years studying in Europe. She trained horses and riders through the international levels of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). The horse business is filled with lesbians of all varieties and Constance taught and trained with red lipstick and nails while seducing lesbians and “straight” women alike. 

As a young dyke in the late 70’s, Constance had briefly attempted to present as she was instructed to: cut off jeans, T’s, work boots, short hair, no shaving, an attitude of tough. However, and thank the goddess, Constance fell for young butches who encouraged that tight red dress with heels for dancing and that bright red lipstick.

Constance’s next career and decade included a return to dance, a move to San Francisco, and a journey into recovery from addictions. As a modern dancer, Constance performed professionally in the Bay Area with Anne Bluethenthal & Dancers and Purple Moon Dance Project, both companies headed by lesbians and with strong lesbian themes. Lucky!

During this time, Constance was the only femme to work at Old Wives Tales bookstore, which although they had a history of severe lesbian feminist politics, the women who worked together during this time were all fabulously supportive of each other. Femme oppression was in the air, but not from the staff. Femme appreciation arrived in the 90’s in San Francisco. When The Persistent Desire was published in 1992, many butches and femmes breathed with ease again, or maybe for the first time ever. The butch/femme renaissance invited new discussions about sexuality that was exciting to many lesbians who had felt they needed to tamp down their desires for difference.

The next decade or so was spent finishing a BA and going to the 3 year training to become an Alexander Technique teacher. What drew Constance to Alexander was the possibility she saw in others not just of relieving back pain, but of embodying ease and grace and giving up a life of pushing and striving. Particularly one inspirational role model, Anne Bluethenthal, (another femme lesbian,) who prioritized a state of being and a way of working that prioritized what really mattered to her.

Constance met her butch husband in 2000, got married in 2001, (again legally in 2007) and has since enjoyed a delicious marriage in which deliciousness is emphasized.

Constance now lives in the desert of Palm Springs in the winter and in Provincetown, on the bay in summers. As well as running a beautiful house and garden and entertaining many guests, Constance teaches others to increase their postural and movement awareness and efficiency. Bringing mindfulness to all activities creates a life of embodied grace and choicefullness.

Constance’s current teaching is informed by all the disciplines she has studied, as well as her continuing education and exploration in somatic methods such as Continuum, Laban, experiential anatomy, trauma work and consciousness studies.

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. Suggestions welcome!

Don’t Apologize — Meditations for Queer Femmes

Right in the middle of a Valentine’s Day date with friends and spouse comes the call from the assisted living facility: Dad fell and hit his head. You need to get him to the ER. We middle-aged queer femmes always have some part of our hearts open to our responsibilities, even when socializing and relaxing. In this case, the femme doesn’t panic. She knows that the assisted living place has their protocols and those protocols don’t always fit what has actually happened. She also knows that if she’s going to be in the ER, she needs to finish her meal, go home and change and get a few provisions, and – perhaps most importantly – laugh and chat just a wee bit longer, savoring the good, queer company.

“This is queer self care!” said her friend recently, after they’ve enjoyed a lunch together, catching up on each other’s lives. It’s been much too long since they’ve made that time, just to sit and have a good, juicy, femme natter.

Dad has indeed bumped his head and the middle aged queer femme decides she’d better head over to the ER with him. He’s shaky and his color isn’t so good. Once there, she tries to settle in. A little girl is singing, making everyone in the waiting room smile. An old man gazes sympathetically at Dad, who has nodded off. The femme notices the other man is wearing thick, hand-knit shin warmers under his trousers.

Finally in a room – nice, since last time they had to hang out in the hallway – she sits, texting her spouse, reading her book, making sure to stay hydrated. She explains the situation to nurses and doctors as they pop in and out. Tests, speculation. In the next room, a woman’s nose won’t stop bleeding. In the hallway, college students keep their friend company as she weeps, cross-legged and miserable on the stretcher.

Dad dozes, the femme dozes. She can’t help overhearing the woman next door, who is hurting and miserable, and the woman’s daughter. “I’m sorry,” says the woman, “we need some more gauze.”

“Of course!” This from one of the nurses, the one wearing cute red scrubs, his head shaved, a nice heavy silver ring in his left earlobe, a slight accent, a slight swish. “Honey, don’t apologize. You sure don’t have to apologize to us.”

The femme has been thinking how much saner it would be if all this hospital resource, time, materials, labor, was directed towards taking care of the elderly in their own homes. Dad would fall. The nurse would come and evaluate – all that portable equipment on rollers, why couldn’t it travel? And if it really was an emergency, then fine, get on in to the hospital. Or what if you came in, they checked you out and sent you home with follow-up care? No way, in the current system. But at least there is family. At least there is that life lesson: don’t apologize.

And even with all the mishigas, even though, in the best of all possible worlds, you would  be home in bed, even with all the noise: You are beautiful. You are perfect. You are who and where you are meant to be.

Every Monday (or Tuesday), I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was a fabulous straight femme, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

Published in: on February 21, 2017 at 12:55 PM  Comments (2)  
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Rollin’ in the Femmemobile

One of the things that being femme did was relieve me of having to perform certain duties that I actually don’t like to perform. You know, how real women are supposed to be able to do everything for themselves, from opening the door to operating a skid steer?  I am not one of those femmes who can brag about wielding chain saws and changing the oil whilst rocking fish nets and 6 inch spiked heels. I don’t like to change the oil; I would hate to have to remember how to change a tire; I have no interest in using a chain saw or chopping wood or any of those other things. And I really don’t like putting gas in the car.

Usually my butch does these things for me, and that actually makes me feel more femme, more queer, and I don’t have to feel less of a woman, less of a feminist because I don’t like to do these typically “manly” things.

Today, however, the tank was on empty. And I was a bit far from home. I was in a town that had self serve gas stations, unlike my own darling town where that is outlawed. You can’t find a self serve gas station in my town! It’s fabulous. So, even though my butch has assured me that when the tank warning light goes on I can still drive for 20 miles, I’m actually not very good at gauging miles, so I didn’t know if I would be able to get home.

Bravely, I said to myself, “Suck it up and go into the self serve gas station, ‘cause it’s not like your dad didn’t teach you how to do this when you were 14 and learning to drive in the VW bus.” So I did.

I drove up. I got out. I put in the credit card and I had to fiddle around with it for a long time, but finally it let me start pumping. And I did. I filled up the tank and I got back in the car, and I said to myself, “Good job, little lady!”

That’s when I noticed there was gas all over my leopard skin patterned gloves.

Femme Friday will return soon! Watch this space, and don’t touch that dial.

Published in: on February 17, 2017 at 5:36 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Snow Day — Meditation for Queer Femmes

When we’re children, a snow day is cause for celebration, a delicious present that keeps reality at bay. As adult femmes, we remember that feeling with a regretful shake of the head as we suit up to go shovel, make sure the roof is ok, the pipes aren’t freezing; as we figure out if we can make it to work or have to call in; as we shoulder all the grown up realities we are responsible for.

Perhaps, though, as evening comes around and the light begins to change, the snow luminescent, not blue, not white, perhaps you can lean on your shovel, or hang up the phone or settle into a moment of meditation. In the depth of winter there is peace. A snow day is a break in the usual rush of things. We are not separate from the elements. Our busy lives, filled with activities, are not the driving force.

Full moon on snow. Let go.

Every Monday (or Tuesday), I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was a fabulous straight femme, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

Published in: on February 13, 2017 at 4:41 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Making Queer Culture – Meditation for Queer Femmes

The presidency of Trump has given those of us who might have been in a gentle slumber an opportunity to wake up. We have always needed the shared strength of other queers, from the homophile movement to combatting indifference to our health concerns, especially in regards to AIDS. Not only do we need each other’s individual wisdom, humor and support, we need to be lifted up by our queer culture.

At the National Day of Mourning this year, several of the speakers shared stories about ancestors coming to them in dreams. That gift is only available when a people has deep, cellular knowledge of their own cultural heritage. We queers need the knowledge of our own queer cultural heritage. We need the strength that comes from knowing our own unique art and literature and humor and cuisine. We need the strength of our forebears as well as that of queers of all ages. Gathering our people around us to make and partake of queer culture will give us the strength we need.

So throw a themed dinner party. Start a queer salon. Request that your local library sponsor a queer book group (see Arlington, MA’s Robbins Library’s Queer Book Group for inspiration). Do a queer Feed and Read (a potluck combined with reading out loud together the queer story or novel or poetry of your choice). Invite other queers over to watch queer media and/or plan and execute political actions. Plan a femme fashion show or a butch/femme barbeque. A dance, a field trip, a writing group.

We cannot rely on the scraps thrown to us by straight culture, and we cannot afford to wait for better days, because the world needs our queer resistance right now.

We need our ancestors to come to us in dreams.

Every Monday (or Tuesday), I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was a fabulous straight femme, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 8:21 PM  Leave a Comment  
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