Femme Friday – Minnie Bruce Pratt

This is not a research paper. This is a love letter. Minnie Bruce Pratt came into my baby femme life in the mid-ninties, in the form of her book, S/HE. I was in a doomed relationship with my partner at the time and would remain there for years and two babies to come. Reading Minnie Bruce’s exquisitely written, exquisitely honest, exquisitely femme pieces kept me company as I navigated the long, obstacle-strewn path back to my own true nature. Certain scenes written by this femme national treasure are burned in my memory. They have become part of my femme circulatory system, running in my body true as blood. So much grief in her life, her children taken from her, the loss of her butch, victim of an undeclared war, so much pain in her long femme life, and so much generosity as she continues to speak up and fight back and make us the queer femme gift of posting a poem every Thursday! Love always, to Minnie Bruce, who made me know, without a doubt, that I, too, would one day “be made translucent with desire”.

Deep gratitude to Minnie Bruce Pratt for her uncompromising femme fury, political understanding and inspiring art.

The Ritz

Just before we sleep, I stroke your back and begin a favorite fantasy, how we met each other when we were very young. Outside the Ritz movie theater in thick summer night, I am a slightly plump teenager, self-conscious in white short-shorts and sandals, waiting with friends to see Pillow Talk or Where the Boys Are. You are a stranger, the only person no one knows. (“What am I wearing?” you say. “Blue jeans, and a white t-shirt, and sneakers.” “Yes! How did you know?” “I do know you,” I say. You murmur, to yourself, “Did you really have on short-shorts then?”) Someone taunts you with where you are from, but you flirt with me in front of everyone. (And you in the present begin to talk to me: “What’s your name? What a pretty name. Will you take a walk with me?”)

The other boys and girls have done nothing but tease me about my name since we began school together when we were six. Suspicious, they watch me on the edge of something dangerous, talking to a strange boy, in the spill of light from the street lamp. Junebugs skid through the air and thud into us. Doris Day’s poster face, virginal and blonde, smiles secretively at us. I watch myself looking at you, wanting what I can’t even name. I ask you, “Are you really a boy?” And you say, “Yes….No.” We pay our fifteen cents to go sit in torn vinyl seats. You want to put your arm around me, but I say, “No, everyone is watching. Around here, that’s almost the same as getting married.” You hold my hand instead and whisper in my ear how sweet I am. I say, “You are too nice to be a boy.” Sometimes when we play at being teenagers, you coax me, “Please let me touch your breasts,” and my nipples heat up and then flare out in the fear of being touched. Then I begin to cry, bitter hot tears, wanting so badly to be a girl who had you for her first kiss, her first everything.

 

–Minnie Bruce Pratt, “The Ritz”, S/HE, Firebrand Books, 1995

 

Every Friday, The Total Femme showcases a queer femme goddess. Suggestions welcome!

 

 

Published in: on May 12, 2017 at 1:54 PM  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love her! What a beautiful post. That book blew me away when I first found it. It was the most inspiring reading imaginable! Perhaps I could tag Minnie Bruce on facebook so she could read this, if i could figure out how to do that…..

  2. That would be great! She is such an inspiration!


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