Femme Friday – Theresa Pergola

Today, The Total Femme has a nice, friendly natter with Theresa Pergola.

Deep gratitude to Theresa, for sharing her story and for being a fierce and fabulous member of this rare breed!

TTF:    Tell us a bit about yourself.

TP:      I came out when I was 27 years old. I was dating a guy when I met my first butch. I led a very sheltered life early on.  I knew I was more “open” than my peers about sexuality but I didn’t know any gay females in my teens.  I befriended a lesbian at work and I started to address the feelings I had throughout my life.  Then it happened – I saw a butch who caught my eye and had a visceral reaction –   something I had never felt before with men. That’s when I knew I was 100% queer and I never looked back. I spent 10 years with that butch and had triplets with her. She passed away a couple of years ago but she will always remain an important part of my life.

TTF:    When did you start identifying as femme?

TP:      I started identifying as femme a few months after I came out.

TTF:    What is your femme coming out story?

TP:      It always gives me a chuckle when I think about my femme coming out story.  When I first came out I thought, in order to be visible in the community, I had to “look like a lesbian.”  I got a buzz cut and stopped (gasp!) wearing make-up.  I never felt so out of sorts.  Then one day I went to a Butch-Femme group meeting at the Center in Manhattan.  It was there I found out there were other women like me who embraced all things feminine AND there were counterparts who LOVED that about us. I was never so happy – I found my tribe!

TTF:    What does “femme” mean to you?

TP:      Femme is an identity.  It is being feminine while queer. It is reclaiming the feminine stereotypes and making them our own.

TTF:    Has your understanding of femme changed over the years?

TP:      I have learned that being femme is more than just wearing high heels and lipstick. It is about owning the power of my femininity, it is about being a nurturer at heart, it is about loving everything that makes me a sensual, feminine being. It is about being the ying to the yang of an MOC person.

TTF:    Who are your femme role models in the present? The past?

TP:      My femme role models are the other women I have met in real life and on social media who embrace being femme and support each other, sharing our experiences and challenges. Victoria Darling so eloquently helped to define stone-femme identity and I am grateful for all she contributed to the stone community. I have bonded with femmes around the globe, like Vivianne Ward from Australia, who is full of class and grace. I have a dear femme friend Jenny Smith who I adore and spend time with. I have also been lucky to meet my other New York sisters, Elise Birn and Carolyn Tresca. These women are so important to me because no matter where we are from, we have a deep understanding of one another that no one else has.

TTF:    Do you have a femme community? Why? Why not?

TP:      I do have a femme community thanks to social media. I am in several Facebook groups that are just for femmes. I recently got together with two other femmes from one of the groups and we ended up having a 5-hour lunch because it was so nice to bond and we had so much in common.

TTF:    Have you encountered issues in the wider queer community as a femme?

TP:      I actually identify as a stone-femme.  Many people, even in our community, have a mistaken sense of what that means.  Many people equate stone-femme with “pillow-princess” and that is just not a correct definition. It is hard for stone-femmes to explain who we are because there is so much judgment out there and the boundaries are different for each of us.

TTF:    Talk a bit about “femme invisibility”.

TP:      I have always been open about my identity and sexuality – with my family and friends, at work, and elsewhere.  I try my best to be visible and help people understand that queer people come in all shapes and sizes. Except, however, when it was not safe to do so. In that case, I think that “femme invisibility” is a luxury our counterparts do not have.

TTF:    Anything else you’d like to share about your life as a femme?

TP:      I want to share the importance of seeking out other femmes for friendships. We are a rare breed who share unique experiences. There is nothing more precious than being able to connect with someone who shares so much in common – it is a connection beyond compare!

 

Therresa Pergola.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! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it! New Femme Friday feature starting 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 September 13, 2019 at 12:07 AM  Leave a Comment  
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