Femme Friday – Literary Femmes: Graciela from the short story “Glamour” by Anna-Marie McLemore

            In California, 1923, Graciela Morena wants to be a movie star so badly that she uses color glamour to make herself appear white and she changes her name to Grace Moran. When she runs into a boy from her past, Sawyer, she begins to re-examine and recast her dreams.

            “In the midst of oppression,” writes Anna-Marie McLemore in their Author’s Notes, “seeing the magical even through the tragic, the unjust, the heartbreaking, is a way of survival, for people, for communities, for cultures. Our spirits depend on not overlooking that which might be dismissed or ignored.”

Deep gratitude to Anna-Marie for dreaming Graciela into the Great Femme Universe. Thank you for giving me permission to honor her here as a femme, although she might not have had that language for herself. Her love and understanding of Sawyer, a transboy (also not the language he would have had) is tender and filled with such gorgeous possibility. The love Graciela begins to center on herself is a gift and inspiration to all femmes everywhere. Thank you for giving us this glimpse of a magical femme past, inspiring our present and our future.

            “So there’s nothing you want?” she asked

            He came toward her, so slowly he did not limp. “I didn’t say that.”

            He slid his hand onto the back of her neck and kissed her. He tasted like the honey and first-harvest apricots they’d eaten after dinner. Amber sugar. Fireweed. It made her bite his lower lip just hard enough that the sound he made could have been either pain or him asking her to do it again.

            For a second, that taste faded away, leaving behind the bitter tang of brick wine. For a second they were back on that brocade fainting couch, and she was flinching under the feeling that one more kiss would break down the girl she’d given everything to be.

            But this was not some borrowed green room. This was the night air threading through her family’s almond trees. She was not laced into some costume corset, a petticoat rough against her legs. She wore a dress made by her mother, the skirt smooth as poured cream.

            This was not some set where she had to stuff herself into a girl called Grace Moran.

            There was as much room for Sawyer and Graciela as the whole shimmering sky.

                                                –Anna-Marie McLemore, “Glamour”

The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes and Other Dauntless Girls, edited by Jessica Spotswood, Candlewick Press, 2018

P.S. We are so lucky, because Anna-Marie has written so many gorgeous books! Go forth and read her novels: The Weight of Feathers, Blanca & Roja, Dark and Deepest Red, Lake Lore, The Mirror Season, Wild Beauty, Miss Meteor, Self-Made Boys, and When the Moon Was Ours. Order them from Womencrafts!

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, femmelife! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three or four times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, Femme Friday on Friday, and (new for spring 22!) the occasional Sometimes On A. 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.”) And…as I go through life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.