Femme Friday – Janine Evers and “The Femme Closet”

I met, Janine, a sister butch-lovin’ femme, in Provincetown, where we had lots of fun getting to know each other at the Ptown Femme Klatsch and beyond. Janine is an absolutely fabulous artist. You can follow her on instagram, or check out her work at




Deep gratitude to Janine for her generosity in sharing these honest and soul-searching thoughts on femme identity as well as her own beautiful journey to Femme.

The Femme Closet

This is not an article about clothing: although it would make a fun topic to discuss some of the beautiful, creative, sexy, feminine and diverse wardrobes of Femme Lesbians. This article is about the metaphorical closet; you know, the one LGBTQ people have had to hide in for so very long throughout history, and sadly, often still do. And what I would like to discuss here, is specifically a closet that I’ve found myself in; hiding my true femme identity and desires within the Lesbian community.

A few weeks ago, I was headed down the street on my way to meet up with some Femme friends at a local coffee shop, when I bumped into a couple of other friends on their bicycles. They stopped to say hi, and they asked where I was off to, to which I replied I was off to a Femme Coffee Klatsch where we discuss any and all things Femme. My friends on the bikes, (who identify as Lesbians ), both chuckled… Nervously? Patronizingly? Judgmentally? Perhaps, yet I chose to ignore any possible subtexts in the moment, and instead invited them to join in, to which they chuckled again, and one friend said of the other, “Jill defies labels. And she can rock a dress too!” More laughter and, “Have fun!” they said as they rode away.

Hmm…these are dear friends, who love and care about me, and so surely they meant no harm; just playful teasing. But it felt hurtful, it felt as if I was not being acknowledged or taken seriously by my friends. I did bring this up at the Femme Klatsch, and it was helpful and comforting to learn that they too have encountered that type of…dismissiveness? Homophobia? Lack of acceptance? within the Lesbian community as well. What is it exactly that makes non-femme identifying, gay/queer, label-less Lesbians so uncomfortable with the Butch/Femme dynamic? I’m not entirely sure, but I have also found that not only is my femme identity questioned, so also is who I am attracted to. comments like, “She looks like a guy”, and, “ I don’t get it. If you want to be with someone who looks like a guy and uses a strap-on, why not just be with a guy?”.

My own personal coming out story took a circuitous route. Although I first came out as gay in high school in the late 1970’s, it was not a smooth journey to understanding my identity as a femme lesbian. Growing up in the suburbs of NYC and coming from a progressive background, liberal parents, and alternative school education, I had no rejection from my friends and family when I told them I was gay. I’m very fortunate to have had that loving support and acceptance. Once I’d figured out I was a lesbian I thought it would all be smooth sailing into happy relationships. So when I got to college, I joined the feminist and gay alliance groups to meet others from my tribe. I looked around at the other lesbians for clues as to how to dress, wear my hair, walk, talk, etc. So I cut off my beautiful long brown hair, started wearing non gender specific clothing, tried walking with a bit of a swagger, and joined the women’s softball team. I was not an athlete. Dance and yoga were basically it for me! I had a girlfriend in college who I lived with for two years. She did carpentry, fixed cars, had a natural, subtle swagger, and was good at softball. Basketball too. I found all this, along with other things obviously, very attractive about her, but what I didn’t understand was that in order for me to be a legitimate lesbian I didn’t have to look or be like her. This generic, homogenization of gay women of that era that I bought into not only influenced how I presented myself to the world in my physical appearance, but how I dealt with and expressed my sexual desire. My girlfriend and I, along with other lesbian couples we knew, all looked and acted the same…somewhere along the lines of androgynous to soft butch perhaps, but I don’t think we even defined ourselves as such. It was more that how we were was the ‘way’ to be a lesbian. Interesting that there was room in there to express our more butch qualities, but definitely not our feminine sides. This became increasingly difficult for me, this feeling that I had to repress my more naturally feminine self, and I began to feel really confused about my secret desires for how I would like be made love to. My biggest worry was that I had a desire to be penetrated. If I wanted something inside of me, then I must not be a lesbian! it was very confusing. I honestly don’t think I was aware of strap-ons, or butch dick. I had no clue really. In my next relationship I ended up with a woman who was much more femme than any lesbians I knew at the time. I was drawn to her silky long blonde hair, her sense of style which included pretty scarves and heels or little ballet slippers, and especially her bright red lipstick! What I didn’t understand was that my attraction to her was more about desiring to look like her, than it was about desiring to be with her. After that relationship ended I was left totally confused about my sexuality, and so I thought, “Back to men, I guess.” I wasn’t sure that I was indeed straight, but perhaps, I thought I was Bi, and that it might make more sense for me to be with a man because at least I felt more comfortable in being myself both in my look and persona, as well as in bed.  But the smooth sailing to happy relationships that I had first hoped for once I’d realized I was gay, and then had hoped to find when I went on to be with men again, well, it never happened. After two marriages and two divorces to men, I thought, “something is really wrong with me”. Why couldn’t I feel that ultimate connection I so yearned for?

It was shortly after my mother had died, 10 years ago, that I began to really do some soul searching to understand my feelings and desires that I had so long repressed. Eventually after joining a dating site, and searching through many profiles of lesbians it began to finally become clear to me who I was attracted to…butch women! I began to read some butch/femme erotica, and check out websites that talked about the butch femme dynamic. I finally realized that I wasn’t strange, or perverse, or messed up, and that there were others that felt as I did. I was nearly 50 years old when I came to understand my true identity. These days it seems that labels are becoming dirty words. no one wants to be confined to labels, but rather be fluid in their genders and sexualities. And that’s wonderful! I love how so many young queer people are embracing all the nuances of this. But for me my journey has led me to a label…a very specific one, and it has given me the power and the acceptance that I have craved for so long in trying to figure out who I am in this lifetime, and to finally come out of the Femme closet to own my identity as a Femme Lesbian who is attracted to and loves Butch Lesbians.

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!

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 — Wegan

Wegan is two cutie-pie femmes, Whitney and Megan, who blog together at What Wegan Did Next, survived a 5-year long distance relationship together (hey! that sounds familiar, ‘cause me and Tex did, too!), were numbah 26 last year on the Diva Power List, have a dating site, Find Femmes, and by golly, are about to get married! Congrats, Wegan! May you have many, many happy years in love, lust, and femme power!

Aaaaand, that’s not all! Megan has a kick-ass article on femme invisibility at The Huffington Post, and to combat this scourge, Wegan started a campaign, Femme Visibility!

 Deep gratitude to Wegan for their love of femmes and their determination to show the world that we are not fucking invisible!

We suffer from femme invisibility. We mainly slip under the radars of both straight and gay people. For example, I used to go out gay clubbing twice a week whilst at university (the majority of my friends were gay males), and it was very hard for me to find a lady when out because 1) other lesbians most likely assumed I was straight or a “fag hag,” and 2) I assumed the majority of pretty ladies in the club were straight or fag hags. See the dilemma? I often felt that flashing a neon sign proclaiming “Yes, I am gay” would help. I’ve also observed the frequency of couplings of femmes with butch lesbians; it seems far rarer to see a femme/femme couple. I’ve toyed with the idea of ditching my heels, dress, and lipstick for a polo shirt, jeans, and Converse sneakers for a night out, just to see what would happen, but I just couldn’t do it. Luckily, I ended up meeting my lovely other half online, and three years later we are engaged.

–Megan Evans, Huffpost Blog                                                                                                 1/28/2012

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess (or two!). I want to feature you! Email me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me feature your beautiful, unique, femme story!





Meditation for Queer Femmes — Do You Have This in Queer?

Over at Mombian, Dana recently wrote about representation of queers in children’s media, where last-minute reveals and extremely subtle hints of queerness are about all you’re going to get. It’s not much better in adult media, either. We all know about how queer characters are extremely likely to get offed at any minute (we’re usually just plot devices anyway), but even if queer characters are allowed to live, they get a seriously puny amount of screen time. In “Humans”, for example, hets get endless slobbery kisses, deep hugs and sexy time, all accompanied by meaningful swelling music, while the lesbos get maybe 2 minutes max to play out their romance, ‘cause who wants to get up close and personal with that shit?

Way back in the day, on butch-femme.com, there were threads where boy/girl jokes were translated to butch/femme, sometimes to comic effect, but mostly it just felt sad. Butches aren’t men and femmes aren’t straight women, after all, but we know why this happens: there just isn’t enough visibility and queer culture for us to find ourselves in, especially for those of us who don’t live where things queer are readily available. And especially for femmes, who tend to be even less represented than other flavors of queers.

We can just lose our queer femme selves as we labor so hard to get along in the straight world at work, in our families of origin, even with our oldest and dearest straight friends. It’s incredibly wearing to keep pretending that we’re fully included, when actually, we’re usually just invited in and are allowed to stay as long as we conform to straight norms. We femmes appear to look the part, after all, and sometimes it’s easier to just play along rather than explain, once more, that yes, we are queer even if you don’t think we look like we are. We get worn down. We reach a saturation point, and find ourselves depleted, with nothing left over to feed our queer selves and hearts and souls. We even forget these need feeding.

“We want to be somewhere where every other waiter, store clerk or passerby is queer,” a femme says of she and her husband’s retirement plans. They are tired of the relentless straight, cis culture in the suburbs. They are tired of unrepentant, compulsive straight people.

Are you tired, too?

This week, reach out to your queer friends. Say no to a straight event in favor of a queer one, even if it means inviting the one other queer in town over for tea.

Feed your fabulous queer femme selves and store up the love. Don’t let your queer tank run dry.

The world needs your queer femme love!

Every Monday (or Tuesday, Wednesday, even), 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.

Femme Friday — Queer Femme Rising! An Interview with Sable Twilight

Sable and I met in the Radical Faerie Heart Circle at Creating Change, where we shared such lovely moments together. I am so thrilled to welcome her to Femme Friday, and am moved and inspired by her responses sparked by the following interview questions:

 “When first I found femme, I…” (thank you, Radical Faerie Heart Circle, where we were asked to complete the sentence, “When first I found a faerie…)

 Can you talk about how your understanding of “femme” has evolved over the years?

 Do you see femmes as being able to contribute something unique in this time of upheaval, danger and protest?

 Who are your femme role models?

Deep gratitude to Sable Twilight for these illuminating words!

 I am Sable. Sometimes Sable Twilight. A queer, femme, trans woman in Denver, Colorado. I currently work as a program manager for the transgender programmers a local LGBTQIA+ community center in fair sized Midwestern city Some of the additional identities I hold are white, middle class, temporarily able-bodied, born in the United States, college educated, mid-forties, and with English as my first language. And these are the lenses of understanding and relationship from which I approach my understanding of femme.

When asked to write about myself for Femme Friday, I was not sure how to approach it. While I had thought and read a bit about femme in terms of activism, visibility, and political, social, and spiritual dynamics, I had never really given voice or word for to how having a femme identity relates directly to me. I think, in a lot of ways, femme invisibility has been so strong, so powerful that it has been invisible even to myself for much of my life.

I think I have actively identifying as femme for about six years now, though reflecting back, I can see signs where I have always been femme. I consider myself more of a business femme, casual femme, witchy femme, and occasional pajama femme than high femme. I think one of the most empowering things I have done for myself, in relation to my femme identity, was to recognize how femme can manifest in many different ways and in many different dynamics. Initially when I started thinking of myself as femme, I would compare myself to other people I identified as femme. And I would often judge myself a bit harshly for not having enough of what I perceived as the femme trappings. Eventually I came to realize that, for me at least, femme was more about a relationship with myself, the world, and the universe. For me, femme about fluidity: in my relationships, in my identity, in just about everything. I think that is what makes femme such a challenging to define, because it can be such a fluid and unique for each person.

For me, my femme identity is as much a spiritual one as expressive one. As part of this acceptance of the diversity and fluidity of femme, I have sought to understand it’s diversity and fluidity in the universe and in the divinities I work with. As well as the above social identities, I do identify as a seidr worker, volva, energy worker and as such I have been feeling for a while there is sort of energetic shift I have been feeling in the world, a sort of rising femme energy. I have at times call it Queer Femme Rising, in recognition of the Queer Masculine or Homme energy which I saw developing from the queer (both literally and figuratively) creative movement of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. In a similar vein, I have seen this slow manifestation and growth of a femme dynamic manifesting in the world in an ever-growing manner.

As I have been working through my own connection of my femme identity and how it relates to my spiritual path, I have been working through some of the ancestral and cultural trauma embedded within the femme experience. I have been examining the intersection of femme oppression, cissexism and transphobia, queerphobia, capitalism, colonialism, racism and white supremacy, and xenophobia as sort of an extension of a core anti-femme need for rigidness and absolutism. I have begun to understand how femme passion and sexuality, youth and aging, the womb and death, nature itself have been perceived as this uncomfortable threat to the dynamics of patriarchy, control, and exploitation.

I think femme and the sacred femme and the queer femme have a lot to offer during this time of turmoil. They empower and inspire an embracing of change and diversity. And I think from that embracing of diversity opens the possibility for understanding the world and finding new path. For me, femme inspires a certain sense of hope and deep down caring, compassion, and love for the world, as well as a recognition for the need for action.

I think one of the biggest challenges femmes face is femme invisibility. We are everywhere but sometimes is it difficult to recognize one another. This is of the reasons I have been looking at the concept of the femme spiral. As told to me by a femme friend, this is the idea of putting some form of spiral based art, such as a tattoo, on the inside right wrist. The idea is it become a means of recognition which honors the diversity of our experiences as well as the often-cyclical nature of our existences.

I think it is important we stop harming each other. Stop committing lateral violence on one another. And to recognize we are all carrying within us generations of collective trauma. I feel the greatest and most damaging harm committed to us through the burning times and colonization was the internalization of the oppressor and then using that internalized force to regulate and oppress one another. It is time we start to heal our wounds and reclaim our internal power.

I have so many femme role models. They range across the femme spectrum – the high femmes, the punk and working class femmes, the corporate femmes, the Goths, the pajama femmes, the hidden femmes and the public femmes, the queer femmes, the femmes who embody their identities as an act of femme resistance. Even those most handsome of dapper gender queer, trans masculine, and non-binary femmes. They all inspire me and empower me when I allow myself to honor and recognize them.

I do find a lot of everyday empowerment from the Goddess Freyja, who, for me, is a representation of fierce femme, empowered sexuality, internalized beauty, and shaper of one’s own world, path, and destiny. And Freyja is just one representation of femme empowerment. The power of the scared femme is transcendent in countless divinities, both cultural and personal, across time and cultures. Ultimate I seek to see each femme I meet one of my femme role models.

In between work and letting myself relax with the occasional video game (yes I am a proud gamer femme as well), I have been throwing myself into the online course “The Burning Times Never Ended: A Story of Disenchantment and Re-membering Resistance” (http://callingourselveshome.weebly.com/the-burning-times-never-ended-re-membering-resistance.html) as a way to reconnect with a queer femme past which forces of patriarch and capitalism tired eradicating. And as part of my own spiritual journey, I have working through the book “Lifting the Veil: A Witches’ Guide to Trance-Prophesy, Drawing Down the Moon, and Ecstatic Ritual” by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone. I enjoy watching Steven Universe, and I think it holds a lot of value in terms of representation and empowerment. I look forward to the next seasons of Sense8 and HerStory. For femme inspired musicians, I am most definitely a fan of Miranda Sex Garden, Siouxie and the Banshees, Sleater-Kinney, La Roux, Carina Round, Ayria, Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadows, Jill Tracy, and so many other wonderful artists.

sable twilight

“Just on the border, Of your waking mind, There lies, Another plain, Where darkness and light are one, And as you tread the halls of sanity, You feel so glad to be, Unable to go beyond, I have a message, From another time…”

-ELO “Prologue” Time

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