Meditations for Queer Femmes — The Road to Femme

Tex and I saw “Fun Home” this weekend. It was incredibly moving to witness queer story so impeccably presented with such talent and love. The two of us held hands, quite misty, as Small Alison sang “Ring of Keys”, a song celebrating that moment when a young queer spots an adult queer and realizes that she is not alone in the world. Recognizes herself. Carly Gold, playing Small Alison, is a wonderful actor, portraying that pivotal moment with such ebullient joy. It was deeply satisfying.

Later, though, I got to thinking. When or how does this happen for femmes? Our role models are almost always straight women; I think of my grandmother, my aunt, a college roommate. But that powerful zing of connection, “Hello! I’m like you! You’re like me!” that “There I am!” moment may very well not be part of our childhood experience, and even if we do briefly experience queer connection, we are so very good at denying it, trying, in our isolation and confusion, to make it fit into a heterosexual mold.

In Lee Lynch’s story, “Cannon Street,” the little butch protagonist meets an adult femme and experiences some of her first sexual feelings. If we are a femme who is romantically attracted to butches, we, too, might feel sexual stirrings if we ever have the luck of glimpsing an adult butch out in public or of having a crush on a tomboy. But even those feelings can be pretty difficult to interpret. As my straight college roommate encouraged me to do, we might think of them as just a wrong turn having to do with an excess of hormones and horniness. Not to mention the fact that this connection is sexuality-based, which is important, of course, but is only one part of a fuller femme identity.

Every one of us queer femmes is so different. Some of us are expert at constructing an identity. “Maybe we’ve never seen one that could be us yet,” writes Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha in her poem “femmes are film stars”. “but we make her up,” she continues, “we make her up outta thin air; outta brilliance and ass.” Others of us, more timid and cautious like myself, need books and all kinds of other bolstering and specific examples in order to find, let alone progress on, the road to femme.

If our femme role models are all straight, as they are likely to be, then they actually aren’t role models. They might be great at teaching us how to put on eye makeup or choose an outfit, they might love us to bits, we might need them desperately, but in the end, they can actually be obstacles on the road to femme.

At a recent Femme Klatsch, we discussed ways of being out as queer femmes. I like to wear my Femme Show t-shirt; another femme always makes sure to be sporting a rainbow somewhere; all of us are as out as we possibly can be, at all times.

Being visibly queer for we femmes is certainly not as self-evident as it is for butches or more androgynous lesbians, but it is so incredibly important, for our own self worth, for queer femme community, and for the next generation whose paths we will certainly cross.

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



Monday Meditation for Queer Femmes — Femme Backup

for Jill

Our queer stories are filled with isolation. So many of us grow up knowing nothing about our culture, our ancestors, our power. So many of us need years to find ourselves, first as queer and then as our own particular marvelous queer manifestation.

As femme goddess Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha says in her poem “femmes are film stars”,

…Maybe we’ve never seen the one that could be us yet

but we make her up

we make her up outta thin air

outta brilliance and ass

Some of us never even get there at all, and for these we grieve and flame all the brighter in their memory.

My butch husband and I recently had dinner out with our femme friend, Jill. It was a sweet dinner, where we caught up, laughed, listened to each other’s stories, the ridiculous, the uplifting, the incredibly difficult, the mundane. Midway through the meal, my husband got up to use the restroom. She had previously questioned me, as per usual, about the layout of the facilities. Gendered, not single stall.

“I’ll go, too,” Jill said and I relaxed. I trusted her on butch bathroom duty, I realized. I could sit back and keep enjoying my food.

Back home, I heard how smoothly it all went down. “I asked her if she minded me going first,” my butch reported, “and she said, ‘Of course not! I know how to do this!’”

Just a small moment in the course of the evening, but one that had meaning for me almost beyond words, and one that situated us all in our most intimate and nuanced queer selves.

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.


Published in: on April 17, 2017 at 5:08 PM  Comments (2)  
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