Meditations for Queer Femmes — “What, you think we needed your permission?”*

“What is it with all these quotes?” my father asked me plaintively. I was in grad school getting an MFA in Creative Writing at one university and he was well into his 30th year teaching philosophy at another. “The kids these days use so many quotes at the beginning of their papers!”

Guilty! I had probably just written a paper about Maud Gunne and Yeats where I’d prefaced it with the quote, “I’ll be your mirror; reflect what you are,” from the Velvet Underground. Certainly meaningless and banal to someone like my dad, but replayed in its full glory in my mind, incredibly important to my sense of self, my understanding of the world and its many complexities, and utterly relevant to the topic of the paper at hand.

Last week, I wrote about the album “Horses” by Patti Smith. The album certainly means nothing at all to a lot of people, but for the people who were there, whose minds were similarly blown, well, you know what I’m talking about. And even if you’re more “eh” on the subject of this particular rock poet goddess, you’ve got your own heart and soul connections to other songs, so you still know what I’m talking about, even if you don’t feel Patti in your DNA.

It happens when you’re young and it doesn’t stop happening, that intense connection to a piece of art that reaches you at the exact moment you are examining life’s most compelling questions. And as high school teachers try and explain when talking about Shakespeare or the Greek tragedies, those questions just haven’t changed since Lucy (whose name was surely not that). But oh, those moments when it happens. When you feel that indescribably deliciously satisfying CLICK that both nails something in place and flings wide open doors and windows you hadn’t even known existed: someone has been here before me! someone amazing! they had this to say! they know what I’m feeling!

A good teacher can convey this experience, definitely, although it doesn’t have exactly the same impact. Still, when my junior high French teacher, worn out from decades of trying to reach the untamed minds of hundreds of uncaring American children, held onto her desk as she swayed, eyes closed, quoting Jacques Brel’s “Barbara” to us, let me tell you, I was not one of the kids whispering and passing notes. I still get goose bumps thinking about it:

                        Rappelle-toi, Barbara,

                        Il pleuvait sans cesse sure Brest ce jour-là

                        Et tu marchais souriante

                        Épanouie ravie ruisselante

                        Sous la pluie

                        Rapelle-toi, Barbara,

                        Il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest

                        Et je t’ai croisée rue de Siam

                        Tu souriais

                        Et moi je souriais de même

                        Rapelle-toi Barbara

                        Toi que je ne connaissais pas

                        Toi qui ne me connaissais pas


Remember! And reconnect with those most passionate feelings that make us human, that carry us forward into spiritual, political, sexual maturity. Those feelings that might dim, but that can be ushered back into brilliance with the sound of a few dirty guitar chords, a poem, the cover of a book, a painting, a play, a quote.

Queer femmes have had to do so much translation in this regard. Nico wasn’t singing to a butch in “I’ll Be Your Mirror”; the narrator of “Barbara” is not queer and neither is the vision to whom he writes; none of the seminal texts (and I use the adjective deliberately) we read in high school allow for any queerness at all to seep into our worlds. This is why it is so important for us to make and to seek out queer art. So that we can feed our queer femme souls.

Do not lose sight of our rich resource, our queer femme art. There are so many of us, and we are all and always engaged in the art of reframing “reality” to include our bodies, our lovers, families, interests, concerns and stories. From Liz Nania’s paintings and her Femme Flag; Miel Rose’s embroidery, candles, fiction and prayers; SublimeLuv’s poetry; Kathleen Delany-Adam’s smut; Constance Clare-Newman’s dance; Tina D’Elia’s theater pieces; Dorothy Allison’s fiction; Kitten LaRue’s burlesque Nia Witherspoon’s plays, and so many more, to the art of any and every queer femme’s daily life. Reach out for it , surround yourself with it, reconnect and go forth fierce and with love. Do not wait for permission.

*The Butchies, “To Be Broadcast Live”, Are We Not Femme

Every Monday (and sometimes Tuesday!), 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.


Femme Friday — Kitten LaRue

Goodness, what a fine and happy time I had at Kitten and Lou’s “Holier Than Thou” show the other night! I was not raised in any religion, but I did have my heart broken by the UUs as an adult, and that is extremely mild given how toxic and death-dealing organized religion is and has been to queers. To so deftly examine such a huge, fraught topic through an extremely queer lens, using generosity, love and some serious hot and nasty, is truly a gift beyond compare. I am left with great admiration for Kitten’s dedication, creativity, skill and sheer fabulousness, and for her willingness to queerly and bravely use her art to address the biggest and most complex issues, not just to condemn, but also to heal.

Deep gratitude to Kitten for her high femme genius!

I asked Kitten to talk about performance and femme, and this is what she told me:

Thoughts on performing femme-ness in my work:

I believe that presenting and performing femininity is a radical act, now more than ever. In this current political climate, reclaiming and presenting the exaggerated trappings of high femme glamour on stage (big wigs, big lashes, high heels, sequins, and glitter) as a source of power, self-examination, and a way to subvert the male gaze has felt like a form of revolt for me….a revolt against the current administration and culture which views women as objects to be controlled, and a climate that makes all humans that present femme feel unsafe and less powerful.





About Kitten LaRue:

“Polished, clever, and glamorous…” (Dita Von Teese)

“Kitten LaRue is like the Patti Smith of Seattle burlesque.” (Burlesque Seattle


“Seattle’s biggest contribution to burlesque since Gypsy Rose

Lee” (Seattlest)

“She’s an independent creative force and a woman of multiple pioneering

talents” (Burlesque Seattle Press)


Kitten LaRue is the Artistic Director, Producer, Choreographer, and a starring

member of Seattle’s critically acclaimed burlesque supertroupe, THE ATOMIC

BOMBSHELLS, and one half of celesbian dancing duo, Kitten N’ Lou, winners of

Burlesque Hall of Fame’s “Most Comedic” title, and voted the #1 Burlesque

Performers in the world (Burlesque Top 50). As an original member of New

Orleans’ legendary Shim Sham Revue, Kitten has been at the forefront of the

international Burlesque scene since 2001, featured in numerous U.S and

international media, including Bust magazine, GQ magazine, USA Today, Tease!

magazine,, Seattle Magazine, Emmy-winning series Full Focus, The

Craig Kilbourne Show, The Discovery Channel, Chase Jarvis’ Seattle 100, and

was featured on the cover of The Stranger and Boston Spirit Magazine. Most

recently Kitten appeared on PBS dancing with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett for

their Cheek To Cheek Live concert.


At the helm of THE ATOMIC BOMBSHELLS, Kitten has produced and toured to

packed theaters in the U.S., China, and Europe, was a headlining performer at

The Burlesque Hall of Fame’s Legends showcase, has shared the stage with

such luminaries as Dita Von Teese, Tura Satana, and Lady Gaga, and continues

to produce wildly successful events all over the Northwest and abroad, including

The historic Moore theater in Seattle, a sold-out headlining spot at the

Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, and a yearly summer residency in

Provincetown, MA. Kitten LaRue has also made her Off-Broadway debut at Ars

Nova in NYC, and produced an Australian tour with The Atomic Bombshells in



Kitten LaRue is also 1/3 of powerhouse homo-fabulous production trio

DeLouRue Presents (FREEDOM FANTASIA, Homo For The Holidays, PARTY

SCHMARTY) with Lou Henry Hoover and BenDeLaCreme, and is the creator of

the now-legendary Seattle club event TRAINWRECK.


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