Femme Friday — Lesléa Newman

Many of you may know Lesléa (pronounced Lez-LEE-uh) Newman as the author of Heather Has Two Mommies, but she is also a big ol’ femme who has been in the public eye for many years, writing, speaking, mentoring and just generally being visible as heck. With 70 books under her bodice, there’s a lot to read by this fabulous femme, but my favorites are two of her books from the 90s: Out of the Closet and Nothing to Wear and Little Butch Book. I also love and appreciate The Femme Mystique which she edited in 1995. What are your favorites?

Deep gratitude to Lesléa!

When I sent out a call for manuscripts for The Femme Mystique, I got hundreds of replies. Some women shared my story of being a femme until adolescence, only to give it up and then take it back again. Other women wrote about being tomboys and not discovering their femme side until later in life. I heard from femme tops, femme bottoms, high femmes, ultrafemmes, femmes who sleep with other femmes, femme-on-the-street-butch-in-the-sheets femmes, furious femmes, future femmes, and forever femmes.

 Many femmes wrote about the frustration of being perceived as heterosexual, both in the straight world and in the lesbian community. Many femmes wrote about the pain of unhappy childhoods, unlike many butches who knew from an early age why they felt different. Many femmes wrote about the rage they feel when they are assumed by straight and gay people alike to be “just another pretty face.” And many femmes wrote about the joys of being femme, the sheer pleasures of our sensuality and sexuality that make it all worthwhile.

 Here are our stories. It is my hope that this book will offer an understanding of the many ways there are to be femme. I thank Sasha Alyson for entrusting me with this project and all the women who sent me their poems, essays, photographs, and stories. I would also like to thank all the femmes who came before me, gracing the world with their beauty and their bravery. And to all the femmes who come after me, I say this: each femme has her own mystique. Find yours, and never let anyone take it away from you.

Lesléa Newman, June 1995, The Femme Mystique

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