Meditations for Queer Femmes – Wisdom from Chrystos

As we approach the National Day of Mourning, I have been rereading and meditating on Chrystos’ 1988 book of poetry, Not Vanishing.

Here is the intro to that beautiful book:

Because there are so many myths & misconceptions about Native people, it is important to clarify myself to the reader who does not know me. I was not born on the reservation, but in San Francisco, part of a group called “Urban Indians” by the government. I grew up around Black, Latin, Asian & white people & am shaped by that experience, as well as by what my father taught me. He had been taught to be ashamed & has never spoken our language to me. Much of the fury which erupts from my work is a result of seeing the pain that white culture has caused my father. It continues to give pain to all of us. I am not the “Voice” of Native women, nor representative of Native women in general. I am not a “spiritual Leader,” although many white women have tried to push me into that role. While I am deeply spiritual, to share this with strangers would be a violation. Our rituals, stories & religious practices have been stolen & abused, as has our land. I don’t publish work which would encourage this – so you will find no creation myths here. My purpose is to make it as clear & as inescapable as possible, what the actual, material conditions of our lives are. Hunger, infant mortality, forced sterilization, treaty violations, the plague of alcohol & drugs, ridiculous jail terms, denial of civil rights, radiation poisoning, land theft, endless contrived legal battles which drain our wills, corrupt “tribal” governments, harassment & death at the hands of the BIA & FBI are the realities we face. Don’t admire what you perceive as our stoicism or spirituality – work for our lives to continue in our own Ways. Despite the books which still appear, even in radical bookstores, we are not Vanishing Americans.

Deep gratitude to Chrystos, for their poetry – I urge you to read “I HAVE NOT SIGNED A TREATY WITH THE U.S. GOVERNMENT” this Thursday – and for their generosity and wisdom and love of their art.

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

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.”)

 

 

Published in: on November 19, 2018 at 4:58 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – FREE LEONARD PELTIER!

Every year at the National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA, a Wampanoag elder reads a letter from Leonard Peltier. It is always a somber and poignant moment. Mr. Peltier should not be in prison. President Obama should have pardoned him. I encourage folx to read Mr. Peltier’s book, My Life is My Sun Dance, and to add your voices to educating others about the injustice of his imprisonment. Here’s hoping there will be a bit of forward movement with the case discussed below!

https://nativenewsonline.net/currents/court-case-can-move-forward-for-political-prisoner-leonard-peltier-and-son/

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

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.”)

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes — Queer Femme Body

How often we are told in words and examples and unspoken disapproval from all quarters that the site of wrongness is always in the body. I love Queer Fat Femme’s joyous statement, “Every body is a good body” because it gives a big middle finger to that evil message, and positions us on a path of self-love. Points to the real culprit: a culture that has swallowed ideas like, “The body is a machine,” “The body is a source of foulness,” “The body is to be controlled by any means necessary.”

When a femme friend and I read The Well of Loneliness together, we were struck by how much Stephen loves her physical body when she’s young: “She discovered her body for a thing to be cherished, a thing of real value since its strength could rejoice her; and young though she was she cared for her body with great diligence, bathing it night and morning in dull tepid water – cold baths were forbidden, and hot baths, she had heard, sometimes weakened the muscles.” She doesn’t begin that long descent into self-loathing until she encounters the “civilized” view that the body is gross, sex is gross, and anything other than het sex and presentation is beyond gross. And we queer femmes, although perhaps less gender non-conforming than Stephen and her modern counterparts, are also betrayed and damaged by this entrenched yet deeply unnatural cultural hatred of the body. For girls, especially, this hatred works on us practically from infancy. We’re told we’re too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, that our bodies exude odors or grow hairs that are unacceptable. Most obscene of all, we’re taught that all these things are our fault, that they are entirely under our control, and if we don’t manage them, we are entirely to blame for being “fat”, “gross”, “smelly”, whatever it is. There’s a spray, a pill, a regimen, a procedure and a course of action for that, and if those things impact the amount of joy and spontaneity and growth of spirit in your life, then that’s too bad. At least you’ll know you’ve done your best to corral your body so that it doesn’t offend other people. As if striving to conform to the soul-crushing status quo is a good reason to expend precious life energy!

At the National Day of Mourning this year, we were told that not only do we need to decolonize our minds, we then need to indigenize them. What would this look like if we did this for our bodies, as well? If we really acted as if Every Body is a Good Body? How freeing for our spirits and minds if our bodies were treated kindly; if we took friendly interest in each other’s differences, if we allowed each body whatever it needed in order to feel comfortable and at ease, rather than forcing a one-size-fits-all straight jacket on everybody! If it was just taken as a fact of life that all bodies are unique, all bodies have their own specific ways of moving through the world, their fascinating needs and multi-faceted desires? Because guess what, that is a fact of life! And that we’re not separate from other bodies, of animals, plants, the earth: we’re all part of the same great patterns of life and death, and it’s all normal.

What do we celebrate about our queer femme bodies, what do we adore? How do we love our queer femme bodies, love with our queer femme bodies? Some of us may start by experiencing such relief that we do not need to package ourselves for the gaze of straight men. We please ourselves, clothe our queer femme bodies with the outfits and pizazz that bring our queer femme hearts pleasure. Through pain and ecstasy, we are never separate from our queer femme bodies, and the Western schools of thought encouraging us to view her as a machine or as irrelevant (“it’s the mind that counts!”) or as a foul burden we must drag around do us no favors. What if we didn’t have to spend so much time re-learning the love of our bodies? Because nobody is born hating themselves in that particular way. That is learned behavior and is imposed on all of us.

Whatever their shape, ability, age, state of health, location and size, our queer femme bodies are to be adorned, honored, loved and held up as the sacred manifestations of the life force that they truly are. Come, now, femme sisters, with your good, queer bodies, and join in with our brother Walt to sing of yourselves!

I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious,

Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy,

I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest wish,

Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of

     friendship I take again. (Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”)

 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.

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Tony Enos on Two-Spirit People

Tomorrow is the National Day of Mourning. Whether or not you can be in Plymouth for this most important and sacred gathering, please turn your attention to American Indian history and lives – the real history and real lives – and honor those, not just tomorrow, but throughout the year.

Tony, thank you for your clarity and generosity in sharing information about Two-Spirit people.

https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/social-issues/8-misconceptions-things-know-two-spirit-people/

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

Published in: on November 22, 2017 at 12:13 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday – Femme Klatsch with, moi! The Total Femme

Femme Klatsch is where queer femmes chat with one another on all themes femme. Sweet femme sisters – chime in!

 What does femme mean to you?

Who are your femme role models?

How did you find your femme?

and today’s question:

What sustains your femme?

One of the things that sustains my femme and that opens up big queer space for me to be my most sincere and truthful femme self, is the inspiration of other queers who are really-oh, truly-oh themselves, in all their queer glory. It really, really helps if they have a good sense of humor, too. For example, Tex and I recently attended the yearly fundraiser, ClimACTS, for Theater Offensive. The memory of founder and executive artistic director Abe Rybeck in a truly tremendous neon outfit, waving and blowing kisses as he was carried onto stage by two scantily clad fellas while another hunky number in ass-less pants serenaded him with Italian opera will sustain me unto my dying day.

Queer story sustains my femme. Whether it’s in a book, like Juliet Takes a Breath by Gaby Rivera, or observed, like watching Michelle, the current owner of Womencrafts in Provincetown both honor the history of the store as well as honor the political complexity of today’s queer world, or told to me directly, like the stories I hear from the QSA members or from other femmes — I need queer story almost as much as I need to breathe.

Coalition building and intersectionalty sustain my femme. My straight colleagues and friends model how I can be a better ally, show me how to recognize my privilege and wear it with a sense of humor and responsibility. The National Day of Mourning is a holy day for me. My femme is sustained when I brainstorm and discuss with other queers about strengthening our organizing by asking hard questions about race or disability, for example. My femme is sustained when I hear from a straight colleague with new information about our ongoing struggle to get our town to deal with its Native American town symbol. Attending Creating Change sustained the fuck out of my femme.

My femme is sustained by the love of my butch.

My femme is sustained when my new femme friend and I machinate to take over the world.

My femme is sustained by this blog, and by hearing from you.

Deep gratitude to all of you in all of your queer and fabulous variety!

 Every Friday, The Total Femme showcases a queer femme goddess. Suggestions welcome!

 

 

 

 

Making Queer Culture – Meditation for Queer Femmes

The presidency of Trump has given those of us who might have been in a gentle slumber an opportunity to wake up. We have always needed the shared strength of other queers, from the homophile movement to combatting indifference to our health concerns, especially in regards to AIDS. Not only do we need each other’s individual wisdom, humor and support, we need to be lifted up by our queer culture.

At the National Day of Mourning this year, several of the speakers shared stories about ancestors coming to them in dreams. That gift is only available when a people has deep, cellular knowledge of their own cultural heritage. We queers need the knowledge of our own queer cultural heritage. We need the strength that comes from knowing our own unique art and literature and humor and cuisine. We need the strength of our forebears as well as that of queers of all ages. Gathering our people around us to make and partake of queer culture will give us the strength we need.

So throw a themed dinner party. Start a queer salon. Request that your local library sponsor a queer book group (see Arlington, MA’s Robbins Library’s Queer Book Group for inspiration). Do a queer Feed and Read (a potluck combined with reading out loud together the queer story or novel or poetry of your choice). Invite other queers over to watch queer media and/or plan and execute political actions. Plan a femme fashion show or a butch/femme barbeque. A dance, a field trip, a writing group.

We cannot rely on the scraps thrown to us by straight culture, and we cannot afford to wait for better days, because the world needs our queer resistance right now.

We need our ancestors to come to us in dreams.

Every Monday (or Tuesday), 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 February 6, 2017 at 8:21 PM  Leave a Comment  
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