Inspiration and Connection vs. Appropriation — Meditations for Queer Femmes

I am not unaware that there is something potentially naff about me, middle-aged white femme, running around town in my mini van, aka The Femmemobile, blasting Shai’s “Blackface” album and really fucking getting into it. Usually, the title song makes me tear up, in fact, despite how many times I’ve heard it. I just relate so whole-heartedly to its message of self-acceptance, love, and the importance of art. I am comforted and inspired by it.

One personal reason I like this 90s R&B band so much is that my musical taste was deeply influenced by the fact that my high school was mostly black and I came of age listening to Sugarhill Gang and Parliament and Sly and the Family Stone, but I believe that queers in general and femmes in particular are extremely good at picking up on messages of life and love from other oppressed minority groups. It’s kind of like a superpower.

At its best, this queer superpower is connective rather than acquisitive. We intuitively lean into and appreciate the shared humanity of other folks outside of the mainstream who are punished for being different. Really, I think our superpower helps us understand and relate to all kinds of folks. As James Baldwin wrote, “It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”

Certainly, we femmes are experts at finding comfort and power and love in the nooks and crannies of the world. Art from a great variety of cultures, most of which are not the one I grew up in, helps ground me and gives me inspiration and strength to be my most genuine self, and from there I make my own art.

I hope that my appreciation of art that is not culturally mine is and remains respectful and non-acquisitive. I hope my writing and organizing uplifts not only femmes and other queers, but also other folks who are loving and justice minded.

That the theme, as we used to say in literature class, is universal.

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 June 27, 2017 at 5:40 PM  Comments (2)  
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A Vision — Meditations for Queer Femmes

We were packing up yesterday, after our anniversary weekend in Provincetown. We were dawdling, in no hurry to begin the drive back to our dreary Boston suburb. As I tidied (our landlord waives the cleaner’s fee if we leave things nice), I heard Tex call up to me. I got to the window just in time to see: an old person in a reclining wheelchair being pushed by a long tall leatherman, also old, wearing leather shorts, a leatherman cap, handcuffs hanging from his belt.

Tex nodded to the pair, then came upstairs to sit with me as I lost it. Those two unclenched something in me, love, hope, admiration.

“Talk about persistence!” I sobbed, and Tex said, “And insistence!”

Fierce femme sisters, persist in living your lives as your full queer selves.

Flag femme in all stages of life.

It doesn’t matter if you’re completely decked out like those brave Sunday Strollers, or if you wear it on the inside and proud, you darlings, you lovers, but wear it queer and wear it every fucking minute.

Before the election, we queers were teetering on the dangerous brink of assimilation. Now we are in danger of so much more hate and violence.

Show yourselves as complex, layered, divine beings, my queer femme enchanters.

Cast spells of connection among queers of all flavors.

We must be able to see our own diversity and gain inspiration from each other’s strength.

“I will never forget those two,” said Tex over supper. We were back in the burbs. Surrounded by straights.

We must never forget our true and queer natures.

Femme sirens, you must not.

I insist: You must not.

 Every Monday, 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.