Queer Femme Meditation Friday, Showing Up!!

Gosh, all week I kept meaning to do the Monday Meditation and somehow the days have slipped by. I seem to have missed Femme Friday last week, too! Perhaps I just needed a wee sabbatical, as this is the year anniversary of Meditations and Femme Fridays (Pingy-Dingy Wednesdays came along a bit later).

Let’s meditate together here on Femme Friday. Let’s meditate on showing up. I don’t mean showing up to kick ass and fight injustice, because we do that already, every single minute of our lives. I mean showing up as in, “Oh, there we are!” Because for some reason, femme lives and femme story and femme bodies don’t really show up all that much in queer publications, let alone out in the world.

I just read a wonderful book by Barbara Sjoholm in which she chronicles her quest to find women seafarers. Almost all of them wore men’s clothing, did men’s jobs, and in one wonderful instance, hung a tissenhorn on her belt so she could take a whiz with one hand on the tiller if she needed to. A bunch of those seafarers had to be queer, right? We can recognize them as such. But, not one mention of the women who loved those seafarers, also queer, but, apparently, not showing up in the historical record or even in the imagination of queers who do historical research on queers and women.

This morning, Tex and I dropped the car off for service. Last time I was in, all by myself, the very sweet but very clueless straight man who usually takes care of us must have called me by Tex’s name 50 times. I said to Tex as we walked in today that seeing us together might be too much for this guy, but he took it like a man, called Tex by her name, and kind of skittered his eyes off me, smiling nervously, whenever I spoke. Later, I said to Tex, “If you’re Tex, then who the fuck am I?” I’m just not showing up at the garage.

Nor do any of us femmes show up in Butch, photographer Meg Allen’s gorgeous new collection of photographs and one of the latest iterations of art that lovingly documents a much-maligned segment of the queer population. Allen “has given our community a gift with her new book,” Curve magazine says, “[she] memorializes the butch not only for posterity but also to illustrate that the butch is very much alive and well in the 21st century.” No question or quarrel from me, of course not! Not only is work that contributes to queer visibility and diversity incredibly important, this butch-lovin’ femme enjoys a little tasty eye candy just as much as the next girl, but let me ask you this (and it’s not the first time I’ve made this query): if butches and masculine-presenting female queers are in need of holding up, positive visibility and being artfully and lovingly displayed for the eyes of other queers and indeed the world, what about a) the female queers who identify as femme and who love butches and, b) the female queers who identify as femme and love each other or whoever the fuck they please? In other words, all of us femmes!

Last night, at a fundraiser for one of my most favorite organizations ever, True Colors Theater, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a femme I had met before and of meeting another femme for the first time. I am so excited to invite them to our next Femme Klatsch, which is getting pretty close to including 25 femmes. All of us with our own styles, our own interpretations of our identities, our own romantic preferences, our own way of being queer, our own hurts and pleasures and brilliance and hopes for ourselves and for the world.

How is that not incredibly compelling? How is that not something other queers might like to see more of? How is that not worthy of a limited edition fancy-queer-pants coffee table book?

Close your eyes and listen to your breath. Let it all go. Rest in the present, allowing any thoughts to touch down but not linger. let go let go let go

And when you open your eyes and look around, refreshed and renewed, reach out to your femme friends and your queer friends who value femme and all that it entails, and let’s make some fucking art!

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

                        Rapelle-toi

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.