Meditations for Queer Femmes – Seeing Femme

I’m old enough to remember being stunned with delight to see k.d. lang getting a shave on the cover of Vanity Fair, lo, these many years ago, and am still riding high on the thrill of Lena Waithe’s gorgeous cover feature in the same mag just recently. Go, queer representation!


I have been thinking about audience. When a butch is on the cover of a big ladies’ magazine, what is the message? Who is that cover talking to? We butch-loving femmes can certainly groove on it and squirrel our well-thumbed copy carefully away as a treasured keepsake, but are we included in the gambit? Do we even want to be?

I am grateful for and in awe of show business butches like k.d. and Lena, whose perseverance and incredible talent are epic. They deserve every bit of cover time and everything else they get for their work and their dedication to their art.

In addition, I know that k.d. and Lena are being their authentic queer selves in the artistic milieu that they love. It is inspiring and fabulous and it gives me strength and hope, and I believe k.d. and Lena are speaking to me and to other queers, as well.

However, I don’t believe mainstream media is thinking about me at all. Mainstream media is only ever thinking about and talking to its market audience: straight people.

It would certainly be exciting to see a femme on the cover of some magazine you flip through at the supermarket check out counter, but you know what? That might entail some explanation on the part of the magazine. It would certainly require a more nuanced understanding of the fact that there’s more than one kind of queer, and would mean giving up relying on a shorthand representation of queerness, where butches and effeminate gay men are always doing the heavy lifting. I’m not holding my breath, and at this point, I’m not even interested in taking on that battle, because mainstream media is not my friend. Never has been.

Queer femmes are constantly being told by straight people and even by other queers that we don’t look gay. What does it mean to look gay? Are there rules? How many of us queer femmes went androgynous or even butch when we first came out because that’s what we thought we were supposed to do in order to signal to other queers we were now part of the club? How many of us now dye our hair purple or make a point to always wear some kind of queer marker like rainbow jewelry or a gay t-shirt or buttons and still get pegged as straight every day, every day? How many of us continue to feel isolated and freaky and, miserably, can’t even recognize each other?

The skanky hands of the Media Man are not going to hand us deliverance, beautiful queer femme sisters. We must talk to each other, make art for each other, be visible in any way we can and open ourselves to queer femme community, and queer community in general, where we can explore our full selves. Be fully femme. Be fully queer. Only we can define that, through exploration and community and self love.

Today, I invite you to gaze with love upon each other. To gaze with love upon your unbelievably queer self in the mirror. Find each other, celebrate each other. Revel in the nuance, the infinite variations on the queer theme that we know in our own queer femme lives. Let those revels radiate outward and inward, nurturing your heart and mine.

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.

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.”)






Femme Friday on a Saturday – See That Femme

She thinks she should probably tone it down. No one gets it and she just confuses people.

It’s hard enough navigating trans.

She and her girlfriend aren’t into roles.

She and her girlfriends aren’t into roles anymore. Femme is kind of passé, right? Lipstick lesbian and all that? It’s almost 2018, for heaven’s sake!

She doesn’t know why she likes stuff people think is girlie; she just can’t help it.

She can’t be femme because she likes other femmes and she has this little problem with straight girls.

She’s not femme just because she likes butches and trans guys. That’s a stereotype and has nothing to do with her. An old stereotype.

She used to think she was femme, but then she fell in love with a cis guy and got married, and no one even thinks she’s queer anymore, let alone femme.

After she had kids, she just turned into “mom”.

She doesn’t think she’s “the right kind”.

She’s fierce as fuck online, but in real life, she’s not even out, because it’s just not safe.

She’s a femme you know.

Slip her a copy of the Femme Shark Manifesto

Tell her to research LaSaia Honey Wade’s work in Chicago.

Sing praises about The Femme Show and the madfemmepride meetup.

Point her in the direction of your favorite femme books and links and art.

Talk about your femme life openly and with love. Say things like, “This event is sooo not femme friendly – there’s no coat check and the art is the equivalent of saltine crackers framed and hung on the wall!”

Broadcast your femme.

Femme is not finite. Femme goes on and on. I am a 56-year old white, cis, queer femme mom, an old school, married, butch-loving writer and reader of queer story, organizer, accomplice to other oppressed groups. Ask me what I mean by all those designations; they evolve and deepen yearly. Ask me what my femme cronehood looks like. Let’s talk together about the duties of femme elders. And I would like to know about the perks, too. Are handsome and attentive butch attendants involved? What do you think?

Who are we now and who are we becoming in the richness of femme?

We don’t all agree on the meaning of femme, but that’s ok. It means we have a lot to talk about and a lot to discover. And we must talk together and keep each other company as we make our discoveries. We must hold each other, encourage each other, inspire each other. I’ll show you mine.

Will you show me yours?

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




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

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.