Meditations for Queer Femmes — Femme Pairings for Hard Times









Every Monday (or Tuesday or Wednesday, even!), 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.


Making Revolution with the Faggots – Monday Meditation

In the QSA, members argue about how best to support all folx represented by the letters in the wide, wonderful cauldron of alphabet soup. One member points out that almost no groups in the area currently support plain ol’ lesbians. “We’re still here, you know!” she says. Another member argues passionately that we’re more powerful all working together, and that separating into smaller and smaller identity-based groups will only work to our disadvantage. “The assholes want us to stay isolated from each other!” they say. “Only my trans brothers really understand me, though!” whispers a young man tentatively. “When I’m with them, I can finally just relax and be myself.” “I know,” agrees the femme. “I can really let my hair down when I’m with other femmes. Maybe it’s a question of needing both kinds of groups – support groups that are more narrowly defined and action and social groups that include us all?” “That will just end up leaving people out, though,” counters another member. “I don’t know anyone else who’s exactly the same as me, so where do I go for support?” There is no good answer, and the discussion is ongoing.

In the 1977 homo-psalter, The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions by Larry Mitchell, with drawings by Ned Asta, the faggots would be nowhere without the the women who love women, who would be nowhere without the fairies, who would be nowhere without the queens; the queens who “know it takes all kinds to make the revolutions”. All of these folx have their own kinds of knowledge and fuckery and wisdom: the queens elaborate their forms of outrage, the fairies have left the men’s reality in order to destroy it by making a new one, the faggots cultivate beauty and harmony and peace, and the strong women remind the faggots that in the coming revolution we will get our asses kicked and that we will win.

All of these folx love dessert, women’s wisdom, the earth, fucking, kitties, community, gossip, rule-breaking, gardens, masturbation, books, visions, each other. Sweet words from this sweet book to end this meditation:

They know that without the uncalculated giving of affection everyone is lost. They know that friendship freely given sustains them.


Reduced Circumstances

These days when I ask my Mom how she and my Dad are doing, she says, “Just fine — as well as can be expected given everything that’s going on.” She says this quite cheerfully, as she has always been an upbeat, go-get-‘em kind of gal, and it usually makes me chuckle. Only a few months ago, way out on the other side of the country, she and my Dad were clawing their way through the days, dealing proudly and stubbornly with his sudden, debilitating depression and anxiety. Now they’re safely ensconced in a small rental house down the street from us, my Dad is medicated and much better, and my Mom has even been able to get back to some of her academic work (archeologists, like writers, never retire). But their lives are seriously smaller than they once were: they no longer drive, have asked us to be in charge of their finances, and have to depend on us for just about everything.

This past weekend, at the Saint Harridan pop up store in Jamaica Plain, I sat for a couple hours while Tex deliberated about buying another suit. As I sorted through fabric swatches, I was privileged to watch customers coming in. They would always be met at the door with a cheerful, “Are you in the market for a suit?” and, if so, would be respectfully and lovingly guided through the suit-buying process. First, Mr. Mary or Mr. Dom would help them with size, giving them jackets and slacks to try on. Over and over, I watched shy, plainly-dressed queers transform. With each step of the way, their faces would begin to clear, their eyes sparkle; they would begin to smile and not be able to stop. Their posture would straighten. By the end of their fitting, when they were actually feeling in their bodies what it was going to be like to be resplendent in a suit, they were radiating confidence. They went from being shy and easily overlooked, to shining like the stars they are.
The night of the super moon, me, my parents, and our little dog walked over to the park to take a look. Lots of people were there, straight families with kids sitting on blankets, other straight people in lawn chairs, probably some queers, too, but invisible to me. Only the straight people were visible. My parents and I sat on the grass for a while, and I liked being with the neighborhood folks, overhearing conversations. On the way home, my parents held hands, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen them do. I don’t think my father would have ever had the patience or desire to walk down the street like that previous to what one doctor called his “brain event”, which has slowed him and restricted his life so much.

I can feel very angry when I think about how queers are treated, how we are supposed to be content and quiet with so very little. When you first come out, you have this extended – often life-long – lesson in learning to live in reduced circumstances. Everything you took for granted when you assumed you were straight (i.e., human) gets eroded and takes on this sinister not-for-you quality. It’s stunning, and some of us never get over it, others of us are in denial, others of us die from it. Because of it. But I have found such sustenance in queer connection, so much love from people, who, like me, are marginalized and oppressed – we have such strength, urgency, and creativity. We do so much for each other. “When we started Saint Harridan,” says Mr. Mary Going, the founder of the company, “it wasn’t just about clothes. It was to change the world.”

I have felt enfolded and inspired and sweetly seen by my people and I am grateful for my minority status in that I feel I have a much better grasp of systemic injustices and why things are the way they are than some of my straight white friends who have never been up close and personal with being despised. I have never once wished I wasn’t queer, despite the daily battle to be seen, the danger, the hatred, misunderstanding, loneliness, rage and misery, because within these reduced circumstances – because of these reduced circumstances — lies all the love in the world.

Published in: on August 14, 2014 at 9:32 PM  Comments (1)  
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