Meditations for Queer Femmes — Where Do We See Each Other?

“One of our few (if only) seven-nights-a-week gay dance clubs is closing on September 16th,” writes Billy Masters in his 9/12/2018 column, which I read in Bay Windows. “Paradise in Cambridge (MA) has a special place in your beloved Billy’s heart. That was the first club that hired me to host a show – their Sweet 16th birthday party. Once I had a mike in my hand, there was no stopping me. And now, there’ll be no stopping me from saying we’ve brought this on ourselves. Support your gay businesses – or soon there won’t be any.”

And in her 1994 collection of sexy short stories, Behind Closed Doors (more on this book later!), Robbi Sommers writes “Whenever two lesbians find themselves alone in a group of straights, a magic camaraderie occurs. Sooner or later, they cross the room and strike up a conversation. It’s a basic lesbian phenomenon – strangers, ex-lovers, enemies. No matter how things were yesterday, in a straight environment, we gravitate.”

The times are changing, the face of homophobia is changing, queer culture has changed so rapidly that it seems we hardly know who each other is, we hardly know what it is we share and where in the hell we can have interesting and generative conversations with one another. We’re good at pointing out each other’s inconsistencies and hypocrisies, good at drilling down on our own identities and, especially the younger set, really good at finding each other online, but how else are we communicating with each other? What do we count on each other for? Expect from each other? What kind of help can we give each other? How do we show queer love and support across the board, to all the beautiful letters of the ever-expanding alphabet, in all walks of life and at all ages?

Answers to those questions seem heart-breakingly elusive at the present moment. Speaking with youth and individual queers around town, hearing about their daily compromises, losses, isolation, and challenges, usually directly related to homophobia and heterosexism, I often find myself wondering what the next iteration of queer community will be, sans places like the Paradise and sans the secret handshakes.

Visibility is an answer, of course it is, but what does that mean, exactly? I can remember when queer publications celebrated any representation of queerness, even if the queer character was a villain or a ludicrous, insulting stereotype. We spend so much time fighting for honest representation in popular culture, as if that’s the only place that matters. It matters, of course, but there’s a huge difference between seeing yourself (sort of) reflected in an ad for hard liquor and feeling a visceral connection to a little girl singing, “Ring of Keys”. That little girl – both the character and the artist who birthed her — experienced the incredible gift of an adult queer walking into her actual life. If we are lucky, something comparable happened in our lives, and we were blessed and healed by the experience. Seeing some semblance of queer on tv can also be powerful – I was just listening to the Butchies song where there’s mention of Ellen coming out, which is something none of us around then will ever forget – but it isn’t real in the way a human being you meet or even just glimpse is real. It isn’t real in the way a teacher, family friend, neighbor, or other member of the place where you live is real. It isn’t real in the way living, breathing, complicated and visible real-live queers are real.

On the cover of the latest  Advocate, one of the last standing queer publications, we see a sweet photograph of a group of young queers, illustrating the story, “The Kids Are All Right: 20 Years After Mathew Shepard’s Death, Today’s LGBTQ Youth are Living in a Very Different World”. Glaringly lacking is any representation of female masculinity. The lesbians (a couple) and the trans woman are very girly in the “traditional” sense of the word. I would be lying if I said this doesn’t upset me, but for the first time, I thought to turn my energy elsewhere. Rather than trying to kick ass by challenging the rapid and uncaring barrage of information, that information that is everywhere and nowhere, I am dedicating myself even more to my own queer art. Art is timeless and deep and meaningful in ways the artist sometimes doesn’t even understand herself. Art connects and teaches and sends out love, a steady heartbeat. You can come back to art again and again, finding new meaning, new inspiration. Art changes as you change. Art is always there for you.

As much organizing and activism I’ve done for the queer community, as proud of that as I am, I’m beginning to understand that, for me, the most radical and lasting gift I can offer up is my queer femme art. That to ignore that call – louder every minute — is to capitulate to the confusion and rage stirred up by constantly reacting.

Dear femme sisters, what are your gifts? How do you embrace them? How do you love them and nurture them?

Our gifts are unique. Sacred. Beautiful and varied. Each of you, my darlings, my miracles, each of you manifests your queer femme gifts like the goddesses you are. Each of you blesses the world.

This is how we carry queer community into the now.

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.”)







Meditations for Queer Femmes

Whether or not we work directly with queer youth, we adult queers provide role models and beacons. An end-of-the-year prayer for all the femmes who have queer youth in their lives.


Creative forces, sweet golden light

Help me stay focused on the good work

The children are reaching out

They are losing their T-passes, wearing yesterday’s t-shirts

Perhaps they have had too much coffee today

And in their pockets are tear-stained bandanas


Arrange the energy so that my heart floats

heavy with passion in my chest

this one loves her mother so much

this one worries about his old father

and this one lets her sister sleep with her when the sister can take no more


They are not to be hindered by loutishness

they must be allowed to connect to those places

those places where diamonds gleam

buds are bursting forth

they must be able to provide

in all their colors and glory

what the world needs

and what makes all of us rejoice


Keep me marching forth

keep my eyes open

Let me not fail these children

Our children

Miasma will not overtake me

I offer up

I rejoice and demand

Please smile on me

your child, grown older

hold me steady

hold me close

let us all go forth


Every Monday, I will 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 December 27, 2016 at 1:42 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Last night, me, Tex and Seth went to a production of “Much Ado About Nothing”. The all-teenage theater company was formed by one of the members of the QSA I’m the adult advisor for, and the cast had a nice mix of genders, sexualities, ages and proclivities (now there’s a nice old fashioned word!).

Basel was also supposed to go to the play with us (he’s Daisy’s twin; they’re 16 and live next door), but at the last minute it turned out he had made other plans. “He’s going to a girl’s house,” confided his mom to me, in a meaningful whisper. “I mean, he’s going with a group of friends, but it’s the first time he’s done that!” Everything about her tone and choice of words invited me to join in on the joy of her heterosexual son’s first sweet forays into the world of sex. So not only did I have to manage my annoyance at the rather rude and abrupt change of plans, I had to deal with my neighbor’s oblivious, flippant and presumptive glee at her little baby’s life milestone.

A milestone that, in my life never got any recognition (nor, come to think of it, did I even ever reach it as a teenager). A milestone that queer kids still don’t get recognition for, or joy, or rejoicing, or cute conversations with the neighbors.

So in this very irritating conversation, my neighbor offered Basel’s stepping out to the girl’s house as a sort of consolation prize to me being disappointed that he wouldn’t be joining us for the evening (something we’d been planning for some time). I was supposed to chuckle and shake my head and just bow to het teenage hormones. Think it’s cute. She told me details, I was noncommittal, she apologized, I thanked her, conveying without saying directly that I wasn’t going to accept her consolation prize (the girl, the cuteness, the heterosexuality), but that I did accept her apology even though I was annoyed.

It was a girl thing (Tex hates this shit and would prefer everyone be completely straightforward) and I finessed it, but it put me in something of a mood, not helped by Seth stomping in from the beach and trying every trick in the book to also get out of this family evening. And Tex was late home from work and we ended up not going out to eat, as planned. Not a one of us was at our best when we got to the outdoor venue where the play was being staged, but! we got there and we sat down, and the play started.

It was amazing. Funny, queer, inventive and I can’t even tell you how fabulous the costumes were (a creative and minimal nod to the 70s – brilliant!). I’ve watched some of these kids appear in every one of the five or more plays they’ve put on, and their tenacity and talent and improvement are so heartening. And the 10 or 11-year old who played the prince was exceptional. I don’t think I’d laughed so hard in months than when he flung open his arms and declared, with a manic twinkle in his eye, “We will be the very gods of love!”

I looked over and Seth was laughing, too.

As we were driving home, Seth said, “Mom, everybody there loves you.” I assumed he was, as the Britts say, taking the Mickey, and said rather sharply, “Well, they don’t all know me, so how can they all love me?” but then he said, “It’s just something I noticed. You’ve really impacted those kids’ lives for the good.”

I guess he noticed that the QSA members in the play had come up and given me hugs and preened under my heartfelt compliments of their talent and hard work. I guess it gave him something to think about, a way to see me as other than annoying. I thanked him, and later corroborated with Tex that he actually had given me a compliment.

Seth is out late a lot, driving to the beach with friends, doing who knows what (ok, I have an idea), and he doesn’t talk about it with me. I’m not sharing cutsie-wutsie stories about his sexuality with friends and neighbors, either. Especially since he’s not sharing anything with me. Did I mention? But I try to keep up an ongoing babble about mindfullness and right action when it comes to bodies, one’s own and others. Perhaps he notices.

He is doing in secret (from me) what is condoned by society at large; I am doing my best to mentor kids who are doing, in secret and out in the dangerous open, what society at large condemns. Ain’t that something?

A little Buddhist prayer to finish things off:

May all young things be allowed to enjoy their sexualities in peace, love and happiness.

May all young things be allowed to grow into their sexualities with joy and support.

May all young things be free of suffering and the root of suffering.

May all young things be allowed to just be.

Published in: on July 12, 2014 at 10:32 AM  Comments (1)  
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How Chill?

After the Sturm und Drang of Middle School, Seth, a junior, and Owen, a freshman, both assure me that things are much, much better at the high school. People just let each other be, they tell me. “Mom,” says Seth definitively, “Things at the high school are chill.”

I’m sure the atmosphere has changed. Perhaps the two of them — straight as far as I know, white, middle class, loved, catered to and taken care of – have felt certain middle school-specific pressures lessen. Certainly, Seth no longer feels it necessary to purchase and wear clothing on which the names of the clothing companies are written so cunningly. Owen, well, Owen pretty much gets along wherever he lands, but there may be hidden Owen worries that have resolved themselves now that he’s a high schooler.

Once, at a high school soccer game, however, I overheard a bunch of female students talking about a truly terrifying incident that had happened to them the night before, where male students had followed them in a car and threatened them. Seth told me about being at a basketball game where his friends made homophobic remarks about one of the players. And yesterday I was told something in confidence about another student at the high school. Despite equal marriage, despite the groovy liberal vibe wafting over from the People’s Republic of Cambridge, despite our high school having one of the oldest GSAs in the state, this youth is in the closet, because “it’s just easier that way.”

Of course, I expect we can all imagine any number of situations where it’s easier to be in the closet, especially if coming out would put you in physical danger, and perhaps that’s the case with this student, although I don’t think so. I think more, it’s about not wanting to stick out, not wanting to be different, even in a “welcoming” community. Or perhaps especially in a “welcoming” community, where protests that “we understand” are so shrill. The kind of thing that makes the narrator in Openly Straight by Bill Koningsberg decide that he’s going back in the closet when he starts a new school. It’s just easier that way.

A colleague and I have been working together to widen areas of support for our local queer youth. Neither of us is paid for this, nor are we employees of any of the town organizations which should already be doing this work. Recently, we visited the high school GSA. We wanted to discuss with the members their thoughts and ideas about getting a queer youth center established here. Currently, as my colleague and I have been discovering, there is nothing other than the GSA at the high school, the GSA at the middle school, a homeschooler QSA and a monthly queer youth and allies social drop-in night at the library. And as pure information and not to brag, although I’m proud of this work, I had a large hand in instigating the last 3 items on that list. I also know that this list is much, much longer than the list of what’s available in so many other communities. But this is Massachusetts. Very close to Boston. Massachusetts has a Commission for LGBTQ Youth, we have a chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educators Network, we have an amazing chapter of PFLAG, we have the Boston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth, we have the Massachusetts Trans Political Coalition. Our town should be so much further along than we are.

I believe the liberal suburbs pose a particular challenge to queer organizing. So many people — straight, certainly, but even queer — think that everything is fine.  Until their kid comes out or gets depressed or gets bullied or they’re the victim of a hate crime, as lesbian neighbors of mine recently were in the form of a nasty little note, slipped under the windshield wiper of their car as they were shopping at our neighborhood grocery store. Everything is fine only if you look at things in a very, very superficial and hopeful manner, and systemic oppression doesn’t go away just because your neighbors are polite to you.

Later today, I’m attending a meeting of a coalition made up of representatives of town organizations from the police to the schools to the local counseling center. The coalition is grant-funded, and was formed to pay attention to local youth health and safety issues, including things like suicide prevention, substance abuse education and dating safety. Until I started attending, as far as I can see, no one had anything at all to say about queer youth and their specific needs, about how to support this vulnerable population. I’ve been trying to get their attention, and below is the statement from the high school GSA that I’m going to read at the meeting today.

How chill is it, really, at the high school? I guess it depends on who you ask.


As the town’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, we would be in support of the creation of an LGBTQ youth center here, for our town and the surroundinåçg communities. We feel that this would fulfill a very present and as of yet unrecognized need in the town, for a place where the LGBTQ youth of this area could meet each other and form a community. It would also be an incredibly fun experience for all youth involved, and would provide a social platform currently unavailable to these youth. In addition, school GSAs are unable to meet these needs, as their membership and participation is limited to members of the school and therefore cannot operate on a wider field. Finally, as of now, there is no easy-to-access facility for health information for LGBTQ youth in these areas, so this youth center would fulfill an important need. Overall, an alliance of LGBTQ youth for the surrounding towns would be incredibly beneficial for everyone involved.


–Members of the GSA, March 2014


Published in: on March 12, 2014 at 12:12 PM  Comments (5)  
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