Femme Friday – Ali Sands

I came across Ali Sands’ I Know Who You Are, But What Am I? A Partner’s Perspective on Transgender Love when I was browsing in Womencrafts in Provincetown last week. When I read on the back that this is Ali’s “memoir of finding her way through a labyrinth of changing identity from married heterosexual woman to lesbian lover to queer femme” I knew I had to have it!

Deep gratitude to Ali for her extreme generosity in sharing her story of loving her sweetheart through many changes, and for finding, reveling in and staying true to her own queer femme spirit.

(In this excerpt, from June 23, 2007, a young woman has just approached Ali, asking her about her sexuality, wondering if she’s straight now that she’s with a heterosexual trans man.)

            “Do you base your sexual identity on who you are dating?” I gently inquired. She pondered my question.

            “Well,” she said, “I guess not, but I thought I was a lesbian. Now it turns out I’m seeing a guy and I don’t even know what to tell all my friends and family anymore. My lesbian friends think I’m a sellout for seeing this trans guy, but I have really strong feelings for him and I’m just so confused!” she stated honestly. “You see” she continued “when we first got together he thought he was a lesbian too. Now that he has come out as transgender I don’t know what to think.” The pain was so evident in her young face and I felt immediately inadequate to be handing out trans-lover advice even at this stage in the process.

            “Well,” I began, “I can tell you this much about myself. As far as sexual identity goes I identify as queer. Part of this comes from being with Rhys over the last four and a half years. I am not queer because I am with Rhys and he is transgender, I am queer because I feel I could be in love with any individual, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.”

            WHOA. Did that statement of confidence just come out of my confused head? Perhaps I’ll be okay after all. What’s really beautiful is that each time I’m given an opportunity to explain or defend my relationship with Rhys, it brings about a clarity for myself that I didn’t previously have. This young woman desperately wanted me to give her a magic answer to her own questions of sexual identity, yet I knew that giving her any such thing would be a lie. In this situation I deferred to my role as the parent of my two adult children. I tried to convey to her the confidence that her answers are only for her to find.

–I Know Who You Are, But What Am I? A Partner’s Perspective on Transgender Love by Ali Sands, Transgress Press, Oakland, CA, 2016.

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story!

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 – Femme Klatsch with, moi! The Total Femme

Femme Klatsch is where queer femmes chat with one another on all themes femme. Sweet femme sisters – chime in!

 What does femme mean to you?

Who are your femme role models?

How did you find your femme?

and today’s question:

What sustains your femme?

One of the things that sustains my femme and that opens up big queer space for me to be my most sincere and truthful femme self, is the inspiration of other queers who are really-oh, truly-oh themselves, in all their queer glory. It really, really helps if they have a good sense of humor, too. For example, Tex and I recently attended the yearly fundraiser, ClimACTS, for Theater Offensive. The memory of founder and executive artistic director Abe Rybeck in a truly tremendous neon outfit, waving and blowing kisses as he was carried onto stage by two scantily clad fellas while another hunky number in ass-less pants serenaded him with Italian opera will sustain me unto my dying day.

Queer story sustains my femme. Whether it’s in a book, like Juliet Takes a Breath by Gaby Rivera, or observed, like watching Michelle, the current owner of Womencrafts in Provincetown both honor the history of the store as well as honor the political complexity of today’s queer world, or told to me directly, like the stories I hear from the QSA members or from other femmes — I need queer story almost as much as I need to breathe.

Coalition building and intersectionalty sustain my femme. My straight colleagues and friends model how I can be a better ally, show me how to recognize my privilege and wear it with a sense of humor and responsibility. The National Day of Mourning is a holy day for me. My femme is sustained when I brainstorm and discuss with other queers about strengthening our organizing by asking hard questions about race or disability, for example. My femme is sustained when I hear from a straight colleague with new information about our ongoing struggle to get our town to deal with its Native American town symbol. Attending Creating Change sustained the fuck out of my femme.

My femme is sustained by the love of my butch.

My femme is sustained when my new femme friend and I machinate to take over the world.

My femme is sustained by this blog, and by hearing from you.

Deep gratitude to all of you in all of your queer and fabulous variety!

 Every Friday, The Total Femme showcases a queer femme goddess. Suggestions welcome!