I'm lucky enough to have a fabulous relationship with my mom. We don't always perfectly understand each other, but we know each other better than almost anyone else knows us. And I really wish I could be celebrating Mothers' Day with her today (albeit one of those arbitrary holidays that we celebrate largely because Hallmark tells us to--but that doesn't change the fact that it's a day we all think about moms).
Anyway, in honor of Mothers' Day, I thought I'd combine Butch Wonders themes with mothering and pose the following questions to readers:
One of my favorite newish bloggers, A Lesbian in Pensacola, contacted me and said she'd like to post on BW about suitable butch beach gear. I agreed; it's hard to get more beach-experty than Pensacola, after all! Here she is:
Memorial Day Weekend is almost here, and tens of thousands of queers will head down to Pensacola Beach for a massive party. Whether Pensacola is your destination or you choose another beautiful beach this summer, a few essentials will keep you happy and healthy while enjoying your vacation.
The first rule of beachy butchness: nobody likes the boiled lobster look. Wear sunscreen (regardless of your natural skin color)! The beach is a lot more fun if you can go back the next day instead of lying in bed with ice packs and Ibuprofen.
[BW note: Not all tankinis suck. See?]
If you're a softer butch, your style options have expanded in the past few years. Tankinis that used to consist of generic-looking shorts and squared off tank tops now run the gamut of triathlon-ready to super femme. Athleta offers tons of sizes, and while a lot of them might be too femme for some, I love the running-ready variety. The tops fit like sports bras, and solid colors abound. [BW note: what do you wear under that for a bra? 'Cuz my girls aren't gonna be tamed by that tankini alone.] What we call the "classic Pensacola dyke" look is easily achieved with a women's bra-style top and men's boardshorts.
[BW note: I have this one.]
Rashguards will keep your skin burn-free and scrape-free. If you’ll be surfing, snorkeling, or on a boat, a good rashguard will be your friend. Rashguards are also a stylish way to cover your upper half, if you’re not excited about any of the bathing suit tops.
[BW note: Non-pastel colors!]
For butches who hate wearing women's swimsuit bottoms, the ever-present boardshorts are still ragingly popular. Women's boardshorts are often short, fitted, and involve pink. But there's been a lot of color and style progress recently, though most men's boardshorts will do just fine, as long as they're not so long as to inhibit your knees when you're playing in the water. It's maddening to try to stand on a surfboard and get stuck in a squat because your knees are locked in your shorts.
Other beach necessities include:
Safe travels, and see you on the beach!
[BW note: Thanks for those awesome recs, Pensacola Lesbian! You've not only inspired me to consider putting a "beach" section in the Butch Store, but you've made me want to visit Pensacola!]
Occasionally I get email from other aspiring queer bloggers asking for advice, and I received another one recently, so I thought I'd share some general, hard-won blogging advice. Take it all with a boulder of salt.
BW's Tips for Bloggers
What about you, dear readers? What are your favorite qualities in a blog?
Edie and Thea in the 1960s
A few of you have asked what I was going to write about Edie Windsor, so I thought I'd go ahead and post what I wrote, even though it's kind of incomplete.
The day before the Supreme Court arguments, I dreamed about them. For some reason, they were taking place in a high school gymnasium. And one of my biggest heroes (who was involved in the case, but didn't actually argue it) was arguing on behalf of Windsor. My parents were in the audience for some reason, and so was I, but I didn't seem to have a seat, and kept darting about the folding chairs to get a better view.
If you follow the case at all, you probably know some of the details: Edith Windsor's 40-year relationship with Thea Spyer, her longtime care of Thea after Thea was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and the financial blow dealt to her after Thea died (because their marriage--in NY and Canada--was not recognized by the federal government).
Edie and Thea in the 2000s
When I think about how hard it was for me to come out in the 2000s, and how much anti-gay rhetoric I heard as a kid, I'm especially amazed by women like Edie and Thea, who were out and proud when it was much harder to be.
Regardless of how the case comes down, I'm overwhelmed by my gratitude to Edie Windsor and the many others, young and old, who have been fighting this battle for a long, long time.
Last week, I posed five writing prompts to BW readers. (I'm still taking answers, so feel free to send yours in.) One of those was: "Write a letter from your 2013 self to your 2003 self." Here are five of my favorites:
I know you're reading this at age 31 but I know you still feel young and dumb, sometimes. I want, no, need to let you in on a few choice secrets. First, you have a lot of growing to do. You may feel like you are stagnant and the gears have stopped turning in your identity formation. I'm here, 10 years down the road, to urge you to hang on and keep your mind open. You're in for some heartbreak, which will make you question everything but you'll survive and only get better with age. Also, bear in mind that within the next decade, you'll become so comfortable with the you who you are that you won't give a tinker's damn what other folks think of how you present or label yourself. You'll be a fine person, who has expanded beyond terms like tomboy and lesbian and will embrace new aspects of self like boi, genderqueer and butch while never neglecting what it is to be female.
In short, you will create a pretty balanced synthesis where you can appreciate your masculine and feminine qualities. You don't need to be afraid that you'll be unappreciated or unloved because you rock that short haircut and tie. You won't bow to societal pressures to conform, get married, wear attire that doesn't mesh with who you are, etc. You'll be a work in progress, even in 2013 but you will be a happy butch, who exudes confidence and class... and you will not be alone.
Dear Self from 2003,
Do yourself a favor and come out of the closet now. You know you're gay and so do your friends. I know you're scared that your family won't be fine with it but they will be as long as you are happy. Also never leave any of your girlfriends for someone else. It's lame and will rob you of true happiness. Keep trying to lose weight... it definitely pays off. Never give up!!! Life out if the closet is so much better than the life you have now.
Me from 2013
The third letter is from Whitney, who chose to send it in in video form. I totally love this--click here to check it out.
Kiss a girl. One of those long lingering soft kisses that you can feel right down to your toes. When you are done don't feel guilty and don't feel ashamed; but most of all don't be afraid.
Your life begins here. YOUR LIFE. Not the life you just assumed you should have. The life that you were conditioned to believe was the proper, moral thing for a good girl to do. This kiss will allow you to start really living.
What you want is important and it matters. You will feel for the first time that you have found what you've been searching for. The thing that lingers just outside of your reach. Finally understand why you have always felt so different from other girls.
Love yourself for who you are. Start to look how you feel inside. Dress how you've always wanted to. Be comfortable in your own skin. Take advice from Dr. Seuss "Be who you are and say what you mean because those that matter don't mind and those that mind don't matter."
With this one simple act, do for yourself what years of therapy will not be able to do for you. Understand your relationship with your husband, then let him go. Give yourself the opportunity to experience real romantic love for the first time.
Trust in your family to understand and to be there for you no matter what. Believe that they love you and feel that your happiness is all that matters in the end.
Be brave. Be true to yourself. I'm not saying it will be easy. The sacrifices will be many. Some of them easy to take, while others will leave you heart broken and change you forever. But I promise you will never regret any of it for a second. The rewards far outweigh the hardships. Everything that you have ever imagined for yourself is what's at stake.
Kiss that girl! Then sit back and enjoy the ride.
Hi there, Laura.
I know it's a pretty confusing time for you after just breaking up with Jade. I know you think you're a little bi-girl, but let's be honest; we both know you're gay; don't pretend any more--it will be so much easier. You will meet people in your new secondary school who will find you with other girlfriends, will bully you and you shouldn't let it get to you like it did to me. The bullying got quite bad for me and I let it get to me but ignore them, actually in a few years the main ones have themselves come out.
Don't get all worried you won't suit short hair. It looks awesome on you! In the next few years you'll notice you meet some amazing people, especially in 2012, you will meet an amazing woman who makes you very happy. Don't let her go... ever.
I know you want to be with the guys and you've always acted like one but let's face it, you've always checked out the same girls they have without wanting to admit to yourself. Rugby is awesome. Just because you like to wear men's clothes doesn't mean you're weird. Keep smiling; it does get better. It gets a lot better and you are happy in the future. Life is good when you admit you're into women. Oh... you look damn good in a shirt and tie and don't you ever forget it.
Your future self.
I'll share some more of my favorite answers from readers to these and other questions in the next couple of weeks. Readers' answers are making me wonder what I would tell my 10-years-younger self. Would I tell her not to marry my DXH? I'm not sure. It broke my heart and sent me reeling for years... but on the other hand, I learned a lot from being married to him, and we had some absolutely wonderful times. In a very real sense, he and I grew up together. Plus, if I'd come out earlier, would I have ever met my hilarious, gorgeous, terrific DGF?
It's hard for me to think about what I'd want my 10-years-younger self to know. Even the things I learned the hard way sculpted me into the person I am now... so maybe that's good. Or maybe it's just cognitive dissonance.
What do YOU wish you would have known ten years ago?