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.
Mad 4 Equality is on! I'm partnering with Bess Sadler and the Feral Librarian (pictured left as a sports-loving dyke-in-training) to run a women's and a men's tourney to benefit the Trevor Project and the Campaign for Southern Equality.
Fill out your women's bracket before the first game on Saturday, and the men's before Thursday's game tips off. Winner gets 1/3 of the pot!
Things You Need to Do for Entry:
We'll also be giving prizes for creativity, so don’t be shy about entering your best theme-based bracket (e.g., cutest mascot or gayest coach).
Yay! Let's go @mad4equality!
Butch Wonders is teaming up with the Campaign for Southern Equality and a few other folks to host a March Madness NCAA tournament for charity! Here are some deets:
So what I need from you is a suggestion for a great LGBTQ organization this tourney could benefit. Please put your suggestion, and your reason for thinking the charity is awesome, in the comments.
On Monday, I'll post a poll based on your suggestions, and BW readers will get to vote on which charity we'll support!
More details to follow. I'm looking forward to your suggestions! (And if you feel compelled to tweet this, which I hope you will, use #mad4equality.)
With Valentine's Day around the corner, it's a good time to think about your intimate apparel. If my Facebook fans are an indication, most butches wear boxer briefs or regular briefs (men's or women's) during the day and regular boxers to sleep in at night. Some favorite brands: Fruit of the Loom, CK, Starter, and Champion.
These are fine go-tos, but I wondered what interesting options were out there, so I did some research, contacted companies and Etsy shops, and got some wares to inspect. Here--in no particular order--are some awesome choices that will let you look great, have some cool style options, and support small businesses. (These make wonderful gifts, too.)
Bonus Pants is a little company out of Portland that offers a ton of fun, loud choices for cotton boxers (including mustaches, donuts, bananas, potatoes, skulls, bacon strips, motorcycles, and more. The owner, Dagny, will make any style with or without an open fly (I tried both and prefer without). They're baggy, plenty long, and don't ride up. Around $18.
Gripped Basewear is a relatively new company, queer-owned and made in Canada! Their boxer briefs are a little short for my taste and have a bit of a pouch in the front, but they come in a range of terrific colors, their customer service is awesome, and their undies are super soft. If you're pale, unskinny, or don't have much of a butt, these aren't likely to be as attractive on you as they are on Gripped's hot male models. But if you want to show off your stuff and support a queer business, this is an awesome choice. $30.
Though they only have one style to choose from, Ohganix boxer briefs are also worth a look. They're expensive as heck ($60), but the softest boxer briefs I've ever tried on. Made in California, organic, and probably macrobiotic and gluten-free as well. Mine are 96% hemp and 4% spandex, and have the perfect amount of stretch. (They make "ladies'" stuff, too.)
Focx is an incredibly hot British brand, and if you've never checked them out, now's the time (even if it's just for the hot pics on their website... yowza!). It's made for women, by women, and has tons of fabrics and two styles: boi shorts (left), and bocxers, which are a little longer. I've tried both. Although I wanted to like the boi shorts best, my torso bears an insufficient resemblance to the models' for it to look great on me. Still, awesome quality at a decent price (£16.99, or about $26). The bocxers, on the other hand, are totally comfy and hot. Try both!
I thought these were a little cheesy at first, but I admit that I totally love my tie-dyed boxer briefs from 2 Tie Dye 4. They're a steal at $16, come in boxer briefs (Champion) or boxers (Merona), and add some really fun color to your boring ol' underwear drawer. They're also pre-washed, so despite my worries, they didn't dye my other clothing. Maybe best of all, they come from Hawaii's Big Island. Aloha, butches!
EX Designs makes boxers in fabrics that include football logos, seasonal prints, and two John Deere tractor prints (yes, really). They're made for men, so there's extra material up front, but they're a deal at $16 for such cool fabrics (and if they don't have a fabric you want, be sure to ask!).
KLeonardDesigns offers a similar style to EX Designs and Bonus Pants, also with a broad range of fabrics (check out these paw prints), not all of which are pictured in the store. The fit is wider and shorter than others I've tried. Since I like my boxers on the long side, I didn't love the fit, but plenty of butches complain about too-long boxers, and would find these perfect. Good quality, steep price. $72.
If Fruit of the Looms fit you well but you're interested in something with a little more spice, check out Sexy Delights. Being a fan of the bookish ladies, I chose their reading mudflap girl (left), but in lime green. I think they're super fun, but my DGF maintains that they're tacky. We're probably both right. Tons of print options. $20.
Last, but decidedly not least, are these great boxers from AmiElisah. They're especially well made (even my hard-to-impress DGF was impressed!), come from Britain, and have little tiny elephants printed all over them. Very cute and wearable both under pants and to bed. £15.00 = $24.
I hope these great boxers and boxer briefs inspire you to spice up your underthings. When I told them about Butch Wonders, the owners of all of these businesses were super enthusiastic about having butch customers. Yay for queer-friendly small businesses!
In addition to the boxers I descibed here, I've also got some awesome, never-worn pairs of boxers and boxer-briefs to give away (including ones from Focx and LKeonardDesigns), as well as some hot greeting cards and a pair of cufflinks from Focx! Send me a picture of yourself in boxers or boxer briefs and a tank or T-shirt and I'll enter you to win schwag! Pics may be posted on butchwonders.com, so keep it PG-13 and SFW. ;)
I'm excited to share this guest post from a BW reader who's working as a Peace Corps volunteer. I hope you enjoy her insights as much as I did! For reasons that this piece makes clear, she's chosen to remain anonymous.
Discovering the Lesbian Underground in Rural South America
Peace Corps is a two-year commitment to do development work in impoverished countries. I am an Agricultural Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in South America. My site is a very rural, impoverished, and conservative village in a conservative country.
I generally present myself as androgynous. Short hair, comfortable clothing, and a slim build make this easy. I didn’t tell my Peace Corps recruiter about my sexual orientation, but I scoured the internet trying to find information on queer life in the small, culturally isolated country to which I was assigned (and on the experiences of queer PCVs worldwide). To my dismay, I found little information. The Peace Corps welcomes queer PCVs, but warns that in many countries they will have to stay closeted—sometimes to work smoothly with host country counterparts, but frequently for the safety of the PVC.
In my village, miles away from paved roads, surrounded by banana and pineapple crops, I am very deeply in the closet. I still dress androgynously, but I have not, and likely will not, tell anyone in my community the direction in which my romantic interests generally lie – the señoras trying to match me up with their sons don’t know how much of an uphill battle they face. Due to my unfeminine hair and clothing, I also receive far fewer cat calls and less sexual harassment than other female volunteers.
After working with men in the community to rebuild a wall of my house, someone joked that a "man" would be moving in: me. This comment from a community member made me anxious, and led me to worry about every interaction—to an unhealthy extent. Indeed, my self-censorship has been one of the most stressful parts of being here. I am fearful that they will “guess,” but I actually haven’t altered much. I don't change my appearance or flirt with men, though I certainly don’t flirt with women in my site either. My second year, I’ve loosened up because I know the people in the village, and they know me. For example, when señoras would ask me if I had a boyfriend I used to say, “not right now,” but now I say, “I don’t need a boyfriend.” It’s a small, but significant, difference.
One of my queer volunteer friends says that this is a country of “open secrets:” Secrets everyone knows, but tacitly agrees not to talk about. It makes me wonder, am I living an open secret too? Is it possible everyone in my site knows and are electing to keep quiet?
One of the biggest personal changes I have experienced here is the role my sexual identity plays in my sense of self. Like many people in their mid-twenties from accepting backgrounds, I never viewed my orientation as a big deal. However, here in rural South America, I needed to hide this part of myself for the first time in my life… so it has become more important. I am open with other volunteers and the Peace Corps support staff in-country, but I miss being in an active queer community.
Once every month or two, I travel to the country’s capital to get mail and to socialize with other PCVs. If possible, we visit one of the few gay bars in the whole country. Unsurprisingly, it’s usually full of gay men. However, after a conversation with a posse of local gay men looking out for me, we got directions, scrawled on the back of a napkin, to a rumored lesbian bar. It was months before we found the place. When we finally did, we discovered that we had to get past the guards, ring the bell, and wait for someone to come unlock the door. They’re only open one night a week, but have information regarding human rights campaigns, queer film festivals, and Pride activities. Despite their limited hours, it was nice to know that such a locale existed.
However, I still needed a queer community closer to where I live, and as luck would have it, I stumbled across one! There is a town an hour and a half away, and during my first few months, I traveled there frequently to buy supplies to build my house. A PCV there introduced me to a friend of hers (I’ll call her B), a female firefighter. This PCV told me that B was a lesbian and told B the same thing about me. A few months later, B invited me to a secret, underground drag show! Out here, in the middle of nowhere, there was a community! The event was invitation only, with the location announced a few hours ahead of time. Secrecy was a big priority. Drag queens from all over the country performed, and under a blanket of stars, the rest of us queers watched. It was great! But the most valuable part of the experience was finding out that there is a network, even out here in the rural countryside. However, it’s distressing that such a high level of secrecy is necessary.
Now I find myself dating B’s ex (I guess lesbians are the same world over). This chapter is unfolding day by day…Our interactions are full of cultural misunderstandings and poorly translated endearments. (Also, how on earth does one discuss strap-ons in a country without toy shops?) She is closeted even to those in her family who would be accepting. I worry that I overestimate the level of acceptance around her, and thereby put her in danger. Her internalized homophobia and self-hatred is another challenge altogether.
I am pleased to have been admitted into the secret lesbian underground of this country. I’ve never met any established lesbian couples, but supposedly several pairs live together, frequently raising children from their past relationships. One of the pairs was comparatively wealthy and lived somewhat more openly, and the other pairs just quietly lived together as “housemates.” I never heard of couples in the countryside, only in town. I also met people who had been part of the lesbian community but ended up marrying men. For some of them, marrying was one of the few avenues of independence they had. Outside of the capital, most people don’t leave their parents’ house till they get married.
I can be an example of a happy, queer, woman within the underground lesbian community. Their eyes went wide when I mentioned that my mother once asked my (ex)girlfriend which of the states with legalized same-sex marriage we would be moving to. I’m not sure what blew their minds more, the fact that marriage was an option for us, or that my mother treated our relationship legitimately. I introduced terms like “family” and “gaydar,” and exposed the underground to television shows like The L Word and Modern Family. Seeing queer people on TV just like any other telanovela was a very significant, empowering experience, especially for my girlfriend. It’s been powerful for me as well: by seeing it from the outside, I truly appreciate the strength of the queer community in the US.
Clearly I can only base this off of the lesbians I know, but but at least in this country, there seems to be less gender nonconformity than in the US or other South American countries. But maybe that’s because all the lesbians I know are from the countryside (the town is in the middle of nowhere. The only real “city” is the capital.
Lesbians here either never find each other (sad but true), or find one other lesbian or gay man who introduces them to her or his friends (like what happened to me). Some of the most important work I’ve done my last few months in the site, has been introducing a few teenagers (males) who came out to me to the community in the town. Additionally, I introduced the community in town to the resources and clubs in the capital.
My Peace Corps experience has changed me in many unexpected ways, including strengthening my identity as a queer person. But more importantly, it has highlighted something else to me, the fact that who I am is not just for me alone. I'm a member of a beautiful community, not just underground in a small country and not just causally out in my hometown: it’s a community that's everywhere, worldwide, where I'd most and least expect it. When I pack my bags, say my goodbyes, and leave this country, I'm taking that lesson with me.
Many thanks to the guest poster for sharing her story. She also wanted me to pass along this link for LGBT Peace Corps Alumni.
Do you have an experience worth sharing? I welcome guest post submissions; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.