Saturday, December 24, 2011

Shelly and Robin (Butch Sightings NYC) at a rock and roll Hanukkah show

Robin, butch sighter in NYC, says:

"Me and my pal Shelly Weiss of OUTmedia. Shelly talks me into going to events in which our collective age is more than everyone in the place put together. Here we're at a dive, Southpaw, in Brooklyn for a rock and roll Hanukkah party with kickass bands and some butch sightings but also the phenomenon that prompted Jenny's post about 'genderqueers." (see our facebook page for more details)

#183 Eli Rock Violinist from the Shondes

Robin in NYC says:

"When asked if he is butch, Eli said, uh ... no. I smiled politely and said, okay, I'm with Butch Sightings, just wondering. Shelly (see above) said, 'hang on, isn't Butch Sightings about female masculinity left of center? What if Eli is trans?' 'Shelly, we've had this conversation before,' said I, sighing. As Shelly and I argued (lovingly) over who is encompassed in Butch Sightings, Eli quietly said, 'I think I qualify...' :)

Eli is a rock violinist in a happening Brooklyn band called the Shondes. Shonde in Yiddish means a disgrace -- which is appropriate for a group of Jewish queers playing intense rock."

#182 Sam of the incredible pompadour

From Robin in NYC:

"I almost broke my neck getting up the stairs to Sam, camera in hand, before she got away. What a cutie! When asked if she was butch, Sam sort of gave me a wide-eyed, "what?" look and Jessica Halem, adorable radical queer femme comic extraordinaire, said, "It's for Butch Sightings! You are butch! Please."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

#181 Ari (a mother/daughter butch sighting)

My 5-year-old and I went grocery shopping this afternoon and spotted Ari in front of the fancy foods in jars. She had big cuffs on her jeans over black work boots and a confident, easy presence. So, me and my kidlet did a joint butch sighting. I didn't ask Ari for any of her life details, but maybe she'll read this and fill them in!

Here, the adult perspective and the kid one:


#180 Hanukkah First Night Butches - B♀ Brown

B♀ is a very interesting cat. She spent 8 years in Federal prison for politically motivated bank robberies in the 70s in Seattle as part of the George Jackson Brigade. B♀ never spent more than two years in the same prison and when I asked if they were scary places she replied that "only the guards were frightening." Being with 700 other women was never a problem for this butch who knew from as far back as 5-years-old that she didn't want to grow up to be a housewife or mother.

B♀ has been a highway maintenance worker for 22 years. She's 64 now, and her "wifey" is a femme bellydancer. She grew up working class and is still working class and thinks dykes need to talk about class a lot more. I wholeheartedly agree.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#179 Hanukkah First Night Butches - Ami and Frances

Ami is one of the most sincere people you'll ever meet. She's also adventurous - take the time she and her "wifeall" traveled across country with their then 7-month-old baby and two dogs to visit their marriage. They went to the 7 states and one district where their marriage was legal and chronicled the journey on their blog:

Ami says there is plenty of room for masculine women in the world and I couldn't agree more. Here she is with her daughter, Frances.

#178 Hanukkah First Night Butches - Alex

Alex was a bit shy, but very willing to be sighted (thank you!). She is single, into other butches, kink and has lots of skills, including baking both savory and sweet treats. Alex is 35 and hails from Reno, Nevada.

#177 Hanukkah First Night Butches - Stacy (resighting)

Stacy was first sighted down in LA. I caught up with her tonight and let me tell you, if you are a femme who wants to feel good about yourself, she is the butch you want to talk with! Stacy is not "in the market" but as a self-professed "femme supporter" she just makes a girl feel good.

I asked her how she found herself as a butch and she explained that it was part of her coming out process. She read two books that helped shape her thinking about herself and identity: Stonebutch Blues, and This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. It was that reading, and moving to the Bay Area that helped cement her identity as a butch, and helped her get past the negative stigma that was often associated with the word.

#176 Hanukkah First Night Butches - Whitney

Whitney wanted to grow up to be an astronaut but then she took a science class in high school which she aced, but found very boring. She was a tomboy as a girl and if you look at pictures from Whitney's childhood you'll see her in "button ups and vests." Whitney found the Oakland Bulldaggers at the Butch Conference and felt at home. She's 25 and when I asked her if she thought butch was a dying breed she said that not too many people her age take on the identity - they might instead, and more oftes n call themselves "genderqueer." For her, buttch is the word that makes her feel most like herself.

#175 Hanukkah First Night Butches - Sasha and Anja

Sasha T. Goldberg is the facilitator of the Oakland Bulldagger Group, which she founded in 2009. She is an inspirational appreciator of life and butches, and a community builder whose made a positive impact in the lives of many; there's something incredibly powerful about claiming who you are and bringing others together to do the same. Tonight Sasha and the bulldaggers got together to bask in the glow of Hanukkah at Chevy's.

Sasha says she always knew she was butch but when she was a kid, didn't have a word for what she would be as an adult. She thinks she probably first heard the term "butch" as a derogatory comment. She found it to be anything but for her. Stonebutch Blues was the first book she read that talked about butch life.

I asked Sasha what it was like to show up with a group of butches - she said sometimes it's like the sea parting (wrong holiday, right desert). She doesn't mind.

Here Sasha is with Anja. Anja ("j" pronounced like the "g" in geranium) has a small gap between her front teeth that was caused by having braces as a kid and then not wearing her retainer afterward. She's glad because she finds gap teeth sexy (they look good on her, for sure). She rides Honda CBR 600RR Supersport. She has had many cars, but always wanted a motorcycle and appreciatets that it lessens her impact on the environment and saves gas money. Plus, you know she looks good on that thing!

(Sasha left, Anja right)

(Anja left, Sasha right)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

#174 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Suri

"This is Suri who goes by Best Bites on FB and in the queer performance scene. Suri and Suri's partner are a hot couple ... of performers and young queers totally into one another! Lovely to watch. Suri strongly IDs as queer but is 'closer to the butch end of things.'"

#173 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Judy

Robin reports, "Judy here says she is butch but really believe everyone is yin/yang and yin/yang is fluid. She owns a really cool housewares store in Brooklyn and travels the world stocking it. She gets called "sir" often enough and thinks that is just ridiculous but her friend pointed out that it's her butch vibe. She is a cool customer."

#172 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Suzanne

Robin says, "Suzanne is a research librarian and she doesn't mind if I tell everyone that she is really shy. Shy butch librarian. It's a femme top porn story in the making. She came out in the 90s and knew she was butch soon afterward and has been a plaid button-down pocket protector butch every since."

#171 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Lisa

Robin sighs, "Lisa, earnest butch into good things like veganism and environmental causes, recognized me ... from OkCupid. (I have to get off of that thing and lend myself an air of mystery.) Lisa lives in Brooklyn and is butch to the core, never been anything but, she says."


#170 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Nicky

Robin laughs: "Asked Nicky, 'are you a butch?' She says, 'yeah but I prefer to ID as prince.' She performed at the butch burlesque that night and I have one word, HOT."

#169 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Ariel Speedwagon

"Miss Robin loves Ariel Speedwagon. This is a butsch mensch if there ever was one. Ariel loves Butch Sightings and when I said that it's run by Jewish femmes, Ariel said, 'only Jewish femmes would have the chutzpah to do it!' cute."

#168 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Drae Campbell

"Drae Campbell is a stage, film and solo performance actor. Drae stars in and wrote the award winning short queer film, 'You Move Me.' Drae also is this year's 'Miss Lez,' but agreed that 'Mister Lez' would be more fitting."

#167 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Rudi (and Robin, NYC Butch Sighter)

"Asking Rudi, 'are you butch?' would be asking the obvious so I said, 'have you heard of Butch Sightings?' Rudi had not, (though many people at butch burlesque had) so after an explanation, Rudi said, 'well the femme has to be in the picture...for context' I said it was not necessary. Rudi insisted and then as our photo was being taken said, 'it's a chance to put my arm around a hot femme.' ::blush:: god. I love butch confidence!"

#166 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Kelli Dunham

"Robin swoons over Kelli Dunham. Kelli is a standup comic, she says. But it's comedy with poignancy and the self-flagellation that comes from being an ex-nun. Kelli asked me what I thought of the shirt -- plaid and all. I was confused since a plaid shirt is a butch uniform. Someone in Montreal wrote in a performance review that Kelli had on a plaid 'flannel' shirt. She shuddered (in a butch way). She is no flannel-wearing butch but a very dapper one. I gave a big thumbs up to that shirt... and Kelli."

#165 Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque - Lea Robinson

Robin, our intrepid NYC Butch Sighter did us proud last night when she went to Boxers Off: Butch Burlesque, NYC. Here come all her sightings!

"This is Lea Robinson, the very masterful Master of Ceremonies and butch/queer event promoter. Lea ids as both butch and genderqueer and is a big fan of Butch Sightings (gave me a press pass! I love being so official)."

#164 - Mitra in front of Tom & Jerry's

    If you know San Francisco, you know that on a hilly street above The Castro district every Christmas is Tom & Jerry's disco holiday extravaganza with a huge 40' foot tree next to their house. My partner and our good friend and our kids all went tonight to see Santa and check out the amazing lights, moving toy Ferris wheels, trains and giant wrapped presents. There I ran into Mitra and her girlfriend, a very hot femme who used to do my brows (only I had no idea she was queer - it's so hard for femmes to "see" each other). Once I explained the site, Mitra was happy to be photographed (with her girlfriend's consent). Here she is, and a few photos of the amazing and wonderful gayer than gay Christmas display.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

#163 - Kat

I was running/walking on a sunny day down by the water when I saw Kat and her partner coming my way. I was a bit (very) abrupt in asking if Kat identified as butch - as I had to yank off my ear phones, and catch them as they were going the other way. I'm not the most delicate of women...

Kat shrugged and said she guessed, and yes I could take her pic. Her partner, who was wearing their adorable baby on her back, asked me why I asked Kat and not her and how I defined butch and put me on the spot. I asked her what she thought, but she wasn't taking that for an answer, since she asked me first. She said in a queer women's therapy group this comes up a lot as a topic. I felt that she was offended by my asking, or rather, by my pegging Kat based on appearance.

Here's the thing, appearance may or may not represent who someone is, but it's the best I have to go on until I interact and find out. And there are definitely butch signifiers. Some people "signal" butch and aren't. Many feminine women aren't femme. Some people seem queer and are straight. All this is true, and yet, I want to ask, I care about butch representation and outing myself as a femme and dealing with the boundaries (what is allowed/not allowed).

Anyway, it was another challenging/illuminating experience and I am very appreciative of them both taking the time to engage in the conversation and in Kat allowing me to take her pic for the site.

Here she is with the reflection of her partner wearing their baby.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

#162 - Bawdy Storytelling Presents: Blythe Balwin, Poet, Performer, Hottie

Tonight I had the eye-opening pleasure of attending Bawdy Storytelling in Oakland. I heard stories that surprised and moved me, and some that made me a little uncomfortable too. As a performance artist and writer and someone who often makes others feel a little uncomfortable, I appreciated that.

Here's a pic of Blythe, who is one helluva storyteller. Listening to her girlfriend crack up next to us was downright delightful.

Blythe, also known as Sparkplug, identifies more as andro than butch, although was very happy to be on Butch Sightings, and for that I am grateful. Thanks to Dixie De La Tour for putting me and my friend on the guest list, and thanks to @Reddivadana for making the connection.

Next month - Bawdy Storytelling's theme is Butch/Femme. I think you know what that means! January 11. See you there?

With Love for Ivan Coyote's Ability to See and Tell

Butches of Belfast, and then some

Monday, December 5, 2011

#161 Sam

Robin, ever the sighter, even in the winter when most butches seem to have gone underground, says:

"This is Sam. I was walking in the bank as Sam was walking out and she backed up and held the door for me. I gave her a big smile and thanked her (love butch manners), and then we both said, 'hey wait, I know you?' Turns out we both lived in Northampton, MA around the same time. We both moved to Brooklyn last year too. Sam said a femme found her as soon as she moved here. I said, well I guess you ID as a butch then. She does and I told her about Butch Sightings. 'Way cool!' was her response."

#160 Butchdaddy

Robin, who wears lovely dresses quite well, says:

"This is a different sort of butch sighting because the butch made herself known to me. I recently signed up on a dating site as Femmeandpoodles. In my profile I say that I am only interested in butches, (and I even give a little plug for Butch Sightings). You'd think between my moniker and my stated preference, I make it pretty clear that butch/femme is my culture. But still, I get women with whom I share a horoscope sign or who feel they can sway me to like feminine women or tell me their friends think they're butch'y'. So the other day I signed on to the site in order to take down my profile and there was a message from 'Butchdaddy' that read: 'Love the blue dress!' (from one of my photos). If you're a femme, I don't even have to explain why this is such a great message. Butchdaddy is in Florida and in a relationship but that doesn't matter because it was so nice to be appreciated by a proud butch daddy who knew that I was a real deal femme. So I thanked her and told her about Butch Sightings and asked if I could put her photo up and she said yes."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

#159 Lee's Liquor Lounge

Pasha, butch sighter in Minnesota, shares her somewhat awkward adventure:

"Last night I went to Lee's Liquor Lounge. It is an old time straight bar on the edge of downtown.

For the last 18 years, a women's band, mostly lesbians, has played their once a month. They are the Roxy Hall Band and they play a mixture of pop, current hits, R&B, old time hits, you name it. Its a big group, with several brass instruments. So, anyhow, this is one of those lesbian events where the patrons are 40+ and they ALL look like butches, but many do not identify that way. Actually, there are places in Minnesota where virtually every woman in town looks like a butch. It was kind of  like that. I thought I could get lots of photos, but the dilemma of who to ask stymied me. I did ask three women, which turned out to be two hits and a miss. The miss though, was interesting. The friend I was with pointed out a gal who plays with the Minnesota Women's Professional Football team, the Vixens. She definitely looked butch-ish to me. I wanted to ask her, thought she left, and then at the end of the night I spotted dancing her again. My friend and I went to dance to increase my chances of asking her. Between songs, I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her about the football team. She seemed please. So then I asked if I could ask her a personal question (she looked WORRIED), and went ahead with, 'Do you identify as butch.' She got a standoffish look on her face, and replied with, 'not necessarily.' Then she asked me, 'have you been to a game?' I had to admit that no, I had not. I got the vibe that asking her this kind of question without being an actual fan was NOT COOL.  She then wanted to know how I knew she was on the team, and I pointed to my friend, who gallantly tried to smooth things over. That was pretty much the end of that awkward moment. It was interesting though, to have this conversation with someone in women's professional sports."

"This picture is of Barb, one of the emblems on her shirt said 'Biker Barb.' When I asked her if she identifies as a butch, she said, 'I'm a baby butch!' SO cute! I loved her bracelets and rings, and she had a foot-long braided rat tail down her back. She also has a huge tatoo on her chest which she showed me."

"In my stymied state, my friend pointed out Laurie, and told me she identifies as butch. I would never have picked out Laurie, but once I started talking to her I got a strong butch vibe. I watched her dance with her GF (or date) during the night, and she was putting some major moves on her gal. Her GF or date looked as or more butch (to me) as she did. I saw lots of couples like that last night. My own attraction mechanisms are so Butch-Femme-hard-wired that I get mightily confused when I see butch-butch, femme-femme, or andro-andro couples. I get the urge to mix and match everyone up to fit my world view, not allowed."

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Winery Adventure

I went to a winery about 40 minutes from home today to meet some work friends. It was a small family operation, out in a place not known for wine since before Prohibition. It's also not known for diversity or as a queer center of the universe like, say, San Francisco. So imagine my surprise when I saw what appeared to be a butch/femme couple walking the property.

First I spied them through the trees, then I decided it would be ludicrous not to ask. It's part of the performance of the art, to approach, even in unlikely circumstances. Besides which, I hadn't done it earlier (twice) at the grocery store when I was picking up Guacamole Garden of Eatin' chips for the winery picnic (in the rain and cold). And I felt a bit guilty about that. Guilt or perhaps gutless or even lazy really, seeing as how I was in a hurry, the store was packed with humanity and its children off for Veteran's Day, and I just didn't respond quick enough to the note in my mind that said, twice, "there's a butch, ask."

So yes, I stepped quickly over the wet gravel from the picnic area to where the couple was walking, on their way out after having toured the winery. I yelled, not subtlely but necessarily given the distance between us and their pace, "Are you a butch and femme couple?" They looked at me, but didn't answer (perhaps they thought I was speaking to someone else, I was sort of far away for such an out of the ordinary question, and kept walking, possibly faster, or I might have imagined that.

I asked it again, this time closer on account of my quickened pace, and they sort of stopped, hestitantly, perhaps slowly backing away from me. "Are you a butch and femme couple?" I repeated. Confusion. "Are you a butch?" I then asked the masculine of the two, since they hadn't exactly answered but instead looked at each other and me as if this couldn't possibly be happening out in the middle of nowhere after a lovely fall tour of the vineyards.

"I'm a femme and I have this sight called Butch Sightings. Are you a butch? I'd love to take your picture." The feminine of the two spoke up, "More of a man than a butch."

"Oh," I said. Realization and self-consciousness dawning.You're trans?

"Yes, I guess so. Trans. I guess if that makes me butch, but I think of that as a derogatory term."

"Would you like your picture taken?"

"Will I get paid for it?"

"No, this is just my personal project. Sorry to bother you. Here's a card." I think he thought the card was something other than it was, beause he seemed hesitant to take it. I think, in retrospect, they thought they weren't recognizable as queers. I'm not sure, and the whole thing was very awkward. I really wanted to know more about the perception of the term "butch" as derogatory, but they didn't want to talk and I had clearly overstepped my bounds.

But, that's part of the project. If it were always simple or easy, it wouldn't be worth it. I just hope I didn't upset them too much.

My coworkers were highly amused when I explained myself upon my return. "Jenny and her hijinks," they must've been thinking. They say I have big balls for a woman. Or perhaps I'm simply an overbearing social klutz.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

#158 Karolina

I spotted Karolina about to cross the street in Oakland. I wasn't that close to where she was and there was enough traffic to make it take a while, so I walked toward my destination. But then I couldn't help myself, it seemed wrong to miss a butch sighting opportunity, so I looked behind me to see that she had crossed and was on the same side of the street. I made my approach and after the initial shock of my very direct question, she was happy to have her photo taken for the site.

#157 Renee, Biking Butch

I met Renee in line at a food truck over lunch. She's the Executive Director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (California) and I have to say, even though I haven't ridden since I was 15 when my bike got stolen, she made me want to try it again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#156 Ninette, Taurus

I met Ninette out and about while she was watching a ball game. I asked her if she was butch and she said, "kinda in between." I asked her if I could take her picture and then what she meant by "in between." She said she's a Taurus, ruled by Aphrodite, and love and that she has a strong feminine side as well, but that she dresses like a tomboy.

#155 Cora, Soft Butch

Robin went out to the Transgressive show the other night and met Cora. She had this to say,

"Got a butch sighting. Cora. Photographer and curator. Soft butch. Straight guy best friend (who's an interior decorator!) said she's a stallion. LOL. They like the same girls.

Friday, November 4, 2011

#154 Catherine and Stephanie on a dog walk in the park

Robin met Catherine and Stephanie on a dog walk the day before Halloween. She says,

"Stephanie said for Halloween she's going as a 'straight girl' after I said part of the project is about visibility. Without Catherine there, Stephanie and I would pass one another in the park never knowing we're both femmes."

Monday, October 31, 2011

#153 Halloween Butch Lisa!

I went to my kids' Halloween parade and look who I spotted. This is Lisa and her son.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

#152, Dilan at the hardware store

Buying mousetraps was never so fun. I spotted Dilan and her femme wife as I was being led by a butch store employee to look for the goods I needed. Dilan was worried she didn't look good because she had been digging trenches all day. Trenches. Butch. Digging. What's not to like? She and her wife were really nice, and very happy to have been sighted. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

#151 Vitka, Butch Soccer Mom

I went to my daughter's soccer game not expecting to have a butch sighting. Low and behold, who was sitting in front of me but Vitka! I asked her if she identified as a butch, gave her a card and told her about the queer family camp we go to every year.

Later, on a water break, my 5-year-old daughter stopped drinking and leaned into my ear whispering, "A butch! Did you get her already?"

Butch sightings is definitely a family affair.

#150 Drake

I admit to practically running to catch up with Drake in the grocery store. She was very happy to be sighted and wanted to know where all the single femmes were. I told her I was thinking of becoming a matchmaker. Hard to believe all the good looking, smart studly butches out there without dates!

#149 Lonny

I was talking with Robin on the phone when I walked into Ross and immediately saw Lonny and her femme wife. I asked if she identified as butch and she shook her said "No," which I immediately followed with, "Stud?" and she nodded. She and her wife are grandparents and a very very hot couple to boot.

#148 Red

Robin says:

"Robin here. This is Red. I ran into her last night at Ginger's dyke bar in Park Slope. Red is a well-known butch hottie in these neck of the woods and runs a popular sex/BDSM party called Submit. I admit that I skipped the preliminaries and just said, 'Hi Red, have you heard of butch sightings?' I then told her about it and she posed, though my iPhone was not ideal for a dark bar. I guess I'll have to encounter Red again. ;)"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

#147 Aja and Jeanie Goin' Shopping

From Valaida, who seems to have a knack for butch sighting:

"This is Aja and Jeanie. They were sighted at H&M in Emeryville. Aja says that she doesn't really identify as butch, more as "queer". They were very sweet with each other. Plus, you have to love a girlfriend who will go shopping with you. P.S. Jeanie has the most kickass tattoos of her mom playing guitar and of her grandma as a pinup girl. They made the trip to Emeryville extra special."

#146 Eliana - Screenwriter, Director, Butch

Robin says,

"I was leaving a brunch in a trendy new apartment building where Eliana was waiting to see an apartment. She gave me a raised eyebrow when I asked if she was a butch probably because my socially self-conscious friend yelled, 'Robin, what are you doing?' After explaining Butch Sightings to both of them, Eliana gave her card (she's a screenwriter/director) and happily posed for our project, pulling over her 12 year old dog saying, 'this is my femme.'"

#145 Malka, Genderqueer at Berkeley Bowl

It's hard to go to Berkeley Bowl without having a butch sighting. This is very distracting when I'm in a rush and getting ready for a party, unless I'm at the cash register waiting to ring out. Then it's great to talk to people in line. Case in point. Malka (love her name), 27-years-old, prefers genderqueer as a team over butch.

#144 Mel at the Fertile Ashes premier

Pasha, who is doing her best to make sure Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Butches, went to a premier last night and, thanks to her, we finally have some non-coastal US butch representation on the site! Way to go Pasha.

Here's what she has to say,

"FINALLY! I have pictures to post. All of these were taken at the preview showing of Fertile Ashes, which is a movie produced and directed by my ex-partner and my 20 year old son. The movie is a 30 minute narrative based on real-life events in the GLBT community in the Twin Cities in 1972. The main character is a butch bar owner. My ex was inspired to write the script by stories told to her in recent years by the woman who was partnered with the real butch bar owner in the early 70's. This picture is of Mel, who plays the main character Joey, in the film. All the main characters are played by GLBT actors/actresses, and the four main characters played by people who identify as butch and femme."

#143 Kim at the Fertile Ashes premier

Pasha says,

"This is Kim, who plays Joey's friend and co-worker at the bar in the movie. I have seen Kim around a lot, but never really talked to her. I asked her if she identifies as butch. She said, "not really, I am more of a tweener." Then, when I told her about Butch Sightings, she absolutely wanted her picture taken and posted."