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."