Perez, Writers' Retreat Fellow

Perez, Writers' Retreat Fellow



and I'd like to introduce Perez 2010 [Applause] coming back around to Bush my first real girl crush was a butch well she didn't call herself that maybe never has and she was in the closet just like I was but it was something about her short hair expertly chosen jeans and t-shirts the boyish lines and masculine sensibilities that drew me to her Wendy and I met I still believe there was an imaginary lines down the middle of the clothing store that meant only the right side was for me she was the fashion role model I'd never had and even took me to buy my first baseball cap I had ignored minor crushes like these for years my 13 year old mind wandering to thoughts of kissing my drama teacher and my seventh and 17-year old means he really wanted to kiss my math tutor but this was one I couldn't ignore even though it was more than two years of friendship before my feelings for her finally forced me to come out the language we wanted to date her and wanting to look like her felt tenuous and looking back I'm pretty sure any attempts at being sexual would have failed miserably but my complicated feelings for deed taught me this crucial lesson I needed to figure out who I wanted to be before I could figure out who I wanted to be with I was barely a dyke then let alone butch but it was the learner female masculinity that threw me into an out in the queer world it was a fierce femme who bossy bottoms me into the role of Wichita used to be the butch twosies femme and she's alighted in my enjoyment of her high heels her pretty dresses and her made-up face in those moments when my insecurity was stronger than my sense of self the contrast between my budding masculinity and her strong well articulated femininity or just what I needed to feel whole strong even butch she didn't change me exactly but our gender play heavy sex gave me room to figure out but my gender could look like in those private spaces we shared shielded from how society saw me there are people who believe you can't be a butch without a family that you need the two ends of the spectrum all the time to be in balance for me that was only half true I did need the strength of my partner's femininity to bring me into my own identity I did me the contrast with her to make me feel strong to let me see myself but now that I'm there I haven't forgotten the tomboys I had crushes on in the early days I still fantasize about them but now not as a girl exactly and even my own sense of gender first so that I could come back to that when I was coming out in the 2000 there were books popular knowledge and underground cultural understanding of what it meant to be butch I may not have known it intimately as a late-blooming we're who grew up in an extremely straight southern town but I knew enough to feel self-conscious claiming quickness you see I was never a tomboy there I said it I was never a goddamn tomboy I never resisted the dress was my mom had me where I never hid my dad's closet trying on his clothes I did gender conformity without any real fight and when I came out to my mom she used this against me but you were always so feminine maybe I didn't have the fight in me maybe I wanted to fit in more than I wanted to know myself but until I was well past 20 I wore my hair long earrings dangling in my ears makeup on my face I wear spaghetti strap tank tops glowing skirts I flaunted my cleavage the narrative I had absorbed the one I began to fear to bleed as I came out wasn't mine I wasn't a rough-and-tumble butch kid of scabby knees and hardness fighting mom against Sunday dresses I wasn't good at sports didn't have trouble being friends with girls didn't feel more boy than girl so when I slowly started easing toward the masculine side of the spectrum I was self-conscious as hell I felt like an imposter I felt like a phony I had similar feelings when I came out as lesbian my fantasies about women click latest waged my fears of being a fear fraud with my gender presentation I couldn't get over the feeling that I was trying too hard but experiment I did subconsciousness be damned and a few years later as I slowly and I mean slowly shed the layers and feminine be in my presentation the self-conscious was still effective but labels I used I knew what which was and I still felt it couldn't beat me I had been a tomboy I even wore a pink dress to prom I did dated men I was short and chubby and more deeply than tough I feel like he's a grown up in a world with butch pioneers and I feel lucky that I've had an idea of what being butch might have meant but instead of making me feel part of the community these constructions about butch was stereotypes really pushed me away from the word gay identity instead I chose a newer term gender queer gender queer had yet to be defined it was in flux that was a new frontier I may not have been much enough but genderqueer was all mine to claim and rewrite and redefine now it's been a few more years and I've gotten more confident I still really like genderqueer so claim it and own it and love the way it makes room for me in all my complexities but I'm coming back around to butch maybe it's because the years of pink prom dresses are farther and farther behind me maybe it's because I'm learning from butch elders who talk in terms that make them look for me giggles and all maybe it's also because the people I know now unless I tell them have no idea I was never a tomboy they only know me my short hair and tightly bound chapstick button-down shirts I think every new generation feels the need to reject their elders reject what came before them really feel that they are the new gender rebels we invent terms we create new spaces and sometimes we come back to where our big brother started [Applause]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *