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November 2001

When I tell people that I am a stone butch I usually end up being asked a lot of questions. It seems like most people don't really understand what it means to identify as butch or femme, and it's not all that easy to explain. I know that it is something very central to who I am and that it affects everything I do. There aren't many places online that deal with butch and femme identities, which is why I think it is important for me to have this included on my page. I hope that other butches and femmes will feel at home here and maybe this will help give other people a better understanding of what all this really means. I'm not trying to speak for the entire butch/femme community, but instead I'm going to speak from my own experiences and feelings around being a butch.

The titles "butch" and "femme" are most commonly assumed to be labels used in the lesbian community to distinguish the more masculine partner in a relationship from the more feminine partner. In reality, there is a lot more to it than that. To me, being a butch doesn't only mean that I am tough or strong, and it definitely doesn't mean that I am in control in relationships. Being a femme also doesn't mean that you need to be feminine all the time and it definitely doesn't mean that you are powerless. It's not about power, it's not about one partner being the "man" and one being the "woman" in the stereotypical heterosexual sense. To me, it's an amazing dynamic where two people who are at opposite ends of the spectrum balance each other out perfectly.
I never made a decision to be a butch, it's just who I am. For a long time I didn't have any language to use for it, but I've always been the one holding open doors for my girlfriends (even in elementary school, before they were really my girlfriends) and all that kind of stuff. I've always wanted to be able to protect them and keep them safe and happy. Being a butch has a lot to do with chivalry. It feels so great to me to be able to walk down the street with a femme on my arm or to help her put her coat on or pull out a chair for her. I want to be able to take the best care of her in every possible way. But wanting to do those kinds of things for a femme doesn't mean that she isn't capable of doing them for herself. More on that later...

So then what does it mean to be a stone butch? It's as if I have this wall around me that separates what you see on the outside from what's really going on on the inside. I don't know how or why it's there, or what it's meant to protect me from, but it creates this space between me and the people I am close to and stops me from really letting them in. Sometimes it makes it hard for me to even feel things for myself. With my partners, it goes beyond an emotional level to a physical one. I am so focused on (and satisfied by) making my partner feel good physically that I don't need or want that in return. At a time when butch/femme identities are often dismissed as outdated "roles" and old-school butches and femmes are few and far between, it's very hard to find a place where I feel at home as a stone butch

As a butch, it's not easy to find other people who really understand and can support me. I have several butch "brothers" who I really connect with and we share a common understanding. But butches aren't exactly known for being the best communicators in the world so it doesn't always work out too well when we have real issues to talk about (you know, like emotions... ew). Just about the only place I've ever been able to really open up and feel understood has been with a femme. For some reason, they just get it and know how to draw me out. A good femme can make me feel comfortable and safe even when I am putting myself out on the line for her and bearing it all.

I could probably talk forever about all the reasons I love femmes and how perfect I think they are. I love how brave and strong and proud they are. I love that they probably could (and often do) pass as "straight" to most of the world but that they have so much pride about being queer. I always feel so honored when a femme lets me do the things I want to do for her... things that we both know she could do on her own if she wanted to. Femmes seem to know how to make their butches feel strong and important all the time. They also know how to get what they want, so it always makes me laugh when people assume that the butch is "in charge" in a butch/femme relationship. I don't want to let out trade secrets here or anything, but just about any butch would tell you who really wears the pants.

None of this is written in stone (no pun intended). I'm just speaking from what I know and feel. Of course, not all butches are attracted to femmes, and vice versa. Some people might have totally different definitions and feelings about what is butch and what is femme because it is a very personal subject. I would love to hear from other butches and femmes and everyone in between about what they think about it because it's one of my favorite things to talk about. So feel free to email me and let me know what's on your mind. Also, check out my butch/femme resources and reading list if you still haven't had enough.

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