I thought that Iíd start this first ďrealĒ column with a couple of words on how as butches we can be the best people, friends, and partners that we can possibly be. Oftentimes, we walk through a less than hospitable world where we are certainly the ďoutsiders.Ē Unfortunately, sometimes we are treated like outsiders in our own queer communities.
Recently, I was involved in a butch fashion show at a vintage clothing store in Brooklyn, NY. I was surrounded by incredible queers of all kinds, and some very amazing butch folk. I was asked to speak a bit on fashion for butches. After talking a little bit about what inspired me to start writing my blog, I changed course a little bit and steered my introduction to how I manage to be the best butch (and person) that I can be. It has so little to do with how we dress or look, and itís long been understood that there is an infinite number of ways ďto be butch,Ē but everything about who we really are is entrenched in how we act and treat others.
This is why my personal mantra, for years now, has been to walk through my existence with confidence and kindness. Honestly, the kindness part is easy. Really, it is. Iíve found that it takes a lot more energy and work to be hard and disinterested, or even sometimes bordering on mean than it ever has to respond to most everything with kindness Ė or at least managing a smile.
The confidence part is the tricky portion of the equation. It can be downright terrifying to stand tall in a world that for the most part, doesnít understand who we are. And thatís the biggest factor in the decisions I make about myself, and how I present myself to the world. I know that many of us have giant issues with our bodies, how sometimes they donít ďfitĒ who we are. For those of us who donít have those same issues, there has usually been a lot of hard work done to help make us feel comfortable in our own skins. Sometimes, it can be a balancing act between feelings of awkwardness, discomfort, and loving ourselves.
For me, dressing the way I do, putting on a shirt and tie and generally only wearing items from the menís department isnít only about the comfort I feel when Iím in my clothes, the contentedness I feel with my body when I think that I look good. Sometimes, my clothing is a suit of armor Ė a fairly thin layer of protection that I use to navigate through situations where I feel utterly out of my element.
I know from my own journey, the out of my element feelings are strongest when Iím trying to make real connections with other people, and it almost doesnít matter whether Iíd like to be friends or more than friends Ė I have a social awkwardness that I know exists mostly in my own brain Ė because generally people (I think/hope) find me fairly outgoing when they first meet me Ė but inside Iím a ball of anxiety and worry. It is at this specific moment when my walking with confidence bursts into overdrive and Iím carried through the initial parts of communication until the real deal peeks through and I once again feel truly at ease with myself, and with my new acquaintances.
Exuding confidence has always helped me through when Iíve been interested in someone for more than just friendship. If Iím being perfectly honest, Iím kind of a 2x4 butch and really need to be told that someone is interested in me before I can comprehend whatís going on with my own feelings Ė but if Iím the one who is ďin pursuitĒ then I become almost incompetent in my own mind Ė and then again, I rely on the confidence I feel within myself to give me the needed kick in the pants to initiate contact. And thatís hard to do any time Ė in person, via the phone, on-line Ė any time you expose yourself and open yourself up for rejection (or hopefully, returned intentions) itís a hit to all of the confidence that youíve been building up Ė but I promise you Ė if you are confident (even if itís a fake it till you make it type of confidence) and kind, then people WILL notice. They will gravitate towards you, and they will respect you for the way that you act, and the way that you treat others. This kind of admiration will only feed into that cycle of confidence and kindness and propel you through your world allowing you to explore and experiment with the person you are becoming and the person youíd like to be.