The Work.

August 18, 2011

We (Butch Nation) are not in a dispute. With or without a town hall meeting, we’ll continue our work for Butches and Allies of common values.

Butch Nation’s Response to Town Hall Meeting.

August 18, 2011

Butch Nation has been tagged in a Facebook note authored by ButchVoices as of 7pm on Wednesday night where they state that they are calling a town hall meet up at their Conference. This meeting has been set for Friday at noon to talk about issues raised by Butch Nation’s press releases, and following writings. (See: http://www.sashatgoldberg.wordpress.com for full thread.)

We also hear, via The Bay Area …Reporter, that Butch Nation is invited. (See: http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=5980)

In the Facebook note, Butch Voices claims to aim for a “respectful, hopeful and in-person community conversation.” However, we want to be clear. No one from ButchVoices has contacted or invited us directly by phone, email, or blog comment. (And hey, y’all have our contact information!)

Butch Nation is hopeful that a dialog may take place, however none of us are able to attend a town hall meeting planned for a workday with less than thirty-six hours notice. The founders of Butch Nation have made plans to be in Oakland at the Marriott on Saturday and Sunday only, as was stated in the press release on July 26th, for our independent lunchtime sessions on woman-identified Butches, feminism, and masculinities. (Free and open to the public.)

With the goal of “hearing each other” in a “community conversation” may we invite ButchVoices to move their town hall to Sunday, or hold a part two discussion on Sunday, when we can join you in this important dialog. Butch Nation’s workshop, “Exploring our Masculinities While Keeping our Feminisms,” will be over at 1:30 just as the BV Conference plenary begins at 1:30.

If Butch Voices invites us to its plenary for a discussion, we will gladly attend. But we respectfully don’t want to interrupt BV Conference proceedings unless invited to participate. We fervently hope that any joint session, now or in the future, will be an honorable and potentially healing butch exploration of the issues of sexism, misogyny, ageism, and identity.

Thank You,
Butch Nation Founders.

info.butch.nation@gmail.com
http://www.facebook.com/ButchNationSee More
The Bay Area Reporter Online |
http://www.ebar.com

Building a Nation.

August 17, 2011

I’ll say it: Life has changed in the past three weeks. And Butches–in the Midwest, on the East Coast, in the South, on the West Coast, if you ever wonder if anyone is thinking of you in the middle of the night–the answer is Yes. And that person is me.

I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about all of the emails that you’ve sent in, all of the comments, all of the in-person meetings. I think about your words, and your truths. I think about how we are each different, and I also think of our shared histories. And sometimes in the middle of the night I think about your handsome faces, and your working hands, and your strong hearts. And I think about how our time is now.

I’d venture to guess that the other folks at Butch Nation are thinking of you, too. We have heard from hundreds of you voicing your support for a movement that includes, values, and focuses on Butch women, and for masculinities (of all genders) that hold feminist values. We have heard from Butch women from all over the country, as well as our Allies–Femmes, Transmen, genderqueers, and others, from as far as Australia. I think I can speak for all of us when I say: We are humbled, and we are so grateful.

We have also heard from many of you about your own painful experiences in trying to be a part of Butch Voices, and it has become clear that the isolation tank has broken open; thank you for telling us your stories. These stories have been told from Butch women, Femmes, transmen, and genderqueers of every age, race, and creed (review the blog comments for those stories which were shared in public), and we stand here with you ready to build a Nation.

We have, of course, also received some push-back to our stand. A few people have inquired, and a few people have insisted, that all of these issues must be semantics. To that end, as a further effort at communication and transparency, I have re-posted the included letter (below), which I wrote in response to exactly such an inquiry. I invite you to read this letter; feminism, ageism, misogyny, and dismissal of Butch women are never just semantics.

I also invite you to join Butch Nation this weekend in Oakland at our workshops on Saturday and Sunday (see previous posts for details), or to become involved with Butch Nation after this weekend. We will be standing strong. We are here for you, we are here for our Allies, and, finally, we are here for ourselves.

There is no longer Butch Flight–this is Butch Survival.

All my best,
Sasha.

______________________________________________________________

July 28th, 2011.

Dear Lex,

Thank you for your thoughtful and important contribution to the conversation.

I must say that I very much agree with what you’ve said about value. I do believe that any successful, cohesive movement ought to be value based–which is exactly why so many of us have left ButchVoices. Because our values do not align.

For me, values mean both what we claim to value, and, just as importantly–what actions enact value, in the verb form. For me, and for so many others now speaking out, we are talking about values and words like respect, integrity, transparency, feminism, women, inclusiveness, history, and the wisdom and experience that comes with age–and the actions that enact these values.

And when so many women report the same experience–the experience of not being listened to, not being heard, not feeling respected, not feeling included, and being downright dismissed (whether in the literal sense, or in the act of not receiving responses to our many concerns about feminism, ageism, misogyny, and transparency over many years)–the verb form of how and what we value is clearly missing.

Because none of us at Butch Nation are new at organizing, we all know strife, and we all know struggle. Because all of us are women, and many of us Butch women, we all know strife, and we all know struggle. Because some of us are women of color, and because some of us are Jews, and because we have different levels of ability, and because we span fifty years between our youngest and our eldest, and because we have walked in this world fighting for justice–we ask that you (and others) trust us when we say: The divides are not merely superficial.

We do not ask that you (or any in the community) divide support; we invite you to an important and long-overdue dialogue. We also believe in abundance, and that each of us are able to spend our time and energy in communities that feel like home–that echo our values–in word, and in deed.

For what it’s worth, I, too, believe that we can do better, and tried to create that “better” for years within the framework of ButchVoices. For what it’s worth, I also hope the commitment is to the values that terms like Butch embody. And, for what it’s worth, because embody is a verb–we are building a nation.

Thank you again for the care that is so present in your words–I hope to cross paths along the way.

All my best to you,
Sasha.

Per Lex’s request, 8/18:

Lex Says:
July 28, 2011 at 6:55 am | Reply edit

I am very sorry to hear about this.

While the process of developing our identities can be a liberating experience, too often we mistake the sight of a window for the entirety of the outdoors. Identities are inhumane. As we create definitions to legitimize and validate our experiences, we also create out group qualifications.

The truth is, Butch changes. It is an internal call, who is to say who gets to keep it and who doesn’t? A movement like this should not be identity based, it should be value based. What are our values? Certainly these recurring struggles cannot be our values in action.

If we do not loosen our grip on who gets to define butch, who is in and who is out, butch will soon become obsolete. We can stay and have this conversation, this fight, this struggle to hold on to this flag until the blood leaves our veins, but without a thorough commitment to inclusion, integrity, and collaboration, our youth will quickly and peacefully define themselves with words that better fit their mouths and ultimately their souls.

With love, we are poking holes in an already ailing ship. With so much at stake, I certainly hope the commitment is to the values that terms like Butch embody. Without a recitation of our core qualities, we secede the power to redefine strength, power, beauty, etc. to classic understandings of male and female. Masculinity and Femininity, Male and Female are not to be dismissed nor to be chastised, they are to be reconciled. This is the magic of trans and queer bodies, they are places of alchemic potential for a revolutionary way of being in the world.

I hope there is enough love, integrity, and humility among us to heal this rift and to understand that the divides are merely superficial and ironically reinforcing that which we are claiming to be overcoming. I wish the best for all and would very much ask that the community not be asked to divide it’s support along the lines of our personal transformations and ultimate resurrections into words that we finally fit in. Our inability to close this divide will help none of us and greatly support those that seek to do anything in their power to keep from supporting us. This is no longer about sides, this is about the vitality of our community and the strength of our character. Surely, resolution and healing in the service of working for the safety, support, and vitality of all (not limited even to queer identities) can be born from the same tongues that have created such a violent war of words. Many could argue that our inability to see one another is more violent than anything that has been done to us by those that have not known to do better. We must do better. We must be better. To ourselves, our families, our communities, and our greater humanity, if we are to live free in this lifetime.

In Solidarity With Us All,

Lex

Please Share Widely: FEMINIST FEMMES & ALLIES

August 17, 2011

: FEMINIST FEMMES & ALLIES: Holding the Butch Space
SAT 8/20 12 NOON Oakland Marriott 2nd Flr. Free and Open to the Public.

Let’s talk about our love and support for woman-identified butches. “We have a stake in this, not because we can’t exist as femme without butches but because butches are family to us.” Bring your thoughts, words & analysis to our Femme and Ally conversation.
Meet: Cozy couch area north of 12 Bar Lounge 2nd flr. (look for sign)
[H/T to fierce femme Staci of Owning My Truth blog].

Butch is a Way of Life – from Jeanne Cordova

August 15, 2011

A lovely post from Butch Nation’s own Jeanne Cordova:

Thanks to the hundreds of women, womyn, dykes, Moc people, and gender-queer folk who’ve written in support of the birth and vision of Butch Nation. My position is that there are no “sides” here; just legitimate political and values differences.

But, there are so few butch events in our country that I urge everyone to go to as many as they can. There is much to learn and lots butch camaraderie to be soaked up at all such gatherings.

The radical core of being a gender-nonconforming woman means embracing both the masculine and the feminine Self. Butch is much more than a noun. It is a way of life enriched by its painful past and made noble by its authentic present.

Movements grow and change through splits and shifts. They are common. And not harmful so long as they are issue driven rather than personality based.

The Butch Enough blog post – (7/31 – ‘Gender is a Landscape Not a Line’ – http://butchenough.wordpress.com/) accurately details my hesitations with using “masculine of center people” as an umbrella identifier. Find it, read it!

If any of you are interested in serving butch community by joining our Board, please write Info.Butch.Nation@gmail.com letting us know this. We are growing!

In brotherhood and sisterhood,

Jeanne Cordova, feminist butch

Cofounder, Butch Nation

This Saturday and Sunday, 12pm, Oakland Marriott.

August 15, 2011

This Saturday, 12pm. BULLDAGGER: For Women-Identified, Female-Pronoun Using Butches. This Sunday, 12pm. “Exploring Our Masculinities While Keeping Our Feminisms.” Oakland Marriott. The room is under the name Goldberg. Butch Nation will be there. Free and open to the public. Post widely.

BUTCH NATION: October 26th-28th, 2012.

August 12, 2011

BUTCH NATION: October 26th-28th, 2012.

Butch Nation Presents: A Weekend of Butch Culture and Community.

Join us in California in the Fall of 2012, Oct. 26th-28th. Nationally known Butch speakers, scholars, and community activists will address the State of the Butch Union. The weekend will include workshops, conversations, music, art, literature, and performance. Butch Nation welcomes all who identify as Butch, and our Allies.

In Butch Solidarity,
The Butch Nation Founding Committee

Goodbye To All That–Letters To An Organization I Have Loved.

July 26, 2011

With great admiration and thanks to Del Martin:

I borrow (lean on, and am supported by) her great sentiment of “Goodbye To All That,” which Martin first proclaimed in 1970 as part of a farewell letter to the gay men’s movement. Martin entitled her letter, “Goodbye My Alienated Brothers.”

Because I am parting from ButchVoices, and because my letters were never responded to by an organization in which I have years of investment, and because I remained dedicated, to the last, at inclusion, I am publishing my letters here. I publish these letters as a marker of time, and of place, of how far we have come, and how very far we have to go.

I dream of a movement where our care is measured not by shiny online photos, by thirty character quick quips, or even by extensive verbiage–but where our care is measured by the callouses on our hearts and on our hands, which may only be earned in the great, earnest dedication to the verb form of care: Responding.

Otherwise, we again hold fast to the words that Del Martin wrote over forty years ago:

“Goodbye to the wasteful, meaningless verbiage of empty resolutions made by hollow men of self-proclaimed privilege. They neither speak for us nor to us…I must bid them farewell. There is so much to be done, and I have neither the stomach nor the inclination to stand by and watch them self destruct.”

As ever,
Sasha T. Goldberg

JUNE 14TH, 2010

Hi, friends–

Joe, thanks for your well thought out essay. I appreciated reading your thoughts. I also want to second some of Jeanne’s thoughts, here. Jeanne offers many of my deepest sentiments, but there are some things I’d like to say, as well.

In the spirit of an injury to one is an injury to all, here is what I think is important to add:

All of you know me now, to one degree or another. You know how committed I am to Butch Voices, to what we do, and to our mission. I know these things about you all, too. And perhaps you also know that I commit my time, energy, and resources to run a monthly Bulldagger group. And maybe you know, or maybe you don’t, that I had to fight very hard for us, Butch Voices, in that group, hours spent trying to convince people (many of whom had even been to the conference) that Butch Voices is about Butch women. That there is room (insult to injury, really) for Butch women at a Butch conference. In this way, I have defended Butch Voices to so many Butch Women that I’ve lost count–and now we’ve gone and changed our motto to “Masculine of Center people.” What shall I tell us Butch women now?

Because here is the truth: If I myself just happened to stumble across a conference that was for “masculine of center people,” it would never occur to me to attend. I am not a masculine “of center” person. I am a Butch. I am a woman. I am female. That has been the history–and the persistent present–for so many of us Butches. Additionally, I am not even sure where this supposed “center” is “supposed” to be. I am sure, however, that this world keeps erasing Butch women–from history, from literature, from film, from television, from our streets, from our families, churches, employment markets, housing, and with continued, persistent pressure to be men–and now we, Butch Voices, we have gone and erased Butch women from the first sentence of our mission statement. Now that is just something that I don’t have the heart to defend, friends.

I know you all, just like you know me, so I know and trust your intent and I hope that you know and trust mine. But again and again I say: We are not the same, us Butches who are women and use female pronouns and folks who live on a ‘transmasculine spectrum'; we are not the same, and though we can support one another in a thousand ways, I absolutely refuse to have my Butch identity and history blended in, watered down, or erased. And if this sounds like a political platform, you know, maybe it is–I have been fantasizing about a keynote on solidarity at BV for some of these exact reasons. But as we all know, the political is the personal and this is what is true for me, and for so many other Butches:

Without protecting and defending the space that Butch women have carved out, created, survived and built in addition to trans-spectrum folks, we are not doing justice. We are not doing me right, we are not doing Jeanne right, and we are not doing many, many other Butches right. We are not doing right by our past, we are not doing right by our present, and we are surely not doing right towards ensuring our future.

For all of the above reasons, I strongly ask that you to re-consider the current language. I also strongly second Jeanne’s suggestion of “butch women and all trans-masculine folks.” We simply cannot stand in solidarity without making a stand alone space, literally, metaphorically, and linguistically, for Butch women.

With continued dedication,
Sasha.

MAY 24TH, 2011

Dear Joe, Mary, Krys, and Q,

I was very surprised to learn last week that Jeanne Cordova had been asked to leave the programming committee. After some thoughtful discussion with both Joe and Jeanne, I am writing (at Joe’s suggestion) with the hope that I may be able to help remedy this situation for all of us, and to move forward with Butch Voices as a united front in these crucial last three months before the conference.

First, I do understand from Joe that there was an issue with the Butch Voices name in continued use for LA, and that was the reason Joe gave me for Jeanne’s dismissal. I also understand from Jeanne that there was no mention of this as the reason given for her dismissal in the recent conversation with Q. Please note: At this point, the BVLA Facebook page has been changed to Butch Nation, and there is now the clear understanding that name changes must happen. Finally, I understand that there has been mistrust and misunderstanding on all sides, but I am writing to ask that we maintain the integrity of the BV 2011 team.

As you all know, I accepted the position of Programming Chair a year and eight months ago, and have advertised, recruited, and done outreach in this capacity, both locally, and nationally, ever since. Accordingly, I have also been working with my committee members for this time, and am unwilling to lose Jeanne’s invaluable perspective, and experience–as well as all of the time and work that she has already invested in Butch Voices, and the feminism, ageism, and intergenerational panels, workshops, presenters, and contacts that she holds throughout the nation, particularly in Southern California. I hereby request that Jeanne Cordova remain on the Butch Voices Programming Committee for the 2011 Conference.

With less than three months to our 2011 conference, I hope that you agree to this request and recognize that this is the best way for the BV Programming Committee to continue its work with its current members. I also hope that you can agree that this matter is best resolved in this in-house and non-public manner. I would like to avoid the mayhem that will ensue in our communities if this cannot be resolved privately. That said, I am requesting that you approve this request by the end of the business day on Friday, May 27th, so that the programming committee can have a clear idea about how we are moving forward.

All best,
Sasha.

Breaking News–Prominent Organizers Break with Butch Voices: Butch Nation is Born

July 26, 2011

Press Release
For Immediate Release
July 25, 2011
Contacts: see below

Prominent Organizers Break with Butch Voices:
Butch Nation is born

After years of internal strife, four officers of ButchVoices report they have left the West Coast based organization. The four, along with numerous others, announce they will continue their butch advocacy and solidarity work under the name Butch Nation.

The former officers claim they were ousted or forced to resign because the Board of ButchVoices would not address their concerns over issues such as feminism, ageism, misogyny, and internal secrecy. The long-term members include ButchVoices Board member Jeanne Cordova; Program Chair Sasha T. Goldberg; Vendor Chair Yvonne Moore; and Program Committee member Stacy Reed. The four women are long time LBGTQ activists whose experience spans three generations, multiple religions, races, and ethnicities.

Goldberg and Moore were asked to resign last month upon their refusal to sign a newly issued 12 page contract which specifies confidentiality as all “trade secrets, know-how, concepts, processes, ideas, development activities and designs, [and] all information not generally known outside of ButchVoices.” Although the organization lacks legal standing and is not a non-profit, their contract focuses on strict branding requirements, and demands that volunteers relinquish intellectual property rights.

Goldberg and Moore argued that the workings of a volunteer-based organization should be transparent to its constituents, and, given all of the internal struggles over feminism, ageism, and misogyny within the organization, were both unwilling to commit to silence.

Butch Voices is one of a new crop of butch groups organized in recent years. Its self-appointed leadership consists of: Joe LeBlanc, Q Ragsdale, Krys Freeman, and Mary Stockton. Cordova, a fifth member, was asked to join after her keynote in 2009. After last October’s regional ButchVoices L.A. conference, which had unprecedented success, Cordova was suddenly asked to leave the organization.

During its inaugural 2009 Conference in Oakland ButchVoices claimed it wanted to include all butch voices. However, a group of Steering Committee feminists left during the ’09 planning. Internal tension mounted again in 2010 when Cordova insisted upon inserting the words “feminist” and “lesbian” into the official Call-for-Submissions to the upcoming regional conferences. Although invited to serve on the Board as ButchVoice’s “sage elder”, Cordova’s value rapidly decreased when she disagreed with the Board, who proceeded to schedule their retreat during Cordova’s surgery.

Differences culminated when the Board Retreat met, without Cordova, and changed ButchVoice’s mission statement, shifting the original language of “butch women and trans folk” to “masculine of center people.” Cordova and Goldberg argued—unsuccessfully—for equal footing being given to “butch women and masculine of center people.” ButchVoice’s current mission statement says, “BUTCH Voices is a grassroots organization dedicated to all self-identified Masculine of Center people and our Allies.”

Goldberg and Cordova wrote letters to the Board about these concerns on behalf of woman-identified Butches who do not identify as “masculine of center people”–hoping that their own voices might be heard, and taken to heart. The letters remain unanswered.

Cordova, Goldberg, Moore, and Reed, though now unaffiliated with ButchVoices, remain committed to building Butch community. During the Saturday lunchtime slot at ButchVoices, Goldberg will offer her workshop “Bulldagger: For Women-Identified, Female Pronoun using Butches”; during the Sunday lunchtime slot, Cordova will offer her caucus, “Exploring Our Masculinities While Keeping Our Feminisms.” Both workshops will be hosted in a room donated by members of the Oakland Bulldaggers, and will be listed under the name Goldberg. Sessions will be open to conference attendees and non-registrants alike.

The four organizers are joined by members of the Oakland Bulldaggers, The Lesbian Exploratorium/LEX (organizers of the Los Angeles ButchVoices regional conference), veteran LGBTQ activist Ivy Bottini, and others. They plan to continue their activism through Butch Nation. Butch Nation hopes other butch groups around the country will want to affiliate with them to continue work in Butch advocacy, education, and solidarity.

The Nation can be contacted at Info.Butch.Nation@gmail.com.

Additional Contacts:
Jeanne Cordova; Cordova.Butch.Nation@gmail.com 626.791.0665
Sasha T. Goldberg; Goldberg.Butch.Nation@gmail.com 415.689.4712
Yvonne Moore; Moore.Butch.Nation@gmail.com, 310.614.4359
Stacy Reed; Reed.Butch.Nation@gmail.com
LEX/Ivy Bottini; Bottini.Butch.Nation@gmail.com, 323.848.8015

On Butch Voices.

August 26, 2009

As so many other of my Butch sisters and brothers have already said, I, too, have been trying to write about the Butch Voices conference, and have found myself  utterly unable to produce the right words. As both  a writer and a Jew, I do not often (ever?) find myself at a loss for words; and yet, this Butch Voices conference has left me in such a state of feeling that I have just been trying to actually process all of the emotion–what I  call “the good kind of overwhelmed.” And then, finally, last night, after a long day of travel, I wrote an off the cuff email to my fellow Butch Voices workshop presenter, Jewelle Gomez. It was then, finally, that I reached what feels like e.e. cummings’ “root of the root.” Taking a pause from my inherently analytical stance, I instead solely wrote about the feeling (there’s that word again,) of Butch Voices. I wrote: I can barely catch my breath! I’m so in love and so bolstered by all of the other Butches that I can hardly stand it, and in all the best of ways.

There is so much more to say, of course, so much more Butch Voicing to be done. But at the core, at the root of the root, the truth is shockingly simple for me: I never dreamed that there were so many of us. Me, I came out at fourteen, a young Butch who had been a masculine girl child, and saw no reflection of herself in the world. Learned, both in theory and in practice, that isolation tank of a lesson that still holds true today: that masculinity is for manhood, and maleness. And when I did not see anyone who looked like me, felt like me, or moved through the world like me, I was not able to secure a vision of myself–or of a future–as an adult. Additionally, the most readily accessible information to me at the time concerning female masculinity was actually that about becoming a man–but more on that later. Suffice it to say, for now, that I’ve had my own gender journeys in the decade and a half since I came out. Ultimately, my own journey came back to being a Butch–a woman-identified, female pronoun using Butch. It did take me years, however, to initially find an adult who looked like she could promise me a future, and that was only by staring at a photograph of Leslie Feinberg for the first time. It was only later, still, when I actually met my first Butch. And that meeting felt like possibility, like survival. Like proof.

Over the years, however, that external possibility, survival, and proof felt like it started slipping away. It started with all the dykes I knew in high school–every single one transitioned by the time that I had declared that I was no longer using male pronouns, for instance. And then the dykes that I knew in Northampton, and the Butches that I knew in Seattle, and the queer female boys that I knew in San Francisco, and then finally the only other Butch that I had ever fallen in love with; he transitioned, too. And then my Butch best friend at the time, the one Butch best friend I had ever had, he transitioned, as well. And at that point, transition had spanned every social circle that I had been in, and every broad age range within those groups. And suddenly, I started to feel like I was looking into the wrong end of the time capsule; it was like watching images of my future fade out, until I again struggled to find those who looked like me, felt like me, or moved through the world like me. All the while, I supported, befriended, loved, and cared for many men and others who transitioned–it was just that suddenly, I felt alone again.

And so I took my feminist, Butch, Jewish self and did exactly what the women who came before and paved the way taught me to do: I organized. I aimed to create a space for Butches who, maybe, were still “like me.” And, keeping in line with the history of feminism, I came up against struggle. It was still unpopular, this notion of women’s space, all of these years later. During one conversation, a Trans-Butch identified person who uses male pronouns told me that he felt “left out.” I told him that that was okay, and that sometimes being an ally means being left out. I did not, as it turns out, make myself very popular with that person. In other instances, people wanted to heckle over semantics with gender: What was a woman, anyway? What was female identified, after all? But I didn’t care. I didn’t care about any of it. If I was just going to be labeled another angry lesbian feminist separatist by folks who use male pronouns, I figured that I was at least in good company, regardless of accuracy. And as a person of faith, I do have the understanding that callings don’t come free, and they don’t come easy. But the callings, they do come true. And so I brought my heart on over to Joe LeBlanc of Butch Voices, and he had me join the ranks our devoted, inspiring team. And there I developed my workshop.

My workshop was entitled Bulldagger: A Discussion for Woman-Identified, Female Pronoun Using Butches. I had long ago concluded that it was necessary, even if only fifteen people attended. I thought, there must be other people like me–a throwback to being fourteen and queer, no doubt. But I was wrong about one thing– fifteen people did not show up. An entire room full of people showed up. There were so many people that we used all of the chairs, and then took down more chairs. There were so many people that it was a standing room only amount of people. There were so many people, and so many truths, and so much Butch intimacy, strength, vulnerability, and solidarity that followed, that we decided to extend the workshop forty-five minutes longer, and then decided to keep meeting regularly, locally, and via email. And yes, there had been the talk of scarcity, and Butch as an endangered species–my new Butch friend Jeanne Cordova details it well on her blog, here, http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/this-lesbian-world, but the underlying message remained the same as it ever was: we Butches just wanted to know that we could continue to exist in this world. And the people who needed to show up, showed up. And the people who were allies showed up by respecting the woman-identified, female pronoun using Butch space that we needed, at that moment. Like possibility, like survival. Like proof. And given the room and the respect for our existence, our history, our own proud difference, our “Intentionally Butch” as one participant later wrote–we were well able to stand solid with each other, and in solidarity with others.

So here is the most simple truth of all: I do not feel alone anymore. I do not feel alone. I feel surrounded. And my story is just one of many.

Over the course of the weekend, like every other participant or organizer, I attended many different wonderful workshops, and spoke with many great people of many differently gendered persuasions and identifications. Like other folks at Butch Voices, I drank too much coffee, and had too little sleep. I was also lucky to experience the weekend with my Butch best friend, Melanie Hagan, whom I appreciate for so many forms of support, but who was particularly good at getting me to laugh last weekend, especially during my bouts of Furrowed Brow Workshop Worry. And so, maybe I was just one Butch at a great conference, or maybe I was just one Butch in a room of woman-identified, female pronoun using Butches, or maybe I was just one Butch who celebrated a best Butch friendship, and made some new Butch friends, too–but I can tell you that Butch Voices has changed my life. It changed my heart. As my dear Queer Jewish ancestor Harvey Milk said, “You gotta give ‘em hope.” And Butch Voices, you gave me hope.

To say that we Butches unfolded for one another, and into one another, doesn’t even quite encapsulate it; I would argue that we all fell in love, last weekend, in the truest sense of the word. I would argue that we took in one another like we have been waiting to be taken in. I would argue that we held each others’ hearts in our palms. And within this Butch love we laughed, and cried, and clenched our jaws, and breathed sighs of relief, and, finally, we exhaled. And for this, we have been waiting a very long time.

From my heart to yours–

Sasha T. Goldberg.


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