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.”
Sasha T. Goldberg
JUNE 14TH, 2010
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,
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.