no seriously, i think i was born butch. i don’t mean i roared out of the womb demanding a toolbelt, but i was definitely, naturally, inexorably and inevitably, a tomboy. my first memories of that are the box full of old matchbox cars i loved and the time when i was oh i dunno, somewhere between 7 and 11 and someone called me a boy at a petrol station. oh man i was s0 stoked. perhaps oddly, i never wanted to *be* a boy, i just liked a lot of boy stuff. well, i grew up in surroundings where i was never, ever told i couldn’t be or do something because i had a vagina. except that my mother doesn’t approve of female fighter pilots. i think she’s talking shit, but my maths was never gonna head me in that sort of direction anyway. also, i’ve always fancied uniforms, but abhorred ironing.
sidenote: come the revolution, there will be no ironing.
so i went through what you might call a femme phase, in a conformist style. picture this..it was the eighties and macaw colours and shoulder pads were incomprehensibly popular. i remember one outfit i really loved – a soft, yellow, blazer type unstructured-except-for-mysterious-shoulders bright yellow jacket, yellow cotton skirt to just below the knees, bright turquoise loose blouse. i don’t remember the shoes, but feel confident that they were nauseatingly gaudy. i was 15 and had the first of very few boyfriends then too. poor sod. when i’d left home at 17 i was still femme, wore make-up, snogged boys.
by the time i was about 20, i’d left south africa for london – off with stated intentions to discover myself, art and lesbians. not necessarily in that order. actually, i found the art first. i began active, practicing lesbianism, with long hair.
for the first decade of my lesbian “career” (sadly i’ve never been paid for it) i declared myself androgynous, or just refused to declare anything at all. late 202/30s and i was comfortably grinning and calling myself boi. that began my most, er, rampant phase.
believe it or not, those dopey images got me a lot of … attention. along with being a self-effacing, self-deprecating and frequently self-loathing sort of a person, i have a serious dose of arrogance at times.
i wasn’t actually happy though.
the boi got older, greyer, wrinklier and butch seemed like a logical progression. the word ‘boi’ started to make me feel like mutton dressed as lamb. so – butch it was and is and proudly too, given the history of the queer rights movement and the absolute inevitability of being read as a butch dyke by the world at large.
i met a woman who preferred femmes. except, she preferred me. and i guess that became the final affirmation of it all. she calls me handsome, she calls me beautiful – i’m completely flattered by both. she is far more feminine than i, but i wouldn’t call her femme and she wouldn’t either. i tend to forget, also, that butch can be such a target for the ‘norms – i generally breeze through life assuming people will take me for who i am and not reject me for my looks. well, it works out both ways, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. and femmes think i’m hot! yay!