in the beginning, was the butch..

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 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!


About ulla

queer. antisocial. verbose. View all posts by ulla

15 responses to “in the beginning, was the butch..

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