Three weeks ago I stepped back into the heteronormative patriarchy after one week of being among mainly lesbian feminist women in the safety of a women only camp. I think a lot of what that meant for me, to be there. I try to feel what it means for me, what it does to me, if it changes me as a person to be among peers, to feel included in a society as who I am, to feel safe and understood. More then other years I try to put those feelings into words, because I think it’s important for myself to understand why certain things are happening to me every year and why it feels so good to be there.
Since some years I go to this women only space, with a feminist basis, but I have to say, I don’t believe in the utopian ‘ we lesbian sisters ‘. Lesbians are a very divers group of people and are as narrow-minded, sexist, racist, ignorant as all other human beings. They are not all feminists, even though they sleep with women and share their lives with women. And if they are feminists, that still doesn’t mean they fight the same enemies, agree on the same problems, want the same changes in society.
But even though I know all these things, it still is the place where I get a taste how it would be if we would live in another form of society. I can feel how this community affects me as a person: to be not the other one, the odd one, the one people look at. It affects me because I become more soft, gentler, more emotional and vulnerable, more open, more peaceful. I realized afterwards that my butchness changed during the time I was there. It’s hard to explain, but I think my ‘tough’ butch identity is something I need in the other world to stand up against the ‘normal’. It helps me to feel strong, to know I’m part of some sort of brother-or sisterhood, one that most people have no idea exist, that there are more who refuse to fit in, in our own way and that we all struggle together. I refuse to be vulnerable in the other world, I save my vulnerability for my lover and my closest friends and stand strong otherwise.
That’s something that changes in a place where I am among mostly people who also don’t fit in, who choose not to fit in. It changes because I don’t have to breech myself every time I step into the bathroom (well, in camp it’s the bathroom tent) afraid that some ‘woman’ will question me being there. It changes because I don’t feel the need to hide my body (or certain parts) and feel more comfortable with my body there then anywhere else. It changes because I can talk freely about genderissues, feminism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, lesbian normativity, racism and most of all it changes because I know that I’m not the only one who gets upset by having to live in this fucked up world.
This beautiful community takes me out of my shell, every time again.This year I realized I got back into that shell the minute I set foot onto the ferry taking me away from the island. I wrapped the warm cloak of my butch identity around me and went home. Knowing I could always return there to leave the cloak behind if I wanted to.