Coming out as a lesbian was relatively easy for me (labels are not just for cans 1) . After I had my first relationships with women, I realized that the lesbian identity was more important to me then for most of the lesbians I came across. I wánted to put the label on myself. I didn’t like it when other people said things like: ‘it doesn’t matter who’s a lesbian or who is heterosexual, we’re all the same!; your sexuality is in your bedroom, nothing to do with others; we’re all just human; she’s a lesbian and that doesn’t matter at all!
The last thing was said out loud on a family party by an aunt of my former girlfriend, as sort of a introduction into the family. I was too flabbergasted to say anything at that time, but those words touched the core of what I felt: what the f*ck, it does matter! I didn’t want to fit in and it felt like they all just wanted me to fit in again: ok, you came out as a lesbian, the world didn’t change because of that, so you can just come in again and settle down. It changed me. Radically. I didn’t want to come in again. It changed my whole thinking process, my view on the world, my view on people. It changed the way I viewed myself. For the first time in my life, I had to think about ME. That was not a good experience in the beginning. I had no language for the things that were in my head and I knew nobody who spoke the language. I started to experience the binary, even though I didn’t know that word by then. I remember at that time I had a conversation with my girlfriend and a friend and I said, quite innocently “but I don’t feel like a woman, I’m not a woman”. They were shocked. My girlfriend wanted to know if I felt like a man. I told her I didn’t feel like a man either. I just knew I was not like ‘the’ women I saw in society and failed the words to explain to her what I meant. I felt torn. What was I if I was not a woman or a man? Or did the issues I had been having for years with my breasts mean that I was a man ‘inside’? I felt like a mix between Max and Ivan from the L-world and as they were the only ones in the lesbian universe I could relate to what did that mean?
In the middle of my, should I call it, identity crisis, I traveled in the summer of 2011 to Femø for the third time. I was much looking forward to the camp, because I would meet my friends there, and just as important, there would be more lesbians like me and I could feel at home there more then anywhere else. I knew I had changed since the first year I came there, one of my friends told me even my body looked different, just as if the changes in my head were changing my body. She thought I looked more at ease with myself. Indeed, a lot of my uneasiness had gone since I had started to wear my binder and had started wearing clothes I felt good in, but I looked more confident then I felt inside.
I guess the Godess felt it was time to intervene 🙂 and she sent a proud feminist femme on my path that year. We fell in love on the last day. It was catastrophic, since there were other girlfriends involved, drama had to happen and choices had to be made. But it couldn’t be otherwise, we had to be together, our desire was too big and we were selfish, as people often are when it comes to love.
Our long-distance relationship lasted one and a half years. The word butch got a new meaning for me, they had called me butch at camp for years, but I never really knew what it meant, until I met someone who made me FEEL a butch. This special dynamic was something completely new for me. I learned there was more then society had made me believe: there was more then just being a man or a woman and there was more then being a heterosexual or a lesbian. I cried when I read the first book she gave me: Stone Butch Blues from Leslie Feinberg. I think that was the moment I decided to out myself as a butch…
There is no clear definition of butch, every butch (and femme) I know would need at least one page to try and define it. There would be lots of similarities, but differences too. Most of them would say that butch is a feeling and cannot be properly explained in words. It’s not acting or performing or playing a role. Starting to identify as butch is a process and not every butch will choose to out herself as one, I know women who definitely are butch, but they don’t want to label themselves as such or they don’t even know it exists (like me). Coming out as a butch has been more important to me then coming out as a lesbian, especially in the society we live in. It made me think and read about sex and gender, feminism, radicalism. It made me aware of the strictness of genderroles and gendernorms in our society and the inflexibility of a heteronormative society. I feel defiant walking the streets, knowing I refuse to fit in in their system of silent oppression and the only thing that makes me walk upright is because I learned to put that label on myself and be proud of it. For my survival. For the survival of all who want to transgress their gender.