As a kid and also in my adolescence I was fascinated with a special type of men. At that time, growing up in a heterosexual surrounding, I thought I was attracted to them. The love of men and women was my reference and only some years ago, having settled in my butch identity, I thought about these men again and realized that my fascination had to do with my search for a role model. It explained specifically my interest in black-and-white movies and actors like Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck. They were charming, nonchalant, ironic, attentive and dressed in great suits.
In real life, I didn’t have a ‘live’ role model. A nice butch dad would have helped, I was a tomboy and it would have been great to have a sweet, charming father who taught me to fix my bicycle, tie a tie or some other useful stuff. Maybe because I didn’t have such a dad or some other role model I could relate too, I tried to find one in the movies.
I mean, isn’t he the spitting image of a soft butch?
Clark Gable looks like the ‘never want to grow up’ butch, a forever rascal.
And Cary Grant, well, I like him this way, as the cool, mysterious, silent butch
but also as the ‘ I can charm your pants of’ butch…
Being a self identified butch in a place where butch culture is non existent, it was not easy to find ‘live’ butch role models. Luckily I did find them in the international lesbian community, in books and on the internet. My first live role model is and will always be Leslie Feinberg, author of Stone Butch Blues. I found so much in that book, so much recognition, it even saved me from doing things that I would have regretted later on. I needed these models to see what I am and to be proud of what I am. I don’t need to be a man, whatever a man is, because I can be what I want to be anyway…
That doesn’t mean that I don’t still like to watch these movies. From a feminist point of view it’s sometimes quite hard to watch them again, but on the other hand, I’m now also aware of the strong female roles in some of these older movies, as in the past I didn’t really pay attention to them. ( I must have been blind!) Katherine Hepburn as tomboy…how could I have missed it. All good enough reasons for some reviewing I think.