Butch Please: Butch and Her Boys

BUTCH PLEASE is all about a butch and her adventures in queer masculinity, with dabblings in such topics as gender roles, boy briefs, and aftershave.

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An Open Letter To All The Male Icons I Have Consciously (or Subconsciously) Based My Butchness Upon

My dear and darling bad boys of the world, or at least the world I encountered on giant flickering screens, and after-school specials in my grandmother’s orange living room: The first time I walked into the men’s section of a department store, I wanted a leather jacket and a stud kit. I bear a single earring in your name. Long after I exited a world in which the affections of boys such as yourself meant a lick of difference to my existence, I still find myself longing to see your crooked grins and confident gazes in my bathroom mirror.

You wore your masculinity like a ripped flag stapled to the back of a motorcycle seat. You were brave in the face of pimpled class clowns, jocks in football jerseys, and the popular boys with their square sweater vests and cherry red convertibles. When I was in ninth grade, I cried in front of my teacher because the only interactions I knew with boys were ones in which they’d bullied me. I was told as a little girl that boys who teased me were boys with crushes on me. I never understood the dark gap between these so-called crushes and the way words could be fists that crushed all your softest insides. You wouldn’t have tolerated it. You would have smoked a cigarette in gym class and put it out on their bright white sneakers. You would have kicked them in the crotch and ridden your bike into the sunset. There was nothing about you that wasn’t tough and untouchable. I watched you like man looking on the face of God. I’ll never really be that way, I thought, but my entire life would be so much better if I could just muster up a little of the stuff of you.

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Being raised as a woman often feels like a state of subtraction: continually unhinging your parts, and then handing them over to be examined and judged; giving away your most tender pieces to a society that doesn’t love them back, to people you’ve been raised to take care of, take the blame for, keep hanging onto even when it’s clear they’re bruising the chunks you’ve let them handle. By the time I reached my twenties, I could run my hand down my body and feel massive gaps where I’d hollowed out whole segments of myself. I don’t know where those pieces are now. I imagine them broken up over time in the bottom of people’s backpacks or pockets. Maybe they have been carried off by ants, and tunneled deep into the earth. I imagine my first kisses buried under oak trees, or feelings I never should have shared scattered along a beach.

But you never gave anything away. You didn’t feel obligated to take what you were given with a smile. You had an attitude that kept you safe from the self-sabotaging thoughts that are girlhood’s inheritance. Your gender isn’t known for spilling their guts, much less the contents of their hearts. If there was a bleeding heart on your sleeve, you were a celebrated rarity. Whatever emotions you allowed to be leaked out into a girl’s open palms were diamonds in her hands. I was raised to feel like I was too emotional, that my tears were hard little shames that should be silently spilled into the many pillows I clutched throughout my adolescence. No one would see the tears I cried as desirable or attractive or a secret glance into the hidden recesses of my tortured soul. Teenage girls are made to believe that we all carry the same mundane amount of misery. Our heartaches are portrayed as laughable, and it’s seen as silly when we sob over unfulfilled crushes and days when we can’t look in the mirror. “Every teenage girl thinks she’s hideous,” I once heard a male teacher joke to his class. Of course we do, I had wanted to say back to him. The whole world tells us we are. They tell us our desires are silly, that we are either helpless or prom queen. I went to the prom, and I went alone. My dad picked me up and I cried the whole way home in his minivan. I keep telling myself that I’m supposed to be over my adolescence. It shouldn’t bother me so much that I spent most of it lonely and sad, but I still wish I’d been you. I would have chain smoked in the parking lot and drank whiskey out of a flask, and when they’d played the last dance, the girl of my dreams would have found me on the floor and revealed her love for me, just like she always did for you.

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And that’s the thing, boys. Do you know why I wanted to be you more than anything else? More than your leather jacket and your flannel vests and your ability to painlessly flip the bird at anyone who did you wrong? Your rough edges were desirable. You were attractive to all the girls because you had secret pains and dark pasts and the worst parts of you were the reasons they wanted to be a part of your life. I’ve spent a handful of years trying to patch up all my cracks and hide them away before letting someone figure out they’re under there. I’ve been afraid that the rough edges are what will stop her from loving me, because how could anyone love something broken? But they wanted you for your broken parts. ‘Broken’ on you was sexy and desirable.

You probably wouldn’t get the girl forever because the audience knows that the story will have her go for the nice guy in the sweater vest. That’s how stories work: us queer usually committed suicide, went crazy, or ended up murdered, and you bad boys rode off into the distance in search of other conquests. Losing the girl didn’t matter, though, because it was enough for you to be desired. That was enough. And this is the endless and tiring queer dilemma. Because we are othered, because we are rejected, because we are rejected due to our desires and often those desires are wrapped around desiring the “wrong person,” something about that stuck to my ribs. I’ve found myself falling for so many unavailable people that I know how you have to sometimes build yourself up in the small space of aspiration and desire. It ain’t going to turn out pretty, I tell myself. There won’t be white picket fences and rosy-cheeked babies and dreams coming true like pop songs, but at least she thought I was attractive. At least she wanted me for a little while, we tell ourselves, at least we are valid in that part of our existence. At least, we think, there are still parts of us that are wanted, that are needed, that feel warm and comforting to someone else’s body.

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I guess that’s what we’ve got in common. It’s strange that I held onto you so tightly, because there were strong women in the books I read, whipsmart girls who battled monsters and saved their kingdoms. Maybe it’s because at the end of the days, those girls and I knew the same battles. We’d still always be bodies that were socialized to be girls, to be constantly policed, deprived of agency, told what we can and cannot do. But you had freedom, and your freedom was intoxicating to me. Resistance for us was and is dangerous, but for you it was a badge of coolness. You could move in and out of spaces with ease, and you could do it with a smartass remark to the one holding the keys. Queerness is a different kind of resistance from yours, I do see that now. I see that many of the things I assigned to you as courage are so much braver coming from my body and the bodies of so many other people whose labels were not assigned to them. I see that I am stronger than you are when I stand up for myself, when I reclaim my Otherness and my oppressed existence. You rode through life so easily not just because your attitude allowed you freedoms, but because you were born into a privilege I will never know, and a privilege that still makes you softer on the inside than I am. No matter how tough you may seem, I know my sisters and brothers and siblings and I are tougher. When you got punched, you punched back. When we get punched, we gather around the wounded and we all punch back together. You were a lone wolf, and maybe I am too sometimes, but my community is everything to me and it’s what makes me bigger and better than the shade of you I used to try to wear. I’ll still wear my single earring, but it doesn’t just stand for you anymore. It stands for me owning myself, even in little pieces.


Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts..

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Hard-lovin' butch made of tears, sweat, and spit, in that order. Professional lonesome polecat. Kate is living proof that you can take the hillperson out of the mountains, but she's still probably going to run back to the mountains anyway. Kate prefers the trashy to the classy, and the tender to everything else. Full-time writer, part-time lover. Heart got so big and soggy that she had to cut off all her sleeves.

Kate has written 124 articles for us.

55 Comments

  1. Thumb up 3

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    uuuhh this describes so accurately one of the things that makes me wobbly-kneed around many butch-ish people with a certain kind of gender expression. glad you realize this is actually something so desirable, the tough-but-vulnerable-bad-boy-dreamboat thing but on a real live, complex, politicized person. that’s exactly what some of us want!

  2. Thumb up 12

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    On Wednesday night I had a phone conversation with my little sister about a lot of things, but one of the things that came up was how there aren’t really a lot of young black men in hollywood or in more than one dimensional token roles in most of our favorite movies. So while I can’t really say as a young black girl I had a lot of male role models or men I could identify with, I did have a lot of male friends and I can relate to carrying those lessons on being tough with me. I remember when things stopped being polite and got real Junior year and as the DD I got verbally assaulted by a 100 pound racist blonde drowning in whiskey. I remember my fraternity boy friends sitting with me in the living room of their house playing mortal kombat on my sega genesis giving me lessons on what to say and how to stand up for myself. There is a sort of sexist phrase they taught me and while its application means something entirely different to me now (so much that I rarely say it out loud) I think I envy that freedom, but also consider myself blessed that I stayed soft and have feelings and friends to help me put things back together. Another great article, I am continually impressed.

  3. Thumb up 5

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    …”my tears were hard little shames that should be silently spilled”…
    Heartbreakingly true.
    Absolutely amazing. Thank you for making my shade of a life a little less lonely. Your message is hope…

  4. Thumb up 4

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    Girls and boys would tease me for try to be like a boy. Why the sweats, baggy jeans, short hair, aversion to anything feminine? Why did I aspire to be the White Ranger, and not the Pink Ranger? Why dig at math and science, not art and music?

    As a teen, I never grew breasts, so girls’ clothing, meant to enhance breasts and curves, sagged on me, whereas boys’ clothes fit my twig body. I bleached my hair, and ripped my own jeans to look distressed. I avoided bras and maybe sometimes wore camisoles rather than tees and tanks.

    And now my locks are chopped: my sides and back buzzed as I grow my top to look like Zachary Quinto and Adam Lambert. I

    wear polos, tees, jeans, and skivvies from the men’s department. I no longer aspire to be like the guys, because I am taken as one of them, even though I am a butch, a dyke, a masculine woman. The men on tv and in my life will always be my friends and aspirations.

  5. Thumb up 3

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    This hit home in a way that few pieces of writing ever has.

    “I’ve been afraid that the rough edges are what will stop her from loving me, because how could anyone love something broken? But they wanted you for your broken parts. ‘Broken’ on you was sexy and desirable.”

    Guuhhhhh, yeah, exactly.

    ” Teenage girls are made to believe that we all carry the same mundane amount of misery. ”

    This is one of the most accurate things ever, and I think why I to a degree still have huge problems exhibiting negative emotion; by virtue of being female-bodied, it’s expected, and it’s just another woman being hysterical and it probably isn’t important.

    Anyhow, this was absolutely freaking beautiful, and I always look forward to your writing; probably my favorite feature on the site. Keep up the phenomenal freaking work.

  6. Thumb up 4

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    Oh my god. You are amazing. THIS “Being raised as a woman often feels like a state of subtraction: continually unhinging your parts, and then handing them over to be examined and judged; giving away your most tender pieces to a society that doesn’t love them back, to people you’ve been raised to take care of, take the blame for, keep hanging onto even when it’s clear they’re bruising the chunks you’ve let them handle.”

    Thank You!

  7. Thumb up 6

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    This! Because at some point I realized I wasn’t really attracted to the boys I idolized as a kid; now I’m at this weird point of trying to figure out if I liked them because they looked like girls I’d want to date, or if I was jealous of their swagger and jawline.

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    Kate, this is my favorite Butch Please yet. I love the way each post is a little bit more open and honest about what’s going on in your mind and heart. You’re a wonderful writer. Thank you <3

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    “It ain’t going to turn out pretty, I tell myself. There won’t be white picket fences and rosy-cheeked babies and dreams coming true like pop songs, but at least she thought I was attractive. At least she wanted me for a little while, we tell ourselves, at least we are valid in that part of our existence.”

    I read this line and felt my insides fall apart, because, a femme, albeit an insecure, awkward, rough-edged one, this is what I tell myself every single time a girl I love begins to pull away from me, yet again.

    Feeling all of the things right now.

  10. Thumb up 2

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    Me & my bros (male, female, all) always trying to be that lone wolf: and we find when we get there that it’s not so fun when there’s no-one photographing you in black and white and saying you look noir. But YES to making this identity – the maverick, so full of agency and delicious ‘and what?’ looks – available for anyone to step into from time to time…

    Thank you very much for this post, inspiring heart changing candour, and lyrical verve to boot. So hot & smart.

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    Poetry digs in like a splinter, and that’s why we read it over and over again. The lines fester, and swell, infected in our minds. We pick at them, trying to extract the invading word from our souls. I could go through your writing here, do the line breaks, and you would have a poem.

    I’m angry. I’m fucking pissed that soulful girls long for the swagger of insecure boys. I hate that when I was 16, dating some Johnny Depp lookalike who treated me even worse than I felt about my closeted self, the girl I was longing for was longing to be as rough and complicated as my asshole boyfriend.
    Because I loved her simplicity, her honest eyes, if only she would turn them to me. I didn’t and don’t give a damn about how carefully constructed the look, the walk, the boyish vibrato is, because the only thing that thrills me is when I break through the dressing room mirror and find the girl who was there before something made her feel less than herself.
    They kicked your ass, and they kicked mine too, maybe in a different way. And we both ended up with the same kind of guy for a while. You put him on every morning, and I tried to wash him off.
    We’re better off together, girls.

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      Yes, thousand times YES!

      I hated those guys in movies as a teenager. And even today that type of character seems so strange to me. I mean, yes, they are very pretty boys in hot leather jackets and they seem to be wild at their hearts but besides that they don’t have anything else to offer. So naturally the excitement about them wears off quickly. Pretty much at the exact same moment when it becomes clear that they are just some whiny dudes who can’t get over the fact that they don’t get ALL of the privileges in life, who can’t get over their expectation that the world owes them everything. Consequently I’m happy for every girl that leaves the teenage rebel boy in the end because they don’t really care about her anyway.

      Amanda in Some Kind Of Wonderful said it best: “My soul? No, it’s my face. You’re using me to pay back every guy with more money and more power than you.”

      (While we are at this… Remember Watts? <3 <3 <3)

      And instead of fighting for her – and by "fighting" I mean: getting their shit together and sorting everything out with the girl – they leave town / drive into the sunset / do oh so important dude stuff like the cowards that they are.

      So back to your comment and back to Kate's amazing article: Yes, yes, yes, every queer person is so much more brave than that! And I take the shy, awkward and soulful girl (or a boy, or a person who identifies otherwise – for that matter) over some swagger every time. It takes so much more courage to be real, to unmask own insecurities, to make oneself vulnerable… and this is where the real beauty lies.

      "because the only thing that thrills me is when I break through the dressing room mirror and find the girl who was there before something made her feel less than herself"

      Yes, million times yes… *feelings/tears/dark chocolate*

  12. Thumb up 0

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    “I keep telling myself that I’m supposed to be over my adolescence. It shouldn’t bother me so much that I spent most of it lonely and sad”

    I completely identify with this statement. It’s crazy how much cruelness other adolescents can subject you to and not understand that they’re breaking you. Years later and it’s very hard to let go, I’m lucky to know myself and my strengths no, but I wish I was at that place where I can finally forgive.

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    ahh, kate! you wrote your article, and now i’m sitting in a coffee shop, pinching the bridge of my nose and trying not to cry. thank you for this.

    i spent a lot of time wrestling with my feelings on this after i posted to your last ‘butch please’ column. i felt angry at myself, bitter and unsettled; i spend so much of my life speaking about women’s issues, it was crushing to realize just how much i’d internalized. i don’t mean on an intellectual level, but in a quiet, insidious, emotional way. the tiny, tiny voice in the back of my head saying ‘you are undesirable, the wrong kind of woman. put on a dress, june, close your mouth, smile at strangers, keep your head down. don’t take up space.’

    these stupid boys in their stupid movies, god, i hated them. all these things that made me ugly (wanderlust and leather boots and a big fuckin mouth) made /them/ the hunk of the minute. their teenage boy problems were deep and charming and halfway to a coming-of-age story. my teenage girl problems were whiny and laughable. they were damaged and that made them attractive and holy shit, you guys, i envied them so much. they may not have been loved, but they were wanted. and that was enough.

    now, i’m 20 and just starting to know who i am. the teenage bad boy is looking a little less appealing with every day. and i’m okay with that. maybe growing up is finally getting to put away that armor, that crutch, and show the world my whole self, without the fakeness of hollywood glamour.

    (although, to all the people saying that they prefer the sweet awkward kid to the swagger – did we watch the same movies? the bad boy was sweet ~~on the inside~~, you just had to see past his ~~dark and tragic front~~. ;P)

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      “well-off?” boy, that’s a descriptor i’ve never heard used for me. that’s a descriptor i’ve never known once in my life and one that almost feels like an insult after i was taught that there’s no shame in coming from very little, and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps as an act of defiance, a way to find pride in yourself when you don’t feel you can otherwise.

      you’re right that i’m white, and yes, i have a million privileges associated with that fact, absolutely. this column has never been about denying those facts and acting as if i experience more oppression that anyone else. this column is about the ways in which one masculine-presenting person and their specific set of baggage navigates the world, nothing more, nothing less.

      i used the term “oppressed existence” because my existence as a queer person is one in which i experience oppression by virtue of my queerness. queer people are oppressed in this society. it’s a fact. to deny that is to deny that people whose sexualities and gender expressions are defined as “non-normative” are murdered, assaulted, raped, and shut out of ways to survive in this society, and that’s fucked up. because they are. queerness is still actively oppressed and suppressed because it doesn’t work in the way our society portrays hegemonic gender and sexuality. period.

      you’re the same person who commented on my earlier article, butch antiquated: “People are all individuals who can’t just be thrown into boxes and be the subject of other people’s assumptions based on race/gender identity/sexuality.”

      so please don’t assume i am a “well-off white hipster” whose exploration of their past gender expressions is “whining”, as that would negate your earlier statement.

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          ugh but we are not doing any butch-slapping! i am not butch-slapping anyone, even if that is kind of a funny statement i might use in an applicable situation in the future.

          i apologize if my statement came across as snappy or bitchy. it’s difficult to figure out if my tone is working on the internet, and i definitely didn’t mean it in that way. i genuinely want to be able to talk about this and i don’t want anything akin to “butch-slapping” happening because i don’t want to shut these kinds of conversations down. that doesn’t mean i can’t confront a statement made about me if it’s false, which is why i did point out that “well-off” was incorrect (and it’s a tender spot for me in my life, as it has always been, so i’m sorry if that first paragraph was a little emotional) but the other part of the statement – that i am white – is totally true and does afford me privilege, as i said above, and that’s a conversation we should and can have if that’s where this conversation goes. i just really, really want this to be a space where we can have these discussions.

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        Thanks for another impeccable edition Kate! “Butch Please” catapulted me from voyeur to member. As always in our communities there are those who blend in with the heteronormatives and may not have experienced the oppression or marginalization of which you speak (at least consciously). I say cheers to those of us who do not blend.

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        Of course I know that LGBT people are oppressed in this society. That’s not even up for debate. I just feel like this column (and much of online social justice culture in general) is an endless rehash of how oppressed the writer is versus how privileged everyone else is. I’m black, and some black people feel like they can never succeed in life ~because I’m black~ and then they never do because of self-fulfilling prophecy, etc. I think that’s the case here, with your constantly referencing the privilege/oppression dynamic in virtually everything you write for this website.

        What I object to (as a working-class black person) is reading white people with all sorts of advanced liberal arts degrees (and yes I am pretty sure that makes you well-off) complaining about being oppressed, when it’s glaringly obvious to me (and probably many other people of color) that they may not truly have it as bad as they think they do.

        I remember in the early to mid 2000s with the whole emo craze and it was cool to be depressed/tortured/mentally ill/just miserable in general because that’s what all the songs encouraged and that’s what so many of my classmates in school wanted to be. I think now, in the early 2010s, it’s become almost as cool to be “oppressed” and people choose identities and create all sorts meanings for those identities in order to appear as oppressed as possible. Yes you, and the vast majority of this site’s readership, are oppressed for being LGBT. But I do think that we all need to recognize that we may have other characteristics that make our lives easier. At the end of the day, we just have to live our lives and not everything needs to be an endless analysis of how oppressed/privileged someone is because it gets completely useless after a point.

        And yes I define hipster as well-off white person living in the city who evidently does not need to work everyday for a living, shoulder adult responsibilities such as caring for aging relatives or financially supporting parents, and seems to have a lifestyle straight out of an episode of “Girls” .

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          This tickles me as I relate to Kate’s pov and experience in the “Butch Please” columns to watching an episode of “Full House,” an experience that I do not relate to but enjoy watching.

          I may not relate to Kate’s experiences and feel that Kate is privileged but I come to understand this column to be a “first person” piece. I took your first comment to come off as judgment to someone’s life and experience that you simply do not know. I myself being a queer person of color have “multiple liberal arts degrees” and right now I’m at grad school and a very prestigious school plus I’m a “Cosby kid.” What does that make me? Does my axis of oppression from my blackness outweigh the other privileges I have? *Shrugs* I can just live and try to be a nice person.

          “At the end of the day, we just have to live our lives and not everything needs to be an endless analysis of how oppressed/privileged someone is because it gets completely useless after a point.”

          I agree that we need to look at things on how we have it easier in this shared place where more people ID queer or what have you. BUT this particular column is just one voice, Kate’s voice and experience navigating the world with one fist in the air,and hell I may not get all the time but I’m there with my fist too.

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          To be honest, this conversation makes me sad. This isn’t a series about being broken, this is a series about one person making themselves whole. And maybe you connect with that experience, and it touches you, and you apply it to your own life because the story reminds you of yourself in a way that you could never verbalize. Or maybe your life doesn’t mirror Kate’s experiences, and you read and you listen and you stand in someone else’s shoes and you are touched. But it’s not fair for you to complain on a first person article that the writer doesn’t accurately represent your experiences, because they haven’t lived them. Just because people haven’t been hurt in the same way as you have doesn’t mean they haven’t been hurt. And while Kate’s oppression doesn’t erase their privilege, their privilege doesn’t erase their oppression either. If you want to have a discourse about intersectionality and a lack of representation in queer media, that is good! That needs to happen! But I personally would appreciate it if you didn’t do it in what has become a safe space for me, and I’d assume many other people, over the course of this column. It doesn’t feel applicable, but more importantly than that, it doesn’t feel kind. And I almost never comment on things, because I don’t feel like I have anything important to say, but this is important, ok? It is important to open ourselves up, to heal others and to heal ourselves, and that can’t happen in the first person stories if writers feel like their oppression and their privilege are going to be weighed out to see if they’ve undergone enough to be worth listening to. There is always going to be someone else who has lost more to how fucked up things can be, but we can’t have beautiful souls like Kate and all the other writers being silenced because of that. Their stories are worth something. And yes, there are many people who are silenced from telling their stories, but that doesn’t mean we should throw away the ones we have.

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            challenging does not equate to silencing. silencing occurs when those with power and privilege cut off and ignore the voices of marginalized folks. and if your definition of a “safe space” is one where queer people of color are pointedly to not respond to queer white folks because it makes the white folks feel all sad and uncomfortable when asked to account for their privileges, i think you need to re-evaluate your comfort level with said silencing.

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            ah! i want to be 100% clear on this for everybody: this is totally and completely a space where we can and MUST account for privileges. discomfort and sadness and all those feelings we feel when we have to confront those privileges are really important, and if an article like this is a space to have this conversation, yes! let’s make that happen! always! no matter what i was talking about, if that’s where the conversation leads, let’s not shut that down. the “first person” disclaimer at the bottom does not absolve me from having to confront my privileges or feel guilt, discomfort, shame, etc for any of the these privileges, nor does it for anyone else. no space should be free of intersectionality or discussion about that intersectionality. please, please, please let’s always have these conversations, especially in spaces like these. these are safe spaces FOR these challenges, confrontations, and discussions, not places where we can hide from them.

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            Oh no silencing was a really terrible choice of words! Honestly I probably shouldn’t be commenting on things at all now because I’m having a sad night but perhaps a better way of rephrasing would just be that I really care about this column and I wouldn’t want to see Kate stop writing it, even when it’s not always able to reach the ultimate goal of being representative of our entire community? I don’t know quite how to say what I mean, I’m sixteen and not great with words, but obviously institutionalized/systemic silencing is completely different from my fears that people won’t want to write first persons because there will always be room for growth. Which in retrospect are stupid fears because the writers are braver and hardier then I am anyway. I hope that’s closer to what I’m trying to convey, but I dunno, maybe not.

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          i don’t want to turn the conversation into me rebutting individual points about which statements you have wrongly assumed and assigned to me, because that’s not useful for either of us, or for any of the people i’m trying to help. much as i cringed when having my life compared to an episode of ‘girls’, i don’t want to sit here and say “no, you’re completely wrong because i have actually experienced this and this” because that’s the wrong way for me to respond and direct the discussion.

          i do understand that the privilege conversation has been sometimes bastardized by some of the ways that social justice is discussed online, often because there isn’t a deep understanding of what privilege is, what intersectionality is, etc, etc. i get that, and i’ll definitely be way more aware of when i use those terms here; i hadn’t noticed that i was talking about it so much, even in passing reference. maybe it is yet another thing i am subconsciously processing in this column, which is what it has somehow turned into, for better or for worse.

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      i wish this comment was more specific.

      while “well-off white whiny hipster” is a very valid way of describing plenty of queer internet culture, i just don’t think it applies to this article at all.

      the author is writing from a white perspective and as someone said above seeing oneself in pop culture (even in a queer way) is not possible in the same way for people of color. although, this column is clearly presented as personal narrative and not meant to be universally relatable.

      HOWEVER, the term “well-off” i find confusing and unfair. using a lighthearted theme (bad boyzz of the childhood tv) to explore a serious subject (seeing yourself in the world but not as you are expected to) doesn’t make something hipster and being a hipster doesn’t make somebody rich, anyway. i’m just CONFUSED.

      uuuh, so w/e i came back to the comments because i really like this column, and was sad to see this posted. i am white and am broke/grew up lower middle class so am perhaps taking it too seriously. but wanted to say i totally disagree.

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    Katie, I want to talk to you as one lower-class person to another.
    I’ve learned that we can never make assumptions about anyone’s past.

    My mother and I labeled ourselves as American-Gypsies mostly because we could never stay in one house for very long, and traveling like we did meant that I met a lot of really cool people and heard many unexpected stories. Everyone has their own heavy load to carry. Sometimes though, people do manage to get out of the poverty that far too many of us are trapped in. Sometimes we don’t recognize that immediately.

    And I’ll level with you. I’m white. I’m going to a liberal arts school. I’m living in NYC. But I am hella poor and have been that way my whole life. Just because I’ve learned to discuss politics, art, food and social injustices well, can read and write and practice proper grammar doesn’t mean that I’m immediately a white well-off hipster. That’s an assumption that’s often made about me. I must shop at the thrift store because I think it’s cool. I know how to travel so lightly because my parents took me to the Bahamas all the time. I understand the economic problems in our country because it’s my “thing” that I’m pissed about. I pass in places all the time- for a girl with money and as straight. I don’t mean to, I just do. And it pisses me off, because I’m proud of my knowledge, strange experiences, struggles and scars. I hate it when people don’t really get to know who I am.

    As a girl who’s passing, I beg of you, don’t assume you know about the people you’re talking to. I certainly have never met Kate, but I can’t even begin to assume that the Butch Please series gives me license to talk about the rest of the life going on.

    I often wish to defend my struggles as you have against those who rant and rave about how hard their life is, but I don’t think it gets any of us anywhere. I respect your fire and your struggles, but I think you could direct them in a more positive and influential way.

    Be well.

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    This was so beautiful it almost made me cry. you take all my half-formed feelings and make sense of them, and make them ok. More than okay, something that connects me to something larger than myself, and theres strength and beauty in that

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    Holy damn you’re awesome. Love this. This is the line that really hit home for me:
    “There won’t be white picket fences and rosy-cheeked babies and dreams coming true like pop songs, but at least she thought I was attractive. At least she wanted me for a little while, we tell ourselves, at least we are valid in that part of our existence. At least, we think, there are still parts of us that are wanted, that are needed, that feel warm and comforting to someone else’s body.”

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