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To the wonderful, wild, and wily Autostraddle community:
This will probably be my last Butch Please in the format you’ve come to expect. I came to this column for a lot of reasons, and I’m changing things up for many of the same. At the beginning, my intentions were personal as well as community-minded; I wanted to explore and better understand how I “do” my masculinity, because masculinity on a person whose body was assigned female is an inherently complicated thing, and the way I have come to understand everything about myself has not been through doing or seeing or moving, but from writing.
Ultimately, I identify myself as a writer, and that’s all I’ve ever been and all I aspire to be. My love of the written word is what keeps me going, and I ended up writing about queerness because it is my life, and one’s life will always inform one’s work, whether we want it to or not. Perhaps that is self-indulgent, but writing about your own experiences will always be at least a tad self-indulgent, and processing seems to be a thing we are all too fond of in this community.
For better or for worse, what I’ve come to learn is that writing about oneself for the very worldly wide web is a complicated ordeal, one that takes as much from you as it gives to those who would like to hear from you. I’m not used to writing about my own experiences and have always felt very uncomfortable doing so, as fiction has been the focus of so much of my writing energy, and a place where I have been able to work out personal issues in a space deemed safe by its very nature. So this transition from fiction to very personal non-fiction has been an interesting one, and, I have to admit, a little too exhausting for me. I'm a people pleaser, and it's easy for me to internalize needs all too easily. The need to continually share one's private wounds, especially in regards to something as personal as gender expression and sexual identity, is something I feel compelled to do by virtue of the responses I receive that tell me it is a great help to them, but ultimately is probably not the healthiest for me.
On another hand entirely, I just don't feel comfortable taking up space with my privileged perspective anymore. In terms of queer politics, there is a lot to be said for masculinity taking up queer spaces, and certain voices being allowed to speak when others are silenced. I have discussed it before, and I stand by my belief that certain ways of doing masculinity allow certain bodies the ability to navigate the world easier than others. I do genuinely believe that there needs to be a space for masculine-identifying people in the queer world to come together and discuss their identities, specifically those who identify as “butch.” Butch is a term that has had such a strong historical and social connotation, often as negative as it is positive or neutral, and placing the label on oneself seems to be an act that requires a great deal of self-examination. I do believe that we need to foster a community within ourselves because every time I have gone looking for butch community, it isn’t there. Somehow we have internalized that we do not need to discuss certain issues, especially those involving vulnerability and emotions and the constant system of checking oneself that must go hand in hand with masculinity. Calling myself butch is simultaneously empowering myself and devouring myself - I have to break down all of my actions now that they are the actions of a butch, of a masculine body, of a white queer body, of a body that experiences certain privileges. I try constantly to be aware of those privileges, and as a result, I’ve realized that my recounting of my white AFAB queer experiences is taking up space that so many other voices could be filling. And I find those voices extremely essential, extremely compelling, and in need of a space. So why not make this column that space, rather than use it to confront my own issues?
The most important question I can ask, then, is what do you want from Butch Please? What do you want to see in this space? Your voice as the community should be integral to how we develop the community itself, and I want this to be a place where we have important discussions and make positive changes and hear from the people whose voices are so essential to this movement. Would you like to see weekly spotlights from a multitude of butch perspectives? Would you like to have open threads with topics of discussion that can allow everyone to converse and add their own voices? Let's talk in the comments about the best place to move forward from here.
All of this said, you have been an absolute pleasure to write for, and I love you all dearly.