The June Femme’s
Guide Galaxy (new name, new name, new name!) writing prompt caught my eye, but I just haven’t yet summoned the oomph to get it done!
This is the prompt:
What would you say to a newly-identified femme? Do you have advice, tips, tricks, or anything else you would like to share with them? Perhaps you have a story to tell or want to reminisce about when you were first femme-identified?
Lordy, where do I start?
I’d start with telling her (or him, if I stop to think): “Look, sister, you’re way ahead of the game. It took me years to find femme and apply it to myself.”
I’d tell this newly-identified femme to enjoy that first flush of revelation. It’s an amazing feeling to find a word, a descriptor, a noun, an adjective, that fits and feels right. I remember discovering femme and thinking “But I’m just not that girly.” Well, first of all, yes I am – I just didn’t want to admit it because in my militantly feminist mindset at the time, girly = weak. I’d also mention that it’s perfectly normal to want to try on a million different facets of the identity. That’s part of the joy of being queer. The word can be bent to fit you. You don’t have to bend to the word.
I’d also tell this babyfemme to be patient. Evolving into an identity is just that: an evolution. It happens over time, and you grow as a person as it’s happening.
If there was any way at all to do so, I’d warn the subject in question. Not everyone is going to be thrilled with your new identity. Not everyone is going to get it. My then-girlfriend was extremely uncomfortable with my adoption of “femme.” Not because she didn’t love me, not because she didn’t want me to be happy, but because she really did not want to be butch-by-association.
Which leads me to my next thought. Femme exists on its own, separate from butch. You can be femme and not be in a relationship with a butch. You can be femme and not be attracted to butch. You can be femme and be bisexual, polysexual, asexual, or pansexual. You can be femme and not be a lesbian. This is what I meant when I said bend the word to suit you.
Discovering femme meant, for me, discovering an entire community within my queer community. It’s a communauté de sœurs that is at once welcoming and frightening, simply because there are so many of us that pass under even the most accurate gaydar scrutiny. Femme can be invisible, so it’s important that you stake out your ground and hold it passionately. Your femme sisters can help you with that. Tell them who you are. Tell them what you are. Tell them where you came from and where you want to go. For every stereotype and ugly slur you’ve heard about feminine women being nasty, backbiting, and competitive, you’ll meet twenty femme women who want nothing more than to see you succeed within your own new queer space.
I think, though, the most important piece of advice I could give a newly-identified femme would be to just breathe. Congratulate yourself on finding your niche. Enjoy each new moment of understanding. Live for a while within your own acceptance. Taking the time to enjoy the journey will give you a wealth of self-assurance later on. Being who you are is a hell of a lot more important than making everyone else understand who you are. Wrap your femmeness around you and wallow. Years from now, after a lifetime of femme experience under your belt, I want you to be able to look back at the first moments and smile. It’s like the first steps of a baby – it’s a moment that deserves to be appreciated and documented for its own merits.
I’d end my tips, tricks, and general advice by congratulating this theoretical human being. Femme for me has been, and continues to be, a long road. It’s a road that I am grateful for having taken, but even now, years into it, I come across potholes and speed bumps. It’s been both a challenge and a reward, and I would not change one single mile of the journey. So welcome, new femme, to the crazyfabulous word that unites, divides, labels, constricts, and frees us all. We’re happy to have you, and thrilled that you’ve taken on the journey for yourself.