Dear studs and bois…and all those in between,
You know me. I’m that femme giving you the gay-gal-gaze from the corner of a homely bookstore café. Yeah, I’m the femme blushing and biting my lips because I can’t stand how good y’all look all the time. But mostly, I’m the femme that wants to say, “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”
Somewhere along the line, you and I were pitted against each other. And, even though we’re technically playing for the same team, we became opponents. It makes sense that within our beautifully diverse community, we queer women of color often align ourselves by gender performances. Unfortunately, this form of association throws us femmes in opposition with you studs, bois, butches, aggressives, and masculine of center individuals, much like men and womyn are often made to contend with one another in heteronormative and cis-normative spaces.
In spite of the way our struggles and oppression intertwine, we sometimes spend more time discussing how we’re different than we do embracing our similarities. I am sorry for the times I have looked at you as if you were a foe instead of a friend or family. Like me, you are erased from a world that only wants to recognize straight kids and gay white men who suffer from a there’s-a-black-woman-inside-me complex. Like me, you must wake up every morning and muster the strength to fiercely defend who you are. And, like me, you sometimes dance, drink, and fuck the pain away, because it does not always get better.
But you aren’t always like me, and that’s okay, too. I’m sorry if I’ve ever demonized your differences. I do see the way you’re always put on the defensive. Just because your muscles may be larger than mine does not mean that you must always be tough. I do see the way men violate you when their masculinity is threatened by your strength. I will not look away anymore. You puff out your chest, but sometimes we femmes break your heart and then wonder why you’re hurting. Sometimes, we even judge you when your partners aren’t femme enough for us, as if we have the right to categorize, standardize, or pathologize your attractions. I am sorry. Let’s open up the dialogue: teach me how to stand up for you the way I’d like you to fight for me.
You are as much a part of our patchwork queer family as anyone else, and it’s about time we celebrate you and what you bring to this kinship. Thank you for smiling at me, instead of ogling at my body like it’s yours to devour. Thank you for not bringing up the damn “friendzone.” Thank you for the doors you hold open, the sweatshirts you share, and the nights you walk me home—not because I am weak, or in hopes that your chivalry will get you laid; you do these things because you care. And, thank you for looking so good in your baggy jeans, your oversized hoodies, your suspenders, your bowties…
This is a love letter to the studs and bois who don’t get enough love songs, shout outs, or kudos. To the studs and bois who wonder if they’ll ever get taken care of, I promise you surely will. There is love of every shape and kind here for you in our lady lovin’ community. There is a home for you in our hearts.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Femme
P.S. – Call me, boo.
– Helen McDonald
Helen McDonald is a 20-something college student living off of bad cooking, social justice and a lil snark. She also discusses the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality on her personal blog revolutionaryrainbows.tumblr.com and is a contributing writer at BloodyShrubbery.com.