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 and is a contributing writer at

53 Responses

  1. ComboMove

    I made some t-shirts that say Studs Lives Matter, lol. It’s almost like no one seems to notice. I ain’t the hardest butch on the block, but I ain’t the softest either.

    I appreciate this letter so much. Courting a woman and being chivalrous is a lot especially when you walking into an unfamiliar, sketchy neighborhood to make sure your boo gets home safe. Or what we actually go through with men who are terrified of us and act out instead of admitting it.

    This post was definitely an inspiration and I hope to review some of it’s themes soon on Every Bitch Should Have A Blog.

  2. Cierra

    I wish this had been written so much earlier but I’m glad this has been written at all. I think you covered everything here. Everything someone like me has longed to hear. Write more of this.

  3. Ricky J Walk

    Wow! I’ve only wondered when femmes would step outside they’re world and see us for who we are: feminine enough and masculine enough at the same time. We work hard to be everything you all wish for. We just wanna make you happy and that’s our world. We are your warriors. Thank you for this beautifully written and thoughtful letter, my Princess, Helen. The face that launched a thousand ships.

  4. T. Chaney

    Very touching as well as true. Wish there was more Respect and Love shown throughout the Stud, Boi, Butch community. I find it hard to partna’ up with Fam within my city because many are so quick to oppose the fellowship and instead make being US a competition. Definitely not enough Love.

  5. Michelle

    Thank you for such a touching and beautifully written/spoken letter, we need to start embracing each other instead for hurting each other, we all are in the same boat called life, live and let live. Thank you for spreading the love to us, the ones that feel left out or forgotten.

  6. Golden



  7. Kofi

    Our entire Jerry Palmer bristah group in Detroit are grateful for femmes like Heather who take the time to let us MILs know that we make a difference in their lives, despite our “oddity” in the world’s view of us. This was a very thoughtfully written tribute that is medicine to us studs who rarely hear anything positive about us in the mainstream media. Each word was carefully and caringly composed, with sincerity and a twinge of flirtatiousness. God bless you.

    • Wynuna Boston

      What a beautiful letter. Kudos sistergirl, let’s continue the celebration of the Bristah bois., they deserve our support.

      Hey Bristah are you looking at me?
      Because I’m lookin at you and I like what I see!
      I see you
      Beyond that beautiful smile
      And your debonair style
      Relax come chill with me
      I promise here you’re not on trail.

      After the day is done
      When you have finished the race and won
      I’ll help you to decode
      The same sex gender history
      You see I am the other part
      Of the same gender attraction mystery

      Hey Bristah
      I know who you are
      And feel what you could be
      Because everything about you
      Speaks Volumes to me.
      Tell me boii, is playin around
      The name of your game
      Are you out for the night
      Just looking to score
      Then walk on by me
      Cause I’m a wifey for sure.

      Or are you protecting your heart
      From the memory
      Of some pastime pain
      Have you vowed
      to not let love happen again?
      My heart also has been broken before
      I promised to be my own lover
      Just not care anymore.

      But truly, I’m not that cold
      Nor is my mind, body, or spirit that old
      To let an opportunity this good to pass by
      And miss having a great romance
      Uuh uh got to give one more college try.

      I get excited thinking about you
      How many fun things we can do
      Like having cookouts, going to balls
      Make up a to do list
      Then doing them all.

      Hey Bristah
      Do you smell smoke
      Did somethin catch fire?
      I must admit to feeling
      Some kind of way.
      What should I do?
      I’ve said all I can say.
      Call me too Boo
      Just another wynnsong
      By Wynuna Boston

  8. D. Vaughn

    Thank you for this great article! It is wonderful to see butch/stud/boi community receiving focus and spotlight in the media as well as in entertainment and most recently fashion, such as black owned and operated companies like HAUTEBUTCH, which caters to androgynous and menswear-inspired fashions for women!

    Again, kudos!

  9. Eboogie

    1st, I’d like to thank my beautuful lady for being so inquisitive to this lifestyle that is still very new to her, as she is the one who brought this website to my attention. Ok, to the author, your letter was beautiful both in presentation and authenticity. Thank you! This is the 1st time I can remember being noticed and appreciated, other than by the one I love. Thanks for the long deserved recognition!

  10. T.London-Alston

    This letter really touched my heart.Because it is hard being a stud..And u my friend have sum it all up..Thank u for appreciating us,for understanding us..

    Thank u boo…;-)

  11. Dee

    Great article dedicated to all the studs and bois! This segment of the LGBT community has been underserved especially in terms of fashion. Shout out to who is dedicated to making sure that all the butches/bois/studs everywhere look fabulous!

  12. Dani

    Very well written and touching. Loved it! I’m just waiting for the day when, “Love Letter to a Stud from a Stud,” is published. As much as I dislike the label it would be great to read something that isn’t a flame from a perspective that I can identify with.

    • Blaze Martin

      YES!!! I very much appreciated this letter. And would so appreciate one from another such as myself. We encounter so many different bigotries and hardships just being who we are! Its nice to know that we are appreciated and not judged for what we are, who we are, and who we love!

      A fellow s4s 😉


    So many confuse female body structure or the fact the I will open a door, pull out your chair, give u my coat if your cold an treat you like the queen you are, make sure your on the inside when we take our walks in the park.these things are just suppose to b.that doesn’t mean I want, wish,or even desire to b a male.NO love being a woman loving women wouldn’ t trade 4 this comment applies to men an women in our own community.we judge our own an that shouldn’ t be.just my thoughts an thank you so much for expressing yourself in my honor(stud)

  14. Monique

    Very nice and well said. I love bb studs and they seem so hard to find. I’m in LA area and am a fwg looking for my bb stud to have and hold. Any ideas where I may too meet my mate?
    :) Monique

  15. Haven

    That was sweet and thoughtful. But I don’t think there’s a need to apologize. We all take advantage of each other and we all have room for improvement.

  16. Jay

    Well written and we don’t get love letters that often so the appreciation is right here. Thank you.

  17. Champagne

    I just want to thank you for your words and understanding. Too often we women that identify with a masculine persona get over looked or cast aside. I am smiling from within, thank you.

  18. Sâsha

    Simply beautiful. Ms. McDonald women like you are needed in New Orleans. Loving your work mam.

  19. chriss v.

    We are wounded healers. And this reminds me of the wounds I feel and have yet to deal with as a boi/masculine of center QPOC. Thank you.


    Thank you. Wow that put a smile on my face.This speaks volumes, on so many levels.Much respect..It is great to hear that and we’ve been trying to convey this for so long….my eyes are watery.As a stud, but a woman first like you.We appreciate y’all.

  21. Sonorra

    Thanks for writing this article. It is for this reason that I wrote “My Mom’s a Stud,”. Enough of the separation and oppression from within. We have always been about love and support. Let’s try to put the gay back in gay life…

  22. SexyCouger62 Akiba Moorjah

    This was such a great article for me to read, it helped me to look inside of myself, and see me. I just had this conversation with an x, and he’s upset that I have this attraction for another woman, and I don’t feel that for him. I walked away from our relationship several times, because of his attitude. So now I try and keep the door to our friendship open, but now I feel like I may have to shut that door between us, and just move on with my decision. We can’t seem to just be friends, because for him it’s a dick thing. I’m glad that I was able to finally let him know what has bothered me all of this time.

  23. Keleeba

    Awesome! *snapping fingers* ….. Let’s hear it for the boi’s!!!!! Hell, P.P.S.S…..Call me too boo! ;)….. Commendable subject & Great article

  24. Tip96

    Wow! Nice letter. Thanks for the kind words. They are greatly appreciated.

  25. canisha allen

    this had brighten my day you have so much talent us army girls are going crazy over this we have read out loud and everything im gonna let my mom read this also i think this will give her a liitle bit more understanding of me thanks alot

    P.S I would love to call you

  26. Ericka

    Let me start off by saying Thank You! One of the hardest things as a soft stud/boi is to balance the masculine energy with our womanhood. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve tried to explain to a femme that just because I wear men’s clothes doesn’t me that I want to be a man. Not all masculine identified women want to be men. We love being a woman just as much as you do. We just don’t express it through femininity. So again, I want to say thank you. This means more than you could ever know.

    • Firesign

      Thank you for your recognition and no apology is necessary. It’s all a learning/growing experience, and I’m thankful for the revelations each new day brings me. Like reading your open letter.

      A friend of my sister’s once said of me, “If she were a man, she’d make a great husband!” I’m not a man and that’s precisely why I’d make a good “husband”. Many seem to not quite get this, as if we all should fit into little moulds with labels and physical attributes, telling others exactly who we are. How we are to be perceived.

      Studs, butches, bois? We are a different breed and yes, are misunderstood within our own gay community. I feel sorry for women (and men) who dismiss us because they’re so locked into what society has told them.

      My younger friends, many of them “lipstick lesbians”, have told me I’m a throwback, an old-school butch. I’ve toned it down a lot over the years, but there are times when I rebel against conformity, grab the buzz-clippers and cut my hair down to the nubbins. When donning a softly-worn white T-shirt, tight blue jeans, boots, and a leather jacket make me feel perfectly at home in my skin. A rarity in a world where, because of our inability to fit into those predetermined moulds, we stand out as different, and therefore to be questioned, derided, dismissed.

      We even question ourselves, and that’s a helluva way to go through life. Sometimes wondering, perhaps not being quite sure. I’d like to say “thanks” to you for helping me see that this is my road, for better or worse. Somehow I chose it, and when I come back around to knowing exactly who I am in this world that constantly questions me, that’s when I’m at my most powerful. Let them question. It’s the only way any of us learn new things.

  27. Phae

    wow this made me tear up! I am a femme..still finding my place in this community.. she makes me feel like its not so scary a place to venture into. Thank you for this letter.. and thank you to the studs and bois for showing me a different type of masculinity and strength, its just what i’ve been missing.

    • Dee GorgeousOne

      Beautifully written. Trust I can relate. It’s really hard when you’re attracted to what you represent and not closed about it. I used to try to “blend” in myself, and then I told myself to hell with all of that and just do and be me… Here I the flesh.
      Great writing.. you are AWESOME!!

  28. Elizabeth

    Thank you we are women and we know it too… Thank you for seeing that .

  29. Kymmie Jre

    Wow, this made me think. As an agg fem, i’ve always had a judgmental opinion regarding studs…but we are one in the same. I will definitely work on it.

  30. Rabiyah Robinson

    Wow very powerfully said. Im very humbled & appreciative as a stud to read this letter. Gives me this unusual hope. #STAYPRYEDUP

  31. Nikita Taylor

    Very well said….you made me feel more appreciated with those words…than i have in over a decade. And supposedly i am not single. Again thank you!

    • Rio

      Supposedly? Oh dear, I’m very sorry to hear that. I know what that’s like. Hopefully in the near future, that sentiment will change for the better, because if this made you feel more appreciated than you have in a decade, something might be a little off.

  32. Rachel

    I am crying uncontrollably right now, because I have needed to hear this for a long time. I don’t know what else I can say. Just know you helped me on a day that I really needed it. You have made an impact.

    • Kim

      I never read such a well written letter.I’m not a stud,but am not femm either.You would say I am more on the boyish side.I call myself” Me”. Thanks for the letter.I had to read it twice! We need more femms to stand up for us.All we want to do is love,but love someone true we can trust.It took me awhile to find true love,but I did and I married her.She’s my wife,and I love ❤ her.


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