#SexEdPornReviews: Episode 235 of Crash Pad Series, Featuring Mr Pink and Unkle Daddy

Folks? Please stop what you’re doing and go watch this Crash Pad Series episode. Or, if you really can’t watch porn wherever you are right now — idk you could be driving, or at work, or having dinner with your mom or something — then schedule a time to watch it later. I mean seriously. WATCH. IT.

I know you are interested in butches, at least in some way, because you’re reading this. So yeah, you there, I have your number.

I’ve never seen porn like this! The two queers do things that made my head spin. They put a clitoral pump on and cover it with a sleeve (I’m not sure exactly what it is — for cis dicks? A trans man jack off tool?), and proceed to suck that off. Then — THEN — there is a hitachi with a kind of O-ring attachment which goes AROUND the dick/pump/attachment.

And really that’s just the beginning. I mean do you see them kissing? The tenderness and meanness in here is so good. And the dirty innovative fun kinky play … that somehow is also really masculine and honoring of masculine bodies … I’m not sure how to explain that, but it really struck me throughout. Maybe it’s because Mr. Pink and Unkle Daddy are just embodied and comfortable in their own skins? Maybe they have amazing chemistry? Maybe they just know how to use their bodies and each other’s?

Whatever it is, UNHFFF. It’s really good.

Go watch Episode 235, Mr. Pink and Unkle Daddy, on the Crash Pad Series here, and visit the whole Crash Pad site here. The subscription is so worth it.

Episode 235, Mr. Pink and Unkle Daddy was provided for me to watch as a reviewer from Crash Pad Series. Check ’em out and support their work. Pay artists! Pay writers! Pay for porn!

Five Blow Jobs on the Me & My Boi blog tour

Sacchi Green’s new erotica anthology Me & My Boi is finally out! It’s been multiple years in the making, and it includes one of my favorite stories (about rife), Five Blow Jobs.

The first part goes like this:

I.

After the workshop. I haven’t had enough of you (will I ever get enough of you) and strip you bare, glove my hand, slide two fingers inside you, sideways on our huge bed. The lamplight is different than the bright white of this room during the day, more warm, orange-yellow-gold and more full of shadows, and the shadows and the gold fall onto your skin like paint. In the car on the way back I couldn’t resist (can rarely resist, it’s so hard to resist when part of our dynamic is built around taking what I want) and slide your small fingers into my mouth. You miss the exit. Your fingers are blunt and I trace your jagged nails with my tongue, suck the salt from the pads, taste the day on your skin. I pull your wrist down to your pelvis and take two fingers in my mouth again when my two fingers are inside you, gently pressing, not a lot of motion, and I start to suck you off. Up and down your fingers like a cock. I hold your g-spot and feel it quiver in my fingers. I let your fingers out of my mouth so you can touch your clit, and keep my tongue on the back of your hand. You shudder and convulse against my mouth, your cunt grips my fingers. You slide your fingers back in my mouth, eager, and I taste you, just a little, at the tips, and I do it all over again.

The book is particularly special to me because there’s so little butch-centered erotica out there, and this is one of the rare ones. I believe it’s not exclusively butch/butch erotica, but includes masculine-of-center identities of all kinds, whether they use the word ‘butch’ or ‘boi’ or don’t use labels at all.

As Sacchi writes, in the introduction:

This book is a celebration of all things boi, butch, masculine-of-center, in those who include lesbian as a part of their identities. These are stories of people we love, and people we are, who put their own personal spins on the gender spectrum. Bois who like girls, bois who like bois, bois who like both; those who don’t label themselves boi or butch at all but can’t stand to wear a skirt; screw-the-binary free spirits of many flavors. Cool bois, hot bois, swaggering bois, shy bois, leather bois, flannel bois, butch daddies, and the femmes and mommas and tops and bottoms and even girls next door who wouldn’t have them any other way.

The anthology includes a lot of my favorite queer erotica writers with new works … I can’t wait to read the entire thing!

Blog Tour

June 12—Sacchi Green—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 13—Annabeth Leong—http://annabethleong.blogspot.com
June 14—Anna Watson— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 15—Sinclair Sexsmith—www.sugarbutch.net
June 16—Jove Belle— https://jovebelle.com/
June 17—Tamsin Flowers— www.tamsinflowers.com
June 18—Victoria Villasenor— https://breywillows.com
June 19—J, Caladine—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 20—Victoria Janssen— http://victoriajanssen.com
June 21—Dena Hankins—  http://denahankins.net/my-summer-of-boi/
June 22—D. Orchid— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 23—Pavini Moray— https://emancipatingsexuality.com/
June 24—Melissa Mayhew— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 25—Jen Cross— http://writingourselveswhole.org
June 26—Kyle Jones— www.butchtastic.net
June 27—Gigi Frost— www.facebook.com/gigifrost
June 28—Aimee Hermann— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 29—Sommer Marsden—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 30—Axa Lee—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
July 1— Kathleen Bradean— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

Oh and also, there’s a BOOK GIVEAWAY

Anyone who comments on any of the posts will be entered in a drawing for one free copy of the anthology. You can comment on more than one post and be entered more than once. The winner will be announced and notified by July 5, if not sooner.

Pick up Me & My Boi from your local feminist queer radical bookstore, directly from Cleis Press, or, if you must, from Amazon.

Microagressions & Misgendering: “Right this way, ladies.”

Interacting with service industry folks—in restaurants, at retail stores, at airports, schools, or health care offices—can be daunting and exhausting for genderqueer folks like me. It is so, so common for me and the group of queer folks I’m with to be referred to as “ladies” (which tells you that I don’t spend a lot of time with genderqueer or cis or trans men, which is true actually, I’m very much in a dyke bubble), and I feel so deflated when that happens.

No, no. It’s not just ‘deflated,’ though yes that’s part of it. It’s also a very real microagression. It’s a very real way that the larger culture, made up of thousands of individuals, gender polices us into binary categories and reminds anybody outside of those categories that we are wrong, unseen, invisible, and unimportant.

This has happened to me for years. It’s kind of related to the thing that happens when genderqueer folks have to pee in public and get hassled in both the women’s or the men’s bathrooms (and there’s a variety of pieces of activism and public awareness happening around that one, too—see, for example, Ivan Coyote’s recent Tedx talk We all need a safe place to pee). But while I can actually hold out and only pee in certain (single-stall) bathrooms, and I can have some control over peeing in public, it’s much harder to just not go interact with any service people, so as to avoid this issue.

Look, I get it. Caring that I’m addressed as “miss” or “ma’am” or that friends and I are called “ladies” sometimes seems like a very small thing on a trans activism scale, especially when so many trans women were murdered in 2015. Sometimes I think this issue of language is a tiny, “politically correct” thing that I should just let go and stop caring so damn much.

And I’ve heard folks say, “Hey, I don’t care if they call me/us ‘ladies,’ because at least they’re being nice to us and not kicking us out of this restaurant.” Which also tells you that I have primarily been queer and genderqueer and visibly different in cities and liberal small towns not so much in places more dangerous to queers.

This issue of gendering groups as a microagression has a certain amount of privilege in it. Absolutely.

And, as someone who continues to move in liberal circles, in large urban areas, in trans- and queer-centered communities, this hurts my feelings. Frequently. Daily.

Gender Perception & Getting a Thicker Skin

Part of the answer, I think, is actually to get a ‘thicker skin’, and I think in general folks who are outside of the mainstream do need to develop a good, solid sense of self, bolstered by community and lovers and theory and random strangers on the internet, to just deal with the reality that not everybody gets us. And for genderqueer and gender non-conforming and masculine of center and feminine of center folks, and trans folks who aren’t exactly ‘passing’ to some cis standard, developing a thicker skin is important. I think we also just need to be very discerning about when we want to offer some education, or feedback, and when we want to just go about our lives. Sometimes it’s exhausting to try to change the world all the time, to come up against gender norms, to fight against the binary system. And sometimes I just need to buy some eggs and get off to my meeting, and who cares what that person sees me as or thinks of me or what words they use.

That’s kind of about “gender perception,” right—the idea that part of your gender identity is how you are perceived by others. (The Gender Book has a great page on gender perception, click on the image in the 4th row 1st column here.) Personally, I’ve struggled with this—not that there’s some way I want to be perceived and am not, but rather I’ve struggled with the idea that what other people think of you matter or should affect one’s sense of self at all. It’s taken me some time to see how important it is, and to go through some of my own identity developments where my identities are then somewhat invisible, and aren’t perceived by others, and to have that really piss me off, has helped me understand how valuable it is at times in people’s lives.

Sometimes, I think how others perceive me is very important. Especially if it’s someone I interact with all the time—my family, my friends, my close community; even someone who works somewhere that I regularly frequent. Those are all important, and I do tend to (eventually) say something about gender, or make a comment about my pronouns. But for the person who is checking me out at the grocery store, or the server at a restaurant I rarely (if ever) go to? Most of the time, I just don’t have the energy to have that conversation. I used to, I suppose, but after more than 15 years of this happening? I just don’t anymore.

Okay wait: a note on class

This kind of misgendering most often happens in the service industry, so I want to write something here about class. I hope we are being aware of the class implications of speaking up or attempting to shift the way a server or service provider is gendering you/us. As a working/artist class person my whole life, I am acutely aware of how we treat folks in the service industry, and I think it’s SO important to enter into conversations with service folks with respect. The amount of pejorative, condescending language and tones that are used with service folks is horrible. And there’s a lot of unexamined privilege in folks who have never really been in a service position, or who have been out of the service industry for a long time. They’re a person, you’re a person. So I just want to encourage us all to watch our conversations here, and to do some examining about what we think of the service industry, and to ask ourselves if that’s really true. (For example: That everyone who works there isn’t smart enough to get a job anywhere else, or must have failed at other jobs, or must not be very good at anything. Probably none of those are true, but they are common stereotypes about service folks.)

Also: as a genderqueer/GNC person, I know that I don’t always have the patience and clarity it takes to interact in moments of microagressions with lots of respect and precision. I just don’t—sometimes I snap and it comes out yucky. Which is another reason, I suppose, why I’ve kind of stopped speaking up in most of these moments of misgendering—because I don’t want to be rude to someone who is just doing their job.

But sometimes, I do want to say something. And I do love how there are some new options (I’ll get to that in a minute, I swear—down at the bottom of this post) for conversations and becoming more aware of gendered language.

Ultimately: I want to strive for respecting folks when I am consuming their services, and be aware of the class implications.

Oh hey, here’s another question: I assume servers at restaurants and cashiers at shops aren’t trained to say “ladies” and “guys,” right? I’ve never actually been a server (though I’ve been a cashier for many years), so I’m not totally clear. It’s so SO so prevalent in the restaurant worlds that sometimes I think it must be in the handbook! But maybe it’s just in the culture? Unspoken, uninforced, but somehow we all absorb it? I’m curious about that.

Download the Gender-Neural Language Sheet

So this is a new possible way to interact with this service/misgendered language issue: the Queer Resource Center in BC adapted a card into a “gender neutral language sheet”, and you can download them for free here.

Toni Latour released “Hello There” cards earlier in 2015, in collaboration with Jenny Lynn and James Alexander Kelly. She’s not the first person I’ve heard who had this idea—in fact, when I first saw the image, I thought, drat, I wasn’t fast enough. I’ve had this thought many times, and I even remember sketching up a draft of it in Oregon on a road trip with rife in 2013. But Toni Latour is the one who made them and printed them up.

And now, the BC Queer center adapted Latour’s “Hello There” cards to be more inclusive and less “ladies” specific. Latour’s cards read:

Hello-2

When greeting customers, instead of saying ladies, gentelmen, ma’am, sir, girls, guys, and the like, please consider using gender neutral language. Here are some options: “Good morning folks.” “Hi everyone.” “Can I get you all something?” “And for you?” “Thanks friends, have a wonderful night.” Why? Shifting to gender neutral language respects and acknowledges the gender identities of all people and removes assumption. Join the movement to be more mindful of language. And if you make a mistake and misgender someone, it’s okay, say sorry once and move on. Thank you for making an effort!

The revised cards from QBC read:

hellothere

When greeting others, avoid ladies, gentlemen, ma’am, sir, girls, guys, etc. Consider using instead: “Thanks friends, have a great night.” “Good morning, folks!” “Hi, everyone!” “And for you?” “Can I get you all something?” Why? Shifting to gender-inclusive language respects and acknowledges the gender identities of all people and removes assumption. Be mindful of language.

A note about “guys.”

A lot of folks have said that they use “guys,” and that that is gender neutral. I just want to go on record and say that I disagree, actually, it is not. I do understand that in this culture, we very often hear groups of various gendered people referred to as “guys,” and that it’s presumed to include everyone in the group, not just the young-ish men. I do understand that it is intended to mean “everyone” or “people” or “hey you folks over there.” However, in the realities of language, it is not neutral: it is masculine.

That this society treats the masculine, the male, the man, as the default and indeed as the ‘neutral’ is precisely one of the most sexist issues at play here. When something as fundamental as our language says that men are the norm and the default, and women are the other and the strange, then it affects every other aspect of our culture, too. (There are many writings and resources on this concept out there, I’m sure … I remember studying it extensively in language & gender studies classes in college in 2002. I’m not sure where to point you for more on it, though. Anybody have a good resource to recommend?)

I can often default to calling everybody “guys,” especially when talking to masculine of center queers and genderqueer folks, but I try not to. It’s inaccurate, and frankly it perpetuates the notion that masculinity is the norm, and I don’t want to do that. But, I’m a total nerd about language and gender, so I know that not everybody wants to do that kind of work on how they see the world and interact with words. I’m hoping, though, since you are still reading, that you have that interest and intention.

On Standing Up for Someone Else

Funny enough, this whole thing just happened this weekend, when the server referred to our table—two butches and a femme—as “ladies,” and I had a similar conversation about what we can/should do about it. The femme who was there asked us what our reaction was to it, and if it felt appropriate for her to say something, which I really appreciated. Honestly, when I’ve been in mixed gender groups, often it’s the folks who do not identify as ‘ladies’ who speak up the least, and sometimes having someone else speak up on my behalf makes me feel even more tired and exhausted and segregated and spotlighted—which doesn’t feel good. I think it has in the past made me feel very taken care of, and protected, but these days, it makes me feel annoyed and too singled out to have someone say something on my behalf.

I mean, if you want to speak up about this because it bugs you, by all means please do so, and I got your back. But if you want to speak up because you think that I am insulted and deflated and am now reacting to a microagression and want/need/would appreciate someone else speaking up for me, please don’t.

So if you’re someone who wants to speak up on behalf of someone else, perhaps you could just check in with them and make sure that you are acting in their best interest, and not just projecting your discomfort onto them.

Is this conversation completely among trans/masculine people?

I’m glad that the edits between the first “Hello There” cards and the new Gender Neutral Language Sheet have moved from being less lady-centric, but it makes me wonder: How does this happen in the service industry for folks who are not masculine of center or trans masculine? I imagine similar things happen, getting addressed as “gentlemen” or “guys,” but maybe not? I’ll have to ask around and see what I can find about that.

Most of the dialogue that I’ve seen already around this is dominated by trans masculine folks, so I wonder how we can take up a little less space and ask more questions and talk about this in ways that are relevant to other folks. Or maybe it’s just a very trans masculine issue, and there’s nothing wrong with that really—it just could mean that the conversation is a bit different.

Regardless, I’m curious about why this is so centered on masculinity, and if that’s because of old fashioned sexism and overvaluing the masculine (which is my guess). Still gathering more data about this.

I’m also curious about server’s experiences of this, if you all have been corrected and what you’ve done about it, and where that form of address comes from.

This is not a conclusion

This is not the end of my thoughts about this, but it’s a start. I am curious to see these cards gaining in popularity and making the rounds, and glad to see a second version of them made. I definitely plan to carry some around with me.

The Exact Right Word: National Coming Out Day and Chosen Identities

For #nationalcomingoutday, here are some words I use to describe myself and some identities that I have actively cultivated:

white
butch
queer
writer
survivor
genderqueer
masculine of center
poet
teacher
bookworm
introvert
HSP
hedonist
working artist
social activist
able bodied
Pacific Northwestern American
Daddy
Master
cock-centric
college educated
2nd generation woo
Buddhist
foodie

For a while, I kept a list of words in the back of my journal, making a note to myself anytime I heard myself say, “I’m a _____.” I would write it down and think about it, pondering if I really am that thing or if it was a passing moment of identifying as such. Some of the words that came out of that are survivor, introvert, and hedonist, as well as the more often-used social justice ones, like butch and queer and dyke and gendequeer.

There are some other words—like lesbian, dyke, and trans—that are almost the right word, and which I sometimes use and sometimes identify with, but that aren’t always precisely right.

There are a few more that are complex and I hesitate to list, like yogi and tantrika, because while I do practice yoga and tantra, I haven’t quite been able to reconcile the cultural appropriation that surrounds me with those activities enough to be comfortable to use the identity labels to refer to myself. (So for now, I go with 2nd generation woo.)

There are a few more that I aspire to, but don’t quite have yet … like gardener and runner, which are identities in progress but not quite integrated. I do have a garden (finally!!), but I frequently forget about it. And I did run two 5k races in the past two years (hurrah!) but again, that habit doesn’t feel consistent, and isn’t quite an identity yet, just an occasional burst of interest.

And what’s the word for someone who tends to be depressed, or who struggles with depression? I don’t quite want to say neurodivergent or depressive, those seem too intense. Something a little more mild that says that I tend toward internalizing emotions rather than externalizing, and tend toward feeling down rather than feeling up (anxious). Or maybe this is a case where I have to reclaim a word, or use something that seems overly harsh and is misunderstood (like depressive).

There’s a lot to think about on National Coming Out Day … I’m particularly interested in identities, and what we call ourselves, and how we claim our power in these words and communities, but I also recognize that for many people, being associated with the identities that have marginalized them feels an awful lot like being marginalized all over again.

I believe that we should find the precise right words that are big enough to contain all the multitudes of us, and not sacrifice our selves to fit into labels which constrict. I believe the identity should conform to us, that we shouldn’t conform to it. And I believe that labels and identities and words that describe ourselves should always be the starting place, not the ending place, of the conversation—a place of opportunity to know more and ask questions and listen, not a place to fill in our own assumptions and determine the truths of others.

I’ll leave you of the Mark Twain quote: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning-bug.”

What identities do you claim? What words do you use to define yourself?

Stone Grief (Kai & DJ #3)

By the time I ease two fingers into DJ’s ass, they already have tears streaming down their cheeks, crying in that silent release way that I’ve only seen a handful of times in the years we’ve been together, but that always means something big is going on. I breathe in, slow my fingers down, and wait. Present. Attuning to each of the smallest movements DJ’s body communicates.

“Don’t stop,” they whisper. “Just keep going.”

They make small sips of eye contact, but are mostly having their own experience. Their body shivers, sometimes from their head to their toes, sometimes left to right, rippling like a chill is going through them. I recognize that release, too. They have been so tight, so tense, their body all locked up for months now. I’m so grateful for the request to fuck them tonight. I’d do anything to help them through this.

Their back hole is tight but pliable, and they relax deeper into my hand as I slowly, slowly use my fingers to massage their insides. It feels like I’m unlocking something, that something has been clenched and is now letting go.

I’m completely unaware of the play party going on around us. There are people up on St. Andrew’s crosses, bent over spanking benches, on massage tables, tied to the wall with the eyebolts that are scattered all around this space. We are in the back corner. I snagged the sling as soon as we got here, after we checked in and made it through the socializing space where the cold pizza, nuts, and mixed veggie trays were laid out already for anyone needing a snack after or during their play. DJ is lying back in it comfortably, body completely supported, swaying slightly with the pressure of my hand against their hole. Their legs are up in the sling’s stirrups, permanently hung there for better access.

We could have done this scene at home, but DJ wanted to come here. Not necessarily to be witnessed, though the exhibitionism is something some folks at play parties seek. It is more that they wanted a place to have a big experience, a big release, that was safe and known and comfortable. Plus, they wanted to be in a sling. It’s the best place for them to receive.

DJ isn’t stone, exactly, but kind of stone-ish. I don’t fuck them very often, and almost never strapped on, though they do suck me off sometimes. They don’t have trauma about getting fucked exactly, they just don’t like it very much. It’s not the best way to get them off, I know—it doesn’t turn them on nearly as much as topping, or fucking with their own cock. But I do get to use my hands on them sometimes, especially after we’ve been going for a while and they have fucked everything out of me that they possibly can but are still hungry—that’s when I know it’s time for me to beg to suck them off, and to offer to use my hands if they want me to, which they almost always do. I think it took them a long time to receive while still being in charge.

Like tonight. They’ve been planning this all week—decided what toys we’d bring, packed the bag, made the arrangements, drove us here. They even told me what to wear (jeans and a crisp white tee shirt, often my uniform when we’re out in public anyway, but it was nice to know that they like it). DJ specifically requested a night for release and catharsis, but I probably won’t do any impact play or anything. I suppose we’ll see if they need that or not.

“Keep going,” they whisper again. I move my fingers a little faster and their asshole relaxes around them. They nod, eyes squeezed shut, tears still coming. Their hands grip the chain of the sling and they rock their pelvis a little, swaying the swing. I focus. I keep breathing. I nearly start crying myself with the emotion pouring off of them like heatwaves, I can practically see it. It’s been bottled tight inside of them ever since we got the call that DJ’s aunt, the one who had practically raised them, died suddenly of a stroke.

They are usually pretty good at handling their own emotions. I wouldn’t be with them for this long if they weren’t. But this kind of grief … only people who have gone through it really know what it’s like. My best friend was diagnosed with cancer and died when I was 20 and I lost my shit for a few years after that. It took me a while to even realize what was going on, it just felt like my life was suddenly falling down around me. DJ hasn’t lost anyone this close before, just relatives and occasional community acquaintances. I know it’s their own process and there’s only so much I can do, but I want to support and be helpful when I can. Especially when helping involves adoring their body, which I love to do anyway.

They arch their back in the sling, press their hips further into me. Their body is shuddering, shoulders shaking—maybe they are starting to really cry, those heaving sobs that are rarer still.

I don’t say anything. I don’t know what to say. It isn’t about words now, this is just about their body, the emotions stored in their thick muscles, the tenderness of their brown skin. I use my fingertips to caress them, then rest my palm on their chest, their heart. I can feel them crying through my hand. They press against me harder, and I move my two fingers a little more furiously. Their mouth opens, they cry out a little, sadness and grief and release and pleasure all mixing, still squeezing their eyes shut, face scrunching up in frustration and fury.

They find my hand with theirs and squeeze, press against me. I stand a little closer, off to the side, to get a better angle. DJ brings their other hand down to their clit-dick and starts jerking it, not quite sobbing but body heaving, beginning to moan. I can’t tell if it’s pleasure or grief or both. The music pounds and I’m starting to sweat, I can feel it dripping on my neck. It’s good that it’s warm in here, easier to be naked that way, and those of us working hard really get a workout. DJ is still pawing hard at their clit, and their hole grips my fingers and I can barely move, so tight, every muscle in them gets so tight, their hips lifting even further, pressing against me, body twisted and contorted, face all torqued like something is in their mouth that they have to swallow. They fist my hand so hard it hurts.

Until … slowly, slowly, the sobs start to come. Then a wail, long and low. Body heaving. I keel forward to offer my body next to theirs and they gladly accept, wrapping their arms around me, pulling me closer to them, crying into my shirt for a good long while.

I still don’t say anything. I can’t find my words. But really, what is there to say? It’s not about me. It’s what they need. It’s the only thing they need right now, to be able to cry for as long as they need to without someone fussing about them. I don’t need them to feel better, or to stop, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I just feel honored that they want me here, that they let me do this for them. I know sometimes they prefer to release their feelings by themself.

DJ slowly pulls their arms through our tight embrace and wipes their eyes and face and nose on my tee shirt. I laugh a little. “Is that why you wanted me to wear white?”

They smile. “No,” they say, eyes downcast. “I just like it.” They sound small, but when they open their eyes and look at me, finally, softly, they are shining and bright, alive.


Featured image from Crash Pad Series Episode #98, Micah Riot and Papi Coxxx.

Taking It (Kai & DJ #2)

The boy is in the center of our bedroom, hands chained to the eyebolt in the ceiling, body stretched long. Their eyes are closed and head is hanging, just a little, and their arms are pulling up and out of their shoulders. They aren’t that tall—our chain was barely long enough. I suppose if you didn’t know better, you’d think this was a torture scene.

I guess it is, kind of. I slipped Tanner’s shirt off before we tied them up there, so their round belly and small chest with a smattering of fine light brown fur over them are exposed.

“You’ve done an excellent job today, Tanner,” DJ says, and swings their favorite flogger again, a hard thud against the boy’s body.

“Thank you, sir,” Tanner says, obediently, after they groan. 

“You have been a wonderful houseboy for us,” I add, taking my turn with my own flogger, this one with wide and flat leather tails—some call it a massage flogger. It’s my favorite to be hit with, so I use it whenever I can, when I top.

Tanner lets out a grunt when it collides. “Thank you, Kai.” We can’t decide on an honorific that fits me—sir and ma’am are too binary. So we just use my name. It still feels formal, and respectful.

Tanner is starting to drip with sweat. It rolls down their back and into the waistband of their briefs, tracing the contours of their young, strong muscles. They aren’t toned, but being chubby has it’s strength advantages too. It’s almost always a toss-up to see who wins when we wrestle, even though my upper back and chest and arms are pretty well sculpted, because Tanner has actual wrestling skill. They’re fast, too. Small, about the same height as I am.

Clearly we’ve got the heat up high enough. Tanner’s dark hair is starting to glisten from sweat, proof of their hard work—not just today, doing house chores, but also the hard work of Taking It. Orders, sadistic impulses, rules—you name it, Tanner took it today. This beating is the last of it, probably. Or rather, the last part of Taking It that is for us, and the start of Taking It that is for Tanner. DJ has a plan, I can tell. And I generally find it works best to just go along with DJ’s plans. 

“Go around Tanner and hold them up, will you, Kai?” DJ pauses the flogging to lightly touch Tanner’s back, trailing their fingers over the sensitive exposed skin, still dancing with sensation.

“Yes, Sir,” I answer, draping my flogger over my shoulder. I don’t usually call DJ “Sir,” but when they’re being sir to someone else, I get the urge. I brace my feet and legs, grounded into the floor, and press myself against the front of Tanner’s body. They immediately lean into me and sigh, some of the pressure lifting from their limbs. 

“How you doing?” I say softly, stroking Tanner’s hair. 

“So great,” they reply, words humming and high. “More?” 

I chuckle. “Sure. How about I stay while DJ flogs you for a while?”

Tanner nods, body limp and leaning on mine. 

“Go for it, Sir,” I move my arms out of DJ’s way and focus on being a tree for Tanner.

The boy stiffens when he’s hit, then collapses again; stiffens, collapses, stiffens, collapses. Their breathing catches, evens out, and catches again. I breathe too. 

I peek over Tanner to watch DJ. Their body flexes and heaves, shifting their weight back and forth on their legs, turning at the hips to get more torque into each blow. They are so elegant with a flogger. It looks like an extension of their arm, the energy flowing out and then fraying into the leather, colliding with another and emptying the charge down DJ’s arm, into the flogger, and out through the tails. DJ’s face is all concentration and precision—I’ve seen that look when they work me over, probably hundreds of times before. It makes me blush and rub my thighs together. It turns me on, hard.

Tanner sighs, body releasing, relaxing into me even further. It’s hard on a body to hold itself up and receive a beating at the same time. I readjust my feet to be more stable, so they can take the pressure out of their muscles and bones. They really did do incredibly well today. They showed up precisely on time (after the last time they were late, I would’ve been shocked if they hadn’t), and had clearly been working on the postures we’d wanted them to learn: kneel (when at rest and we are sitting), present (when they have something to ask or request), stand at ease (when chatting), stand at attention (when receiving orders). They even went through them all gracefully in a way that still felt masculine, not feminizing. 

DJ winds up and throws a few more times, hard, the smack of the leather jolting both me and Tanner. I can almost feel the flogging through their body, its impact reverberating through me like bass through a speaker. Tanner cries out and their breath comes in heaves, deep sighs and moans coming up from somewhere low. DJ presses their body up against Tanner from the back, arms reaching around to hold me too, and the three of us synch up in breath, in heartbeat. 

*

The boy is in the center between us, stripped bare, still sweaty, doing an excellent job of being holes for both of our cocks. Mine they are working over with their mouth, tonguing it and keeping their throat open, as DJ’s pushes in and out of their asshole. Don’t worry, we worked it in slow, with lots of lube, the way you’re supposed to. But Tanner was well-stretched and ready for it. They have been practicing with a butt plug in the weeks that we don’t play. 

We’re all piled on the bed, our dark blue comforter and crisp white sheets already torn from the bed and scattered. DJ has ahold of one of the tall, sturdy posts on our four-poster, and I’m entirely on the bed, kneeling up by where the pillows usually are. They’re only half-way on the bed, one foot planted on the floor and the other knee hiked up onto the mattress, perfectly positioned behind Tanner. The lights are dim in here, the walls are a soft suede shade of tan. Our furniture is crowded to two walls in this smallish bedroom, but that’s just so we can have room for the eyebolt and to throw a flogger. We’ve been slowly outfitting this room as our bedroom slash dungeon for a few years now, and I still have dreams of making it even better, but for now, it’s great.

DJ and I are stripped bare too, mostly because clothes just seem to get in the way. Don’t tell them I told you, but DJ loves being naked. They’re rarely clothed beyond boxers when we’re home alone. It is kind of hellish on our heating bill, but it’s well worth the eye candy. 

Each time DJ slides their cock in, the pressure pushes Tanner just enough that their mouth swallows my cock a little deeper. I barely even have to move, just the movement between us is enough. When I get my hips going, Tanner is like a ping-pong ball between us: I push them back to DJ, onto DJ’s cock, and DJ pushes them back to me, onto mine. 

Tanner is moaning and drooling and coming, eyes closed, limbs limp. We’ve been at them for probably an hour like this already. They have moved past the begging and screaming stage into the blissed-out sub-space that is practically non-verbal. They’re just about done. But we’re not. 

DJ reaches for me, catching the hand that’s on Tanner’s back, and pulls me toward them. We can just barely reach each other to kiss. “You’re going to come, Kai,” they whisper, mouth on mine.

I gasp, hips thrusting and contracting automatically when they talk like that. “Yes, Sir,” I manage to sputter. 

“You’re going to thrust that dick of yours into this boy’s little mouth and use it.” 

“Yes, Sir!” Harder now. Tanner chokes a little and opens up their mouth to get more air. 

“You’re going to come while I fuck this boy in the other end.” They thrust harder and I match their rhythm. DJ holds my head with one hand and Tanner’s hip with the other, their hips gyrating like a pop star. Their spine is snake-like, each movement rippling up. They grip my head harder. 

“Ohh, ohhh fuck, god that’s so good,” I keep one hand in Tanner’s hair, not forcing anything but more to feel the movement on my dick from a different angle, and the other hand is reaching for my clit under my harness, getting the angle as close to perfect as I can. I’m so close. 

“Do it for me. Come on.”

I don’t even know what I’m saying, if anything is coming out of my mouth aside from groans and whimpers. Maybe I said thank you or I love you or oh god oh fuck holy good god damn … all I remember is the explosion that started in my pelvis and radiated out, squeezing every drop of resistance from me and opening up every cell in my body. As if all at once, each proton and neutron and electron shivered, shaking off any old dust or residue, and when the haze settled, each one was shining, sparkling anew. 

I can barely hold myself up by my own thighs, they’re still quivering as Tanner looks up at me, one hand on my cock, licking the final drips from it, kissing it as they take their mouth away. DJ is grinning that cocky half-smile that suckered me in to a date with them in the first place, and I swoon and collapse and nearly start to cry with the adoration. 

I fall over sideways, collapsing and starting to laugh, still breathing hard. “Fuck. Fuck! Goddamn you two. I’m surprised I didn’t just have a heart attack. My whole body felt like it just … exploded.” 

DJ wraps around Tanner and they both reach for me. We’re all humming with vibration, pulsing with lust and thrusting.

“God, I love you,” I say, holding eye contact with DJ. 

“I love you,” they say back, soft, their eyes crinkling at the corners, licking their lips and looking at mine like they want to kiss but can’t quite reach me. 

“I love you both!” Tanner bursts. And we all laugh—not because it’s ridiculous, but because it’s so obvious and sweet, and we can all feel it alive in us.

“I love you, too, Tanner,” DJ says. 

“Yeah. Love all around,” I say, and Tanner hoists forward to cuddle against me, and we all rest and talk for a while, before sending Tanner on their way.


Featured image from Crash Pad Series Episode #98, Micah Riot and Papi Coxxx. Toys mentioned in this story: Bare Leatherworks floggers.

A Little Bit About Butch Voices, Butch Nation, and “Masculine of Center”

So, a group of folks who were on the Butch Voices board have broken off and created a new organization, Butch Nation. If you keep up with this kind of drama news, you probably have heard about it. See the press release Butch Nation released, Butch Voices press about it, Sasha T. Goldberg’s letter about what happened, and an interview with Krys Freeman on Velvetpark.

I’ve been asked for my thoughts on what’s going on by a few folks. To be honest, I’m not sure what I think exactly. My understanding, based on reading those links above (and more), is that it is a) partially a personal rift, based on who knows what, and b) partially an issue of semantics, about the terms “masculine of center” and “butch” specifically. I can’t really speak to what’s happened personally between the groups—I don’t know, I wasn’t there, and for the most part, I’m not that interested. I mean, my wish is for us all to get along, but people have different ideas about how to run things, and it’s ever possible for rifts to arise when working closely with anyone (in fact, it’s nearly inevitable).

So I don’t know what to say about that part. But I can speak to the semantics, and my opinion about these (incredibly loaded) terms.

(While fully acknowledging that words are powerful, and the right word is incredibly important, and identity is complicated, I also think it isn’t worth the community rifts, and I’m not eager to get involved in the nitpicking of the argument. Still, I’m putting forth my two cents.)

The word “masculine of center:”

My understanding is that the Butch Voices revised mission statement includes this word as an umbrella term, to encompass a myriad of identities. Also from the mission statement: “Masculine of center (MoC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer/ womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine etc.”

The term is meant to be more inclusive than a term like “butch,” which is loaded for many people, and which has historically been predominantly adopted by white folks.

This isn’t the first term to come around that has attempted to encompass these many masculine queer identities—remember transmasculine? That was a hot one for a year or so there, but was declared too problematic to keep using, particularly in the ways that it wasn’t inclusive enough of trans women.

Maybe this begs the question of whether or not an umbrella term is necessary at all. As someone who writes about this stuff frequently, my opinion is that yes, it is important to have a term. Not only that, but it’s important to see the connections between us, to look at the places where we overlap, and to use those to build bridges and build stronger community activism and connection around our shared oppression. Because all of us within these individual identities, we may or may not date the same type of person, we may or may not have the same spiritual beliefs, we may or may not identify as feminist, we may or may not wear the same type of underwear, but there is something that unites us: our masculinity.

(I would argue that our masculinity is intentional, though I know there’s some disagreements about that. I’ve also heard, lately, people arguing that they are “butch women,” and therefore “not masculine,” but I’d like to challenge that there is a fundamental difference between male and masculine, and that a woman can be masculine and still be women.)

Having something to unite us is powerful, and most of the words that this world has come up with to use as an umbrella term haven’t been far-fetched and uniting enough. Is this term? I don’t know. Personally, I like the term “masculine of center.” I wouldn’t use it in a sentence to describe myself, like I wouldn’t introduce myself by saying, “I identify as masculine of center,” but I would absolutely say that I identify as butch and that I believe butch falls under that umbrella, just like it is a sort of trans-ish identity, sometimes, for me, as well. I wouldn’t correct someone if they said I was masculine of center. I also don’t tend to identify myself as a “lesbian,” I’m much more likely to call myself a dyke, or, even more so, queer, but I wouldn’t correct someone if they called me that. It’s not my identity word of choice, but it is accurate.

Holding so tight to one singular identity word and no others gets us into such rigid places. When one word and only one word is an accurate description of one’s self, then of course a larger umbrella term will feel bad. And of course one will only feel good about being connected to and associated with other people who identify with that term. The problem is, I think, that the term itself is just a starting place. It’s just the thing that starts these deeper, elevated conversations, the invitation to say, “Okay, what does that mean for you? How did you come to that word, that identity? How does that identity play out in your daily life?”

Because, like Dacia reminded me when we talked about this last week, the map is not the territory. Even if we have mapped something out with language, what matters is the application to our daily, minute-by-minute lives. And what matters is, to me, the connections that we make, the interconnectivity we find with others who are struggling through similar issues that we are, and what we do about it to move ourselves forward.

I know identity politics are incredibly loaded—fuck, the words I call myself have been vastly important to me, I’m not trying to belittle that struggle. It is huge. The act of naming one’s self, especially in the face of oppression and marginalization, is complicated and powerful. I just hope that we can have more looseness in some of these discussions, as they go forward.

One more thing about masculine of center … I’ve read a few places, in response to this Butch Voices/Butch Nation stuff, that the word “masculine of center” reinforces the binary, and that gender is more complex than a linear spectrum, etc etc.

Funny, I never think of “masculine of center” as implying a linear, 2D scale, with masculine on one side and feminine on the other. All sorts of shapes have centers, and I tend to think of the gender map as a 3D circle, a galaxy even (though that is much harder to map), or perhaps a shorthand of a 2D circle if I’m trying to simplify it a little more.

I ran across this on Tumblr not too long ago, and it’s stuck with me:

From the creator:

Because it’s already established, I have put F, standing for Feminine gender, as red, and M, standing for Masculine gender, as blue. Going nicely with the pansexual flag colours, I have put O for Other gender (though part of me feels I should have put Third gender) as yellow. … Each gender/colour fades down to centre, where I have put A for Agender. …

With this wheel, you can say “I am somewhere between masculine and other, but it’s not a really gendered gender” and it makes sense, because you point at light green (which looks like turquoise, but this was the best wheel I found). You can say “If I’m anything, I’m feminine” and it makes sense, because you point at light pink.

And bigender? Sometimes *here* and sometimes *here*. Genderqueer is anything that isn’t red or blue, I think.

I think there are more genders than just this, but I also think it’s a pretty good place to start. Definitely a vast improvement from the linear spectrum, and I like the idea of all those gradient colors.

So my point, if I have one, is that I like the word “masculine of center,” and I think it’s useful for trying to unite many, many folks who struggle with a masculine identity in the queer worlds. As I’m continuing to be a part of building a better understanding of female masculinity and butch identity in this world, I think it is incredibly important to be talking to other people who have overlapping or complimentary experiences to my own, and to swap theories and survival tactics, to share war stories over beers, to have some respite before we go back and fight the good fights.

I believe the folks behind Butch Voices are doing an incredible job at being inclusive, open, and transparent in their vastly difficult task of bringing together dozens of identities to connect and unite in these conferences. I haven’t been to the national conference yet, but I’m very much looking forward to it next week, and as someone who has spoken quite a bit with Joe LeBlanc and other BV core members, and who was part of the Butch Voices NYC committee last year, and who this year has been volunteering as part of the national web team, I have some knowledge of how this organization is being run, and it seems professional, open, and excellent.

That’s not to say that, if I knew more of the details about what’s going on, I might not have some critical feedback, but it seems clear that they are doing their best, and I’m impressed with what’s happening.

I hope this conversation will continue next week, and I imagine it will. Perhaps as I learn more I’ll have more to share with you all about what I think and what’s going on. Meanwhile, I feel open and curious about these conversations, and interested in finding out more ways to have better, and deeper, connection, and elevated discussions around all of our identities, singular and collectively.

When “Gender Expression” Means “Masculine”

So you’ve heard about Babeland’s new “Gender Expression” category, which I for one thing is awesome. But I want to call your attention to a couple comments on that post, because I think it’s important, and it crossed my mind as well:

Perry wrote:

Not to be rubbish, but shouldn’t it be called “female-assigned or potentially mtf-post-op-folks-i-suppose expression” instead?

And Krista from Babeland responded:

It is our intention to make this category a place to find products for expressing any and all gender possibilities. We welcome suggestions of other products that you think might fall into this category. I hope that helps. Feel free to contact us with any other questions.

To which perry replied:

thanks for your comment, Krista. I don’t really have any suggestions per se, I’ve just been noticing that often when female-assigned queers talk about “genderqueer” and “transgender” they often seem to be talking about female-assigned folks who express a certain masculinity via clothes, hair, and yes, toys. I rarely meet male-assigned folks id’ing as genderqueer. 20-30 something college educated white female assigned people who have sex with the same seem to be “the” face of trans/gender and genderqueer movements in a way (if you look at profiles on genderfork and on lots of tumblrs you’ll see what i mean), and i think it’s important to make other identities visible. Thanks for selling great stuff babeland, this is not a dig at you.

And I really see perry’s point here. I don’t really mean to drag Babeland into this, because really this is just something to point to indicative of a larger issue, and, well, I like to link to the gender expression category, which is why I’m using this conversation as an example.

Thanks, by the way, to perry and to Krista for this conversation. I don’t have a lot to add, but I want to highlight this issue because I’ve thought about it frequently myself, and I’m interested what we can do about it. I guess this is the part where I ask for your opinions on the subject. Thoughts?

I do want to say, in Babeland’s defense and in defense of many other sex toy stores which have “gender expression” type of categories, that I think there are just a lot fewer sex products for trans men and masculine of center folks than there are for trans women. Maybe I’m wrong about that and I just don’t know as much about it—correct me if I’m wrong—but my understanding is that a lot of the products for (feminine) trans women are things found in traditional feminine departments, like bras and lingerie. I suppose there could be binding underwear or stuffed bras? I don’t know much about those products, and I certainly don’t see a lot of that—hey Babeland, maybe you should look into those.

I have met some men who identify as genderqueer, though not many. I’ve often mused about this subject, mostly in terms of the myriad words we have for masculine of center identities, and how frequently it seems that people who identify as genderqueer or androgynous are people who were assigned female at birth, who would not express traditionally feminine markers like make-up and dresses—folks who “express a certain masculinity via clothes, hair, and yes, toys,” as perry put it.

I think there might be some misandry in that, to be honest. Or, at the very least, some feminist and queer skepticism about masculinity and maleness in general. And probably some internalized misogyny, as a commenter pointed out.

Let me state for the record that I think people should identify however they feel most comfortable, and I’m not trying to change that, for anybody. But I have noticed it as a trend and I’m curious how we, as people who are doing work on expanding gender categories, can support the widening of these identities, and to continue to build movements that include ALL gender identities and expressions, and not just masculine of center queer folks assigned female at birth.

So, what other products should Babeland add to their gender expression category that are not aimed at masculine of center folks? Any ideas for what they can add to their category?

Define: Masculine of Center

I’ve been throwing this phrase around a lot lately, but I realize I haven’t actually defined it or credited it. For me, it came out of working with and attending the Butch Voices Regional Conferences this year, as we used it frequently to describe the myriad of masculine identities we were seeking to gather and discuss.

According to Butch Voices:

Masculine of center (MOC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer/ womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine etc.

In contrast to transmasculine, which was the last catch-all masculine identity label that made the rounds, masculine of center doesn’t necessarily imply a linear progression or hierarchy, I even think of it as a circle, kind of like a color wheel where the center point is gender-less or genderfluid or all genders and all the various kinds of gender expression and identity dance around it. And while “masculine of center” is definitely in contrast to “feminine of center,” it isn’t necessarily in opposition, as they play off of each other, interdependent and interwoven.

Seems like a useful term, to me, to describe the breadth of masculine identities to which I sometimes want to refer. What do you think?

What happened at the BUTCH Voices NYC Conference

So BUTCH Voices NYC is over …

And it was fantastic.

I want to tell you all about it, and I barely know where to start. It was thrilling to work on a committee which was so invested in working, and whose skill-sets were all so complimentary. Primarily, I worked with promotion, copy, images, and event planning & promotion, as well as hosting some of the events over the conference weekend too. Which tend to be the things I’m good at, and the things I most like to do, in terms of putting on an event. There were a lot of logistical details that I was less concerned with, personally, but the rest of the Core Committee was so on top of it, I didn’t have to worry about it—I could just do the parts I was particularly good at.

It’s the first time I’ve been such a key organizer for a regional conference, and I had a wonderful time. I learned a lot about organizing and producing big events. I think I might go into a little bit of withdraw after working so closely with the other organizers—Kelli, Kawana, Lea, Paris, Emma, Emilie—I’m hoping we can organize a post-event gathering to debrief and talk about what’s next. (There’s already some discussion about another New York regional conference in 2012.)

But: what happened at the actual conference?

The Friday Night Social Event

Friday night kicked off the conference with Speed Friending at Anti-Diva. I was surprised and impressed at how many masculine-of-center folks came out for that. It was great to have a kick-off event where everyone came with the assumption that they would meet other people, everyone was more open and talkative than usual. We planned on having Melissa Li perform an acoustic set, but there were some technical difficulties and Melissa never did go on. But oh the rest of us did … on and on, talking to each other and about the conference the next day and about the other events that were planned for the weekend. Many folks were in from out of town, and not everyone who came planned on attending the entire conference, but was interested in meeting butches (for various reasons).

Just about as I was ready to retire, a text came in from Kelli, conference “chair,” if we had one of those, to both myself and to Emilie, along with a photograph of the conference space: we had a wall! A genius contractor had saved our asses at the very last minute by coming in to help us divide up the very large QEJ Performance & Conference space into three separate spaces where we could hold two workshops, registration, and the hospitality suite. Not only did it look amazing, it ended up being constructed out of cardboard, twine, and tarps. It was more than I would have expected—when I arrived on Saturday morning—and it was perfect. Em and I were so thrilled, we actually high-fived—a move I do not usually participate in, but it was apt.

And then the conference started …

After getting things up from the car and helping to open up registration, the first thing I did was to attend a workshop with Corey Alexander called Doing Relationships with Emotional Armor: For Stones and Our Partners. I’ve flirted with stone identity, and definitely have some emotional armor, so it was interesting and intense to bring those things to light and discuss them openly. It was a difficult subject to begin the conference, but set the tone for the depth and personal level of discussion throughout the day.

I took a brief break to prepare for the Cock Confidence workshop I was leading in the third workshop block, and then joined the impromptu discussion. Conference organizers intentionally left some physical space empty such that active discussions could happen, either folks could bring up new topics they felt weren’t being addressed or could continue discussions started in the workshops if they felt inspired to do so. So a few people decided to lead an open discussion on responsible masculinity, which was very fruitful and touched on many topics and conundrums of masculinity that I frequently contemplate. It was great to hear other perspectives on these things that often really get to me, that I spend days thinking about, or talking about, or writing about. The question of “What is responsible masculinity?” was posed, and much discussion of misogyny and feminism commenced. One of the major points made was the ways that expectations can be oppressive, and that though our identities may appear to be something someone knows and can identify, and therefore draws all sorts of conclusions about (e.g., masculine of center -> butch -> top -> dominant -> dates femmes), that one has to actually ask and observe that particular individual to see if any of those things are true for them—and they may not be!

We also discussed butch competition and policing, and how to build more butch community. Someone said, “The only way to eliminate butch competition and enhance butch camaraderie is to acknowledge each other.” Which, I think, was beautifully put and I wholeheartedly agree. We spend a lot of time circling each other silently, and it is a thin line, if at all, between that and competing.

Cock Confidence

Next, I ran downstairs to Cock Confidence & Strapping It On, which is a workshop I’m doing many times this fall (already at Purple Passion and Conversio Virium in New York and Good Vibrations in Boston). I was greated by a packed room, and people just kept streaming in—it didn’t hurt that I had two Aslan Leather harnesses, three Vixen Creations cocks, and one Tantus cock to give away, I’m sure!

I started in on my workshop contents about confidence and communication when there were a few questions and comments, rapidly, from attendees. I’m paraphrasing here, but basically what was said was, “What about butches who bottom, and the ways that can be seen as emasculating?” and then, “What about women who are survivors of sexual assault, and for whom penetration is difficult or traumatizing?”

Whoa. Big, huge topics.

Which I will gladly write about here, I have plenty to say about them (watch for future/soon essays), but on which I was not prepared to speak, or lead a discussion. I had a lot of (prepared) material to get through, so I explained that, and said, those are both way important questions and I would love to have a discussion about them, that I was not prepared to hold the space for that discussion now. But, I proposed, I will do some talking about toys, do the raffle, then adjourn early and folks can go off and explore another workshop, or stay here for Q&A and we can discuss those things. I also said: Thank you, for bringing that up. I am used to doing this workshop at sex toy stores (mostly with an audience of hetero couples) so those questions are definitely Cock Confidence 301 instead of 101, and I love that the Butch Voices NYC crowd really raised the caliber of the discussion.

Thank you for that, all of you who were there.

I think the room understood my point, so I kept moving on. I talked about toys, my favorite and the most popular harnesses and cocks, answered some questions, and pulled names out of the bucket to see who would take home some new toys. I’m going to work on a Cock Confidence Product Guide and let everyone know the things that I recommended and where I recommend getting them.

The conversation, when it continued, was a much smaller group and we ended up more CR-style, discussing our personal challenges and experiences.

It was definitely the best Cock Confidence workshop I’ve ever facilitated, and it was so much fun. Wish I could give away toys every time I do that workshop! To be clear—I give away these toys, and I work with these companies as a sponsor (of sorts) of Sugarbutch because I adore their toys so much, not the other way around (I don’t adore their toys because they’re a sponsor). I’m pretty picky about the toys I give away, and while I have tried out all sorts of products, even if I suspected they would be awful, I won’t give away things I think are awful.

Butch Representation in Media

Off I rushed to the Media Panel, where I moderated a discussion about butch visibility, mainstream media, working in the media, and how we use the media to further authentic images of ourselves. It was a great discussion with Madison, Grace, Mamone, and Dasha, and the attendees had many questions and comments about race, participation, othering, and success. I didn’t feel like we had a point that we really hammered home in this workshop, but then again, we didn’t really have a point that we set up to make when we formed this panel, so that was okay.

At the end of the panel, we went around the room and everyone there introduced themselves and did their thirty-second elevator pitch about what they do. It was fascinating to see the caliber of talent we had in that room, all together.

The Community-Building Keynote

The keynote at Butch Voices NYC was non-traditional in that we didn’t want to have one singular person speak for all aspects of masculine of center communities, and since it was a one-day conference we didn’t have time—or money—for multiple keynote addresses. So Kelli and I planned a community building keynote ceremony that was a commitment to our butch voices, and it turned out beautifully. It was incredibly moving, from start to finish.

It all started with a pebble, a river stone—everyone received one at registration. I took them from my own rock collection (remember my this I believe poem? “rocks in my pockets”?) I counted out 180, which didn’t even make a dent in my collection, to make sure we had enough for everyone, then added a few handfuls more for good measure. I have collected rocks over the years from just about any place I have visited, from Bournemouth in England to Ocean Shores in Oregon to Washington state to Southeast Alaska, where most of the rocks are from. The pebble beaches are the best up there. It’s become a bit of a collection, that therefore I subsequently have no idea what to do with. It doesn’t make sense to display them, not really, not beyond a few rock stack formations here and there, so they’ve been in a box for years. Seriously. A box of rocks. Useless and taking up valuable New York City apartment space. I’d be glad to donate them to a garden or beach, but most green spaces around New York are so manicured it doesn’t make sense to leave them there.

But a ritual—it was a perfect use for (some of) them. I was so pleased to pass them on in that way.

Before we started the ritual, we spent a moment with the Memory Wall we had constructed to add names to, people who are no longer with us but who came before us and whom we want to remember. And right away, the room got heavier, we focused, I felt immediately moved.

We all got a rock when we checked in at registration. The seven of us organizers stood up to explain about the ritual, what we were going to do and why, each taking turns. We explained that the rock had absorbed our personal experiences of the day, our individual voice and perspective, and that we were going to add that rock to the collective pile of our community’s experiences, similar and related, yet different and varied. We invited anyone who felt moved to participate—allies too, but whom were also invited to witness if they felt so inclined, as we need witness to our statements, commitments, and very existence—to come up to our make-shift alter, one at a time, and speak aloud the sentence, “My commitment to my butch voice is,” or “my commitment to butch voices is.” Folks were invited to substitute whatever words they wanted to for “butch,” if that wasn’t their identity word of choice, such as queer or genderqueer or stud or aggressive.

I wasn’t prepared for how moving it would be. I wrote the majority of the script that we read (which only dawned on me about halfway through the ritual, I wrote the keynote), and the whole time I was just crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t be cheesy, but would be honored and respected and come across the way I wanted it to. It did—and it went beyond my expectations, like much of the conference did, above and beyond. It was moving, enlivening, big. Many of us teared up. Many of us said hard things that would not have been easier to say in other places, but which felt safe to reveal. Many of us murmured or clapped or responded as each person who felt moved came up to place their rocks in the wooden bowl on the make-shift alter.

Paris closed the ritual by having everyone repeat a line that Kelli and I came up with, based on the Core Initiatives of the Butch Voices conference: “Our commitment is to stand together, to take care of each other, and to make the world a more just place.”

And with that, everyone could take a rock home with them, if they felt so inclined, and we adjourned.

What a day.

I’m still reeling from it all.

And yet … right after the keynote, Kristen and I rushed downtown to get to Bluestockings Bookstore for the Butch Voices Speak Queer Memoir/Sideshow mash-up reading/performance. I posted photos and a wrap-up of it over on the Sideshow blog today, but expect more photos from Syd London (official Butch Voices NYC photographer!) as those get processed.

And more articles, more thoughts, more things from me, too, as that all gets processed.

I feel so much gratitude toward the folks who came and were involved. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it.