BVLA 2010 Chair Jeanne “JR” Cordova Chats with Velvetpark

By: Julia Watson | October 5, 2010

Vp Editor Julia Watson and intrepid Butch Fashion Correspondent CaramelTeddy are off to the Butch Voices LA Conference this weekend.

Vp Editor Julia Watson and intrepid Butch Fashion Correspondent CaramelTeddy are off to the Butch Voices LA Conference this weekend. Meanwhile, BVLA 2010 Chair Jeanne “JR” Cordova was nice enough to take time to sit down and talk with Julia over the internets about queer culture in SoCal, the expanding borders of butch identity and what one can expect from attending the festivities and gender badassery set to go down this weekend in West Hollywood.

Julia:  JR, you’ve played and continue to play such a vital role in the lesbian community from its inception here in California in the 70s. You’ve been an activist, a journalist, a political organizer, an entrepreneur, and now you’re serving as Chair of the Butch Voices LA 2010 Conference. How did you get involved with BV?

JR:  I fell for an invitation from Butch Voices to throw a Conference in LA. I’d just returned from the first ever Conference in Oakland and was real high from the sight of hundreds of butch shoulders. So I said yes to them! And now I’m on the Board too.

Julia:  Yeah, I had a look at the blog entry you posted after last year’s con in Oakland. Can you talk about what it was like to walk into a room full of 100s of butch-identified folks for the first time?

JR:  It was 300 butch-identified folk. It felt like a veil of secrecy had been lifted. Like the first time I put on glasses when I was 20 and saw that the world really had sharp definition.

Julia:  Incidentally, this butch-lovin’ femme is trying not to drool a little at the thought of 300 pairs of butch shoulders in one room.

JR:   Oakland felt like lesbianism in High Def! I felt finally liberated to publicly celebrate myself as a butch.

Julia:  I think it’s a genius idea, bringing butches from all over together to create community and discuss gender identity and the unique experiences of people from all over the butch spectrum.

Living lesbian history legend, BVLA 2010 Chair,

and Flirty McShirty Jeanne “JR” Cordova. 

JR:  It was a power thrill for me.

Julia:  So let’s unpack “butch” a little, because it can be a controversial and misunderstood term.

JR:  Ok, I’m a packer. Go ahead.

Julia:  Ha! Even among folks who embrace the term as part of their own identity, it gets confusing. Who exactly is this conference for?

JR:  Yeah, “butch” has been revised and expanded… now includes many trans-masculine folks and well as masculine women. We used 23 words to define the new butch. Did you see our banner with the 23 words? Stud, genderqueer, AG’s, etc…

Julia:  I did! That’s a big tent!

JR:  Yes, a growing tent. Many younger Gen M-ers don’t identify as women or lesbians, but do identify as genderqueer or butch.

Julia:  What’s it been like negotiating an inclusive environment where all these different types of butches can feel welcome? I imagine that can be challenging.

JR:  Yes, it’s like on-the-job-training. I’ve thrown three previous big lesbian conferences, but this one is a real shape-shifter in progress. BVLA wants this to be a joy ride for every kind of stud.

Julia:  HOT. I am so excited to be able to participate next weekend and to bring my stud with me! What can attendees expect to gain from being a part of Butch Voices LA? And which parts of the weekend are you most looking forward to?

JR:  I’m looking forward to LEARNING new things from the workshop presenters. Being a dapper-dudlet I’m thrilled about the fashion show, Invincible. And I love Phranc, who’s gonna do the Bull Dagger Swagger with a chorus-line of butches backin’ her up.

Julia:  *fans self*

JR:  *Breathin’ on you…*

Julia:  You are a dear.

JR:  What color are your eyes?

Julia:  They’re brown-green. What else you got up your sleeve for the weekend? What are some of the workshops we can find you at?

JR:  “Bromance: Taboos and Mandates” is one I gotta check out, see about these boi lovin’ boi dyke fags. And the “DAGGERS” one with that bright Sasha G. from SF…

Julia:  Daggers like bulldaggers? That mystical breed I love, rarer than unicorns?

JR:  The “Transphobia & Butchphobia” one too. I hope a lot of lipstick lesbians come cuz they need education! Mine are same. Height?

Julia:  I’m 5’4″. Can you also run a workshop on teaching internet pervs how to query ASL (age/sex/location)? You’re good at this.

JR:   Me too. 5.4″ with brown-green. Maybe we’re the yin and yang of BVLA!

Julia:  Ha! I am anticipating getting my fill of queer yang this weekend. Speaking of lipstick lesbians… I SO LOVE that that website for this event calls out LA’s glamazon, L Word-y culture. What made you and the other organizers decide to bring the Butch Voices con to LA this year?

JR:  I’m hoping the femmes want to step out in their finery and bring their bashful butches. We’ve just not had enough freedom to go out on our own… yet.

A femme coaxes a shy baby butch to eat from her hand…

Julia:  LA needs us gender fabulous queers!

JR:  LA studs need to butch out and claim our pride. Wish we could reach these high schoolers and tell them we are waiting for them with open hearts and arms.

Julia:  For real. I’m a native SoCal girl (San Diego) and I’ve known so many masculine-gendered women who hadn’t yet embraced butch identity. There’s so much stigma about it in SoCal even in the lesbian community.

JR:  I know, all these corporate butches and lipstick lesbians who think long hair hides their butch body language. I should say the conference is selling out so get there early for everything, green eyes!

Julia:  Will do. Hear that, left coast Velvetparkers? Time to whip out those chain wallets.

JR:  And I should announce… Swagger is now open to the community. Everyone! See Phranc, Peggy Shaw, gentleman butch from London, and Dawn Kasper all for $20 at the door!

Julia:  Awesome! JR, I’m so excited to meet you this weekend and be a part of this thing. I’ve been pining for an event like this in my area for soooo loonng.

JR:  Look for you at BVLA. Look for my purple carnation, left side lapel! See ya!

Julia:  I’ll be the brunette rocking the femme geek chic look. See ya there!