BVLA 2010: Julia and CaramelTeddy’s Big Butch Adventure

After their trip to the recent Butch Voices Los Angeles regional conference, Julia and CaramelTeddy decompress after their weekend getaway in Butchtopia with a little chat about the conference’

After their trip to the recent Butch Voices Los Angeles regional conference, Julia and CaramelTeddy decompress after their weekend getaway in Butchtopia with a little chat about the conference’s highlights.

CaramelTeddy: How ‘bout that Butch Voices conference?

Julia: How amazingly HOT was that Butch Voices conference?

CaramelTeddy:  um… I think it was hotter for you than it was for me.

Julia: At one point in the middle of the “Keeping Our Feminism” panel it was really hard not to drag you off into a supply closet and insist that you have your way with me.

CaramelTeddy: It was more of a “Wow, this is cool and fascinating…” for me.

Julia: Was it everything you hoped it would be?

CaramelTeddy: I didn’t really have any expectations. I had a great time though.

Julia: What was your favorite part?

CaramelTeddy:  I had two favorite parts. 1. The fashion show… ‘cause I loves me some fashion. 2. The butch circle at the end… ‘cause it was cool to sit and talk and listen with chicks who identify the same way as my butchy self.

BVLA Butch bonding in action! Photo by Angela Briskele.

Julia: I want to talk about both of those. Let’s start with the fashion show. What were the highlights for you? My fave was definitely the folks from Sent Packing.

CaramelTeddy: Sent Packing was easily the best among the designers that we saw for a few reasons, the first being that butches have never had underwear to truly call their own! We always either wear men’s stuff or unattractive (and sometimes uncomfortable) women’s stuff. What I noticed right away at the show, was the way that they fit the models.

Julia: Right. They’re made to fit a woman’s hips and butt. But still be masculine.

CaramelTeddy:  Exactly! They fit and still give that masculine butch vibe! Sent Packing were the stars of the show for me. Enough to make me run over and buy a pair of my own!

Julia: While we’re on the subject, how come I haven’t seen you walking around in your Sent Packing shorts in our apartment yet?! C’mon. Throw a girl a (lez)bone.

CaramelTeddy: I was actually wearing them yesterday. And I slept packing last night but the cats were cock-blocking me.


CaramelTeddy: I am still trying to get into a comfy casual wear zone with them.

Julia: Blame it all on our fat cats. I see how it is. At any rate, I eagerly await your forthcoming product review of those shorts.

CaramelTeddy: What else?

Julia: You liked those hooded shirts.

CaramelTeddy: omg, I loved those effin’ things.

Julia: The clitoral hoods.

CaramelTeddy: Stop distracting me!

Julia:  😉

Hooded shirts by Schquay Brignac’s urban stud driven “Debonair” line.

CaramelTeddy: The hoods were stylish, edgy, trendy, perfect for today’s hip-hop with a twist of rockstar influence. Straight folks will love them, too. And those suits by Joseph Au were motherlovin’ awesome.

Julia: omg, they were amazing. I kept thinking HOLY CRAP! Minnie needs THAT guy!

CaramelTeddy: That’s right. A tailored suit designed specifically for guys and gals 5’8″ and under.

Julia: And he needs to start making suits for women above 5’8″ too so you can have a Jimmy Au, and I can have a Jimmy Bau-chica-bau-bau.

CaramelTeddy: We need to go to these things more often if they are going to turn you into a horny schoolgirl like this.

Julia: Right???

CaramelTeddy: One of the best things they talked about at the conference in regard to fashion was the fact that we need to get out to our local tailors and give them some business.

Julia: Yeah, Parisa was saying that in her keynote at Invincible – that if we would just go out and find the people willing to work with the queer community as tailors, and give them our business, that’s the best grassroots queer fashion activism most folks can do.

CaramelTeddy: Then they will start catering to us left and right.

Julia: Exactly. Okay, now that we’re getting all grassrootsy, let’s talk about the panels. My fave was the first one we went to, “Keeping Our Feminism.” I loved how the conversation ended up centering a lot on the importance of having butch role models, both just in terms of being comfortable in your butch identity and in developing a responsible, mature butch identity instead of getting stuck permanently in playa “boi” douchewad mode.

CaramelTeddy: Keeping Our Feminism was a great way to start things off.

Julia: It really was. And not just because I got to melt into a happy puddle of femme love listening to you talk about YOUR butch feminism. Hhhhhot. I also loved that the panel was made up of three women-identified butches who each fell into a different age bracket – we had a Boomer, a Gen-Xer, and a Millenial. That was fascinating, and made for a really interesting historical perspective on butch experience.

CaramelTeddy: I never studied feminism and women’s studies, so I never really had a full understanding of the ideals behind the movement. It was cool to hear from people who had experience and knowledge to share in that area.

Julia: Def. It was like reliving my undergrad experience. Big time. Especially when Judith “Jack” Halberstam gave her keynote. I can’t even remember how many classes I took with her back in the day at UCSD. She is so my butch root.

Prof Judith “Jack” Halberstam (right) talks with BVLA attendees at

the Skylight Books booth. Photo by Angela Briskele.

CaramelTeddy: Yes, Jack was pretty damned awesome. And quite handsome, as well. When you get someone with that kind of intelligence to speak about something that they are passionate about, it is always a good time. BV will do well to keep folks like her coming back again.

Julia: I was really struck by her thoughts about how history will most likely look back on this era of the queer rights struggle, and the textbooks will only talk about the fight for gay marriage. She was saying that the richest and most powerful gays are fighting for that, so it’s becoming the dominant narrative of our movement.

CaramelTeddy: Which is a little annoying to me.

Julia: It is totally annoying. But sadly, she’s probs right about how our history will be written in the mainstream. Ironic, since gay marriage is what so many folks think will mainstream our “lifestyle.” (Barf.) I liked her graph of the decline of marriage in general and her wondering aloud to us about why so many queers are trying to join an “obvs sinking ship.” Ha.

CaramelTeddy: I mean, I’m all for marriage equality, but it kind of glosses over more important points in our struggle.

Julia: Right. For me, issues of gender variance and making society evolve out of its own gender fascism is so much more important than marriage. I think the roots of homophobia and transphobia alike lie thattaways. That’s all deeply tied to peoples’ fears about what gender is and isn’t allowed to mean, who we are and aren’t allowed to be, what we are and aren’t allowed to do.

BVLA 2010 Chair Jeanne Cordova speaks during the “Keeping Our

Feminism” panel. Photo by Angela Briskele.

CaramelTeddy: That kind evolution is just too tall of an order for our society, though.

Julia: I don’t think so. I think we’re headed there. When I was 15 and just coming out, I didn’t expect to see a serious national debate about gay marriage in my lifetime. At all. And here I am in my 30s, and it’s happening. So I’m not ready to count us out on gender.

CaramelTeddy: Yes, but to Jack’s point, it’s happening at a time when marriage is meaning less and less every day

Julia: True. Maybe it’s time for gender to mean less every day. Or at least, the idea of gender being something you are as opposed to something you do.

CaramelTeddy: Good luck with that.

Julia: It’ll happen, my lil skeptic. You just wait.

CaramelTeddy: It will happen when organized religion is not such a big part of the way that humans govern themselves.

Julia: I think we’re headed in that direction, too. But back to the panels! I want to hear more about the closed panel you went to for women-identified butches. The safe space. What was that like? And what did you guys talk about?

CaramelTeddy: It was damned cool!The thing about being butch (in my experience) is that we don’t actually get together and talk about our butchness. So it was just incredible to hear other women talking about what it means, how it feels, and what we need to do going forward. A common theme was one you mentioned before: we need more role models!

Julia: I was really moved by hearing women say over and over again how they never even imagined the experience they were having would even be possible: to find butch community. Because they have always felt so alone as butches/gender variant women even within the larger queer movements.

CaramelTeddy: Oh, definitely. I don’t have any butch friends, or even have a clue how to find them

Julia: That was the best part of the weekend for me, that big, surprised grin on so many handsome faces.

CaramelTeddy: Oh boy… put your pants back on!

Julia: LoL That’s not what I mean! For once.

Attendees at the “To Windsor or Knot” panel learn

how to tie one on. Photo by Angela Briskele.

CaramelTeddy: Mmmhmm… sure.

Julia: Watching you get to be a part of that was really special. You should use the new Groups feature on FB to start a SoCal butches group. Find your peeps

CaramelTeddy: That is not a bad idea. Unfortunately, one thing we came to realize as a group is that many women who may identify as butch are in hiding.

Julia: Which is why we need more Butch Voices conferences, to create that space and those role models and that sense of community and identity. It’s nice to get together and debate what all of this means in the first place.

CaramelTeddy: A lack of role models coupled with the way that butch is perceived as a “bad” or undesirable thing to be in current society makes it hard to get the butch movement going.

Julia: Right. Up until now! I think that could really start to change now that all y’all are starting to understand that each other exist.

CaramelTeddy: In the circle, we all decided that the best thing we can do right now is to be out and proud about being butch. We have to be less compromising in how we present our identities. There was much debate over Rachel Maddow wearing clothing/make-up that femmes her up. One woman talked about how she felt forced to wear women’s suits and forgo ties in order to have success in an interview. Another talked about keeping her hair long to balance out the masculine way that she carries herself. And of course, there was the whole issue of presenting a masculine appearance without inspiring others to believe that you “want to be a man.”

Julia: Right. Creating more of a space in our culture for women to embody masculinity and be seen as sexy and empowered instead of the butt of jokes is a big priority.

One of the more rockin’ booths at the vendor fair, where

we sprayed each other with butch and femme pheromone sprays and

met the proprietor, a friendly Vp reader! Photo by Angela Briskele.

CaramelTeddy: Hey, I wanted to hear about that “Butch at the Movies” panel. What was Hollywood’s take on the butch movement?

Julia: Ha. It was kind of more the butch movement’s take on Hollywood, but it was great! First we tried to think of any characters in film/TV we have personally claimed as butch icons over the years. The consensus was that we really had to reach for those icons, and that oftentimes the “butch” icons were really more tomboyish. It was neat to hear what the folks on the panel were working on. Kimberly Pierce, the director of Boys Don’t Cry, was there. She IDs butch. And she’s working on a romantic comedy butch/femme love story with… wait for it… Judd Apatow!

CaramelTeddy: l.m.a.o

Julia: That blew my effing mind. I went up to her afterwards and gushed about how inspired I felt that she was actually getting traction with that kind of a queer love story, and that as a screenwriting student who wants to tell similar types of stories, she had just given me a ton of hope.

CaramelTeddy: Nice!

Julia: It was awesome.

CaramelTeddy: So when are you going to write a kick-ass butch character for me to audition for?

Julia: I wrote a butch char last year but she’s not very kickass. She’s a budding activist and community organizer.

CaramelTeddy: You need a butch Indiana Jones movie!

Julia: OMG That would rule. Alright, any final thoughts about your experience at BVLA?

CaramelTeddy: Well, I’m all in for the next conference.

Julia: Me too! Can’t wait.

CaramelTeddy: I better start packing. (Heheheheheheh.)

Julia: Amen.

CaramelTeddy: Put your pants back on!

Julia: Killjoy.

For more on the latest in queer stud chic, check back later this week for the video of our interview with BVLA 2010 “Invincible” fashion show curator, Tania Hammidi.