So Many Powerful Words

We heard so many powerful words spoken during the Butch Voices conference.

I thought I would share these with you.

Keynote speaker Jeanne Cordova gave a keynote address “Keeping Our Feminism, While Exploring our Masculinities”.

A self-described “classic butch,” (that’s “classic” as in “classic coke,” not coke-light, or no-caffeine, or coke-zero – make no mistake) Cordova is an activist, social pioneer, and writer. She is the author of  Sexism: It’s A Nasty Affair! A collection of columns printed in the Los Angeles Free Press (New World Enterprises, 1976); Kicking the Habit – A Lesbian Nun Story (Multiple Dimensions,1990), and the forthcoming  When We Were Outlaws: In Love & Revolution, memoir from a political activist. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies and publications.

She spoke about what it has meant to her to be butch and how that identity has meshed with feminism:

So I want to appeal to my fellow butches to take “this feminism thing” seriously. I want to appeal to you in the most basic, crude and self-centered way. By telling you – if you ever plan on keeping a woman past the hot-sex days of the first year of your relationship, if you ever plan on getting married, if you want a femme to stay with you, if you ever want to have a happy, long-term relationship with a woman today – you’d better learn your feminism!

You can read the rest of Cordova’s keynote address on her website.


Sunday at the conference featured a Spoken Word Brunch featuring poets and authors, and other spoken word artists reading their work. I think I speak for everyone in the room when I say the performances rocked us to the roots of our souls.

Hosted by author and comic Kelli Dunham, the brunch was a mixture of young and old, the political and the erotic, the folksy and the oratory. We heard poetry and an a’cappella song by Shams Cohen, a full-time grad student preparing for Unitarian Universalist ministry; a story by author Elana Dykewomon, and a hot story celebrating a queer femme sex worker by Jeff Stroker.

Canadian author Ivan Coyote read an essay about packing in front of her mom and brought the room to tears with a not-so-simple story about a simple haircut. On Saturday night at the Butch Nation performance event, Ivan shared words from these two essays: A Butch Roadmap and Hats Off to Beautiful Femmes.


Lex, a young transgender activist and spoken word artist brought the house down with three dynamic and intense pieces. If you visit Lex’s MySpace page, you can hear at least two of these pieces, “Intention,” and  “Dearly Beloved,” a poem about California’s recent struggle with Proposition 8, which had the audience hooting and cheering with these lines:

For what God has joined together

Let no man put asunder

With the power invested in me

by God herself and the state

of courageous hearts and unshattered commitments

I now pronounce you sacred


Belinda Carroll is a Texas-based comic, and an outspoken femme. She took a serious turn and shared her poem, “An Ode to the Masculine”:

At night I dream about a person of ambiguous gender,

aggressive as well as gentle.

A person that gets my love of shoes but won’t take any of my shit.

A person that is tough, steadfast, and quick,

can admit when they are wrong, but mostly when I am right.

Has a soft shoulder for me at night.

Someone who fights, wrestles, and screams

for a place in the world, and to be seen

as a person loving, whole –

not to be seen as other,

but as a soul.

It’s not, are you he?

Or, are you her?

Or what?

because it really matters not.

As long as you are in full body contact with

your humanity,

you are free to be

with me.


Many of these artists have books, essays, and poems in publications as well as FaceBook and/or MySpace pages, websites, and Twitter accounts and you should get to know their work!


4 responses to “So Many Powerful Words

  1. Thank you! I am so mad at myself for not going to this! I just read Jeanne Cordova’s keynote address with all of its *ah ha* moments. Thanks for linking to it.

    See ya soon,

  2. Hi there,

    Am loving your posts about BV, and remember that we had corresponded in the past. Thanks for including me in this blog. While the link you chose to hyperlink with my name is fine, this one is more current and links to me elsewhere on the web:

    Many Blessings,

  3. I finally read all of your blogs. You are gifted, girl…and have great politics.

    I took offense at someone who commented that butches only exist if we live in a femme’s reflection. And agreed with another post which commented, “This isn’t sexy. Its just co-dependent.”

    I had the unhappy experience of living in Mexico for eight years with NO other butches or femmes around. I certainly existed, albeit not happily. But I let the whole town know I was butch. Lots of lesbians in Mexico exist without any social peer group. That’s brutal!

    Being butch or femme is not dependent upon the other. And yes, femmes are way different than straight women, as most butches who have laid on top of both know.

    What I most respect about femmes is that they have the clit to claim their space as lesbians, when they could easily let this cup pass. I have a partner who wears a t-shirt that says, “Everyone thinks I’m straight.” Sometimes I think femmes are braver than butches because we have no choice but to be who we are. Femmes have the choice to pass, but don’t.

    I also like what you said about honoring butch-on-butch and other non-butch/femme paradigms within lesbian land. Most of my friends are lesbian feminist couples who call themselves “androgynous”.

    This is the first conference I’ve been to in which stud-on-stud was talked about, claimed, and validated. Butch/femme is only one of the many sexual dances that lesbians play.

    And BTW – where were all the Latina butches? L.A. has thousands of them, but they didn’t seem to get the word?

    Keep writing your great stuff!

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