Dear Mr. Sexsmith:
I came out just over a year ago, reidentifying from asexual to lesbian to queer. Problem is, I eventually realised I'm only attracted to other butches, specially those older than me.
But whenever I show interest in butches/bois/tomboys I find attractive, I get brozoned or laughed at. People act like my interest in them threatens their image, like being a lesbian is fine and trendy, but being butch and liking butch girls is just TOO gay.
What am I supposed to do? Is there a knack to this?
I’ve never heard this word “brozoned” that you used, but I’m assuming from context that it means “bro-zoned,” to be put into the zone of bro, meaning that these masculine of center folks you’re approaching say that they consider you a bro and not a potential date. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) Yeah, that happens. And it’s pretty common, in my understanding, for butches who like butches to feel ostracized. There is definitely a sanctioned andro-dyke look, and lots of dyke approval for andro-dykes who date other andro-dykes—you know, it’s the “dyke-alike” syndrome, where a lesbian couple does the merge thing so elaborately that you can barely tell them apart.
But in the butch/femme subculture of the queer worlds, the emphasis is more on difference than sameness. And while you might find more knowledge and awareness of gender in the folks who have had to fight to keep their masculinity or femininity alive and kicking and useful sexual tools, you also might find some heteronormativity buried underneath the surface. Meaning, I have definitely seen the resistance to butch/butch relationships in the butch/femme world, even to the degree that friends of mine have called it “just plain unnatural.”
It’s a joke, kind of. And funny, sometimes, ha ha, kind of. But it also is very telling. There is a very real social pressure for butches to date femmes and femmes to date butches, and those who walk outside of those identity alignment assumptions often feel like it’s harder for them to get dates or play.
But! The good news is: You are not alone. I know femmes who date femmes and butches and bois who date butches, and they report having excellent sex lives. It is possible. It just might take some persistence, some vulnerability of putting yourself out there, and some internal work.
In gaining sexual partners and increasing your sexytime—for anyone, of any orientation or gender—there is always an element of self-awareness and self-acceptance that is the first hurdle, I think. It’s easy to externalize that hurdle, to blame the culture and claim that the queer worlds don’t support these relationships, and while that’s true to some extent (because it’s not necessarily the visual norm for dyke couplings), it still exists. It just takes looking under a few more rocks. And once you can deeply internalize the idea that your orientation is legitimate, and your gender is legitimate, and you like who you like and that’s just fine, there is a sigh of relief that often comes with that which can lead to, well, better sex. Like my mentor, femme dyke poet Tara Hardy, in one of her pieces about femme identity wrote, “Once I took my real gender [femme] out of the closet, it was like the second coming of Christmas!”
So remember: You’re not the only one with this orientation. It’s legit, and sexy and hot. This is how YOU are sexy, this is what makes you hot and bothered, and this is what turns you on.
Unlike the classic femme dyke issue of invisibility, your gender is highly visible but your orientation does not go along with what is usually assumed. So, like femmes, you can use your brain and voice to construct your identity in place of the visual markers that usually indicate certain gender identity—or, in your case, sexual orientation. By which I mean talk about it. Tell everyone who will listen about who you date, who you like, what your exes looked like, how the best sex of your life was with this super hot butch. Spread the word about your orientation. Develop a reputation, is what I’m saying.
Think about whether or not you’re willing to be someone’s exception. Perhaps the butches you’re hooking up with usually date femmes—is that okay with you? I remember specifically dating a feminine lesbian who didn’t really identify as femme and didn’t usually date butches, and the sex was so unsatisfying because of the way that she really didn’t know how to touch or treat my body. After that, I swore I would only date femmes who knew how to “treat me like a butch.” (I wasn’t particularly sure what that actually meant, but I was certainly sure what it didn’t mean.)
You might have certain other things that line up to these potential hook-ups orientations: You might be very switchy, or a sadist, or into leather, or puppy play, or whatever. Some folks, of course, have certain orientations when it comes to gender that they either never or rarely deviate from, but I’ve also found that if you line up enough of the right interests in one place, other things might become less important.
Gender is, for many folks, a deal-breaker and a key alignment on which they seek partners, but it’s not the only factor. Power, kink interests, cultural familiarities, spiritual beliefs, common values—there are lots of things to consider. Get your shit together, own your orientations because they are legitimate and real and wonderful, and you’ll have interest. Confident folks attract other confident folks, it’s just one of those laws of the universe.
OKCupid and Fetlife can help you with this. There are quite a few groups on Fetlife for butch/butch and boi/butch folks, and it might be useful to peruse the forums and take a sigh of relief that you aren’t the only one going through these issues. (Remember, too, that often internet forums are the number one place for people to vent—those who are having awesome butch/butch sexytimes don’t always talk about it in forums in the same ratio. They’re out there doing it!)
So: Look at how deeply okay you are with this in yourself, and work on your self-acceptance around this.
Then: use your voice and your reputation to build your identity, being clear about what you want and how you’re oriented. If you’re confident about it, others will accept it as truth.
And: take a glance at how many other folks are out there like you, both struggling and interested in the same things you are.
Finally: put yourself out there. Making yourself vulnerable comes from a place of strength, not weakness. A bold move or declaration of interest can go a long way, regardless of what their orientation is. Everyone likes to hear that someone finds them attractive, even if they don’t end up wanting to sleep with that person. Be prepared for possible rejection, but know that it won’t kill you. It’s probably a resume ratio: for every 100 you send out, you might get 10 replies, and 1 interview. You gotta just keep going. And I swear, they’re out there.
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