Editors' note: K. Flo Razowsky is an anti-Zionist ashkenazic Jew based in Minneapolis who combines grassroots organizing, documentary photography and writing with no-compromise activism to the international struggle for human rights, dignity, freedom, and respect for the Earth in face of US-led imperialism, racism and attempted world domination.
Two years ago I, as a genderqueer, non-conforming, consenting adult, fell in love with an old school, hog riding butch. This heavily tattooed, high and tight haircut butch is still, two years later, the love of my life.
She also happens to be the life of the party, whether there is an actual party or not. You walk into a room with this butch and the cheers go up whether it's a backyard bonfire or folks drinking coffee on the porch.
When you're in love with the life of the party, it's true you get the behind the scenes honesty and depth those at the party never see, but you also get to live in the shadow of the shining light or fight like hell for some spotlight of your own. And when you're in love with an old school butch, it seems, you get gender boxed whether by straights or queers, because for some reason there seems few boxes that exist to fit into. And for some reason, everyone must fit into one (and only one).
Since falling for and entering a partnership with this butch, the queer community around us has responded to our relationship by shoving us into said boxes that don't quite fit, nor do we want them to. The box thing seemed easier at first for my butch because as a solid butch she perhaps was more comfortable in a solid set of identities that are easier for everyone to understand - i.e., butch equals x. The new part for her, it seems, is to be partnered with someone not so easily boxed in as who is supposed to be sleeping with a butch. The exciting part for me is her willingness to push back on boundaries not ordinarily in her face.
It's interesting enough coming into such a relationship as one who's never been in a relationship before, never desired one and as one who's spent years walking alone as a fiercely independent person traveling the world, navigating militarized borders and bearing witness to and physically standing in solidarity with people under occupation. To then shift from the one who's always been fiercely independent and creating her own spotlight to being the one who gets boxed in as merely sleeping with the butch in the spotlight will do a mind and ego in.
Also, I always assumed that being queer and living in queer community would keep one immune from such heteropatriarchal boxes as misogyny and gender stereotypes being thrust upon you. Little did I know that by sleeping with the butch I would automatically become her chick the instant that first explosion of cum dried. And little did I know that once said explosion did dry, I would from then on be asked of the whereabouts of the life of the party at every party I entered.
Not to say my particular butch gave me these epitaphs or put me in the position of henceforth representing her in the spotlight (her other queer-butch friends did), but my butch certainly didn't fight against any of this or even think it problematic until I fought back against the blind misogyny of it: The misogyny of labels thrust upon me by people who knew me prior to my sleeping with this butch but who no longer identified me as something other then this butch's broad once we did begin sleeping together; The misogyny that she got to retain her name while I earned the labels of chick and broad; The misogyny that I no longer held an identity outside of "how long have you slept together" or "where did you meet" or "where is she" - these being the only questions I get asked by her friends or when entering a room alone, for the first time experiencing what it feels like to be a looked-over woman.
No longer is space allowed for anything about me, as if there is no me outside of who I am fucking. Of course, I can and do fight for this space to assert my self - I just didn't think I would need to in queer community.
To be honest, I've embraced the chickbroad label with my own queer relish, but it is a fit I still struggle to keep queer and non-gender conforming as the one sleeping with a solid butch. I find myself constantly pushing back against people that embrace my butch because she "wears the pants" in the family or because she is a lot of fun while diminishing my identity because I am supposedly the "chick".
When did the line between the world we are supposedly fighting against (that is, heteropatriarchal-normativity) become so blurred with the queer world we are trying to build and embrace? What does each of us do to enforce these unseen and heteropatriarchal practices? How do we undo them?
I would like to figure it out and re-establish that line/dismantle these practices because when it's hot outside I want to wear that short skirt without fear of those in my queer community shoving a box of butch's chick. And because when I walk into that room looking fine in my short skirt, I want to be able to continue to embrace my hot partnership without having to fight within my community to maintain my identity and self, however I may choose to present it.