Dearest Most Fortunate North Carolina Dwellers,
I’m coming to you hard on the heels of a huge weekend. Remember my last column? When I wrote about Femme Conference 2012? Well, I just returned late last night, am still sleep-deprived, and yet my fingertips are absolutely tingling with excitement to tell you all about it! So please pardon me if I ramble on…more than normal anyway.
I walked away from this mind-bendingly incredible weekend with so much. Much too much to do justice with just one column. So in this column I’ll touch on overarching themes that for me were synchronicity, gratitude, and a profound feeling of being blessed. I adore Baltimore (and even found myself loving D.C. despite my preconceived notions) and all weekend I felt like I was walking on a femme cloud of love – I reveled in every moment of being surrounded by so many brilliant minds, let alone all the gorgeous, varied expressions of femme. And yet when I got home to NC I rejoiced. We are so blessed to live here. A place with such soul and passion. This place that called to my spirit before I knew its soil. We are rich with culture and community. Big energies and profound magic thrive in our nature. We take the good with the bad, delighting in the splendor while working through the weaknesses. But before I gush too much, let me get to the beginning of my story.
My boifriend, Lucas, and I decided to leave for Femme Con a couple days early to relax, spend some time in D.C. with their dear friend, and have a little vacation. On Thursday night, we decided not to fight rush hour traffic the next day and instead have a slow morning. So I leisurely made gluten-free pancakes with organic strawberries (I had been slacking in this act – my cooking of gluten-free pancakes regularly for Lucas was one of the more humorous terms we came to in negotiations when we consciously chose to be in a Relationship – so I needed to up my quota) and I enjoyed bonding with our hostess over all things kitchen-related. Our slow morning turned out to be a bit too slow and Luke and I found ourselves running late for the writers’ meet-up that I really wanted to get to. We made it in time to catch only the last fifteen minutes. But that was enough. More than enough, it was actually perfect.
Due to our timing, one of the very first things we heard at Femme Con was a fellow writer exalting her love of the Stone House, the illuminating work they do there, the 70 acres of gorgeous North Carolinian land it sits on, and how all writers should have the honor of visiting. (Even if you’re not a writer, you really need to experience the magic of the Stone House in this lifetime — check out stonecircles.org.) As Lucas and I have both been on retreats and days of practice at the Stone House, we beamed at each other, agreeing with her as our eyes shone with pride. It felt like quite the welcome from the universe – ushering us into the conference with such synchronicity.
There were a few workshops in particular throughout the conference that got me thinking harder and digging deeper on issues our queer communities face. Far too many to tackle in just one column, so instead of brushing over them in this one, I’ll select single topics for future columns and really delve in. Look for next month’s issue where Lucas and I will write tandem columns on being a good ally. The month after that I plan to take on the daunting issue of “mean girls” that was widely discussed at the conference – that is, femme competition and bad behavior within our communities and how devastating it is for those of us who hold an expectation of femme love and solidarity.
Speaking of femme love and solidarity, Durham’s own Fran Varian performed on Friday night and she represented NC so damn eloquently. As she spoke of Amendment One and how it was a time rife with potential for human compassion and connection that was instead desecrated by some with cheap jokes, I was brought back to the day after it passed. I was caring for a young girl who has two mothers and she recounted a story of how she was left in tears on the playground. Her friend had told her that because the amendment passed she would be taken away from her moms. My heart clenches still as I picture the look of uncertainty in her eyes as she told me in her bravest voice that her friend had lied. I did my best to convince her that it was a lie and we had quite the grown-up conversation about the amendment. While admitting to her that I didn’t have all the answers, I assured her that it was going to be just fine.
And here we are. Months later, we’re still forging ahead, hurt but unbroken. The night the amendment passed, many of us gathered in community to support one another, to lift each other up. Rarely have I felt more grateful for and proud of my community. It was a painful and beautiful night and some of Ms. Varian’s closing words reminded me of the sparkle we saw through the tears in each other’s eyes: “In times of war a femme will hold light so that people can see exactly what they’re fighting for. She will throw that light at anyone and everyone who threatens her well-being and the well-being of the people she loves and she will blind them with it.”
The conference’s impact was far-reaching. Many of us participated in (and continue to participate in) difficult conversations outside of Femme Con’s walls. I overheard my housemates for the weekend pressing each other with hard-hitting questions on Sunday morning just as Lucas and I were edging nearer and nearer to our first fight after almost a year of being together. Luke was challenging me to apply the same points of inclusion (that I fought for so fiercely in workshops) to non-femme issues. As I stirred our breakfast in the frying pan, I pushed myself to see things from Luke’s perspective and found myself unfurling bit by bit, moving toward a more expanded version of me. My heart swelled at how profoundly blessed I am to be partnered with someone who challenges me in such unique ways. And in that moment, Lucas came out of the bedroom and wrapped their arms around me, telling me how much they love and respect me – their energy speaking volumes more than words, soothing any lingering rumpled feathers. In a few minutes’ time we went from what could have spiraled out into an ugly fight to experiencing parallel growth. Somehow, after five days of living on top of each other in cramped spaces, rushing around constantly and sleeping very little, we fell all the more in love.
We took off a day earlier than expected, melancholy to say good-bye but eager for the comforts of home. I rolled across the Carolina state line long after my sweet companion began to slumber and I felt as though I was once again stepping on sacred ground. Home. So blessed to be home.
In lust, love, and all things woo,
PS — Damn, I have so much to say about FemmeCon and this didn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg! Some folks have done brilliant mini-summaries of their experiences (thanks, y’all, for doing that!) and I’m kicking myself for not taking more notes (why did I only take notes in two of the workshops?)! But I’m hoping to do my own wrap-up soon (in addition to a couple more columns to come), so please (pretty please?) stay tuned!