The Art of Layering…Part II





The Old Standard

Some things will never go out of a style. And a peacoat is one of them. I’ve been wearing one since I was 15, and my grandfather and his Navy buddies wore them long before that. Wall Street boys wear them. Steve McQueen wore them. They’re timeless. And you can do it with just about anything. Try pairing your old peacoat with a chambray shirt, tie and cardigan, like I did here. I also threw in a pair of distressed jeans from All Saints to keep things more casual (it is Friday, after all).






















































Pro tip: Get a pair of these brogue boots. They’re brogues… but they’re also boots. Get it?! No but really, these things are amazing. The white soul make them casual enough to wear with jeans, but the wingtip stitching and chocolate brown leather makes them dressy enough for a suit.


These came from American Eagle, believe it or not.

Vests: They Aren’t Just for the Woods Anymore


























One of my favorite looks right now is a vest over a suit. I know it sounds funny, but trust me. It looks amazing. Put on your favorite suit and top it off with a matte, down vest, like this one with color blocking and gray flannel. Bonus points if it has tweed on it (I just couldn’t find one in my size).



The Toggle Sweater

I love everything toggle… Sweaters, coats… Okay, well maybe that’s it. But still, I love it. Toggle buttons hold this weird juxtaposition of sophistication and Paddington Bear that just really does it for me. Find a good, chunky toggle sweater like this one from H&M, and you can wear it like a jacket, or layer it under a long driving coat like I did. This driving coat is my new favorite, by the way. It’s almost impossible for me to find a long coat that doesn’t come down to my ankles. This Zara boy’s find was a steal. Not the warmest thing ever, but it sure does look great over a heavy sweater.


The First Dapper Butch Giveaway!!

We all like free stuff, right?? Well, that’s why, for the first time ever, I’m doing a Dapper Butch Giveaway!
That’s right. I’m giving away this beautiful slim wallet by J. Folds in red!
All you have to do is follow me on Instagram @thedapperbutch, and “like” this giveaway post! Easy right?? I’ll notify the winner via Instagram on Monday at noon!


In Honor of Friday the 13th– 13 Things that Suck About Being Butch

(In Honor of Friday the 13th) 13 Things that Suck About Being Butch:

1. Those shoes you love? Yeah, they only come as small as a size 7.
2. Those women in the public bathroom who stare at you like they’ve just seen Whitie Bulger peeing next to them.
3. Your mother constantly adding the word “actually” to every compliment– “I ACTUALLY really like that jacket”– as if she’s shocked your diversion from gender binaries could ACTUALLY look good.
4. Any and all straight girls who ask you where all the “cute lesbians are.” (Hello, I’m standing right here, dummy).
5. Online dating. Okay, so this sucks for most people. But admit it, every time a hot girl’s profile says “I only like femmes,” a little part of you dies.
6. Shopping. You have hips. And boobs. And if a shirt fits you around those, it probably won’t anywhere else.
7. Anyone who tells you “you’d look great if you grew your hair out/put on some makeup/wore a dress.”
8. The random asshole who feels the need to comment on your attire (ie “Nice tie.” Thanks for the clever, bigoted back handed compliment, dick hole.)
9. Getting mistaken for a teenage boy. Yeah, it’s been a while since this has happened to me, but when I was student teaching in college, a faculty member at the middle school I was working at actually took me for one of his young, male students. The male part didn’t bother me as much as the adolescent part, I think. Still, I could get rich from all the times I’ve inadvertently impersonated Justin Bieber.
10. Being called “sir.” So, this one isn’t really fair. I mean, what else do we expect when we dress in men’s clothing, have short hair, etc. It bothers me less now than it used to. But sometimes it still makes me squirm.
11. Those who get butch and transgender horribly skewed. Yes, I wear men’s clothing. Yes, I have short hair. No, I do not want top surgery. No, I do not think I am a man. Please stop reminding me of such. Thanks.
12. Interviews. Fuck my life, interviews are horrible when you’re a butch. I remember interviewing for PA school, and actually waking up in a cold sweat because of this. On the one hand, the fact of the matter is some people will judge you on your clothes. And if I happened to get paired up with a conservative, homophobic interviewer, this could easily have been the end of my dreams. On the other hand… no one wants to accept or hire someone who’s clearly ragingly uncomfortable in their own skin. I went out and bought a women’s pant suit, but actually ended up wearing my favorite men’s suit from Zara, finally concluding that I didn’t want to go to a school that refused me based on my clothes. Fortunately, I was accepted to a super-liberal, homo-loving school, and I’m pretty sure my extremely well tailored men’s suit sealed the deal. Lesson? Be yourself. Still, that doesn’t help alleviate the anxiety I feel when I have to dress for a meeting/funeral/wedding/etc and don’t know my audience. In summary… SUCK.
13. But the reality is… BEING BUTCH IS AWESOME. It’s awesome because it’s who we are. And all those other 12 things are insignificant inconveniences compared to not being yourself. Besides… we could be living twenty or thirty years ago, where our lives were at risk for being out. For every size 7 shoe out there that doesn’t fit, there’s a European brand who’s making tinier versions for men and butches of smaller stature. For every hot femme who says she’s only into long haired, leggy blonds, there are at least two more who find your butch swagger and dude-button-downs ridiculously sexy. For every time your mom says you “actually” look good, I bet she also says she wouldn’t want you any other way. And for every time someone makes a snide comment about your tie, there are ten people who tell you how fucking dapper you are.

Just a reminder on this traditionally cursed day of Friday the 13th AND a full moon– keep your heads high, friends. We’re alright.

Product of the Week: Mr. Natty All Over Wax

Product of the Week: Mr Willie Mack’s All Over Wax by Mr. Natty


I know what you’re thinking. Say what????? An ALL OVER wax?? That’s exactly what I said when my friends over at Birchbox Man sent me a sample of Mr.Natty’s All Over Wax. I wasn’t even sure what “all over” meant, never mind what it would look like! But I’ve been thoroughly impressed with this totally unique, convenient new product.

The first thing I noticed, like always, is the packaging. The All Over Wax comes in a cool, round tin that’s small enough to fit in your brief case or gym bag. So, I opened up this bad boy and gave it a whirl, first, applying it conservatively to my arms. Mr. Natty and Birchbox Man insist you can use this stuff anywhere on you… I admit, I was hesitant at first. I usually hate all in one products, finding them mediocre at best in their multitasking skills. But after I dared to try Mr. Natty on my arms, I then ventured to put it in my hair… Yes, *gasp* my hair that I so obsess over. I had to try it. After all, the container says “a fresh head.” The end result? My mane was smoother and softer, and still stayed in place. Don’t believe me? I’ve provided you with photographic evidence.


















Hands down, my favorite thing about the All Over Wax, though, is the smell. I’d use this stuff all day just for the woodsy, patchouli-esque smell. It’s unique, and stays on you. I even used it to cover a sun burn this past week. It left my skin smooth AND smelling amazing.

Don’t forget if you sign up for Birchbox Man you can get great products like this in your monthly box! Not a Birchbox user yet? Sign up today and get points for buying products in their shop!

How to do Provincetown Right

DSCN1120The first time I went to P-Town, I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven… Or, maybe Gay Disney World. Everywhere I looked was one queer person after another. Stores and hotels are blanketed in rainbow flags. Drag Queens ride bikes in glorious 6″ heels down Commercial Street. And best of all, there’s a sort of tangible sense that you belong. But with cute little shop fronts and coffee joints and clubs squashed together like circuit boys at a rave, finding your way can be a little overwhelming. I’ve only been going to P-Town for a handful of years now, but because my girlfriend’s family has a place there, we’re sort of considered mini-locals (and not just because neither Jill or I top 5’2″). So, I’ve taken it apon myself to play tour guide, and give you a butch’s how-to guide for doing-up the great Gay Mecca in style.


Because really, this is the most important part of any vacation, right? Okay well, maybe not THE most, but fuck, it’s up there. There are a lot of little chintzy women’s shops in town. But there are also a lot of GREAT menswear selections.

Board Stiff:


Board Stiff is a great little surf shop located on Commercial Street (where most of this stuff is). They carry a variety of products from O’Niel, Hurley, and other swimwear brands, as well as about a billion different kinds of flip flops. Everything here goes for retail price (like everywhere in P-Town), so don’t expect to be blown away by any mid-season sales. But if you’re looking for a new pair of board shorts or Reefs while you’re on vacation, this is the place to do it. Check them out at

Kiss and Makeup:

Both Jill and I are obsessed with this place. Kiss and Makeup is hands down the place to go in Provincetown for any kind of hair or skin product. They carry some of my favorite men’s brands, like Billy Jealousy (try their energizing facial scrub), Clinque, and Ursa Major. But they also rock the local stuff. The last time I went in there, the extremely well-groomed and helpful guy behind the counter introduced me to Previse, a Provincetown based skin care brand that he was happy to offer me full sized samples of (review to come). Christine and her crew are also one of the few stores I’ve found anywhere to carry Malin and Goetz– a skin care line that makes some amazing hair care products (like my favorite, their styling cream, and their pomade). The staff here is fantastic. They’re always beyond helpful and friendly, and if you’re lucky, you might even get to meet Christine’s adorable dog Paddington. Until Kiss and Makeup came to town, there really was nowhere to go if you forgot your moisturizer, hair wax, or high end shampoo. No more Axe Hair for you, friends! Fear not, Kiss and Makeup is here!

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Tim Scapes:

Of course if you’re going to P-Town, you’re going to want to pick up some kind of swanky t-shirt, right? How else will you make your other queer friends ridiculously envious? There are about a billion grimy t-shirt stores on Commercial Street about on par with those you’d find on Myrtle Beach. And that’s fine. But what if you want a shirt you’ll actually wear again? Tim Scapes is the joint. Tim is really more of an artist than a t-shirt guy. All of his designs are done with duct tape, and then screen printed onto t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, bags, etc, creating a cool, dapper souvenir that won’t end up in your Goodwill pile. I, personally, own a sweatshirt, a t-shirt, and a tanktop, and I am currently eyeing my 2014 purchase– an adorable navy American Apparel t-shirt with a small white anchor design on the left chest. Did I mention that Tim’s only uses high end shirts from American Apparel? Which means one thing, kids… FIT FIT FIT! That’s right– no more sloppy, oversized “I Heart P-Town” shirts. And hey. Tim’s even carries hooded sweatshirts for dogs… Now, even your pets can be dapper.

















Item is one of the higher end menswear stores in Provincetown. But if you have a little money burning a hole in your pocket, this is the place to get rid of it at! The selection is small but mighty, with a nautical theme throughout. You’ll find all kinds of flat front shorts, casual button downs, belts, and my favorite, understated, JFK-Goes-to-the-Cape-esque jewelry. Be warned though, nothing in Item is cheap. You’re going to pay at least $80 for anything in here, including the bracelets. Basically, if I had a laughable amount of disposable income (and believe me, someday I would like to), I’d shop my heart out here. Check them out on Facebook here.

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I would wear absolutely everything in BodyBody. Everything. Unlike Item, which is a little more on the casual side of things, Item carries more ties, button downs and polos. Last summer, Jill’s parents bought me a shirt and tie from BodyBody for my birthday. Word has it that Jill’s mom went right in, told the sales clerk she was looking for a gift for her girlfriend’s daughter. Not only did this not phase him (this is P-Town, after all), but he also knew exactly what style and fit to take her to that would look good on a woman. Needless to say, he was right. The shirt fits like a dream. Besides their extensive clothing collection, ranging from khakis to t-shirts, BodyBody also has the sexiest shoe extravaganza in P-Town. Right now, they’re carrying a pair of honey colored double monk straps that have taught me the meaning of shoe lust. BodyBody isn’t Butch on a Budget friendly, either (wow talk about alliteration!). But everything is high quality, designer garments that you’ll love for years down the road. Follow their Facebook page here.


MAP is tucked away at the tail end of Commercial, out toward the West End of town, and can be easy to miss. It’s small, and if you aren’t looking, or aren’t walking up that far, you’re going to be sorry. This store is unlike any other store in P-Town. it carries an impressive array of vintage belt buckles, leather goods, and Levis. Pretty much everything in here screams Steve McQueen. Because nearly everything is legit, often handmade vintage items, MAP can be pricey. I fell in love with a calf skin chain wallet behind the counter the other day, and when the owner told me it was going for $325, I almost fell over. But even if you don’t have a wad of cash to spend on a pair of jeans, MAP is absolutely worth the look. Check out their Facebook page.

This is the wallet at MAP I'd sell my first born for... But maybe not for over $300.

This is the wallet at MAP I’d sell my first born for… But maybe not for over $300.














There are a lot of clubs in P-Town. And I mean, a lot. Sadly, most of them are focused on gay men. If you’re fine with that, then look no further. But if you’re feeling like being surrounded by a sea-full of ladies, there are a few things to do:


Pied is the only girl bar in town (shockingly enough). The times I’ve been in there, it’s been pretty dead. But because the pickings are slim for lesbian clubs, I’d suggest trying your hand here around 11:30pm. They have a great patio that doesn’t get too crowded, so if you’re like me, and don’t always enjoy sweaty people grabbing you by the shoulders to push through you over loud, ear-shattering bass, this may be a nice alternative.

Lesbian Nightlife:

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Lesbian Nightlife is a fantastic organization that does a lot of great womens’ events in town, and throughout the country. They host the Memorial Day Weekend parties every year, and often have killer guests like Kiyomi from The Real L Word. They throw a great event. Unfortunately, they aren’t in P-Town all summer…Visit their website and sign up for events in your area.

Tea Dance at the Boat Slip:

Basically, a Tea Dance is where the whole town shows up in the afternoon, drinks rum punch from plastic cups and dances their asses off. And the Boat Slip is really the only place to do this. From 4pm-7pm everyday, you can have a mini party with just about everyone in P-Town. The Boat Slip has great music, a couple of pools (which aren’t open during Tea to avoid any drunk drownings), and cold drinks, and it’s a good start to the evening.

Look Things Up!

The best thing you can do for entertainment in P-Town is Google that shit. There are often themed parties, drag shows and comedians going on, and this is the best way to find out. Of course, you can always walk through Commercial Street and wait for someone to hand you a flyer… They always will.



You have to eat, right? There are a thousand places to do that in P-Town. Sounds easy. But like those t-shirt shops, it can get exhausting trying to sort through a sea of sandwiches and lobster rolls. These are a few of my favorite things.


Jill and I like this place partly because it’s so close to our house. We usually go for the coffee, but they also carry a delicious selection of pastries, cookies and cakes. I’ve also found that their lunches are some of the best in town. Relish offers a variety of sandwiches (a glorified chicken salad with pears that I pretty much died over, a caprease style, tuna), and you have the option of getting any of them without bread (if you’re on a low-carb, beginning of summer diet like me). They’re cupcakes are tremendous, and they’ll even do custom cakes for events. Check out their menu at

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These are truly the best cupcakes in town… and maybe in the world. Scott started out selling his cakes on the streets, until some whiney nay-sayer threw a fit and complained. And thus, his slogan Legalize Gay Cupcakes was born (note: he sells t-shirts that say this. They’re adorable). Scottcakes only does vanilla cake. That’s it. When we asked him about it last summer, he said he wants to do one thing really well before he tries to venture out and do anything else. I can respect a man striving for perfection. For Jill’s birthday last year, I wanted to order some cupcakes from Scott. He was willing not only to make and sell them for me in October, but also to deliver them for a small fee. 409693_395452903837204_560781202_n










I hope this helps give a little direction for your next trip to the great Provincetown. Now go do it up. And keep it handsome.

Butch on a Budget Goes to the Beach


If you’re anything like me, you despise bathing suit season… And not necessarily for the usual reasons that women hate bathing suit season either. Sure after an entire winter spent binging on pizza and my mother in laws ravioli, I’m not psyched to show a lot of skin. But even that beats the eternal butch conundrum of what to wear to the beach.
For years I played it safe, always opting for board shorts that were far too long and a usually see-through A shirt (tank
top) that left me feeling awkward and surprisingly exposed. But what’s even MORE awkward is having to put on some kind of femmie bikini with ruffles and flowers that left me looking like (as my friend says) a confused little boy about to disappoint his conservative asshole father. Finally, a couple of summers ago, I started dabbling in actual bathing suits again.
If you aren’t too proud or can be slightly flexible in your masculinity, I’ve found that wearing a simple two piece in a masculine color without any bells and whistles can be not only sexy, but comfortable and somehow appropriately still butch. I like this number from Target made by Speedo.


It’s a solid, darker color, sporty, and simple. If $50 is a little more than you want to spend (this IS Butch on a Budget after all), then try this one, also from Target for only $15. I actually bought this one in charcoal gray last year.



If you aren’t into the two piece, try for a lot of great one pieces. I like a simple, sporty looking suit that offers just a little more coverage, like this one, from Nike.



Now onto board shorts…

If you aren’t comfortable walking around in your suit bottoms, a good pair of board shorts goes a long way. For the butch on a budget (like myself) I really like H&M’s selection. They have a lot of shorts starting at $13 or so and maxing out around $30. Try something in a solid color, like these, from H&M:


They’re extremely versatile, and can actually be worn going to get ice cream, fried clams, or a BBQ.

If you want something a little more adventurous, try these color blocked shorts, also from H&M.



Also check out Zara, Forever 21, and Top Man for a great selection of board shorts. The important thing is length, length length! Your shorts should NOT come down past your knees. And if you’re short, like me, you probably want to stick with the super short length as shown above. Trust me, it’s a cleaner look and much more JFK than Bieber at the beach.

Finally, you’re going to want something to wear over that bathing suit top when you aren’t in the water. Tank tops look great on most butches, regardless of size. And right now, slightly oversized, skater-era tanks are big.



If you’re feeling particularly ballsy, geo and southwestern prints are really big this year, like this one from Forever 21.


For $15, it definitely fits into the Butch on a Budget’s finances. Plus, bonus, Forever 21 Men     is now carrying extra smalls.


On Growing up a Gay Republican

I have a confession to make– a deeply hidden, humiliating secret on par with heroine abuse, or that time in middle school you got all the way onto the bus before realizing you weren’t wearing any pants. In the 2004 presidential election between John Kerry and George W. Bush, I voted for Bush. Sure, I’m making light of it now. But truth be told, there are many times when I’ve had to live with the guilt of helping put a man in office who goes against nearly everything I stand for now. So why did I do it, then?

28 years ago, I was born into an extremely conservative Evangelical family. My father was the Minister of Music at the local Evangelical church. His parents were Evangelical. And my mother, having married into the family, more or less adopted the Evangelical church as well. When my brother and I were little, we went to church every Sunday. My father read the Bible every morning at 5am over coffee (still does, as far as I know). Christmas and Easter were absolutely about Jesus’ birth and subsequent death/resurrection. And the often unspoken values of the church were always quietly present in our house. Let me explain what I mean by that. My father is an introvert, if ever there were an introvert. He rarely lectured or spat hell-fire and damnation. He didn’t have to. His beliefs– the church’s beliefs– were always there. It was the sort of conservative pink elephant in the room that sat in the corner and listened to make sure my brother or I didn’t cuss or watch anything on MTV. The few times he did speak up usually involved his feelings on Magic Cards and Harry Potter (neither of which my brother or I were allowed to get involved with because it was “dark sourcery”) and other relatively benign things like that. We didn’t talk about sex (in fact, I don’t think my Dad’s ever talked about sex… even with himself). And when my brother started having it, he just cleared his throat in disapproval and turned the other cheek.

In many ways, what my father did was more painful than any shouting or damnation. It was his quiet disapproval (often only evident by the above throat clearing that’s become so synonymous with him among our family) that alienated me from my real self for so many years. My father is a wonderful man. He’s been hands down the best Dad to his two children. He was at every sporting event and play he could get to. He came home for dinner every night and hugged us. He’s loving and supportive and would do absolutely anything for us. I still get a message from him every year saying “you’ll always be my Valentine, Dots” (that’s what he calls me… a long standing inside joke). Truth me told, my father and I were extremely close (and, in many ways, still are). I was always a bit of a Daddy’s girl. And that’s what made coming out so incredibly difficult.

My parents divorced when I was sixteen. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I know my mother agonized over the decision, but I still tell her every day that by making the hardest choice of her life, she saved mine. My folks remained extremely amicable, both of them wanting to remain friends due to their kids, and a lot of mutual respect. But my mother found her way back to the Episcopal church, returning to her roots as a liberal, open-minded democrat who’d spent just a little too much time confined to the judgements of the Evangelical church. I think it was probably the Evangelical minister who told her she’d go to hell for leaving my father that officially did her in. My mother branched out, but I didn’t. In fact, through much of high school, I became even more involved in the Evangelical church. I made friends there, and even went on a mission’s trip to Mexico to try make more Evangelicals. I refrained from having sex, because I knew it was a sin. I felt guilty whenever I dropped an F-bomb (which, being a teenager in a public high school, I did often). And I even got up on my Right-winged soap box a few times about things like abortion. I did it because I found comfort in that kind of blind, cult-like faith. And it bonded me to my father.

I started college a couple of years later at a very liberal state school. My secure little world was about to be cracked wide open. Now, I wasn’t a perfect Christian (like my father) by any means. I dabbled with drinking and smoking, I made out with my share of boys (yes, boys), and often swore like a Springer guest who just found out her boyfriend is cheating. I didn’t go to Campus Crusade meetings or even attend church anymore. But I occasionally read my Bible and swore to abstinence until marriage (to a man, of course). And when the 2004 election came rolling around, I took my 18 year old self down to the Town Hall and checked that ballot box next to Bush’s name. Literally every other freshman in my dorm was sporting Kerry signs on their doors. But I stood strong to my Evangelical beliefs– my father’s beliefs– and put a misogynistic, pro-life, anti-gay “Christian” in the White House.

Then, something else happened– something that has undoubtedly shaped every facet of my life as I know it today. I fell in love with my best friend… a beautiful, funny, brilliant girl named Sasha who was the light of my life back then. My coming out story isn’t really a “coming out story.” At least it wasn’t by my second year of college. My high school dance card was full of boys. I even dated the goalie for the varsity hockey team. I was rarely single. And, although I dealt with an ever-nagging sense that something was definitely missing, it never once occurred to me that I was gay. People ask me now how that’s even possible, seeing how many kids know from puberty. My only explanation is that my “beliefs,”– twenty years of “values”– were so deeply poisoning me, being a lesbian wasn’t even on my radar. In retrospect, there were definitely girl-crushes from early on (my 6th grade student teacher, my brother’s girlfriend freshman year, my high school guidance counselor). But I easily chalked them up to admiration and kinship. It wasn’t hard to suppress any kind of sexual desire for women, because I didn’t even know it was there. That is, until Sasha. After years of friendship that bordered more on dependence, I finally came to accept that the things I was feeling for her– the way I wanted her– was more than just platonic.

And we all lived happily ever after. Right? Not quite. You’d think that that little gay lightbulb that went off when I realized I wanted to kiss her more than I’d wanted to kiss any of my old boyfriends would have been enough to push me right out of the closet I didn’t know I’d been living in for so many years. But denial, and the Evangelical church, are powerful things. And, although I was away from home, and physically separated from the church and their confines, I didn’t feel it. I don’t know what I would have done had Sasha reciprocated my feelings– probably peed my pants and ran. But she didn’t. Instead, she (unintentionally) broke my heart. And I (very intentionally) went running… right back to men. That’s when I met Chris. Chris was a nice boy who liked me right away. And we stayed together for an entire year before I just couldn’t anymore. I loved Chris– as a brother, as a friend, as someone who loved me. But that old feeling that something was missing was just magnified a billion times after finally falling in love with a woman. I was up front with Chris about this– in fact, he was one of the few people I was up front with. But as we approached the one year mark, and things were supposed to be getting more serious, it was becoming harder and harder to shake my want to “try it”– you know, try being gay. The need to just so much as kiss another girl was so intense, it became all I could think about. I cultured myself with DVDs of the L Word, which only served to intensify my torture. And then, I told Chris I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had to figure out what these feelings were, or I couldn’t stay with him. He was heartbroken, but understanding– and to this day, one of the most nobel men I’ve ever met. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay with him. Because as soon as I laid eyes on my first girlfriend, who I met while I was with him, I knew. I was gay. And even twenty more years under the church’s iron fist wasn’t going to change that.

By the 2008 election, I was the most adamant democrat I knew (well, maybe just in my family). The thought of voting republican again seemed not only foreign and contradictory, but also absurd and repulsive. In a blink of an eye, I’d become a prideful, liberal homo. It would be another year before I could come out to my mother (thank God for her). And another four years before I’d reluctantly come out to my father. Actually, I can’t even fairly say I came out to him. My mother outed me. Don’t worry… I told her to. I just couldn’t find the words myself. And I couldn’t bear to hear that throat clear on the other end of the phone that said I’d disappointed the hell out of him.

To his credit, my father’s done okay. When I was married in 2010, he came to the wedding (even though it was in Provincetown and rampant with drag queens). And he’s actually getting a little better about asking how my partner is doing now (as opposed to his normal method of pretending things don’t exist). But there are times I almost wish he’d quote scripture and damn me to eternal hell fire. At least then I’d know how he felt. Instead, I’m forced to deal with the silence and assumed disapproval of what I can only guess he considers my “lifestyle choice”– no eternal damnation, just eternal throat clearing.

We often pride ourselves on being different from our parents. “I’ll never do what they did.” And parents often scold themselves for not having enough influence over their kid’s lives. But I am almost exclusively a product of the life my parents gave me (and I don’t just mean biologically). Had my mother not left my father– had she not made the difficult choice to be happy– I would never have been strong enough to accept who I was. Had my father not raised us Evangelical, I would probably not have taken twenty years to come to terms with how God Himself actually made me. And I certainly wouldn’t have voted republican in 2004. Don’t underestimate the presence our parents have in our lives… even when you think you’ve grown up and moved away. I still struggle every time my father hugs me and says “God loves you, and so do I.” That being said, is it really my father’s fault? For all his conservative and often harmful beliefs, he loved us passionately. He still does. Every few weeks we meet for lunch back home in New Hampshire. And when he hasn’t heard from me in a while, he sends me a text saying “just checking in. Love you, Emmy.” Yeah, he still calls me Emmy. And he’s the only one I won’t punch in the chest for doing so. I can’t blame my father for the church’s errors. Especially when he’s nothing like those horrors in politics or on the TV like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, or Pat Robbinson (all of which he’d still support or vote for). My father is a kind, gentle, saint. Albeit a misguided one.

We are absolutely products of the environments we were raised in. But at some point, we grow up. And it becomes our responsibility– not our parents– to step out, and break the mold. I’ll always be my Daddy’s daughter, in spite of the fact my life, and my beliefs, don’t often align with his. I chose to be who my God made me. And I know, somewhere buried beneath all those Bible verses and sermons, my father knows that to be true too. So, thanks Dad. For forcing me to make my own way. And for loving me even when I did.

Movie Review- Blue is the Warmest Color

How “Blue is the Warmest Color” Kind of, Sort of, Almost Breaks the Mold

Hollywood thinks it’s super progressive and edgy these days. Seriously, it’s like, “hey, let’s put Jared Leto in some lipstick and we’ll be totally helping represent the LGBT community, cuz we’re like… such awesome people.” I will give mainstream media some credit. With the advent of Orange is the New Black, Glee and uh… I guess a couple of other movies/tv shows that think they’re successfully portraying lesbians, we are getting somewhere (albeit really freakin’ slowly). But truth be told, I still think even gay men are more commonly featured in today’s media (HBO just came out with a killer new show called Looking which follows the lives of a group of gay friends in San Francisco, making the L Word days nothing but a long lost memory.)

So, if the American’s are sucking at showing the world what it’s really like to be a lesbian, maybe the French could do it right? I’d heard a lot about Blue is the Warmest Color— a Sundance flick that’s received a good bit of attention considering it’s both foreign and gay. Last night, I finally checked it out for myself.

The movie opens in a high school French lit class, where you’re forced to read a subtitled version of a bunch of teenagers reading aloud from some romance novel. It’s painful, to say the least, and you’ll find yourself wondering how you could possibly sit through 2:59 of this Baz Luhrmann-Romeo and Juliet-esque dribble. But if you can get past the first ten minutes, you’ll get to the actual movie. We now get to know Adele– an adorable, angsty 17 year old closet case whose bitchy group of friends preasure her into having sex with this dude, and then slut shame her when she does. Of course, being the young future-dykling that she is, Adele doesn’t really enjoy her roll in the hay with this guy, and instead has her token gay friend take her to a girl bar. While there, she meets Emma– a blue-haired art major with a girlfriend– who immediately chats her up. On the one hand, I was totally icked out by the fact that Adele was clearly underaged… I don’t care that this is France and children can go to bars… it’s gross. On the other hand, I found myself really, really wanting Emma to take Adele home and show her the ways of the lesbo world.

Adele and Emma begin spending time together, talking about art and philosphy and wine and other such sophisticated things that all 17-20 year olds love to discuss. And after a very long, excruciatingly tense moment where the two just stare lustfully at each other, they finally kiss. And we all cheer for Adele’s newly found dyke-ism, and thank Emma for dragging her out of the closet. By the way, there is never any mention of Emma’s girlfriend of two years after this… But my guess is she did was any 20 year old lesbian would do and told her she had to go find herself.

Now we get to the real story– the pain and excitement of first love… sorta. But what really impressed me and made me say “I have to write a post about this” was the sex. Gasp. I know, how taboo. But seriously, one of the most infuriating things about mainstream lesbian media is the way the sexual relationships are represented (or worse, not represented). “Blue is the Warmest Color” has the longest, most beautiful female love scene I’ve ever watched. Unlike most shows/movies, we aren’t teased with a kiss and a fade to black. If anything, the first love scene between Adele and Emma goes on TOO long, leaving you feeling like a voyeur encroaching on a couple’s most intimate moments. It’s a little creepy. But what makes it creepy is that it’s realistic. These aren’t two straight girls (well, they may be… but I’d doubt that) who are acting out their porn-laden ideas of what gay sex is. This is vulnerable and beautiful– something I’ve never said about any sex scene before, ever. I was blown away not only by the accuracy of the emotions that were portrayed by these two women, but also by how unafraid the French were to “go there.” For YEARS we’ve been totally okay showing Tom Cruise getting fucked on a train by a hooker. But I can all but promise you if this movie were Americanized, there would be a right winged uproar like you wouldn’t believe. Good for you, France, for not being afraid to show a little boob.

And that leads me to my major beef with nearly EVERY PIECE OF LESBIAN MEDIA THAT’S BEEN MAINSTREAMED!!! (Yes, caps very much intended). Why do we have to always send the lesbian heroine back to a man in the end?? In Orange is the New Black, as we left it, Piper just can’t bear to leave her fiance, and ditches her sexy, passionate and heartfelt romance with Alex for heterosexual normalcy. There’s also Kissing Jessica Stein, the Kids are Alright (so Juliane Moore’s character doesn’t end up with Mark Ruffalo but she does sleep with him), Imagine Me and You, and about a billion others. My question is a rhetorical one — we do it because it’s a way to make a “controversial” romance more acceptable… because apparently its still 1980 and it would totally cause hell fire and damnation if the lesbian didn’t crave back hair and beer bellies in the end.

“Blue” seriously flirts with this premise, to the point where I nearly shut it off with about 20 minutes left. *Spoiler alert* The demise of Adele and Emma’s relationship comes from Adele sleeping with her male coworker. *Groan. Listen. I have no issue with bisexuality, pansexuality, whateversexuality. Label yourself anything you want, or nothing at all– I couldn’t give two shits. But can we please, just once… ONCE… have a movie or TV show where the lady-loving-lead doesn’t go back to guys? I watched through gritted teeth while the really lame attempt at sexual tension built between Adele and her snooze-worthy collegue, until they finally kissed. And I almost threw my laptop across the room (but not really, because it was Jill’s laptop and she would have been really, really upset… obviously). For real, Adele? Not you too! Not you!!!

Luckily, I kept watching… although I’m not sure why. Just as I was about to write “Blue” off as another failed attempt at a dyke relationship, Adele and Emma break up, and Adele is heartbroken. She doesn’t go running into the arms of one of the many annoying dudes in the film. Instead, she remains single (and downright hot in those little teacher-glasses), still pining over the loss of Emma. But “Blue” doesn’t completely dismiss the temptation to make the femmie leading lady a convert. There always seems to be some guy or another trying to get in Adele’s pants, and Adele always seems just a little too okay with the idea. That’s why I can only give “Blue” the title of “almost” breaking the mold that Hollywood has made for lesbian films. They just couldn’t go through with it without some awkward hetero sexual tension in the background.

In the end, Emma and Adele (sadly) don’t end up together. The teenager in you wants them to. But the adult in you knows that, realistically, there’s no way your first gay relationship (as a teenager nonetheless) is going to pan out long term. And your cynical, grown up self applauds the film makers for being true to that reality. But brace yourself for the last five minutes… because a whole lot of NOTHING is about to happen. Seriously. Those French writers sure know how to make us go “wtf?” The movie literally ends with Adele walking down the street, being chased after  by one of her male suiters. There’s absolutely no resolution– unless you count some kind of internal conflict about her feelings for Emma and her adulterous ways. Still… I kind of liked it… And at least she didn’t go sleep with this stalker (which, I admit, I thought she would).

All in all, I’d say I had a good ride with Adele and Emma. “Blue” was a shining example of first love– both the growth and the destruction of which felt relatively organic. But this movie should have ended like… five times. At 2:59 , you’ll begin to wonder if you’re going to sit here until young Adele is nursing home bound. And then, as mentioned above, when it ends… it doesn’t really end. But maybe that’s the point? Maybe the depth of the nothingness here is just too deep for my American brain?

Watch this. If nothing else, you’ll have a chance to reminisce about your first heartbreak (awwww). Or watch some hot naked girls. And hey, you’ll feel smart, because you have to read the subtitles the whole time, right?