Photographer Wendi Kali shot almost 100 people in 35 cities as part of her new "Butch/Femme Photo Project," which she's deemed an exploration of lesbian identity.
As The Advocate reports, the project is an effort to archive modern "butch" and "femme" existence. Kali, who is a lesbian, says she initially explored her own identity (which she describes as butch) and couldn’t really relate to what she found.
Explaining the project, Kali wrote in a blog post:
“Everyone in the world has an identity. With identities, we tend to want to give them a strict definition without recognizing that we are constantly redefining ourselves and those identities as we grow and evolve. Within the LGBTQI community there are many identities. Among them are Butch and Femme.
Both identities date back to the beginning of the 20th century and, for the most part, are part of the lesbian and bisexual sub-culture. Both have taken on many definitions and in claiming either identity, each person has their own definition and reason for doing so."
Many of Kali's subjects have multiple ways in which they identify.Hoping to document more "butch-femme" dynamics, the Portland, Ore.-based photographer has launched a Kick Starter campaign in hopes of assisting her to do so.
There has been many conversations within the lesbian community in regards to femme invisibility. Kali’s project helps put feminine lesbians on the forefront.
Queer dyke & butch transwoman 26 years old Portland, Oregon "Transwomen and especially butch transwomen are women too. We deserve to be treated and seen as equals whether that is as community member or sexual actors. That the 'cotton ceiling' needs to be dismantled if feminism is truly about including all women."
Well balanced, straddling the identities of butch and femme. 38 years old Portland, Oregon "I want people to know that whether I'm on top or on the bottom, whether I'm in lipstick or car grease, boxers or a lacy black thong, that I am strong, capable, independent and 100 per cent woman. My identity has never been a crisis to anyone but any of those around me who might be bound and determined to pigeon hole me into one category or the other."
Cajun, polyamorous, transgender, genderqueer, butch, feminist, top, rabble rouser, word whore. 39 years old Portland, Oregon "I wish people knew or better understood that identity is not static. I wish others understood that because my identity is as it is, does not change anything about your own. That there are many ways to be butch, to be transgender, to be a feminist, et al. There are multiple definitions and expressions for our identities, and that is a good thing. The identities and words we use to describe ourselves is only the beginning of the conversation, not the be all end all about who we are. Identity is not only personal, but it is amazing, radical and political.
Queer Leatherwoman and a switch. Femme in certain contexts. 33 years old Portland, Oregon "Femme is an identity that I have been labeled with by others often, but I'm just starting to come into it as something I claim for myself. Femme, for me, is about presenting my gender in a feminine way, while still maintaining a strong Queer vibe. I'm still struggling to fully embrace Femme as an identity. I resist it because I have some negative associations with it. I wish more people were less inclined to make assumptions about others. I also wish our culture would more widely accept people's right to self-identify."
Cis-gendered Queer Femme 46 years old Portland, Oregon "I came out in the mid-80s, so there were only the options of either androgyny (the "correct" way to be a lesbian) or the old fashioned butch/femme dynamic which was frowned upon. I didn't make a very correct lesbian."
Transgender Identified Butch 41 years old Seattle, WA "I wish people knew that my identity is mine. Finally finding peace in who I am is not a confrontation to their way of life nor their identification. At 41, I never thought the day would come when a person like myself could be close to having rights. Progress we made, progress we must make."
Belinda "Boom Boom" Carroll
Slutty 36 years old Portland, Oregon "I came out in 1993, and I met a butch and ID'd as femme but then went butch for a few years. After I started hanging out with queens, I realized that I love makeup and hair. I've realized recently that although femme in my dress, I'm a bit butch on the inside. It's an evolving identity. Femme does not equal precious and wilting. We are tough too."
Queer Femme who happens to be a Trans woman 44 years old Portland, Oregon "My resistance (to my identity) was born out of love and the fear of being alone. I fell in love at an early age and spent years fighting my identity so I would be loved. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending, performing and get locked in an image, an act."
Femme Lesbian 39 years old Portland, Oregon "I used to resist my identity for many reasons. Mainly because I did not see a WOC that was gay, and the few that I did were somewhat butch. After trying to suppress my sexuality for years, I chose to embrace it and bust the stereotypes that attempt to pigeon-hole us into believing we have to fit into a box for someone’s comfort."
Lisa And Jen
Jennie Jock, Tomboy 50 years old Gresham, Oregon "I've always thought of myself as a tomboy as long as I can remember. I always identified with boys better than girls. Couldn't understand their need for girly things. I just wanted to play ball and do boy things." Lisa Soft Butch 48 years old Gresham,Oregon "Being butch does not mean I want to become a man! Being in a relationship with another butch does not confuse our sex roles. There is no "man" in our relationship, hence the word lesbian: a woman who loves women. A butch woman is still a woman. I love to receive flowers, my butch lover loves to receive flowers. We are two of the gushiest, sappiest women I've ever known."
Gender Fluid Butch-Femme Transwoman 71 years old Waldport, Oregon "I am a female born in a male body and gender fluidity is my growing process. My local "fans" get confused when I fluctuate between different wigs and my own hair, which I am growing out. I am continuously inspired by my rainbow family who are "wind beneath my wings."
Sunny-86: Sunny Butch of Center Queer Gay Dyke Film Maker and Writer Portland, Oregon "Self-actualization is the path to happiness. The sooner one can fully acknowledge their authentic identity, the better one can feel about themselves, and the more they evolve."