11/21/2013 08:15 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Butch Voices

You know that feeling when you've been sitting in the dark for a long time -- like, ages -- and you're just sitting there thinking, "Why am I sitting in the dark? Why don't I turn on a light? Light a candle? Fire up the smartphone? Something," but you can't seem to do that? You just keep sitting in the dark, for no good reason. Or maybe there is a good reason. Maybe it's that you're stuck. Or afraid. Or unaware. Right? Sometimes you just don't even know that you're in the dark. After all, you can't see that it is dark if you don't know that there is light. OK, I get that this is a little esoteric. I haven't written in a while, and I guess I have some bottled-up metaphors. Let me pull it back a bit.

I am talking about how it felt for me to go to the Butch Voices conference recently. It was the first time I'd ever gone -- obviously. It was like I had been sitting in the dark, kind of stuck, and unaware, and then someone turned on the light. Wow.

"But Butch," you might be thinking, "you write about being a big butch lesbian. You know stuff. You aren't afraid to be butch." Yes, I do write about being a big butch lesbian. I fancy myself a bit of an expert, in fact. Thanks for noticing. And no, I am not afraid to be butch, but I do tend to be butch alone, almost all the time, all by my butch lonesome. I look around my daily life, and there is nary a butch in sight, except for the rad butches on Twitter and Facebook and those following my blog. Shout out! But y'all aren't here in my real life as real-life friends of mine. You could be, of course, but we don't know each other yet, not like you know your high school and college friends, your neighbors, your co-workers. So I am essentially sitting in the dark.

But like anyone sitting in the dark, I find that lots of insecurities and questions arise -- you know, as tends to happen when one is sitting staring at nothing and thinking, thinking, thinking. Will I be butch enough? What if I am not the right kind of butch? What if the other butches don't like me? What if I say stupid things -- not the regular stupid things that I say all the time, but epic stupid things? What if I breach the unwritten butch code that all the other butches in the world know about except for me? Will I be run out of town by a posse of butches, never to show my face in the butch world again? Will I be banished and never allowed to date another femme? My insecurities really ran rampant for a bit. But then I thought, "What would I say to a friend in this situation? I would say, 'Why are you being such a dick? Butch up and go to that conference. What's the worst thing that could happen?'" So I took a deep breath and butched it up and got on the plane, and then in a car and drove to the conference. Because I really did want someone to turn on the light. I really did think it might be amazing, and I wanted to find out.

I didn't really realize how amazing it would be to be in a room full of butches -- let me repeat: a whole room full of butches -- to look around and see butches everywhere. Butches older than me. Butches younger than me. Butches blacker than me. Butches whiter than me. (I didn't know that was possible!) Butches hipper than me. Butches not as hip as me. Butches smaller than me. (That was most of them!) Butches smarter than me. You get the idea. Butches, butches everywhere! It was like a banquet. I mean, if I were into butches, I would have been drooling. As it was, I was giddy with excitement to... belong. To be a part of the crowd. To fit in. I'd never really fit it before. I mean, I fit in with my family. With my femme. But that's about it. I have acceptance at work and with my friends and at the gym, etc., but I don't fit in, not in the way that a, shall we say, "more mainstream lesbian" does. I stand out everywhere I go. But at Butch Voices I wasn't even the only one with a Mohawk! There were other powerlifters there. Other butches into femmes. Other butches who like fashion. It was like Butch Disneyland!

And then there were the amazing panels. The speakers. The talks. The environment was so neat. Plus, it helped that I knew two butches from Twitter who were going. We arranged to meet "IRL" on the first night of the conference. Well, the three of us hit it off immediately, and it was a bit of a love fest. I won't talk more about them here, because I'll get all sappy and shit, and they already know that I love them. But the takeaway is that Butch Voices gave me those friends in real life. We had connected virtually, but the experience of meeting in person in this wonderful incubator of an environment cemented those relationships.

After Butch Voices, I know that there are lots of other butches out there. At least a handful of powerlifting, femme-loving, bowtie-wearing, amazing, wonderful, strong, sexy butches are out there. And now I know a bunch of them. I even have butch friends now! And I am proud to have participated in this group of butches. I will continue to do so, and if you are a butch, you might consider doing so as well.

It's very butch to be butch around other butches. Be butch!