Is The I In Community Silent?


From time to time I toy with the idea of writing a post about the NYC butch femme community, its presence or lack thereof, for all the readers who are in the middle of nowhere and look up to us with a mixture of pride and envy. We all sure love a party, but what happens when someone we vaguely know is sick, going through a divorce, moving, having surgery…? Are we there for each other?

Community is a great word. It has a nice ring to it. But, what does it mean? Last Spring I was in the middle of moving. Where was my community the weekend I couldn’t finish packing because I was rushed to the hospital? When I needed help to finish packing and moving? When I needed help painting my new bedroom and getting new furniture? I know that I’m perceived as an always-on-the-go, no-nonsense, power femme and people automatically assume I have my shit together and don’t need any help. In this case, I even went out of my comfort zone and asked for help via email and on Facebook: “I need someone with a truck for moving day, a ride to Walmart and Ikea, and someone to help me paint my new bedroom’s 9 feet high walls.” Nothing happened. I hired movers, took the bus to Walmart and Ikea, and primed and painted the walls alone.

In the back of my head I hear a femme imitating Chelsea Handler when she joked that Angelina Jolie didn’t have any female friends because she was (still is IMO) a cunt. Let me tell you: I’m no cunt. I’m a good friend to my friends – who happened to be in other states or busy raising kids or sheltering dogs or burying their parents the weekends I was in the ER and moving. Or who apparently only paint walls for their exes (not naming names but you know who you are: do I need to sleep with you before my next move for you to step up, do my walls, and build me something?). Speaking of which (sleeping with butches), moving also taught me that geriatric butches – sorry, mature butches – are no fun when it comes to moving. Yes, a couple of them volunteered their time and cars, but I was too worried they would throw their backs out lifting boxes, break a hip pushing furniture or break some other bone if they fell from a ladder while painting to take them up on their offer. Yes, I’m too fucking much. I’m too fucking much and a bag of cookies because I didn’t ask The Traveling Butch or one of my fotw who is friends with her for help either. Why? Because I’m an only child, a Taurus, and a femme (translation: “stubborn and stupid”).

Around that time the femme wife of a friend and a butch acquaintance were diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember thinking: “God forbid I have cancer or something serious some day, because I’ll be completely alone.” No cards, no chemo rides, no laundry runs or homemade meals. Not for me, anyway. Sorry to burst your (dear unknown reader who thinks my NYC life is wonderful and glamorous’) bubble: my community is only there for me when they need free translations or help with QuickBooks, free books, a LinkedIn recommendation, money for their next movie or self-published book, an Amazon review, someone to revise/redo their resume, money to go to the Land or feed the token dog or cat that someone took in without realistically thinking about their budget, and little more.

I repeat: it’s not me. I think it’s New York. Because I’m not the only one on this boat and we can’t all be cunts.

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5 thoughts on “Is The I In Community Silent?

  1. Kathy Dunn says:

    Anyone who thinks you’re not a great, trustworthy, unselfish friend clearly doesn’t know you the way I do. You’ve been there for me in some of the darkest times in my life. It killed me not to be able to get to NYC to help you.
    In general, no finger pointing, I think the “community” could do better in terms of their sense of community. It seems as though only a few people really step up. I admire you for being one of them. You do the AIDS Walk every year, bring meals to homebound people on Thanksgiving (when you’re not up here with my family), do tons of pro bono articles and translations, plan and host b-f outings, and always offer to help friends.
    I hope that you build a great circle of friends now that you’re living in the city. Maybe they’ll be in the butch-femme community, maybe not. As long as they’re there for you I’ll be happy.

    • María Lapachet says:

      You know this post wasn’t about you or any of the other friends who are now part of my chosen family. When you put it together, it sounds like I do a lot but I think I should/could be doing more. However, I think the biggest thing I do for our community is not messing around with taken butches. BOOM, BABY!

  2. butchcountry67 says:

    it’s sad when people won’t help others unless there’s something in it for them, where was all the Butch folk? they SHOULD have stepped up to the plate and offered their services with no strings or expectations, if I lived closer I would have helped, course I’m old (47) , but you know us old farts are still useful, we can move furniture and paint the sh*t out of walls lol , we can usually be had cheap to… for the cost of a cup of good coffee and a smile.

  3. Tre says:

    I live in the SF Bay Area and it’s the same here. Once I stopped performing, my “community” stopped calling because I had nothing to give them. When I did reach out, they didn’t reach back and when I went through a horrible break-up, they were nowhere to be found. If I lived in NYC, we would so be friends. I love your posts and look forward to them as I can relate and I too don’t sleep with taken peeps. BOOYA in solidarity. Stay fierce and phenomenal!

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