Labels, Identification and What to Call Yourself in the Lesbian Community

Butch, femme, lipstick lesbian, soft butch, chapstick lesbian…what do these all mean and how should you identify yourself within the lesbian community? Queer women, lesbians and bisexual women may claim these identifiers or may not. Some women may find these nothing more than a physical description implying dress and appearance, while others integrate them more fully into their personal identities and relationships. Labels among lesbian and queer women are very often related to gender presentation and dating preferences.

Butch is a label claimed by those who wear masculine clothing and cultivate masculine behavior and personality traits. A soft butch typically favors androgynous clothing or masculine styles; however, may present in a somewhat more feminine manner. A stone butch may be sexually unavailable, preferring not to be touched. Many butch lesbians date much more feminine women by preference, although this certainly is not exclusively true. Some individuals who embrace the butch label may not be comfortable with female gender pronouns or gendered references.

Chapstick lesbians, tomboy femmes, and soft butches all fall within a somewhat androgynous gender presentation. Clothing choices are practical and comfortable, cosmetic use may be minimal, and activity is often more important than appearance. Skirts, dresses and high heels may be worn occasionally, but so can an old pair of men’s 501s and a fleece pullover. Lesbians and queer women rarely use these labels as social identifiers, but rather to simply qualify that they are neither butch nor femme.

You can find high heels, full make up and push-up bras in lesbian circles among femmes. A femme may identify as queer or lesbian, but she is consistently feminine. Femmes date butches, playing up the dichotomy between masculinity and femininity in their relationships. Femme is often very much an identity, incorporated into personality, sexuality and daily life. Social groups and websites exist to match up butches and femmes, as well as provide social get togethers within this subset of queer culture.

Lipstick lesbians may appear just as feminine as their femme counterparts; however, they don’t date butches. Lipstick lesbians typically date equally feminine women. The L-word is often cited as an example of lipstick lesbians. While butches and femmes are a distinct social subset, lipstick lesbians are less apt to integrate their sexuality into their personal identity.

Gay mobile Apps

Just in case you were wondering what the title means: Gay Mobile (cell) Phone Applications – things that you add to your phone to help your gay lifestyle. ‘What, like listings of Ikea stores and bathhouses you mean?’ No silly, little gadgets, or ad-ons, or call them what you will, that enhance your mobile phone or hand-held device.

For example: Grindr. Here you have a small GPS targeting device that keeps track of you wherever you are. Great for those mornings when you wake up in a stranger’s bed, in a strange town and you can’t remember how you got there. But it will also track other guys who are using the same application, so you can easily find guys who are cruising near you. So you basically have an application that lets you use your phone as a hook-up or matchmaker device, and it will only cost you $2.99 a month to add on.

If you don’t want to pay for your extras, how about GayCities? This is an application that will assist you when looking for gay bars, clubs, beaches and cafes and it comes with a mapping device installed too – so you can follow the routes to your own favourite kind of gay hangout. And it’s a free. The other option for this, that I could find listed, was MyGayGo, which is a similar, but it seems better, application but which costs you $2.99 a month, like Grindr does – but it gets better reviews and that’s probably because of the general rule: the more you pay the better you get.

I checked out a blog post from The Mobile App Company and found one that was about the ‘World’s first iPhone app for the gay community.’ Actually it was all rather vague, the post was made in February 2009, so is fairly out of date and all it told me was that there is an application available from their store and through the iTunes store. I did some further checking and found a little more information about this new app:

Brothersoft.com has the details – run a search for The Gay Community App 1.0.5. It seems that back in February the application was in beta testing and struggling a little, now though it’s available for download and there are specs: It’s Freeware, it’s for iPhones with OS 2.2.1 or higher, and it is there to help you connect with members of the GLBT community. How? Well, it looks like it basically does what the Grindr and MyGayGo applications do – list places, user GPS to find others with the same device etc. But it also contains a profile area where you can put information about yourself, you can add up to four pics there, you can say what/who you are looking for, you can connect with your Facebook and Twitter pages and keep a list of your buddies. And others with the same application can see this information too of course – so it does look like its going a bit further than the other applications mentioned above. And it’s free, don’t forget.

Not having an iPhone myself (shock horror) I have to admit to finding some of the information about these applications a bit bewildering. But that’s good, because most of what I read I understood, even though it didn’t relate to me. The point being that if you want to find good, gay applications for your own iPhone then you simply need to look up those that I’ve mentioned and you will (should) find easy to follow pages, easy to read instructions and clearly set out options for how to get them, and what to do once you have. I mean if I can understand it, will you will have no trouble.

Labels on the Gender Spectrum

Integrating transgender individuals into the queer community has historically posed a number of challenges, both from within the gay community and within the transgender community. More gay and lesbian resources are working to be trans-inclusive, but many people remain uninformed about labels and identities within the gender continuum. For many people, gender is simply a non-issue, a given based upon anatomy and birth. Other people may feel that they have been born the wrong gender or that gender labels, as they exist today, are overly limiting and inaccurate.

Common labels within the transgender community include cross dresser, transsexual, transgendered, and gender queer. Transman and transwoman are also used within the transgender community as neutral, descriptive terms. Pre-op and post-op describe a state of medical transition, rather than personal identification. Gender queer, gender fuck, and androgynous may all be used by those who prefer to avoid identifying as male or female.

Cross dressers are men who enjoy dressing as women. They may find it emotionally or sexually satisfying. Cross dressers are content and comfortable being male and have no desire to live as women on a full time basis. Cross dressers typically identify as heterosexual males.

Transgender individuals can be born male or female, but identify as the opposite gender. Some people may opt to continue living as their birth gender, even if they are uncomfortable with it. Others transition and live as the gender with which they identify. Medical and surgical steps, including gender reassignment surgery, may be taken to make the body match the gender identification. Pre-op and post-op are terms used to identify the degree of physical alteration to the body. These labels and descriptions commonly apply to both transwomen and transmen.

More and more young people are identifying as gender queer. Other labels embraced by questioning or gender queer individuals include gender fuck, androgynous, and boi. Some gender queer people may feel comfortable with transgender support groups and may identify as transgender, while others simply prefer the umbrella term of queer. Avoid using gendered language if someone identifies outside the standard binary gender system. Some who identify as gender queer prefer alternative pronouns, including ze and hir.

Washington Blade, 411 Magazine, David Atlanta, Houston Voice Close… What’s Next

In a recent blow to the gay community, Window Media has closed down the operation of a number of gay and lesbian publications nationwide. Among the gay and lesbian newspapers closed are the Houston Voice, the Southern Voice, the Washington Blade, David Atlanta, the South Florida Voice and 411 Magazine. Window Media had been put into federal receivership earlier this year; however, the staff and employees of the various publications had no knowledge of the closure until it occurred. These publications have all served an important role in spreading news and providing information to gay and lesbian communities around the country.

Print media across the board, not just in the gay and lesbian community, is struggling in today’s economy. More and more people opt to get their news and community information online, rather than purchasing magazines and newspapers. Advertising revenues have dropped for both mainstream and queer publications. Even long standing and well known magazines like the Advocate are struggling, and many mainstream publications have gone under in this economy.

Several of the newspapers and magazines in question are expected to resurface under new names and ownership in the relatively near future. Mark’s List has expressed an interest in 411 Magazine and the South Florida Blade, with 411 Magazine set to publish as Mark’s List Magazine starting with the next issue. No significant changes to the magazine are expected. The Washington Blade will return as DC Agenda on December 4, 2009.

What is the impact of this on gay media? Given that several of the publications will be reborn from the ashes of the fall of Window Media, it does seem that leaner operations are likely. They will, however, be able to operate without corporate control, gaining more independence and a greater ability to serve their individual markets. While many of former Window Media websites are offline, as the publications themselves resume, expected web activity should as well.

This is just months after Planet Out’s stock went to nothing (at least I see none in my E*Trade account) and turned into Regent Media or Here! Media. I assume Logo will end up eating up all of that at some point because I see no changes so far. Mainstream media is buying up the badly managed gay media and bleaching it out pretty well.

With the end of Esquire magazine it was a sign of things to come. Employees seem to blame it on bad management not the bad economy. It could be a bit of both and the fact that sometimes companies have to merge to save on expenses and survive in trying times.

In other news today we noticed that Blu Media, Inc bought over Just Us Boys. Justusboys.com is a highly popular gay destination and community with over 1.5 million unique users per month and enjoys almost 1 million page views per day. It is not just big corporations and banks that are merging but the gay media is coming together and forming bigger alliances than ever.

Olivia Becoming Popular for Social Networking

While Olivia.com started out as a travel website marketing the popular lesbian cruise line, today Olivia.com is much more than just another travel site. The social network at Olivia allows women to make connections, network and share information. Whether you join Olivia to meet that special someone, find an old friend, or simply make new friends, the site offers all the features of modern social networking, directed toward a lesbian audience.

Start your social networking experience at Olivia by making a profile. In today’s world, you’re surely familiar with this process. An Olivia.com profile is not particularly different than one on Facebook or MySpace; however, it does offer opportunities for openness you may not find on other social networking sites. Your Olivia profile includes photos, an “about me” section, and a chance for friends to leave testimonials. You can join groups, make friends, and manage your social life via Olivia.

Groups include those devoted to travel on Olivia cruises; however, you will also find groups for pet owners, families, singles, various interests, and regional areas. You may find the support you need in groups devoted to coming out, managing faith issues, or planning your wedding. You can even revisit favorite episodes of the L-Word with other fans. If you are planning to take an Olivia cruise, take the opportunity to make friends, find a travel companion or learn more about your cruise.

Olivia.com also offers a professional resource listing. Include your information to help potential customers or clients find you and use the resources to find lesbian professionals in your area. Even if you do not routinely use your profile, this feature can be accessed by any member on the site, active or not.

Your Olivia.com profile is publicly visible; however, it can only be seen by other Olivia.com members. If you use your Facebook account for your professional life, you might find an Olivia account the ideal social option for your personal life.

Adam Lambert My New Hero

The American Music Awards have been lame for years. The reason is because of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s Superbowl ‘wardrobe malfunction’ backlash. I mean as if the superbowl viewers were so offended by Janet’s boob showing for a split second. The only good performance I remember form the AMA’s the last few years was the cartoon Guerrila’s and Madonna doing Hung Up, which was a fabulous performance. Then came the show last night which really got some twitters going.

This year was the best year of the AMA Awards I have witnessed. We knew Lady Gaga would give us a hot Bad Romance, we knew that Whitney would make us all cry (although did not know that Reba would be there crying too), we knew that… No we did not know both J-Lo and Adam Lambert would fall on their butts. I felt bad for both of them when it came to that but they both are pros in that they came right back up. I would have laid there in pain from these harsh falls they had.

Adam Lambert made me excited again though. His performance shocked some but those are people that goto movies all the time and don’t get mad they see crazy violence but are so scared of a teasing crotch move or a kiss with two guys. Lord Forbid. This is basically late night TV around 8pm or so that this came on I mean it is not exactly 8am when cartoons are playing or interrupting someone’s blessed church service.

Thinking back to Madonna, she was banned from MTV with a big portfolio of her videos. It is crazy to think that you see so much booties shaking on there now but Madonna was banned. Really? Now we have Adam Lambert kissing another hot bandmember who happens to be straight and it’s like he masturbated live on stage or something. This just shows how much American TV discriminates and how backwards we still are when it comes to equal rights. I find it strange that some artists get away with it and some do not. Rihanna can sell explicit CD’s but Lady Gaga does not at Target or on Amazon.

I think two guys should be able to kiss especially when it comes to a song that has the lyrics such as Adam’s song. He is talking about bringing on the entertainment and hes not the sweet person he lead us on to be and we wanna see that dark side… bring it on. Show us what you got. Just quit falling when you do it.

I downloaded his new album off Amazon today along with Lady Gaga and Rihanna. It will be a race to see who wins on this Super Tuesday because they are all competing against Susan Boyle. It will be one of the biggest new music days of all time unless people are too poor to get out and buy them.

Adam will appear on Ellen for Friday’s show and was supposed to be on Jay Leno tonight. I am now a bigger fan than ever and glad to see that he stepped away from American Idol to get a little on the racy side of things. An award show should have the goody’s and the evils of us all. The Marilyn Mansons and the Taylor Swifts. I mean there is only so long we can sit here giving Taylor Swift awards until we are blue in the face.

Good Morning America may have canceled him but they sure used him before this for their ratings. This may be what a rock star needs to be canceled on these morning shows and be more mysterious and provocative. Is it me or does the hottie he is kissing in the pic look like a girl anyway? Such a hottie!

How to Make your Charitable Donations Count

In today’s harsh economy, fewer people can afford to give to charity and more people are coming to charities for assistance. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford to make charitable donations, think carefully about what you do with your money to make the most significant impact within your community. Giving locally can make a big difference to your friends and neighbors.

One of the best places to give in these hard times is your local food pantry. If you are able, make a cash donation. You can also consider using coupons and shopping sales to accumulate toiletries and other items at a very low cost. If you do give food, make smart choices. Shelf stable protein sources are an excellent choice, as are easily prepared dry goods. Choose foods that can be combined to make healthy meals without many additional ingredients. You may want to give some items that do not require cooking, as these foods can be used by those without access to cooking facilities. Even small donations can be a significant help to those in need.

Local children’s charities are also in need in this economy. Look for organizations that provide children with clothing, shoes and school supplies. These items are critically needed and families that could once get by without assistance may not be able to do so right now. Many schools do coat swaps and school supply drives on their own, making it convenient to give within your own neighborhood.

If you do not have the financial resources to give money to help others, consider what you can offer. Mow an elderly neighbor’s yard or offer to fix a car for a friend. See if volunteer groups in your community need help in hospitals, crisis nurseries or soup kitchens. Offer up your skills through your church or community center. If you want to help, but aren’t sure where to start, call a local food pantry or other organization and ask what you can do to help. Charities themselves can often use support services behind the scenes, ranging from a handyman to computer repair. Hard work, a caring ear or a helping hand can be just as appreciated as money in hard times.

Top 5 Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender charities include the following:
1. Human Rights Campaign, HRC.org – most popular and they do great work to ensure we have equal rights
2. Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center
3. SAGE, sageusa.org – advocacy for elders
4. Soulforce, soulforce.org, freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance
5. GLSEN, glsen.org – ensuring safer schools for LGBT

I would also research the top HIV/AIDS related charities to make sure they are going to the proper places such as research and care instead of all marketing.

One charity that you should not donate to is the Salvation Army due to its intolerance of gays and lesbians.

Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair returns

We are pleased to announced that Coming soon to a city near you in 2010 is an all-star Lilith Fair. Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Dallas, Minneapolis, and Seattle are just a few of the cities that will be part of the tour dates for this music festival with all-female artists. Sarah McLachlan known for her hit ‘Angel’ plans to return to the show and bring on acts such as the Dixie Chicks, Queen Latifa, and Nellie Furtado,

The 2010 Lilith tour plans to partner with OurStage.com to help find local talent for the next best emerging female musicians across North America. We are excited to see the new version of the Lilith Fair come to our cities!

One of the highest grossing festivals in the world from 1997 through 1999 was the Lilith Fair. A celebration of women in music which featured performances from Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, and Martina McBride. If you remember back when the song ‘Independence Day’ was big from Martina McBride. I had the chance to attend the festival at a ballpark in Oklahoma City and thought it was a great show. The festival similar to the True Colors tour raised money for charity including over $10 million for national and local charities. Pictured is from a backstage festival photo of Martina McBride in front of her Lilith Fair tour bus with a local radio station intern (taken by me).

Gay Teen Decapitated and Burned in Puerto Rico

This story is so painful to type that I am literally in tears just thinking about it but I want to get the word out there. This boy only 19 years old in Puerto Rico was decapitated, dismembered, and burned over the weekend and his body found at the side of the road. George Steven Lopez Mercado was left for dead ina town called Caguas, Puerto Rico. The police investigator suggested that he deserved what he got because of the type of lifestyle he was living.

This teen was dismembered by both his arms, legs, head, and torso. This is so heartbreaking. A hate crime so disgusting that it deserves major media attention. Hate like this needs to be stopped and we better damn sure pay attention to this.

The investigator needs to be punished by being forced to resign. The Superintendente’s name is Figueroa Sancha who seems to be biased and too prejudice to be investigating this hate crime. Please take action and send emails to Attorney General Holder asking him to have the FBI investigate this possible hate crime. The local police investigator, assigned to the crime, said because the kid was gay he should have expected this to happen.

Hate crimes seem to be up this last year in some cities in the US. A report released Friday from the California Attorney General’s office says more gay and Jewish people were victims of hate crimes last year. The incidents targeting gays and lesbians rose by 28 percent in 2008. A sharp increase to hate crimes to LGBT.

Read about bullying in schools and how to respond.

Lesbian Gift Ideas

The best gifts are thoughtful, personal, and well suited to the recipient. Work gift exchanges and gifts for family can leave you looking for the right gift for someone you don’t know well. If you need to buy a gift for a lesbian you don’t know well enough to choose a personalized gift for, try some of these ideas or opt for gifts that are apt to be fairly universally appreciated this holiday season. Look for gifts that are gender neutral, practical, and not apt to be embarrassing at the office party or family dinner. These ideas might also help if you’re simply short on time to find that perfect gift.

In lieu of yet another gift basket, consider making a donation in the recipient’s name to a local charity dealing with gay and lesbian issues. Most cities have a community resource center offering counseling, support groups, and youth services and these facilities are always in need of funds. You could also opt to make a donation to a larger national charity. A donation to the Human Rights Campaign at hrc.org is another good alternative.

Tech toys are one of the better gift options today, for nearly everyone. While your average gift budget won’t cover a new iPhone or netbook, some tech gifts are well within a reasonable gift exchange budget. Consider a cleverly concealed flash drive from Etsy.com, an iPod or cell phone cozy, or a sturdy and practical messenger bag sized to carry her laptop or netbook. More playful gifts might include USB powered gadgets and toys of all sorts from ThinkGeek.com.

While we all know that gift cards are a cliché at the holiday season, there’s a reason they’re popular. If you’re short on time, you can have an Amazon.com gift certificate on its way via email in only minutes. Gift cards to Itunes.com are another excellent option for nearly anyone. Local restaurants are nearly always a safe bet.

Of course, with any list of gift exchanges comes a list of things not to give. Avoid giving gendered gifts to a lesbian you know unless you are absolutely sure of her gender presentation and identity. Also, please do not give her any season of the L Word on DVD unless she requests it. She’s seen it, in all likelihood. If she loves it, she probably already owns it. If she finds Jenny unbelievably annoying, she doesn’t want to own it.

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