On Being Butch … and Tristan

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Usually as a big ol’ butch, I don’t have to come out. Walk into a room, people know I’m a lesbo – unless they mistake me for a dude. Whatev. But recently, I had to decide whether to come out. Again. The first time I was 17.

I knew it would happen. It had to at least if I was doing it right. I’m talking about my blog. I’ve written ButchOnTap as Butch Jaxon since the start. What? You thought that was my real name? I did it this way for lots of reasons:

1. It gives me the cover of darkness. Fail miserably? No worries. Say something too risqué? Not a problem.

2. It protected my then-girlfriend. She’s very private and I always wanted (and still want) to honor that. If I was Butch Jaxon it would be easier to share a few things about our lives, and she could decide with whom she wanted to share the blog, and therefore a little of her, and keep it private from everyone else.

3. It allowed me to shield my kids and parents. I’ve decided to put myself out there. They have not. Imagine, “Mom! Like, I’m sooo embarrassed! OMG!”

4. What about work? I’m not a professional writer promoting a book or movie (yet… but I’m open to all inquiries). I’ve a day job and one where my private musings might be frowned upon.

But, I always knew that if it took off, if I did it right and with a touch of luck, I’d have to switch to my real name eventually.

Well, as luck would have it, this happened over a week ago. A reader of my blog was kind enough to send my post, Why I Hate the TSA over to her friend Noah Michelson, the editor at the Huffington Post Gay Voices. Thank you Dara at Fascinate Media for doing me this unbelievable solid! She’s a writer and a media guru. You can find her at dara@fascinatemedia.net. I’m looking for the first possible moment to buy Dara a drink.

Turns out, the HuffPost wanted to run my piece. I was OVER THE MOON when I heard. I could not believe it. The HuffPost has like 45,000 subscribers online. They are massive, and they loved the piece, but can’t run anonymous authors for policy reasons. “Do you have a good reason to be anonymous? Are you in any danger?” Noah asked politely. Well, I have 4 good reasons, but danger? I figure if Salman Rushdie can publish under his own name, then so can I. I still had worries about my kids, family, any femme I might date, and my job, so I got some input from my best bro, parents, and a lovely femme I’m … somewhat sweet on. Sssh, don’t tell her.

All agreed that I’d be crazy to pass up this opportunity. My parents are 100% fine with you all knowing who they are. My kids are tough and I’ll keep shielding them. And as for dating, I think I’ve decided not to. Or at least, Butch has decided to be a confirmed bachelor – if you get my, erm, her meaning. And, I need to protect that lovely femme… you know, in case she’s sweet on me, too.

So, it’s on. I told Noah and he was wonderful. The post went up five days ago and it’s been an absolute blur since. I’ve been in Tokyo for work. The schedule and time difference have made it almost impossible for me to keep up as I like to. Meaning, I usually reply to each tweet, comment and Facebook post (at least to acknowledge the commenter). I appreciate you all so much! But, as of now, the piece has 399 comments on HuffPo and y’all have been tweeting, sharing, and commenting in other ways like crazy. Sometimes life gets in the way of art.

I had to decide if I wanted to come out as Butch. Did I want to subject myself to scrutiny? Meh. Does it change the kinds of things I can post, tweet and comment on? Yes, perhaps. But I’ve been pretty aware of this since the start. So, I say bring it. I’m ready to come out … As Butch. Jaxon. I mean, everyone who knows me, knows I am butch, but not Butch Jaxon. That’s me in the photo up there, by the way. I mean, the blog photo is me too, but you can actually see me in today’s shot. Hi!

One thing I will say I wasn’t quite ready for (though I should’ve been) were the negative comments. With my blog, I’ve only had one critical comment which I dealt with happily and head on – indeed I got to choose to post it for you all to read. With twitter and FB, zero negativity. The audience is smaller and more organic, I guess. With HuffPost proudly featuring me on their main page, I got lots of new eyes and some didn’t like what they saw. That’s ok, though. Bound to happen. “Not everyone is going to like you,” I say to my kids.

As I ended the TSA post, it’s butch to be yourself – no matter the cost. Be Butch. And for me, that also means … Be Tristan.

About Tristan Higgins, aka Butch Jaxon

I am a butch. This blog is about what I think. If you do not know what butch means, you are probably on the wrong blog. In the interests of inclusion, though, I can tell you that “butch” means a lesbian that is big, strong, tough, more macho, less girly. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules – which is an ongoing theme in my blog (and in the comments), but those are the basics. A butch will most likely not wear makeup. A butch is often referred to as “sir” by someone who is not paying attention. What else? I am, after all, not just a butch. I am happily married to the most amazing woman ever, and the mother of two fantastic kids. I am also a lover of, in no particular order, beer, bow ties, breasts, movies, hiking, bookstores, travel, dogs, geocaching, polar bears, the gym, music, gadgets, and more. By day, I am an intrepid corporate entertainment lawyer. Although I try hard not to be labeled as such – sporting a bleached Mohawk, for example. Think more entertainment and less corporate. By night, bring it all on! In my blog, I talk about things from a butch perspective, but this is not just for butches. We all love our femmes. Please do not let me offend femmes, mine in particular! If you like what you read here, I hope you will comment and let me know what you think. If you do not like what you read, well, what the hell do I care? Start your own blog. Be Butch. View all posts by Tristan Higgins, aka Butch Jaxon

52 responses to “On Being Butch … and Tristan

  • Bejai

    Another big step forward in our journey together, Tristan! Your father and i are so very PROUD of you! We have had the privilege and honor of watching you grow into an amazingly wonderful person! Yes, it took a while to get used to a few things but you have been patient, kind, and gentle so we have grown too.
    We adore you and read every blog out loud so we can laugh and cry together…all the while being awed by your wit and courage! We are ordinary old folks who have to pinch ourselves to realize that the bright and shining star in front of us is our DAUGHTER! We love you, Mom and Dad
    PS. Can I still call you Your Butchness once in a while?

    Like

  • jchick7

    I think you’re very brave. Congrats 😉

    Like

  • MakingSpace

    That comment from your mom made me cry. I just started following your blog but I appreciate your post – something I’ve thought about over the years of blogging as well. And how wonderful to have a HuffPost article! Congrats!!

    Like

    • Butch Jaxon

      MakingSpace,

      Aww, how sweet! I’m glad I shared it then. She’s amazing, but I always hesitate to share my parents. Anyway, I’m glad it affected you well. Thanks for following my blog. I’m very happy to have you here. Please comment often!

      Butch

      Like

  • Kim Andersen

    I think that “coming out” comes in many variations. It is a common misconception that you come out only once or only at one period of your life. The truth is that we all have interative coming out experiences as we evolve through the journey of life. I salute yours.

    Warm Regards,

    Kim Andersen
    421 2913

    Like

  • Kelly

    YOU. ARE. AWESOME.
    To paraphrase Ivan Coyote a bit: You, Tristan, have a pair of big brass
    mystical balls… in your brain. You’re pen is Mighty, as is your sword.
    Right on, bro, right on! Let’s get a gang of us Butches to fly somewhere and take on the TSA as a pack. Wonder how rude they would be then?

    Like

  • A Spare Mind

    I heart your mom. I warmed to her the minute I read her comment in your post (about Valentine’s Day, I believe?) when she asked for you to send your list to your father.

    I read your piece in Huff Post, signed Tristan. Congratulations to you!
    I’ve also had a handful of “thank you’s” on my personal ad for the link to your post “Tie One On.” ha! Yay you!

    It’s Butch to be Tristan.

    Like

  • GlitterGirl

    The comment from your mom was incredibly sweet 🙂 and she has every reason to be proud of you. I love reading your blog, tweets and Facebook posts. You make me laugh, but also make me think. I love seeing the world through your eyes. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  • Searching4Self2013

    Wow, what an awesome and scary leap forward. Congrats to you on all these great things. Looking forward to watching more good things unfold. Awesome look, by the way. Working up the courage to don a tie for work, myself.

    Like

  • Lulu Todd

    Dear BOT,

    Kudos, Beautiful Handsome Butch!!

    I don’t envy you, your agony over the decision to “come out again”, it’s not easy in this world to be a mum, let alone, to be “who we are” ! .. Good on you for wanting to protect your family, but then sometimes we have to be that eagle and “soar”!

    The addition of the “accomplished” Tristan is delightful to say the least, and I think it would be safe to say that many people, “have your back in this”.

    You are amazing, an inherited trait one would think…. :0)

    “You’re gonna be pop-u-lar!”

    Lulu

    Like

  • Maya

    Dear Tristan/Butch,

    Just I guess to piggyback everyone else’s comments now – but I too have to acknowledge you for your HuffPost Coming Out – yeah, you really truly rock – thank you for your chivalry, integrity, humility and kindness – everything that is the best of Butch – but especially now your COURAGE. . . .

    CONGRATS on HPost – that is major and really cool and the world needs your words out there – so thank you so much for having the – um – ovaries? – or balls? or just the huge brave heart enough to GO FOR IT, and say ‘yes’ to a scary thing. AND btw your kids are gonna thank you one day – you are paving the way for THEM to stand up and be proud of whoever and whatever they are in the world!

    XOXO
    Maya

    Like

    • Butch Jaxon

      Maya,

      Thank you for all you said. Especially this:

      “AND btw your kids are gonna thank you one day – you are paving the way for THEM to stand up and be proud of whoever and whatever they are in the world!”

      Boy, do I hope so.

      Butch

      Like

  • Kc

    You rock and both you and your blog are friggin awesome!

    Like

  • missm1985

    When I saw your name on Huffpost I wondered! Cograts on both the post and your coming out! Keep being Butch we ❤ it!

    Like

  • missm1985

    p.s. your mom is adorable! your Butchness…. LOL!

    Like

  • Eldiese

    Hi Tristan! 🙂

    Your kids should be so proud of you! I am! That takes some serious guts and I think your amazing 🙂

    xxx

    El

    Like

  • tinycorners

    you’re the shit. mmm love it. xoxoxo

    Like

  • Joe V

    From the moment you told me about this blog in Feb 2012, I started reading and was an instant fan…. and told others that they really needed to start following…. and oddly enough, ‘almost’ blowing your cover without knowing you were writing as aka Jaxon… I haven’t had an occasion to see you since then (ALMOST a year!) and even though we’ve talked on the phone, in email and are still overdue for lunch, I am so happy to see that you can take one more step in leading your authentic life.. a life that quite honestly, I never saw as one written as facade, but as the person that I already knew.. with just the privilege to get to see more of…

    Hoping to see you sometime this year… for a big hug… and to let you know that you are setting an example for those kids.. the ones you protect.. to say that somethings are worth putting yourself out in front for… You be you. xo. -JV

    Like

    • Butch Jaxon

      Joe,

      You make me smile and always feel so damn good about myself.

      This:

      “happy to see that you can take one more step in leading your authentic life.. a life that quite honestly, I never saw as one written as facade, but as the person that I already knew.. with just the privilege to get to see more of…”

      What an amazing thing to say. Thank you!

      Butch

      Like

  • Jay Tilman aka boobookitty

    Well done!

    Like

  • Dara

    Tristan/Butch,

    I have read your site for awhile now, as a femme simply seeking out your seeking out your wonderfully light and interesting perspective on being a butch in this world. I’ve often shared your articles with friends, but when I saw your article on your experience with the TSA, I knew it was a piece that needed to be seen far and wide. I am so proud and happy that I was able to be the conduit to make sure that happened.

    As you can see from the comments on the Huffington Post, it is obvious how many did not and do not understand what it’s like to travel while butch (or in any way non-gender conforming). The fact that it has spread to other outlets demonstrates how necessary it was for the piece to be written and its message heard. For the readers here, it’s now in the HuffPost women section as well as Gay Voices, Afterellen.com included a link to the HuffPost piece (http://www.afterellen.com/2013/02/tilda-swinton-new-face-chanel-tina-fey-will-not-host-oscars) and Salon.com wrote an entire article about it! (http://www.salon.com/2013/02/26/flying_while_butch/).

    Thank you as well for that shout out. I started my company a year ago and since then, I’ve worked with both LGBT and non-LBGT clients, handling social media, PR and events. I know our community has many talented, creative people with great ideas, so if you do, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

    Thank you very much,

    Dara
    Fascinate Media
    dara@fascinatemedia.net

    Like

  • auntiediluvian

    Wow, this entry is so powerful. I teared up at the office reading it. I know I don’t actually know you, but I’m so proud. 🙂 Stay strong! (And from a femme who adores butches… stay butch!)

    Like

  • Rita Melaniphy

    Awesome !!!!!!!! 

    ________________________________

    Like

  • Debi

    I am so glad I read your TSA article on Huff Post. I am also glad I found your blog. You are great, and because of the TSA article I will be making sure TSA know my butch is female. Thank you. 🙂

    Like

    • Butch Jaxon

      Debi,

      That makes me feel great. I was so hurt be the incident that I didn’t want to share it at first. But when it was suggested that some good may come of it, that it might help someone feel a little less crappy, I thought I needed to do it. Thank you for your comment!

      Butch

      Like

  • robertdbyrd

    Great post! Hi, I’m Robert Byrd. I’m a doctoral student doing research on the LGBTQ blogging community. I would very much appreciate your help. If you have 10 minutes would you please answer a questionnaire http://bit.ly/ZADnEHfor me about why you blog, how you blog, and who you audience is. Thank you so much. Also, if you have time, check out my blog too http://www.robertdbyrd.com.

    Like

  • whoshigh

    I have a new task at hand, find a les bar in Tokyo so that you can show me what its all about (not that I’m going to suddenly combust and turn les)! XOXO cant wait for you to come back and visit. You keep motivating me to write more!

    Like

  • Sarah Downie

    Hi, Tristan, nice to meet you! I just wanted to say thanks for a great morning! I’ve been reading your blog and drinking coffee and it has provided me with more than enough distraction (and some satisfying LOL moments) to keep me from my actual work. I should probably get back to it, actually. Books don’t write themselves. 🙂

    Looking forward to reading more of your musings!
    Lv, Sarah

    Like

  • Verena

    Hello dear Butch Jaxon aka Tristan

    I like the picture. Very nice laugh

    I read the article to by the way 😉

    o good, I did not hit the Enter button yet…

    Being from Vienna and therefore not a native speaker I had a fatal ( mix-up in class when I was about 16 saying,
    “I wrote Lord of the Rings (*l know*)
    Since then I always have to double-check because it is a very real possibility that it actually could have been “I wrote the article by the way”

    Which is funny and the reason why I chose to have such a lengthy explanation…
    (okay, I tend to use many words in many sentences)

    I am not butch. But I DO think I am mightely attracted to them.
    Coming out to myself only last year and now in the process of coming out, getting to know women… I am kind of having a second coming out about what I like in a women 🙂

    At the beginning I only had a feeling and did not know the term butch/femme. I compared that dynamic to *man and woman where being man is being the superior…
    And if I like butches I am automatically going *backwards* and therefore “weak” and a “bad” lesbian.

    And so I was embarassed and treated it like big secret. As much I was NOT afraid of being attracted to women (although I really – I was for liking butches. Because, I dont want to be treated badly, or do I (whats wroong with meee)

    I have done some thinking (I do that a lot too 😉 sknince then, many nights of researching (which was really fun :)) – and now I am really educated theoretically *sigh* theorie…

    I am still not that cosy with that thought. I am still not “out” , but butches like you make it easier for me 🙂

    I go to a CO group for lesbians (all kinds of) and last time we talked about identities in the community – and our group advisor (I dont know the right word..) told us she was butch and lived in a butch/femme relationship.

    So I am thinking…. Am I still afraid and kind of embarrassed (notice the intensity changed) or do I ask her many questions and “out” myself to her…I would really loove to ask her hundreds of them 🙂 I even would not get tired of hearing every cliché in the book – that I am questioning them goes without saying – but just for the pleasure of it.
    I always hated that women men clichés “man are from mars, women are from venus…*lame, boring and uninteresting and offending blabla*

    But you translating *butch* language – sooo not lame at all ;))
    (double standards, bring them on)

    Well I don’t intend you to give me the answer about wether I should go run to her like a puppie and fire away 🙂
    but it would be nice I guess if you would say so. 🙂
    I don’t want to “get to know her better” though, I just wanna have a butch (I like) which is not gonna laugh at me when I ask stupid questions and likes to talk about everything I want to know (is there a god)

    Ganz Lieben Gruß aus Wien, Verena

    Like

    • Butch Jaxon

      Verena,

      What a wonderful comment from you. Thank you for sharing so much with us. Welcome! I am very glad to have you here, and I am glad that you like the way I am translating the butch language, as you put it.

      As for your professor friend, yes, “run to her like a puppy” and ask your questions! Many butches are happy to answer questions about being a butch, and about being in a butch femme relationship. But, if she is not happy to have you ask, ask me!

      I would be delighted to try and answer your questions. And, for any questions that you have that I cannot answer, there are perhaps a few readers here who would also add their thoughts.

      :o)
      Butch

      Like

      • Maya

        Wow how cool – Butch you are healing the world all the way over there in Vienna! And how cool too, Verena, that you are ‘coming out’ to yourself as a Femme! Now listen here: A FEMME IS NOT A WEAK CHARACTER! SHE IS WILD AND ALIVE AND FIREY AND SMART AND CREATIVE AND – guess what – at LEAST half the time (maybe most of the time?) she is the BOSS in a Butch-Femme relationship! Well, ok, butches, don’t go getting all defensive now – you know you like your strong Femmes. . . 🙂 But really, Verena, if you look at history it is true that during the Womens Movement when Feminism was getting its strength (60’s, 70’s-early 80’s) ButchFemme got a bit of a bad rap. . . and being young at that time I was really not accepted as a lesbian due to my feminine nature. . . and I bought into the idea that a masculine lesbian was ‘playing man’ – – it took me several DECADES to figure out why relationships with men AND relationships with ‘regular’ lesbians never quite worked for me. When I finally let the Butch Femme dynamic into my life, I felt like a whole world had opened up for me. I am now, for the first time in my WHOLE LIFE, feeling grounded in who and what I really am: A Femme who is attracted to Butches.

        And I gotta say, for the most part, Butches are about the most chivalrous and respectful of women of any human beings on earth! I’d say let go of any worries that you will be treated badly by Butches, keep reading Tristan’s great blog, and check out some other butch/femme stuff on line. And yes, talk to your counselor/teacher.

        If Tristan doesn’t mind my posting links to other sites, here are a few fun ones for you (and if you don’t want these on your blog, Tristan, no worries, feel free to delete!), otherwise, here goes:

        Some fun, some serious. . .

        Team Gina Butch/Femme Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfQ_ptzFv7M

        Ivan E Coyote, Butch Road Map: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN-py8zojfk and The Femme Piece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q7IzwUa_kI

        Butch Femme Pride (photos): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJEbN_29FR0

        Ok, so this is a very ‘soft butch’ proposing to her femme – maybe not full on butch-femme but its pretty uplifting either way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LZ9lJ04ESU

        Maybe you (or other readers) would like to add something to this site:
        http://butchfemmelistings.wordpress.com/about/

        There is a ton of stuff on the internet – but best of course is to talk to REAL BUTCHES and FEMMES! We all wanna be there for each other, so shed any shyness and go for it! And WELCOME. Its a good world.

        🙂

        OK, so, a HUGE THANK YOU to TRISTAN/BUTCH JAXON for being such a fabulous gateway in the form of such candid, vulnerable, funny, and helpful blogging!

        Love to all,

        Maya

        Like

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