Years ago, when my mom divulged to my eighty-something grandpa that I was dating women, he replied, “Well, hell’s bells, is she a butch or a rose?” I don’t know if femmes were also known as roses in his day or if he made that up, but I’m more than happy to identify as a rose, too. My grandpa accepted the news of my sexuality better than anyone, which is partly why years later my partner and I took his last name as our new family name. My grandpa gave me another new name as well: these days he calls me “Rosie the Tattoo Lady.”
Not everyone in the queer community ascribes to or even likes the terms butch and femme. There is a complicated history behind these terms and how people identify (or don’t) with them has caused much consternation among feminists and thoughtful LGBT folks everywhere. Plus, those of us who do identify with the terms are like queer snowflakes. We are all different.
So, for the purposes of this post, I’ll explain only what femme means to me. RuPaul once said, “We are all born naked, and the rest is drag.” Femme is simply the drag I prefer. And like all of my favorite drag, mine is a little over the top. It’s colorful, sparkly, big hair, and false eyelashes. It used to also be high, high heels but then I turned thirty and had two babies and now fanciful flats are just fine. Ultimately, femme for me is “salad bar femininity” in which I greedily pick and choose the fun parts of what femininity offers and (mostly) pass on the unappetizing, oppressive bits.
When I got married, my dress was electric blue with tiny crystals glued all over the top. To make it easier for my bridesmaids, they each wore a black dress of their choosing. It was lovely but if I had it to do over, there would be more color and way more sequins.
1. This would be my ideal dress if I had another wedding… (from the Elie Saab Spring ’12 collection, price not available) 2. Oh here’s a four-piece set. Done. But only if they’re ethically sourced! (Peacock Feather Hair Accessories, $80) 3. I want the blue dress (dress by Arthur Mendonca, price not available) 4. LOVE these bridesmaid dresses. Sensing a theme? (Mismatched sequin bridesmaid dresses featured in this wedding) 5. False eyelashes a must ($16 from Sephora; check out how to apply them in this APW tutorial) 6. Yellow flats for the bride 7. Southern Magnolia flowers for bouquet, because obviously 8. This was our cake topper. It’s sex-neutral. I mean, we all know which one is the femme here but you know. (Custom-made by Ann Wood Handmade, prices vary)
For more Femme wedding style, check out our Queer Wedding Style Pinterest board
Aly Windsor is a news editor, mom to two little rascal kids, partner to a sociologist, and blogger. She’s been illegally wed for six years.