Wednesday, May 26

Ivan Coyote

So BetseyBetsey showed me this interesting queer performer, Ivan Coyote, yesterday and I was too busy doing really important things at my really engaging job to give her feedback, so here it is, complete with a nickname.

Ivan Coyote is a Canadian storyteller. So what happens on stage isn't exactly spoken word, but stories told aloud to an audience. I'm not sure if Ivan Coyote identifies as transgender or as a butch lesbian, so out of respect I'm going to use gender-neutral pronouns. Look at how progressive I am.

Ivan writes about childhood in the Yukon territory and ideas circulating in the queer community. The stories don't really address the politics of being queer, but what it means to be butch and femme and queer: ideas of self-representation. JBear and GayBear and I were having an interesting conversation about what genre of the opposite gender we would be. Apparently, I'd be a beard-sporting, plaid-wearing, bio-diesel van driving, Birkenstock aficionado. So, basically me with a beard. Anyway I watched a bunch of performances of Ivan on YouTube and there's two great pieces, one thanking femmes and the other on "what it means to be butch." It's basically a "what I did last summer" for masculine women. Both videos are great. So great, I've posted them below.

First off, what a cutie little Canadian accent. I love that the definition of a femme enables the definition of a butch. And that being a feminine lesbian is, at times, harder than being a butch(ish) lesbian. It's playfully serious. Because when you decide to come out, you are going to have to learn how to laugh. Shit gets funny.

Now, let's compare and contrast. What basically sums this whole story up for me is when Ivan says "be the man you wish you'd slept with in high school." That makes a lot of sense to me. If you're going to be a butch, masculine lesbian don't be a man's man; Be a lesbian's man.

These two performances, and Ivan's ideology, are a testament that gender is socially constructed and that words can be what you choose to call yourself, or what you let people call you.

One of Ivan's short stories has been turned into a short film. It also is an exploration as to what gender is. Check it out, it's called "No Bikini."

This makes me want to parent my hypothetical children in the most unabashed new-age, montessori style. She wasn't trying to be a boy, it's just that no one asked and it didn't really make a difference.

Check out the website here to learn more.

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