Reading Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme is like attending a dinner party with people you never got the chance to talk to before—fascinating, brave, insightful people—some of whom are very well known and others are simply the people you want to get to know. All of them talk frankly and with genuine courage about what it means to live outside the norms of society. From the introduction by Joan Nestle to the closing commentary by Ivan E. Coyote, these are entries that examine the daily lives of contemporary gender revolutionaries with reference to both the history and the myths of Femme/Butch existence. It is a manifesto and an invitation. Read Persistence and look again at what you thought you knew and get to know some of the people that will be defining what it means to be revolutionary in the coming decades.
The butch/femme dynamic is a conscious, loving binary of desire and trust … it’s a dance of love and outlawed romance. Butches and femmes share a sense of tribe, extended family and kinship—no matter what our genders might be. There is no doubt in my mind that this book will soon be recognized as a major contribution to the shelves of our queer literature. And it’s totally gonna be a must-have bedside reader for many. This is a smart, loving book by some terrific writers. They all know what it means to live and love as butch/femme beyond the stereotypes, and they’ve made their diesel femme Auntie Kate very proud of them.
—Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw
The death of butch-femme has been greatly exaggerated. This beautiful collection captures the intensity of gender variant communities now while continuing to make important links to pioneers from the past. Here we meet femme sharks and cowboys, faggy butches, studs and futches. This book is like a pocketknife, it is useful, sharp and in the right hands it can do anything.
—Jack Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity (1998) and In A Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005)
Without a doubt, Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme is a community treasure. I predict that this is a book that will be seen as a touchstone for years to come by those of us who have found home within butch/femme identities and community.This book has earned itself a special place on my bookshelf right next to that old loved and battered copy of The Persistent Desire.
—The Femme’s Guide
Persistence embodies what it means to be human among the fragments and fringes of identity.
A new collection of essays exploring the funny, messy, confusing, contradictory, liberating, confining, wet wild ride of gender from a powerhouse cross-section of the queer world’s smartest and sexiest writers, poets, musicians, activists and scholars … It’s a must-have for the shelf of anyone who lives and loves and jams in this crazy world of mystical gendered bodies, and is a nice reminder that butch and femme are as past as they are present as they are future, and that there are as many ways to do masculinity and femininity and everything else as there are smart, freaky, quirky people walking around on this planet.
It is thrilling both to see an incredible storyteller [Coyote] branching out in a new direction and to have another name [Sharman] added to the lexicon of top-notch queer thinkers.
—Gay People’s Chronicle
Touching on a wide range of colors in the prism of butch and femme sexuality and identity, this compilation is indispensable to the lesbian community as an emblem of how far the female gay community has come, and in what direction their mighty assembly is headed. It’s the ultimate “gift to those just discovering themselves.”
—Bay Area Reporter
Editors Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman have produced an inclusive and balanced anthology that illuminates a wide array of issues surrounding gender and identity … Persistence is a worthy read for those versed in contemporary gender identity issues, and for anyone with an interest in authentic documentation of human experience.
—Quill and Quire
A poignant, defiant, sometimes amusing and often challenging exploration of the terms butch and femme.
A thought-provoking, personal and powerful collection, and one which effectively illuminates the varied experiences and interpretations of butch and femme.
—For Books’ Sake blog (UK)
The rowdy, queer contributors to Persistence address the immediate, often loaded, topic of butch-femme from every angle, confirming once again just how central this label-and-experience is to queer history. This thick volume is so personal and comprehensive that it feels a bit like my most recent lesbian camping trip where butches, femmes, and the otherwise queerly-gendered made fires together, grilled up fine-grade tofu, and then spent hours bonding over our spontaneously-assembled archive of queer experience. With this same spirit of generosity, Persistence excels in the extreme sport of queer truth-telling, thanks to its ambitious editors Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman. The book feels fresh and radical throughout.
Love it or hate it, the language of butch/femme belongs to the lesbian community and speaks to the history that got us here. That’s a pretty powerful thing. If you think these identities are limiting and outdated — if you suspect they’re boring and, well, unsexy — then read Persistence. It might make you think again.
This collection is is a thing of beauty … The result is an open space of negotiation and dialogue, a place to disclose, divulge, and sometimes even grapple and fumble with what those identities mean alongside the myriad of other identities and social positions and family histories we carry with us.
—A Queer Family Grows in Redneckville blog
Equal parts manifesto, thesis, coming-of-age tale, and love letter, Persistence breaks the reductive, sanitized gender stereotypes of what it is like to be a lesbian—especially ones who don’t look like Ellen DeGeneres, Rachel Maddow, or a cast member of The L Word … It’s a worthy collection that brings nuance back to notions of dykes, femmes, butches, and lesbians all.
A collection of pieces that refutes the idea that butch and femme identities are outdated, and asserts the timelessness and importance of their vibrancy and complexity.