Turn a Look: Living the Butch Life

By Sally Mulligan, PQ Monthly

One of the coolest things about being queer is that there’s as many ways to be queer as there are queers in the world. That being said, there is some overlap. Like, a lot, actually (check out your dating pool if you don’t believe me.) So when a tomboy femme such as myself starts checking out your looks when we’re all out and about, I both bow down to your personal style (seriously, I would have never thought to pair those things together!) and notice the threads (pun intended!) that we have in common (I thought that was you two aisles over at Top to Bottom, homo!) But as “tomboy” as this femme might be, I have never felt like I fall anywhere on the masculine end of the spectrum, as adoring and fascinated as I am by all of y’all looking fresh to death over there. As such, I present to you my highly scientific* anthropological study of queers who live that butch life. Turns out a lot of you queers have some things in common: first of all, you all love hats. Swear. Secondly, you are deeply invested in your hair. And (surprise!) you are a very practical bunch. Now, let’s talk about everything else, shall we?


fag dykeGenus: Fag Dyke (Flamboyant Sappho)

Indigenous to: the dancefloor.

Mating call: “I LOVE THIS SONG!”

Demeanor: party, swishy, upbeat.

Prominent markings: cocked baseball cap in colorful prints, neon printed leggings, butch sideboob, gold chains, a clean fade, mixed prints.

Style icon: Zack Morris meets Robyn.

Where they shop: free boxes, baby! What’s that shiny thing at the bottom of the box?

H&M men’s section, their girlfriend’s closet, Top to Bottom, Gen X.


urban jockGenus: Urban Jock (Athleta Metropolitae)

Indigenous to: Burnside skate park, Portland Rock Gym, the bluffs.

Mating call: “Sup?”

Demeanor: super chill or hyper, there’s no in between.
Prominent markings: snapbacks, ironic t-shirts, Vans, lots of neon, vintage anoraks, loud prints, baby face, sagging skinny jeans, high tops .
Style icon: your high school boyfriend.

Where they shop: army surplus stores, skate shops, Goodwill, Red Light Vintage.


Genus: Lumberbutch (Lesbia Lignator)

lumberdykeIndigenous to: a secret trail in the woods you’ve never heard of.
Mating call: “I’ll take you there sometime.”
Demeanor: shy or aloof, who can tell.
Prominent markings: traditional-style tattoos, plaid, beanies, plaid, rescue dog, plaid, their dad’s knife, plaid, classic Levi’s or khakis.

Style icon: 90s Eddie Bauer dads.

Where they shop: Andy & Bax, thrift stores, their dad’s closet, actually they have just had these clothes forever.


Genus: Smartypants (Pellentesque ipsum)

Indigenous to: the library, In Other Words, Cat Power concerts, art galleries, documentary film festivals, The Modern Man.
Mating call: “What are you reading?”
smartypantsDemeanor: deep in thought, introverted, clever.
Prominent markings: freckles, retro glasses, grandpa cardigans, a dog eared paperback, collared shirts, beat up boots, vintage band tees, one or two cheeky accessories.

Style icons: Morrissey.

Where they shop: quiet Sunday morning garage sales, clothing swaps with friends, grandpa’s closet, TopMan, Palace.


Some other findings that brought these groups together: A lot of y’all don’t even consider yourself “butch” in any specific way. I think this says more about this cultural shift around queerness and gender presentation that I won’t be diving into in a fashion article, but I love it anyway. Something else a lot of gaymos have in common? We all have a really hard time finding clothes that fit our bodies the way we want, make us comfortable, and that we can afford. If any of you have had more luck in this arena, or have some tips, please feel free to share! Maybe we can start a queer sewing circle?


*Just playin’!