Rebellion and Cupcakes
Meet proud queer fat femme Bevin Brandlandingham.
Photo credit: Allison Michael Orenstein
Bevin Branlandingham is truly a Jill-of-all-trades. The self-described plus-size party girl is an attorney by day and a fabulous, cupcake-throwing femmecee by night. She is also the founder of The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Life blog, which is a treasure trove of advice, inspiration and hilarious posts. “It’s my relentless pursuit of joy at the intersection of these three identities: queer, fat and femme,” she says. “Each identity is an important part of who I am and how I experience the world, but like all intersectionality those identities are interdependent. I write about dating, fat fashion and style, sex, politics, art, body liberation activism, friendship, queer community, my adventures in travel and self-love, interesting people I meet, my pets, queer nightlife in New York City and beyond.”
Branlandingham’s career in burlesque started when she was laid off by a law firm and she decided to take advantage of being set free from her day job and make the transition to making a living through her art and political work. In 2011 she joined the burlesque scene, performing as a drag king in Philadelphia, which proved to be a life changing experience for her. “I learned I was femme by knowing folks who thought it was a good thing to be femme,” Branlandingham says. “I learned it was OK to be fat because my performer pals thought I was gorgeous and hot and deserved to be on stage just as much as anyone else. It really helped me get out of my self-hating shell.”
While in the troupe she also learned how to produce queer nightlife, something that carried over to her extremely popular monthly Rebel Cupcake events—fabulous, flamboyant New York dance parties packed with booze, burlesque performances and dancing. “I love my community and it is important to me to create nightlife where people feel safe being themselves when they go out,” Branlandingham says. “I don’t think I can eliminate all folks’ insecurities about going to a dance party but I know fostering a body-positive, flamboyance-positive environment definitely helps. That is really rewarding work.”
Branlandingham cuts a striking figure with her two-tone hair, ample curves and 1,000 watt smile, but it’s not always easy being fabulous. One of her more popular blog posts is called “In Solidarity with Folks Who Have Been Called ‘Too Much.’” In it Branlandingham writes of how she’s been called “too fat, too loud and too feminine” her whole life. She identifies as a body liberation activist, someone who believes that fat oppression effects everyone in our society and that everyone can work together to make the world better and accepting of all bodies. “Personally, I hated my body for so long and learning that there was another, happier and better way of life was a revolution,” she says. “I feel so much gratitude for my body, for how ‘babely’ it is and how much I am able to do in it now that I don’t feel like I have to hide in baggy clothes and the bog of depression that comes with self-hate.”
She is currently working on a tell-all memoir about how she went from being a working stiff in a law firm and getting married to the wrong person to finding her true purpose on the dance floors of Brooklyn’s queer nightlife. Expect it to be full of dyke drama, sex and empowerment. “My mission in life is to make the world safe for people to love themselves,” Branlandingham says. “I believe that everyone in the world is entitled to love themselves exactly as they are, right now. Self-love is a radical act in our society and has the power to revolutionize your happiness, how you experience the world and what you are able to accomplish.” (queerfatfemme.com)