Butch Please: How Toronto’s #SuperButch Topped The Queer Community

#SuperButch helped Toronto reclaim butch identity.

On the weekend, Jack Jackson, Dinah Thorpe and Heather Blom dropped their brainchild #SuperButch on the queer community of Toronto. The response was nothing short of enthralling. Attendees of the event – which was held at The Great Hall – revelled in a weekend chock full of exploration and celebration of “working class Butch” identity.

In an era where the queer community is being accepted on the merits of thin, able-bodied, CIS, white, feminine lesbians and their proximity the mainstream, ‘butch’ has become a dirty word. It’s a word that even the queer community has learned to reject. So where have all the beautiful butch women of yesteryear gone – those women adorned in men’s jeans, mullets, and rolled sleeves? You know the ones – those early, masculine presenting women who made lesbian identity visible and challenged mid 20th century anti-queer rhetoric. (So hot!)

Well, lucky for all us butch lovers, they’ve not gone anywhere. They have succeeded in creating a very established subculture – one that traditional roles of gender expression and discrimination couldn’t erase, and weren’t any match for.

Far from being erased, the butch umbrella of female masculinity has grown to encompass trans masculinity as well as many other labels of varying gender specificity. While not always naming itself with the classic “Butch” label – and often repackaging itself in more contemporary labels like “genderqueer” etc – make no mistake, “Butches” have gone nowhere. In fact, they’re back to reclaim their honour, their history, and their name.

Evidence of the revitalisation and reclaiming of Butch identity was made very clear this past weekend when dozens of diverse butch and trans models, panelists and production crew, showed up to volunteer their time and identities to the Superbutch event. International and local gender progressive brands such as Kirrin FinchNiK Kacy Shoes, Thuy Custom Clothier, Sun Sun and Alljackedup were also on site showcasing how they service the “Butch” community’s needs.

The goosebumps from the experience have remained on my skin well into the week. My smile has yet to fade. I couldn’t be prouder of the “Six,” the three founders, and every person that gave their time and essence to create the event. In a climate where queer women are eulogising the death of the “dyke bar” and where queer and trans individuals have been economically banished from LGBTQ+ neighbourhoods, exiles mourning a lack community spaces were brought together by #SuperButch.

How did #SuperButch revitalise the lesbian community in Toronto?

1. Community: #SB brought the queer community out and together.

2. Unity: In a community that is often segregated by labels, #SB provided an evening where identity differences were utterly irrelevant.

3. Representation: Not only butches, but everyone was on site to celebrate a piece of our culture and heritage.

4. Self Exploration: Via the panel, attendees got to examine a piece of our culture and for some, a piece of themselves.

5. An event option that appealed to a wider audience: Event producer Heather Blum said it best: “I’ve long struggled with finding “community”; particularly spaces that don’t self-police rigid standards of behaviour and gender expression and/or solely promote excessive alcohol use. I felt very grateful to know that I clearly wasn’t alone in my need for a different way to participate in queer culture.”

6. Visibility: The foundation of the gay rights movement and a strategy of liberation – Be seen, celebrate, be proud. These are the only ways to shed shame.

7. Collaboration: In a community that has a reputation of not always playing nice together, #SB debunked that myth and showed that the community really can come together.

8. Celebration: The only way a successful weekend like #SB could end is with one hell of a celebration. We danced like it was 1999. Come Monday morning, not only our quads were changed, but our pride was firmer too.

“We can’t wait for #SuperButch 2” – Kelly Sanders Moffat of Kirrin Finch.

We are right there with you, Sanders Moffat!