Happy New Year!

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Dec 312012
 

It’s hard for me to believe that 2012 is coming to a close. It’s been an incredible year –that has brought about huge growth and change for me as an author and as a person! I just reread the blog I wrote as last year was ending and it’s remarkable to me to see how much has changed in 12 short months. Last year at this time I’d just finalized the decision to publish Roving Pack through my own imprint, but I hadn’t yet shared that news with all of you (I announced those plans in January).  It seems unreal to me that now a year later the book has been out in the world for three months, and not only that but has connected to readers in ways that I never would have imagined.

This year much of my time was spent on the planning the production and then release of the novel. I’ve been humbled and overwhelmed by the incredible response from reviewers, publications, fellow authors and of course readers!  The pre-orders alone were far beyond my expectation and the excitement about the book has not slowed.  I’m so excited for 2013. Roving Pack has been nominated for a few different awards and my fingers are crossed really really tightly for all of those and to continue having the opportunity to correspond with readers all over the world who have been in someway touched and impacted by this story.

I’ve kept busy this year continuing to write my monthly column with Curve and guest articles and appearances places like The Bark and have had the chance to continue regularly contributing to Lambda Literary online.  Not only have I gotten the chance to read a number of incredible books before they released, I even had the chance to interview one of my literary heroes Jeanette Winterson and talk about our shared experiences of queer teen homelessness!

It’s been an incredible year of connecting with readers. Of course there was the magical Roving Pack national release at Bluestockings Bookstores here in NYC in October.  I also had the honor of organizing some wonderful literary events here in NYC – guest curating two Queer Memoir’s “Pets”  (click to see writeup in The Bark) in January and Queer Memoir:  “Leather” ( click to see writeup in Leatherati ) in March which was a fundraiser for Toni Amato’s Write Here, Write Now. (they are now doing an end of year donation appeal- donate if you can!) I also curated  s a “Dangerous Stories” reading event at the Rainbow Book Fair.  I’ve visited colleges, and then of course there was the 10 day, 5 cities Europe Tour that Kestryl and I organized this fall.  Touring with Roving Pack to Europe (my first time leaving North America) remains at the top of both the best career moments, and personal adventures I’ve ever had.  I think in a lot of ways I’m still processing everything that happened, all the connections that were made, and I’m so grateful for how well Roving Pack and I were received and how smoothly everything went.

In the final days of the year I’ve also been able to get Roving Pack available as an ebook – something I’m very excited about and feels like a great way to bring what has been an incredible year with this book to both a close, and opening a new chapter of the places this book will go next year.

In the midst of a year that was very much about Roving Pack I was approached to edit an anthology, a collection of BDSM fairy tales that became “Leather Ever After.”  This anthology pushed me in ways I hadn’t realized I needed to be pushed.  “Roving Pack” brought leather into the forefront of much of my work, and Leather Ever After (click to see our very new, and still under construction blog) really cemented its place in my writing and professional trajectory. Leather Ever After has been an incredibly fun anthology, and a year ago I never would have believed that something like this would fall into my lap! I’m ridiculously proud of how well the book came together, and with the quality and scope of the stories in this book.  It brings together a group of stellar Leather writers and I’m so honored to have my name listed as the editor.  The book will be releasing from Ravenous Romance very very early in 2013, and we will be having a big NYC release event at Bluestockings on February 13th with other events across the country organized by contributors to be announced soon.

One of the things that’s really come to the surface this years has been a profound rekindling of my passion for working with dogs.  I’ve talked on the blog about how adopting Charlotte last year really brought this, my oldest passion to the surface in a way that feels new and exciting and really inspiring. I’m working trick dog titling with Charlotte and exploring other ways to expand some of that work in my life.  I realize that this isn’t something that is necessarily of interest to some of you who are here because of my queer/leather/writing work. With that in mind I’ve started a new blog here called Tricky Tails: stories of a boy & hir dogs.  Where I’m posting training updates, videos, stories, and little ruminations on my life loving and training our dogs. Please check it out!

In the midst (and in so many ways because of) all the creative work I’ve been doing this year 2012 has also been quite the year for personal growth. I’ve challenged myself, and been challenged to really continue on the path of becoming the very best version of Sassafras that I can be, and the best boy I can be for my Daddy. I’ve had my challenges with whale legs (a term I’ve often used here on the blog to talk about fear/growth) and from those challenges is where the deepest growth comes from I believe.  On the whole 2012 has been a year where I felt like things have really clicked into place, where I’ve understood the work that I’m doing and where that is taking me. It’s also been a time of pushing through the kind of fears that previously literally ruled the ways in which I’ve understood myself in the world and comprehended my life, created family, relationships etc.

I’m so grateful as I realize that now the “normal” in my life truly has become a place of centeredness and integration where I feel as though I’m able to hold at the surface all the work that I do, not just a piece of it. I think that’s been one of the greatest blessings of having been able to bring Roving Pack into the world.  A year ago I was that queer that talked about queer youth homelessness, and in some ways only queer youth homelessness.  A sophomore book is always complicated, and I worried greatly how this noel would exist in the shadow of Kicked Out, and now looking back at the last year I realize that it is truly a separate entity that exists in its own right, and has given me the opportunity to do the same, to do work that is much more diverse and gives me the springboard to continue to grow and develop personally and artistically.

I’m so excited to be sitting here on the edge of the New Year and have an array of projects that are in the works.  Of course the release of Leather Ever After is nearly upon me, and I can’t wait to share this fun new book with all of you. I’m still finalizing bits and pieces of my touring schedule but I’ll for sure be at Florida State University in Tallahassee in the late spring, and then in New Orleans for the 10th annual Saints & Sinners Literary Festival!  I’m so thrilled to be part of the programming for S&S- it’s a lit event I’ve heard incredible things about and to be there presenting and reading is a tremendous honor.  While at the conference I’m going to have a chance to take a master level course from Dorothy Allison who is my biggest literary hero.

January 1st I’m also free to begin working on my next book – another novel titled Lost Boi. I’m a bit of a workaholic and unless I set hard rules (lets be real – unless those are set *for * me – one of the ways that leather and D/s makes me a better artists) about giving myself a defined break between finishing a book and starting the next one I’m prone to working myself into burnout exhaustion.  I have so many ideas it can sometimes pace myself. waiting to begin this book has been a challenge.  However, I know the break in significant writing (since I finished writing Roving Pack a year ago) strengthens the writing, hones the characters, and tightens the story(ies) that I want to tell. I know without the enforced break after completing Kicked Out (when I was incredibly burned out and exhausted) I never would have been able to write a book like Roving Pack. Ultimately, I believe it’s important to take breaks, to enjoy the special moments (did I mention I get to go to Disney World in two weeks?!), and to not push myself too hard as I begin work on new projects. That is a skill that definitely doesn’t come naturally to me but with a lot of support I’ve been able to develop the boundaries I need to give myself space to rejuvenate creatively, and to plan timelines for big projects (like a new book).

Roving Pack as my debut novel was in some ways an experiment. I wasn’t sure if I could write a book length manuscript. What I hadn’t expected when I began working on that book was to fall in love, not only with it but with fiction writing.  As I was finishing the writing of Roving Pack the idea for my next book came and I’ve been marinating ideas in back corners of my brain since then.  When the clock hits midnight tonight I’ll officially begin working on Lost Boi –  a modern gutterpunk Peter Pan retelling where readers are swept away into the world of lost bois living on societies fringes in squats and on the street. The orphaned/abandoned/runaway lost bois have banded together with the fairies against their sworn enemies – culturally appropriative urban primitives, and gentrifying pirates. The bois fight, fuck and have adventure in a world of kinky created family and hierarchy as they struggle to survive and resist the forces of their biggest enemy of all – grownups.

2012 has been a year that far exceeded my plans and expectations. I’ve been given the opportunity to do incredibly exciting work and share it with you, my community. I am so looking forward to 2013 and diving into new projects, and creative adventures and sharing it with all of you!

 

xoxo

Sassafras

 

Dec 292012
 

 

I’m a bit of a dinosaur in lots of ways, and my love of physical books is part of that. I am a profound lover of physical books- for christmas I even got perfume that is “paperback” scented! HOT! Regardless, I don’t live under a rock and  I also know that more and more people are reading books digitally via any number of ereaders. While not my preferred way to read (though I was somewhat tempted by it while on tour in Europe- books are heavy and I was hauling around enough of my own!) I have always intended for Roving Pack to be accessible to folks who read ebooks either out of preference or for accessibility reasons.

With that in mind, I’m thrilled to announce that you can now purchase your own ebook copy of Roving Pack. For $7.99 You will receive a PDF ebook copy of Roving Pack and it will be emailed directly to you within 48 hours (often much much sooner)!!!  Please help spread the word about the new way to read the book Lambda Literary calls  “Political, raucous, dark, and totally engrossing” and the Huffington Post says  is “a guiding light in the darkness of the false binary illusion of gender we’ve been too lazy to address”

Dec 182012
 

 


Ok that probably doesn’t mean much to most of my blog followers – also I haven’t actually been talking about dog stuff here on the blog so it also probably comes a bit out of nowhere for most of y’all.  Needless to say, I’m thinking about starting to do more dog focused blogging –possibly on a new site in order to keep that somewhat separate – especially because I imagine (and completely understand that) many of my readers of my books and leather followers are less interested in my dog focused posts.

me and Snickers when I was in high school

Dogs have always played a really important role in my life. Growing up as a small child they were the only things that mattered to me –t he most intimate and important relationships in my life.   As a teenager, before I came out, before I was homeless, before I was a queer activist I was a “dog kid.” I loved dog sports- connecting and having my brain working together with my dogs.  My story in Kicked Out is all about loosing my dogs when I became homeless, and remains one of the most difficult things I’ve ever written. My oldest dog Snickers and I were elite level dog agility competitors and I had an eye on qualifying for the USDAA nationals the next year.  In an instant it was gone.

In a year later I tried to get back into dog sports, when Mercury was just a tiny puppy. It was too hard, and someone I was involved with at the time convinced me that working with dogs was actually bad for my anxiety, my social skills, for me in general.  In reality?  This person never had my best interest at heart. In a fit of pain and longing in one of the 14 apartments/houses/basements/shacks I would live in over the next two years I threw out every trophy, ribbon except one, the very first little read second place strip ribbon we ever won.

Almost a year and a half ago Kestryl and I went grocery shopping and came home with Charlotte- a high needs rescue.  Charlotte had a hard start to life she was found at seven months old with a litter of puppies living on the street of a town in the South. She and the pups were taken to high-kill shelter and thankfully pulled from the gas chamber by a rescue and transported north to NYC.

It sounds really woo woo, but I truly believe that we were brought together by Snickers, the dog who kept me going through my teen years.  The day we brought Charlotte home I received a letter in the mail from my Grandmother who I’ve maintained a mostly estranged but superficial relationship with all these years. When I became homeless she had taken Snickers, Flash my younger dog had stayed with my dog trainer who’d I had been living with after things with my mother became too violent (my trainer of course being who kicked me out of her home for being queer).   The letter was to tell me that Snickers who by this point was very old, mostly deaf and without many teeth had peacefully died.  I was sitting on the couch crying as I read the letter with Mercury in my lap and Charlotte at my feet. As I looked into her eyes and I saw Snickers looking back at me. I believe that Snickers brought Charlotte to our family, that he knew I needed her as much as she needed us.

Charlotte has taught me so many things as I’ve watched her blossom from a scared dog who seemingly had never seen a toy before coming to our home, to a loyal fun and playful pup we lovingly call our wild thing. She’s a special needs dog and much of my work with her in the last year and a half since she came home has been around her dog/dog reactivity. Living in NYC working with that has been a number one priority.   She still struggles with dog/dog activation on the sidewalks of our Brooklyn neighborhood, but we’ve been able to even start doing work with her during the prospect park off leash hours where under very controlled circumstances (she’s on leash) she’s able to meet and interact with dogs (other than Mercury who she’s brilliant with). Sidewalks are still touch and go, but even there we’ve seen dramatic improvement in the last year.

Since getting Charlotte one of my main focuses has been on building her confidence, and using her brain. She’s taken to clicker training brilliantly, and a month or so ago an old dog buddy of mine helped me to do some preliminary starts on K9 Nosework with her.  What we’ve also been spending a lot of time doing which I haven’t been super public about is trick work.  She’s amassed a pretty impressive vocabulary of tricks- spinning (left/right), shake, wave, roll over, bow, targeting to hand, jumping over my legs etc. etc. etc.  Mostly we’ve been doing trick work for fun, but I’ve also had a little plan- I was working towards a trick dog title with her.

Even as dogs haven’t been the focal point of my writing or teaching work, they have in their own sneaky way remained a focal point in my life. During my punk years no one saw me in public without Mercury. I’ve written for canine press, and of course  I have multiple highly visible dog tattoos- a memorial for the dogs lost, a portrait of both Mercury and Charlotte, as well as a large calf piece of a dog agility course map.  In the past few years I’ve done a lot of work to dismantle my own trauma responses to the dog world, and thanks to the queer presence of amazing folks like Holly Hughes and other dog buddies of mine that there could be a place for me in that world, again, Charlotte earning this title is the first step of this and I’m ready to come out and say that I’m training again.

It feels so appropriate and fitting that Charlotte is the first dog that I’ve earned a title with since Snickers. I believe that part of why he
brought her into my life was in order to realign me with working with dogs, my oldest passion. Next training steps for Charlotte – other than continued work on her dog/dog reactivity is to work towards her Intermediate Trick Dog Title, at which point, I’ll also be working on something of my own – becoming a Certified Trick Dog Instructor. Then I plan to begin offering some fun, bond with your dog trick dog classes here in the NYC area! I’m so excited about the future of helping people to be more bonded, and to have better relationships with their dogs. It’s one of the things I’d felt called to do from a very early age- but then was snatched away from me. To be able to in someway revisit that dream as I move out of my Saturn Return feels like one more pieces of my life and work falling into place.

I’d been really nervous about telling friends about my intentions to return to dog training, fearing they would think it silly which clearly was my own insecurities talking. I have received nothing but excited support from everyone I’ve shared my plans with – dog people as well as other friends. It’s part of why I feel ready to share it with all of my blog readers. Last week my horoscope said: “”The Star-Spangled Banner” is America’s national anthem. It features the lyrics of a patriotic poem written by Francis Scott Key. But the melody itself is entirely lifted from a bawdy old song that celebrates Bacchus, the ancient god of wine and ecstatic dancing. I love it when things are repurposed as dramatically as that. Do you? The coming weeks will be prime time to repurpose stuff with creative abandoned. Make the past useful for the future, Taurus. Turn good old ideas into fantastic new ones. Don’t just recycle; transform” How fitting as I move towards bringing my work with dogs intentionally back into focus in my life.

Watching Charlotte blossom here in her forever home, to discover the joys of toys and carpet, to learn to trust, and to begin to work through all of the emotional and behavioral scars of an early life on the street has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever witnessed, and the work with a dog I’m most proud of. She’s taught me so much, and brought me back to one of my deepest passions. I know we’re not done growing and learning together. Most of all though today I’m just so proud of my girl-  Charlotte NTD


 

 

 

Dec 172012
 

Once upon a time, in a dungeon far, far away the kinkiest writers in the land were summoned to pervert beloved fairy tales with tales of dominance, submission, bondage and surrender. In these stories twisted princesses take control of submissive princes, witches play with power and fairy tales come to life in our homes and dungeons

Join NYC contributors and editor Sassafras Lowrey to celebrate the release of Leather Ever After published by Ravenous Romance

Wednesday, February 13th 7pm

Bluestockings Bookstore: 172 Allen St. NYC
Sponsored by Lesbian Sex Mafia

Readings by: 
Laura Antoniou
Lee Harrington
Hosha
D.L. King
Sassafras Lowrey
Karen Taylor
Mollena Williams

Sassafras Lowrey is an internationally award-winning storyteller, author and educator who has been active in leather community for over a decade. Sassafras is the editor of the two time American Library Association honored, and Lambda Literary Finalist Kicked Out anthology. Hir debut leather focused novel Roving Pack (www.RovingPack.com), was released in autumn 2012. Sassafras lives in Brooklyn with hir Daddy two dogs of vastly different size and two kitties that keep everyone in line. To learn more about Sassafras and hir work visit www.SassafrasLowrey.com

Lee Harrington is an internationally known spiritual and erotic educator, gender explorer, eclectic artist and award-winning author and editor on human sexuality and sacred experience. He is a nice guy with a disarmingly down to earth approach to the fact that we are each beautifully complex ecosystems, and we deserve to examine the human experience from that lens. He’s been traveling the globe (from Seattle to Sydney, Berlin to Boston), teaching and talking about sexuality, psychology, faith, desire and more, and has no intention to stop any time soon. He has been an academic and an adult film performer, a world class sexual adventurer, an outspoken philosopher, is a kink/bondage expert, and has been blogging about sex and spirituality since 1998. Read more about Lee at PassionAndSoul.com.

Hosha lives in Westchester County, NY with her wonderful wife, their amazing son, and their ornery rescue dog. As a family they enjoy stories of magic and all things fairy tale.

D.L King’s (http://dlkingerotica.blogspot.com/) short stories have appeared in titles
such as Best Women’s Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Hurts So Good, One Night Only,
Please, Ma’am and many others. She is the editor of Seductress, The Harder She Comes,
Spankalicious, Carnal Machines, Spank!, The Sweetest Kiss, and Where the Girls Are

Karen Taylor is the author of several of the short stories embedded in BDSM novelist Laura Antoniou’s fourth Marketplace book, “The Academy.” Other recent work includes stories in “Bondage By The Bay,” “Pirate Booty” and “The Love That Never Dies: Affairs with the Undead,” all from Sizzler Editions.

Mollena Williams: This “Delicate, Trembling Flower of Submission” © is a NYC born and raised writer, actress, BDSM Educator, Storyteller and an Award-Winning Executive Pervert. She is proud to have served as International Ms Leather 2010 and Ms. San Francisco Leather 2009. She is honored and humbled to have been selected to receive the 2012 Jack McGeorge Award for Excellence in Education by Black Rose, and is thrilled to have won the the National Leather Association’s 2012 Cynthia Slater Non-Fiction Article Award. Along with Lee Harrington, she co-authored “Playing Well With Others: Your Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities” She is the author of the “Toybag Guide: Taboo Play, and her essays appear in 2 anthologies curated by Rachel Kramer Bussel, as well as Lee Harrington. Not one but two essays commissioned by Tristan Taormino appear in the groundbreaking anthology “The Ultimate Guide to Kinky Sex.” Mollena is delighted to be a featured educator with The Kink Academy and columnist for SexIs Magazine. She is a regular featured storyteller with Bawdy Storytelling, has taken the stage for Porchlight Storytelling and has been featured on the “RISK!” podcast, as well as NPRs “Snap Judgement”. Her short, experimental BDSM film “IMPACT.” debuted at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in September 2012 and was also screened for Nuit Blanche 2012 in Vancouver, BC

Dec 102012
 

People love Roving Pack. I think sometimes friends are surprised by how shocked I am at this news, but I really am – and not in a self deprecating fishing for compliments sort of way. I wrote Roving Pack because I needed to, because these were the characters that I couldn’t get out of my mind, the story that didn’t let me focus on anything else until I had it on paper. One of the things that has been my private work with the help of those closest to me in the last three months since Roving Pack released (OMG how has it already been 3 months?!?!) has been learning to take in the compliments, learning to not just listen but truly hear the ways in which this book has impacted readers.

I didn’t expect such a steep learning curve in this department, but the experience with Kicked Out was so radically different because it wasn’t my book.  Kicked Out  truly in everyway belongs to each of the contributors, the family of writers who came together and partnered with me to make this book, this dream real. Every brilliant review, every honor we received belongs to us collectively. Learning to shift my language, my understanding to take in the praise that has already come for Roving Pack has been an intense one for me. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but am getting there. A pivotal point for me came waiting with Toni Amato for his bus to take him back to Boston after Roving Pack’s NYC release. I was being dismissive about something connected to the book, and he turned to me and said “There is a difference between being humble, and dismissing a readers experience.”  His comment shook me because before that moment I’d never thought of it that way.

A core component of my work is very much about creating books that tell a story that I needed (maybe still do) to read. The books that I am most drawn to, the ones that I have carried in my backpack and read over and over again, are the books that depict other worlds and experiences that in someway mirror my own. I think a big part of what touched me so intensely about what Toni said, was thinking about how I would feel if the author of a book that really intimately touched me, the kind of book where I was able to see myself reflected, especially a part of me or my life that I’d felt alone with, or had struggled and found tricky to understand or express to the world. If one of the authors who wrote a book that touched me so deeply then dismissed their work, dismissed the book, I know that I would be crushed, silenced. It never really hit me, even as the initial positive reviews and the brilliant endorsement blurbs came in, it hadn’t really hit me that a reader would feel that way about Roving Pack, about my book. The idea of dismissing my work and silencing someone who only moments before felt connected to my work is essentially the opposite of what I actually hope to accomplish in the world through my work.

I remember really vividly about this time last year when I was going into serious edits with Roving Pack still in the final bits of communication with a few publishers and finalizing the decision to go it on my own with this book that I had some panic about the amount f leather that was written into the book.  Toni who edited the book every step of the way and really helped to guide and direct my writing process gave me some of the best writing advice I could have been given: “This is your time to edge play. Write the most dangerous story you can.”   I followed that advice and didn’t censor myself or my vision for this book even though I feared the result might be a text too edgy, too much that would be off-putting to readers and reviewers. Much to my own surprise the themes I was most nervous about putting out in this novel – leather, the really complicated portrayals of gender are exactly the aspects of the book that it seems readers have been most drawn to, that they were the most hungry for.

Speaking of learning to take it in, this past week or so has been an exciting time as I look at the response to the novel – I appeared on Tristan Taormino’s “Sex Out Loud” radio show and we had a great conversation about gender and creativity and really dove into the novel – the show is now up for podcast streaming here.   Roving Pack also received an incredible review from trans author Everett Maroon on his blog – where Roving Pack  is compared to being a contemporary reminiscent of a Stone Butch Blues. Not sure I could get a better review than that.

In the midst of these great reviews this I also got some of the most touching reader letters I could imagine.  As an author I am humbled by people feeling so drawn in by the book, by the story that they took the time to write me a letter, drop me a private facebook message, or send me an email to talk about what the book has meant to them. I wrote Roving Pack  most of all for the genderfuckers, the leather folk, the punks, and the queers who are building their own families and figuring out how to survive. These are the very kinds of folks who are messaging me, telling me how in the pages of Roving Pack for the first time they have seen themselves, their families, and their lives. There is no higher honor I could receive than knowing in the pages of this novel I helped someone to feel that they were not alone, that there are others like them, that there is a home out there somewhere.

I am coming to understand that my job is not only to write these stories, but also to give the space for people to experience them. I’ve been so braced for the fight – I expected such backlash to Roving Pack that I never planned for what would happen when people liked it. Readers are connecting to Roving Pack in ways I couldn’t even let myself dream of. I’m proud of that, scared, but proud and incredibly humbled. Roving Pack matters to someone, to more someone’s than I ever thought possible. I’ve come to learn that it is my responsibility to move beyond my discomfort and own that, and honor the experience that my readers are having.

 

Dec 072012
 

modified Lisa Frank to look like me

At times I struggle with being everything, with the integration of all of who I am, and all the ways I exist in the world: leather boy (in some ways first and foremost), author, dog person (been doing a lot of growth, healing, thinking about that and hope to write more about it really soon), transgender/genderqueer, femme. FEMME.

I’m feeling really amazed at everything so much of my life right now, how I feel as though I’ve fallen into place and make sense in the world. In the past few years there were significant chunks of time where I’ve struggled with connecting to “femme” as being part of my identity. I had started to see femme as something I did – a gender presentation that worked for me, but allowed myself to skirt (ha!) around how I’d consciously chosen femme as a gender, and how that made it part of how I see myself in the world.

Yesterday I was home being sick and slug like on the couch I began putting into words for myself the importance of practicing what I’ve preached for over a decade around gender and sexuality existing on different axis points. For me a big part of continuing to claim and feel hailed by femme has been experiencing it as a gender, as my gender, without it having to be about sex, sexuality or anything on that spectrum. Ultimately at this point in my life I’m pretty uninterested in sex and that’s made femme a bit of a struggle for me because I’d come to see femme as being a lot about attraction both the object of, and being focused on the seduction of others. Those are both themes that I’m pretty intentionally divorced from in my life, and as such there were points where I questioned my claim to owning femme a gender.

In the last two years, but especially in the last year I’ve really come into myself. I no longer carry hear the constant voice of  “I wish I was XYZ kind of a fancy/pinup/grownup femme,” even the gender dysphoria that always left me questioning the decisions I’d made around going off T the last time (over 5 years ago now) has been silent in ways I never anticipated. Once I’d pretty substantially made my way through those self judgments and embraced the ways I actually exist in the world I was left feeling more comfortable in my life, and in my body than I ever have been in my entire life. I’d never go so far as to say that I’m embodied, but I do feel like I’m…. I was going to say at peace, but I think truce is a more accurate word, but it’s a solid truce with treaties signed and where soldiers have dropped their weapons in order to build. While all of this has gone on, I’ve in some ways let the gender stories get quiet and just kept doing gender in this way that leaves me feeling as close to embodied as I think I can get – rocking my strange little leather boy, crusty femme aesthetic that I chose, claimed, transitioned into when I left FTM/transfag/etc.

There is a way in which for me femme (right or wrong) at points has become conflated with attraction, sex appeal, seduction etc which is where a rub has felt particularly tricky for me because those are all things that beyond not being important to me, are actually something I’m entirely uninterested in. When I came out as femme eight years ago, when I began growing my hair, wearing dresses and stockings and lipstick it had nothing to do with being seen as attractive – quite the contrary it was about feeling as close to right as possible in my body, which quite frankly has rarely been about sex!  When I was butch/boi/visibly gedernonconforming, I knew how to work seduction- how to get someone to fuck me. I knew I was hot, or rather even if I didn’t believe it I knew other people thought I was hot – and really that was the most important thing to me at the time sex was a bit of a stopgap. I didn’t have to be in my body (and usually wasn’t) and yet it was a way of getting as close to surrender as I could, a way of getting close to someone else, when really what I was craving more than anything was D/s, as pack, was leather focused family.

I’ve done a fair amount of writing about coming to terms with being leather focused vs. sex focused – some here on the blog but also fictional pieces where characters are grappling with some of these themes – one of which will appear in Laura Antinious’s upcoming fanfiction Marketplace anthology titled No Safewords. I think the newer challenge for me has been to find ways that feel authentic, that feel right to start talking about gender, and specifically my gender again, and to do so in a way that puts femme back in conversation with my life. I’m excited to begin again talking about the way femme actually works for me and the way I’ve always expressed it- big stompy boots, weird children’s t-shirts and a playfulness that is far deeper than aesthetic wrappings and exists outside the sex-centric pressures both on a broader societal level, but also within our queer communities. I’m looking forward to writing more about the way femme works for me, but also about bringing these conversations into my creative writing. In January I begin seriously working on writing my new novel Lost Boi which I already know will be grappling with themes of queer femininity!

 

Dec 042012
 

It’s not often that I talk about mainstream media artifacts on my blog, but sometimes something catches me so intensely I can’t help it.   Kestryl and I first saw the ads for the Dreamworks movie “Rise of the Guardians” when we were on our Europe Tour – I think it was London or Paris where the tube stations were COVERED in ads for the film (one of these days I’ll do more blogging about how incredible the tour was and all the things that keep flooding through my mind). ANYWAY I was more than a little enamored by the image of a Santa clause with “Naughty” and “Nice” forearm tattoos – perhaps enamored isn’t quite the right word, lets just say that hit just about every one of my kinks, and I knew that it was a film I wanted to see.

Daddy surprised me by taking me to the film on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We’d headed into Manhattan to take a peek at a holiday craft market and were about to head home when we walked past a theater and ze suggested we see if the film was playing, and it was, and we went, and my world was changed.  Ok I know that sounds dramatic, and I know it’s only a cartoon but seriously this film hit all of my buttons in the very best of ways. It was centered around everything that I truly believe in, and was brilliantly crafted without one thing I would have changed.

I don’t want to give too much away because I really think it’s a film worth experiencing in the theater (I skipped the 3D version because that shit gives me a headache). For me the core of the film was about the power of belief, how damaging it can be for you not to be believed in, but also the power of belief itself, and finding and staying true to one’s center- that thing about you that is core and consuming and defines you.  Needless to say, the timing of this film’s release and my watching it couldn’t have been more ideal. I’ve blogged before how I wrote Roving Pack all through what I think were the brutalist waves of my Saturn Return, it was an interesting experience and also a profoundly powerful one and I can’t think of a better time for me to have been writing that book. It was the book I needed to write at that particular moment and  I’m painfully proud not only of it, but of myself and the self-work I did to be able to write the sort of novel I knew Roving Pack had the potential to become.

Related, I’ve been thinking a lot about littleness, the decisions that I’ve made around how public I have or haven’t been about leather in the broadest sense, but then too about what it means for me to identify as little. For a long time there were all these arbitrary lines I drew – saying that I identify as a leather person, but not saying that I was little, all the while posting on my social networking pictures of all kinds of “little things.”  Somewhere along the way (about the time I finished the first major edit of Roving Pack) I stopped being so afraid and came back out of the little closet (what drove me into it again in the first place is a whole different story) and began living more openly. Also central to the plot of Rise of the Guardians is the recognition that fear is the darkest enemy we will ever fight, but that we must fight  - see again, incredibly timely movie. Ultimately, there is no way that I could have moved forward with hiding this piece of who I am – so I stopped trying to and I started talking more openly about my life, my world and that led me to this place of realizing the power and value in naming exactly who and what I am. Although the novel is about so much more than this, I think on a personal level I needed to write Roving Pack in order to claim a public leather identity. By the same hand, I think I needed to edit Leather Ever After to reclaim a public little identity. I don’t believe in accidents. I know that I’m drawn to create certain work that pushes me in the ways I need to be challenged even if I don’t realize it until after the book is finished.

A week ago some dear friends who consider themselves my fairy godmothers mentioned to me a conversation they had with their child.  She’s six and asked her moms why I was “grownup and still played with toys” and “why Santa came to visit” me (they shared these things with her from my facebook).  When I first read that part of their message I panicked a little bit, worried and unsure of what was coming next.  Then,  my fairy godmother told me that she replied that “Sassafras wasn’t really been able to be a kid when ze was growing up, so ze gets to be one now. “ Her daughter – who I think clearly is very wise thought about what her mom had said, and then replied “that it seems fair” to her.

I almost started crying when I read that message because it felt like the most intensely appropriate way for someone to describe me.  Now of course before anyone starts writing an angry comment, I have (and do) offer more complicated analysis about how I don’t see being little as a direct product of abuse. Littleness feels like the most consistent and present part of me, I believe it’s who I would have been no matter what. However, it was a remarkable moment to watch someone outside the leather community really get me, and truly and completely embody what it means to be an ally.

The aspect of the interaction with my Fairy Godmothers was so intense because there was for me the realization that I was truly being seen, without the fetishized assumptions. For me being little isn’t a fetish, nor is it a kink. I bristle at those terms being ascribed to my littleness not because I think there would be something wrong if it was but because for me it isn’t. It’s my core, my center. The Rise Of The Guardians is all about finding who you really are and then understanding and claiming your center – what guides you. Most of all at my core I’m guided by whimsy. In my life that translates into the ability to look at broken glass on the sidewalk and see fairy dust, to believe that all around me is magic, and to constantly seek adventure

I find it so funny when people think living in a 24/7 power dynamic must be some kind of sexual fantasy playground. For me, leather is about many many things – packs, pacts, commitments, community, growth, and magic but rarely sex. I’m in a non-sexual primary relationship. I know that I have the most sexual compatibility with other leather boys, but even that isn’t a regular part of my life (something I never thought would be something that felt good). For me littleness is a way of life, the most authentic part of myself and where I’m most at peace. A couple of weeks ago I wrote on my facebook  “remarkable, is the feeling of being confident in my creative work: past, present, and future. to not just say but know that I’m on the right path- doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and have that coincide with unprecedented silence in the dysphoria department #gender #queer #writing #SaturnReturn”

The last decade + of queerness and leather has been an incredible journey. I don’t pretend I’ve got it all figured out but I really feel that in the past couple of years I’ve done substantial growth and so many puzzle pieces have fallen together, and perhaps even most importantly I’ve stopped being ashamed of my center, stopped wishing I could also want a different (read: boring grownup) kind of relationship stopped wishing I could somehow be different. I can’t wait to keep growing, and seeing what books I’m drawn to create

Also  – you should check out this video where I share my new favorite Christmas book (that we found in Europe on tour) with you:  THE DINOSAUR THAT POOPS CHRISTMAS!

 

 

Dec 032012
 

It’s hard to believe that we’re already nearing the end of 2012!  It’s been an amazing year, and I’m thrilled that again this year I got the chance to participate in the annual Band of Thebes best books of the year report where queer authors pick what were our favorite books of the previous year.  This year I picked Jeanette Winterson’s “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal”  seriously seriously tremendous book and incase you missed it I even had the chance to interview her this year for Lambda Literary.

There are tons of incredible books that made this years list picked by 87 queer authors!  I was thrilled and super honored to see Roving Pack made the list!  It was picked by the  spectacular Mattilda Berstein Sycamore!!! She said:

“Lowrey deftly explores the intoxication and viciousness of peer pressure in young queer lives, showing how the pack mentality required for belonging in our new communities often leaves us stranded.”