Banned: Stone Butch Blues

Banned: Stone Butch Blues

An Account of A Reading, Part I

Last year, the folks at the Philly ACLU asked me to participate in their Banned Books Reading. Before we read the challenged/banned book of our choice, we were supposed to explain why the book was important to us. I chose Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg for a number of different reasons, but the first part of what I shared that night was as follows: 

I once heard Dorothy Allison say "I'm alive because I picked up the right books at the right time. Some person on the page persuaded me my story wasn't over yet." Although Stone Butch Blues was published well after my growing up years, I remember reading a book called Tara is a Tomboy or something like that just about the age the boys wouldn't be my buddies anymore; and of course since I had always socialized with the boys, trying to hang out with the girls was like trying to learn another culture and language. I knew nothing about jacks and hopscotch. Tara was a Tomboy reminded me I was not the only girl like me.
Tara Was A Tomboy kept me going until I could find Stone Butch Blues, sometime in my 20s. The first time I read Stone Butch Blues, a small glimmer of hope was ignited. This was after my time in the convent when I was constantly instructed to "walk like a lady, Sister Mercy. Did you think Mary walked like a truck driver on her way to Nazareth” so I felt like my very existence was wrong. But reading Stone Butch Blues opened up a world to me that I hadn't know existed, a world where butch is a viable identity and that I could be proud of my female masculinity.