“I’m here to remind you that you have the right to be handsome,” reads the tagline to Mr. Rachel Tutera’s popular tumblr blog, The Handsome Butch.
Image from Rachel Tutera’s Twitter
Tutera, a contributor to sites like dapperQ and a stylist for queer women, who is also a clothier for the bespoke menswear company Bindle & Keep, is featured in a new, untitled, documentary produced by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s company, A Casual Romance Productions, and directed by Jason Benjamin.
“I started The Handsome Butch,” Tutera told Marie Claire in a recent interview, “because I could relate to the experiences of folks navigating retail landscapes that didn’t welcome them.” The blog serves as a resource for queer women who are interested in fashion, and in finding styles that fit them as queer women—who may or may not wear women’s clothing. Having lived through the uncomfortable experience of navigating women’s clothing through her early twenties, she aims to help her “handsome brothers and sisters” in the realm of fashion. More important is Tutera’s understanding of how aesthetics relates to ethics. “I wanted to play a role in transforming that feeling of dread [experienced by her fellow queers] into something healthy,” she wrote in a piece for The Huffington Post last year. “Healthy and handsome….[Y]ou have the right to be handsome” [is] a reminder to folks navigating the masculine landscape who don’t feel welcome there. That was what I’d call Handsome Butch preaching, and now that I’m working as a queer clothier, I believe I’m practicing.”
Image from The Handsome Butch
It’s an admirable new face to butch, one that promotes the ethic of “healthy and handsome”—an ethic, in other words, not entrenched in self-loathing or in defining oneself through the negative. “Queer,” which seems, in our culture, to come to fruition in our bodies and ethics by what we are not and/or what we don’t want or don’t have, is imaged anew through Tutera’s efforts.
Tutera, who defines herself as a woman whose “gender shares realities with a variety of genders across the spectrum,” explained to Marie Claire that certain mentalities don’t promote a positive lifestyle: “The ‘I’m too X to wear Y’ mentality that we have all at some time or another absorbed from around us; it can be unlearned. That’s how I felt as I approached menswear with my body. If you dress (and therefore act) braver than you feel, you’ll grow into that braver version of yourself.”
Dressing filmmaker and actress Kelly Sebastian
Image from The Handsome Butch
It is no surprise that this “feminist and gentleman who was born in the 1980s but raised in the 1950s” caught the eye of Dunham and Konner’s production company. In this documentary, Dunham takes us from the Greenpoint of Girls across Brooklyn to Bed-Stuy, where Tutera resides, to bring butch to the big screen.
Grab your popcorn, ladies. This is going to be swoon-worthy.
Image from INALJ