Sugarbutch Says: Butches On Television

 
 

Dani Campbell, on the other hand, featured on Tila Tequila‘s reality TV show A Shot At Love, identified openly as “futch,” which she identified as a combination of femme and butch, and her gender presentation was almost entirely masculine.

I don’t know why she felt it necessary to dilute the word butch with the "f," but I do support anyone in their own process of finding the particular word that fits. Regardless, when I saw her in her bikini top and board shorts doing cannonballs into Tila’s pool, and when she spoke of her firefighting career and sweet family life, my heart went out to her, and I was certain she was too good for Tila.

Dani’s gender identity did not seem compromised at all, in playing herself on a reality TV show. While her masculinity was probably encouraged and a bit exploited by producers of the show, it didn’t seem she had to “femme up” her presentation or or hide who she was, and she was not subject to fictional character weaknesses as Daniela and Kate’s portrayals were. Her time in the spotlight was short-lived, as was her attempt at a follow-up clothing line (also originally called Futch), but I suspect she won’t disappear altogether.

The second person on this six-person list who actually identifies as and uses the word butch is Skyler Cooper. She is relatively new to acting, coming to it after careers both in the military and in the tech industry. She is also a bodybuilder, continuing to keep up her own personal training pursuits, Sky Body Fitness (skybodyfitness.com) even as she is pursuing an acting career. She’s had a few prominent roles, like the lead role in Shakespeare’s Othello, the documentary Butch Mystique, and the lesbian television series Don’t Go (which was never picked up by a network), but so far, her roles have been limited.

I haven’t seen much of Skyler’s acting, but in the clips I have seen, she is tremendous, and I would love to see more of her. I can’t help but wonder, however, if her masculinity is going to hinder her career.

Would it be easier for her to get a job if she could “femme up,” like many of the others on this list? I sincerely hope not, but the range of gender representation is very narrow in Hollywood, television, and the celebrity world in general.

Folks like Ellen and Rachel and Katherine are pushing the limits, but the most successful butch and genderqueer performers have also been able to tone down their own presentation of masculinity if needed, and seem to be willing to do so. However, the visibility and range is broader than it was even five years ago, and certainly ten years ago, so here’s hoping that folks like Skyler, Daniela, and Dani will have more access to good roles and more understanding for the ways in which they identify and present themselves as their careers go forward.

Let’s keep celebrating and encouraging this wide range by supporting and watching their shows and endeavors.

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