The Next Queer Book You Should Read

“Are you going to stop dressing like a gas station attendant now?” This wasn’t the first time my mother had asked me that. We’d been fighting about my appearance since the seventies, a decade that still employed gas station attendants.”

Ty Bo Yule, Chemically Enhanced Butch
The Flaming Carnival of Deviance:Read It!

Happy Pride Queers! I know it was yesterday. That means today, I get to promote the book I wrote. It’s called Chemically Enhanced Butch. It’s a queer memoir, but funny. It’s the coming of age tale of the old school butch you’ve been waiting for. Look at that carabiner on my belt loop. You have to earn that many keys. I opened the last dyke bar in the upper Midwest to get those keys.

The bar didn’t last, because the best things in life never do, though I did accidentally nail some guy in the junk with that hammer. I eventually made the decision to grow my own sideburns instead of pasting hair clippings to my face, so I don’t know if I still get to call myself a butch, but I do, and we can talk about it.

“For the space of a song, I achieved the Rainbow Connection that Kermit the Frog had once promised me as a child.” 

Ty Bo Yule, Chemically Enhanced Butch

I’m of an age (fifty) when I can still remember Ronald Reagan and Tammy Faye (before she became a drag queen) and mullets unironically. I got to spend my twenties in San Francisco. That was the 90s y’all, RIP. So many girlfriends, so many drugs. I had a motorcycle and a mohawk. I really miss being that attractive, but I don’t miss being that dumb.

“But if I had to pick a moment in my life, like if a genie was forcing me, to go back and whisper some hard-won insight to a younger me, I would go back to early 1991, when I drove over that hill by Candlestick Park and saw the San Francisco skyline for the first time. I would tell that twenty- one-year-old dummy, “Pay attention. This is special. You’ll never see anything like this again.”

Ty Bo Yule, Chemically Enhanced Butch

I didn’t take testosterone until I was 41, during my second semester at Harvard Divinity School. That’s another good story. Spoiler alert – it involves another doomed encounter with a pretty straight girl. Could my character be any more inevitable?

“She couldn’t have anticipated the out-of-control rock-’n’-roll semi, overloaded with grief and tornadoes, she was encountering when she made her first clever jest to me. She was just hoping for an escort into the forbidden roadside queer juke joint she hadn’t yet had the occasion to see.”

Ty Bo Yule, Chemically Enhanced Butch

Butches are hot and insecure, heroic and unsympathetic, well-meaning and woefully overwhelmed. We wrangle an unfathomable amount of complexity into that Dickie’s short-sleeve button up. Often we spend a decent majority of our energy trying to showcase our magic to our parents and normative society, in general. Alas, the only way their untrained eyes would ever be able to discern it, however, would be if we managed to change the world. That is why we spend the rest of our time pretending we are secret Hobbit superhero, unless we are busy getting a new cute girl an almond milk, half-caff, chai latte.

After decades of depression and terrible decisions, sifting through cliches and archetypes, some of us find a place in our bodies to negotiate a truce with our demons. I’ll take this happily ever after. That is an act of resilience and transgression that does actually change the world.

Come read my story. Be a pirate with me. Be weird with me. Have difficult conversations with me. If you’re a misfit, you’re not alone.

Links to buy the ebook on my homepage. Paperbacks coming in July.

2 thoughts on “The Next Queer Book You Should Read

  1. I very much enjoyed reading your book (and if you check me out on Goodreads, you’ll see that I’m a tough grader). It took some time to win me over. Early on you seemed hellbent for chaos for no particularly good reason, but following along with your adventures, I developed respect for your tenacity and dedication to your community. It’s also nice to encounter a “chemically enhanced” butch who still acknowledges her X chromosomes. I’m an older butch lesbian who grows her mustache sans T. I don’t mind being misgendered in the streets, but never in the sheets, as it were. So mazeltov on the publication of your memoirs. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have at least another book in you, and I’d like to read that one, too.

    • Thank you so much Candace. It means so much to me that you read it and took the time to give me feedback. It’s nice that it is positive as well. I was a mess for a very long time. Thank you for persevering through my chaotic phases. Self-destruction is a hard habit to break. Congratulations on your self awareness as well. Older butches are my favorite.

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