Persistence: All Ways Butch & Femme

Ivan Coyote

Ivan Coyote - Speaker - BUTCH Voices Conference (2009) - Persistence Co-Editor

This review was written by Andrea Zanin.
Appeared originally: Xtra! Canada’s Gay and Lesbian News.

“The Vancouver-based couple was inspired by Sharman’s reflections and research on femme invisibility and Coyote’s attendance at the summer 2009 Butch Voices conference. Another major factor was the strong reader response to Coyote’s pieces “A Butch Roadmap” and “Hats Off to Beautiful Femmes,” columns published by Xtra in July of 2009.

“The response I got from those two pieces was incredible and pointed the arrow at how we needed some new discussion and some contemporary cultural product that dealt with butch and femme desire and issues,” says Coyote.

The editors chose the title Persistence for two main reasons: first, to pay homage to The Persistent Desire, the landmark 1992 butch-femme anthology edited by renowned femme activist and writer Joan Nestle. “That book factored pretty big in our understanding of ourselves as baby butch and baby femme years ago,” Coyote says.

Nairne Holtz.Sharman adds, “I think the second reason is to point out the persistence of these identities. Over time and over changes in communities, butch and femme continue to thrive.”

Joan Nestle herself wrote the book’s foreword — a contribution of which Sharman and Coyote are particularly proud, especially since Nestle originally declined to participate. “She said she’d always steadfastly refused to do a sequel to The Persistent Desire because she saw it as really capturing a moment in time,” says Sharman.

Coyote adds, “She was worried that it was either us or our publisher wanting to ride on her coattails. So I thought, ‘Okay, Coyote, you gotta charm Joan Nestle, but you’re not the only butch who’s tried to charm Joan Nestle, so you gotta be charming without being too charming.’”

S Bear Bergman.The charm worked, and the resulting foreword “really situates Persistence and where we are today in this very powerful context,” according to Sharman.

Coyote adds, “Her foreword alone is worth the cover price, as far as I’m concerned. It’s really beautiful and a really good reminder that we still have lots of places to go.”

Persistence also includes the work of two contributors from the original Persistent Desire.”

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