Who is the Butch and Who is the Femme?

Taylor and I call ourselves a butch/femme couple. We use this term with sincerity, as it reflects the way we dress, the looks we go for individually and the way we are perceived. To speak for me personally, I like the way the term places us historically: I hold LGBT history close to my heart, and butch/femme couples go way back on the lesbian timeline.

We also call ourselves this laughing, with a hint of irony. Remember the "Who is the monster and who is the man?" sentiment at the beginning of The Hunchback of Notre Dame? That reminds me of us. At first glance it's clear but looking deeper, our relationship begs the question, who is the butch and who is the femme?

My beautiful girlfriend has fairy princess curly blonde hair and large striking blue eyes. She looks like an illustration in a fairy tail crossed with a glamourous blonde bombshell. She wears very feminine girls' clothes. I'd actually never met anyone who shared my taste in women's fashion till I met Taylor. In contrast, my hair is cropped and I exclusively shop in the men's section. The only items of women's clothing I wear are socks. My formal wear is a suit and tie.

Taylor and I could easily be looked upon as imitating heterosexuality, at a first glance.
But actually, our relationship contains zero gender roles.
It's my favourite thing about us. Even before I met Taylor, I dreamt of finding a girly girl who liked the way I looked but didn't want me as her "husband". The idea that one partner must always be catering to and treating the other partner in a certain way because that is how they are supposed to act is, to me, ridiculous. Any good partnership must surely consist of each partner loving and taking care of the other one. I love treating Taylor... but I also like to be treated back.

Taylor lifts me up. Like quite literally lifts me up. We literally do the cutesy, chick flick, cuddle-jump-into-the-arms-in-happy-moments manouver. It's a regular thing we do. She's got about four inches on me and she's strong and athletic. We've perfected our wedding lift already. I'm the baby obsessive, the person who has always dreamed of pregnancy. I'm houseproud and love cooking. Tay is much more willing than me to get stuck in and fix, lift or figure-out-the-working-of something. I notice it when she's around my dad: he used to ask me to lift things and now he asks Tay to help! And we both love evenings out with cocktails, girly "sleepover" nights with movies and Ben & Jerry's, and helping each other perfect outfits.

I'm aware we experience a lot of luxuries because we're perceived as butch/femme. 99% of the time, we're read as a couple. Apart from one odd encouter in a Sainsbury's in the London suburbs where we were asked if we were twins, we don't generally get asked if we're related like I know a lot of gay couples do. Eating in restaurants, waitors and other patrons have referred to us as being on a date. I know this is something which many gay couples, and particularly femme couples, do not enjoy. I can pass as a man and this has lead to some amusing situations. We were attending a church service near my parents' house in Wiltshire and the marriage bans of some hets called Linda and Barry were read. At the end, a woman tapped us on the shoulder and said she assumed we were the couple whose impending marriage had been announced.

What does annoy me is people who know us making assumptions about the way our relationship operates. A person who used to be a friend made some really presumptive (and might I add, inaccurate!) comments about our sex life. Another friend commented that I must sympathise with his confusion at the level of feminity of his girlfriend. Anyone who had seen my girly trinketed flat or witnessed my forty-five minute morning routine would know I don't really share this bewilderment.

I'd be interested to know if there are other couples out there who resemble us. I've never met one personally. At the end of the day, we get one another and this is what matters, but it is odd to be surrounded by people who assume from our appearences that we're at different ends of the gender spectrum. Taylor and I are partners, best friends and ultimately, the things we most differ over are not gender-related and more along the tracks of whether chocolate or fruit is a better dessert. As a friend of Taylor's once commented, "You're perfect for each other. You both check yourselves out in the windows on the tube."