While lovedbyher’s main focus is to highlight stories of queer black love that would otherwise be skated over–we also look to have in-depth conversations around how black queers, single or in a relationship, navigate finding and being in love. Particularly, we look to share the stories and experiences of masculine presenting queers who don’t necessarily fall into the traditional labels and uniforms that our community are use to.
Historically, black masculine queers are both perceived and digested in a certain form. One that our community, and not just our society, has deemed acceptable; and by all aspects one that makes us feel the most comfortable. But from this mindset has grown stereotypes, restraints and vast judgements towards and around our more masculine counterparts. Often making them feel boxed in and in-prisoned by what’s expected of them; instead of free by what’s true to them.
To help LBH continue the conversation around masculinity and how it can define or constrain you, we talked to social media influencer Chico Dusty. With a Twitter following of over 14,500 people, Chico has rose to popularity through her openness and vivid storytelling. Queer and heterosexual followers alike enjoy the narratives and real-time experiences that Chico often shares. But being at the top of everyone’s Twitter feeds also means that Chico finds herself and her masculinity, or lack thereof [in the eyes of social media], challenged and questioned.
Tell us about yourself. What is your coming out story?
Chico: I was born and raised in a christian household, my dad died when I was younger and my mom got remarried to my stepfather. Both my biological father and stepfather were pastors of churches. I grew up in a very, very traditional christian household. I didn't really know what being gay was because it wasn’t something that was discussed. And when I did figure out what it was, it was because one of the church members, a teenage girl, was kicked her out of our house by my mother for being gay. I asked my stepfather what being gay was, and he basically told me it was a sin. But from that moment forward I always knew I liked girls. I knew I was different but also knew I would never say anything to anyone about it out of fear.
How do you define your masculinity? Does it intersect with the feminine parts of you, do you still identify as being a feminine, masculine woman in any sense?
Chico: I identify as a masculine presenting woman, but the only reason I call myself a “dyke” is because it's easier for other people to digest. I identify the way that I do because its a label that was forced on me. To me, it's not really about me being a stud or a fem or whatever anyone chooses to call it. This is the way that I dress because this is how I'm the most comfortable. I have always been the type of person where a part of me is feminine and a part of me is masculine, and that's always been okay with me.
When it comes to dating do those stereotypes play a heavy role?
Chico: Yes, because I think when people see the way that I look they expect me to be a certain way and they expect me to act a certain way. And when they actually interact with me and realize that I don’t act in the ways that are traditional for most masculine presenting women, it can throw them off. Which is why I like to date aggressive fems; a fem who can be both dominant and submissive at the same time. It balances itself out for me. Since I am a mix of both, I like feminine women who also possess both traits.
How do you navigate those discussions when it comes to new partners? Regarding stereotypes like penetration and heteronormative roles.
Chico: Typically when dating I like to present myself with a mask on. But I’ve learned it's unhealthy to do that. So now I look to show people who I am from the beginning so they'll be able to decide if this is what they want to go forward with.
As far as heteronormative principals like me taking out that trash, things like that, that’s something that I don't mind doing. It doesn’t click as something that’s like inherently masculine or inherently feminine since I do those these things anyways. But when it comes down to sex and penetration, that’s when I have to have a conversation with them from the jump like “hey this is what I like, these are the things I don't like.” I spent a lot of my life being repressed because people would tell me how I was supposed to act and “studs do this” and “studs don't do that.” So I became more comfortable with myself and realized that I had been preventing myself from experiencing so many different things. And ever since then I have kind of been pushing my own boundaries sexually.
"Loving me looks like acceptance, for my femininity as well my masculinity, taking me as a whole rather than picking and choosing which parts of me that you want to get rid of and which parts of me that you want to keep."
You often go viral with your stories because of the nature of your tweets, do you ever feel that you have to downplay or make adjustments to your personality as a masculine presenting woman based on your social media?
Chico: Yes. As for my stories, that was the first time I had ever taken strap for anyone, from anyone in one of my sex stories. And while I held off from sharing it for a really long time, I was also tired of feeling like I can't say certain things on social media because people will look at me differently. Eventually I didn't give a fuck, and I wrote the story so other people who maybe were afraid just like me, could see somebody else doing it and know it was okay. And ultimately, it has helped me become more open with my friends, my myself and my partners.
Let’s say I meet someone from Twitter, they've seen my stories, they've seen the things that I tweeted and they’ll already know what they’ll be dealing with when it comes to me.
Do you feel like with how open you are, you're breaking stereotypes of how traditional dykes/studs are accepted on social media?
Chico: Yes, I hope that I am doing that. I have received a lot of DMs from other masculine presenting women asking “how did you become comfortable with this?” or “how did you let yourself do this?” or “how can I do this?” And it's sad to me that they feel like they can’t tell people or they can't do these things because they're afraid of being judged. So I tweet things that I tweet or I tell my stories because I want people to be just as comfortable as I am. I didn't have anybody telling me that it was okay or thought the way that I think to make me feel more comfortable, so if I can use a platform that I have somehow acquired to make other people feel more comfortable and to break those stereotypes, that’s what I’m going to do.
Do you feel like the online community discourages masculine presenting women from being in touch with their feminine side?
Chico: I do to a certain extent, yes, but the only reason I say that is because every other week I see Twitter or some other social media forum, having the same arguments. Whether it’s us talking about fems sucking strap, dykes and penetration or stud4stud, all of these topics are constantly debated and argued over [that challenges our masculinity].
What does loving you look like?
Chico: I'm a very complicated person so I think that loving me has a lot to do with patience. I'm still getting to know myself and getting to know the things that I like and don't like, and I would want someone to be able to grow in those areas with me and with no judgement. Loving me looks like acceptance, for my femininity as well my masculinity, taking me as a whole rather than picking and choosing which parts of me that you want to get rid of and which parts of me that you want to keep.
Written by: Jay Hardy (@KaliforniJAY)