Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Social Science Gender Studies


All Ways Butch and Femme

edited by Ivan Coyote & Zena Sharman

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2011
Gender Studies, Lesbian Studies
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2011
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Named a Stonewall Honor Book by the American Library Association

Lambda Literary Award finalist
In the summer of 2009, butch writer and storyteller Ivan Coyote and gender researcher and femme dynamo Zena Sharman wrote down a wish-list of their favourite queer authors; they wanted to continue and expand the butch-femme conversation. The result is Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme. The stories in these pages resist simple definitions. The people in these stories defy reductive stereotypes and inflexible categories. The pages in this book describe the lives of an incredible diversity of people whose hearts also pounded for some reason the first time they read or heard the words "butch" or "femme."
Contributors such as Jewelle Gomez (The Gilda Stories), Thea Hillman (Intersex), S. Bear Bergman (Butch is a Noun), Chandra Mayor (All the Pretty Girls), Amber Dawn (Sub Rosa), Anna Camilleri (Brazen Femme), Debra Anderson (Code White), Anne Fleming (Anomaly), Michael V. Smith (Cumberland), and Zoe Whittall (Bottle Rocket Hearts) explore the parameters, history, and power of a multitude of butch and femme realities. It's a raucous, insightful, sexy, and sometimes dangerous look at what the words butch and femme can mean in today's ever-shifting gender landscape, with one eye on the past and the other on what is to come.
Includes a foreword by Joan Nestle, renowned femme author and editor of The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader, a landmark anthology originally published in 1992.
Now in its second printing

About the authors

Ivan Coyote is the award-winning author, co-author or co-editor of eleven books, including Tomboy Survival Guide, shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Nonfiction Prize and an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. They are also the creator of four short films as well as three CDs that combine storytelling with music. Ivan is a seasoned stage performer and an audience favourite at storytelling, literary, film, and folk music festivals. Their latest book is Rebent Sinner. Ivan lives in Vancouver.

Ivan Coyote's profile page

Zena Sharman is a writer, speaker, strategist and LGBTQ+ health advocate. Sheâ??s the editor of two books, including the Lambda Literary award-winning anthology The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care. Her book The Care We Dream Of: Liberatory and Transformative Approaches to LGBTQ+ Health is forthcoming in 2021. An engaging speaker, Zena brings her passion for LGBTQ+ health to audiences of health care providers and students across North America.

Zena Sharman's profile page


  • Short-listed, Lambda Literary Award
  • Winner, ALA Stonewall Honor Book

Editorial Reviews

Touching on a wide range of colors in the prism of butch and femme sexuality and identity, this compilation is indispensable to the lesbian community as an emblem of how far the female gay community has come, and in what direction their mighty assembly is headed. It's the ultimate "gift to those just discovering themselves." -Bay Area Reporter

A new collection of essays exploring the funny, messy, confusing, contradictory, liberating, confining, wet wild ride of gender from a powerhouse cross-section of the queer world's smartest and sexiest writers, poets, musicians, activists and scholars ... It's a must-have for the shelf of anyone who lives and loves and jams in this crazy world of mystical gendered bodies, and is a nice reminder that butch and femme are as past as they are present as they are future, and that there are as many ways to do masculinity and femininity and everything else as there are smart, freaky, quirky people walking around on this planet. -Autostraddle

It is thrilling both to see an incredible storyteller [Coyote] branching out in a new direction and to have another name [Sharman] added to the lexicon of top-notch queer thinkers. -Gay People's Chronicle

The butch/femme dynamic is a conscious, loving binary of desire and trust ... it's a dance of love and outlawed romance. Butches and femmes share a sense of tribe, extended family and kinship--no matter what our genders might be. There is no doubt in my mind that this book will soon be recognized as a major contribution to the shelves of our queer literature. And it's totally gonna be a must-have bedside reader for many. This is a smart, loving book by some terrific writers. They all know what it means to live and love as butch/femme beyond the stereotypes, and they've made their diesel femme Auntie Kate very proud of them. -Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw

The rowdy, queer contributors to Persistence address the immediate, often loaded, topic of butch-femme from every angle, confirming once again just how central this label-and-experience is to queer history. This thick volume is so personal and comprehensive that it feels a bit like my most recent lesbian camping trip where butches, femmes, and the otherwise queerly-gendered made fires together, grilled up fine-grade tofu, and then spent hours bonding over our spontaneously-assembled archive of queer experience. With this same spirit of generosity, Persistence excels in the extreme sport of queer truth-telling, thanks to its ambitious editors Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman. The book feels fresh and radical throughout. -Lambda Literary

A collection of pieces that refutes the idea that butch and femme identities are outdated, and asserts the timelessness and importance of their vibrancy and complexity. -Bitch

Twenty years after Joan Nestle's The Persistence Desire: A Butch-Femme Reader, this rambunctious, truth-telling, gender-confronting anthology both honors its antecedent and pulses with contemporary, assured, personal and provocative prose about the personas of femme and butch within the queer community." -Book Marks ("Best Books of the Year")

The writers in Persistence share some essential traits with their predecessors [in A Persistent Desire], including a sense of otherness and a need to kick out the constraints of binary gender and find strength in one's "deviance." -Herizons

A poignant, defiant, sometimes amusing and often challenging exploration of the terms butch and femme. -Xtra

The death of butch-femme has been greatly exaggerated. This beautiful collection captures the intensity of gender variant communities now while continuing to make important links to pioneers from the past. Here we meet femme sharks and cowboys, faggy butches, studs and futches. This book is like a pocketknife, it is useful, sharp and in the right hands it can do anything. -Jack Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity (1998) and In A Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005)

Editors Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman have produced an inclusive and balanced anthology that illuminates a wide array of issues surrounding gender and identity ... Persistence is a worthy read for those versed in contemporary gender identity issues, and for anyone with an interest in authentic documentation of human experience. -Quill and Quire

Persistence opens up the concepts of butch and femme identity, revealing a fluid and nuanced spectrum of gender experience and self-creation. -Shameless

Reading Persistence is like attending a dinner party with people you never got the chance to talk to before--fascinating, brave, insightful people--some of whom are very well known and others are simply the people you want to get to know. All of them talk frankly and with genuine courage about what it means to live outside the norms of society. From the introduction by Joan Nestle to the closing commentary by Ivan E. Coyote, these are entries that examine the daily lives of contemporary gender revolutionaries with reference to both the history and the myths of Femme/Butch existence. It is a manifesto and an invitation. Read Persistence and look again at what you thought you knew and get to know some of the people that will be defining what it means to be revolutionary in the coming decades. -Dorothy Allison

Equal parts manifesto, thesis, coming-of-age tale, and love letter, Persistence breaks the reductive, sanitized gender stereotypes of what it is like to be a lesbian-especially ones who don't look like Ellen DeGeneres, Rachel Maddow, or a cast member of The L Word ... It's a worthy collection that brings nuance back to notions of dykes, femmes, butches, and lesbians all. -This Magazine

Other titles by Ivan Coyote

Other titles by Zena Sharman

Related lists