Sassafras Lowrey

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Copyright (c) by Sassafras Lowrey, 2008.

Homofactus Press

Sassafras Lowrey is a queer history obsessed genderqueer high femme, militant storyteller, author, artist, and activist. Ze believe that everyone has a story to tell, and that the telling of those stories is essential to creating social change. An accomplished storyteller, ze was an original member of "The Language of Paradox" founded and directed by Kate Bornstein, contributor to numerous anthologies including: LGBTQ: America Today, The Femme Coloring Book, Gendered Hearts, and Visible: A Femmethology. Sassafras and was honored as one of Portland's top emerging writers by In Other Words feminist books in 2004, and is the editor of the highly anticipated Kicked Out anthology (Fall 2009) from Homofactus Press. Sassafras is also the author of GSA to Marriage: Stories of a Life Lived Queerly (Homofactus Press, Summer 2010). Ze lives in New York City with hir partner, two puddle-shaped cats, and a princess dog.

GSA to Marriage: Stories of a Life Lived Queerly weaves a tapestry of raw and honest tales to explore the paradoxical nature of one queer’s life. Memories of childhood sexual abuse, coming out in a conservative semi-rural area and being kicked out as a teen for being queer emerge in these tales of survival, escape, and triumph. Following Sassafras through multiple gender changes from butch, to FTM, and finally to high femme, the stories play with fluidity and the politics of passing. GSA to Marriage charts a sometimes perilous journey to adulthood through the lessons learned in escaping the demons of one’s past.

Where I Come From a reflection of queer history, and butch/femme culture is an excerpt from GSA to Marriage included with the permission of Homofactus Press

Where I Come From:

an excerpt from the memoir GSA to Marriage: Stories of a Life Lived Queerly to be released from Homofactus Press Summer 2010.


New York


Butches sit posed

Scuffed saddle shoes

Half smoked cigarette

Black and white


99 cents

Yuppy card shop

Fingering cardstock

Bent edges

Stare into faded eyes


Smudged with times fingerprints

What would two old butches think

Of me

Purchasing there

Anonymous photo

61 years

After the flash


Checkered floor


To be buying


In card stores

Purchasing truth

That someone came first


Whoopee cushions

I've always loved butches, hearts of stone. Found my body pulled close, trembling beneath a firm touch. In the moonlight I can make out the faint line of scars. As darkness envelops us, your fingers stroke calluses, aorta, ventricles, valves, and chambers. Our hearts pull toward one another, songs of pain and longing spew forth as our veins sing as if a harpist's hand strums them together. Our journey, a harmony of collective pain, sorrow, and strength planting firm intertwined roots.

Bruises find one another. We know better than to shy away from the pain. Our hearts press into each other. Bruise to bruise, the sweet exquisite secret pain, which only the injured can ever adequately appreciate. Old wounds weep together with thick red blood. Pressed tight. Plasma trades aortas, telling fingers where it is safe to grip. Eyes locked, pupils focused on the first to understand.

Mouth to mouth we resuscitate each other. Our heat brings blood from trickling creeds into mighty rivers: Columbia, Clackamas, Willamette. Through your mouth I taste desert summers chasing lizards, through my lips you find your tongue coated with the metallic grit of dirt.

You hold my heart in your hand, callused fingers tickling my aorta as your nails and cuticles are dyed crimson. My blood warm and wet seeps through your fingers as they staunch its wounds. I beat tenderly in your palm, your fingers laced in intricate bondage around the subtle pounding. Don't let me go. Your touch, the most real I have ever felt.

Garage sales, flea markets, trashcans

Our families of origin

Burry our truths

Burned in oil drums

At the end of long gravel roads

Love letters charred

Marble fireplaces

Photographs left to rot in landfills

Buried under

Coffee grounds

Banana peels

Dirty diapers

Those rescued

Remain nameless

Circa 1943

Two men in polka dotted aprons

Stand thigh to thigh over a sink

In a kitchen that looks like the one

My grandma had

During the war

Circa 1954

Leather jacket

Jeans with rolled cuffs

Bound breasts

Beautiful woman on the back of the bike

Short-sleeved blouse


No helmets

The way my cousins would ride there


Through small hick towns

I want to know where we come from

Make a habit of scouring old photographs

Looking for faces of people

I can recognize


Searching for pieces of history




Telling us that people came first

Is dangerous

Convincing us we are alone



Keeps us scared


Circa 1957

Four women pose together

An east coast beach

Three in black stripped swimming clothes

The forth

Whit pressed pants

Button down shirt

Dandy sailor cap

Arm around the femme closest

I stare into their faces For clues

About who they are?


About myself

Who are we without histories?

We don't raise our young

Not guided to adulthood

With stories of people who have

Come (out) fist


Flower gardens


Circa 1943

Circa 1947

Circa 1954

Circa 1963

Circa 1948

Circa 1959

Circa 1964

Circa 1946

Circa 1952

Circa 1951

Circa 1957

I place them

Folded corners

Smudged images

In a box

Time to time

Finger the rough edges

Stare into faded faces

Begging them to tell me their stories