Celebrating black lesbian love and relationships!

Black Butches Cry Too

Is Temper sad? Who knows.

I don’t know if super hot rapper Temper cries, but she looked sad AND hot in this pic.

Written by Zamara Perri

“A real butch doesn’t wear dresses. A real stud doesn’t wear make-up. A real tomboi doesn’t date other tombois. A real masculine woman pays all the bills. A real tomboi doesn’t cry—only bitches do that.”


Hanging around the black lesbian community, I’ve heard all of these things and more. And these ideas are dangerous and harmful. They are pretty much the same ideas that are central to the strong black woman myth and pretty much do the same thing to black lesbians who are more masculine—deny them their femininity, womanhood, humanity and agency.

I think black lesbian butches have it the hardest of any other minority group on the planet. They often cannot hide who they are. Because of their appearance, they daily deal with racist and homophobic harassment from men and women in the workplace, streets, our own communities and in their own homes.


Yes, we in the black lesbian community add to the stress that black butches face everyday. And sometimes the guiltiest offenders are those of us who are their femme partners.


My partner and I shared an intimate moment over the weekend where she told me that her six-year long relationship with her ex was pretty much a fraud. Why? Her femme partner wouldn’t allow her to be anything but the strong provider. As a tomboi who loved working out, she was seen as the “male” presence in the relationship. She wasn’t allowed to be soft. She wasn’t allowed to be weak, be sensitive, or hint at having feminine needs. In short, as a butch she wasn’t allowed to be woman.


When I met my partner, we acknowledged that we most likely would not have been attracted to each other had we both not changed. I wanted someone sweet and sensitive. She needed a woman who would let her cry. We both wanted comfort and softness and that’s what we have in each other.


The Expectations

If your partner cannot be herself with the person who supposedly loves her the most, how can you build true intimacy?

We force our black masculine of center women to conform to certain “male” standards and basically give them the hard side eye when they deviate from the script. I see it all the time and I’ve also participated in the shaming and side eyeing. This concern is central to the recently released documentary The Same Difference.

Black butches are weighed down by our expectations. We expect black dominant lesbians to only date feminine women, god forgive them if they date another dominant woman, wear make up or a dress. If a black stud decides to carry a child, then she must not be really gay.

Black butches just can’t win.

We sometimes expect them to do all the giving because they like wearing pants or can rock a Caesar. We think that they couldn’t possibly want anything in return except maybe sex and the satisfaction of having a pretty femme on her arms. And don’t let me get started on how she should like sex.


I had a friend, Angela, who was new in the life. She was quite feminine until she started dating women. She was hardly recognizable when we went to her wedding. Angela’s fiancée required that Angela dress in male clothing and provide for her and her four kids. And this woman who was new to the lifestyle and still figuring herself out, did it. Privately she told me that she wasn’t entirely comfortable dressing that way, but knew this was the only way to keep the woman she loved.


But like I said, I’ve participated in expecting previous aggressive partners to act only in the way I deemed sufficiently butch.


I’ve also dated a woman who was an absolute tomboi. She wore make-up and I found that so strange. I also dated a woman who was struggling financially even though she worked every day. She was embarrassed that I made more money than she did. Part of the embarrassment stemmed from her being a butch and feeling like she should pay for everything.

I have a friend who is a butch who is currently dealing with cancer. I’ve watched several people I love deal with this disease and it ripped their lives apart. But my butch friend is barely acknowledging that this is a scary time for her. Instead she is acting like it’s no big deal because she needs to be the strong butch. But I doubt that’s how she is feeling on the inside. Then again I have no right to tell her how to feel or act.


Overall, I would love it if we simply gave each other a freaking break instead of projecting ridiculous gender expectations on each other.


Most importantly, I would love to see more black lesbians accept the butches we love for who they are—100 percent women.


Let’s stop the madness, y’all.

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Article written by:

Zamara Perri

Zamara Perri is the founder and editor of the Black Lesbian Love Lab blog. She loves black love and loves mangoes, cats, reading, cooking and writing about some of the challenges and joys of black lesbian relationships.

Join the discussion

  1. Avatar
    Javon Monet

    I live for this! At the end of the day we’re all women. As a femme who loves masculine of center women I want my partner to feel safe with me, let your hair down, cry, and be vulnerable with me…that’s what I’m here for to love your rough and soft edges. Loved the post!

  2. Avatar

    I loved this article! I’m sure a lot of studs can relate

  3. Avatar
    Whatever Alias I'm Using Today Is..I Forget

    Everything in this article is so on point. Though I am not butch per se (I’m one of those heretic no labels); but I can relate to being pigeonholed. And although I’m generally attracted to those more feminine appearing; I am clear about being the soft, bottom bitch personality-wise. And have no shame about it. It’s about balance and reciprocity. No one is all of anything, all of the time. Another pet peeve is people calling butch on butch relationships, gay. I HATE that. It’s like, DUH?!! WTF do you think YOU are?

    • Black Lesbian Love Lab
      Black Lesbian Love Lab

      Wow. Thank you so much for your comment. Appreciate your feedback! This article came from me dating two butch appearing women who are very sensitive, tender and intelligent women who refuse to be pigeon-holed. They dress however they please and can be sensitive AND strong. We can learn so much from our partners if we let them teach us ?

  4. Avatar

    This is perfect! I’m a tomboi/stud but I wouldn’t mind being held sometimes.. The girls that I date bring me much anxiety to be their man! And I can’t be sensitive or nothing.. I’m supposed to spoil them with gifts and affections but I just get treated like a straight hardcore man ugh it’s so stressful.. And I used the term “girls” because I know that a real femme woman wouldn’t treat me so rough.. I mean I like to exaggerate myself and talk noise but I also let them know that I get weary sometimes.. Sometimes my shoulders are weighed down.. Sometimes I want a full body rub too.. I can’t wait to meet the perfect woman for me! Nice post, I can surely relate!

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