Editor’s note: The headline on this article has been updated to better reflect the entirety of our conversation.
Kai Brown aka the StudSlayer, the self-professed “king of stud 4 stud” caught my eye when I stumbled upon her Studslayer Tumblr page. I immediately found the pictures she posted of herself with her long-term partner “Slang” intriguing. Both women sport short haircuts and wear men’s clothing. I was so used to seeing butch/femme or femme/femme couples that their rare pairing piqued my interest. Below is part 1 of our conversation, which focuses on her relationship and why she brought to light her love for the bois:
Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): You consider yourself a stud. Please let us inside of your head. What is it about yourself that makes you a stud? Have you always identified as a stud?
Kai: The term ‘stud’ is a down south moniker for a masculine woman, and I am a masculine woman. For me it’s not just about wearing men’s clothes, its an attitude, a way of thinking and a lifestyle. I often [think] my environment as much as biology … produced the person I am. I was raised in a family that’s predominately male. ALL my career choices have been male-dominated careers so men is mostly who I’ve surrounded myself with [in] my adult life. I have always identified as a stud as far as presentation but ‘queer’ more accurately describes my mentality and sexuality.
BL3: There have always been people who wonder why lesbians date women who have a more masculine presentation. What would you say to people whose minds are blown by the idea of two studs in a romantic relationship?
Kai: Two studs dating has been going on since the beginning of time IN THE WHITE COMMUNITY! That’s nothing new. You see images all the time of white butch women together and no one bats an eye at that. The only problem with [stud for stud] s4s is in the black lesbian community. Our culture is very insistent on gender roles and those roles are reinforced through our music, the black church/religion and good ol’ patriarchy. So seeing two, butch, black women is often compared to gay men. Automatically our masculinity and identity is challenged and mocked. One of us HAS to be ‘the woman’ or the more submissive person. It’s very frustrating. Why can’t we just be two women who happen to be masculine presenting [who] are in love?
BL3: Why and when did you start dating studs?
Kai: I’ve been dating studs since I was a kid playing basketball in [the Amateur Athletic Union]. That circuit was my breeding ground for dealing with other masculine women. What better way to fool around than under the guise of basketball? But peer and community pressure forced me to conform and I dated femmes in the open and snuck around with my bois. As I got older, I just got tired of sneaking and more importantly I was tired of denying my sexual desires. All too often the femmes I dated were forcing gender roles on me. I was always the one who had to take out the trash, lift heavy items, do all the work in the bedroom while I got nothing. If I mentioned I wanted to receive sexual pleasure from my femme, I was shamed and teased and told ‘studs don’t do that’ or ‘studs are not supposed to want to be touched.’ WHAT?? After too many encounters like that, I decided I was going to date bois full time AND be open and proud about it!
BL3: So Slang was not your first stud girlfriend? How was that received by your family and in the community? How did you handle the feedback?
Kai: Slang was not the first but she is certainly the BEST! LOL. Our families (hers mainly) looked at us funny for a moment, but it’s never been a big issue. My family already knew how I rolled so they didn’t care either. Now the community—Washington, D.C.—is definitely steeped in gender roles so when we ‘came out’ as a couple, we got a lot of looks and questions ESPECIALLY during PRIDE events. But it’s been six years and everyone knows us so it’s not an issue anymore.