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Eloisa Aquino's illustrated life stories of queer heroes who have bucked feminine norms and lived extraordinary, creative lives.
115 backers pledged $4,036 to help bring this project to life.

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Queerness has many brilliant facets. This illustrated book celebrates butch lesbians throughout history and today, including heroes like:

  • Gloria Anzaldúa, a theorist, academic, and writer who introduced the concept of the borderlands, an idea that encompasses and goes beyond geography and genre and into identities of race, sexuality, and gender.
  • Gladys Bentley, a larger-than-life character and crooner during the Harlem Rennaissance
  • Gertrude Stein, who famously bent the English language to her will
  • Claude Cahun, an agender French surrealist artist who was imprisoned for distributing anti-Nazi propaganda
  • Chavela Vargas, a hard-living, iconic Mexican singer who came out at age 81

And there are so many more! From living singers, thinkers, and filmmakers to legendary and brilliant creative minds of the past, this book hones in on a specific identity and paints it large and proud. Every star portrayed in this work was assigned female at birth and went on to strongly express a butch identity while living public, creative lives. 

The Life & Times of Butch Dykes is a compilation of zines published by Eloisa over the past decade. With drawings, stories, and quotations showing the great contributions as well as little, human details about their lives,  it's perfect for people of all genders seeking role models or to learn or teach history through its unsung heroes.

From the chapter on Chavela Vargas, the text reads "There were years of odd jobs, adventures, and amateur singing. It's likely that Chavela BECAME Chavela in those years, before her first recording, at 30. She invented the singer in pants and short hair who sang romantic rancheras to women. She amazed people."
From the chapter on Chavela Vargas, the text reads "There were years of odd jobs, adventures, and amateur singing. It's likely that Chavela BECAME Chavela in those years, before her first recording, at 30. She invented the singer in pants and short hair who sang romantic rancheras to women. She amazed people."
"During the last decade of her life, [Audre] Lorde spent long periods of time in Berlin doing activist work and in St Croix, Virgin Islands, where she died, after taking the African name Gambda Adisa, which means 'Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.'" Then a quote from Lorde: "If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive."
"During the last decade of her life, [Audre] Lorde spent long periods of time in Berlin doing activist work and in St Croix, Virgin Islands, where she died, after taking the African name Gambda Adisa, which means 'Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.'" Then a quote from Lorde: "If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive."
The text reads: "JD Samson has been called the most radical sex symbol of the band Le Tigre. As a teenager, JD was mustache-bashed until the day they decided to reclaim the facial hair and love it. They have "mustache" tattooed across their chest." (Note: JD typically uses she/her pronouns, but gave us permission to use they/them pronouns in this book as a protest against the binary.)
The text reads: "JD Samson has been called the most radical sex symbol of the band Le Tigre. As a teenager, JD was mustache-bashed until the day they decided to reclaim the facial hair and love it. They have "mustache" tattooed across their chest." (Note: JD typically uses she/her pronouns, but gave us permission to use they/them pronouns in this book as a protest against the binary.)
A spread from the chapter about supermodel Jenny Shimizu, which reads "Her parents were accepting when she came out. 'The only hardship was that my mom kept asking me, "You're gay, but could you PLEASE wear woman's shoes?"'"
A spread from the chapter about supermodel Jenny Shimizu, which reads "Her parents were accepting when she came out. 'The only hardship was that my mom kept asking me, "You're gay, but could you PLEASE wear woman's shoes?"'"
In the chapter on Judith Butler, this spread's text reads, "Butler never shies away from political activism, speaking up against Zionism, racism, homophobia and transphobia, offering her voice in support of anti-oppression causes, like the Occupy Wall Street Movement." Then there's a quote from Butler: "If hope is an impossible demand, then we demand the impossible."
In the chapter on Judith Butler, this spread's text reads, "Butler never shies away from political activism, speaking up against Zionism, racism, homophobia and transphobia, offering her voice in support of anti-oppression causes, like the Occupy Wall Street Movement." Then there's a quote from Butler: "If hope is an impossible demand, then we demand the impossible."

About the author

Eloisa Aquino lives and works in Montreal, where she runs the micro-press B&D Press. She was born in São Paulo, Brazil, where she made zines and worked as a journalist and translator, and moved to Montreal in order to pursue a Masters in Media Studies. Eloisa's work is focused in non-fictional illustrated narratives on queer topics, especially focused on stories and histories at the margins.

About the publisher

Microcosm Publishing has been publishing and distributing books and zines since 1996. Based in Portland, Oregon, we are proudly independent and our mission is to give you things to read that help you empower yourself to create the life and world you want to see. Our vision is to change the face of publishing to reflect the world's readers.  

About the rewards

The book itself!

The Life & Times of Butch Dykes: Portraits of Artists, Leaders, and Dreamers Who Changed the World by Eloisa Aquino is a 256-page, 5x7", hardcover book, small and sturdy enough to throw in your backpack, big enough to fuel your best dreams. 

Extra books! (For yourself or for queer centers)

Just add $19 to any level pledge, and we'll either send you a second book or give an extra copy to a queer resource center. (We cover shipping for the books we give to queer centers; If you're outside the US, and want extra books for yourself,  ask us how much to add on for extra shipping costs.)

Historical Heroes 

Looking for more illustrated inspiration and role models you probably didn't learn about in school? 

  •  The Life & Times of Butch Dykes 
  •  Firebrands - Similar to Butch Dykes, this book features descriptions and portraits of radical leaders across the Americas by members of the Justseeds Artists Cooperative.
  •  Teenage Rebels - The illustrated stories of US teens throughout history who fought for their and others' rights... and won.

Sexytimes 

If you're looking for some resources about putting your sapphic (or any other kind) of desires into practice in sex and relationships, look no further! 

  • The Life & Times of Butch Dykes
  •  Sex from Scratch - A book about relationships—and how to create the ones that suit you, regardless of what you grew up thinking your love life ought to be 
  •  Sex Without Roles - This zine about exploring sex at the same time as exploring your gender, or while your body changes, is profoundly useful for anyone who wants to go beyond their learned or habitual gender roles 
  •  How to Give a Woman an Ohhh! - And finally some extremely practical advice on exactly what the title says! Written with cis-hetero pairs in mind, but it'll get you where you're going

Feminist Art (and Humor!)

  • The Life & Times of Butch Dykes
  •  The Post-Structuralist Vulva Coloring Book - Illustrations of all kinds of vulvas, accompanied by quotations from postmodern philosophers, de-centering the establishment and un-essentializing whatever we think we know about this part of the whole
  •  The Stoner Babes Coloring Book - All sorts of real-life babes posed for this elaborate, colorable art and answered questions about what empowerment means to them
  •  Manspressions - The language of the patriarchy, decoded at last. Be it a manologue, a treatise on manthropology, or an outburst of manger, these are the words you've been looking for

Queer AF


The video for this project is narrated by Beth Hamon and animated and edited by Benjamin Derrell Thompson 

Risks and challenges

After 24 years in business, we're confident in our ability to publish and deliver a kick-ass book. The real risk in this project is that we're dipping our toes into the raging river of cultural debate. When we asked Eloisa if we could compile her bestselling zines into a book, we didn't know that there was a marginal but noisy movement to cement an exclusive, gender-essentialist lesbian identity. This book embraces women who reject societal expectations of their gender and so in no way endorses that movement. Gender is what you make of it, and we're here to stick up for your right to identify and express yourself as you see fit—especially, in the case of this book, through masculine femininity.

Thank you for backing and believing in the power of books to reflect our best selves and change the world!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 12 or more About US$ 12

    Life & Times - PDF only

    A PDF copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes

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    Life & Times - Hardcover

    Get an early copy of The Life and Times of Butch Dykes. (Want more than one copy? Add an extra $19 per book, if you're in the US. If you're outside the US contact us for additional shipping costs.)

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    Life & Times - Hardcover & PDF

    Get a hardcover copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes mailed to you as well as a pdf of the book for your digital perusal

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    Get to Know Your Heroes

    A copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes, plus two more books of illustrated heroes, historical and contemporary: Firebrands and Teenage Rebels

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    Get Your Sexytimes On

    A copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes, plus a book and two zines to inspire you to revolutionize your sex + relationships: Sex From Scratch, Sex Without Roles, and How to Give a Woman an Ohhh!

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    One book for you, one for a queer center

    At this level, we'll send you a copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes and send another copy to a queer center or queer-friendly school for their library. Thank you!

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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Feminist Art (and Humor!)

    Get your copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes, plus more feminist, artistic books: Manspressions is an illustrated humorous lexicon for understanding how the patriarchy works in all our lives. And we have two coloring books here: The Post-Structuralist Vulva for deconstructing your gender essentialism, and The Stoner Babes for hours of chilling out

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    Queer AF

    At this level, you'll get a copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes, plus a pile of queer books (and a zine): True Trans Bike Rebel, Portland Queer, Indestructible, Distance Makes the Heart Grow Sick, and Shut Up & Love the Rain

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    One book for you, 5 for a queer center

    Yay! Because you rock, at this level we'll send you one copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes and FIVE copies to a queer center, school library, or other friendly place where we know they'll fall into good hands. Thank you!

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    10 Life & Times hardcovers

    Ten copies of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes! Perfect for your birthday party, your roller derby team, your library system, your comics shop, or really for any occasion.

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    All the Books!

    At this level, you'll get a copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes, plus a copy each of the other books and zines offered in this project, including the Heroes, Sexytimes, Feminist Art, and Queer AF levels. So many books! And our huge thanks.

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    One book for you, 10 for the world

    Oh hell yeah! At this level, you'll get your own copy of The Life & Times of Butch Dykes, and enable us to give TEN to a queer library, program, classroom, or other place where representation matters the most. Thank you the most!

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Funding period

- (30 days)