What my grandma taught me about being butch

Artist and performer Mia Johnson describes herself as “masculine-centered.”

She is the creator of a new one-woman show, Pink Lemonade, talking about everything lesbian, female masculinity and childhood.

Johnson told PinkNews: “I always was really masculine-centered – even from four or five I just really rejected everything that was supposedly for girls.

“And I think that does really impact you even in adulthood, and only as an adult in my late twenties am I really unpicking and unpacking the way that society operates and impacts you.

“Being more masculine-centered, when I hit puberty, boys would make comments about my body and if I didn’t present femininely enough, I would get called names.

“When you’re growing up and you’re at that age where you’re not sure, you’re conflicted, it can be really difficult. And so that’s why I think it’s important that we share experiences so that other young people – and even adults – can see your work, relate to that, and know you’re not alone.”

Jonhson’s understanding of butchness stemmed from conversations with her grandmother.

“My grandma told me this really interesting story about when she was really young – so this would have been in forties, maybe early fifties – about how her mum would take her to a pub.

“They would have to cross through a certain section of this pub and there were these women in suits, smoking cigars, and she was really fascinated by them.

Mia Johnson (The Queer House)

‘I feel like butch women back then, for them, it was a real political statement: this is me, this is who I am. I really connected with that, I thought it was really empowering so that inspired me to write about my own experience.

“So I really wanted to look at lesbianism and queerness and female masculinity, and share my own experience of that. It affects how we move in the world and I think it’s important those stories are told.”

“I always was really masculine-centered as a kid” (PinkNews)

Her show, Pink Lemonade, is set for its debut at the Camden People’s Theatre in London on Sunday 12 August.

The production is supported by The Queer House, an agency for queer artists and actors set up in response to the lack of diverse roles in the arts.