Going From Butch 2 Bitch
Joe’i Chancellor found herself wondering if being gay has become a fad.
In her first book, Tomboy: From Butch 2 Bitch, the Richmond native examines street life with gritty dialogue and raw urban language. The novel explores the rough times of Jamika Brice as she deals with multiple losses throughout her life.
The death of two family members turns Jamika to a life of dealing on the street and find her in jail where she transforms into Jersey, a dominating black female, and finds herself enjoying the company of women.
Drama continues to unfold in Jersey’s life with the murder of her girlfriend and sets her on a scheme to seek revenge. As part of her plot to entrap her lover’s killer, she fems things up and finds solace in her new girlish alterego Iosha.
Equally interesting as the winding plot of the book is Chancellor’s path to writing. The self-proclaimed Queen of Highland Park had a limited relationship with the gay and lesbian community before she took pen to paper.
“A couple years ago, we discovered that one of our younger nephews was going to be gay,” she says. “You have to love your family.”
With media and popular culture more readily embracing homosexuality, she wonders, “Why are so many youth and young adults willing to embrace this culture as if it just a fad?”
“Those who have it in their gut to be and they are being true to themselves because by being gay makes them complete, I’m in pure support of those individuals.”
She first conceived the story line in 2004, but left her work undone until picking up writing again last year. In her words, it was all part of God’s timing.
“Once I read the story, I realized I wasn’t really the author, I was just the writer.” she said.
Chancellor says she’s an advocate of being who you truly are.
“I think it’s my obligation to speak to a younger generation,” she says of another hat worn as creator of The Link, an organization that mentors city youth. ”I’m true to myself. You need to be true to you.”
She brings what she calls her hood perspective into the book that allows her to speak to what’s happening in poverty stricken communities all over the world.
“We see imperfect all the time. We see flaws and the bottom. in a black community, our ‘heroes’ are drug dealers and basketball and football athletes. We are so used to the struggle and seeing negative things that a normal teen wouldn’t even be face up against. Death – growing up in the hood. crackhead moms, deadbeat dads, grandparents raising the kids – so we see so much rawness and imperfection, we have no sense of normal.
“If you grew up in a certain way, you can’t decipher what’s right or what’s wrong. I think what you see is what you become.
“My job is to allow our culture to see things in two different perspectives,” Chancellor said.
Through writing the book and telling the story of Jamika, whether Christian, straight, or gay, she believes everyone can get something out of Tomboy.
“We love the same. We talk the same. We communicate the same,” she says. ”The only difference is our partner in the bedroom. We’re all the same.”
Kevin Clay is the editor and publisher of GAYRVA.COM. He is a Richmond native, loves the city and knows it's on the edge of greatness. Don't hold back RVA. You can follow Kevin on GAYRVA's Twitter or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Somehow I learned that I belonged with my people and that I had a responsibility to contribute to them.”October 20, 2015
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