Krista Burton, the blogger for humor website “Effing Dykes,” gave a “femininitea” at the Yale Women’s Center to about 75 women and two men, primarily students, last Wednesday as part of Pride Month. She read excerpts from her highly popular and award-winning blog — whose catchphrase is “Your Girl Gaydar Sucks. Let Me Help You” — discussing plaid shirts and hair. Her blog readings sought to answer questions such as, “So how do we tell the difference between hipster girls and girls that might go down on us?” After the readings, Burton answered students’ questions, talked about her blog, her former life in a Mormon community and her personal development.
Q What was it like coming to Yale?
A I was really proud of myself because I got myself on the train. I’m reading this book called “The Professor and the Madman,” about the guys who put together the Oxford English Dictionary. One of the first things that they define in this book is the word “monomania” — a fierce obsession with one topic. I started to go, “Uh-oh.” The madman is put away for this. He’s put in an asylum for the monomania. I have monomania. I’m obsessed with queer stuff and gay girls. I really like girls a lot. I never get tired of talking about it. Every time I see a large group of queers in here, it just makes me so happy. You have a lot of ’mos on this campus. I was in “The Book” [Book Trader Cafe] and saw asymmetrical hair, one earring. Are you kidding me? You guys are so spoiled. I found out you have a rugby team; that’s cool.
Q Why did you decide to start this blog?
A They say to write what you know, and I know about lesbians. Not all of them obviously, but I love them and obsess over them, and so I felt like I was qualified to write about them. And also my friends kept asking me ridiculous questions. Straight friends would see me as like the token lesbian and just use that opportunity to ask me completely inappropriate and really, really stupid questions and so I was, like, you know what, let’s start a f–king blog for you all so you can read about lesbians and know what they’re actually like and see that they’re not like mythical beasts. And the last reason is I want to help other girls who didn’t have a clue about which girls were gay even if they were clearly gay. I wanted to help girls get laid.
Q How have some of your attitudes changed after starting your blog?
A I posted a blog about bisexuals — nobody was reading it at that point. I was seriously biphobic. [I would say], “Really, you’re bi; oh, you like guys. Bye!” In the end I took the post down because the comments were putting up evilness. I am no longer biphobic. I wrote a blog about scissoring and how I thought it was ridiculous and totally made-u p… People were like, “Are you kidding me this is like a real thing.” They were right. It works. You just gotta work on that.
Q What is your family background?
A I was raised extremely strict Mormon. I know that there’s just Mormon and not-Mormon, but we were really strict. My parents were local officials in the church. We were the chosen people; that’s awesome. It’s great to be on the winning team! I’m a Foremon, and ex-Mormon … [I read about] marrying a returned missionary when I was five. You cannot get to the highest level of heaven unless you are married and have children. I was Mormon forever until I went to college and stopped going … I started reading anti-Mormon literature.
Q When did you come out?
A I officially came out in college. I had been engaged to this handsome Italian guy, Giavonni. He had a sister. Eh. It didn’t end well. My mom had just loved Giavonni. He’s so charming. We were going to get dual citizenship, and I came home unengaged … [My mom said,] “Krissy, are you a lesbian?” I was drinking and I choked on my water. She looked at me and said, “We can’t tell your father; he will love you less.” My dad knew because he has Facebook. I thought I had blocked him but I do not understand technology super well, and he was getting all my notifications. My mom still cries every time I talk to her. She already knows I’m definitively going to get the lowest rung [in heaven], the telestial kingdom — a place without God. It’s a lot like earth but supposed to be better, so I’m actually pretty psyched. She’s been into the church for so long, but every now and then I get glimmers of the cool lady she could be if she could just break out a little. It kind of f–ks with her values when she sees that [my girlfriend and I] are fine and we are happy. It conflicts completely with what the church tells her, so I think it’s a very complicated situation for her.
Q Did you ever expect you would cultivate such a wide readership?
A No, never. It was a blog for my friends. It was specifically a blog for a particular friend who would ask me stupid questions. And I would be like, “Hey, go read this! I wrote this, for you. Shut up!” And then it turned into being a blog about the lesbians I knew in Minneapolis, like my circle of friends, and purely for our entertainment, which is how I started categorizing lesbians because we would see sporty dykes out and it was kind of like, ‘Hahaha here’s a way to spot them!’ It was extremely stereotypical. It’s a joke. I meant it to be funny. I don’t think that that would fly these days. I was still squealing in the car if I had like 16 comments and like, “CJ [Burton’s girlfriend], pull over so I can read these.” I was thinking of [stopping the blog] and Kelly [the friend who asked stupid questions] was like, “Krista, you can’t. I’m learning so much.” Right around the one-year mark, I started getting emails. It just kind of exploded out of nowhere.
Q What are some rough drafts you wrote that never made it to the internet?
A I wrote one about combat boots. Come on, they’re dykey! Right? So dykey! But I forwarded it to a bunch of friends and they’re like, “Yeah no, I’ve never really noticed the combat boot thing,” and I’m like, “Really? Are you looking at feet? Like half the bar is wearing combat boots right now, in some form.” But nobody agreed with me, and so I had to revise it.
Q What is the most outspoken piece of mail you have ever received?
A I get the ‘God hates fags’ people. The Westboro Church. Sometimes I get a women’s studies major who is pissed off, like really pissed. And maybe just saw a post that was completely out of context on someone’s else’s blog or maybe just saw a part of a post and doesn’t know that the blog is basically a humor blog — you know, helping dykes to laugh at themselves — and is seriously pissed and just lets me have it. They used to scare me to death, because I’m not a women’s studies major; I failed that class. And I’m not a person that really likes to talk about theory. I get bored. They still do scare me now. I just feel like, ‘Oh my God, I said something stupid, I’m an idiot, maybe this really did offend people,’ because I don’t like to offend people, just sometimes people get offended, and they write me really fiery emails. “First of all, how can you begin to know what a butch lesbian would dress like! How dare you, having never walked a mile in her shoes!” How dare you talk about trans people? How dare you talk about straight women? How dare you talk about God? Anal sex. Anything. Mormons. Just how dare you. By God! I get thousands of emails, divided into categories. I have a folder for creepy ones, a folder for religious people, for people who want me to plug a movie, for nice people who are having a problem. There are lots of queer blogs out there. I’m not sure why I get a lot of email. People send me [ideas] all the times, and that really helps.
Q How does your blog influence the culture it documents?
A I think once something has been pointed out people sometimes go, “Oh, that might be a gay thing.” “That’s so funny, I have a studded belt,” or, “That’s so funny, I seem to own 30 fedoras — that’s really interesting.” They start to notice it and then they become conscious of something that they’re doing. And then it turns into a thing that other people can recognize if they’ve also read the blog.
Q How do you see your blog?
A I think it’s important to note that the whole blog is my personal experience. I don’t have any degrees in gender or sexuality, and I’m not a person who is in any way academically qualified to talk about stuff like that. It’s just my personal blog. Sometimes people forget that. I just think lesbians and queers in general are really interesting that I just really want to write about them. Everything I do there’s exceptions, obviously. A lot of people write me angry letters because they don’t know that. “Excuse me, I wear ruffly plaid!” “Cool! You’re still gay!” [The blog’s also a] great spot for me to post funny pictures I feel like nobody else cares about. You have to look at a picture of my rabbits!