It's hard for me to talk about who my femme role models are and were, because I didn't really have any. The word Femme was foreign to me until my early 20s, and was uttered to me about me by a at-the-time-butch-identified-tiger-in-the-sack-who-is-now-a-handsome-guy.
So actually, none of my role models have been Femmes, at least not the ones who have made the biggest impact. They've actually been a variety of people on the trans-masucline end of the gender spectrum. They've included Sinclair Sexsmith, who was the person I turned to after the above incident, to get a better idea of what meant, who admired them, and more. Sinclair wrote about femmes, talked to me about femmes, and when I would be in the same area as Sinclair, my femme-ness came out even more in response.
Then there was J...my at-the-time-genderqueer-and-trans-identified-masculine-partner-who-has-now-re-come-out-as-a-femme. J was very masculine, and more over, J was a femme lover. I mean, some of it is the clothes, but I don't wear heels often, and at the time, I almost never wore lipstick. It didn't matter. Once, when I was wearing a 50's style dress, and walked into the room with some femme-i-tude, J's mouth just dropped, and I was stared at for a few seconds. Then, in a blink, J was under my skirt eating me out. That helped me to realize my femme power, and sometimes, as I like to call it, my femme wiles.
Meeting with and talking to other femmes has helped too. I get reinforcement that there is no "right' way to be femme. At the AEE/AVN show in Vegas last January, I sat at a table with a few other femmes; Dylan Ryan, Courtney Trouble, and some lovely ladies from Good For Her in Canada. We were all femmes (minus Jiz, who played out Genderqueer straight man if you will...it made sense in my head), but each of us had a very different interpretation of what "Femme" meant to us. I realized, yet again, that Femme is in the eye of the beholder. It's a very concious gender presentation, but it is not soley defined, and definitely not always defined by feminine.
Ivan Coyote had a spoken word piece on the net a few months ago...a thank you to Femmes. Hearing it, and watching it, I was brought to tears. I have been there. So much of what he said is me. It's reassuring my partner(s) that their gender is perfect, whatever it may be. It is figuring out sex with someone without pronouns, a cock or a cunt. It's freezing my ass off because god-damn-it this dress looks good and I want people to see it. It's buying lingerie that I may never wear in front of a partner, because *I* look good in it, and that matters to me. It's matching my sex toy collection to my wardrobe.
It is so many things, and most of these things I've discovered and embaced not from other femmes (although they've reinforced it), but from friends, partners, authors, and performers who love and admire femmes. And to all of you, I say thank you.