Each one of us, who stand out, have heard it time and again, in one form or fashion. “Why don’t you just try to fit in? It would be so much easier.” It’s like we, ourselves, have never come to this conclusion. Sometimes our differences are so obvious that we cannot just fit in. Other times we see our differences and accept them and decide we don’t want to. We live in a country that talks about being proud of not being like others but yet we tell our kids to just fit in when they seem to stick out like a round peg in a square hole.
Okay, so in 47 years, maybe I have gleaned a little bit of knowledge. What I have seen is when people want you to be different, it is because it already fits a very specific definition of where you are. By that, I mean that it typically falls to the cis-gendered, heteronormative, white subset of the population. Here is an example, for the longest time Donald Trump had been lauded as a businessman who would break the mold to get what he wants. People rallied that kind of thought and said it was what made this country great. But if a child expresses that they do not fit the mold of what their parents or the world sees them as, they are told to try to fit in. That they need to be fixed. It is okay to be different, as long as you fit squarely in the realm of what is understood.
I mentioned in my post last week that I knew I was different at a very early age. You could say it was a blessing, but at the time it was a curse. Knowing you are different and not being able to articulate it was insanely hard. We are made fun of for those differences at every turn and even sometimes to stay alive or think it is for that reason. I remember a time in sixth grade. I had begged my mother for this Michael Jackson look-alike jacket. It was black with zippers and studs all over it and I also had one of those glitter gloves he had. I was a bit in love with Michael Jackson. I figured that I would look cool and the kids at school wouldn’t pick on me for being different anymore. So why did I think a jacket covered in zippers and studs was a good idea?
There were two bully kids in my grade at the time and they threatened to kick my ass after school almost every day. I lived with a fear that I would be beaten to a pulp as I walked the hallways daily. They kept harassing me and when I tried to stand my ground in my Michael Jackson knock-off, they threatened to beat me until I would have to be taken to the hospital. They said they would kill me and at my young age, I didn’t know any different. I begged them not to and that I would do anything. You guessed it, for them to not beat me to within an inch of my life would cost me my newly gifted jacket.
I had to surrender to these bullies the very thing I had begged my mother to waste a large chunk of money on just for me to have. How was I ever going to be able to look her in the eyes and tell her what happened? If I did, she would come to school and raise ever-loving hell and that would only make matters infinitely worse for me. In the end, I lied and told her I left it either in a classroom or at lunch, and when I went back it was gone. I promised her that I would continue to look for it. I never did, obviously and eventually she stopped asking about it but said that I proved that I could not keep things that were given to me.
When I came out, finally, I thought I was in a place that would accept me for all of my differences. At the time I didn’t realize I was trading one cliche for another. I have never been a twink with a chiseled body. I am not hung like a porn star and I am no longer young. My body type has been on what is called the bear side since I left college. I haven’t ever actively pursued sex, meaning that one-nighters weren’t something I felt comfortable doing. I need a bit more of an attachment for it to be enjoyable. Even in the Bear community, I stood out. Sex is a part of it and because I am not hairy, a product of family genes, and not intentional.
It is these things that lead me to write my blog and doing my YouTube channel, to show others that there are not just a few types of gay men. There is no normal or correct way to fit in. We are as diverse as every snowflake ever created. So why do we strive to “fit in”? It’s about acceptance of who and what we are. About the recognition that we are valid and important. We are looking for other’s validation so that we can feel good about wanting to be different.