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On Being a Misfit...and Loving It

I have a commute to work which, if not, soul killing, is at least soul numbing, but my car has a premium sound system with 10 speakers. Music is my sanity. I happen to love songs that tell a story, that contain a message. So many top 10 hits and pop songs don’t tell a story or tell a story that makes no sense, so MeghanTrainor’s “All About That Bass” really caught my attention. It spoke to the misfit I am, have always been.

Before I go any further, let me say I have always embraced my inner (and outer) misfit. I was fortunate enough never to suffer from the need to fit in, which was a good thing because I neither fit in, nor blend; blending to me equals death. Skinny, sissified, I never had any hope of “passing;” I didn’t have the desire either. I wouldn’t try to pass for straight (even if I could) any more than I would try to pass for white (if I could).

“I’m all about that bass, ‘bout that bass, no treble.”

As I understand it she’s referring to her size (“I ain’t no size 2”) and embracing it, rather than trying to be a size 2. I applaud that because translated, to me it says, “I am different from you and I am not only ok with that, I embrace and celebrate my difference.”

I am appalled and dismayed by the homogeneity of today’s youth—they all dress alike, shop at the same stores, carry the same iPhone, share the same friends, go to the same blockbuster vampire movies.  More disturbing still is they all seem to want to be the same. I am saddened when I see scores of parents hauling their look-alike children off to soccer each Saturday morning.  Do none of those children want to go to piano practice, or lay in the backyard staring up at the sky, or stay in their room and make up stories about imaginary friends and places? Decades past my childhood, I still sit in my room and make up stories. You couldn’t pay me to attend a soccer game.

It is no wonder then that our gay youth panic when they realize they are different from their straight peers; it is no wonder we heap praise on the all too rare parents who laud and support their “queer” children.

For my day job I was doing some research and came across a warning that said companies that offer employee referral programs should only offer those for a period of three years. The reason being that people tend to befriend people like themselves, people who act and think as they do, so if a company only hires employee referrals, they will, in a short period, end up with a homogenous workforce, comprised of employees who all think and act alike which results in stagnation and an inability to remain competitive due to a lack of fresh ideas and diversity of thought.

I try to include a diversity of characters in my books: black, white, Hispanic. And a range of emotions and approaches to life. My characters range from the cheerfully promiscuous Dondi and the almost virginal Matthew in What Binds Us, to the sissified but stead fast Lincoln in Unbroken, who rejects any man who is not his beloved Jose. When a friend chides him for spurning yet another would-be suitor, Lincoln icily informs him, “You—and he—need to realize that just because he wanted to fuck me, doesn’t obligate me to let him.” In Damaged Angels, I wrote about hustlers and the mentally ill and the drug addicted.  The tension in these stories comes from their interactions and relationships with others who do not share their addiction, or illness or desperation.

“You know I won’t be no stick figure, silicone, Barbie doll, so if that’s what you’re into, then go ahead and move along.”

How powerful those words belted out: I’m not your version of perfect or acceptable, well that is fine, just go on because I don’t need you and I don’t need your approval.

For me, the standout star of the video is Vine celebrity Sione Maraschino.  He is large, very large, but he can move; he dances with an infectious joy, without self-consciousness, and is transformed into a very sexy man. I posted a picture of myself from when I was a sophomore in college. Seeing the picture, a few people referred to me as handsome, which surprised me because I am not. Even when I was young, I wasn’t the sort of man anyone would look at twice but once people got to know me, saw my joy, my loving heart they seemed to see some other me, a me they saw as handsome and were attracted to but it was an attraction that was born of something else. I remember one guy in college telling me, “You’re not good looking but you have a certain ‘je nais se quoi,’” before lunging for me.

I suppose the point of this point is to encourage everyone—especially our youth—to be unafraid to be themselves, to embrace their differences and fly their misfit flag high.

“But I’m here to tell ya every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”

Check out this alternate jazz-infused version of “All About That Base” here.

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