Being Different

I’ve always felt out-of-step, different. I never quite fit in, never quite feel at home.

This is not an uncommon feeling among writers or among those who read science fiction and fantasy. Perhaps it’s not uncommon in general.

Maybe nobody fits in, when you get down to it.

Though I have to say, thinking back to high school, that some people always seemed to be very comfortable with the way things were.

They were striving to be homecoming queen, not questioning whether homecoming queen was an important thing to be.

I should note that my difference wasn’t obvious on the surface. I’m a Texas Anglo, with roots going back to before Texas became a state. Most Anglo Texans who share that kind of ancestry look a lot like me. And I can still talk Texan when I need to.

Some of my difference was defined by politics. I went to a segregated high school in a small Texas town where they taught us — in the 1960s — that the Civil War was fought between us and them.

My parents held liberal views. They deplored racial segregation and Jim Crow, had Black and Mexican-American friends, voted for the most liberal candidates they could find, all that despite being descended from people who fought for the Confederacy.

Some of it was that I never felt comfortable in the limited roles available for women. I was never good at girly stuff.

My mother was a journalist who kept working even after the men came back from World War II. And my father was a big fan of strong women.

Some of it was religion. I was brought up Episcopalian in a town founded by conservative Quakers and also influenced by Southern Baptists. The local schools refused to hold dances, so we held them in the Episcopal Church.

Because of my family, I learned to navigate in a racist, misogynist, fundamentalist religion-centric world without losing my values. That is, I learned how to be different and still fit in when I needed to.

It wasn’t always easy, but I didn’t realize until fairly recently the amount of privilege I had from being white and Christian with deep Texas roots. My high school dating life was pretty much non-existent, but nobody was going to call the cops on me even though I was loud and outspoken.

I had room to be different and I’m glad of it. Continue reading “Being Different”