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Wednesday, March 10, 2004  

Blogospherics: In favor of outcasts

I am not much of a 'personal blogger.' To the extent I do any at all, it is usually giving my personal opinion on a public issue. But, I do read some personal blog entries. Occasionally, one of them will strike a chord with me. That occurred today with an entry I read at Muddy Blog. The commonality that initially drew me in to Anne's entry is introversion. Like her, I am more inner than outer directed.

There are also other aspects to her entry that interest me. Among them is Anne's individualism, though she does not use that word.


I commented on a post of Vanessa's with a vehemence that surprised me and then I realized why. It bothers me to be who I am. Oh, I wouldn't ask to be other than I am, really, but being bi-sexual to me has never been about politics or about "oh wow, yer bi too? We should hang out!" or etc. I am an introvert, I am a loner, and so the nature of who I chose to love (or who choses to love me) has very little to do with how I spend my time outside the bedroom. That's not something I'm proud of, not something I'd not dearly love to change someday, not something that doesn't quietly eat me up. It's just the truth.

God knows I am thankful for all those people who have made an impact on my life, who've been there for me when I needed them, who've loved me or who've given me love. However, I don't see those people as any part of any group besides "people who've loved me". I've never belonged to any cliques or been part of any communities. This didn't change once I discovered that I could be part of the "lesbian/bi-sexual community". In fact, it may have reinforced my introverted tendencies.

Now, far be to from me to judge an entire community, but most of those who actually have considered themselves part of the lesbian community have treated me with disdain bordering on outright hatred. Maybe I tried to too hard to be part of them when I first came out, but it was only because I was relatively young and wanted to be part of anything. I mistakenly thought coming out to certain people would instantly bond us. I was wrong. I was young and stupid, but those experiences scarred me. I was already pretty scarred, granted. However, I began to actually be envious of people who were black or white. How much easier it would be to "fit" if I could shove myself into one category.

In the end, I drove myself crazy trying to be anything but who I was. I was told, over and over that there was a "lesbian and bi community" and I tried my best to find one that would accept me. Finally, as I sat on someones couch one night listening to 16 year olds talking about how cool it was to "snog a girl" I realized I didn't belong there. It was basically a support group for lesbians. If I wanted a therapy session or a quick fuck I'd pay for one. I wanted friends. These people weren't my friends and never would be.

Maybe that's my loner nature talking, maybe if I tried an extra bit harder it would have worked out. I felt their eyes on me, though, telling me that I wasn't pure enough, not butch enough, not radical enough to be among them. So I left. I never tried fitting in again. It's just not something I excel in. I still think it must be nice to be so accepted, so certain of who and what you are, but that's not me. I'm not a "group" person. Don't we outcasts deserve love too?

I am not homosexual or bisexual, but I am 'marginal' in enough ways to know it. Like Anne, I have never done well in cliques. Usually, there will be some stance or requirement I find ridiculous and I will say so. The number one rule in groups is to conform to groupthink. So, saying something as unremarkable as 'I think Jesse Jackson is much too egotistical' or 'We don't know why people are gay, yet' is enough to kindle controversy. The 'in' people, insecure sorts who derive their identity from belonging to the group, will turn the most innocuous disagreement into a conflagration. In fact they are often waiting for someone to say or do something they can find fault with so they can act as enforcers. That is how they maintain their sense of status. I'll pass on them and their nonsense, thank you. The only groups I've been a longterm member of are writers' organizations and a legal fraternity. I've quit so many it is hard to remember them all. For example, the hypocrisy of members of the National Lawyers Guild turned me off while I was still a student. Too many of the members of the chapter I knew were small-minded, bigoted people who pretended to be 'progressives.' One of the privileges they felt they had been born with was bossing people of color around. They mistook wearing Birkenstocks for doing something to improve society. I often see that same phoniness in activities of such people today.

But, that is not the full story. Like one of my idols, writer Alice Walker, I have a bit of the actress in my personality. Sometimes, I play popular girl. I was considered part of the charmed circle in both high school and college when I sought that distinction out. (Walker was homecoming queen, believe it or not.) Being showered with accolades was fun . . . for a while. What I learned from that experience was how the minds of the group directed work. However, I was not impressed. Like, another writer idol, Joyce Carol Oates, I could hardly wait to get away from those people. (She sued to be released from her college sorority.) The shallowness. The self-importance of the people involved. The meanspiritedness toward anyone not in the group. There is not much to recommend cliques in my opinion. So, I believe Anne has made the right decision in not pursuing acceptance by groups. If she had, I think the disappointments would have continued. Not just because they would not have liked her. Mainly because she would not have liked them.

A question begs to be asked: Can people who are already marginalized as members of minority groups afford to be individualistic? There is certainly a price to be paid. The minority group member who chooses to be individualistic removes herself from any chance of embrace by that community. Anne experienced the scorn of the oppressed when she did not meet the expectations of the lesbian and bi-sexual cohort. I've heard of even worse situations, in which gay women revile or even attack bi-sexual women for not fully committing to homosexualtiy. An Indian or a black person who is not religious or 'spiritual' may find himself at odds with those 'requirements' for membership in the group. I have Asian friends who have been marginalized because they refused to conform to group contempt toward other minority groups, such as the rancor between some Koreans and the Japanese or the 'supposed to dislike them' attitude of Korean-Americans toward African-Americans. So, the minority person who chooses to be an individualist is taking a rocky path.

I do not have a 'solution' to the dilemma described here, for either the white, straight person who is self-directed or the doubly outcast minority group member who chooses to go his own way. However, I can say this introvert does not regret choosing the individualist's path. My pleasures in life have mainly resulted from being my inner directed self. The episodes I regret have occurred when I tried to fit in.

6:45 PM