A Rather Queer Year – By John Scott Holman
Editorial Warning: Wrong Planet is a family-friendly site. However, the following article discusses adult topics involving sexuality and includes strong language. Parental discretion is advised.
queer – adj. – (kwir)
1: a: worthless, counterfeit
b: questionable, suspicious
2: a: differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal
b (1): eccentric, unconventional (2): mildly insane: touched
c: absorbed or interested to an extreme or unreasonable degree: obsessed
d (1) often disparaging: homosexual (2) sometimes offensive
3: not quite well
I am queer. Forget, for a moment, Chick-fil-a or that lovable character from Modern Family; focus, instead, on the definition printed above. What does Mr. Webster have to say? How do you measure up? Queer behavior would appear to be startlingly common.
“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” ~Alan Alda
Are you queer?
Do you ever feel awkward and phony while donning an uncomfortable social mask… at a funeral, perhaps, or on a first date? Do you secretly engage in harmless but potentially “abnormal” private behaviors? Have you ever believed the intensity of your interests to be a bit, well, intense, almost obsessive? Do attractive members of the same sex make you feel hot and restless within the denim confines of your new pair of skinny jeans?
Do you know the feeling of being an outsider, a misfit toy, playing the part of someone else, day after day? If you do, indeed, then you are not so remarkable – you’re as queer as the next human being! Humankind is a queer lot; sexuality is merely one reflection of our beautiful absurdity. Eccentricity and obsessive interests are characteristic of the autism diagnosis, yet in varying degrees, they are actually characteristic of homo sapiens in general.
While we’re on the subject of homo… er… sapiens, I should mention that I’m also queer in the popular and crude sense of the word – I’m a guy and I like guys. If that makes you uncomfortable, I can assure you that I understand. I’ve spent my entire life bombarded by a daily assault of heterosexuality imagery; a constant suggestion of my social irrelevance. Yeah, you’re sexual orientation makes me uncomfortable as well.
Though prejudice and social pressure inspired years of self-deception, self-loathing, and heterosexual mimicry (a: worthless, counterfeit), I can no longer deny it – I practically pranced out of the womb striking poses to the tune of Vogue. I may not be the biggest queen to ever purchase a Judy Garland album, but there’s no mistaking basic nature – I’m a queer (homosexual), a fruit, a flamer… whichever adjective is hurled across the bar by the drunken red-neck who will soon learn the meaning of “lanky strength.”
I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder one year ago. Six short months after my diagnosis I came out of the closet. After 25 years of claustrophobia, I no longer had the patience necessary to make my exit on quiet tip-toes, gently closing the closet door behind me. For many LGBT individuals, coming out is a process. Perhaps they tell a friend or trusted relative, then gradually the support of their confidantes brings greater courage, and they may begin to reveal their sexual orientation on a larger scale, and in a more casual manner.
Well, I’ve never respected conventional social protocol. Instead of enduring the typical, drawn out process, I chose to divulge my sexual orientation by writing an article… an article which drew… um… a decent amount of attention (gotta love the mass exposure available through social media). My family would doubtlessly have preferred a more private disclosure along with some time to come to terms with my little revelation, but hey, divas will be divas, and boys will be… appealing, with or without parental consent.
Aside from the gay, I’ve also got the Asperger’s. Unconventional? Governed by all-consuming interests (c: absorbed or interested to an extreme or unreasonable degree: obsessed)? Unconcerned with social customs, trends, and events (a: differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal). Yep, autism is a mighty queer condition.
An enormous body of anecdotal evidence suggests an unusually high percentage of LGBT among the autistic population, though few studies have explored the implications of a possible link. Is there a correlation between the mysterious and unique neurological wiring of the autistic mind and alternative sexual orientation? Or could it be that autistics like us, equipped with our natural resistance to social expectations, are simply more comfortable exploring and locating our role along the sexual spectrum. Let’s face it, sexuality is nowhere near as cut and dry as many would care to believe.
A friend once told me, “There’s a little bi in every guy.” Since becoming deeply familiar with the autism diagnosis, I’ve come to realize that there’s also a little autism in every person. I cannot think of anyone completely absent of at least one recognizably autistic characteristic. This never fails to bring a smile to my face. That’s right – like it or not, “normal” is a fading concept rooted in a dying social mythology. We’re all a little queer!
This was made abundantly clear to me several days ago when I went on the most unusual date of my life! A very sweet and sexy guy arrived on time to take me to dinner. Common enough, right? Not so much…
My date eyed me over, then nodded in approval and informed me that we would be eating at the buffet adjoining the casino. He then turned the volume knob and I was horrified to hear Weird Al Yancovic’s most recent CD. We listened to Yancovic until we reached the casino. Thankfully the drive was brief. Between songs, he spoke almost entirely of his most recent dental checkup.
Over our meal, which I struggled to select from the massive smorgasbord, my date informed me that he recently graduated from the most prestigious school of magic in the country. Yep, I was out at the casino with a professional magician on his third month of overbite treatments!
After staring awestruck as he consumed enough food to force Michael Moore into a mindless, apolitical stupor, we headed downtown and began strolling aimlessly beneath the twinkling city lights. Somehow our wanderings found us standing unexpectedly among the crowd at a Montgomery Gentry concert. Homo or not, I still shouted the words to every song and though surrounded by rednecks, there was not a single hateful word uttered. We only stayed for several songs before wading on back through the crowd and onto the city sidewalks of earlier.
“You know,” he said, “When I was a kid they thought I had something like you. Maybe I do. Either way, I like who I am and get along just fine.”
I dropped to my knees, shaking with laughter and more than a bit relieved. “Thank God, you said that!” I snorted. “I’ve been trying not to diagnose you all evening!”
Some people take comfort in labels. Some people do not. Gay? Straight? Autistic? Neurotypical? Caucasian? Disabled? ADHD? One thing is for certain; all labels will become utterly useless in the event of a zombie apocalypse, nuclear holocaust, the election of Mitt Romney, or some other global catastrophe of epic proportions. An education in the magical arts, however, might come in handy.
Dr. Seuss, that wisest of contemporary philosophers, once said, “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
Upon receiving my diagnosis I made a promise – I would be uncompromisingly true to myself no matter what the cost. I had no idea what an incredible journey this promise would take me on. Never could I have truly estimated the cost or the reward.
Though my life was fully transformed in under a year by the application of two simple labels, I do not wish to be defined by autism or homosexuality. I can credit only nature for my extra helping of quirkiness and would sooner be recognized for my personal and professional accomplishments, struggling to gain the gratification of genuine pride, a feeling which is earned rather than inheritted.
This does not mean I am hesitant to reveal any aspect of my identity. Unappologetically myself, I still strive to live by the golden rule, and demand nothing more than respect and common courtesy. Gays must set examples of self-respect, confidence, and self-advocasy at all times… because you never know who may be watching. Homosexual youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. One act of fearlessness and integrity could unknowingly save a life. For that reason I am out and will never go back in. Besides, maybe someday I’ll fall in mutual weirdness…”
Anyway, I’ll stand by my man Seuss. Own your weirdness, embrace your inner oddball, and love without shame. If you fail to do so, you may unwittingly meet the simplest criteria within Webster’s definition of queer; not quite well.