Freaks and Weirdos

I’ve been thinking about Freaks and Weirdos since commenter arainandagale made a comment about Freaks/Weirdos solidarity on this post. I happen to be a Freak and a Weirdo and they also happen to be my favourite people. In fact, they’re really the only people I can stand to be around. I’m going to write a little bit about growing up as an outcast and then ask whether being LBG has an impact as to whether one is labelled as a Weirdo. Depressing childhood stories coming up! And if you are a Freak and a Weirdo, feel free to tell me your story in the comments.

I still don’t know why it was decided that I was a Freak and a Weirdo by the kids at my school. They seemed to just make a collective decision at some point that something was really wrong with me and then they made sure to remind me of it constantly. My clothes were wrong, the food I brought for lunch was wrong, the music I liked was wrong, and the things I said were wrong. I can sort of see why my clothes were wrong. I usually wore clothes from thrift stores or cheap store brands, and the other kids usually wore new, name-brand clothes. I never understood fashion at all, and always got it wrong. So kids would come up to me and ask “Where did you get those jeans” because they knew I had bought them second-hand. It was a statement, not a question. Or they would say about my shoes “Those aren’t real Docs.” I fucking knew they weren’t real Docs. They were cheap store brand imitation Docs, and they only had one line of stitching, not two. The point of these comments was, of course, to shame me because my parents hadn’t spent top dollar on fashion. I still don’t know why they wanted to shame me for that—how shallow and stupid! I can sort of see the classism going on and the sense of superiority they were getting out of that. But I can’t understand why they also needed to make fun of my food. Anything I brought for lunch was the wrong food, too. I still remember in grade six when someone pointed at my sandwich and announced loudly to the class that I had Really Gross Cheese and Eeeeeww, How Could She Eat That! And everyone in the classroom loudly agreed that that was really gross cheese. It was fucking cheddar cheese. I can’t even imagine how it even occurred to anyone to think that perfectly normal cheddar cheese was gross, and it seems to me that they were just looking for things to find wrong about me. Anything would do. There was only one kind of music we were allowed to listen to on one radio station. I didn’t like it, so I was wrong about that, too. And even sometimes when I spoke, people would point and laugh because for some reason there was something wrong with the way my sentence was worded. (I didn’t have any speech problems. This was completely arbitrary.) That, along with everything else, made me really afraid to speak when I was at school. Eventually I was withdrawn and sad and convinced no one would ever like me. One time a kid actually spoke to me sincerely, without mocking me, and I was so amazed, I attempted to answer, but got really nervous, and I actually got so nervous I stopped speaking mid-sentence. I finally had enough social anxiety that I could not speak an entire sentence to another person. After that I didn’t even bother trying anymore. I had my headphones on all the time and tried not to be near any other kids. I did my best to act like I was invisible, and sometimes I thought that maybe I wasn’t even there.

In middle school there was one other girl in my class who was also an Outcast. For some random reason, the kids who assigned me to the status of Freak also assigned her. They had an issue with everything she wore and everything she did, just like they did with me. I remember her having a nice new jacket and the girls at school made a big point of calling it tacky and then she was embarrassed to wear it again. She also wore old clothes like I did, not bought at thrift stores but found in her grandparents’ attic. She liked to wear the clothes that her uncles wore when they were kids. I thought she looked pretty cool, but of course the Middle School Fashion Police did not approve. I remember her explaining to me what clique everyone belonged to, and she said matter-of-factly that she and I were Outsiders. I agreed with that assessment. I knew I had always been an Outsider, and had no hope of ever being Cool. Both she and I ended up with depression, and both of us identified as bisexual in high school.

I sometimes hear from FtM transitioners that they don’t understand girls at all, they don’t understand the way girls talk to each other or treat each other, and they only like to hang out with guys because they behave the way guys behave. Well, I don’t understand girls either. Most of the kids who bullied me were girls. They seemed to have arbitrary rules for what was “cool” and what was not and these rules were a total mystery to me. I never knew how they came up with this stuff. I sometimes imagined them at a meeting where they decided what was cool or not and then, I don’t know, passed a motion on it or something and decided to torture anyone who didn’t comply with the unknown rules. I actually liked the movie Mean Girls when it came out. A lot of feminists hate that film, and I understand why, but it made fun of the type of girls who bullied me and that was refreshing. There is a moment when the bully Regina announces loudly that she LOVES THAT SKIRT SO MUCH and then as soon as the girl with the skirt walks away she says I HATE THAT SKIRT. This is the sort of girl behavior I don’t fucking understand at all.

My friend who wore her uncles’ old clothes and told me that we were Outsiders, she turned out not to be straight and same with me. The rest of the kids in our class turned out straight. (I know this because of the magic of Facebook.) And this makes me wonder, were we actually different in some way? Were we targeted randomly, or were we targeted because they could sense we were different? I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not. But I do know that lots of gay kids cannot fit into their gender roles and feel like they don’t fit in.

Sometimes I would try to fit in. I remember one year it was a fad for all the girls to write the initials of the boy they had a crush on on their desk. This seemed like an easy way for me to try to fit in. I selected a boy completely at random, (I didn’t have any interest in any of them), and I wrote his initials. As soon as someone saw it the girls started squealing and gossiping about it and making a big deal out of it. I never once talked to this boy and I didn’t give a shit about him. I was just trying to be normal. But hearing the girls squealing about this just made me want to hide. I had tried to participate in this particular social ritual but it still didn’t really make sense to me, and I didn’t understand all the squealing.

There was only one thing that got me through this period of time, which was a certain after-school Hobby I had, which I won’t name just because I worry about outing myself if I am too specific. At my after-school Hobby, I got to hang out with the other Weirdos and Freaks from other classes and other schools. I finally fit in. Even though at school I was completely mute and withdrawn, in my Hobby I became happy and outgoing, because I was around other kids who actually made sense to me. They didn’t give a shit about conformity either, they cared about stuff that was actually worth caring about. I happen to know, due to the power of Facebook, that this same Hobby was helpful to a number of other Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual youth from my area.

There was this girl we used to call Crazy Kim. That was just her name, and everyone called her that all the time, whether to her face or behind her back. We’d say stuff like, “Hey, is Crazy Kim coming tonight?” like it was totally normal. Years later I found out she is a lesbian. I realized with shock that the only out lesbian in that high school was being called Crazy as an official part of her name. I wondered if that was the reason for the label.

I hope this doesn’t sound like a bunch of random whining. I’m trying to show how LGB youth may not fit in, may not understand the social rules that are set up that are based on a heteronormative dominant culture, and may get bullied for being different. I’ve read enough coming out stories to know that gay boys are sometimes labelled as “faggot” before they’ve even had a chance to realize they are attracted to other boys, just because they can’t really be a boy the way the other boys are, and that young lesbian girls sometimes identify with the boys and don’t understand the girls. Of course, now, if this happens to someone, they are labelled as trans instead. They are given a cure for their problem. It’s like, Don’t Want to Be a Freak or a Weirdo Anymore? Try this Magic Potion Called Testosterone, it Will Make You Seem Normal To Other People. Of course, there are straight kids who are Freaks and Weirdos too, but I feel like if you’re gay there’s an increased chance you’re going to get the Freak treatment.

I don’t like that Freaks and Weirdos are trying to cure themselves by looking like a normal member of the opposite sex. Living in the in-between area is fantastic and awesome. We should continue to defy expectations and challenge the social rules by NOT conforming to what men and women are expected to be. Girls who don’t understand the social rules expected of girls are perfect the way they are and there is no reason for them to think they aren’t girls. The rules and expectations truly are stupid and if you don’t conform that’s not because you aren’t really a girl, it’s because you are Awesome and possibly Lesbian (which is also Awesome). Freaks and Weirdos are the best fucking people ever, and we should all continue being Freakish and Weird. It’s the conventional conformists that have it wrong. Conforming to a shitty culture is not a worthwhile goal.

Solidarity to all Freaks and Weirdos!

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20 thoughts on “Freaks and Weirdos

  1. I still don’t fit in in many ways. I’m the chick with the buzz cut and the old flannel shirt over a comic book tee. I read books that people around me are not reading and have odd hobbies. I get called scary by young men. (Good. They should remember to be afraid.)

    I used to think it was because I was smart and got excellent grades, but others with good grades didn’t get the freak treatment. Or maybe the teachers who advised my parents were right and I have poor social skills, though I seem to do all right as an adult. The other outcasts in my high school were straight.

    I seemed to mystify some of my classmates. And today, when we are not all thrown together, former classmates who shunned me (freakiness is catching, you know) seem to be proud to know the writer and artist I became. I don’t really trust that, though.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I have scared one young man. It was when I was on a city bus wearing shorts and full leg hair. This boy saw the hair on my legs and got this really frightened look on his face. He had probably never seen a woman with leg hair before. I was the Hairy Lesbian Feminist terrorizing the local population by appearing in public with an unaltered female body.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I’m much scarier than just my body hair. I disagree and stand my ground on that disagreement. I construct good arguments and use them. I have a strict teacher face and am not afraid to use it. I have been known to use the “this is the third time you’ve given me this excuse and I intend to mark your paper down” look when young men try their bullshit around me. I let them know when I don’t believe them. They don’t like that.

        Liked by 5 people

        • Back in the days when I was trying to figure out how the whole “dating” thing was supposed to work, guys took exception to my insistence on going Dutch, to the fact that I don’t do ego massages, to the fact I don’t “play nice” when I disagree. I can’t even say that it’s a conscious virtue of mine. It’s more that I say something first, then get told how awful I am. (Except for the going Dutch thing. Too many people think buying dinner is a price. I do not and will not feed into that culture. Pick someplace we can both afford or I’m not going. Period. If you’re a close friend, and we have an established history, fine, yes, you take me to the concert and I’ll take you to tapas. But we’ve known each other for less than a month and you want to take me to Le Chat Noir? Fuck no.)

          Liked by 2 people

  2. FUCK YEAH! We should write a Freak Weirdo manifesto! I’ve always like an outcast, even when I’ve been really active socially. I said “yes” so many times when I meant “no” and you know what it got me? NOTHING. When I was diagnosed with PTSD, stopped working, was in an abusive relationship and needed help my so-called friends were nowhere to be found. Well FUCK them.

    Most of my good friends are more like me: sensitive, creative, and nonconforming. My older brother who’s also my best friend lives as a monk on the outskirts of society and I’m not terribly far from that myself. I’m one step away from being homeless but have never liked myself more.

    I’ve always admired nonconforming female characters like The Addams Family gals, Darlene from Roseanne, Daria, etc. These women are my idols because anytime they’re met with put-downs, they smile, take it as a compliment and say “thank you.”

    People have told me my whole life I was “too sensitive” and for the first time in my life, I’m actually considering that they might be insensitive. I am just sensitive enough to be an amazing artist, baker, tailor, musician, writer, actor, singer, dancer, OK? Don’t compliment my art or enjoy my cooking and then call me too sensitive because it’s exactly my sensitivity and passion that makes me awesome at that shit.

    It also makes me HIGHLY intolerant of bullshit and I have found that the more people conform, the more they’re willing to compromise themselves and the more they’re willing to compromise themselves, the more full of shit they are! If anybody feels the need to put you down or steal your thunder it’s because they’re scared, scared that your acceptance of yourself threatens their position in life–even if it’s a second-class position. People hang on to what they’re used to, they want binary, they want everyone to nod and tell them they’re good and okay and safe.

    Well the last time I checked, we did not all collectively agree on what was good and acceptable–I must have been absent when we took the vote that new and young is better than old, women are sex objects only, men can’t show any emotions or be vulnerable and children are only pets or clones.

    This comment is way too long but I LOVE this topic. I LOVE freaks and weirdos and ANYBODY who marches to the beat of their own drum because lemme tell you, it takes COURAGE to be yourself when everyone wants you to be somebody else, go with the flow and buy into the BS. Don’t do it! Be yourself every freakin day! FREAK WEIRDO SOLIDARITY!

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Love it…right there with you..never fit in..and was horribly teased..by the girls for not wearing a bra and being nerdy and tomboy…and by the boys as well who were worse and physically threatening.

    When I was in an all girls school from 1st thru 4th grade we all got along…but once I got into mixed schools the girls were very catty and cliquish just like you mention…

    Once I got into martial arts in 9th grade things began to change for me. People accepted me there for my skill and dedication and it gave me self esteem to stand up to the bullies both male and female. I got more respect from my classmates..and hung out with the nerdy types…none of us fit in. My best friend in high school was gay as well. Years later we came out to each other..him as a gay male me as a Dyke..but we both sensed it in high school which is why we got along.

    I’ve always been a bit of a freak and weirdo too..a certain sensibility listening to the beat of my own drum..one who never fits in with the trendoid crowd..even the queer one…I LIKE having my own unique style…abd gravitate to those who are unique individuals as well and dont have to have an entourage around them..or be part of one. They can stand alone…

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is interesting:

      When I was in an all girls school from 1st thru 4th grade we all got along…but once I got into mixed schools the girls were very catty and cliquish just like you mention…

      I went to a mixed school for elementary and middle school, but a girl’s school for high school. I found the same to be true – in an all girls school there’s much less of that stereotypical mean girl behavior. There were class boundaries, to be sure. The girls from more affluent families tended to stick together, but they weren’t mean or nasty to the rest of us.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I do love freaks and weirdos. It seems like they were most of my role models growing up—especially older women, for whatever reason. My parents also to an extent (dad is disabled but functions at a higher level than most able-bodied people, which they really don’t like him for; mum is just really weird and awesome and has never really fit in with anyone… but of course I saw them as normal because they’re my parents, and everyone else as weird, lol)

    The funny thing is I was never one of them. I was a normal kid who desperately wanted to be special. I don’t really know why that is, but can make some guesses. I started reading pretty early (around 18 months) and got interested in maths not long after (around 3), so by the time I started first grade I knew more than the average student, and therefore got labeled a “gifted” child or whatever. I knew I wasn’t—I have no native talents apart from a persistent interest in music—but wanted to become the genius everyone thought I was, particularly when I got less support for learning difficult things because it was assumed I’d be able to get it on my own, or was put in classes with kids twice my age and size (who could be… a bit unpleasant).

    The other thing that may have contributed was that over ten years of study I was in eight different schools. Some of them I had to leave because of bullying, but actually more often it was me getting into fights with the teachers. (Not literal fights, but challenging their authority and so on.) This did make me a misfit, but never enough of a misfit if you see what I mean… I wasn’t weird enough to be a theatre kid, nerdy enough to be a science kid, or otherwise fitting into most students’ definition of “freak”; I was just an unknown quantity. So I came to look up to the freaks and weirdos because maybe they got shit for it, but nothing stopped them. They were individuals, with personalities; I was a nobody. If I had been special, at least that would have made my persecution meaningful, or something like that. >.>

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It doesn’t take being LGB and being picked on the school herd’s gaydar to be bullied and cast as the outsider, or freak and weirdo. It doesn’t take much at all. I didn’t like sports, didn’t like the right bands, didn’t have my uniform shortened to arse-revealing heights, wasn’t pretty, and read for pleasure – read history for pleasure, too, what was worse. I knew answers and was ready to say so. I didn’t like any of the boys in my year, who were uniformly spotty, smelly, ugly and fucking ignorant. I didn’t like many of the girls in my year; most were almost as feral and bullying as the boys.

    Liked by 3 people

    • We were twins. We were totally twins. This. This. This.

      And today’s performance piece is “shit. I just bought these pants and they’re already ripping. Wtf. And I’m getting a cold. And neither of my jobs has sick leave though both should have it. Fuck it. I’m wearing the pants over my thermal undies. Don’t like it? You shouldn’t be staring at my pants, pervert.” I think it will be a tour de force. Catch the matinee as I try to run by the drug store to pick up a phone charger between jobs because someone borrowed my extra and didn’t return it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like this post, I’ve also wondered the same thing as a bi-sexual who grew up as an outsider. Having sexual interests that go against societies notions of a normal sexuality can definitely make you feel ‘different’, and in many cases make you internalize the belief that something must be fundamentally off about you. The same thing goes with being an individual and not fitting into the gender stereotypes assigned to your sex. Homosexuals, gender variants, and those who claim to be trans, have this same feeling like a freak or weirdo of society in common. Homosexuals will internalize homophobia and never live their true authentic selves out of fear of being othered, while others hide their homosexuality by actually changing their bodies to fit the normal rules of sexuality and gender norms to relieve this internal pain. When it’s so drilled into our heads since we are very young about what girls and boys are supposed to be like, there’s bound to be people who think just because they don’t conform to societal gender norms, that they must be something wrong with them. It’s actually very depressing. Freaks and Weirdos must fight on!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Damn, ‘Sage. Just…damn.
    I hurt for you. Then I read the comments, and I hurt for them, too. The saddest thing of all is that our schools, especially in the high school years, fuck up so many people and they carry that hurt for the rest of their lives, because Life is just fucking ‘High School on the Grandest Scale.’ Fortunately, though, the Freaks and Weirdos delegation grows exponentially as well, and we find solidarity and solace with each other in the most unexpected places.
    I never fit in, either, but in such an opposite way. I never understood why, but the girls didn’t torment me, quite the opposite, they ‘leaned in,’ especially in high school, and I learned, later, from a former coach, that I had what is now called ‘swagger,’ and that it was probably what kept me above the usual fray of social destruction. Sadly, though, I also now think that it may have been some weirdly-displaced ‘privilege,’ that, because I ‘walked the walk’ and ‘talked the talk,’ in jeans and tees and sneaks, I was granted a ‘free pass’ when it came to the usual subjects of ‘fashion’ and ‘cool,’ because I was not ‘like them,’ I was like the boys they wanted to impress. Boys, on the other hand, did not know what to do with me, a girl who wasn’t interested in cooking for them or fucking them, and I think I scared them to some degree, so I was relatively ‘safe’ from any harassment they could muster, not that they never had anything to say, they just said it as a parting shot as they ran for their cars.
    My trials came later, in my twenties, when grown men were condescending and rude, still those ‘little boys,’ but now bolder, somehow, stronger in their certainty that I needed their direction to fulfill my ‘womanly’ role.
    None of this is to say that I was not on the fringes, I totally was, and that I didn’t grow up ‘alone,’ because I totally did, but I didn’t suffer such abuse on a daily basis. So, I read the stories of your trials and tribulations for education in the hardship and distress felt by so many women in this collective journey.
    And, like any well-learned lesson, I hurt for you. I hurt for all of you.

    Liked by 2 people

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