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September 19, 2005

Stranger in a strange land

My two second cousins gave their parents a surprise 30th anniversary party. They did a lovely job; their mom (my cousin) was quite stunned and delighted.

Besides enjoying the good food, the thing I left the party thinking was that I don't feel like myself in the straight world. I feel comfortable around straight people, of course, especially my relatives, whom I like very much. I don't like exclusively gay situations because the view becomes too narrow. But when I'm in a room full of people who are going to get married, buy houses, have children . . . I'm the outsider.

I was talking with my cousin about the hesitation of moving from New York to smaller cities because I was worried about feeling different. "But they have a Jewish community," she said. Yes, she missed the exact reason, but she got the concept anyway. In Westchester, Janet can live a life as a Jew among Jews. She's home, and it's something she could even take for granted. I want that too. I don't want to spend every day having sensibilities that everyone tolerates, but no one shares. If I'm being swallowed into a life that isn't mine, I become strident and out myself gratuitously just so I can maintain a sense of self.

I've rarely felt like the Other in my life, probably because though I'm in a few (non-disadvantaged) minorities, they're not minorities where I have lived. I've lived my life in a world where my identity lies at the common center with a large community. What would it be like to no longer have that?

Posted by Leigh Witchel at September 19, 2005 12:50 AM

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Oops I had entered my email address wrong before! hahaha

Why are you torturing yourself? Are you moving? DOn't make me laugh you don't want to live in Westchester!

Posted by: petipafan at September 19, 2005 2:22 PM

Now. Leigh.

Don't go assigning this angst to gay people.

Look, I'm single, have no interest in children, and I know damned well that you've talked about buying a condo, so don't give me that. So what's your point?

I don't mean to sound harsh, though that last paragraph probably does. But seriously, we can all find ways to feel excluded. Doesn't it make more sense to find ways to feel INcluded, and then accept, if not celebrate, the differences between people?

It takes all kinds, as the old lady said when she kissed the cow... I wonder how much your plaint has to do with worry about the unknown and stepping off into it, and how much it really has to do with the situation about which you write?

Posted by: Grace at September 20, 2005 9:57 PM

Try being a single childless straight woman in her mid-forties in a large family where all your siblings have reproduced. You have no idea!! (Well, actually, you probabnly have an inkiling ... ) At least if you're an out gay man, you're not expected to reproduce, partner for life in the usual way etc etc, so even if there's difference (and of course that sense of otherness must be overwhelming at times), there's no sense of "failure" at being "normal" for you because no-one expects you to be normal. I don't want to underestimate the effect of otherness - you write about it very eloquently - but try feeling like you've failed at "normality"! When I'm in NYC, my best friends/family there are gay men, and I see just what a community you have. But this kind of community & identity is just not available to any but the bravest and most brazen of sdingle straight middle-aged women ... OK rant over, and thanks for your blog.

Posted by: Kate at October 1, 2005 3:32 PM

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