I’m uncommon. It’s not just that I’m a gaymo. And it’s not just the masc of center gender presentation. It’s everything else. The dark sense of humor. The lack of social skills. The obsession with the way names are spelled. The dislike of human contact. I am an outsider.
I’m always surprised when I hear people talk about my books. The language they use is queer and shadowed and always seemingly whispered. And I forget until those moments that I write anti-heroes. I write characters placed in twilight and opium dens. Not by society, like in old pulp fic, but by choice. Characters that demand to be taken as they are. Imperfect and repulsive and charming. Characters who refuse to be defined as any one thing. Characters defined by their multitudes. The interactions between their flaws and perfections. Because people are that way too.
I learned a long time ago that my favorite qualities about myself were distasteful to normal people. I read too much. I noticed things we weren’t supposed to notice and I wasn’t quiet about my observations. My fashion sense wasn’t pretty. I used words that were too big. I didn’t trust authority figures. Ultimately, I had a choice to make. Be normal. Or not. Once I accepted how abnormal I was, I began to see that normal was a lie. No one was normal. At best, they were common. I’d much rather be uncommon.
My characters, like me, are queer in so many senses of the word. There’s a strange power in stepping outside the lines. Once you’re looking in, you can see the foundation. And it’s fragile as hell. We patrol and systematize so much to keep things normal, common. We use laws and rules and standards. Social mores and literal police. We build new systems to replace the relics. There are days I’d like to burn it all down. Most days I know that’s not possible.
So I write. I write characters standing outside and staring at the behemoth we call a society. I write characters who know that imperfect isn’t broken. That broken can be perfect. Characters who teach me that there’s nothing wrong with not loving people you’re supposed to love. Or demanding respect when you deserve it. Or turning away from people and places and structures where you should be accepted and aren’t. We are all deserving.
We are all outsiders.