We're All Huggable Freaks on the Struggle Bus of Life
I've written short stories of late, in addition to my published novels. I don't have a particular gender or sexual identity that's my template. My characters are all over the map:
a deaf orphan teen
three blood siblings and a foster sister
a nursing professor with an abusive ex
a rich college student who loses a sister in a car crash
a drag-queen diva
a drunken gay philosopher with a penchant for practical jokes
an accidental eunuch who lives in a storage unit
a widowed pharmacist who adopts a seal
a Victorian woman who dives to the bottom of the Mariana Trench
a Ugandan brother and sister adopted by an American evangelical preacher
a black lesbian Methodist minister and her musical-genius wife
a teen single-mom haunted by breast-feeding ghosts
a dead girl
a Texas lawyer obsessed with a shirt Peter Gabriel wore
a homeless enbie ex-Classics professor
We're all blessed to be freaks.
A Common Thread
If you don't see a common thread, perhaps you do what I did my entire life before realizing I was trans—you identify with one tribe after another to convince yourself you're lovable … until you realize we're all blessed to be freaks.
Freaks are defined not by being freakish but by being ostracized by one tribe or another. Really, that's the point of every creed. You think the members of a church so don't know what they believe that they have to recite it every Sunday? Creeds, commandments, scriptures, and secret handshakes delineate who we are and what the rest of you are not.
Not all ritual is about tribal reinforcement and exclusion. There are some gestures we as human beings do that require no indoctrination or rehearsal to remember. They're in our DNA.
In pre-9/11 days, I was waiting with my late-dad and my 18-month-old son, Paul, at an airport for a flight my dad would board home after visiting us. In the boarding area was a mom with her little daughter. The two kiddos saw each other across the room and without so much as a signal or permission toddled to each other and embraced. They hadn't known one another before that hug. Finishing the hug, they separated, each to their parent figures.
What's beyond a ritual, if we let it be so, is to embrace "the other" as huggable.
Beyond A Baby Hug
Since then, my son, now in his thirties, has been in and out of various tribes—kindergarten, Boy Scouts, two Christian denominations, community theatre, and law school. He still embraces people as he finds them. He's not a gushy social butterfly but a man of integrity who smiles with pride when Pam and I call him our "Spock lawyer."
What's beyond a tribe, beyond a ritual for Paul—and for all of us, if we let it be so—is that embrace of what some, in fear, call "the other" but what Paul's soul marks as huggable.
I'm not saying my son is a saint. Nor am I saying that anyone who didn't, as a baby, spontaneously hug someone, is evil. I'm saying he's human in the best way possible.
Human, like all of my characters. Humane, like I want people to be for me and others. Huggable, like I dare to be, when I don't mark myself a freak.
Hug someone today—especially yourself—to embrace the huggability of being you.