This post has been a long time coming and it’s probably on a topic that we’ve all heard a little bit about, right? But you know what, that’s okay, because it’s the reality of my personal experience. I want to talk about my personal experience with how literature made me feel less alienated.
So I feel like me turning to representation of queer people in fiction is sort of a given. And I’ve talked about that a lot and I will probably talk about it more.
But there’s another experience that fiction gave me — trauma. My parents divorced when I was seven, both of whom were dealing with their own shit in different ways, and my childhood was exceptionally unhappy. This kept me scared to connect with other people. It kept me far away.
And maybe as a result of this, but maybe just due to who I am, I grew up awful at understanding other people. I think I pretended for years that I was the norm, that I had just been weird in my younger grades and I had totally understood and just not cared, but I didn’t have the capability to look at other people’s thoughts and actions beyond skin deep — and worse yet, I didn’t trust any of them. I spent most of my time around other people trying to make myself palatable, trying to avoid saying something I thought was funny because I knew no one else would, trying to avoid saying something sad.
So, maybe understandably, I grew up not feeling normal. I couldn’t have put it into words if I tried, but the only constant in my childhood was a profound sense of alienation. I made up normal-kid reasons I was upset, like a rumor being spread about me, and lied to myself enough that they felt like truth.
So for me, fiction was the first way I understood other people. I related to every narrative about alienation. I related to every person who didn’t fit in in that indefinable way that you can’t put your finger on, not when you’re a kid, because you don’t know yet.
What’s funny is I don’t think I’ve ever found a character in literature who is exactly like me and I don’t think I ever will and that’s okay. I’m okay with that. But every time I read about a character who feels different, who is different and that’s okay, that feels like everything to me.