29. Your disadvantages grant you an element of surprise

15 May

Alright aside over.  Onto the truths…or ideas.

As George Costanza once shouted, “we are living in a society,” and the society is a bit like a social biosphere with people on top of people.  There are people on top of you and they were born in a better position.  They are part of the patriarchy, they are the heteronormative, they are the wealthy, and you better believe they’ve banded together to make sure that they stay on top and their children stay on top with them.

Now here you are below them.  Maybe you’ve got one disadvantage, or maybe you have a four, what this means is they won’t see you coming.  I had the good fortune of being born into several disadvantaged positions; poor, gay, and latino. When I was 16 I started a blog and caught the attention of a LGBT youth magazine that published some of my entries and then offered me a managing editor position which I accepted at 19 years of age.  That story has impressed a lot of people, but I rarely go into how I went about accomplishing this, which is that I wrote about things other people didn’t want to tackle on. I used my disadvantaged positions to take on weird issues of race and sexuality and how they affected me.  I was poor and so I was misanthropic, but I didn’t just wallow, I honed it and lashed out. It was different, interesting, and–the keyword here–weird.  I was unapologetically weird, and they didn’t see me coming.

The secret here is that privileged people tend to be utter bores.

Privileged, might be better than you in all respects, but they’ve all read the same books, they all study the same courses in the same higher-education schools, and they all know how to keep you down in the exact same way.  The parents of the privileged also all know each other and they talk to each other and comfort each other over their privileges in the same exact ways.  This creates an echo chamber SO dull that people thirst for something to shake them up.

The good news is that most of the people in the US have at least ONE disadvantage.  Even if you’re a straight white male…think real hard, maybe your father was a drunk? Perhaps you were raised by wolves? Anything that sets you apart from Prince William will be a good place to start.

Functionally disadvantaged people are just more interesting than the privileged.

I recently went to see Jen Lancaster sign autographs for her new book (she’s my bf’s favorite author, and I became a fan because she was funny) and during the signing there was a young black man, stuttering, and perhaps slightly retarded, and he kept hovering around her.  It was clear to me that here was her #1 fan.  After she signed his book he left, then came back, and spoke to her some more.  Jen Lancaster listened attentively to her #1 fan while the line of people waiting for their book to be signed stopped moving.  Two girls in front of me made fun of the man’s stutter to each other.  They were generally gross human beings.  When the #1 fan ended his conversation with Jen he walked away and was high-fived by people who were sitting down.  I thought to myself how interesting it would be to hear about that man’s life, so unlike Jen and her mostly female fanbase, and what must he go through every day?

And what about those two girls who made fun of his s-s-s-s-stutter? I’ve seen them as cliches in stupid episodes of Sweet Valley High. How dull.


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