The Other

I often feel like a square peg
in a world of round holes
the proverbial fish out of water

Feeling pain loneliness discomfort embarrassment insecurity humiliation bewilderment

I am often bewildered
in this new world of gender and sexual identities
Struggling to cope
with acronyms of increasing complexity confusion controversy
Recalling times when LG was PC

I have many identities
wear many faces:

The gay amongst (apparently) straight friends and neighbours

The sole male at a celebration with the cousin’s all-lesbian crowd

Single
with no partner or relative
at gatherings of couples and families
A bit of sadness mixed with the joy
of seeing many queer friends
now legally partnered and married

The only Jew in the room

An American amongst Brits
(Please, no more “what do you think of Donald Trump?”—and I do have a British passport!)

The expat American on visits to the US
(not my home for over two decades)

The only non-Danish speaker at a meeting conducted almost entirely in Danish

The sole architect in a department of engineers

A bus rider in a community of car owners

The list is longer but I’ll pause it for now…

I didn’t choose to be an Other

Am I the Karma Chameleon
trotting out a face
Which ones to highlight, which to suppress?

Am I really that different?
I’m grateful
it hasn’t been that oppressive for me
Many Others have truly suffered

Yet I can revel in my Other-ness
seen as an exotic flower
a unique specimen
with opportunities to exalt my rarities
by embracing Intersectionality

Joy can emerge from sharing one’s differences:

I’ve become the poster boy for [fill in the blank]
I’m the last Jew left in the Gorbals! 🙂
With an exotic accent: “Where are you from?”
“You have a very interesting CV”
“You knew Harvey Milk?!”

Coming out as an Other is not a one-off
but a series of episodes throughout life

I’ve learned to embrace my differences
Face any challenges

From my Other-ness
Comes my Strength


An earlier version was exhibited at “Belonging: The LGBT Wellbeing Collective” exhibition, 23-26 May 2019, Project Ability, 103 Trongate, Glasgow

2 comments
  1. Brenda Auterson said:

    This is beautiful, Scott. Very clear about that sense of being ‘the other’.
    Glasgow can feel particularly other – you don’t have masses of relatives forever dropping by to pass the time and help with tasks ‘like everyone else’.
    You have made it to ‘from…otherness comes…strength’ . Wow!
    And Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 is a good place to be.

    Liked by 1 person

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