I heard her tell this story during a book club show on the radio a few weeks ago. She told it with great love and good humour.
Several decades ago when she was sixteen Ms Winterson told her conservative, hard-working, Northern English mother mother she was gay.Â She said she was gay and that it made her happy.
Her mother replied, completely seriously and with love and concern, “But Jeanette! Why be happy when you can be NORMAL!?”
It’s easy to see why her mum, a woman of the Depression and War Generation, might feel sticking your head above the parapet of normality might not be a good idea. Having experienced the damage to people and society that WW2 caused, she may have felt it was important to protect those you loved to the extent of not wanting them to be different and therefore a potential target. Keep them safe, even if it meant suppressing who they were.
It’s strange really that this mentality seems to have continued through to the present day, an entirely different era with different kinds of threats and risks.
It seems no small number of individuals value the ‘safe’ facade of ‘normality’ and ‘fitting-in’ over self-realisation. There’s a different kind of war going on in the 2000’s with more subversive yet just as emotionally-devastating casualties for our society.
When people wrap their essential uniqueness up in the pretence of a perception of ‘normality’ they don’t just deprive themselves of happiness, they deprive the rest of us of their individual expression of human-ness.
So fear not weird one. Be different. Go on. Make the world a happier place.
Image borrowed from Willow Creek Signs from a selection of home decor vinyl lettering designs.