Since moving to what seems like a small town from New York City, I've found myself the object of discrimination at times. This is a new experience for me. I'm white and middle class, so I'm used to blending in. I never worried much about being accepted before. I was never on the cheerleading squad or part of the prom queen crowd. My parents were eccentrics who didn't try to fit in, so I wasn't raised to care about such things.
This wasn't a problem in New York, where everyone is someone who came to the big city because they didn't fit in at home. Nobody knows their neighbors or cares about what goes on next door, as long as it's not too loud and doesn't smell bad.
We once had a neighbor who wore his toupee backwards, insisted on keeping DC electricity in his apartment, and regularly spread tuna fish on his living room floor. One lady complained constantly about her dead husband's foibles, as if he were still alive (he had been a professional magician, so maybe that explains it). Another neighbor took her terrier for walks in a baby buggy.
My son's bedroom window looked out on the uncurtained, well-lit windows of a body builder who doffed his clothes whenever he was home. He watched TV, cleaned, and ordered pizza delivered without wearing a stitch.
In that world, I felt pretty ordinary.
But after a few years in San Antonio, I've begun to think I stick out like a sore thumb. I dress carefully, try to smile and talk about the right sort of things, but I can't pass; they always spot me. I've begun to have an inkling of what it must feel like to be a racial minority in this country.
I can always tell they've got my number when they ask me the key question: "What do you think of Hillary Clinton?" The first time I was asked this, I was baffled. I can't vote in the New York senate race and Clinton's about to be let out to pasture, so I didn't know what to say. I mumbled something and changed the subject.
But I keep getting asked the Hillary Question again and again. I've realized it must be some sort of coded test that I haven't yet figured out how to pass.
I was enjoying myself at a family barbeque out in the country recently, when I found myself alone on a screened porch with an old lady who'd had too much to drink. She fixed her beady eyes on me and I thought, "Uh oh, here it comes, she's going to ask me the Question," and sure enough, she did.
I've decided that it's not a question that anyone wants an answer to, it's actually an accusation. It's a way of saying, "I see through that veneer, I know what you really are: an uppity, freethinking feminist!"
This has caused me to reflect on something I've noticed over the years: most of the abductees and experiencers I've met have turned out to be remarkably nice people. I've always wondered if it was the trauma they went through that made them that way.
These are the people who had a dream that wasn't a dream, who have been strange places and seen unexplainable things. They put out street lights when they drive under them and have seen strange discs in the sky while everyone else was looking the other way. The world doesn't seem the same to them as it does to the uninitiated. They know there are things going on that we won't admit and don't understand.
I think I know what makes them special: they've become tolerant of others because they themselves have been so discriminated against. If they've had the courage to come out of the UFO closet, they know discrimination and ridicule first hand. If they've kept their experiences secret, they know darn well what would happen to them if they ever went public.
What would the Hillary Question be for them? Do they constantly get asked what they think about the face on Mars or if they believe in global warming?
Should they evade the questions and try to blend in? Sometimes they have to, because they need to hold down a job and feed their families, just like everyone else. It must be a relief to go to a conference or support group, where they can finally let their hair down and be themselves.
Because we get so much mail from readers and listeners, I know a secret about these folks: there are more of them out there than they think.
This reminds me of a story I once heard from a man whose father was in the underground Resistance in Paris during the Nazi occupation. His group kept trying to kill one particular enemy, but somehow he always eluded them. After the war, they dropped their disguises and met in a central place, and he discovered that this "enemy" had been in the Resistance himself all along, which is why he had been able to avoid them. He was their secret protector.
I wonder if a day will come when the UFO cover-up will end and everyone who has had these experiences will feel safe enough to stand up and be counted. When that happens, I suspect they'll discover that they're in the majority, so they can't be discriminated against anymore.
That would be a wonderful day, because I know from talking to so many of you how hard it is to constantly have to hide what you've experienced and disguise who you really are.
Meanwhile, I'll keep trying to figure out how to answer the Hillary Question. If anyone out there has any suggestions, I'd like to hear them.
NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.