November 21, 2018

Flying Freak Flags

What kind of freak are you?

Some may see this question as an insult, but on Sunday I spent several hours explaining to people at the “>Fly Your Freak Flag High website.

I would try to explain the Freak Flag concept to you, but Julia says it best in the Freak Flag manifesto, as follows:


  1. Freaks are, by definition, different.
  2. Different is good.
  3. “Freak” should be a compliment, not an insult.
  4. Everyone is a freak in some way, in some place, to someone. “Normal” is a myth. Diversity is strength.
  5. We all need to discover, honor and celebrate our freaky bits by “flying our freak flags high.”
  6. We are each more happy and successful when we embody ALL that we are.
  7. If you “speak your freak,” you can release and heal from shame, embarrassment or fear of social disapproval and be more active, powerful and effective in the world.
  8. We gotta be freaky together: the more we see each others' freaky proclamations, the more we'll find powerful, meaningful connections and alliances–some familiar, some potentially new and surprising.
  9. If we can fully appreciate our own selves, we can also appreciate others; and once we can appreciate others, we can start working together in an honest and powerful way to build the kind of world and the kind of future we all want to live in.
  10. Freaks can change the world just by being themselves.

This manifesto makes a powerful statement which resonates with people. In fact, there were so many people taking pictures of the manifesto posted at the Freak Flag booth in past years that Julia printed out hundreds of copies of it to pass out to folks who stopped by.

At the booth, participants were given a flag with the word “Freak” stenciled on it. Once the concept behind the manifesto was explained to each person, they were set free to decorate their flag any way they wanted – by drawing on it, or gluing decorations onto it, or weaving cloth or other items into it, or even cutting it with scissors.

Because no two people are the same, no two Freak Flags are the same, and over the course of a few hours I saw a wide variety of completed flags.

Best of all, though, was the way I saw the kid’s faces light up when I was pointing out to them that they are different than everyone else, and that what makes them different is what makes them wonderful. In one sense, it’s heartbreaking, because the strong positive reaction I got from so many people showed me that we don’t hear this message of affirmation often enough.

We are all created b’tselem Elohim, in the image of God. There is a story in our tradition about Rabbi Zusya, who was on his deathbed, crying. His students asked him why he was weeping. He said he was afraid about what the angels would ask him when he died. He was not concerned they would ask why he was not more like Moses, because he was not Moses. And he knew they would not ask him why he was not more like Abraham, because he was not Abraham. No, he was afraid they would ask, “Why were you not more like Zusya?” And what could he possibly say to that?

You, reading this right now, don’t try to be like Moses or Abraham or Zusya. You are different from the people around you in many wonderful ways. Your differences make you interesting and fabulous. Those differences are what the people closest to you love the most about you. You are the person God intended to create. Fly your Freak Flag high and celebrate who you really are, deep inside. I promise you will be glad you did.

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