Are You the Odd Spoon in the Drawer?

Written on 02/21/2021
Wilbur Turner


Most cutlery drawers have at least one. The odd spoon that doesn't match. Maybe it is a fork or knife. The piece to only be used when all the others are in use or dirty. The spoon that would never be put beside a plate for a guest. Maybe this spoon would get the job of stirring the soil in a plant pot, or the misfit knife would be used to dig chewing gum from the sole of a shoe.

With their unique pattern and style, these utensils may get an eye roll or a suffering look when accidentally picked up for a table setting, their only attention while they languish unused. If they're lucky, they get to stay in the cutlery drawer. Some are banished to a tool or junk drawer, others thoughtlessly sent to the trash. A 'proper' home would not condone their existence.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word that describes this behaviour is shun: to avoid deliberately and especially habitually.

Many who identify as LGBTQ will relate. The family drawer isn't always supportive or even kind. The coming out process in a family will lead to three types of relationships with parents, siblings, and extended family. Those who provide unconditional love and support, those who tolerate but generally avoid, and those who disown. You either belong in the drawer, they pretend you don't, or you are banished.

The early days of my coming out brought out all of the above reactions from family members. The words are seared in my consciousness even though it was 26 years ago. "Why do we have to have someone like that in the family." "He's the same brother as he was before, and I still love him." "You can't bring your partner to our house because we're not putting that in front of our children." "Go to a doctor and get some medication for this illness." "That's dirty."

The estrangement with one brother continued until he became incapacitated due to illness. I met with him a few times during his last days and sensed his regret for lost years. Love between us was apparent even though he couldn't speak. I was the brother with him to hold and comfort him as he took his last breath.

Family relationships can be rich with diversity and experience the immeasurable wealth of connectedness when those who don't fit the mold are acknowledged, appreciated, and respected. The odd spoon cannot change its style, shape, or appearance, and no amount of force will make a difference. It is our drawer. We all belong.

Wilbur Turner, pronouns he/him, is a Kelowna-based writer and long-time advocate of the LGBTQ community. He is a former president of Kelowna Pride and Fierté Canada Pride and was instrumental in founding Etcetera, Kelowna's peer support group for rainbow youth.