I stared at the page, not quite believing the words I saw. Somewhere, out there in the world that so far had shown me nothing but disdain, was someone else who was a freak. Some other weirdo who had more in common with comic book mutants than with the person sitting next to them. I wasn't actually alone. Today, in a world connected by the internet, finding a like-minded nerd is no grand accomplishment, but at the time, when after twenty years on the planet I still had yet to find anyone who understood me, that letter was nothing short of miraculous.


The idea that there was another person like me had quite literally never crossed my mind. Granted, that was undoubtedly in part due to the fact that I was barely out of my teens and thus prone to more than my fair share of melodrama, but mostly because so far I hadn't seen any evidence indicating that I was something other than, well, a mutant. My mutation might not turn me blue or let me control the weather, but it certainly made me different, and for the first time I thought that maybe it wasn't the sin that I'd let myself believe.

Looking back, it seems obvious that the X-Men's wacky genes were metaphors for anyone whose beliefs, sexuality, religion, or personality made them feel like an unwelcome guest on planet Earth, and I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't notice sooner. If I had, maybe I would've realized that there were many ways to be different, and that even if I didn't know (or care) where to buy the right brand of super trendy jeans, I still had more in common with the person sitting next to me than I thought. Our mutations might not be identical, but we might nevertheless be kin under the skin, if only we looked deep enough.

I didn't start dressing in spandex or fighting huge purple robots in the street, but I became a real-life member of the X-Men that day. I faced those that didn't understand me and I refused to make their lives more comfortable by hiding my weirdness from them. I stopped trying to fit in with everyone around me and instead just did what I enjoyed, without fear. I recognized my weirdness and was unashamed - thanks to the X-men.

I'm a mutant. And damn proud of it.

Susan Arendt hopes that someone eventually gets Gambit right in an X-Men movie.

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