What do you call a person, that, given a particular social context, behaves or is led to behave differently from all others, perhaps ending up being regarded as a strange person and/or punished or ending up as an outcast for his/her actions?
The terms "deviant", "freak", and "weirdo" exist, but I am looking for a word with a neutral rather than negative connotation. The word "deviant" also seems like it could imply a sexual context, which is not what I'm after.
What I don't like about these words is that a person coming across these is likely to dismiss the speaker or argument, killing the argument without giving out any further attention or consideration, which is not the effect I'm after.
I would like a word that summons interest in the person's unusual behavior, without putting the reader or luster off and create an atmosphere of interest I such person's behavior.