Today is considered to be Autistic Pride Day. Yes, I should be happy because it’s one day out of the year where I’m supposed to be proud of who I am. And yet, I’m not exactly at that point because this year has been a roller coaster. If you were looking for a sugarcoated post for Autistic Pride Day, have some lemons instead.
If you recall, I was told that I wasn’t autistic to begin with. That was difficult to process and I am still trying to deal with it, though the intensity has died down considerably. My emotions for that are now tied with the impending moment of coming out to my folks, which is a bunch of “I don’t know what to expect”. After all, how can I be queer and autistic at the same time? (The results of this will be discussed in a later post)
There are days where I wake up and think “BOY AM I GAY TODAY! LIKE, THE GAYEST GAY EVER! I AM SO FABULOUS!” Then there are those where it’s “Why do I even bother?” It’s not all rainbows on flags and infinity ribbons every single day. Do I have any love for who I am? I can’t tell; I really can’t. I have felt that way for as long as I can remember. I just didn’t think too highly about myself because I let others come before me. I’ve internalized that when living with my family and figured if I wanted things done, I should do it myself. Sure, people have told me I’m brave or I’m being courageous but I’ve brushed those compliments aside because, in my head, it comes across as hollow. I just do things because of logic and common sense, not really for the figurative medals of valor or warm feels. Since I had to pass as someone normal in my formative years, it’s taking a while to undo all of that.
I do carry my stim tools with me. I do flap my hands to music, each a different pattern depending on the beat. I attend my monthly support group meetings, no matter what the attendance is. I keep in contact with my autistic friends that I’ve met over the years. I still want to help future generations of autistic kids as they grow up in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to all minorities. I do my best to show people a new way of discourse when talking to disabled people about how some representation is flawed or toxic (looking at you The Good Doctor). There are opportunities for me on the horizon but it all seems so far away.
It’s 2017 and there’s still a long way to go for pride. Sure, you have the newly canonized Blue Ranger from the mediocre Power Rangers reboot and the puppet form of Julia on Sesame Street. Personally, I headcanon Gregg from the video game Night in the Woods (pictured above) because that means he’s a queer autistic. On the flipside, “autistic” is still being used as an insult in the ugliest parts of the internet and as insinuation for being unfit to lead. Fidget spinners are all the rage but the majority fail to grasp who they’re supposed to help. It’s still difficult to get and remain employed because of numerous hurdles.
Most importantly, the post-Rain Man generation has grown up and are trying to claim their place at the table of humanity. But since we’re constantly told that we aren’t really autistic for any number of garbage reasons, we get criticized for even having a modicum of pride of who we are because “it’s such a burden and should not be taken lightly”. To those who have heard this sentiment time and time again, ignore them. Celebrate you for who you are on this day. Rupaul’s quote, even with the baggage he brings with him, still rings true. “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell can you love somebody else?”