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by Lyric Rivera

Jun 27, 2024

Autistic and Queer Pride

My name is Lyric Rivera, I am Queer (Pansexual, GenderFluid, Polyamorous). I am also Autistic (and ADHD).

As many of you know, the entire month of June is Pride Month.  


Fewer of you may know that June 18, within Queer Pride Month, is Autistic Pride Day.  


Autistic Pride and Queer Pride are independent events from one another, and Autistic Pride Day is not a Pride Day only for Queer Autistic People - it is a day for ALL Autistic People (even those who aren't Queer).  


Being Autistic is, unfortunately, something that our dominant social heresies devalue (much like being Queer). However, while Queer Pride is one month long and has existed for over 50 years, Autistic Pride (a one-day celebration) is much younger (first celebrated in 2005), less than 20 years old (and not as well known).  


Queer Pride has evolved from a small uprising in 1969 to a global phenomenon, with vibrant parades and festivities celebrating Queer identities, resistance, and resilience. 


Autistic Pride has evolved over the years, too, from a primarily virtual celebration to one that connects Autistic People and allies across the globe both in person and virtually.  


Despite this progress, both of my communities continue to face challenges, including discrimination, violence, and inequality. 


Why Queer Pride?  


It's a scary time to be Queer. The ACLU is currently tracking 515 anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S., an increase from last year (on June 1, 2023, the ACLU was tracking 491 bills on the same tracker). 

As Pride celebrations grow, we must remain mindful of this looming danger and remember that many of us are still struggling for full equality (and the importance of solidarity and support for those people). 


Why Autistic Pride? 


Much like Queer Pride Month, Autistic Pride Day was not borne from the need to celebrate being Autistic but instead in recognition of our right to live authentically (or at all). That doesn't mean we can't ALSO celebrate being Autistic and Queer, but recognizing that doing so can be an act of defiance (when you have many people pressuring you to hide who you really are).  


The Autistic experience colors each piece of an Autistic Person's personality, sensory experience, and identity. It impacts our interests, how we view the world, the choices we make, and even our ethics.  


Being Autistic is core to my being. It is who I am, how I am, and even who I love.  


Autistic Pride Day is not just a celebration of being Autistic and belonging to such a vibrant, beautiful community, but doing so despite the messages society sends that Autistic People don't have to be ashamed of who we are (and that we're not "broken" non-autistic people). 

There are many parallels between being Autistic and being Queer. 


Being out and being authentic as a Queer Person in a world that does not want to accept you as you are (and is trying to squash you for being different) is an act of defiance (very much like being openly Autistic can be). 


We have Queer Pride because the opposite of having Pride in your authentic Queer identity is being in the closet. We have Autistic Pride for very similar reasons. 


Being in the closet as a Queer Person was suffocating; the pressure of blending in and assimilating was crushing.  

Camouflaging my Autistic Traits and forcing myself into an "Autism Closet" was just as harmful (perhaps even more damaging) to me.  


I can't go back - into either closet (NeuroDivergent or Queer). 


Once you've had a taste of being out of the closet, it's tough to go back into the closet. 

Also, once you're out, it's hard to erase that information (because people know and tend to remember). 


Much like being Queer, Autistic People can choose to "come out" and disclose their invisible differences with people in very similar ways (and are sometimes met with disbelief and lots of misunderstanding when they share this information). 


People don't often doubt me when I share my Queerness with them unless I'm telling them I'm nonbinary (because some people don't believe nonbinary people exist).  


I feel I should also mention that I meet plenty of people who don't believe Autistic People exist either, thinking I am just the result of "bad parenting" and more punishments "for my behaviors" would have solved my "problems." 


The other parallel that is very similar between Queer Pride and Autistic Pride is that being able to be out of the closet (or un-camouflaged and open with one's Autism) is something that not everyone can do - because doing so may not be safe.  


People live in closets (or camouflage themselves) because of a lack of safety. 


People don't live in closets and hide their Queerness (or their NeuroDivergent traits) because they want to be deceptive. They conceal their Queerness because they do not perceive the people around them to be supportive or safe. 


Many of us learn to hide our Autistic traits in school (as a way to avoid being picked on by our peers and authority figures). 


For example, it's common for people not to be out in the workplace because doing so can risk their jobs or cause others to mistreat or discriminate against them at work (though legally, they are supposed to be protected). 


Many Autistic and Queer People live in poverty (making getting those legal protections challenging to acquire). 


All over the world, especially within the workplace and in professional settings, many Autistic People still feel a strong need to disguise their NeuroType(s) and hide much of who they are (out of fear they will be bullied, fired, or passed over for promotions). 

With the recent wave of anti-Queer legislation and events sweeping the world, many Queer People (especially trans people) are also becoming more hesitant to disclose within workplaces and other spaces.  


Safety is an issue. Those of us who are able to and have the privilege of being able to share this information do so with the understanding that there are many people who are still not in a place where they are safe enough to live openly.  


I do so because I hope that by being visible, I can use my visibility to help humanize NeuroDivergent and Queer Experiences.  


In June and all year long, we also need our allies to start showing up and standing in solidarity, even when we are "not in the room." 


The bigots have gotten way too comfortable speaking their hatred out loud recently, and it is time to push THE HATE back into the closet - so love can be free. 



by Lyric Rivera

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