A little bit of personal history about myself, but I’m curious to get your takes on it, as well.
There are many overlapping areas between ASD communities and LGBTQIA+ communities (forgive me if my alphabet is inaccurate, please), although I’m positive there’s more than I can be aware of as a single, white, heterosexual, male aspie. The point I’m trying to make here is that revealing one’s ASD can often times feel like coming out of the closet.
[Cue a bunch of tasteless Will & Grace jokes here!]
Aw, hell! I can’t resist. Here’s a gif of Jack McFarland:
Before you click away, I’m being totally serious here! Think about it:
You feel a certain disconnect between your own self-identity and the identity you feel the world expects from you. It’s not until you “come out of the closet,” perse, and reveal who you really are to someone, that you truly feel like you’re living your own life.
…And there’s always that nagging vulnerability that the people you’re coming out to are going to respond with some form of negativity. It’s a very sensitive issue for everyone. You know going into it that the public knowledge of your diagnosis will create extra challenges of its own. You don’t want to put others on the spot, but you want them to know, right?
So, I first really became aware of my ASD around 2002-ish. At that time, it was still clinically known as “Asperger’s Syndrome.” Keep in mind, this was an era before people really started paying attention to the prevalence rate of ASDs, and thus, it was considered a negative thing to be associated with. It wasn’t really until 2006, that I fully accepted that yes, I am autistic. I will always be autistic. And there’s nothing wrong with that, in and of itself.
At that point, I just decided to run with it. It became a very large part of my personal identity that I am autistic, and look at what I’m able to accomplish! Nothing “wrong” or “negative” about that, at all. After a lifetime of trying to hide my differences and “fit in,” I felt liberated that I could finally be myself BECAUSE OF my differences.
So in essence, identifying with my ASD was like I came out of the closet. And I’ve never looked back on that decision. I’d rather be hated for who I am than be liked for who I am not.
So, here’s my question to the rest of you spectrumites out there, reading this post:
Have you come out yet? What was the reaction? How did you feel afterward?
I’d love to read your stories in the comments.
Before I go… Real quickly, I want to share with you some more Jack McFarland gifs that illustrate my point. You have NO IDEA how hard it was to pick just the one before. Here goes: