First, an apology. I have neglected this blog and its accompanying Facebook page for far too long and I definitely need to apologize to those loyal readers who have stuck by me regardless.
So today is national coming out day and it’s made me think about identities. A lot of people think that labels are unimportant, that they don’t matter. And while I am all for people just being who they are, I hold a bachelors degree in English and I think words can be important. It seems that people who complain the most about needing to use “made up words” (aren’t all words made up?) are the ones who don’t need words to describe experiences.
I grew up in a religious and conservative household. I often wonder as an adult how much of my identity took so long because it took me that long to find a word that described my experiences or whether it’s because I didn’t understand that anything outside of cis and straight and neurotypical was an option for me. It wasn’t until college that I was pretty sure that I could possibly have attraction to people who were not men. I don’t know that I had the words back then and I know they probably wouldn’t describe me now anyway. If I had known at age 13 that it was ok to like girls the way I was supposed to like boys, what would that when meant for me?
A friend and I were talking last week about being authentic. I thought this might be a good chance for me to really be that. I am Autistic. I’m also queer and maybe a little bit of the specific labels of my gender and sexuality might be tied into the fact that I am neurodivergent, and my experiences are different because of that. I’m fairly gender neutral and have been since childhood (I remember marking both gender markers on a standardized test and wondering why those were all the options when I was around 7). I am attracted to various people of various genders but tend to not often be attracted to people who are definitively male as opposed to something more fluid or something else (female, nonbinary, or “sometimes a dude but not always”). I could go into more explanation but this is feels very personal and I don’t know that I’m quite ready for that much soul baring yet. If you want of use pronouns to refer to me, I prefer they and them. Other gender neutral pronouns are also fine. But yes,Autistic and Queer tend to sum up my feelings in a succinct way. It’s not a complete picture of me, but it’s a jumping off point.
I want the world to be a safe place for people to be who they are. Happy Coming Out Day. Those of you who cannot yet come out, please know that the future will be brighter because your friends and allies will make it so. One day, you won’t have to hide, but for today, there is no shame in keeping yourself safe and alive.