Why Autistic Pride?
June 18 is Autistic Pride Day. Yes, we have our own pride celebration! While we’re less likely to put on marches or big parties or festivals like other groups do in June (although some places do have regular Autistic Pride festivals every year – pandemics notwithstanding), Autistic Pride is important to the Autistic community and we celebrate it in ways that are meaningful to us.
Why Be Proud of Being Autistic?
Many reasons, and they vary by the individual. For many of us, it’s for much the same reason as a lot of LGBTQIA+ people – quite simply, we refuse to be ashamed of who and what we are. We love the way our minds work, we love the sensory joy we get from the world. We love our stims and our samefoods and although we may have spent part of our lives being taught to hide these traits, we now know we don’t need to hide. Others of us are still learning to take off the neurotypical mask, and Autistic-led events are a good opportunity for us to do that – a way to see others being unashamedly themselves, which can help us feel better about being our authentic selves, as well.
Why in June? Isn’t That for LGBTQIA+ People?
I’m SO glad you asked that!
Autistic people are significantly more likely to identify as one or more of the LGBTQIA+ categories. We’re gay, bisexual, trans, lesbian, asexual, aromantic, pansexual, genderfluid, nonbinary, and all kinds of other queerness. So while June is largely devoted to LGBTQIA+ Pride events, Autistic Pride has a place among them.
Autistic Pride was originally modeled on the gay pride movement, and early Autistic Pride flag designs used an infinity symbol on a rainbow or multicolored flag, which then grew into the rainbow infinity that’s more commonly used for Autistic Pride now.
But Autistic Pride is Just for High Functioning —
No. Nope, wrong, absolutely not.
First of all, ditch the functioning labels – Autistic Pride celebrates all autistic people, regardless of their support needs or communication styles. Nobody is “higher” or “lower” on the spectrum than anyone else and none of us are “better” than others because we speak or hold a job or are married and raising children.
The point of Autistic Pride is for ALL autistic people to celebrate their inherent worth as people. To know that they are worthwhile, deserving of love and dignity. Too often this is not the message we get from society at large, sometimes even from our families, so we take this day to remind each other and ourselves and the rest of the world that we are here and we deserve a place in the world.
What’s Important About Autistic Pride?
The most important thing about Autistic Pride Day is that it is entirely Autistic-led. The Autistic community created it and continues it, instead of so-called charities and other groups stepping in to speak over our voices, as happens far too much in April. Autistic Pride is purely ours – a time to share our experiences, celebrate our joys, and tell our truths and our own stories as loudly and proudly as possible.
Autistic people are often not in control of our own lives. Whether we require caregivers, are still under our parents’ care, or live at the mercy of employers who talk down to us or might fire us if we “show” our autism too much, there’s just so much that seems to be under the control of other people. Autistic Pride is something that is ours and can’t be taken away from us.
How Can I Celebrate Autistic Pride Day?
As an autistic person, there are lots of small ways you can celebrate Autistic Pride Day if there aren’t any celebrations near you. You can wear a rainbow or gold infinity symbol (I prefer rainbow myself, but many people prefer gold), you can wear any of the great clothing and accessories designed and sold by autistic creators, like these from Neurodivergent Rebel. Or you can just enjoy your day as an autistic person – stim, eat your favorite samefoods, watch your favorite comfort shows/movies, enjoy your favorite GoodFeel textures – whatever gives you the most sensory joy!
Autistic people and non-autistic allies can also celebrate Autistic Pride Day by supporting autistic creators. For more awesomely autistic apparel, may I recommend Growing Up Autie’s designs; Chris Bonnello, known online as Autistic Not Weird, has a novel series called Underdogs that looks like a great read (it’s on my list), Pete Wharmby has some of the greatest insights on autism I’ve ever seen, his blog and Twitter are always worth a read – and there are tons more. Take a quick look online and you’ll find plenty of autistic creators in various fields from blogging to writing to visual arts and more who would welcome a purchase or a donation. Most importantly, for Autistic Pride Day, elevate autistic voices wherever you find them.
Happy Autistic Pride Day, everybody!
How will you be celebrating Autistic Pride Day? I’ll be wearing my rainbow infinity pins and spending the evening with my favorite comfort TV. Do you have other autistic creators you’d like to recommend? I only listed a few, but there are thousands of us out there. Is there an Autistic Pride celebration local to you, this year or any year – have you been or will you go?