Being autistic, bisexual and proud
I am proud to be autistic and be a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Although, it’s taken me a long time to understand how I fit within these groups and to feel confident being part of them.
In the last two years I have learnt so much more about myself and grown in confidence. Feeling accepted by the neurodivergent and LGBTQ+ communities has a big part to play in that.
I was diagnosed with autism when I was 13, but no one explained what it meant. At the time, there was very little about how autism can present differently to the typical 'male' stereotype. There were very few autistic females in the media and I couldn't find any books to explain how the traits of autism might apply to me. As I grew up, this presented challenges, particularly when it came to encountering sex and relationships; understanding my body and 'feelings' didn't come naturally to me. This scared me. I felt wrong, like I was somehow subhuman, and not good enough. I also found the idea of attraction confusing - I was attracted to girls and boys...was that okay? And even if it was - then came the big question of what even was attraction?
Lack of acceptance and understanding meant I kept these fears and worries to myself. When I did dare to try and speak about these thoughts, with close friends or family, people dismissed it with the cliche “you're just confused”, “you'll understand when you're older” - or worse, because this felt like an attack of who I am, “it's just your autism”.
All of these implied that something was wrong with how I felt, which I have come to realise is definitely not the case.
Through joining an LGBTQ+ society at university and being a part of Ambitious, I have met other autistic people, other LGBTQ+ members, and people who are both! Learning from their experiences and their knowledge I have come to understand who I am and to be proud: I now think of myself as bisexual, though I am still on a journey of learning about myself. And that is okay! It's okay to still be learning and growing as a person, even if I am an adult - it's not 'because of my autism' and there doesn't need to be a reason behind it, because there's nothing wrong with it.
It is so important that there is more awareness of autism in the LGBTQ+ community. I think that will lead to more autistic people feeling confident in who they are instead of being unsure of their sexuality or growing up feeling ashamed because their sexuality might not be 'the norm'. It's so easy for people to 'blame the autism' rather than acknowledging the autistic person might just not fit the idea of 'normal' society has created. I really believe more awareness will stop this being the case. We need to stop stereotyping and pigeonholing people - and start realising that diversity is a wonderful thing and it’s everywhere.
About the author
Saffron is a proud autistic young woman and aspiring accountant, who also loves art and learning about almost anything from history to microbiology to the politics of food! In her spare time, she is passionate about raising awareness and understanding for people with autism and ARFID.