Masking who I am
I thought it would be nice to talk about some experiences I've had being part of the LGBTQ+ community as someone with autism. The biggest thing I've felt through this journey is confusion.
Putting up barriers to fit in
Growing up I always knew I was different and felt the need to hide it and try to fit in with everyone else instead but as I got older I realised that all my friends were doing things that I took no interest in - like having sleepovers or dating. I never saw the appeal behind any of it. So I just passed it off as being an introvert and didn’t worry about it.
I went to a Christian school so in my personal experience being gay was not talked about, it wasn’t something I found out about until high school. All of a sudden the people around me were dating who they wanted, wearing what they wanted and just being themselves. This is when I decided to break down the barrier I had put up.
I didn’t realised how many walls I actually put up. I created a whole different identity and couldn't recognize who I was anymore. I didn't know who I actually was and what parts of my personality I had made up just to fit in. I was also masking my autism by never stimming or bringing up my special interests.
Being true to myself
Since then, when I was 12 years old, I've been trying to get my true self back and stop masking who I am. Though I feel much more comfortable in my identity now, I'm still finding parts of my personality I covered up years ago. I completely forgot about my love for the arts, reading and gaming because it wasn’t what people were doing around me.
This is also where I decided to explore my sexuality and gender more. I never felt like a girl but never questioned it, I just forgot about it like everything else. When I found out that some people don't identify as a girl or a boy something clicked and things made more sense.
The best advice I can give is that you should never repress who you are because you don't fit in with others. You end up living life on autopilot. You have the chance to be whoever you want to be, so you don't have to be like everyone else.
About the author:
Eli (they/them) was diagnosed with autism at four years old. Though they don’t label their sexuality, Eli is part of the LGBTQ+ community. Eli uses acting and theatre to understand their own feelings and is doing A-levels in drama, media and religious studies. They’re about to start a BA in drama and film. A big cinema and film fan, Eli can (and will) quote Thor Ragnarok every time they watch it! Their Instagram is _isthisnameok_