image has a lovely pile of gold glitter with glitter raining down and sparkling in the background to celebrate our golden moment for autistic coming out day

Introducing #RedInstead and #OurGoldenMoment: Autistics are claiming the narrative on April 1 & 2, 20206 min read

Editor’s note: The Aspergian/NeuroClastic team is working with Wolf Traverso and strate­gizing on how to best pre­pare our com­mu­nity for April 1 & 2. We would love to hear from the autistic com­mu­nity what your hopes, ideas, reser­va­tions, and strate­gies are, and we are working on cre­ating a plan that will max­i­mize safety and quality for any autis­tics par­tic­i­pating, ensure that the nar­ra­tive around autism is one written by actual autis­tics, and pro­vide the com­mu­nity with ideas, orga­nizing tips, resources, strate­gies, plans, and sup­port in April. Please read this article as the author’s ten­ta­tive plan and stay tuned for updated news and plans.

As I have learned more and more about my autistic iden­tity (diag­nosed 3 years ago, at age 40), there are themes I have dis­cov­ered in our com­mu­nity.

There are many voices. Many leaders. Many pages. Many blogs. So many of us out there.  But, what I have yet to see, is uni­fi­ca­tion and a des­ig­nated means of sol­i­darity.

That is the moti­va­tion for these dates.  I have had push back on the selec­tion of April Fool’s Day, and for good reason. However, after research, dialog with other leaders and advo­cates, feed­back, etc… I stand by the impor­tance, if not the URGENCY of using April 1st as a day to counter the dom­i­nant cul­ture–

The History of April Fools’ Day

April Fools’ Day was traced back by his­to­rians to the middle ages.  There was a major cal­endar shift when the cur­rent cal­endar was adopted. Some people in remote vil­lages didn’t get the memo, so to speak, and still cel­e­brated the wrong New Year date.

The vil­lagers were made fun of, and it caught on. By his­tor­ical con­text, April Fools’ day was always a tra­di­tion of power dynamics where the ones who had least access to infor­ma­tion and social com­mu­ni­ca­tion were made into the “joke.”

Imagine that. You’re autistic, pos­sibly, and due to iso­la­tion or just not quite under­standing, the cal­endar shifts, sched­ules change, you missed the memo. Then you get made fun of it. Being out of the loop is some­thing that autistic people can gen­er­ally relate to.

Now, April Fools’ Day has become a global day of pranks, hoaxes, and more. I hate this day. I wish I could stay home and stay offline all day. I have been hoaxed ter­ribly. I stress the entire day. I can’t tell what’s true online and what’s not. I can’t tell what’s true on Facebook and what’s not.

Not to men­tion, there are other groups that despise this day and/or some of the pranks it has pro­duced. For example, women who have ever expe­ri­ence mis­car­riage or the loss of an infant or who struggle with fer­tility issues. The fre­quent, “I’m preg­nant… APRIL FOOLS!!!”, hurts more than just me.

Big busi­nesses even waste mar­keting dol­lars and time on their own pranks. Why? What is the pur­pose in wasting money to fool people? I under­stand many enjoy the expe­ri­ence of feeling fooled, and the relief of dis­cov­ering the truth. I don’t. I hate it.

April

April itself is hard on autistic people, too. It’s the month des­ig­nated for autism aware­ness, and his­tor­i­cally, that’s been a month full of calls for cures. Well-meaning non-autistic people rally to sup­port autistic people with sym­bols and by sup­porting char­i­ties that most of us feel– at best– mis­rep­re­sent us as broken or infan­tilized, and at worst see us as some­thing that needs to be “solved” or erased.

And, for years, the autistic com­mu­nity has attempted to re-educate the public with a mes­sage of neu­ro­di­ver­sity. Despite their efforts, the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tive remains that autistic people are a charity case deserving of pity. Inherently, that kind of phi­los­ophy echoes the same power struc­ture that leaves autistic people as the “fools” who are not included in the cal­endar that is sup­posed to center them.

A Day of Kindness — Go #RedInstead — April 1, 2020

How about we reclaim this date for our­selves? The autistic com­mu­nity has already estab­lished that as a counter to the #LightItUpBlue nar­ra­tive pushed by Autism Speaks, they choose to use #RedInstead. Instead of the puzzle piece that was meant to indi­cate some­thing was “missing,” we use the infinity symbol for our­selves.

How about we encourage big busi­nesses to spend their time and mar­keting dol­lars on our efforts? How about we use April 1, 2020, to make a pledge that instead of pranking others, we will prac­tice acts of kind­ness? How about we band together as a com­mu­nity and demon­strate how inte­gral we are to society and how much we con­tribute to the Greater Good?

How about we take to the vir­tual streets and tell the world how many of us there are? We can’t coor­di­nate a mas­sive march like other civil rights move­ments. We have to do it online. If we all join in, we will be a force to be reck­oned with.

So on April 1, 2020, we are asking autis­tics, neu­ro­di­ver­gents, and allies to do some­thing #RedInstead. Use your tal­ents, resources, skills, insights, time, words–whatever cap­ital you have to do some­thing pos­i­tive: write someone a song, make a gift or meal for someone, donate to an autistic-led orga­ni­za­tion, vol­un­teer your time, write some­thing brave and unapolo­getic, say a kind word, do a good deed.

And then, in sol­i­darity, use your plat­form online to boost other #RedInstead moments.

Those who are irri­tated we chose their funny day will be forced to speak with us about why we dis­rupted their fun. Why they need to be more sen­si­tive to lit­eral thinkers like me and many other autis­tics.

Autism Awareness Day — #OurGoldenMoment — April 2, 2020

The second day of April is des­ig­nated glob­ally as “Autism Awareness Day,” but autis­tics have pushed the nar­ra­tive for years away from “aware­ness” and towards “accep­tance.” You may have noticed the abbre­vi­a­tion of the chem­ical ele­ment for gold, Âû, appear in peo­ple’s pro­files. Many autis­tics use that, the color gold, and the infinity symbol to self-identify.

This year, let’s take it a step fur­ther. Let’s make April 2, 2020, a safe day for autis­tics and other neu­ro­di­ver­gent people (ADHD, dyslexic, dys­praxic, etc.) to come out and be heard.

Yes, Autistics need to lead this move­ment, much like the Gay com­mu­nity did for Lesbian, Trans, Bi, and Queer com­mu­ni­ties. We are all one, Autistic and other forms of Neurodiversity, but Autistics are the ones most likely to be killed or commit sui­cide for our iden­tity. We suffer the most oppres­sion and struggle against the deepest ableism, so we must lead from the front.

If ANYONE is bul­lied on that day, they need only tag #OGMassist, and the rest of us autis­tics, neu­ro­di­ver­gents, and allies can come to their aid.

A CommUnity

It’s time to stand together, please. Every voice will be heard if we stand on the cliff and howl together. Even our non-speaking com­mu­nity mem­bers will be heard in this format.

If you want to join us, click “join us” on this web­site: www.ourgoldenmoment.com

As the day approaches, share­able con­tent will be posted in the form of coming out state­ments, (or, see below, alliance state­ments). Or write your own.

If you own a busi­ness or are an advo­cate and want to commit as a listed partner, see this page: www.ourgoldenmoment.com/part­ners

You can find pro­mo­tional graphics for use here: https://www.ourgoldenmoment.com/images/

If you’re an ally, join us. If you’re autistic, join us. If you’re any form of neu­ro­di­ver­gent, join us. No great change hap­pened without some form of dis­rup­tion. This is our chance.

And we’ll keep April as autistic accep­tance month over autism aware­ness month, choosing to tag #AutisticGold and #RedInstead. It will be a month of cel­e­brating autistic pride, plat­forming autistic per­spec­tives, and claiming the nar­ra­tive about the autistic expe­ri­ence for our­selves.

I hope to see all of you there!

With love,

The Autistic Wolf

Editor’s Note: NeuroClastic, Inc. is spon­soring the Our Golden Moment event. To make a tax-deductible dona­tion for pro­mo­tion of this event, click here.

4 Comments


  1. Can we maybe not call it coming out? As a queer autistic person myself the phrase “coming out” holds unique his­tor­ical sig­nif­i­cance for the lgbtq com­mu­nity and “coming out” as autistic is not the same as coming out as lgbtq. Appropriating that phrase for the autistic com­mu­nity is not okay.

  2. I’m queer too and hon­estly I don’t think we “own” coming out. I think anyone who has suf­fered mar­gin­al­i­sa­tion and been able to shake off the shackles of oppres­sion by being more authentic about who they are gets to have “coming out”. I break down bar­riers to inclu­sion, I don’t build arbi­trary walls around terms that have as much ambi­guity to their meaning for indi­vidual people as “coming out” does. There is nothing dis­re­spectful or appro­pria­tive about using these common English words to describe openly iden­ti­fying as autistic, since to me that means “shaking off oppres­sive nor­ma­tive shackles I have lived under my whole life” and as a queer person, that res­onates as a real and accu­rate way to describe the expe­ri­ence of coming out as autistic too. It was the same for me. I use the same words to talk about it.

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