Today is the 18th of June 2020, and for us, it is Autistic Pride Day. Today is a day to be proud of who we are as autistic people, to celebrate our culture and identity. Unfortunately, this year, Autistic Pride is overshadowed by the historic events that have been taking place since this year started.
While many of the events that have happened this year are vitally needed (the #BlackLivesMatters protests have been long overdue, and very important to advancing the civil rights cause), I think it is fair to say that many of us are feeling at least a little burnt out.
As I write this, I am very aware of my own depression and anxiety. Being proud of who you are can be difficult with the looming spectre of oblivion leaning over your shoulder. But for all the darkness that 2020 has brought us, I have seen so much good in the world as well, especially from autistics themselves.
Where people were hungry, I have seen autistics volunteer to feed them. Where people were lonely, I have seen autistics teach the neurotypical society how to cope with the isolation that we feel every day. And when the black community felt the horror and tragedy of yet more murders at the hands of the police, I saw many autistic people stand arm in arm with them and demand justice.
None of us could have predicted the challenges that would come with this new decade, and I doubt any of us were fully prepared for the loss of freedom that would come with the pandemic, but the autistic community has risen to that challenge and fought to help the world feel a little less broken.
That’s what I’m proud of today, on Autistic Pride Day. Autistic culture is characterised by tenacity, ingenuity, deep-seated empathy, and a love of all that is beautiful in this world. When the rest of the world stood still, autistic people stood up and did what they could to help heal the world.
We have a little over 6 months left of 2020, and I am sure that there will be more challenges to come in that time. It is my hope that when June 18th comes around next year, we can look back on this time and see that where there was darkness, we shone a light. Many of us are only here because of the support and love of our fellow autistics, and despite the philosophical differences that some of us might have, we must never forget that we are on the same team.
Let’s be proud of this community we have built together, let us raise each other up and take this movement to places we never dreamed. This Autistic Pride Day, let us be proud of all autistics, especially those who are typically under-represented but most importantly be proud of your true autistic self, who has so far survived one of the most challenging years of the past century.
Let this be the start of autistic pride for #AllAutistics.
Editor’s Note: We are a few days late to our own party this year and are delayed in posting our Autistic Pride pieces. NeuroClastic’s commitment to #AllAutistics means a commitment to prioritising articles and campaign work on topics related to the human rights of the most marginalized people at this time.