The rainbow contains rays of many hues, each a varied wavelength. We see what our eyes perceive as ‘colours’ and assign particular colours to particular items. The danger of stereotyping such assignments is that we restrict ourselves completely to fixed boxes and throw the rest under the bus.
Let me illustrate a situation from my personal experience. Being closeted and without much support to get out of my abusive situation, I had been despondent with despair. I was assigned the contact number of an activist (who shall remain nameless here). I contacted them….till it became evident in the first phone call itself – that this activist had no idea of dealing with anyone on the autistic spectrum. They sounded incredulous when I disclosed about my absence of friends. They were more interested about sharing their story of transition and acquiring the citizenship of another country, than to listen to my situation. They seemed disappointed that I had not disclosed my gender identity properly and further declared that I was a lazy parasite who expected others to help them, without moving a single finger. Their laughter over the traumatizing incidents of my personal life echoed in my ears…. leaving me in tears at midnight, cold and heartbroken.
This incident had occurred prior to the Supreme Court of India scrapping Section 377 of Indian Penal Code and decriminalizing homosexuality in 2018. However, the behaviour of the activist felt too traumatizing for me to contact them again for help. I even went to the extent of blocking their number. But this was not the only incident. I had also contacted two LGBT non-governmental organizations based in metro cities. One of them offered to help me. However weeks later, I was informed that none of their in-house psychologists were willing to chat on phone. I realized that I had been taken for a ride.
Most people have no idea about proper behaviour when dealing with autistic persons. And it’s no surprise, considering the fact that there is no visible representation of queer autistics in movies. The handful of movies made in Hollywood and Bollywood depict autistic persons who are straight (My Name is Khan, for example). Moreover, it is white, cisgender and heterosexual men/women who dominate the online spaces of autism discussion groups.
I had tried to come out as being on the autism spectrum to my family and revealing that I suffered from depression too. Their response to my condition: plain indifference and callousness. How could I hope to come out of closet fully under circumstances and reveal that apart from being autistic, I was queer as well?
While on the one hand, prides, queer lit fests, and other queer themed events including job fairs are centered in and around the metro cities only, on the other hand the bulk of the queer communities are likely to be living in small towns and villages. Only a few can afford to live in cities. There are no figures available for the percentage of autistic persons within the queer community.
But we are there. We hate being sidelined when certain events come up and we don’t have the means to go or are prevented owing to miscommunication. We hate being the butt of jokes in conversations. We gather courage to message on rainbow dating sites, only to have you all flee in the opposite direction once you learn about our mental health. We hate being ghosted. We hate being called cold and callous in certain situations – only because you expected us to burst into tears on the spot and we did not. We hate the absence of safe spaces. If we avoid looking at your face and particularly eyes, it does not mean we are criminals and hiding secrets. We have our own anxiety and panic issues to surmount. If we clam up and retreat to a safe place during face to face interactions or in phone calls, it is prudent to let us be, instead of firing a volley of questions over our heads and driving us literally up the wall. There are certain activities we can do and certain activities that we can’t. Our depression and distrust in the world around us go hand in hand in making us suicidal now and then. And there is no way to predict that one day, frustrated by the lack of physical, financial and psychological support and emptiness in your hollow promises, one of us may chalk a plan to end it all and leave the noisy world behind.
So dear parents, guardians and fellow neuro-typical queers – are you listening?
*Neurotypical individuals are often described in relation to individuals with autism, so they may have:
- no problem interacting with peers or having conversation
- no noticeable speech delays as children
- no sensory issues, such as not being able to tolerate crowds, loud noises, or being too hot or too cold
- the ability to adapt to change
*Ghosting is a colloquial term used to describe the practice of ceasing all communication and contact with a partner, friend, or similar individual without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts to reach out or communicate made by said partner, friend, or individual.
- When the Rainbow Feels Colourless- Being Autistic and Queer on the Spectrum - March 31, 2020
- The Experience of Watching ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ - February 23, 2020
- As A Closeted Queer Woman, This is How the 9 Day Internet Ban in Assam Affected Me - December 23, 2019