As June comes to a close, I thought I’d write about the problem I have with Autistic Pride Day being in June, and make a case for August for Autistic Pride Month, and specifically August 8th for Autistic Pride Day.
Autistic Pride Day was first established by a group called Aspies for Freedom. They had a vote on what day it should be, and June 18th was picked as it just so happened to be the birthday of the youngest member of the group. And so it’s been held on June 18th ever since.
Now June happens to be LGBT+ Pride Month. And there have been accusations by that community of “appropriation” by the autistic community. And, especially when rainbow neurodiversity symbols are used, I do know of members of the general public who think Autistic Pride Day has something to do with LGBT+ Pride. There definitely is a blurring of the lines, which is fine for the huge numbers of people who belong to both groups, myself included.
But I’ve seen something happen as a result that upsets me. Straight Autistic people being excluded. I had an autistic friend become suicidal as he was told by a group of Queer Autistics that Autistic Pride Day was “not for him” because he was straight. It was the first year that he had been aware that he was autistic and he had been feeling so happy that there was a day where he could celebrate his neurology. And here was the one community he thought would accept him, telling him he wasn’t included in the party.
When I tried to tell them that they were being exclusionary, I was told to stop “pandering” to straight people. And I get it. I get that oppressed people have a right to have days that are just for them. So maybe June 18th ought to be a day of celebration for the LGBT+ Autistic Community, as part of the larger LGBT+ Pride Month festivities.
As an alternative to June 18th, I’ve heard August 8th being proposed. And, frankly, I love it. August fits in so well with Âû being the symbol for Autism. And the number 8 is like a sideways infinity symbol. And as August is the 8th month, August 8th is like sideways infinity squared. Or 8/8 could also equal 1. To emphasize that “we are one”. And any number of other “mathematical puns” for want of a better phrase.
I’ve heard arguments that we should not try to change the date of Autistic Pride Day. That’s not what I’m proposing. I’m merely stating that it should be expanded. That there should be more days to choose from. That it should be clearly inclusive to everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
As it happens, June 18th didn’t suit a lot of people, for different reasons to the one I’m concerned about. A more immediately practical one for a lot of parents is that young children are still in school during June so July or August are better options for them. So some groups have scheduled Autistic Pride Picnics later in the summer. And having the whole month of August as Autistic Pride Month would give folks a great deal of flexibility in scheduling. We could have a whole host of events all month. And it would get us away from April and all that Autism Awareness Month stands for.
Whatever day or days it falls on, I believe Autistic Pride Day should be for all Autistics. We are excluded from enough things as it stands.