As a gay fella, you'd think 'd have this 'coming out' nonsense sorted already. It turns out though, I'm still struggling... as to just when the best time to 'out' yourself as autistic is!
Case in point: I'm currently trying to get a housemate for my spare room, so I'm naturally having people around to view the property. Now, as a general rule of thumb, I've found that if I feel uncomfortable telling someone I've got Asperger's, then to trust my instincts - as that's a pretty good sign that I shouldn't be living with that person.
But equally, if I do feel comfortable with the prospective housemate, I'm finding that 'coming out' Aspie isn't always well-received. For example: there was one professional, well-educated and worldly-wise chap who came around to view the place. We chatted, we got on, and he seemed especially eager to move in. Even though he was straight, he was absolutely unperturbed when I 'outed' myself as gay. Great. Next step was to 'out' myself as autistic. Not so great.
As soon as I mentioned it, his little eager face instantly changed to a look of uncontained horror. All of a sudden, his eagerness was gone. Funnily, a few hours later I got a text with a vague excuse that he wasn't going to accept the offer.
I've raised this with other people, (all Neurotypical I would add) - who the majority of the time instruct me that under no uncertain terms should I be telling people I'm autistic. Usually, it comes under the guise of, "well, it's none of their business."
For me, I want to be upfront and honest with whoever moves in. After all, they're going to be paying good money for the room in the house, and I would be mortified if they had felt duped in any way, or indeed, uncomfortable in their own new home. It's small house, so we will be living in close quarters, whereby my Aspergian quirks will be noted. So, there's no chance of me successfully disguising my autistic traits akin to Tourette-like tic repression. Plus, I want to feel relaxed too. To me, it's exactly the same scenario of telling them I'm gay - as it provides them with an opportunity to opt-out if they're uncomfortable at all. Ultimately, I'd much rather they were honest than politically correct - albeit, it is admittedly disheartening how off-putting the old 'autism' confession seems to frequently be.
Plus, all these (Neurotypical) folk telling me not to say anything... well, it kinda makes me feel like I should be ashamed of being autistic. It's akin to being gay in the 1950's - whereby it was acceptable to turn a blind eye to someone being a bit 'fruity', so long as they never flounced it in front of respectful and upstanding citizens. Don't ask and don't tell!
Whether it's a mutually-beneficial financial arrangement, or the start of a potential romantic arrangement, it's strikes me as being similar to 'outing' yourself a transgender, whereby the unfortunate reality is that there is no 'good' time. Tell someone at the start of a relationship, and you risk being rejected straight away due to bigotry or ignorance. Conversely, if you allow someone time to get to know you first, you risk anger and retribution, when they later feel duped and deceived (I've personal experience of this with sexual partners - who get angry and ashamed when they only later find out after the act that I'm autistic, reeling at the indignity that I somehow had an obligation to reveal my autistic status - like being HIV+ - prior to duping them into sex with a disabled person).
Ironically, I did find one Asperger's lady looking for a room. Alas though - true to the natural bent of our lot - she wanted to find somewhere to live alone!
It just got me wondering as the best time to 'out' yourself autistic (whether that's housemates, new romance or work etc)?
Do you fine divergent folk have any insightful 'coming out' tales?
Blueray - I like that you challenge me on just what I've learned (luckily, I'm contractually forbidden from accepting those on benefits, so I've managed to dodge the bullet from learning anything on this occasion, as it's outta my hands!).
I know what you mean about the comments in response to 'coming out'. Don't get me started on that, as I could do an entire separate post on other people's responses and rant on how most of them are wholly unsuitable!
Weirdly, the response I find most offensive is being patronised. I can mostly deal with people getting angry or abusive. What really scares me is when people - who may have relied on your academic and professional knowledge for years - suddenly become very soft-voiced and patronising on disclosure of your autistic status, and start offering unprompted 'advice' befitting a ten year old. It's that stark and sudden change in response to 'coming out', which whilst admittedly is usually well-meant, really disturbs and annoys me.
Robert123 - I can empathise with (project onto?) that lady within your group. Being an 'out' gay man for many years, my 'gaydar' is highly developed at this point. But being a newly-diagnosed Aspie, my equivalent autistic-detection ('autometer'?) instincts are no where near as developed. So, I find myself searching the crowds to detect other Aspie adults, and in all truthfulness, wanting to reach out to them (to date, I've not got any autistic friends that I know of, nor have I knowingly had any meaningful conversations in person with other adult autistics). So, I can well understand the wish to connect.
Martian (or is that 'Mr Tom'?) - I completely understand where you're coming from, as people keep telling me it's not something I should talk about. The employment scenario I've found is a particular minefield. For me, the best compromise I've found is not to mention it at application or interview stage. Rather, I wait until I've been formally offered a job, and only then will I disclose my autistic status (usually to specific members of HR or occupational health, as my experience is they seldom communicate this to Management anyway). Personally, my (negative) experience thus far is not to divulge my status to my Manager or colleagues unless I really have to. Of course, none of this is ideal, and remains the autistic equivalent of the military's 'don't ask don't tell' stance. We do not live in ideal times.
But, my thanks to all. That's what I like about this forum - as it's the one resource I've found since being diagnosed whereby I can speak to like-minded individuals with similar experiences. It really does help. We really are fortunate to have this in an autistically-hostile world.
Evan said:We do not live in ideal times.
No. Better than before in some ways... but there's still so much ignorance being propagated. I'm glad we have positive role models like Chris Packham (out to millions, including his employer - the notoriously conservative BBC).
I think with great sadness about the likes of Alan Turing. One of the fathers of modern computing, whose expertise helped to shorten the war and saves hundreds of thousands of lives - possibly even millions. But chemically castrated because of his 'criminal' homosexuality. Also, undoubtedly, on the spectrum. Lost to suicide. A damning indictment of society.
The parallels between the LGBTQIA+ movement and the 'Autistic Movement' do fascinate me.
Don't get me wrong - as whilst the LGBTQIA+ movement still admittedly has a way to go, they have made definite and marked gains towards acceptance and equality. But comparatively, I can't help feeling that the 'Autistic Movement' (as well as Transgender rights) has not made similar gains. Not surprising really, since it's a relatively recently-recognised phenomenon.
But my personal experience has been one of overwhelmingly negativity in response to my 'coming out' autistic. Don't get me wrong, as folks are usually well-intentioned underneath. But there is a lamentable amount of ignorance out there, and there just doesn't seem to be the sophistication of language for engaging with Autistics yet (which from the general populace I can understand, but have been utterly shocked by the lacking skills of the so-called professionals).
Maybe Blueray was right... insomuch that being boldly 'out' as Autistic from the get-go is a form of activism in itself, and the only way to move things forward for us all... with each of us being brave enough to wear our Neurodivergency proudly.
This has been a brilliant thread to read for someone similarly newly diagnosed and all of the replies on here answer, or address, a lot of the questions re. 'coming out' that I've had too. I've nothing useful to add, being such a newbie to ASD myself, but it's been helpful. Thank you for posting it!
My question has nothing to do with Asperger's or the thread so please feel free not to answer it, but what does LGBTQIA+ mean? I know what LGBT means but I've never heard of the rest (?).
I'm glad you've found it helpful Endymion. Indeed, I find these forums an endless source of good advice and understanding.
Ah, yes... the formidable 'LGBTQIA+' label...
Transgender (possibly, formerly 'Transsexual')
+ (Plus = anything else, like demisexual, pansexual or omnisexual etc)
OM MY GOD!
Has this forum just blanked-out (with '****') the words L(esbian) and Q(ueer)?!
Why on earth would it do that, unless for some sort of outdated value-judgement about the 'moral integrity' of these words? That is so shocking, and not something I expected from a 21st public forum. It's not like these words are offensive. That sort of overzealous censorship is reminiscent of something from the 1980's, not 2018!
But I think, between everyone's replies, I've managed to piece the answers together. Thank you all for not simply ridiculing my ignorance, my children hate it whenever I ask them to explain new (to me) terms I come across.
I can't imagine what the NAS is playing at in blanking things out in a forum for adults, maybe I'm living a sheltered life but I've never heard of the word L***ian being used as an insult or a swear word. Mind you, I feel pretty insulted every time I get letters addressing me as 'Mrs' and that's not a swear word either. (I wouldn't go around blanking it out of other people's mail though!) It's just the assumption that grinds on me.