By David Gray-Hammond
People have found me weird my entire life. I am autistic. I am a recovering drug addict. I have experienced psychosis. I am asexual.
All of these things represent a departure from the status quo. When people ask, “What is normal?” the resounding answer is “Not me.” I am comfortable with who I am, but this was not always the case. There was a time when I wanted to be someone else.
As a teenager, I dressed in an eccentric manner. I listened to different music, and me and my friends were the proverbial misfits. This was often met with violence in my backwards little town in the south-east of England. I have suffered broken bones, up to and including a fractured skull because of being different.
Professionals ranging from teachers to police routinely told me it was my own fault for being different. I learned that being me was wrong. I think that’s how drugs and alcohol got their claws into me so quickly. I learned that I could immolate my former self in the fires of addiction, and emerge a more accepted person.
Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t true. I remained as weird as I always had been. Only now I had a drinking and drug problem. My ability to relate to others became worse— I could not even relate to my fellow weirdos either.
Humanity as a whole has a primal hatred for anything that doesn’t fit into the arbitrary box of normal. The hatred and violence of my peers nearly killed me for being weird more than once. Sadly, my story is not a rare one. Many of us who identify as weird experience the violence of a neuronormative society.
This is why I was so pleased to read of the new “weird pride day.” Finally, a day to fight the violent hatred against my personality with a refusal to be ashamed of who I am.
That’s what we need to do today. We must refuse to be ashamed. We must fight the violence of a neuronormative society. We’re here, we’re weird, and we’re damned bloody proud of who we are. We will sit in the corner no longer. We are who we were meant to be, and no amount of physical violence, emotional abuse, abject hatred, or conditioning will change that.
I was a born a weirdo, and I will die a weirdo. It’s who I am. I’m not going to let anyone take that from me ever again. Today, on weird pride day, I will wear the scars of my former battles like a suit of armour, and march forth clad in the weirdness of our beautiful community.
Happy Weird Pride Day, my fellow weirdos.
David Gray-Hammond is an autistic addict from England. He is in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, and has experienced several complex mental health conditions. His special interests are autism, addiction, mental health, and sexuality and all the places where those things intersect. After years of treatments by psychiatric services in the UK, he now uses his experiences to help inform treatment policy. He is also the author of Emergent Divergence on WordPress and Facebook.