You may have grown up being unaware that you are a member of a minority group. This happens a lot with autistic people who discover that we’re autistic as adults. We’ve always been autistic, but finding out that we are may compel us to find out more about ourselves. It may motivate us to seek out fellow autistic people, and then we start learning about our oppression.
Many of us weren’t aware of this as children. Although the effects of being different were always there, some of us came to believe that there was a problem with us. So, when we discover that we are autistic and the problem actually lies in power imbalances within society, some of us may want to get involved in activism or advocacy (and the two are different) to try shift the power imbalance – even just a little bit.
A harsh truth
When you decide to become an active advocate or activist, you may lose friends. You may actually lose all of them.
You’ll notice that some of your friends hold fairly bigoted attitudes. Attitudes that may have gone unnoticed previously because your advocacy or activism might cause discussions where their beliefs become more apparent than they previously were.
In the beginning, you might think that you will be able to persuade them to think differently about difference. Maybe, you might persuade one or two, but for the most part, you probably won’t.
You might think you will convince the people you know to provide allyship. Maybe, you might even convince some to do so, but most won’t. You will find yourself spending more time pandering to their need for recognition and gratitude than you will spend actually advocating.
The harsh truth is that some people won’t change their thinking, and their bigotry will lead to increased hurt for you until eventually you have had enough.
A flip side
You will make new friends, and these will be people who share your ‘radical’ idea that all people deserve equality. When that happens, you’ll begin to understand what friendship means, and you probably won’t miss the people who have left your life.
This post has now been translated into Russian. You can access the translation here.