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Love in Action is a column aimed at understanding the world in its complexity framed through a lens of radical love and its practical implications. Too often, we focus on the hate that pervades the world, but what about Love? And where does its potential lie?
In a world which rejects already so many marginalized identities, queerness is one aspect which seems to drive families apart no matter the strength of those bonds or the unity of their common humanity. When talking about intersectional queerness, we often leave neuroqueerness behind as an invisible variable. I would argue that being neurodivergent in some capacity takes queerness a step further by complicating the boundaries of what it is to be a social being and who deserves to be included in our definitions of humanity. To some, I may act like a robot from time to time but a robot capable of love and feeling, nonetheless. The silent prejudice and avoidance people have for neuroqueer folks cloaks another beautiful and joyful aspect of humanity’s diversity. What does it look like when we embrace that neuroqueerness instead?
It is a noted phenomenon that queer folks will gravitate towards each other and form friend groups. Whether it starts out as entirely queer or a mishmash, it is just as commonplace for some people in the group to gradually explore their identity and discover their queerness, leading to a net-positive of queerness. I suspect this is because there are certain tendencies of an open mind and an embrace of the fluidity of queerness that one may embody before fully being conscious of it themselves. The case is similar with neuroqueer folks. I say that based on my own experiences of realizing that I actually have a good number of friends of divergent neurotypes, some of whom I met that way and others who have realized that aspect of themselves over time. Dare I say it, some have even discovered their neuroqueerness because of my advocacy and open-minded approach to my identity. The point being that my neuroqueer friendships extend beyond mere social connection but to a deeper understanding of one another. A deeper understanding of the expectations placed upon us by the neurotypical world; of that feeling of fitting within an impossible mold that does not accommodate our gelatinous glory; of squirming under the pressure of a million sensory stimuli while your neurochemical stimulators function inadequately; of having dozens of incorporeal voices in your head micromanaging your behavior and reminding you of past slip-ups. That emotional bond is very specific to the neuroqueer experience and brings those of my community ever closer in our shared experiences.
With an instinctual understanding of neuroqueerness, I want to describe some of the ways that those friendships can bring joy in an otherwise neuronormative world. Whereas dancing and voice acting, ways in which I engage in echolalia, might be construed as inappropriate in certain contexts, it is certainly a practice to be loved in neuroqueer settings, and that goes for other forms of echolalia as well. Moreover, when I am with my neuroqueer friends, I feel much more self-assured that they do not judge me for who I am and that they will not avoid me for my neuroqueerness. Growing up neuroqueer often includes peer bullying, whether overtly or covertly, and, so, having that space of peace and love and acceptance is a true pleasure. Knowing that our ‘brains go brrrrrr,’ so to speak, is like a warm blanket that tethers us together. Though that doesn’t totally eschew the neuronormative problems I may encounter in any given day, having my neuroqueer community brings a sense of home and family where it otherwise may not exist.