Pride? Pride!

I know I drop little nuggets of my personal life here and there, but let's be honest: I don't often get very deep. 

The truth is, I'm usually pretty busy. Between normal household stuff - including Mom Life - and making stuff, being involved with my friends and local community in a variety of ways, it seems like I rarely have enough time to GET deep. 

But since it's June - aka Pride Month - I wanted to take a moment to write about what Pride means to me. 


Don't I tick a bunch of the "social privilege" boxes? 

Sure. At least, on the outside. 

I'm not so sure about what's inside. 

Four years ago, I came into the awareness that I'm neurodivergent. (If you don't know what THAT is all about, I highly recommend checking out NeuroClastic as a great starting point.) And after that bombshell (imagine! finding out your neurotype in your late thirties  and finally understanding that everything seemed like a struggle for a reason!) it took me a little time to realize that I fall under the LGBTQIA+ spectrum as well. (What can I say? I guess I really just like spectrums.) 

I learned that my neurotype would have some influence on how I experience all sorts of social concepts, everything from hierarchies to proprieties - and even gender. 

In elementary school, I didn't play with other kids because their parts matched mine. I played with them because I was into what I was into. My mom, I think, felt self-conscious when I was invited to one of my best friends' birthday parties... and I was the only girl there. My mom's constant reminders made me feel frustrated, and eventualy I sought out the company of other girls - though we all tended toward a "tomboy" sort of thing at the time, anyway. (Because again, we were into what we were into! Mostly high fantasy, haha.) 

This led to a little bit of a crisis of identity through middle school and into high school. I remember in my early high school years being terrified of talking to boys. Not for the usual reasons that girls are nervous around boys - surprise! I'm pretty ace - but because I had this constant lingering concern over what my mom was going to say. She was constantly asking me when I would have a boyfriend and if I was interested in any boys in my class. (Get over it, mom!) 

By the end of high school, I came into my own. I figured out who I was - and I didn't care what my mom thought. I ended up going to a high school that was pretty much undiagnosed neurodivergent kiddos (and probably the teachers too) that ended up being such a supportive environment that I found myself growing in confidence socially, emotionally, and academically. I went from a kid that was failing freshmen year to being near the top of my class - graduating as salutatorian and giving a speech at my senior commencement. 

All throughout this experience, my gender honestly never came to mind. At least, not to me. I didn't really care one way or another what other people thought, and again ended up making friends based on what they liked and what I liked. I became known as a "skinny white boy at heart" because instead of doing my makeup and going to sleepover parties, I tinkered with electronics and went to LAN parties. Instead of staying out at coffee shops and shopping for clothes at the mall, I was hitting the video store in the mall to pick up my latest special orders of subtitled anime on VHS and grabing a few bottles of Surge to bring to the LAN parties. 

Even into adulthood, I simply existed in the body I existed in, and didn't really put too much emphasis on the femininity. From time to time I would dress up - mainly during conventions or for special events - but in my day-to-day, it really wasn't very important to me. I never really felt "bad" about it, but I simply didn't understand why it was so important to some people. 

And it wasn't until I began to understand my neurotype that I also started to understand my relationship to gender. 

So far, the closest I've been able to find that helps describe my identity is "demigirl," but I don't know if even that's quite right. Regardless, I guess it's some flavor of nonbinary, sprinkled with a little bit of "meh" because I don't mind what I've been assigned, but I don't really want to play into the social requirements of it? And I'm sticking with the "she/her" because it's what I've always used, and it honestly doesn't matter to me enough to change it.  

It's just too exhausting, haha. 

Over the years I've just sort of fallen into a pattern of comfort over performance. Neurodivergent masking in a neurotypical world is already tiring enough, but to have to put on a gender performance in addition to that would probably overwhelm me even more, to the point of some manner of shutdown. (I'm already learning how to try to balance myself better after going into burnout a few years ago!) 

So what does Pride mean to me? 

Truthfully, I'm still not sure. 

But I'm starting to understand that it's relevant to me.

I used to think I ticked nearly all of the boxes. 

Now I know that I really don't. I never have. 

I will, however, continue to learn and to grow, the same as I always have. 

And I will continue to be a safe place for those that are also learning and growing. 

It's the least I can do. It's what I needed back then... and didn't have for a very long time. 

Love y'all. Happy Pride. <3


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