The Pressures of Representing a Minority
Recently I read an article penned by a young woman who identifies both as Christian and as a lesbian.
“It is an unjust burden that LGBTQ Christians have to be on their best behavior; that we are not allowed to be human because we must be more than. On a personal level, feeling such responsibility has at times made me bitter or feel like I’m putting on a show. In trying to show the world that not all gay people are heavy drinkers and drug users, for example, I should be allowed to have a glass of wine. In trying to show the world that not all gay people are promiscuous, I should be allowed to have relationships that fail. In trying to show the world that not all gay people are atheists I should be allowed to ask questions and express my doubts.”
I am neither a Christian nor a lesbian but boy, I could relate. Other minorities can feel this scrutiny whether or not we ever signed up for the job as a visible representative.
“Now wait a minute,” you may be thinking, “you’re a white chick with six kids, you can’t get more bland suburban soccer mom than that, come on! Minority?”
It’s true. I couldn’t be whiter unless I was an albino. Regardless of my personal feelings or beliefs concerning race, I benefit from white privilege. Even though we actually live below the poverty line, I can affect upper middle class quite well and use that perception to avoid the treatment my socioeconomic class receives.
Yet, I am also a member of a minority.
I am a disabled autistic woman raising autistic children.
Unlike someone with dark skin, I can choose not to disclose.
I will not pretend to fully know what being a more visible minority is like.
Yet I do know, the moment I disclose…its like being pinned down on cork board, labeled and displayed.
Labeled: special, gifted, retard, cold, robot, empathyless, savant, dangerous, inspiring, faking, rude, sensitive, disrespectful, inept, stupid, genius, helpless, like rainman or forest gump, or sherlock or sheldon or….
Rewriting that paragraph:
“It is an unjust burden that autistics have to be on their best behavior; that we are not allowed to be human because we must be more than. On a personal level, feeling such responsibility has at times made me bitter or feel like I’m putting on a show. In trying to show the world that autistic women can be good mothers, for example, I should be allowed to express frustration and a need for support. In trying to show the world that raising autistic kids is fulfilling and not a tragedy or burden, I should be allowed to have stress, and admit our family life isn’t always rosey. I should be able to do this without being told I must be in denial about how much raising our kids sucks. In trying to disprove the stereotype concerning autistics over-sensitivity, irritability or lack of empathy, I should be allowed to express anger over an environment hostile to the disabled, without being told I am overreacting or that I must always take the higher ground and be “understanding.”
Going beyond this,
I should like to express autistic positivity – LIKING how I think and still be allowed to be honest about how often my noisy mind frustrates and keeps me from succeeding in things.
I should NOT have to fear disclosing my diagnosis when dealing with the professionals and city/state representatives who are a part of my children’s lives for fear I will have to live up to that inhuman level of scrutiny, with the fear my feelings and concerns would be discounted.
This article is NOT for reproduction without my permission.