Mar 26, 2024, 06:27AM

There’s Gay and There’s Neurologically Anguished

My autistic diary continued. 

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A little while ago I wrote, “If you’re gay you don’t want to be straight; if you’re straight you don’t want to be gay.” I’ve been informed that this may not be true for everybody. A gay man told me that his life would’ve been a lot easier if he’d been straight, and that all things considered he would’ve preferred that road and not the one he’s lived. This rocked me a bit, first because I’m a good liberal and second because he’s accomplished things I could never do. When I think about being autistic, I think about everything I’ve missed in my life, and his life seems to me the sort I might’ve had if only… if only everything were different. But being gay has put him through his share of crap, from the way family reacted to him growing up to the way colleagues react to him now. (He works in sports, where being a soft-spoken gay man makes it hard to be taken seriously.)

I didn’t ask him if he’d take my symptoms in return for straightness. I do know I’d take gayness in return for a life without my symptoms. I’d take the truckload of garbage that society dumps on gays if I could just lead a real life. That’s how I see my situation: everyone else gets a life, I don’t. If you’re gay, there’s a barrier between you and the majority of people. If you’re autistic—with my symptoms, I should stress—you’re cut off from everybody. And from so many other things that make life worthwhile. When setting out on a big project, I’d like to feel like something other than a rowboat with one oar and a one-armed man to paddle. When looking back on big projects, I’d like to see goals accomplished instead of a list of fizzles. When I review my life as lived, I’d like to have some other picture than a bug trying to climb up the sides of a damp bathtub.

Unstop my mouth and what emerges is a wail, and it’ll keep going until I get tired and lie down. Unstopping is difficult, since who wants to look bad? Well, tough, because being a good sport won’t get you to the heart of the experience. This experience—all right, my experience, with my symptoms—is all about getting cheated by nature. I’m this close to saying I have it worse than the typical gay man. Two factors hold me back: first, I’ve never had to worry about my ribs getting kicked in, and second, I know how I’d sound. But the only thing wrong with being gay is how non-gays react, and the things that are wrong with autism just go on and on, and what they add up to is a placeholder existence. Does anyone hate being gay? I hate being autistic.

  • Lots of people hate being gay. Sometimes a straight person will tell gay people how they wish they were gay, by which they usually mean that they are finding dealing with the opposite sex or having a family or not having enough sex is difficult. But I think for a gay person to wish they were straight is akin to wishing they did not exist, since it involves wiping out their entire history and a big part of their life. I think the only time it wouldn't be like wishing you didn't exist is in those rare times when you are infatuated with someone of the opposite sex and wished their were some way to express it that could be a permanent new life path. Perhaps for either group to wish they were bisexual is not as unraveling.

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