Daniel Pikett, our Employment, Enterprise & Careers Coordinator, captures his inspirational journey as a gay autistic man in this weeks blog – in acknowledgement of LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
“It Doesn’t Stop Here”
I was diagnosed as autistic and having ADHD when I was 31. While studying at Nottingham Trent University, one of the counsellors first brought it to my attention, it was also later acknowledged by my lecturer whom I’ll be forever grateful for.
I’d always found myself in situations that I could not explain or justify, so my partner and I discussed the best approach to take to achieve the clarity I needed- so we sought clinical support and ‘tadaaa’, a life changing and helpful diagnosis was provided by the NHS.
Growing up was challenging for the people around me. Being Autistic and having ADHD was not on their radar, even though I was very emotional.
Being unable to present my needs, I lived for repartition in music and play time- that still sits with me today, Batman and Bananarama (now that’s a sentence). I was told growing up that my ambitions are too high, and that I need to be more realistic- neither of those terms made sense to me, and I clearly had my own golden aspirations that I was determined to achieve. I still do to this day!
A ‘double minority’ is something I have been referred to, as well as a ‘forever child’. What was missing growing up was the correct label, should we require to have one- one that says I am ‘gay’ and ‘Autistic’.
‘Coming out’ (hooray) at 19 was a nightmare. I lived a life of masking, up until my stages of unpicking my diagnosis. Coming out, I did not really understand what was going on in this transition or what the problem was for some people. I had only met gay people and could only understand what being gay was by mimicking them or from listening to their stories- this was not always successful for me.
Nonetheless, I will continue to celebrate my neurodivergent-self and advocate for the people who are not able to. I don’t just get out of bed and go to work for myself, but I get up and work hard for my community!
I wholly appreciate being a part of the communities- it does not feel weird at all. Living my life as a gay man however is less pressure than living my life as an Autistic person- no matter how much routine I have in place, each day can be so unpredictable, and being aware of that is draining and can be scary.
Right now, I am living my ‘double minority’ fantasy. I am engaged to a wonderful man who has supported me all the way through my diagnosis, loves to come (endures) to Bananarama gigs with me, supports me in my melt downs (yes, we still have them as adults) and helps me make up for lost time such as educating myself on things I should have learned in my younger years.
Despite the societal challenges, I feel so optimistic about young people’s futures in today’s society- they have a lot more support and role models to look up to than I did as a teenager. My message is… “it doesn’t stop here!”, even though we have approached the end of Pride Month. We should still be encouraging & accepting all through the year. Therefore, I chose to share my LGBTQIA acknowledgment to pride at the end of the month.