Yesterday I had an email from a friend, someone I’ve met a couple of times, emailed a few times and would like to get to know better. In my last email to her, I disclosed my Aspergers diagnosis, assuming she’d be OK with it; she seems a free-spirited, non-judgemental sort. It was not an easy email to write, as I am “out” to very few people. My friend’s reply was kind and written with the best of intentions, but the main message of her email was “I’m Sorry.” Not really what I wanted to hear, as it implies that Aspergers is a disease and suggests a lack of understanding, basically invalidating the whole of who I am. I am not sorry I have it, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t have developed my musical gifts in the way I have, and I wouldn’t be in the job I’m in now. I am only sorry I didn’t find out earlier, as I spent 44 years muddling through with so little self-awareness. I am sorry about some people’s reactions to me, especially in the past when I had not learnt to mask effectively. Undoubtedly, certain aspects of my life would be easier if I was neurotypical – to be able to move freely through the social world and not feel as if I’m an alien most of the time would be great. But I’m not sorry.
Hopefully, we will move towards a time when people will not need to feel sorry for us, and just regard us as the beautiful unique variants of human beings that we are. Just think how far we have come with different sexualities. Maybe once long ago, in the days when homosexuality was regarded as an illness, if I’d told someone I’m gay, they might have said “I’m sorry.” (In some different cultures and religions today, sadly, that is still the case.) Now if they said that, I’d think “Excuse me? I’m happy being gay, there’s nothing wrong with me, so what is there to feel sorry for?” Perhaps my life would have been easier, especially when I was growing up, if I was not gay. But if I were not, I would not now be with my wonderful partner, I probably wouldn’t have met all the lovely gay people I know, or encountered all the music and literature written by gay people that greatly enriches my life. I’m not sorry in the slightest, and I don’t want other people to be either.
I will explain this gently to my friend (who is, as it happens, also gay) and hopefully educate her a little.