So, on 18 June I went to my first ever Autistic Pride picnic in Hyde Park London. It felt empowering. It took a while to locate the group, Hyde Park is massive and the picnic was much smaller than I imagined, only around 30 people. I’d expected there to be a stage or at least a microphone. There wasn’t – only a small banner and picnic blankets and a circle of people on the grass. It was a scorching hot day, too hot to be comfortable, but luckily we were under trees. It was SO different to the LGBT Prides I’ve been to: so peaceful, and so welcoming. Many of the people already knew each other, but it didn’t matter at all that I’d never met any of them in my life. When we arrived we could choose stickers to indicate our communication needs and if we minded being photographed. People offered to share their food with me. There were a number of speeches, and later I stood up and said a few words at the open mic and was well received. I didn’t think I’d have the courage to do that – go me!
The only thing I’d have liked to see at Autistic Pride, other than it having a little more presence in the park, was live music. Not a big loud rock band but some quiet instrumentalists and singers. The LGBT prides I’ve been to have been for me all about the music. This year Pride in London had a women’s stage in Leicester Square for the first time. I didn’t go, (see my previous post “Autistic Pride” where I state my reasons why) but I listened live on the radio in my bedroom, and was torn. It sounded amazing. Now Manchester Pride, where I’ve been for the last 2 August bank holidays and is well known for its amazing music on the quieter Sackville stage, is all over Twitter and I’m torn again. My favourite singer is hosting and headlining again…..aaargh! I said I wasn’t going to any LGBT Prides at all this year – well, since my last post my partner and I have been invited back to play at our local Pride, which is this Saturday. We’ll go, play, hang out briefly with a few friends, then come home early. I do really want to support LGBT Prides for so many reasons. But I don’t want to be overwhelmed, overloaded and shut down, screaming to go home after a couple of hours. It’s an Aspie dilemma. At Autistic Pride, I experienced none of this, I managed to stay 4 hours. The only overwhelming part was the heat, and the crowds in general in other parts of the park. I’d highly recommend it – let’s make it bigger and better next year!