Watch: Young Irish person opens up about being queer and autistic in powerful video
Youth mental health platform, SpunOut, has partnered with Accenture and Fuel to release a series of videos in an awareness campaign called Generation Equal (Gen E), which features young people starting conversations about diversity and equality. In a newly released episode, Sarah Murray shared their experience of growing up queer and autistic in Ireland today.
As a teenager, Sarah spent a lot of time sifting through queer labels trying to find the ones that fit them best, ultimately landing on non-binary lesbian. Furthermore, after experiencing anxiety and depression, Sarah learned that they had undiagnosed autism. At first, they resisted this label because they knew there were a lot of stigmas surrounding being autistic, and they wanted to fit in.
Ultimately, they described their autism diagnosis as “coming out 2.0” because it involved sharing a part of their identity that felt scary at the time.
In the video, Sarah describes their journey from self-discovery to self-acceptance and self-love.
They said that after coming to terms with themself, they told the internet that they were queer before they told anyone else. In college, they met other trans friends who helped them better understand how gender identity and gender expression are different from each other.
Sarah ends the video by reminding everyone that life gets better when you can fully embrace who you are.
GCN talked with Sarah about what this project means to them and how it feels to share their story with other young queer people with autism. They said, “Being able to share my story and help people in the same or similar situations to me has been an honour.”
Sarah describes their involvement with the Gen E project as, “…everything I would have wanted as a young queer autistic person trying to navigate life. Being young is hard but being young and different is hard, lonely and isolating. And I don’t want more young people to go through the level of self-hatred and shame that I did because there was a lack of representation.”
While this video was created for young people struggling with self-acceptance, Sarah explains that it is also for people who may not understand the realities of being an autistic queer person in Ireland and the hurdles that come with it.
They said, “Filming was really intense and emotional but the end product made it worth it. I am so proud of it. It has been so surreal. People have told me how helpful the video has been, how it has changed their self perception etc. and that is better than anything I could have asked for.”
With their younger self in mind, Sarah’s advice to young LGBTQ+ kids is, “Be unapologetically you. There are always going to be people trying to bring you down and shame you for who you love or the way you communicate or how you navigate the world.
“The biggest act of rebellion is not caring what they think and existing as your authentic self. Things are never going to be perfect, life is chaos, but if you learn to love and accept yourself it makes life so much easier.”
Now, Sarah is happy with the person that they are, and they are looking forward to the person they will continue to become. They said, “Life is chaotic, there are ups and downs and lefts and rights and when you’re young and not equipped for it, it’s hard. But there is hope. And my story is one of hope and resilience and courage.”
They added, “I also want to clarify that self-acceptance is an ongoing journey that doesn’t stop. You will love yourself some days and hate yourself others. You will be happy some days and lay in bed on others. Nothing is linear in life, it’s just the way it is, but it is worth it.”
In the comments, viewers commended Sarah for sharing their inspiring story as a queer, autistic person, and noted how much young people in Ireland will admire their bravery.
In their Gen E collaboration, SpunOut and Accenture will work together to build equality and create opportunities to empower young people. The video series will continue to showcase the stories of LGBTQ+ youth to help foster conversations about real inclusion and diversity.
Anyone who is having a difficult time can text ‘spunout’ to 50808 or 086 180 0280 to talk to a trained volunteer.
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