To conceptualize the unique intersection of “Neurodiverse” and “Queer” identities, the term “neuroqueer” has recently surfaced.
But what does it actually mean? And where does it come from?
We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. Keep reading to understand the term, directly from the individuals that created it.
What does neuroqueer mean exactly?
The term was coined by writers Nick Walker, Athena Lynn Michaels-Dillion, and Melanie Yergeau. It is described as the practice of “queering (subverting, defying, disrupting, liberating oneself from) neuronormativity and heteronormativity simultaneously.”
When it comes to the combination of “Queer” and “Neurodiverse”, it's definitely more than just the sum of its parts. The intersection of these identities helps address a truth that the two identities aren’t separate, and can influence each other in multiple ways.
What are the various practices that fall within the definition of neuroqueering?
The neuroqueer intersectionality can be difficult to conceptualize. In his blog, NEUROQUEER: AN INTRODUCTION, Nick Walker lays out a framework of 8 practices that fall within the definition of neuroqueering”
Understanding Unique Identities: This involves being aware of the fact that you are both neurodivergent and queer. It also includes actively exploring how these two aspects of your identity interact and influence each other.
Expressing Your True Self: Involves expressing your neurodivergence in a way that also affects your gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and other parts of who you are. It's about embracing your uniqueness and not conforming to societal expectations.
Breaking Free from Conditioning: It’s about actively working to break free from the conditioning and habits imposed by society that push for "normal" behavior and thinking. The goal is to reclaim your ability to fully express your unique qualities and inclinations.
Changing Your Cognitive Processes: This involves intentionally altering the way you think and behave in ways that significantly deviate from the cultural norms of "neuronormativity" (how most people think) and "heteronormativity" (traditional views of sexuality). It's about embracing your divergence from these norms.
Creating Art and Literature: Producing creative works like literature, art, and scholarship that highlight the experiences and perspectives of neurodivergent individuals. It's a way to share your story and contribute to the conversation around neuroqueer experiences.
Critical Analysis: Examining how literature and media portray neuroqueerness, both intentionally and unintentionally.
Creating Accepting Communities: Working towards a society where all these practices are not only allowed but also supported and encouraged. This includes building communities and spaces where people can freely express their neurodivergent and queer identities.
Source: Nick Walker, NEUROQUEER: AN INTRODUCTION
So how can you neuroqueer?
The first step is being aware of your neurodivergent identity and your queer identity, and recognizing that they interact.
You may also consider how your other identities, such as race, socioeconomic class, ethnicity, ect., interact with your neurodivergence and queerness.
Remember, the neuroqueer identity and experience can look and feel differently from individual to individual. It is most important that you find peace in your unique identity and intersectionality because you are worth celebrating, loving, and empowering.
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Molisha is the Founder’s Associate at Shimmer, and student at UC Berkeley studying Cognitive Science and Business Administration. Prior to Shimmer, she co-founded a social enterprise focused on providing education to the youth of India through illustrated children’s books.