The 4th of March is Weird Pride Day.
This is a day for people to embrace their weirdness, and reject the stigma associated with being weird. To publicly express pride in the things that make us weird, and to celebrate the diversity of humankind.
Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.’
- Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake
Why should people be proud of weirdness?
As with any ‘pride’ event, the issue is really with refusal to be ashamed —which is the opposite of pride — rather than necessarily being actively proud.
Most of us are ‘weird’ in some ways, because humans vary so much, in so many ways. It’s not normal to be average in every way!
So what makes you weird? Have you ever been made to feel bad about it? Have you made other people feel bad about being weird? If so, why?
Have you learned to be okay with your peculiarities? What did it take? What has it meant for you?
Have you learned how to live with other people’s eccentricities? Did it make life easier and richer in the long run?
What have you learned about when it’s not okay to be weird, or how to make it okay when it’s difficult? How do you negotiate other people’s boundaries while staying true to yourself?
What should we do about it?
There is a lot of stigma attached to the concept of weirdness, and a lot of effort is spent chasing some idea of ‘normal’. This is harmful for everyone who’s perceived as weird, and that often includes immigrants, disabled people, queer and trans people and those with minority religious and ethical beliefs. It also includes just about everyone who’s neurodivergent, be they autistic, dyspraxic, dyslexic, ADHD, or otherwise different of brain. Weirdmisia — hatred of the weird — is the enemy of diversity.
I see Weird Pride as a necessary counter to the prevailing negativity about weirdness, so I’m inviting all weirdos and even non-weirdos* to write, talk, tweet and make art about how they’re weird, and why that’s okay.
This could include
- Calls to action
- How to be weird safely
I’d also like to invite people to run Weird Pride events, around the internet and the world, in whatever venues make sense.
Let me know about what you’re doing, and I’ll maintain a collection of links for people to check out.
How to be weird safely
Having said all this about the joys of weird pride, I think it is important to also acknowledge some risks.
Co-existing is not always easy. People need boundaries, and they need to be allowed to enforce those boundaries — as long as they’re reasonable. ‘I don’t want to see that’ might be a reasonable boundary when it comes to being exposed to sexual material, but not so much when it comes to the way someone else looks. Weirdness can make people uncomfortable, and negotiating that can take thought and care on both sides. Sometimes trying to pass as something we’re not (‘masking’) makes things easier; but it takes its toll over time.
One problem is that many types of weirdness can be seen as creepy, especially when they are unfamiliar: one study on creepiness found that it was often associated with ‘unusual nonverbal behavior and characteristics associated with unpredictability’. This is a defence mechanism; when we don’t know how to interpret something, it is natural to feel that it might be a threat.
We could call this ‘surface creepiness’: our first exposure to someone makes us uneasy. Sometimes this is a good clue that someone is a threat, but sometimes they are just odd. The worst creepiness is when someone repeatedly, knowingly crosses boundaries, or crosses a boundary there should be no question of crossing. People who do this give weirdos a bad name, and part of Weird Pride has to be about learning how to be weird respectfully.
Many people struggle with social rules, often because they’re from a cultural or neurological minority, or they live in a culture that doesn’t accept their self-expression. We all need to learn about when it’s not okay to break rules and push boundaries, and when we should and shouldn’t make allowances for other people doing so. This is always going to be a negotiation between conflicting needs and wants, and Weird Pride means taking that seriously.
Be safe, be kind, be weird.
Weird Pride Day posts:
- Weird Pride Dance Challenge!
- Why I’m finally embracing being weird (Neurodivergent Practitioner)
- Making the world a safer place for everyone (Jorn Bettin for Autistic Collaboration)
- Celebrating the first ever Weird Pride Day (Paul Wady video)
- Weird Pride Day: Changing the Narrative
Links for reference:
- Things That Make Me Weird by Sonny Hallett
- We’re here. We’re weird. Get used to it. On my experiences growing up weird. Video, audio
- March 4th is Weird Pride Day, on why neurodivergent people are one group Weird Pride is particularly relevant to (y en español)
- AIM for the Rainbow on being bullied for being different (CW: suicide, bullying, child death). They are calling for submissions relating to the ‘double rainbow’: being autistic and LGBT/queer. See also AutGenSex.
- Camouflaging Autism — What is Autistic Masking?
- One day they will join us in the sun: more on autism and masking
- Neurodiversity Celebration Week
- Autism and Normalisation
- Autism and Feminism
- The Science of Being Creepy
- The Science of Awkwardness
- The Shape of the Problem, in which Joanne Limburg proposes ‘weird theory’
- Web site for Dinah Murray (my mother) who as far as I know originated the idea of Weird Pride, and almost certainly made the first Weird Pride badge:
*are there any non-weirdos, though, really?