it's telling that our community uses "coming out" as a term. as a queer autistic woman, queer coming-outs (and conversations about them) have helped immensely with neurodivergent coming-outs. I was diagnosed young, so neurodivergent coming-outs began long before I was able to understand the implications. when speaking to someone I'm not out to, they have a certain set of expectations about me. unfortunately, the set of expectations that is applied to heterosexual and neurotypical people is a lot more respectful than the set of expectations applied to someone like me. I have a femme gender presentation, and am capable of masking my neurology, so am read as straight & neurotypical unless they know better. on the other hand, I can't challenge those expectations from a closet, and there is a personal cost to maintaining their illusion...
...so, it's a delicate balancing act. how likely are they to respect me afterwards? do they have authority over me? how much time do I expect to spend with them? a new friend my own age is much lower risk than an elderly relative. a course mate is lower risk than a tutor. coming out as queer is lower risk than neurodivergent...
it's usually worth the risk for me.
I've come out nervously, after weeks of deliberation.
I've come out without a moment's consideration.
I've been outed without consent.
I've asked my parents to out me to extended family.
I've come out at various times as a lesbian, bisexual, asexual, autistic & dyspraxic, and one of those things is not like the others. guess which one?
yep. lesbian. let me explain.
"coming out" isn't the one-off coming of age event for queer youth that middle-aged straight people think it is. when you come out as a lesbian, you will need to (decide if you want to) come out again when you meet new people. each time, you're gambling. you want to be closer, so you bet the current relationship on this person's acceptance. or maybe you decide it's not worth it right now. it's a lifelong process.
all the other identities I've experienced coming out? they're also lifelong. the difference is that you'll have to keep coming out to the same people. got a new partner? Que a second/third/8th coming out as BISEXUAL to your parents because they're a different gender from your ex. it doesn't matter how often you explain sensory issues or executive functioning, or ask someone not to use offensive language about your neurology, most people don't believe you. or don't care. or both. I mostly don't bother with coming out as asexual at all any more...
...it's infuriating. but it's still better than not trying. mostly.