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Songs of the Gorilla Nation

Identity is something that not even I can comprehend. How do we explain to the world who we are when we we may not even know the answer. Defining ourselves is a daunting and confusing process, but doing it with Asperger’s seems impossible.

Dawn Prince-Hughes discusses how she doesn’t like change. She didn’t like when her family moved away, or when she would change grades in elementary school. She needed everything to stay the same, and that is one of the main reasons why she got along with the gorilla population. They were just like her.

So when an identity is constantly changing as you get older and more knowledgeable, it is no wonder why Dawn had such a difficult time identifying with a specific group of people. Having an Autistic Identity may explain why someone does the things they do, or behaves the way they do. But, as Dawn discussed, she didn’t get the explanation when kids were mocking or bullying her. She didn’t know that she could identify with an entire population while she was being yelled at by teachers and failing out of school. Whether this would have benefitted her or not is irrelevant. She would have had the privilege of knowing she wasn’t a freak or a loser because she couldn’t perform like the other kids.

In part one of this book, she starts explaining how she comes to the realization that she’s a lesbian. She identifies with aspects of being a lesbian, but I’m not sure if she fully understands what that means. At the end of part one she starts discussing how she feels like a machine, that her sexuality is defined by others, and not how she feels. She wants to talk about philosophy and what interests her and she wants to share more than just sex with someone, but she doesn’t get anything like that from the women she’s with in return. Simply because a football jock in high school asked her if she was gay, she from then on identified as that simply because she related to certain aspects of being gay.

One if the issues I had with this book is that it started to make me realize that regardless of whether or not a person has autistic tendencies is independent from their sexuality. I’m not sure that some neurotypical people know why they identify as being gay or straight. They may identify with certain aspects of what is known about being gay, and that may  be enough; just like what Dawn did after she realized she could be gay. I identify with being straight because of what I’ve been told are aspects of being straight, so that makes me straight, right?


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