Image from http://www.british-sign.co.uk/british-sign-language/how-to-sign/gold/
G is for Gold
What's the significance of gold to autism and acceptance?
It has been selected by autistics as an alternative to Autism $peaks' Light It Up Blue, a protest and counter-movement, along with the #RedInstead campaign. From what I've noticed, red seems to be more prominent in the US and gold more prominent here in the UK. Some people combine the two. I prefer the gold, partly because I don't really like red and partly because red has been chosen primarily as being more or less the opposite of blue, with little direct connection to autism, from what I can gather, unlike with gold (see below). Both colours are a stark - and welcome - contrast to the blue and my academic head finds a good deal of satisfaction in the symbolism of the colours:
- warm and embracing, not cold and unnecessarily gendered like blue (for the record, on its own I quite like blue - just not when it's connected with autism)
- more so with gold than red, it symbolises illumination, and autism acceptance is all about that, in the sense of illumination-as-understanding
- gold symbolises wealth, and it is appropriate that autistic-led organisations, campaigns, etc use it - we autistics are a wealth of knowledge about autism!
- it indicates the winner, the highest achiever, so is makes sense that achieving acceptance for who we are as we are as the ultimate goal, is linked with this colour
- autistic people tend to have intense passion for the things that interest us and gold is associated with passion, and it is fitting that those passionate about promoting autism acceptance chose gold; autistic equity and acceptance are certainly things I and many other autistics are passionate about
- as a metal, gold is resistant to heat and acid, and we can certainly be resistant people despite intense attacks from outside; it is resistant to most things including to tarnishing, crumbling, discoloration or most solvents - we are strong and resistant
- red and gold combined are Gryffindor colours (I know, I know, I'll try to connect everything with Harry Potter... :P) and I think a lot of us have to be brave when challenging the current narratives around autism, especially when dealing with Autism Warrior Parents™ and pushing back against them - it's hard, sometimes thankless and relentless work.
Gold is more prevalent over here not least because it is the official colour of Autistic UK, an autistic-run and autistic-led organisation. In preparation for April, they released a statement about going gold for autism acceptance.
Gold was chosen because the Âû suffix has become quite popular online in identifying oneself as autistic, and Au is the chemical symbol for gold on the periodic table, so it makes logical sense, to me at any rate! It seems to be really popular in the autistic community and is growing year by year.
I'd like to think it's also that we should be valued, that we are precious and more rare than other.
When it comes to autism, gold is not just a protest colour - it is a positive, affirming symbol of our journey forward towards acceptance, which is definitively achievable with the support of the wider community.
Here's a selection of some of my favourite gold-for-neurodiversity-and-acceptance images!
via Pinterest via Cammiediane
via Autistic Women's Empowerment Project via Autistic UK