I’m Marcus Graham and I was born with Asperger’s syndrome.
I do not suffer from it, I strive. I’ve lived with it my whole life and I have always struggled with admitting it. I had always been embarrassed about it due to the social climate I grew up in until one encounter with 5 of the greatest people you’ll ever meet.
This past month was Autism Acceptance Month and I was left thinking back to last April where I met The Internet, the Avengers to black kids as I like to see them.
In late 2013/2014, I discovered the Internet after trying to find people who represented me in this generation. What I didn’t know was how much of a monumental part they’d have in my own self-discovery and the belief I had in myself. I’ve always been self-conscious and viewed my own existence as a burden to others and still struggle with it to this day. On April 11, 2017, it almost reassured me of my own worth and part to play in this world.
I was 15 years old when Matt Martians, one of my dearest friends and heroes, introduced me to the band backstage at London’s Scala. I got to see how down to earth and human they were, even from a fan perspective. They were all humble and the type of people you’d want to be friends with. It felt like a dream but the craziest part was that it was reality.
I’d always heard stories of celebrity encounters with greats like Michael [Jackson] or Prince and never thought I’d be able to say I met one of my heroes. Most people are not able to get an experience like that. I feel privileged to say I have been in their presence especially considering how much of a big impact they had on my life.
As someone who previously never talked in class or would just observe people because they couldn’t hear me over the noise of people around them, I felt empowered by this interaction. I was sitting and talking to Steve Lacy, and it wasn’t looked over, half the time I’d just observe and absorb everything around me. This made me feel like the most valued person ever, as small as it seems from an outsider’s perspective.
One of the biggest takeaways from that encounter was Matt pulling me aside and telling me to use what made me different and flip it on its head. Syd agreed with me when I said I felt I could change the general perception of autistic people, this led me to have more faith in myself and how far I could take something so close to my heart.
Three months later in June, I spoke out in support of fellow autistic children and their capabilities, which I’d never have dreamed of doing and then I did the same thing last November at a Men’s Mental Awareness event.
I’m usually making, creating or writing something each Autism Acceptance Month but this time I decided that I would take a step back and acknowledge who ultimately lead me to be so open about a part of my identity I would’ve shed otherwise. To anyone who idolizes The Internet the way I do, please know that you are looking up to the greatest, most genuine and caring people you could ever meet. Thank you, Matt, first and foremost, Syd… Steve, Chris & Pat for making me feel like I haven’t in damn near 7 years… I wouldn’t be so open about my autism if it wasn’t for those 5 powerful black legends.
Featured post by Marcus T. Graham (@marcustgraham)
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