We all have stories to tell, advice to give, experiences to share. Communities are built on sharing, and we’d love it if members of our community here at AIM for the Rainbow wanted to contribute towards Iggy’s Initiative.

We’re asking for submissions that have some connection with the Double Rainbow–with neurodivergent and LGBTQIA+ lives and experiences. You might write about the experience of coming out, about your hopes for the future or your fears today. You might want to offer help and advice to others on similar paths through life, or perhaps share an account of something fun you’ve done.

Submissions can be creative fiction or factual. They might take the form of a list, or an essay or a poem. They might be long or short. You can also submit photographs and visual art. All we ask is that it is your own work, and you own any images you send in.

We’re sorry that we can’t offer payment for submissions, and we can’t promise to publish everything we receive. Anything you submit remains your work and you will be credited as the author/creator. We may edit submissions for clarity or length, but we will ask you to approve the draft before it appears online.

You can contact our editorial team using the form below to propose your ideas, or to submit a piece of writing directly. Please use our Contact page for general enquiries.

Iggy’s House Rules

Respecting Pronouns and Identities

At AIM for the Rainbow, we support every autistic person of every LGBTQIA+ identity.

We support you whether you are professionally diagnosed or self-diagnosed. 

We support you whatever pronouns you use and whatever labels you use to describe your sexuality or gender identity. 

We support you if you are a family, friend, or carer looking to better support your autistic LGBTQIA+ loved ones. 

All we expect in return is that you respect the labels, identities and pronouns of every other person around you.

Some people might not feel comfortable with just one label, and so might put a couple of labels together in order to find an identity that fits them better. 

As people grow and get to know themselves better, the way that they identify (and the pronouns and labels they use) may start to change. This is very normal. If a person tells you their identity has changed, it’s incredibly important to believe them and respect their identity. 

It doesn’t matter how many different identities or pronouns they have used in the past; respect how they identify now.

Always remember labels are deeply personal. We use them in order to express ourselves and find something that fits who we are, not to be ruled by them and their strict definitions. Different people may use different labels in different ways, depending on what fits them best. 

If you don’t understand someone’s identity, and they are happy to chat with you about it, then that’s brilliant (as long as you’re kind). However, whether you understand it or not, and whether they are happy to chat with you about it or not, you still have to respect their identity: use the words that they ask you to use.  

On Pronouns

Respecting people’s pronouns is incredibly important to make sure everybody here is safe and supported. So here is a little bit of information on pronouns to help you get started. 

A pronoun is the word that people use when they are talking about you, but don’t use your name. For example:

‘Erin’s at the door, she has brought her mum with her’.

‘Have you seen his new film?’

‘Someone left their hat in my house last night.’

Pronouns are traditionally understood to be masculine (he, him, his), feminine (she, her, hers) and plural, when talking about more than one person (they, them, theirs). So-called ‘plural’ pronouns are also traditionally used when the gender of the person you’re talking about is unknown (for example, as we don’t know who left the hat at my house, we use ‘their’ instead of ‘his’ or ‘her’).

Just because this is how they are traditionally used does not mean that everybody uses them this way. Anybody is allowed to use the pronouns they prefer, whatever their gender.  

Although many women (cis and trans) use ‘she/her’ pronouns, and many men (cis and trans) prefer ‘he/him’ pronouns, and many non-binary people prefer ‘they/them’ pronouns, others feel more comfortable with pronouns that you wouldn’t necessarily automatically expect. This is why it’s important to:

  • Ask people what their pronouns are before talking about or two them.
  • Let people know what your pronouns are.

The moderators and writers at AIM for the Rainbow will have their own pronouns advertised on their work. 

Some pronouns you might hear

Traditional gendered pronouns

  • He/him/his/himself – traditionally ‘male’ pronouns
  • She/her/hers/herself – traditionally ‘female’ pronouns

Traditional gender neutral pronouns

  • They/them/their/themselves – traditionally plural (referring to more than one person) and gender neutral pronouns
  • It/it/its/itself – traditional gender neutral pronoun commonly used for objects, animals and infants. While it is often seen as insulting to use these for another person, some trans and non-binary people like to use ‘it’ pronouns.


Neopronouns are gender neutral pronouns that are different from traditional pronouns (such as he, she, they and it).

  • Xe/xir/xirs/xirself – gender neutral neopronouns, first recorded use was in the 1990s
  • Xe/xyr or xem/xyrs/xyrself or xemself – gender neutral neopronouns, first used as an option on an autism mailing list in the 1990s
  • Ze/hir/hirs/hirself – gender neutral neopronouns, first recorded use was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They have been used in several fantasy and science fiction stories 
  • Zie/zir or zim/zirs/zirself – gender neutral neopronouns, first recorded use was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They have been used in several fantasy and science fiction stories
  • E/em/eir/eirs/emself – gender neutral neopronoun, first recorded use in the 1990s.

Nounself pronouns

Nounself pronouns are when people adapt a noun of their choosing into a pronoun to create a wide variety of very personal and descriptive pronouns. For example:

  • Fae/faer/faers/faerself – fairy-themed gender-neutral nounself pronoun. First recorded use was online in the 2010s.

What to do if you get it wrong

If you accidentally get someone’s pronouns wrong, here’s the best thing to do: 

  1. Say ‘I’m sorry’ (simply and quickly)
  2. Repeat what you said with the correct pronoun
  3. Move on with the conversation

You can find more information on pronouns here: Gendered Intelligence – Language and Pronouns

Intersectional Diversity

The ‘Double Rainbow’ of Autism and LGBTQIA+

by Charlie Hart

For Bi-Visibility Day in 2020, Charlie Hart answered some questions from her colleagues about her lived experiences on the ‘double rainbow’, as an openly autistic and bisexual adult. 

Can you explain what the term ‘double rainbow’ means?

Studies show that autistic people are far more likely identify as a sexuality minority and/or a gender minority, compared with the general population.

Both the autistic community and the LGBTQIA+ community often use rainbow imagery, for example in the gay pride flag and the autism acceptance rainbow infinity symbol.

I came across the term ‘double rainbow’ on the website of the US charity Twainbow who advocate for and support people who are both on the autistic spectrum and the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. I stumbled across Twainbow from an Internet search, as I had been wondering if any help may have been available for Iggy had he looked for it.  Here in the UK, we now have AIM for the Rainbow and Rainbow Mind and now also Iggy’s Initiative.

What is the difference between Autism and Asperger’s syndrome? Do they both sit under the umbrella of neurodiversity? 

Human brains are collectively neurodiverse. No two brains are exactly alike, and neurodiversity is a framework for celebrating and accepting all the different types of brains, all the different ways of processing and thinking (yes, even neurotypical brains). Diversity, including neurodiversity, is advantageous to humans as a species.

An autistic person may be considered neurodivergent, which means our brains are wired a little differently from the typical brain. 

Asperger’s Syndrome is a rather outdated diagnosis given to autistic people who do not have learning disabilities or language development delays. More recently, the diagnostic terms are usually Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). My own diagnostic report says I have Asperger’s Syndrome, but personally I just call it autism, simply because I do not think I am any more important than autistic people who are non-verbal or who do have learning disabilities. 

Not all autistic people are gifted or have a ‘super power’. One of my talents is my highly detailed visual and auditory long-term memory, which is both a blessing and a curse. It is tremendously helpful to me in my role as HR systems analyst, and wonderful for remembering dearly departed relatives and reflecting on happy memories, but also I have seen and heard traumatic things that I would rather not recall so vividly and thus I’m more vulnerable to Complex PTSD. 

In your opinion, do you think autistic and other neurodivergent people are less concerned with societal norms and so are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+? 

I have never been one to conform to societal norms to fit in. For example, I deliberately chose to have my first child before getting married. I also wore a pink and purple layered chiffon dress at my first wedding. When I married my second husband, I wore a dress my cousin’s partner had made for me, a knee-length 50s-style dress in shades of silver. 

I do think neurodivergent people more often value individuality in preference to fitting in, and we can also be very honest and open.

Personally, I do not believe that non-conformity affects our sexuality or gender identity, because I think we are born this way. However, we may be more likely to be more open about our sexuality and gender identity, compared with the general population, so perhaps more of us ‘come out’ as for example bisexual or gender fluid rather than keeping it to ourselves. 

Do you think it is important to state or be open about who you are e.g. neurodiverse and / or non-binary and does this help others to better understand you and your needs?

This is very much a personal choice, and depends on your personal boundaries, comfort, and safety. People are more likely to be open about who they are if we all work together to build a culture where everybody is comfortable to be our authentic selves without fear of discrimination and prejudice.

Is it OK to ask someone to explain what a specific term means if you have never heard it before?

In my view, it is good to ask for definitions of a term you do not fully understand, rather than making assumptions.

It is not okay, however, to ask inappropriate probing personal questions. For example, it is not okay to ask somebody who is trans about what gender affirmation treatments they may or may not have had, or about the contents of their underpants. Asking for preferred pronouns is okay though.

Curiosity is good, but above all we must all respect every individual’s privacy and dignity.

Is it true that autistic people are not taken seriously about their decision to identify as LGBTQIA+? Is this something you have experienced?

Not personally, but I feel if anybody does not take my sexuality seriously this is more likely to be because they dismiss bisexuality as a phase I went through before I settled down. Actually, it has been constant since my teens.

I understand that some trans and gender fluid autistic people are concerned that being open about their autism may lead to people thinking that being transgender is just an autistic thing, which may not be helpful to their cause for acceptance.

There is also the “eternal child” bias, where some people assume autistic people are not capable of knowing our own minds, due to our condition. That is a misconception, and a stigma which needs to be challenged.

It may also hark back to old attitudes from times when sexuality, gender dysphoria and autism were all considered to be mental health issues that could be “cured”. We are not quite at the end of the journey to acceptance.

Sexual orientation and gender expression may fluctuate over the course of person’s lifetime. Can neurological conditions also change and fluctuate?

I have not noticed any real fluctuations to my sexuality since I first became aware that I was sexually attracted to women as well as men, in my mid-teens. I did not suddenly become straight when I married a man. 

I have been talking more often and more openly about my sexuality recently, because since losing Iggy I have become more acutely aware of the importance of positive visible LGBTQIA+ role models. 

I have also more recently come to understand that I am attracted to individuals, regardless of their gender, and that this makes me ‘pansexual’.  

In terms of neurological conditions fluctuating, I do not believe it is possible to become more autistic or less autistic. You are either autistic or not, and autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition. I do not believe in ‘regression’, but I do believe some traits can become more profound. I am not sure about other neurological conditions, as this may vary, and there are acquired neurological conditions as well as those we are born with.

I do have more sensory sensitivities and autistic meltdowns of greater severity when I am going through a period of ‘autistic burn-out’. This is a state that resembles clinical depression and happens when I am overwhelmed for extended periods of time.

Over the years the impact of some autistic features may change. Sometimes this may relate to hormonal changes, for example sensory issues can be exacerbated by puberty, pregnancy, menopause. 

What are some of the challenges that autistic and LGBTQ+ people face?

Coupled with the social differences of autism, such as coming across badly at times and having difficulties interpreting neurotypical cues and nuances, at times I have encountered difficulties forming both social friendships and working relationships with other women. Sometimes I have encountered bi-phobia, and my intentions have been misunderstood. 

There are many challenges with being an autistic in the social and sensory minefield that is the workplace, but with a combination of formal reasonable adjustments and minor changes an autistic worker can thrive and add tremendous value. I do get overwhelmed when I am in lengthy or frequent meetings, due to the expectation to exhibit professional behaviours and demeanour for extended periods which does require heavy masking. 

Autistic people can be tremendously loyal when we have the right support, and I have been working for my employer for sixteen years.

What can allies do to support people who are neurodivergent and identify as LGBTQ+?

Well that is a big question, which I could talk about at length. But in brief, we each have a role in working together to build a culture of acceptance, where it is not only okay, but encouraged even, to be open about any difficulties and support needs, an environment where each and every person belongs and can drop the mask to thrive as our authentic selves.


by Charlie Hart

An alarming number of young people become depressed and take their own lives after being bullied just for being different

Nobody should have to feel weird, ashamed, rejected, excluded, isolated due to their sexual orientation or their gender expression, nor due to their disability or neurological differences, nor any other human characteristic, but sadly this happens all the time. 

Young people, especially teenagers, can be particularly affected by lack of acceptance and support. An alarming number of young people become depressed and take their own lives after being bullied just for being different from typical.

My own son Iggy tragically ended his own life in April 2019, aged just fifteen. This is the heart-breaking fate shared by an increasing number of young people on the “double rainbow” of the autism spectrum and the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, whether they have evident mental health issues or not.

Losing Iggy was unexpected and heart-breaking. We knew Iggy had been struggling to cope with being bullied for being “weird” at school. He had become more withdrawn and started trying to blend into the background to avoid being noticed. At home, however, he had been excited and happy. He was making plans for his future, coming with me on long country walks to train for his DofE expedition, planning his work experience placement working with cars (his special interest), looking forward to the next Marvel movie. He was always joking and giggling. It is tragic and senseless that his life was cut short, with so much to live for and look forward to. 

I never want to hear anybody told they should “act more normal” or “try to fit in” or “I would keep that one quiet”. My dream is for everybody to understand how and why we should celebrate and respect all the natural variations in the human condition, freeing everybody to be their authentic selves, with no need to mask or to look for a way out. 

I want to spread the message “Different is OK” and educate others about just how common and normal it is to be both neurodivergent and LGBTQIA+. Also, to create safe spaces where young people on the double rainbow can offer mutual support to each other, moderated by ND and LGBTQIA+ “elders” like myself, so nobody needs to feel weird and alone.

AIM for the Rainbow are excited to launch Iggy’s Initiative, to do all we can to make a difference to young people on the double rainbow in Iggy’s memory.