Hamish Steele: How Writing A Queer, Autistic Teen Helped Me Accept My Past

Hamish Steele: How Writing A Queer, Autistic Teen Helped Me Accept My Past

In this guest post from the creator of Netflix's Dead End: Paranormal Park they open up to PRIDE how creating the character of Norma led to a major self-discovery. rachiepants In 2022, I received a diagnosis for autism at the age of 31. A few months later, Netflix released Dead End: Paranormal Park , the adaptation of my DeadEndia webcomics which I show ran through the pandemic. The DeadEndia series focuses on a group of teens working in a park housing an elevator to the demon world. Much of the press before the show's release spotlighted Barney (played by Zach Barack) who is possibly the first trans lead character in an animated kids series. But since the show's release, there's been just as much attention paid to his co-lead Norma (played by Kody Kavitha). The DeadEndia webcomic began in 2014. While Barney was intended to be big, loud, and funny, Norma was conceived to be #relatable. Webcomics live and die based on their shareability, and if readers can easily spot a joke taken straight from their lives, they're more likely to retweet, reblog and repost. Norma was neurotic, pedantic, and anxious but also brave, loyal, and principled. She was my attempt at the average teen. But as time went on, readers kept asking me variations on the same question – “Is Norma on the spectrum?” / “Did you mean to write Norma as having ASD?” / “Can I headcanon Norma as autistic?” Courtesy of Netflix In truth, this was all accidental. Everything Norma was going through was taken from my own experiences. I find people hard to read; I have meltdowns when my schedule is changed, struggle in social gatherings and I am never happier than when being left alone to my hobbies. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of a few “useless” topics (Godzilla, Pokemon, Horror movies – basically anything involving monsters) but I was always falling behind in class. From about 8 or 9, I took extra English lessons because I was diagnosed with dyslexia. And then I was undiagnosed. Then re-diagnosed. I kept fooling […]

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