Frequently Asked Questions
What is peer support?
A peer is someone who belongs to the same social group as another. Peers are equals.
Peer support is when an individual with lived experience (peer) helps others experiencing similar situations.
It might look like empathy and shared understanding, respect, and/or mutual empowerment.
A peer supporter could share resources, help with skill-building, offer mentorship, or support you in identifying, setting, and making progress towards personal goals.
Most other forms of support are hierarchical (doctors, therapists, social workers, lawyers, etc.)
Peer support can allow individuals to seek information and support from someone who may have more experience with a particular situation. But the relationship is still mutual and non-hierarchical.
A peer supporter is not an “expert.”
For more information, see SAMHSA.
What is mutual aid?
The term “mutual aid” is credited to Peter Kropotkin, a Russian revolutionary, philosopher, and anarchist.
Kropotkin was critiquing Darwin’s theory of evolution. Rather than “survival of the fittest,” Kropotkin believed that cooperation – not competition – is foundational to human nature.
There is a lot of evidence that prior to colonization, there were a variety of Indigenous communities that operated through gift economies.
Humans are social, and when we form communities, it is easier for us to survive.
A common mutual aid slogan is “solidarity, not charity.”
According to Wikipedia, mutual aid is “a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit.”
Rather than looking to existing systems (legal, educational, healthcare, criminal justice, etc.) for support, individuals engaging in mutual aid organize within their communities to distribute resources and get their needs met.
Mutual aid is non-hierarchical and egalitarian, meaning that everyone has equal decision-making power.
Those who engage in mutual aid believe we all have something to offer.
What is Disability Justice?
The Disability Justice movement began as a response to the Disability Rights movement.
Many QTPOC saw the Disability Rights movement as centered on the needs of white disabled people.
Disability Justice is inherently intersectional, looking at the ways that white supremacy and ableism reinforce one another and work together.
The goal of Disability Justice is collective liberation, rather than mere “inclusion.” It is “a movement towards a world in which every body and mind is known as beautiful.”
What does Neuroqueer mean?
The term “neuroqueer” was coined by Nick Walker, a neurodivergent scholar and activist.
Research now affirms that there is significant overlap between the LGBTQIA+ community and neurodivergence.
Neuroqueer (neurodivergent + queer) explores this intersectionality.
Influenced by queer theory, neuroqueer can be a noun or a verb (neuroqueering).
Those who identify as neuroqueer are likely to be non-normative, subverting cultural narratives of what is “normal.”
I identify with the concept of neuroqueer(ing) because I see a lot of similarities between my experience of questioning and accepting my gender/sexuality and accepting myself as neurodivergent. Both experiences are stigmatized by society. And both can lead to an experience of being perceived and/or feeling “weird,” “odd,” “strange,” “eccentric,” etc. Likewise, both queer/trans and autistic individuals have been put through forms of “conversion” therapy in order to make us conform to societal norms.
I am on a journey of accepting my differences not only as valid, but as something to be celebrated! As a source of joy, connection, creativity, and community.
I hope you will join me.