Pride posts - Share your LGBTQIA+ pride 🌈

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VisiblyInvisible
VisiblyInvisible Community member Posts: 11 Connected

It's Pride Month!

Being any part of the LGBTQIA+ community and also disabled brings a whole bunch of nuance to our experiences both in our pride and the challenges we face.

I was asked by an Admin to write something for the community about my experiences and I thought we could start a thread sharing what we are celebrating this month, along with some honesty about the challenges we face with these two parts of our existence. So if you feel able to, please share your thoughts in this thread too I'd love to hear about what this means to you. Remembering to respect each others experiences and different ways of navigating the world.

There is SOOOOO much I could say on this subject, but I've tried to keep it brief. So here goes…

I’m ‘Ace’. This isn’t a declaration of arrogance (far from it, my self confidence is trash!), but it's a descriptor of my orientation under the Asexual umbrella. A term that describes a number of experiences including those of us who experience attraction differently. This can include little to no sexual attraction and doesn’t specify a gendered target of other forms of attraction which can be described in other ways. For example I’m also Bi-Romantic meaning I can be romantically attracted to people of all genders. There’s lots of different ways Asexual folks experience the world. Mostly we’re defined by not meeting ‘Allosexual’ experiences of attraction itself. We are what the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA+ stands for.

Importantly this attraction is not linked to a choice of abstinence from sex. Nor is it a pathology/illness - A challenge I have repeatedly met in clinical environments, where while most sexual orientations have been de-pathologized, Asexuality is still often met with medicalization, prescriptions, and what boils down to conversion therapy. 

Ace folks face a lot of stigma and criticism, including from within the queer community. Along with the outright discrimination, we also meet a lot of health inequalities in systems built on a heteronormative template that assumes everyone has care partners, children and families to cover caring and/or support duties. This is a real challenge as someone with multiple disabilities and health conditions which are already and will increase in complexity as I age. 

What I do however find a great comfort and privilege however is that, getting to exist in both the queer and disabled communities permits me spaces to meet like minded folks (like you!) with similar challenges and to share learning. 

Particularly I’ve found that in the disabled community, folks are more likely to be understanding and welcoming of my queerness as they have a deep connection to the divergence and diversity that naturally occurs in humanity and society. While not perfect, it makes disabled community spaces feel generally safer for me which I’m very grateful for. 

I am many things beyond these two descriptors and lots of them require a need to fight for my rights. But certainly my queerness and living as a person disabled by society and the intersectionality of these characteristics, brings me a heightened awareness of my vulnerabilities and the gaps in society where we aren’t including people as best we could, and that doesn’t feel great a lot of the time for sure. But within this there’s also great joy and gratitude of getting to be part of two vibrant, vital, validating, brilliant and valuable communities. It's a really special feeling. 🌈

Whether you feel able to join the discussion here or anywhere else about your pride this month or not, I hope the month is kind to you. Whether you're out, figuring it out, or something else, you're a valued and important member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Thanks for reading!

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  • Albus_Scope
    Albus_Scope Posts: 5,756 Online Community Coordinator
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    Welcome @VisiblyInvisible and happy pride!
    Thank you for sharing your tale in such an eloquent way. I'm hoping many people find some comfort in your words and realise we're all human and we all deserve love. ❤️

    If anyone else wants to share, we're all here for support if you want to talk things through. But lurking is totally fine too. 😊

  • VisiblyInvisible
    VisiblyInvisible Community member Posts: 11 Connected
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    Thanks so much for sharing @Nicebrit

    I have had phases of 'coming out' as I got older and learned more about myself, understood more about myself and also learned more about our community and our language. So I've come to my 'definition' at a grown up age too (oh dear, when did I become a grown up?!), and tbh I'm open to knowing that further evolutions may come too.

    Along with my physical disabilities and health conditions I'm also autistic, so it can take me a while to get my head around concepts, and to punch through my miles deep public facing mask, to see myself for who I am truly. It's been a ride for sure!

    I'm really happy for you that you found your way to who you are and even better that you felt able to come out to your kids, this is so lovely. Feeling happy in your own skin is wonderful 💪🏳️‍🌈

  • Jimm_Scope
    Jimm_Scope Posts: 3,712 Online Community Specialist
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    That sounds lovely @Nicebrit. It must be far less stressful no longer having to hide who you are, and wonderful that all the family were so accepting 🤗

  • Nicebrit
    Nicebrit Community member Posts: 146 Empowering
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    thank you @Jimm_Scope

    It's great finally being in own skin 😊 felt like a huge weight lifted 😊

  • Steve_in_The_City
    Steve_in_The_City Scope Member Posts: 633 Pioneering
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    I came out a little bit before my 14th birthday and it would have been around 1970. I told my family if you are an example of being straight then I am glad I am queer! They didn't like it but they changed their attitude towards me and it turned into a positive thing for me, not for them - they remained in denial over my sexuality. Somehow the police got involved and I was separated from my boyfriend who was 15 and in those dark times we were both underage. I did some modelling work that perhaps I shouldn't have done. In fact in retrospect I definitely shouldn't have done it. I was required to take my kit off, but no-one else was involved. I was an hairdressers and catalog model anyway so getting my kit off for a few extra spondoolies seemed ok. Now that I am an adult I know it wasn't ok. Anyway the police got involved and the proverbial hit the fan. I wasn't taken to court. I think everyone was in denial about everything. Or it could have been that the guy who photographed me was socially highly positioned.

    Then I got involved with the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and I was politically active. I went on the 2nd ever Pride March (which is why Pride is meaningless to me. I and people like me put down all the ground work to make gay life better for everyone). On the march - it started on Clapham Common but I can't remember where it ended - there were more police people than gay people! I was surrounded by police all the time. I was 16 and not approved of. The police would raid gay pubs. All the lights would suddenly be switched off and you would be plunged into darkness for a minute or two. This tactic was to make you confused and the tactic worked.Then the lights would come back on and the police were all around you. But they never took action over me. I don't know if it was legal for me to drink alcohol but I always had a Southern Comfort to hand and Cannabis and Tobacco all the material things that young boys rely on to have a happy life. But I was very outspoken and in your face and politically very active and had they taken me to court I would have upset the apple cart and thus I was left alone. You may have gathered from this that maybe I wasn't the best lad around, and your gathering would be spot on except I cared for people. I was asked to voluntarily work on Gay Switchboard so I could speak to other youngsters, male and female, and gay (and straight) women have always been very important in my life. Females always understand me, but then again so do some straight males. But I like it best of all when I am in female company.

    Anyway, bad lad or not, I met my life partner Ian. He was 23 years older than me but the age difference didn't worry me. He died of an incurable form of cancer in 2019. I had been with him for 47 years or thereabouts. When I met him he was on stage singing a jazz number. He jumped off the stage to come and get me but the bewildered band kept on playing! During the night I was violently sick. I had too many drugs and alcohol in me and during our "enactment" I spewed up and passed out! The next day Ian made breakfast and then he took me out and bought clothes for me. No-one had ever treated me like this. I was the arch-typical trophy boy. Ian took me from every cocktail bar from Mayfair to Manhatten, All I had to do was smile and look pretty. But in the background I always worked with people and helped them. This all goes back to my work on Gay Switchboard and when I did modelling. In my head-space I have to make people happy. I am 67 now so obviously no-one is going to photograph me. But people still talk to me and I like that. I am sort of quite good with people. I met a guy today, Norman, and he told me about his wife's passing and I understood and listened to him. That is what I am good at. When I was 50 I became a Clinical Hypnotherapist and it was easy work for me because basically I only had to listen to people and see beyond the problem they were telling me about. It is really important to listen to what your client isn't telling you,

    Anyway, somehow, Ian got me on the straight and narrow. I don't know how he did it because I was a bit difficult to manage. Anyone else would have given up on me. On top of Ian's influence I had a wonderful female probation officer. Women always know how to deal with me. But I wasn't on probation for gay related charges. I was a messed up boy. Several years ago on C4 there was a program "The Nowhere Boy" and I cried until it felt like my eyes were bleeding because I once felt just like "The Nowhere Boy"; mixed up, screwed up and everything else you can think of.

    Anyway, you always have to give people a chance, even to someone like me. I responded to Ian and my probation officer because I knew they had my best interest at heart and together they tamed me and turned me into an ok type of person instead of the feral person that I was. I sort of got on ok because I looked sort of ok. I knew how to smile and pretend everything was ok, even though inside of myself I was dying. My partner Ian never knew how I felt. I put on a really good show for my probation officers children's charity that she supported. I raised quite a lot of money and everyone enjoyed the show. It was easy for me because I was the sort of boy who could pull it off. I didn't have to work hard. She released me from my probation order and we remained friends.

    The thing is I have been out and gay since around 1970. I have never encountered gay hostility. People just seem to accept me for myself and I get on ok with people. I am sorry this post is so long, but there are a few things i wanted to say.

  • VisiblyInvisible
    VisiblyInvisible Community member Posts: 11 Connected
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    Thanks so much for sharing your experience @Steve_in_The_City great to hear a different side to the experience in the community and great that you feel so confident in your identity.

    Sounds like you've had it far from easy along the way. But I'm happy for you that you had such a wonderful relationship that meant so much to you.

    We step from LGBTQIA+ Pride month and straight into Disability Pride month now. Dual wielding!

  • Steve_in_The_City
    Steve_in_The_City Scope Member Posts: 633 Pioneering
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    Hello @VisiblyInvisible I think your handle is great. I wish I could give myself a name like that. Also your response to me was kind of sensitive, so thank you.

  • Nicebrit
    Nicebrit Community member Posts: 146 Empowering
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  • Steve_in_The_City
    Steve_in_The_City Scope Member Posts: 633 Pioneering
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    Sorry, I expressed myself quite incorrectly when I said Pride was meaningless to me. What I meant was in the early days it was a struggle but soon so many more people were involved and I didn't think I could anything anymore so I never went on another Pride March.

  • VisiblyInvisible
    VisiblyInvisible Community member Posts: 11 Connected
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    'Pride' is super personal, and it's doesn't need to be expressed in participation in marches to be valid. A person's pride can be private, something they enact every day in different ways or look completely different.

    The marches are a public way unify people in a way that people recognize, but not participating doesn't make you any less 'proud' or any less part of the community for sure.

    I went to my first march this year having never felt welcome or safe at them previously for various reasons (some of which were accessibility related). It doesn't meant that in all my (many) previous decades I wasn't an engaged proud activist in other ways. Just that this one thing wasn't for me.

    You don't owe anyone attendance at a Pride event. You express and engage with your feelings of pride however feels go for you Hun ❤️