As I sit here days before the release of my second novel I am reminded of the feelings my main character went through in the story and how elements of them still hold true today.As the only disabled pupil in a mainstream school she fought for years to “fit in” and was severely bullied for being different.In addition when realising her sexuality was different from the rest she felt ashamed and hid her true self from her family and friends for a long time.These feelings come to me as I read newsfeeds reporting multiple deaths as a result of a gunman in an Orlando Gay Club and widespread Vilance in France between opposing football fans. When you consider how the worlds geographical borders are crossed more than ever before due to waring nations and ever changing immigration laws, you would think we lived in a world highly educated in the basic principles of tolerance, compassion and understanding. Why then in 2016 am I sat here writing about more people being killed just for being gay, and why are the football programmes filled with stories of opposing fans fighting each other just because they are on opposite sides. At the end of the day it’s simple, you should be able to love the person you want to be with whether they are black white, male, female, and have tolerance for others if they choose to follow a difference sporting team than your own.On a more personal level I have spent most of my life being integrated in the mainstream after leaving special school at 13. I found the transition both a step up for my basic education but also feeling like a fish out of water being the only disabled pupil amongst 500 non disabled pupils.The school made countless efforts to make the building accessible but what I really needed was a bridge between “them and me”. The fact I had separate lessons due to the building not having a lift put a wedge between myself and classmates and I was made to walk up and down the corridors in my physio therapy calipers whilst the others had fun on the field playing netball and hockey. I am referring back to the late 1980’s of course and thankfully I have witnessed how main stream schools have adopted a more inclusive environment and a lot of disabled pupils can now happily attend mainstream school with little or no obstacles .So lots of clear lessons have been learned but even now things are not that easy to be fully integrated. When I first emerged onto “The Scene” I tried so hard to “fit in” be accepted as one of the gang . As most of the socialising happened around going to pubs I found myself drinking too much and getting a bad reputation .I had the mentality of “I need to keep up with everyone to fit in” which of course wasn’t true but yet I was hell bent on changing who I really was just to fit in. My body couldn’t cope with the amount I was drinking but I didn’t care because I had a so local life and found a peer group I finally fitted into.i really had hoped that we had come a long way since the 60’s and 70’s when gay rights really started to snowball into action, and in some respects we really have.In Uk a gay couple can now legally marry and adopt children amd there are laws within employment to stop homophobia in the workplace.Disabled people are celebrated more and more in the media through sporting achievements and mainstream soap characters. But still there are plenty of nations where it is deemed as illegal to be Gay and in some cases if discovered it is punishment by death, and some countries employ vigilantes who seek out Gay people and torture them if captured….in some countries still today if a young baby is born into a poor family they are deliberately mutilated in some way and put out in the streets to beg for money . Young girls in single figures in years are married off and forced to get pregnant often dying in child birth, why is this ok? In the words of the song…”we’re all human” Being gay isn’t a lifestyle choice, like a hairstyle or the clothes you wear, it’s who we are, just like being born disabled isn’t a choice and in the words of Bob Marley, get up stand up..for your rights.. Let young girls be children.
In summing up it is sadly very clear to me that the work of such iconic personalities like Harvey Milk needs to continue yes our generation is very fortunate but we need to keep educating and demanding change. Some may say why as an author/ poet am I speaking out about these issues why not stick to creating my fiction , simple, I’m a human being first and foremost these issues affect me greatly as a disabled female gay person, but more simply as a human being who wants to see more love and acceptance in the world….Love people love….not hate!