Wear it Purple for LGBTQI+ People with Disabilities

Wear it Purple for LGBTQI+ People with Disabilities
Posted on Fri 28 Aug 2020

This Friday, 28 August Cerebral Palsy Alliance is recognising Wear it Purple Day—a day which promotes the creation of supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for LGBTQI+ young people.

Wear it Purple was founded in response to global stories of the bullying and harassment of LGBTQI+ young people as a result of a lack of acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity.

It’s no surprise that LGBTQI+ people exist in all diverse communities, ethnic backgrounds, religions, socio-economic statuses, genders, and neuro-diversity groups.

This means that across Cerebral Palsy Alliance we’re lucky enough to have LGBTQI+ identifying employees, volunteers, supporters, and importantly, clients.

For many people with disabilities, understanding their sexuality and feeling safe and supported to explore it can be really difficult.

Keira Watkins, Coordinator, Youth Projects says:

“Learning about your sexuality and coming out is tough for anyone, but for someone with a disability, chances are they’re navigating this without the same privacy and freedom that their peers have.

“They might need to share their thoughts and feelings with a number of people such as carers and support workers to get the information they need, and if their families aren’t supportive, they can also lose access to the people they trust.”

Tony, a CPA client who lives with cerebral palsy says it’s hard to find LGBTQI+ people to connect with in his community. He says some of his peers make remarks or jokes about his sexuality which he finds himself having to laugh off. He says this drives him to visit places like Newtown where he knows he will meet like-minded people.

“Before COVID-19 hit, I used to go to Newtown where I could meet people and socialise. It feels good going out in Newtown because there’s a rainbow flag at the bar so I know I can be myself.”

Although he’s made friends and has found a bar to go to where he can be himself, he says it isn’t always like that.

 

"People with disabilities can easily be taken advantage of, so it’s really important that they have people to help them have experiences like going to a gay club or using a dating app in a way that is safe,” says Tony.

Tony says that he’d also like to see LGBTQI+ stereotypes addressed.

“When you have a disability you already have an image and it’s hard to fit to fit into the stereotype of being gay. People with disabilities need to be shown that they don’t need to fit a mould. You can wear a flanno, be a bogan, have CP and still be gay!”

Keira has worked with young people at CPA while they’ve been learning about their sexuality and says there’s a lot that disability support workers, coaches, families and friends can do to support people with disabilities during this time.  

“We need to be open minded and ready to talk, and know when it’s time to refer the person on to someone who can offer more or different support or advice.

“There are groups like Twenty10 offering online, phone and face-to-face counselling for LGBTQI+ young people, who can give support and advice to individuals and their carers.”

Keira and Tony agree that there’s still plenty more we can do as a community to better support LGBTQI+ people with disabilities.

“Each year Cerebral Palsy Alliance participates in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival and invites clients to get involved. This is a great start, but once a year isn’t enough to create social connection for LGBTQI+ people for whom it is so important,” says Keira.

“It would be great for disability support providers like CPA to create social groups and facilitate opportunities for meet-ups in the community,” says Tony.

Keira says that with Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s LGBTQI+ resource group, RainbowConnect working on this, the future looks bright for people with disabilities who are exploring their sexuality.

“We have plans to create opportunities for social connection and promote big and small LGBTQI+ events in all areas that CPA operates.

“As a whole community, though, we need to ensure events, information, resources and services are accessible to people with disabilities as this goes a long way in creating feelings of inclusion,” finished Keira.

 

Getting involved in Wear it Purple

You can get involved in Wear it Purple by donning a purple shirt this Friday, holding a purple event, or starting an honest conversation with colleagues and peers about LGBTQI+ inclusion. Click here to learn more about getting involved and download resources like posters and video call backgrounds.

 

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