What’s Up WID: LGBTQIA + Disability Intersectionality Transcripts

Shona Louise a white woman with long wavy brown hair and a white blouse with blue swipes and jeans sits in her power wheelchair. A Pride rainbow is behind her.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Hello everyone, and welcome back to What’s Up WID, the World Institute on Disability Podcast, where we discuss what’s up in the disability community across the globe. If you’re new here, I’m your host, Ashley Inkumsah. Now pride month is currently underway and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than by inviting a disabled LGBTQIA+ content creator who is currently leading the way in creating a safe space for disabled LGBTQIA+ people to build a community and fight for liberation.

Ashley Inkumsah:

On today’s episode, I’m super excited to share my conversation with, the one and only, Shona Louise, an LGBTQIA+ disabled blogger, freelance writer, photographer and accessibility consultant, living in the United Kingdom. Shona and I had a great conversation about what it means to be disabled and queer and why it’s important to build accessible spaces for disabled LGBTQIA+ people to build a community.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Thank you so much, Shona for joining me for today’s episode of our podcast to discuss the LGBTQIA+ and disability intersectionality. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it and I’m super excited to have this conversation with you. Before we even start our conversation, I do want to ask you a question that I like to ask all of our guests, which is, how are you today?

Shona Louise:

I am doing really good. Yeah, I’ve been to the cinema today and had a little bit of a refresh, and a bit of a me day, so yeah, I am very ready to get back into life and work after a little break.

Ashley Inkumsah:

That’s wonderful. What movie did you see?

Shona Louise:

I saw the new Dr. Strange film.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Oh. How was it? Was it good?

Shona Louise:

It was really good, but it was very complex.

Ashley Inkumsah:

I see.

Shona Louise:

They published a list of films and TV shows they recommended you watch before watching the film.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Oh my God.

Shona Louise:

Yeah, and you definitely needed to watch them all.

Ashley Inkumsah:

I see. Wow. That’s a lot, but definitely much needed escapism. Can you tell us about your experiences living with Marfan syndrome and how that led to your activism?

Shona Louise:

Yeah, so Marfan syndrome is a genetic condition, so I’ve had it all of my life and it affects the connective tissues in your body, which is like the glue that holds everything together. It affects your bones and your heart and your eyes, and there’s a list of secondary conditions that it can cause, so everyone is effective differently. My mom has the condition as well, and we are effected so massively differently in our experience of it, so I was diagnosed essentially at birth, so I’ve known I’ve had it all my life. I’ve never really known any different, which I think has helped me a lot, really. I’ve never had to have that big adjustment to a massive life change, if you have an overnight disability. I’ve had my whole life to get used to the idea of disability and the progression has being quite slow at first. I had that space to adjust and to cope with it.

Shona Louise:

But my health started going downhill more as a teenager, so I was about 14 when I started getting some more severe problems with my spine. It was when this happened that I felt a little bit isolated at school, really. As a teenager, none of us have any idea what’s going on with our lives, so understanding a lifelong condition and things like that is quite a big thing to get your head around. Not that I blame them, but friends were not as supportive as perhaps would’ve been nice to have and so I felt quite isolated.

Shona Louise:

That’s when the YouTube scene really exploded in the UK. It was about that time, that people like Zoella were like starting to make videos and things, and so I fell into that and I started off by beauty blogging because it was the first community I found myself in really. So that’s where I started, but when I had my first major surgery, which was a spinal fusion surgery in 2013, I had all of these questions about the surgery. Things like, “What’s it like to have a catheter,” and questions that you just couldn’t really find the answer to online. And doctors and staff were not always the most for forthcoming with those answers.

Shona Louise:

So I decided that I’d keep a diary of the surgery, of my stay hospital, share everything, and then I would publish that on my blog. That’s where it started really, because I just got a tidal wave of messages and emails from people saying, “Thank you. I’m about to have the same surgery and I had no idea what to expect.” So from writing that I realized, “Okay, there’s actually something quite big in sharing your experiences and talking about these things online.” So from then on, I was more disability centered.

Shona Louise:

Over the years, I’ve moved away from talking more about my personal health and more activism and educating people about disability and things like that, which has just been the most incredible experience, even now years on, getting to inform someone and educate them and have them change their opinion completely is just massive, and it’s those little conversations, I guess, that move us along step by step.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Yes, absolutely. I will say, definitely this digital age that we live in, is certainly a double edged sword, but the idea that, although it comes with so many downs, there’s so many ups with social media and digital platforms as a whole, that you were able to build a whole community and find people who were going through the same things that you were going through and being able to relate and just give them a platform to express their questions, feelings, all of the above. So really awesome that you established this platform for the disability community to all come together and share lived experiences, so that’s just wonderful. As a queer, disabled person, can you share how those two identities intersect with one another and how you use that in your activism?

Shona Louise:

Yeah, massively. I think it’s only really been in the past year or two that I’ve realized just how much they do intersect with each other. I think for a long time I saw them as quite separate identities and there wasn’t really any interaction, but through social media, and talking to other people, I’ve started to realize that, actually, they cross over a lot and they interact with each other a lot and people’s perceptions of me and assumptions that are made are often based on both identities, rather than just one. So things like if I’m out with my partner, people assuming that they are my carer or they are my sibling, so you’ve got two things at play there.

Shona Louise:

That one, I couldn’t possibly be in love because I’m disabled, and two, my partner is non-binary and I’m a woman and we couldn’t possibly be together. We must be related. So you’ve got both things at play there, doubly being discriminated against and misconceptions and assumptions made. Especially people making assumptions about my sex life, from like a medical standpoint, being a physically disabled woman, and then also from the queer standpoint of people just not understanding it or disagreeing with it as well.

Shona Louise:

With both at play, you feel doubly erased from society. I feel invisible because I’m disabled, and then I often feel like my relationship is invisible, because we are queer, and that especially, queer relationships with disabled people is just not seen in the media anywhere really. There is next to no representation of that kind of thing, even though these are two identities that intersect so much and anyone can become disabled at any time. It’s one group of people that has every minority in. There is every type of representation within the disability community, which I think is just such a beautiful thing, but it’s something that really isn’t talked about as much as it should be.

Shona Louise:

I’ve often felt, as a disabled person, I have to hide my other identities a little bit, or like that should be the one that I have to push forward the most, that should be the number one thing that I should be fighting for. But you can fight for two things at the same time. You can fight for loads of things at the same time. I don’t feel like anyone should need to hide one side of themselves in a community because they feel like they’re a bad activist, or they’re not always fighting as hard as they should be because they have other intersections to fight for as well.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Yeah, and it’s something that I’ve said before on past episodes of the podcast is, for some reason, we see all of our social justice movements as being separate. Like the LGBTQIA+ social justice movements and racial justice movements, women’s rights, we see them as separate issues, but there is quite a lot of overlap and when you fight for one, you’re fighting for the other and we all desperately need cross movement solidarity for this reason because all of our issues are, in fact, overlapping each other, at every moment in everyday. I don’t know why there’s so much pressure to have to choose one identity over the other. I don’t know where that comes from, but it’s really important that we mobilize together because our issues overlap each other.

Shona Louise:

Absolutely, and it’s why I’ve never understood, especially why the LGBTQ+ community don’t fight harder for accessibility or any minorities rights, because people always say, “Well, LGBTQ+ people know what it’s like, they’ve been through it,” and yet we still are not being fought for in the way that you should be. We have a whole community of diverse people understand what it’s like to be invisible, to be ignored, to be discriminated against, and yet, we are not as quick as we should be to stand up for everyone else’s rights.

Shona Louise:

It’s like you say, it’s all separate movements when it’s absolutely not. It’s all one bigger human rights movement really, and as soon as we start collaborating with each other more, that’s when it’s going to move forward, because society sees us as separate, sees it as separate issues. But when everyone understands that there’s one issue actually at the core of it, we are all fighting against the same discrimination and ignorance, things like that. It just comes up in different ways for everyone. If we’re going to continue to fight separately, then it’s never going address the core issue.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Absolutely. Totally agree. I know that you once said in an article that, although LGBTQIA+ disabled people have always existed, their stories have seemingly been erased. Can you explain how this erasure affected you and your journey and how you navigated that in your coming into your identity?

Shona Louise:

Absolutely. So, I mean, disabled queer people have always existed and yet, if you go and try and find our stories, they’re not really there, especially if we’re talking in like the ’80s and the ’90s, especially in the UK, when the movement was at its peak really. Disabled people existed back then, and yet you don’t really find our stories anywhere. It’s because of that I genuinely believed, as a teenager, as a young adult, that I could not be queer and disabled. That being disabled, I’d ticked my diversity box, that I couldn’t possibly be two things at once. That was just so ridiculous to me, because I did not know a single disabled and queer person. I’d never seen anyone in the media that represented that. I didn’t have any friends who represented that. It didn’t exist in my world, and so it couldn’t possibly exist in me.

Shona Louise:

From there, when I did start to accept my sexuality, I identified as bisexual at first, and again, that’s because I didn’t really have much representation. So I thought, “Well, it’s not an option not to like men. I’m a woman, so I must like men, so bisexuality fits.” Later down the line, I realized that, actually, no, I was definitely a lesbian and all my relationships with men did not work out. But because I didn’t see that representation, I had no idea it was even possible. And that’s the problem, really. It’s not seeing yourself represented, not seeing this massive array of diversity that we have in our communities.

Shona Louise:

If people can’t see that, then they’re going to believe it doesn’t exist, because I did, talking 10 years ago now. But even now, especially disabled queer representation, it really hasn’t come on that far, unless you know where to look for it, because it’s tucked away in a corner. It’s not out there on front covers and on our TV screens for us to see, because again, you get put in a box of just one minority.

Shona Louise:

If we hire a disabled actor to be in a film or a TV show, well then they’ve ticked their box. They couldn’t possibly be queer. They couldn’t possibly be Black as well. We’ve done our job there. And it’s that lack of representation that makes people believe that they couldn’t be more than one thing, and that disabled, queer people don’t exist. Which is ridiculous because, if you look in the right places on social media, we are so there. We are everywhere. We are shouting as loud as we possibly can, but trying to break through, into that mainstream, when so many people don’t even believe we exist, is really quite difficult.

Ashley Inkumsah:

When you see it, you can be it, so it’s really important that is something that is changed. On that subject, accessibility is something that is really similar to a point of, disabled people are constantly jumping through hoops to fit into a society that’s not built for them when it really should be the other way around. Society should be built for disabled people. How do accessibility barriers within the LGBTQ+ community, such as physically inaccessible clubs, bars, things like that, flashing lights, loud, music and bars, how does that lead to disabled LGBTQ+ people feeling like they’re missing out on the opportunity to build relationships and communities with one another?

Shona Louise:

Yeah. So this feeds into the whole not being able to see yourself represented, because I couldn’t physically access these communities. Social media was the only way that I could see that representation. But if these clubs and bars and events and things like that had been more accessible and I had access to them, then perhaps I would’ve had my epiphany a little bit sooner. But it makes you feel really unwelcome, and I live just outside of London in the UK and, because of our history and things like that, a lot of the clubs are underground and they’re inaccessible and it’s stairs access only. I’ve never been to queer club, a bar, anything like that. I think I can name about two venues in London that I can access as a wheelchair user and it does make you feel really unwelcome and like the community doesn’t really acknowledge your existence.

Shona Louise:

Even talking about Pride events, Pride in London is absolutely massive. It is one of our biggest, if not the biggest Pride event, in the UK, but my experiences there haven’t always been good. I remember one year I went with my partner and they had these accessibility wardens who were meant to be helping out and guiding people, and all of the curbs had been blocked by barriers. All of the drop curbs, I think we call them cutouts, had all been blocked. So we asked some of these wardens, “Would you be able to move the barriers out of the way?”

Shona Louise:

And they just shrugged their shoulders and didn’t do anything, so then my partner had to then move all the barriers out of the way themself, just so I could get to the barriers to watch the parade. Even something as simple as that, an outdoor event, accessibility for that should be quite simple. It should be quite easy, and yet, it’s little things and people not realizing and people not listening and acknowledging things, then that turned inaccessibility and it only takes one bad experience for you to go, “Okay, I don’t feel particularly welcome here. My basic needs and rights aren’t being met really.”

Shona Louise:

Yeah, it’s just not a nice feeling. I think people think that the LGBTQ+ community is incredibly welcoming and inviting and, in some ways, it absolutely is, but in other ways it’s not. I think it tailors and caters itself to quite a narrow, particular group of people, and anyone who doesn’t sit outside that will occasionally be acknowledged and we’re invited, but we can’t get in the building or, when we get there, we can’t see anyone else who looks like us so we don’t feel particularly welcome there.

Shona Louise:

It’s all of these little things that add up to you feeling like, “I shouldn’t be in this room,” even if you can get there. If you get there and you’re the only person who looks like you, it is really alienating and no one wants to feel like a diversity tick box or anything like that, but it often does feel that way.

Ashley Inkumsah:

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Ashley Inkumsah:

How do you think that non-disabled LGBTQ+ people, how can they help to fix this problem and help to encourage disability inclusion? What’s their role in this?

Shona Louise:

So listening, I think that’s the key to everything, but especially accessibility, because disabled people are the experts. More often than not, we know exactly what we need. So we just need people to listen to us and then stand up for us as well, because if we’re not in the room, we’re relying on the people in the room standing up for our rights and to mention, “Hey, is this accessible?” Or, “What could be doing to make this more inclusive for deaf people, visually impaired people, wheelchair users.”

Shona Louise:

If there’s no one in the room who’s saying that then, yeah, accessibility is going to be completely missed off and it’s going to be an afterthought. We are relying on complete strangers who don’t share our experience to push our agenda and push what we need and, right now we can’t rely on that, and we really need people to listen to us to make space for us.

Shona Louise:

I work in the theater industry a lot and accessibility there is often an afterthought. It’s a box ticking thing, but I think it should be up there in everything we consider. If you’re looking to put on an event, things like budget is massively important and to me, accessibility needs to be up there. It needs to be one of the main things you think about, if you are holding a LGBTQ+ event, you need to make sure there’s accessible… It might be hard to find venues and things like that, but if we keep using the same excuses and no one makes that extra effort to do better and to lead the charge, then nothing will change and we’ll still be sat here in 10, 20 years having the same conversations and that’s the scariest thing as a disabled queer person, from both sides, is that, if things don’t change soon, I will be having the same conversations in 10 years. I will still be fighting for accessibility on Twitter and things like that.

Shona Louise:

Change is happening so, so slowly now, and it’s because we are relying on people in the room to stand up for our rights. Currently we can’t rely on people for that and, ideally, you want to get disabled people into the room, but if you can’t, then you should be able to rely on other people to think about other people’s needs and not just what they need or want.

Shona Louise:

I think we are still quite far from equality and true inclusion. I think there’s a lot of surface level things happening and we’re not really addressing all of the problems underneath and perceptions of disabled people. Especially when it comes to sexuality because so many people just assume that disabled people are all asexual and there are disabled people who are asexual and I have friends who are disabled and asexual, who are scared to talk about that, because there is this big misconception that we are all asexual and they don’t want to add into that, but that’s not on them to hide their identity. It’s on everyone else to stop assuming that disabled people don’t have lives.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Yeah, you’re so right. We’re coming up on 32 years since the ADA was passed and that wasn’t even that long ago, and still, here we are. The disability rights movement happened. I think it’s time for the disability justice movement to take center stage, and for us to be making this progress that the disability community, multiply marginalized disability community has been asking for, for so long. It’s really time for that movement to pick up, and we need non-disabled people in that movement to have that cross movement solidarity, so it’s really important.

Shona Louise:

Absolutely. Accessibility and things like that is everyone’s problem to solve. No one should be thinking, “Well, it doesn’t affect me so it’s not my problem,” because A, that’s probably not true. You definitely know disabled people, even if you think you don’t. There’s a lot of disabled people who don’t disclose their disability, who have invisible conditions who don’t necessarily consider themselves to be disabled. We all know everyone. We know someone with a disability, somewhere along the line and, whilst that should not be your reason to do something about it. I don’t think we should have to say, “Well, I’m fighting for this because my brother or my mum or my cousin is disabled,” it should be, “I’m fighting for this because it’s right and it’s what we should be doing,” and that’s the attitude that we need now.

Shona Louise:

We should be fighting for this because it’s the right thing to do. We shouldn’t need a list of reasons to do it. We should simply be doing it because it’s right. I don’t like doing the whole, anyone can be disabled thing, because again, I don’t think it should be a reason, but it is true. You never know what’s around the corner and if you acquire a disability, you will be the first to speak up when you find that actually the world is not that accessible, when in fact. We could be sorting this out now and not waiting for people to find themselves in a situation where they do care eventually.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Even if you don’t acquire a disability, accessibility is something that benefits everyone. We were talking about this in the last episode of our podcast, where I said things like closed captioning and high contrast images, and like you mentioned, curb cuts, things like that, that benefit people who don’t have disabilities as well. So when you prioritize accessibility, everyone is benefiting, so it’s time for us to prioritize it.

Shona Louise:

Absolutely. I think I saw a graphic once of a set of stairs and then a ramp that’s got snow on it and they’d started clearing the stairs first and the caption of it, “Well, if you did the ramp, everyone can use the ramp,” and it’s that mentality that it does benefit everyone. Accessibility isn’t just ramps and elevators and things like that. It is so much more and I guarantee you that every day of our lives, there is some link of accessibility with something that we are doing. Like you say, with captions, so many of us watch things on our phones now with captions on, and that would not exist if it weren’t for the deaf community fighting for that.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Absolutely. Why do you think that it’s important for LGBTQ people who are disabled to have representation and platforms to share their stories?

Shona Louise:

Because we deserve to feel seen and we deserve to feel included and to have that representation. I think our stories are really important, and I think that when you are a part of more than one identity, minority, you just feel so erased. You feel so hidden. You feel pushed in a corner and it really doesn’t take much, whether it’s just one episode of a TV show that features a disabled queer story, or you watch something on stage that has that representation. It’s little things like that make a massive impact.

Shona Louise:

I remember the first time I saw a wheelchair user perform on stage and that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Equally, when I eventually see someone who is a disabled and queer story on stage, that will stay with me for the rest of my life. But as of yet, that intersection hasn’t met yet, and that’s the difference. I can say, “I’ve seen queer stories that represent me, and I’ve seen disabled stories that represent me,” but I’ve never seen anything that represents me as a whole. So you get that splitting of identities again and feeling like you can’t be your whole self. You always have to put yourself into one box or another, and I think it’s just really important to know that you’re not alone as well. To know that there are other people out there who share your story, who share your experience, so you know it’s normal.

Shona Louise:

As a teenager, questioning my sexuality, as a disabled person, I didn’t know that was normal. I felt like the only person in the world who was dealing with that, but if I’d seen a story that represented that it would’ve made such a massive difference and it makes me sad that there will be young people out there now, who are disabled and queer, and they’re still not seeing that representation and they’re still going to struggle with the same issues. It feels like it’s not improving quick enough, really.

Shona Louise:

But it is so important and I think a quick look on social media, or after there’s been some positive representation, will show you exactly how important it is and how much it means to people. At the moment, with Heartstopper coming out on Netflix, I don’t know how big it is in the US, but it’s quite big in the UK, a queer representation, and the response across social media has been incredible. It’s been so lovely to see. But it does make you go, “I’m waiting for that moment.” I want to have that same moment as everyone else, and hopefully, we won’t be waiting too much longer.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Yeah. What advice would you give to queer, disabled people who are feeling pushed in a corner, as you said, and they are looking to mobilize and build community with other queer, disabled people, based on their shared experiences? What advice would you give to them? Where should they start in that?

Shona Louise:

Oh, social media, for sure. I think that has not changed from when I was a young person to where I am now. Social media is still where I have those communities. I know that I can go on Twitter or Instagram or TikTok and I will see people who look like me. I will see people who share my stories. And just having that community where you can reach out and say, “Hey, this thing happened to me,” and you know you’re not going to get any discrimination back, any ignorance back. You’re just going to have people saying, “Oh my God, yeah. That’s happened to me as well.” And just comfort and making you realize you’re not alone and you’re not the only person who’s dealing with these things. I think that’s really important and validating.

Shona Louise:

Like we said, social media is such a double edged sword, and I think a lot of it depends on how you use it, how much you use it. But I think for disabled people, for queer people, for any minority, social media can be such a savior. And I know it was for me. I would not have got through some of the hardest years of my life without the social media communities I had, where it was a safe space to be able to talk about these things freely. I can talk to my friends and family, but they will never understand it in the same way that someone who is disabled and queer would as well.

Shona Louise:

I think that is what is really important is that you have to find people who will truly understand you and that you can say anything to and it will be respected and it will be safe. I think, especially when you are figuring out your sexuality and also coming to terms with disability, that is a massive journey for a lot of people, and it’s something that people really struggle with because of the way society views disability. Often people think it’s the worst thing that can happen to you in the world, and so that journey of accepting it can be really difficult and on the same path, learning to accept your sexuality can be really difficult.

Shona Louise:

So if you’re dealing with those two things at the same time, you’re going to need a really strong community around you to get you through that, I think, and social media is where you’re going to find it. I think finding people in person is really, really difficult and it is through social media that I’ve made those friends who I do see in person now. I’m really grateful for it and it’s people that have got me through some of the hardest times in my life, really.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Anybody who has an account on social media and is espousing views like this, they’ve experienced trolls. What advice would you give to people to combat all the trolls on social media? How do you live with that? Because that can take a toll in and of itself. There’s so many people who have keyboard courage to say whatever, how would you navigate that?

Shona Louise:

Absolutely. I think boundaries is a massive thing and it’s something that I think anyone who grew up with social media from, we’re talking 10 years ago, had to learn the hard way is, having boundaries is really important. In the beginning, I would share so much about my own personal health and personal medical things and that’s not something I do now. That’s a boundary that I’ve set myself that has improved my mental health massively. Beforehand, I was just trauma dumping almost, constantly on my social media, which just made it a really negative environment.

Shona Louise:

Then when you are speaking up about things, when you are in activist mode, I think some of the newer social media features now where you can limit who replies to you and things like that, that is amazing. It’s something that I wish I had. If I’m about to tweet something that I know is definitely going to get a negative response, particularly when it comes to things like trans rights, you know you are going to get trolls on that now, if you say anything positive. So preempting that and limiting who can reply to you just protects your mental health a little bit.

Shona Louise:

I think that’s the important thing as well. It’s about protecting your mental health and as a disabled, queer person, for a long time, I was trying to fight every single fight. Every problem I came across, every barrier I was fighting it, but that’s just not sustainable. It’s not feasible. It does no good for your mental health. I think accepting that you can’t fight everything and leaving the battle for other people is absolutely fine. Don’t feel like you have to fight everything.

Shona Louise:

I have people, well meaning people, send me things all the time saying, “This has happened,” or “Can you help me with this? Can you fight this?” You can’t fight everything. I think letting go of that idea is really important, and you have to just protect yourself first and foremost, because self care and mental health is so important and the fight is really important, but it’s never more important than your own personal health. Never sacrifice that for the fight, because it’s not sustainable at all.

Shona Louise:

There are times where I’ve burned out from activism and I might have won the fight, but I’m exhausted and you don’t get the buzz of success when you are burnt out and you’re tired. I think you have to accept help and let others in. For a long time, if something happened to me, I was like, “Well, I’m the only one who can fight this then,” which is so untrue and people would offer help and say, “Can I do something? Can I email this place for you?” I’d be like, “Oh no. It’s fine. It happened to me so it’s my responsibility,” but that’s not true.

Shona Louise:

I think you just have to let go of this idea that you have to fight everything on your own all the time, because it’s really damaging. I think, particularly on social media, if you are an activist, then your feed is probably just full of issues after issues from multiple communities all of the time. On some days it’s harder to deal with than others, and it’s okay to take a step back to allow yourself to take off the activist hat. You don’t have to fight everything. You don’t have to be everything to everyone all of the time.

Shona Louise:

I think on social media, it’s very easy to get sucked into fighting literally everything, when it is just not possible. Especially as an individual, I think that’s a burden that we should be placing more on organizations and things like that. Activists are not paid. Most of this us are doing it on our own free time and whilst juggling everything else in life, so I think it’s just really important for your mental health to take the hat off, to have a day off, to sign off on social media, if you need to, because you can’t do everything all of the time. I think trying to fight against that and trying to be this perfect idea of an activist is just going to damage your own mental health in the end, when it’s your life and your rights that you are fighting for, but never fight it at detriment to yourself.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Yeah. And I will say that, for me, I’ve also justified it for myself as, I no longer spend my time or energy going back and forth with somebody who’s fundamentally committed to disagreeing with me and is just trolling. There’s no point in spending your energy with people like that who are simply listening to respond, not to learn, not to understand, they just want to go back and forth. And it’s important to reserve our energy and our strength for doing the activism for the people who actually do want to learn and change and understand, so I think that’s great advice.

Shona Louise:

Absolutely. And I think with the time and experience, you spot the people who are going to have a productive conversation with you. I think with time I have developed that sense of where the conversation’s going and you can tell that someone is just there for an argument and then they’re not particularly interested in learning or educating themselves. I think that’s a skill that you pick up with time really.

Shona Louise:

But yeah, there’s going to be trolls. There’s going to be people who are actively trying to disagree with you. I think trying to ignore that and not adding fire to the fight and not giving them the platform that they want is really important, because that’s what they’re after at the end of the day, attention and a platform. But if we all collectively ignore those people and focus on those that want to learn, who show signs of wanting to do better, then that’s how we progress forward.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Yeah. And the platform that you’ve created has been such an important community for disabled, queer people to share their stories and to relate to each other based on shared experiences. And your platform is just such productive conversations, constantly taking place, so I’m so happy that we got to have this conversation today. This was so much fun. I love being able to chat with people who have similar values and really, it was just such a pleasure to have this conversation. This was great. I could just sit here and talk with you forever, really.

Shona Louise:

Oh, absolutely. I don’t get the chance to talk about being disabled and queer as much as I’d like, so I really enjoy conversations like these.

Ashley Inkumsah:

Thank you, once again, to Shona for joining me to share her experiences about the intersectionality of being disabled and a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s important that we recognize disabled people with multiply marginalized identities. Particularly when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ community, how belonging to that identity can create disabilities, due to violence and the discrimination that they face, similarly to other marginalized groups. I want to thank you all for tuning into today’s episode, and I also want to let you know that this episode, and all of our past episodes, are available with transcripts and American Sign Language on our website at www.wid.org/whats-up-wid. So thank you all once again for tuning into today’s episode, and I can’t wait to have you back again for our next episode.

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