Thursday, July 31, 2008

Out, proud and disabled

Jessica Kellgren-Hayes

Many people don't understand that someone may have a disability and also be part of the GBLT community. Many gays and lesbians with disabilities are out and proud, but there aren't many gays and lesbians with disabilities who are celebrities. Thanks to for the tip about one of the disabled competitors on "Britain's Missing Top Model" revealing her sexual orientation on the show recently. Jessica Kellgren-Hayes (pictured above) is a 19-year-old from Bristol, and the other models on the show revealed that she is a lesbian. Jessica didn't win but took third place. Kelly Knox won the show in its finale July 29.

In Australia, a graduate student is researching the experiences of gays and lesbians with disabilities there. This from Queensland Pride:

Griffith University PhD student Warwick Abrahams is conducting a national survey which he hopes will lead to solving the exclusion experienced by people with disabilities in the queer community.

“[I’m] looking at how organisations, and individuals within them, can help integration and exchange between the abled and disabled worlds … to find out what can be done so that a differently-abled person won’t feel rejected in whatever the GLBTQ scene might be,” Abrahams told Queensland Pride.

“These days there’s nothing in the media that’s inclusive about people marginalised by disability in the various gay so-called ‘communities’,” he said.

Abrahams also contends that GLBT people with disabilities face homophobia from within the disabled community.

“You may have Christian groups who are helping them and that can pose a real problem for queer people and acceptance.”

Wendy Bainger, acting secretary of Access Plus, a group for queer disabled people, echoed Abrahams view.

“There is a level of homophobia in the disability sector. A lot don’t have access to the GLIBT community because the people who control their lives don’t think they need to,” she said.

“People with disabilities are considered to be asexual, so anything to do with sexuality is swept under the carpet.”