Joe called me at work a few days ago with some great news. He had just been contacted by the Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto to be told that he and I had been selected to win the church's annual 'Community Service' award for our work regarding the civil liberties of people with intellectual disabilities. We were asked if we would accept the honour and we did.
Personally, I was thrilled. Primarily because this is the first award that 'we' have been given. I have received numerous awards over the last few years, and I've always been really pleased to have my work acknowledged. However, I've always felt a bit fraudulent in having my name alone on these awards. Without question Joe is a huge part of my work. He, as most of you know, manages all the arrangements for travel, for consultation, for lectures with various agencies around the world. But more than that he co-teaches the abuse prevention classes that we do for people with intellectual disabilities - I believe he has probably taught more people with disabilities about abuse prevention than any other person in the world. We've been honoured to teach, not hundreds but thousands, of people with disabilities the power of 'no' and the importance of 'voice.'
So, to have him honoured along with me feels very, very, right. We will receive the award next Sunday, the 15th of July, at MCC in Toronto on 115 Simpson Avenue at the 11:00 AM service. Any readers who want to pop by are, of course, invited. Be aware that the church is presently being renovated to become fully accessible. There is an accessible entrance at the side of the church but the ramp inside is very, very steep. There are several wheelchair users who brave the incline but I find it frightening. I await the elevator with great anticipation.
For those who want to watch the service it will be on line, live and you can see it by clicking MCC Webcast and you'll see us there getting the award. I'd be pleased if you joined with us on that day.
Joe and I talked about the award and reminisced about our work together over the last more than thirty years. We certainly, then, didn't anticipate things like this, now. Back then people thought my ideas about sexuality and disability were nothing more than scandalous ravings and some of my lectures we so controversial that I had to be protected. I got my first, of three over the years, official, police involved, death threat after my book, I Contact, (now out of print) came out. People saw me as sullying the innocence of perpetual children rather than being an activist for rights and freedoms of a muchly oppressed minority. These days, when I look back at what I was saying, it seems almost conservative!!
Times they change.
And maybe we helped change them a little bit.
Anyways, we're honoured to receive the award, we're grateful to MCC for acknowledging work with people with intellectual disabilities (and working to make their worship space fully accessible), and we'd be happy and grateful if you joined us, on line, next Sunday.