Well, I didn't get my award with the other awards. I was taken, with a small group of people, downstairs from the conference centre and into a restaurant where a table had been reserved way off to the side. There a little ceremony was held over lunch and I was given the plaque. It seemed that my work in the area of sexuality and adult rights for people with disabilities made me to controversial a figure to be acknowledged openly. Did I take the award ... you bet, it hangs in my office to this day ... it was a nice plaque after all. In fact, while this sounds awfully clock and dagger and clandestine, the times were very, very different. I was viewed as someone who was a little dangerous and a little too pushy. Now, years later, I hope I'm still seen that way, actually.
Well, Surrey Place handed me the award after a nice introduction by their CEO Steven A. Finlay in front of the crowd gathered for the ceremony. Mr. Finlay even talked, openly, about my work in the area of sexuality and adult rights. Joe said he was particularly pleased that in the introduction I was called a revolutionary, which Joe said that after living with me through the angry letters, the hateful phone calls and the threats made against me ... was, in his mind appropriate.
So I got the award in public view!!!
I'd like to share some pictures from the evening:
Just to prove it happened:
With awards come speeches. I was asked to keep it to two to three minutes and I think I managed. I find short comments more nerve wracking than hour long keynotes. I'd prepared something, had the notes in my pocket, and chose to speak without reference to the notes. Rare for me. I think it went OK.
Here it is, the award in hand. Yes that is my tattoo peeking out from my watch strap.
A few friends came along to help me celebrate. From the left, Joe, Rose, Dunja, me, Belinda and Susan. We had a nice time getting together for appetisers and tea before heading over to the hall.
Here's one of both Joe and I, all cleaned up and in new shirts and everything.
A final word. I was so honoured to get the award, both because it is wonderful to have my work acknowledged and because of the woman it was named for. I met June Callwood many years ago when she was fighting for funding for a hospice for people with AIDS. What happened between her and I is too personal to write here, but to have this award, with her name attached to it, is humbling.
I thank Surrey Place Centre for the award, for their courage in talking about my work in the area of sexuality and for publicly honouring me for work which put me out of the mainstream of thought about intellectual disabilities for a very long time.
I was truly, and deeply, honoured.