|Photo Description: White writing on green background: I am who I am and that's all I can be.|
I am gay and my husband's name is Joe.
I am out and proud about my disability.
I am an anxious about my presentations and use anti-anxiety meds.
They thought this was TMI, as the expression goes and recommends that I consider removing the two that were not disability related from my presentations.
OK so that would be taking out the gay bit and the anxiety bit.
I take feedback seriously and, so, thought about this a little bit. Each of those things in that list I have thoughtfully included in my presentation for a reason. Some of them caused me concern to mention, some of them were hard to mention. But I did and I do because of these reasons.
I know I lecture in places where being gay isn't wildly accepted with open arms and people fear rejection and unemployment if they were 'out'. By mentioning my sexuality and my relationship I hope to do two thing - get homophobes to rethink what they think about homosexuality and give the message to those from the LGBT community that they are not alone.
The idea of being 'out and proud' about disability is still a new one. Talking about disability, my own personal experience with disability, from a pride and by using identity first language, I hope to challenge what people think they know about disability. Just because you work in the field of disability does not mean that you have disability positive attitudes.
The hardest thing to mention was the fact that I live with anxiety, and a lot of anxiety about public speaking. I knew that people wouldn't believe it because I do it so much. I felt, and I understand this was wrong but I felt it anyway, a bit of shame at having to take an anti-anxiety medication. It's that shame that drove me to speak about it, there is too much silence about mental health issues and the kinds of ways that we can be affected by mental health concerns. Silence equals shame and shame can lead to suicide. So, I speak up.
Now let's be clear, I MENTION these things, in passing, in the lectures. If you haven't seen me lecture or heard a recording of me lecture then you might be led to thing that I harp on about these issues. I don't. They come into the presentation when it's natural for it to happen.
So, I wonder, and this is unfair to do publicly but I figure that anonymous means anonymous so I can respond publicly without fear of shaming an individual identifiable person, if the request to remove those two things is the reason I need to keep those two things in. I wonder if the request was because my sexuality and my acknowledging that I have mental health needs and supports caused some discomfort that needs to be explored. I'm just guessing, of course, but I do wonder.
Gay and Proud, Disabled and Proud, Anxious and Proudly Coping. That's me. And because that's me, that's part of how I present myself to the world.
So, after thoughtful consideration, I'm staying the course.