Do you know what you did?
Did you think it through at all?
Yesterday I did a workshop for people with disabilities, as part of the training I use an anti abuse film called "No How". The film, made by people with disabilities for people with disabilities, has a moment where a couple with Down Syndrome give each other a kiss. They are, at that point, talking about what disability 'doesn't mean' - it doesn't mean "I can't love my boyfriend," and it doesn't mean "I can't live in the community" and it doesn't mean "It's OK to abuse me."
There were several people with Down Syndrome attending the workshop. One young woman came out from the crowd and sat very close to the television. She was hyperalert every time either Warren or Kelly was on the screen. You knew that their Down Syndrome in some way was communicating directly to her - giving her messages far beyond the topic of the film about competence and value. Another young couple, both with Down Syndrome, radiated at the idea of being in love and having Down Syndrome - and having their affection validated.
That was all cool, but there was an older man there also with Down Syndrome who couldn't handle the kiss on screen. He covered his face and shook his head. After that moment he could no longer watch the screen. He was distracted and upset. He told me at the next break, "It's against the law for people 'like that' to kiss." He was firm. So was I. I told him that it was not against the law for two people, who love each other to kiss.
"It's against the law and it's wrong," he was firm he said and he walked away.
I don't know who put that message in him. I don't know if it was an anxious parent not knowing what else to say. I don't know if it was a controlling staff not wanting to deal with any 'of that stuff'. I don't know. But I wonder if they ever for a moment thought about what they said. About the lie they told him.
The workshop was about sexual abuse.
And I met a victim.