Pride in Law 2022: An Epic Panel Experience

G’day Friends and welcome back!

It has been a while, and I deeply apologise for being so MIA, Uni has been rather crazy, mixed with dr appointments and other events and commitments I havent have a lot of free time. However, I am back and ready to give you all some awesome blog posts!

One of the reasons why I have been away was I had the privilege to speak on my very first panel!

Yep that is right! I was a panelist for the Pride in Law and the Queensland Law Society Diverse Abilities Network collaboration event called, Pride Made accessible.

It was an intersection of disability discrimination as well as the discrimination faced by those in the LGBTQAI+ community and those who are apart of both communities.

I had a colleague from the QLS Diverse Abilities Network who works for Pride In Law put the call out for panellists, and so I thought it was time to dust off the speaking hat and get back out there.

It was such an incredible and eye opening event, and so I thought what better way to get back the Living Abled world than by talking about the event!

I has been a hot minute since I have done any speaking engagements. The last time did any public speaking was either speaking at my old high-school 5 years ago, or when I was lucky enough to be on an episode on the Listenable Podcast with Dylan and Angus about a year or so ago.

However, I absolutely love public speaking and sharing my story in the hope that it may help others feel less alone. Which is why this Blog was created during 2020 to keep helping others! So when the opportunity to speak at the Pride in Law event came up I jumped at the chance.

There is such parallels in the discrimination faced by the Pride Community and Disability Communities, and as a proud Ally of the Pride community, the organisers wanted a host of different identities and people on this panel, and so i felt it important to lend my voice to the cause of discrimination. The whole environment and the organisers made us panellists feel so safe and respected, and that alone gave us the confidence to speak openly and freely and not worry about being judged

The whole time I felt completely comfortable and like I had been speaking on panels for years, and I loved every second of it!!

Pride In Law Panel: Question Time

a photo that shows me and the other two panelists and the moderator of the event. we are sitting next to small tables with water on them and in the background is a pride in law poster with a rainbow court room logo. I am sitting on the far right of the photo in my scooter.

The questions that were brought up were absolutely amazing. Ranging from the experiences of the other two panelists about LGBTQAI+ discrimination in the community and in public, and how being a member of the pride community and the disabled community increases barriers faced.

For me, questions like how my disability has impacted upon finding and maintaining work, thoughts on having advocates in the community speak up for our rights, and what employers and society in general should be doing to increase disability inclusivity.

If you would like to hear about all my answers on the Panel, let me know and I will put together a little video! But for today’s post, I just wanted to pull out some of what I thought were the most important answers.

So, I shared many stories and incites about growing up disabled, enduring disability discrimination during job interviews, barriers to getting into buildings and how that impacts on the jobs I apply for or even just going out with friends. However, the one thing I wanted to highlight to everyone was the need for inner acceptance and confidence of who you are as a person.

I spoke about how I am a strong believer in that you are more than one identity, and identity encompasses every hobby, job, and personality traits you have. However, it is important to not suppress your identity in order to fit into the neat little boxes that society has tried to force us into. As soon as we are marked as ‘different’ we are continuously singled out and are made to feel we are the outcasts. Should we speak up and speak out about discrimination, we have forgotten our place and should just be grateful society has given us ‘handouts’.

However, it is so important for those of us with disabilities or those who are part of the LGBTQAI+ community to truly accept and embrace who we are, and not allow anyone to diminish who we are. I got quoted saying “once you accept and own your identity, no one can tell you what you can or can’t achieve’. And that is something I firmly believe.

Another question that came up was about advocates in the disability space, and how important it is to have people be the voice for the community in public. I said I am a bit controversial in my opinions, as I believe not everyone should be an advocate for the disabled or pride communities. Unfortunately, history shows that leading from a place of aggression, violence and anger does more harm than good to the cause.

The true way to fight for inclusivity is by peace. I used the example of the Civil Rights movement in America for this question. Dr King lead by peace, and Malcolm X lead with such venom and anger towards the white society and believed fighting fire with fire was the way to go. Even though he is completely justified in feeling that way, it caused more issues as those with different colour skin were labeled as aggressive. Dr King was able to influence the Nations leaders and rally for peaceful and equal change.

Much like the disability advocacy, I mentioned I unfollowed a disability advocate because the way they spoke about inclusivity and equality. They came from a place of such anger and hatred, and I don’t want someone to speak for me who comes from that place.

Key Take Aways

Me all dressed up and ready to head to the Pride in Law panel. I am wearing a black blazer and a navy floral a-line dress that finishes just above my knee. my hand is on my hip and i am smiling at the camera

The thing I reiterated was that at the end of the day, we are all human, and it is no ones right to pass judgment on how we live our lives because we are born a certain way. What we are fighting for or who we choose to love or how we live our lives has no impact on the life of the person who is trying to oppress us, so let us live freely and be treated as human.

The one thing about the disability community and also the Pride community, we don’t discriminate, and we welcome anyone and everyone with open arms, free from judgment and full of compassion and understanding.

All in all, this panel was the most inclusive and safe thing I have been apart of, and the other panelists opened my eyes to so many different issues that shouldn’t even be a problem in the 21st century. It was truly an incredible experience and I am so so grateful to have been a part of it.

So a big thank you to Pride in Law and the QLS Diverse Abilities Network for coming together to create a truly magical evening.

One final reminder for you: It is up to us to come together and challenge society boxes and allow EVERYONE the dignity and respect to live their lives and to be employed regardless of identity.

Till next week,

Rhi. xo

1 thought on “Pride in Law 2022: An Epic Panel Experience”

  1. Pingback: The voices we need: the pros and cons to spokespeople - Living Abled

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