When you decide to put yourself out there as an activist for almost any cause you need to prepare yourself for the fact that you will have an opposition. Even when the cause is one as diplomatic as equality for people with disabilities. You need to develop a thick skin and the ability to ignore being used as a political football.
Yes, sad as it is, the reality is people with disabilities are a political issue in today’s society. Yes, we still have to fight for the equality and basic human rights that many take for granted. If you’re going to be a successful activist you will have to talk to people you may not necessarily like. You have to put your personal feelings aside and assert yourself in circles that wouldn’t necessarily welcome you under normal circumstances. And you have to try to do it with dignity. It’s not an easy task.
You also may find yourself having your photo taken with the odd politician here and there. That’s what I do. I call it the penance I pay for being granted the wishes I ask for. Even if those wishes aren’t personally for me.
What I didn’t expect was that my having my photo as an activist and advocate for others with disabilities, would ever be used against me in a way that was admonishing of me and my character.
I haven’t been all that active online of late. Not compared to the past. So imagine my shock when I was sent screenshots of a particular political candidate and their members openly criticising my character because I’ve had my photo taken with another politician. Of course it’s pretty simple history behind it. The photo in question was with their opponent.
So just in the interest of fairness, honesty and transparency, I thought I’d share a gallery of all the photos I’ve had taken with other people who might be considered of a political nature. I mean after all, selfies are the new autograph right?
Just one more time cos hey, if you’re going to criticise me for being in a photo for a purpose, it really should be this one…..
I’m sure there are probably plenty of other photos out there. Considering these days I can barely remember what my original hair colour was I reckon this isn’t too bad a collection.
It’s probably not a great idea to rubbish a community activist even if you don’t think they’ll see it. Chances are someone will. As an activist it’s my job to hold politicians accountable for the promises they make and how they treat the people I have promised to defend and advocate for. If you can’t work with me when you’re a candidate it could make things rather difficult to work with my community if you become the person who is supposed to represent them.
Of course I can’t leave a good story untold. There is one photo missing. This one
This is the photo that was supposed to happen the same day I was photographed with Campbell Newman. I’d been advocating for the increase of fines in disability parking by Police (at the time it was a $44 fine and it was increased to $228 which now increases annually) and had support of my MP at the time Reg Gulley.
I asked Reg if we could get a photo with Scott Emerson so I could add it to my campaign page to thank them both for their support. Reg was of course agreeable as he always is and told me he’d go get Mr Emerson for a photo. There was a whole bunch of MPs and other types milling around. Reg spoke to Scott who was with a group of others. He returned to me to say we’d grab him when he was finished with the person he was talking to. Next thing I knew, Reg ‘had to quickly talk to someone’ and along came Tracy Davis. She grabbed my attention talking to me like I was a long lost friend putting her bag on a chair behind me so that I had to turn around to see her when she was talking to me. She then hugged me. I don’t think I’d ever been hugged by a politician before that day. It was most unusual. She kept me there talking to me like she was interested and shortly after Reg returned with great disappointment that unfortunately Scott Emerson couldn’t wait, he had to be somewhere else. Yeah, somewhere I wasn’t.
I played along but I wasn’t stupid. I knew exactly what happened. The classic distraction play. Scott Emerson didn’t want his photo taken with the likes of me. When you’re openly critical of government policy or member’s behaviour it doesn’t matter that you do give credit where it’s due. Which is a shame cos at the time it was Campbell Newman receiving my wrath not Emerson, yet at least Newman was able to do the decent thing and pose for a photo.
So the moral of the story…..
If I have my photo taken with someone that another person opposes I will be labelled the enemy regardless.
Also, if you won’t pose for a photo with me I’ll turn you into a stick figure.