The ongoing battle for accurate representation for autistic people
Hello there! Callum Brazzo here, continuing to make Autistic Lincs.
Fresh off the comedy club last weekend at the South Holland Centre, I witnessed the joys of laughing together as one community. One of my autistic community's own, Britain's Got Talent finalist Robert White, was the headliner and he delivered.
Though he did cleverly intermingle aspects of both his autistic and gay identity into his act, anybody in any art form can and will draw material from themselves. It wasn't done egotistically, it's merely easy to pull from what you know and Robert's set in particular drew my attention.
I was talking with someone last week about why I am so doggedly focussed on autistic issues and my reasoning is rooted in the fact that, for far too long, autistic people (and indeed the gay community) have been and still are a marginalised group, so it made me personally ecstatic to see Robert succeed on BGT but also to attract and keep an audience entertained. And we're not talking 'inspiration porn' (“Aww, isn't it amazing that the autistic man is a comedian.”)
No need to bring pity parties because if his comedy was no good, it wouldn't matter if he was autistic or not...but the Funhouse Comedy Club last Friday wasn't about that for so many people.
We had a good time!
Drinks, comedy, community.
These components of life affect us all and we took the opportunity to embrace that.
I wrote about Robert White in the 2018 Autistic Lincs column Talent Speaks For Itself (and you can find all Autistic Lincs of 2018 on Spaldingtoday.co.uk) and I pondered how Robert might use his platform and I am happy to report that he and I will be part of the second ever Autism Arts Festival in Canterbury, Kent, in April. Remember that April is Autism Acceptance Month....but more on that nearer the time.
What does all this have to do with Jeremy Corbyn?
Well, in a broad sense, it's about representation.
Robert White is a source of excellent and authentic information and on February 9, I will travel to London to engage in the inaugural Neurodivergent Labour Launch. As mentioned on the Facebook page, within the Labour Party it says the 'new organisation aims to represent autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic and dyscalculic people, and people with ADD (with or without hyperactivity), Tourette's or other developmental atypical neurological conditions.'
Representation in the arts, politics and in life is so crucial to get right if we are ever going to create tangible change for the marginalised groups of society such as the autistic community.
Given my past dislike for how certain politicians and people of power utilise their pedestals to stand above the solidarity and acceptance we desire, this matters.
Jeremy Corbyn's Brain Party is an invitation to consume as much knowledge of the past as possible to influence a better future for generations to come.
At this part, there may be drinks to indulge in.
There will absolutely be a community.
But when it comes to accurate representation of autistic people; it is no joke.
Till next time, you can contact me via Lincs Free Press or via Facebook and Twitter at 'Callum Brazzo' with any thoughts or questions.
Ciao for now!