‘Positive change’

This week the honesty of two individuals I greatly admire has been my inspiration. On Monday night I foolishly attempted to dual screen and it didn’t work. I was desperate to watch the Anton Ferdinand documentary but also wanted to see if my beloved West Ham could climb the Premier League table to 5th place. In the end ‘Football, Racism and Me’ won and I watched the Hammers highlights later on.

Last night I listened to Anton again, this time in discussion on TalkSport, and he repeatedly talked about wanting to move on and focus on ‘positive change’. I have an enormous amount of respect for him for his honesty, his humility and his vulnerability. It was brave, it was bold and it was emotional, especially the moment when he discussed watching the documentary with his seven year old son. I have shared my own lived experience in a small group and know how challenging and difficult that is to do, so for Anton to do it on this scale is inspirational. If you missed either I encourage you to watch / listen on catch up.

Anton Ferdinand, who by the way also scored one of the greatest goals I’ve ever seen for West Ham vs Fulham

Last week, I shared my own desire to boost my learning around trans awareness which brings us to the other person who has inspired me this week. Elliot Page, the brilliant actor from Inception and Umbrella Academy (yes I am a big fan), announced this week that he is transgender. The reaction to the statement wasn’t all great but the fact that he felt able and willing to share indicates on some level we are moving forward as a society.

The reason I highlight these two individuals is that I feel it is a neat and logical build on last week’s post. There are a number of key enablers for an inclusive society and feeling comfortable to be yourself and share your lived experience are two important factors. However, this must be backed by a commitment from others to listen, learn and support. So this week I am reaching out to ask you to share a key lesson you have learnt from someone else that has made them feel comfortable, welcome and a sense of belonging. A wonderful colleague of mine brought this quote to my attention this week from author and activist Sophie Williams “allyship is a constant process of actions not beliefs”. We will only achieve our aims when we choose to consistently and positively act in response to those who share their experience or their identity.

In the spirit of sharing here are three things I have learnt from listening to others:

It is all to easy to think about LGBTQ+ as an homogenous group and though there may be shared experience there is also significant difference for each group that those letters symbolise. Appreciate and value that difference and seek to boost your understanding of the wonderful rainbow of difference encapsulated by those five letters and single symbol.

Don’t be tempted to lead, push, steer or guide a disabled person without asking first if they require any assistance. You may feel that you are being helpful but your actions will have the very opposite effect. As an bonus tip make sure if you are speaking to someone with hearing loss or who is deaf and they have a BSL interpreter with them. Speak to the person not their support worker.

This is where you make a comment or say something that makes someone question their own lived experience, memory or perception of something. From a pyschology perspective this act is always damaging. Rather than question someone’s experience listen empathise and seek to understand the world from their perspective.

Please share your own personal reflections in the comments and hopefully we can get a conversation started.

There is so much more to learn and this will take some effort but #ImNotTired

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