Monday, 10 April 2017

Review of 'Pulse', the centrepiece of Melbourne Queer Film Festival 2017

The centrepiece of the 2017 Melbourne Queer Film Festival was a film called 'Pulse' 
and was billed by #MQFF as:
''Mixing sexuality and teen angst with an undercurrent of sci-fi, this bold fantasy follows a gay disabled teen who undergoes a mysterious procedure that gives him the body of a young able-bodied woman in order to pursue his love object. Exploring how our bodies shape who we are and how we are perceived, Pulse is a modern day parable for the young, the queer, the disabled and for anyone who has ever struggled with their sexuality, their desires, and essentially, themselves. We are excited to be screening this debut feature from writer/actor Daniel Monks & director Stevie Cruz-Martin (Marrow, MQFF2016) as the Centrepiece presentation''. My take on it as a queer disabled person myself is somewhat different. I did not find it to be a parable for my life but instead found it to be reinforcing disability stereotypes and sexism. 

I wrote the following review on my personal Facebook page that evening after returning from the #MQFF screening, and published it on my public activist page the following day. 

Daniel Monk plays the lead, a gay guy with disability (in real life and the film). The premise of the film is that he feels terrible about his disabled body and "dick that doesn't really work" and is in love with his straight best friend, so he undertakes a full body transplant to become cis-gendered, able bodied, slim, conventionally gorgeous woman in order to pursue his best friend and to escape his disabled body.

You can see the trailer here

When he told his mum he wanted to have a female body transplant his mothers reaction was to say "You're not a transvestite are you?" To which a lot of the audience members laughed. At a Queer Film Festival! As though to want to transition to a different gender is a funny thing for our queer community to still consider, and that using the wrong language for this is also hilarious. (he identifies as a guy, but just appears to think it would be easier to be female bodied because of his attraction to (straight) men. and his assumption that he cannot be sexually desirable as a person with a disability, which is underpinned by his homophobia and ableism and his desire to experience the privilege of normatively and heterosexuality.)

To say that it is ableist is an understatement, he wrote the script and he literally says "I'm not a poor helpless cripple anymore." and cries 30 minutes into the film about how much he hates his life and himself because he is disabled. As a cis-gendered woman, he goes and has a lot of drunken sex, his body as a woman is treated by him and everyone else as nothing more than a sex object throughout the film.

At one point in the film he appears to have been sexually assaulted, and yet no one in the film seeks to address this or see it as an issue, including the lead himself. He has a confrontation with his mum about him sleeping with her boyfriend in which he implies that he wouldn't be behaving the way he is if she hadn't had all these boyfriends and slept around. Talk about slut shaming! In fact the only reason why he transitions back is because he can't trust himself to not behave like a "slut" in a conventionally beautiful female able body. When his friend says "I'm not retarded" at one point, the audience also laughed, because you know, ableist language is still a joke.

I'm not saying he doesn't struggle throughout the film, he is going through shit around homophobia and ableism clearly, I'm just so bone tired of seeing this narrative perpetuated over and over again of disability as this horrible tragedy, and of course you'd want to be normal and escape it if you could.

He is shown for literally 10 minutes at the end of the film where he is back in his old body dancing, and looking at his impaired arm and joking with an (assumed queer) male companion as though he has somewhat come to terms with his own internalised ableism and homophobia, except it doesnt really explore this in any depth or detail compared to the homophobic ableist narrative for literally 90% of the film.

The deeply sad and heartbreaking thing for me as a proud queer disabled person is that this film will be lauded as provocative and ground-breaking because of the subject matter it deals with, when you know what would really be provocative and groundbreaking is to showcase a film for our queer community that dealt with disability pride, disability rights and a film that really challenged people to think differently about disability.

Stella Young said it best when she said:
''Disability does not make you exceptional but questioning what you think you know about it does.'' This film does not do that, in fact it does the exact opposite.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Why I’m Boycotting ‘Me Before You’ And Why You Should Too

Here's the link to my Junkee article on why I'm boycotting, ‘Me Before You' a film that perpetuates the message that you are better off dead then disabled.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

On Radio talking Disability & sexuality, the social model and disability pride

I did a little interview on Clementine Ford's Misandry Hour and talked about Disability & sexuality, the social model and disability pride.

Have a listen here

(Image: Jax Jacki Brown's legs in rainbow stockings draped over the wheel of her wheelchair, wearing black Doc's with red laces). 

Monday, 1 February 2016

Why I'm supporting 'Queers Revolt' at pride march Melbourne

This is a video of what happened to the protesters at pride march in Melbourne on Sunday (31/01/16). It is harrowing to watch. I was marching in pride with Quippings Disability Unleashed Disability IS Desirable but had no idea this was going on. 

One of the protesters is a wheelchair user too.

The protesters, calling themselves ''Queers Revolt'', were engaging in a peaceful protest against big corporations marching in pride and are holding up the transgender pride flag. 

People from the crowd start yelling abuse and throwing buckets of water. The level of hostility from the crowd is intense, a lot of whom would have also been members of the queer community.

Particularly poignant is when someone from the crowd says to them ‘’you're a minority. You're a minority. Remember that is all that you are’’. Yes, WE ARE A MINORITY as a queer community. We shouldn't be treating each other like this, especially trans people.

People have a right to protest and to ask as all to think about why what was a protest march has now been co-opted by big corporations. Coles marches by and everyone cheers, someone from the crowd says ‘’remember what you're here for, pay them [the protesters] no attention’’, Coles disappears from view and everyone goes back to booing and abusing the protesters.

We cheer big corporations who do next to nothing for lgbTI people and abuse our own people? Is this progress? Is this what assimilation looks like? 

I went in Pride March because i think its important to show that people with disabilities are part of the queer community, that we have sexualities and/or gender diversity. But after seeing this I'm going to think twice about going in it next year. 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

#SayTheWord: Why I'm reclaiming the word 'disabled'

The personal is political, when I call myself disabled I am aligning myself with the disability rights movement. It is a conscious deliberate and pride filled choice. Disabled as a self-chosen marker of identity and pride has a more recent history, one in which it has experienced a positive reclamation of a stigmatised identity, in much the same way the LGBTI community has reclaimed queer as an identity and pride term. 

The pervasive idea that disability is an inherently negative experience which one must feel ashamed of is, I argue, central to person first language, ie. 'person with a disability'. I do not need to remind people that I am a person because I use a wheelchair, as though my disability renders me without personhood. 

Language holds power, the power to transform ideas and attitudes. It shapes how you see yourself and the world. Words like disabled are not just words, they hold an entire history of struggle for social justice and provides connection to others experiencing the same marginality. Self-chosen labels hold immense power for individuals and minority groups. Self-chosen labels are political, they enable minorities to mobilise on issues of discrimination.

Read more of my thoughts on this in my article here

My 1st article on Junkee- Same-sex adoption and disability!

Everyone's talking about what a win for equality the amendment to the Victorian Adoption Act has been for same-sex couple's but people with disabilities are still discriminated against because in Victoria you have to be deemed '“fit and healthy and able to actively parent a child” in order to adopt. Read more on this in my article here 

LGBTI Disability Forum 2015-It's time to make sexuality a priority for disability rights!

On Dec 3,  International Day of People with Disability, 2015, I was part of putting on a landmark event at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne an LGBTI Disability Forum. Led by myself and Jarrod Marrinon and and in partnership with Rowena Allen, Victoria's first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, and with limited funding from the Office for Disability and Department of Premier and Cabinet, we were keen for this event to be more then just a talk fest and to have LGBTI people with disabilities at the event contributing to discussion. The morning session was us educating service providers from both the disability and LGBTI health sectors and the afternoon session was a closed session with the commissioner for LGBTI people with disability, in which we discussed our issues with her and reached some concrete fundable outcomes. There are some great things underway so watch this space!

You can read more about my experience of the forum here :)