Short Cuts on BBC puts our stories together

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If there’s one thing disability communities do well, it’s helping people with similar diagnoses or experiences find each other. Once we’re together, we share countless stories. These cement our bonds with each other and affirm that we’re OK people despite what society says. We also use stories to vent about difficulties and share resources and ideas. Such wonderful community building. It’s so necessary. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the opportunities to meet many other people with brain injuries so we could get into each other’s heads, so to speak of course.

There’s great comfort in being with others like you. And in the past couple years of doing cross-disability art, I’ve also come to see how spectacular it is when we cross out of our smaller groups to join others.

Enter BBC’s podcast “Short Cuts.” Here it is: www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/shortcuts .

This is a fantastic podcast. The only issue is that they have 25 episodes, and I’m already ready to hear 250 more. When host Josie Long talks in her luxuriously husky voice, you can hear that she’s smiling. She is so delighted with her job of hosting this show and wrapping her own narratives into each episode.

Check out the podcast from October 28, 2014 called “After Dark.” It contains three short documentaries. There are two common threads tying the three stories together. One thread is the idea of darkness, feeling and sensing what’s within it and what comes after it. The other thread is kind of adorable, and I don’t want to give it away.

They put together the story of a man who sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, a storyteller who reads erotica to a group of blind older adults, and explorations of a total lunar eclipse. Sometimes when we build our communities based on an impairment or experience, we end up cleaving so tightly to others like us that we miss the opportunity to have others come in. What’s more, we miss the opportunity for people outside our group to witness our stories. I haven’t ever come across brain injury stories in the media that were tied to other types of stories in one program except in the case of war-related TBI where many soldiers sustain other types of injuries as well. Big, big kudos to you, Short Cuts, for framing TBI as one of many experiences that can occur in life, and one that can tie us into the larger community, not mark us as Other.

The other thing I love about this episode is, well, love and lust. A lot of people assume relationships are impossible after severe TBI, but the podcast gives one example where it wasn’t. And speaking of lust, that’s something the non-disabled community feels isn’t or shouldn’t be part of the lives of disabled people and of older adults, much less older people with disabilities. It’s not that disabled people are asexual. They certainly can be. But so can non-disabled people. The issue is that disabled people are routinely desexualized. It shows up in surgery to prevent a disabled child from ever reaching puberty, in doctors trying to convince disabled people to not try to have children, and in the ways that sex ed and reproductive justice opportunities aren’t given to many people with intellectual disabilities. But a lot of that is behind the scenes and hidden from larger culture. What we can all attest to is that you don’t see supermodels, lead performers, and love interests in movies, TVs, and magazines who are disabled unless that’s the main focus of that particular story. Because love, lust, and disability don’t go together in “regular” society. That is, unless you have a disability. Then you know that they can.

And so I give a hearty applause again to Short Cuts for sharing these stories involving love and lust for disabled people in a way that really just comes across as stories of love and lust for people. Short Cuts doesn’t sugar-coat it, use it to make you cry tears of pity and relief that it’s not happening to you, or any of those other painful tropes. They make documentaries. And they’re great.