Minority within a Minority — Identifying as LGBT when you have a learning disability
Mencap reckon that there are 1.4 million people living in the UK with a learning disability, defined as a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities which affects someone for their whole life.
The Office of National Statistics (2015) recorded the self identifying LBG community as 1.5% of the total UK population. Combine those two statistics and it works out as around 21,000 people across the whole of the UK who have a learning disability and who self identify as being either gay, lesbian or bisexual.
At Carrickfergus Junior Gateway we try to build confidence, self esteem and freedom of expression into our group as much as possible so when a member asked about the possibility of visiting Belfast Pride we knew that we had to do better than just a day trip to watch the event.
So that’s why on Saturday 5th August 2017 we were proud to take our places alongside the many companies and organisations marching within the parade to show Belfast and the world that people with a learning disability exist and that they also consider themselves part of the LBGT community.
As we walked the response from the general crowd was incredible, even more so from people with a learning disability who were thrilled to see representation of themselves among the many people who were taking part in the event. We may not have been the largest group nor the loudest but for the community that we represent I’m so glad we were there for them.
For the member who had originally asked to attend Pride they were amazed at the number of people who had come together “just like me” and surely that’s what the whole day was truly about — being able to acknowledge the true person inside and the comfort that comes from the acceptance from those around you. The knowledge that perhaps you aren’t alone in the world after all.
Sexual Identity Statistics: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/culturalidentity/sexuality/bulletins/sexualidentityuk/2015