I’m talking with Don Brown today, past President of Blind LGBT Pride International an organization geared specifically toward helping blind LGBT connect, communicate, and dispel myths about gay blind people around the world. Don was also my point man when I had questions while writing Afflicted and provided valuable insight and criticism about the development of the manuscript.
B: Welcome Don. First, thanks so much for stopping by, and thank you very much for your input on Afflicted. Do you think the book accurately reflects some of the issues that are faced by blind LGBT people when dealing with the sighted LGBT community?
D.B. Brandon, thank you very much for inviting me. It was an awesome experience to be part of the manuscript development process for Afflicted and I appreciate this opportunity to get the word out about Blind LGBT Pride International and issues facing people who are vision impaired and LGBT.
Yes, I think the book, on a number of levels, accurately reflects issues we as blind people who happen to be LGBT or we as LGBT people who happen to be blind, take your pick, encounter when interacting with the public in general and the LGBT Community specifically.
What we know is most people have not had the opportunity to know a person who’s blind, much less a person who is both blind and LGBT. And as a result, the perceptions of us are far too often skewed by negative misconceptions and long held stereotypes, which is not dissimilar from how perceptions of people who are LGBT are held by much of the general public.
I think the book did an amazing job of subtly challenging many of the familiar attitudinal barriers we face, in a profoundly ordinary and believable way.
On those extremely rare instances blind people are portrayed in the media, we are generally portrayed in stigmatizing and stereotyped ways as either objects of pity or as inspirational characters capable of surpassing all human expectations. In my view, the book shatters the pervasive stereotypes associated with blindness and provides the reader with an authentic view from the perspective of the lead character a sexual , confident, vulnerable blind man who happens to be gay. This is a long awaited first and I think many of our members will be able to identify with issues faced by Hunter.
B: What are some of things we didn’t address in the book that you as a blind gay man would want to make the sighted LGBT community aware of?
D.B. I would have liked the book to address how our inability to communicate visually presents significant social challenges when interacting with the LGBT Community. Specifically, what comes to mind for me in this regard are the communication barriers we experience in bars as an example, where having eye contact is critical to establishing communication. I think readers might find interesting and informational how we as blind people who are LGBT manage to compensate for those disability-related social challenges prevalent in the LGBT communities.
B: You were the president of the organization when we first spoke; what are some of the other issues your organization works on?
D.B. Essentially, our primary issue is to make our presence known in the Blindness and LGBT Communities and stand side by side with our brothers and sisters as we work toward equality in this country and the world.
B: I see the organization has an event coming up in Las Vegas, can you tell us about that?
D.B. Actually, a networking opportunity is being planned for December. This will be a chance for our members and allies to come together and plan and play in the bright lights and glitz of Vegas.
B: If someone wanted to get involved with Blind LGBT Pride International how would they go about doing that?
D.B. Great question! We invite everyone, irrespective of their vision status or sexual orientation, to get involved with the excitement of Blind Pride. Please visit our website at www.blind-lgbt-pride.org and become a member or volunteer. And, as a non profit organization, we are not at all opposed to donations.
B: Thanks for stopping by Don, and thak you very much for all your help and input with Afflicted.