I have a rainbow umbrella.
It’s a thing of beauty, and was also a bargain. Together, we have weathered many storms.
It’s not all been plain sailing; there have been a few times I’ve lost my grip and watched the wonderful colours swirling down the street as I scamper after them, swearing, trying to reclaim what is mine before it disappears.
But, generally, my rainbow umbrella does a fabulous job of protecting me from the elements, and also looking gorgeously bright on a dull day.
Forcing an analogy upon you? Who, me? Mate, I’m just talking about my favourite brolly.
However. It does make me wonder; why does anyone buy a black umbrella, when there are rainbow umbrellas in the world?
Because, there ARE rainbow umbrellas in the world. And there are wonderful, kind, bright people in the world. There are fantastic things of beauty; art, nature, design, engineering, entertainment and education.
Unfortunately, there are also dickheads. And, even more unfortunately, the few dickheads often yell louder than the hordes of beautiful people.
They are usually morally indifferent, and so they aren’t restrained by valuable things such as compassion, empathy and conscience. They will happily bend facts to suit their purpose, and if there are no facts, why, they’ll just create some out of nothing.
It can be hard to tolerate the dickheads. It can be hard to ignore them. Hell, it’s getting quite hard to share a planet with them… But we must. Because, actually, they are us.
You see, ‘they’ are only ignorant and scared. We live in a society that is constantly teaching everyone that difference is bad, and we can’t educate anyone by hiding or hating in ways they can use to fuel their bullshit.
Amongst other things, I have spent a long time campaigning for Deaf and disabled rights. We can never take a step forward without something trying to push us three steps back, so we have to make sure the forward steps are huge.
But it is difficult. It is difficult to wake up different every morning, and it would be so easy to slide into a small group of ‘us’, hating and fearing the overwhelming ‘them’. And I don’t judge anyone who goes there. I just hope they can come back again, too.
Locally, the last few years have seen a Government so relentlessly awful that they’re almost a parody of a parody of a bad Government parody. Globally, the world has lost the plot and started to curl at the edges, like an old sandwich. The news is constantly depressing, and relentlessly pushing divisive agendas on us all. It’s truly heartbreaking stuff.
Last night, the rain was as relentless as the news. The weather seemed to understand the turmoil the world was feeling and reflect it.
There is a village green near my house. Last night, there were people dancing on it. There were rainbow umbrellas, and scarlet red t-shirts, and lemon-yellow cagoules, and luminous greens flashing around brilliant blues. Purples, pinks, whites and even a pair of gold sandals. And black, grey and brown, all dripping and dancing in the fading light.
They were dancing for the poor souls in Orlando, and the world, who suffer because they love.
They were dancing for the countless numbers who have been stripped of their dignity and identity by cuts to Deaf and disabled support.
They were dancing for the women who bravely write pages and pages about their ordeal, then watch their rapist receive a laughably short sentence.
They were dancing for the people who lose their homes, lives and status as a human because they were born in the wrong country. T
hey were dancing for everyone whose skin colour, gender or difference has marked them out as lesser.
Dancing, laughing, talking. In the rain.
My umbrella and I joined them. There was tea, and there was aloe vera juice and, before you roll your eyes, there was also Guinness and deep political arguments, and also a very intense poker match, and even some football. It wasn’t all hippy. It wasn’t all conservative. It just was.
And, in some ways, it felt more effective than any campaign I’ve been involved in.
All of you out there, you are different, and you are beautiful. And I am with you.
“We need to reach that happy stage of our development when differences and diversity are not seen as sources of division and distrust, but of strength and inspiration.” ~ Josefa Iloilo
Emily Howlett is a regular writer for this site. She is a profoundly Deaf actress, writer and teacher. Emily is co-director of PAD Productions and makes an awful lot of tea. And mess. She now has not one, but four grey eyebrow hairs. C’est la vie. She tweets as @ehowlett
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