Leo Gunn: Full Interview

Duration 40:12


Leo Gunn
Interviewed by Gill Crawshaw
10 June 2019

LG: I'm Leo, my pronouns are she/her. I'm 25 years old. I live in Leeds but I'm from Nottinghamshire originally. And I identify as gay.

GC: Lovely, thank you.

INTERVIEWER: OK, we're going to start by going back to you being a young person and thinking about and finding out about and understanding your sexuality.

LG: Yeah, I think it was, it was quite a difficult process really. I developed ME when I was about, sort of, 15, 16. I think I might have been a bit of a late bloomer in terms of my sexuality. So, at what would have been such a crucial point for me in terms of, just organically, understanding, that was just sort of completely derailed and just overnight became sort of pointless. I, and I was just suddenly on such a wide range of quite serious medication, and so unwell and completely removed from my peer group. I wasn't having interactions with potential romantic partners, it just didn't seem important. I remember doctors would say to me, 'Oh, make sure you don't get pregnant' because of the medication I was on, I would just look at them, as if to say, 'I've just told you that I spend all of my time at home, in the dark, talking to nobody. What on earth do you think I'm doing?!' It was very alienating, it sort of suddenly felt as if I was both much, much older than other people my age, and much, much younger. Older in terms of having to confront something, sort of reality about what it means to be human that they wouldn't have to deal with probably until middle-age or older. And much younger in that I was suddenly dependent on my parents, in a way that I think was, without any of us really intending it to be, quite desexualising, you know, those kinds of needs or thoughts they just sort of go out the window.

And that was as much on me as on my parents, I think. In some ways it was a - it gave me an excuse for not dealing with - I think, a lot of people say they kind of, they always knew. I don't know if I always knew. I always felt, I would never acknowledge it to myself and I think in some ways it gave me a - OK, we don't have to think about this, just mmm-mmm, box it up, don't deal with it, it doesn't even matter now. And once you've boxed it up that thoroughly, unboxing it is very daunting, I think.

And I think, you know, I was on a lot of quite serious medication, too much, and when you have a kind of chronic illness they don't understand, doctors have a tendency to, they'll throw a pill at you, then we'll transfer you to someone else who'll throw another pill at you, and you're sort of, you're still on these different things. I remember I finally got transferred to adult services and saw a neurologist who just looked at the list of medications and said to me, 'What - what the hell? You've been on this for two years, it's an anti-epileptic, are you epileptic, coz it has serious side effects?' I, I just said no, and a lot of those medications have particularly interesting effects on the brains of younger people, those anti-depressants, those kind of medications, but they do and are known to stifle your libido. So I think there was this, this external silencing of those feelings but there was also, it wasn't all that, it was an internal: I just don't actually want to deal with it. What a nice excuse for pretending that this doesn't exist. Yeah, and then I think, I got myself into a mess, it was really difficult to get myself out of. And for a long time didn't feel important, it just felt like, whatever, I've got more important things to do. It always felt as if it was an indulgence to figure that out. It was more important that I'm taking care of myself and living and working and doing something with my life, something with my life, not being a sort of burden to my parents. and something that felt like it was so much about me, well who cares? I should be focusing on the bigger picture, I guess.

GC: But you did sort it out.

LG: Yeah...

INTERVIEWER: When did you come to start unboxing those feelings, as you'd called it?

LG: I mean, I think for me, I knew something was going - when the same-sex marriage debates were happening in the UK. I was brought up in the Church of England. My mum's a Methodist and my dad is a Protestant. But they were always very liberal and left-leaning. So I'd been protected from a lot of the viewpoints of the people in the church. My parents - my godfather's gay and he was gay at the time when it really wasn't OK, and my parents stood by him. And they've always been very vocal about that and very proud about him. So I never worried about that from my parents.

And then suddenly, as these discussions were happening, people felt quite involved and to have certain conversations at, sort of looked around at people I'd grown up with, who'd known me since I was a child and didn't feel wanted. And that feeling of, I don't belong here was very strong before I'd even understood what it meant. It took me a while to feel like, oh, this feels personal coz it is personal. But I think that was my big moment of there's something, sort of beginning to unravel there. The cliché is just, I fell in love with a girl and realised, oh, oh, oh dear, I can't explain this away, this is definitely not straight. That was the moment at which - and it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that it was, it was a romantic attraction - just was really difficult because I was not listening to my feelings and not wanting to be honest with myself. And in such a bad place mentally. But also, because the therapist I was seeing at the time, she was the first person I tried to come out to and essentially told me that, 'No, I don't think you're gay'. She had some interesting views about lesbians in particular, some strange stuff about how incestuous they were as a community, yeah. She really didn't help, she fed me all this stuff about, 'Well, a lot of young women have girl-crushes on other women, and it actually means that you admire them and you aspire to be like them'.

So, I sort of took that away and went, OK, OK, maybe that's not what it is and, maybe if that had gone differently I would have talked to this person and told them how I felt. I'm kind of glad I didn't, in retrospect, because I don't think - neither of us was particularly well. We bonded because I'd dropped out of school and started at a different college to do my second year of my A Levels, and she'd had to take some time out for mental health issues and we got lumped together by somebody and she said, ‘I'll show you round,’ and we'd bonded really, really intensely and we were kind of each other's world for a while.

And, yeah, it turns out it was obvious to everybody else how I felt as well, I found out a couple of years ago, which is a long time after all this happened, a long time after I'd been out to my mum, and we were talking about her. We were talking about her because she's getting married, I think it had come up in conversation, and I just turned to my mum and I said, 'I was in love with her'. And my mum just looked at me and she went, 'Leo, I know that!' It was so embarrassing. It was quite nice, but it was just like, it's funny to think, that what you think is just purely like inner turmoil, and nobody understands, like everyone around you is like, erm, dunno. It's like, did they know before I knew? Probably. At least they admitted it to themselves before I would admit it to myself, I think, yeah.

GC: You just talked about that psychiatrist. I wondered where you were getting any positive messages from?

LG: Well, funnily enough, from this girl who was further along than me and more out than me, and was actually a really, really good friend to me when I needed it. Which is another reason why I'm glad that we didn't go down that road, I'm glad that we ended up as friends and that we're still in each other's lives, coz I have a feeling with both of us not being very mentally well, it would have ended catastrophically. But as it was, she was a bit further down the road, she was identifying as bi when we first met, now she identifies as gay. And she understood more of this, she was more plugged into a lot of online communities. A lot of like, fan fiction, like, slash fanfic stuff that she was super into and so she was involved in a lot of communities and knew a lot of gay women and bi women, that she was just much more comfortable in it than I was. And kind of helped me untangle, and I'd say things like: 'Well, I don't know where I see myself in the future. Maybe I could see myself with a woman.' She's just, kind of, gently nudging me like, 'That really doesn't sound very straight'.

My parents were always very, like, 'It will be OK', you know, made a point of - and yeah, in the benefit of seeming to be obvious to them, they would, dad would sort of sit me down at breakfast and: 'Now, it's alright, you'll be able to have a man or a woman', and I'm just there, like, 'OK, my cereal's getting kind of cold, can we move on with this?' It was a bit excruciating at the time, but I was really glad for it in retrospect when I actually wanted to tell them, I know that they would be OK with it. I mean, yeah, I mean I know that a lot of my community where I live might be OK with it. And it's kind of hard existing somewhere where you see how conditional people's love for you is, you know? To be around people where you know, they've known me since I was a child, but if they knew? Nah, they wouldn't want me.

I think, and I think when my grandma died, was a point at which I got more open. I loved my grandma, she was one of my favourite people in the world, but I have no confidence that she would have, would have accepted me. And it became easier to be open when I didn't feel like I was hiding from one of the people I loved most. She wasn't there to hide from any more. It's really sad, actually, yeah ... But there's no-one really in my life I'm close to any more who wouldn't accept me, and that makes it a lot easier. You hiding without really realising that you're hiding, I think, yeah.

Sorry, I'm not sure I really answered your question! [laughs]

GC: That's fine! I was going to ask, did things get - what about coming to Leeds, did things get easier then?

LG: Yeah, yeah. I had a hard time in my undergrad. Partly because I didn't tell anybody about my disability to start with, I didn't tell anyone about my ME and so my behaviour was weird to them, like I wouldn't really do much social stuff, wouldn't hang out in the evenings, sometimes I would sleep, appeared to be sleeping through lectures, or incoherent to talk to. I was really embarrassed. And I remember, when I first showed up to the meeting of the disabled students' network at UCL, I wasn't using a mobility aid or anything, and I felt quite self-conscious at a disability breakfast, sort of social, and I really felt like I had to come in and say, 'Oh, I am actually disabled, I promise I'm not pretending!' and they all looked at me like I was kind of bonkers, like, 'What?! Nobody is expecting that of you.' I think, actually, being open about my disability was the first step for me in being happier. Having that community of disabled students came first for me in terms of being part of a community and made a huge difference to my life. I would say it's in coming to Leeds and being somewhere where, meeting a whole different new set of people, for my Masters, coming in to it sort of more confident, self assured, confidently, like, 'Yes, I'm disabled', just a different attitude, I think.

And when the sort of discussion of LGBT, an LGBT faction of LDPO came up, the urge to hide just wasn't there any more. It wasn't so much a kind of conscious decision that I'm going to stop not really telling people and skirting round questions and only occasionally telling people when we reach that point in the conversation, or if I feel like I have to, only my kind of closest friends knowing and most people in my life having no idea. it was just sort of, feeling of comfort, really, not just that I didn't want to hide, but it didn't feel necessary to hide.

I'm not out to all of my extended family. I feel like it's probably obvious to some of them but, I dunno, my ... I've been debating at the moment, my aunt and uncle came over for Christmas and they are ... interesting people. My aunt said a load of really transphobic stuff. And sort of sitting there at the table, thinking, 'I wonder if you'd say these sorts of things in front of me if you knew?' Sort of debating whether to reach out to her and say, 'Look, I've got to be honest with you, I'm not OK with the way you've, like, spoken'. And it's not just rudeness or unpleasantness to me personally, it feels like an attack, an attack on me and my community. I value my trans friends, particularly the trans women, they are, have done so much as a group for us as a movement, and they're very, very vulnerable. And I really, it's not just, 'Oh, that was an unpleasant thing you said'. It's toxic and it's dangerous, and I now feel the need to stand up for other people. I dunno, it's got me feeling like maybe I do want to be more open with everybody. Coz I'm just not in the mood for tolerating it. Like there's a way that my straight, cis family seem to be - it doesn't hurt them as much, they seem to be able to tolerate it. And it might be quite nice, actually, to not be expected to tolerate it. Have them coming into this going, 'Oh, that's Leo, she's going to be touchy about that!' Yes, I am going to be touchy about that, coz it's offensive.

GC: Would you describe yourself as an activist?

LG: That's a good question. I guess, yeah, I certainly want to be. I think, I guess, my subject is very theoretical and as much as I enjoy that, I feel this need to do something useful with my life. I'm very aware of the fact that, as a disabled person I'm very fortunate. My parents are not hugely wealthy, but they're well enough off to support me. I'm not reliant on the benefits system in the same way that my friends are. You know, if I'm denied a benefit I'm not going to starve, I'm just not in that position. And I'm able to, I've been able to come to Leeds and study part-time, without having a job, for my health. And being, I can pay the bills, I don't have to worry about those kinds of things. I feel a bit guilty about that at times, but that puts me in a position that so many other people, chronically ill people in particular, just aren't in at the moment. I have a proper diagnosis, I have a GP who takes me seriously and believes me, I have a network, a way in to the broader disabled people's movement. So I work with the Chronic Illness Inclusion Project which is trying to apply the social model of disability to chronic illness and trying to build networks and a space for sort of spoonies within the broader disabled people's movement. Which is a bit difficult because a lot of the principles of the traditional UK disability activism are quite at odds with the way that people with chronic illnesses talk about themselves. Because people with chronic illnesses are fighting to even have their impairments taken seriously. Most people within the disabled people's movement, they're not fighting to have someone believe that they're blind or paralysed. Someone with ME - obviously, it is not incidental that these people are disproportionately women, that is the system functioning as it's supposed to. But for me, it's very important, I'm in a unique position as somebody who understands the chronic illness movement that has a real leg in the disabled people's movement and a voice, it's very important to me that LDPO respects and understands chronic illness. But I also reflect back to my friends within the chronic illness community, actually, that's why this is contentious, this is the history and this where we're coming at, and this is mainly how we can move forwards. It's exciting, helping to develop a manifesto and push for changes to the benefits system. Small changes but also bigger changes. I'm supposed to be writing a discussion paper on epistemic injustice in women's healthcare. So it's really nice to be able to bring this sort of theoretical interest into, yeah, into political life. But I'm not interested in a life that's all theory, really. If we lived in a perfect world, I would probably be off in a library somewhere, reading a [unclear] all day, but we don't, you know. We live in a world where people are dying, horribly, preventably, and I have resources and the education and the ability to do something about it. So I think that makes me an activist, yeah [laughs]!

To the extent that I can be. It's difficult because so much of activism is rooted around physically getting places and having a lot of energy. And the thing I've really enjoyed about the Chronic Illness Inclusion Project is, we start from the assumption that people don't have energy. I think it's a really interesting paradigm for how you organise social movements generally. It's very fluid and it's very, as much as you can do, we appreciate that. I think it's important to understand that sometimes people's enthusiasm doesn't match their energy. And that doesn't mean that that those people are, care any less, and it doesn't mean that they're any less valuable either. I think particularly in activist spaces that are driven by young people, there's often a real ignorance about that. And sometimes a little bit, I've done all of this - it's kind of like, wokeness or, I've done all this campaigning and I went out on this march and I did this and I did that, why didn't you? I have ME. It's not what the spirit of this is about, it's not a competition, it's a movement, we're supposed to be helping each other, not trying to prove that one of us is the better activist. I don't, that's not prevalent everywhere, you find that more in people who are perhaps less actually committed to it, but it can be an issue and it can make people feel uncomfortable or unwanted, I think.

GC: So, let's talk about LDPO, which stands for Leeds Disabled People's Organisation. Yeah, well, do you just want to tell us a little bit about that?

LG: Yeah. So, LDPO was formed primarily by current and very recent graduates of disability studies, the MA in Disability Studies. It sort of got off the ground because Peadar, one of the deputy chairs (I'm the other deputy chair) was campaigning for better audio description on buses. And we'd met each other at the Disability Action Society, talked about it and I'd introduced him to the current cohort of disability studies students - me being a sort of philosopher who was just nosey-ing along to their classes. And Peadar wanted initially to start a, was thinking about starting a political party or something. And we all got together and we had this big, long talk in a pub in January 2018 and, as much as we liked the idea of forming a party, a lot of people, you know, because of the Disability Studies course involved discussion about the disabled people's movement, disabled people's organisations, there was a lot of interest in that. And Steve Graby, who works with Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People and people who'd had a bit more experience there, was a desire to take those, the old movement but in a new way, I think, to build on previous work and to respect previous work of the disabled people's movement. But I think our ethos has been very modern in terms of being very intersectional, from the beginning very accepting of chronic illness as a category. Within LDPO it's not contested, a number of our members, including me, have ME and there isn't the same hostilities that I see in the broader disabled people's movement, between the two camps. In LDPO it's fused together very naturally. And sometimes there are issues of expectations of people that perhaps aren't super-compatible with impairment needs and I try to put my foot down, I resolutely. But I think in general it just, it is quite fluid and understanding of people's needs. And I think that's why such a lot of us feel it to be such a safe space really, a space where it's absolutely OK not to be on it perfectly today, you know? And to bring, kind of, all the different aspects of who you are and not have to hide any of it.

GC: And you mention intersectionality, obviously we're particularly interested in LGBT issues, and how does LDPO deal with those?

LG: It sort of happened quite organically, really. What first, the first reason for it, we organised a Pride picnic last year which was really wonderful, and was that how we got started, or was it just a discussion about: we're going to have an LGBT sub-group? I think that was the moment, that was my moment of, do I want to hide, in my new life, with all these friends? Suddenly having young disabled friends and not hiding so much else from them, so much that I was so used to hiding. Why hide this from them? They don't care. Just really feeling that this was a different space. I sort of started a sort of sub-group just for LDPO members and then it has grown into having events like the Pride picnic that was really wonderful and marching in Pride and trying to feedback to Leeds Pride on accessibility issues, which has been interesting at times, but really valuable. And it's become more, sort of community-focused in those sorts of activities than just us having a group together. But us having a group together itself has been really valuable, I think. It can be those little sub-groups of LDPO I feel most safe, the LGBT sub-group and the women's group. Those little spaces. That's why I think, like, it's so important to be intersectional, because, in a lot of women's spaces I'm not understood, as a disabled person, and in a lot of disabled spaces I'm not understood as a woman, and in a lot of LGBT spaces I'm not understood as a disabled person. So having these specific little groups where actually there's so much overlapping experience and you don't have to kind of press it, everything you say with an explanation of another facet of who you are, it's just understood. It's, it takes so much less energy, it's such a huge weight off, like, I don't have to, I'm not on the defensive, I think.

GC: Yeah. I wonder whether you can say a bit more about that, well, there's maybe two things maybe going on, about being a disabled woman within the LGBT community, and then, yeah, and then your experiences within the disabled people's movement beyond LDPO.

LG: So, I think to begin with the latter, I think there can be an issue, I'm not going to mention any names, it's not just something I've experienced, of some men, particularly straight men in the disabled people's movement, because they don't have a lot of relationship options, and they are quite discriminated against, can be a little too keen with some of the women and almost, there can still be that male entitlement. And you sort of aren't expecting it in these spaces. It's interesting, because it's often through a lens of sort of, I should be included as a disabled person, I should have someone to date. It's like, all of that's true, but it's not me, mate! I think that's been an interesting problem I didn't expect. There's something, you sort of think, yeah, are we leaving our toxic masculinity at the door? Not entirely, no. That can be quite difficult to navigate, particularly when people - it's interesting how men who can be so lacking in self-confidence can also be quite pushy. And that's something I've found in spaces where I'm just there to make friends, I realise I'm attracting these men who are interested in more and it can really be quite awkward and make you feel as if, as a woman, should I not be in these spaces? You know, just walking through the door to new people, that's an invitation. Like maybe, OK, you're entitled to a relationship, but maybe I'm also entitled to, like, be in this space without being seen as a woman in such a kind of, it feels sort of objectifying, really, you're the woman in the space. That, and that's why, I think, having these sort of sub-groups, these little areas, there's not a problem I've had so much in LDPO, just more broadly in certain disability circles. And I know it's not just me who's experienced that. I think that's a really interesting sort of intersection, coz that's a lot of women's experience everywhere, and it's a lot of gay women's experience everywhere. So a lot of those patterns that you see elsewhere are still replicated within sort of marginalised communities. And I'm sure that's the case for a lot of other identities.

But I still feel more comfortable in disabled spaces, even with that caveat of I know sometimes I'm going to have to turn down a guy, I still feel more comfortable in those spaces than in a lot of LGBT spaces. A lot of spaces we have are aimed around drinking and being out, and they're just not accessible for me. But also, I suppose it's partly because there's, being in a sort of space for disabled people, there isn't this sort of generally underlying assumption about relationships, that doesn't come into it, usually. In LGBT spaces it always feels a little bit like you're putting yourself out there, I think. Sort of, I'm potentially datable, it feels as if you've gone into this space and you're saying something signalling something about being potentially being open to a relationship. and that can be quite scary, I think, especially when you're not super-confident in yourself and have a lot of other stuff going on.

I'm quite used to turning down strange men I'm not interested in. Like, I don't enjoy it and I'm quite bad at it and get quite awkward and have a tendency to just... I remember when I lived in London, there was this guy who was, be handing out the Evening Standard by a tube station. And I was doing a module at King's. And I walked past him, and he kept asking me if I wanted to - coz I smiled at him - 'Do you want to go out for a drink this Friday?' And I sort of, eventually extricated myself from the conversation, mumbled something and walked off, and never walked past him again. Completely changed my route into uni, that's like generally how I deal with those sorts of situations.

I'm used to dealing with invitations that I would never take up, invitations that I would take up are a little bit baffling, I'm not used to it, like I don't really know, what's the script in this situation? What am I saying when the answer isn't an automatic, 'I'm not interested'? It's a bit weird.

I think it, it is difficult for people who have conditions that affect your physicality, that affect your body, there are a lot of expectations about how women should look. I suppose, in some ways us lesbians have it easier because as a community there are generally different expectations for how you should look and how you should be, or at least a sort of tradition of questioning ideas about how women should look that straight women are sort of subjected to. You know, if I don't have the energy to shave, that's going to be much less of an issue to a group of lesbians than it is a group of straight men. I feel like there's a certain additional degree of liberation from bodily norms. You don't just shrug that sort of thing off, I think, particularly as a young person, you know. I think, we've not even had the opportunity to let ourselves go, we've just started as having been let go, you know. And it almost feels a bit presumptuous sometimes, I think, in those spaces, as if you think you're datable. Interestingly, the reverse problem of, the problem some of the guys have is, stop bothering me, is maybe ... thinking you could be a sort of romantic prospect, I guess, for someone ... it's interesting how varied a lot of my sort of, different people's feelings are about that. I find some people can really understand what I mean and some people with similar conditions who, not at all, doesn't really hold them back much. But I think I had a lot of body image issues when I got ill at that age, and I think they got crystalised then. A lot of stuff I'm still unpacking, you know, sexuality was put in a box and other things I think, about confronting my faculty towards myself and the way I look all got boxed up at around the same time, because it didn't seem important. And in some ways it wasn't important, you know, the important thing today was, don't kill yourself. I remember a time in my life when I would go to bed at four in the morning, wake up at two in the afternoon, sit in the dark, take my medication, watch the same episodes of Last of the Summer Wine that were on yesterday. My mum would call up every few hours to check I wasn't dead. That was my life. What did it matter if I didn't have a good self-image? What did it matter if I didn't know who I wanted to date? It was irrelevant. But, it's harder the longer you leave it in that little box, the harder it is to unbox it. And it feels like you're coming into these spaces with so much baggage, you know, so much baggage. And it's hard to even know how to begin explaining that to somebody. I can't go into it easily, it doesn't feel easy or natural to me at all. And that's, I think that really holds me back, and I don't feel I'm the only person who feels that way. But it's just not talked about so much.

GC: Yeah, yeah.

LG: And that can be really isolating. In particularly, as a young person when the cultural expectations are so different, it can really make you feel like, I don't use this word lightly, but like a freak, I think. Yeah, you're the strange one, for lots of different reasons.

GC: Sounds like that you've been really good at carving out and making your own spaces where you feel safe and comfortable, and where you've found like minds. Have there been any other spaces that you haven't carved out yourself, where you've felt that?
LG: Not often, actually, because I'm sort of at so many intersections, often spaces just aren't there for all of me, and I can't leave part of me at the door, I can't leave my disability at the door, I can't leave my sexuality at the door, it all comes in. But I'm trying to go out and I've got, I'm sort of gaining more LGBT friends who aren't disabled. Actually, you know, a space I have felt quite comfortable is the book club in town, I like that a lot. And spaces like that, that are more sort of, particularly when there's a task to do, there's a thing to discuss and, but it's a sort of social, quiet activity, it's a sober activity, you know, it’s a dry thing. Coz I don't drink much, it's not good for me, and that's often how you deal with social awkwardness in these situations.

Yeah, I think, there probably are more spaces out there, but the experience of bad spaces can stop you looking for new good ones. I think I'm getting to a point where I've got the confidence to try again. And I think sometimes you, you think you're going to be so bad that you spoil it before you’ve even really given it a chance, you're so ready to be excluded that you sort of exclude yourself before you've even, you've even gone in there.

GC: What's the answer?

LG: That's a very good question. It's difficult. I mean, part of it is understanding that young people are sexual beings and if they're in the children's ward it doesn't make them children, you know. And that they may have, there may be conversations they'd really, really need to have that nobody is having with them, nobody. Nobody was - I mean, I'm just sitting there surrounded by toddlers putting toys together. Nobody was talking to me about - all they would say is, 'Are you drinking? Are you smoking? Are you having sex?' And I would say, no, and they'd say, 'Good girl!' and give me a sticker when they took my blood. That wasn't helpful at all. That was the extent to which anybody was really talking about those sorts of things with me. I think part of it is, at that crucial stage, giving kids the space to talk about those issues, coz those sort of normal teenage things don't go away just because somebody's sick. And I think the expectation that sick people have no sexuality is really damaging, and it sets you up, it sort of re-wires your brain really at a crucial stage of your life. I think that's a large part of it.

And another part of it is, sort of doing the work that LDPO does, I think a lot of that is creating spaces, having these communities and trying to open them up to as many people as possible. I think, at the end of the day, the only people who can make a space good for us is us, we know what we need and I think other places can follow suit but I don't think anybody without the sort of experience socially of what our lives are like can do that for us.

But there does need to be better general understanding, I think. And there needs to be discussions had within the LGBT community about disabled people. And it's all happening a little more organically as we're having older LGBT people now, open, out, older LGBT people. And we're having suddenly these people who've been able-bodied their entire lives, suddenly having some of these conversations. And if we could get together, I think, in some ways I think it's easier for the women than for men, because a lot of gay men's spaces are really focused on sex, when it can become an obsession about like: no fats, no femmes, no asians nonsense, such a kind of hyper-focus on how you look. Lesbians have always been a bit more - this is a huge generalisation, but a little bit more political in their spaces. Perhaps it's easier for us in some ways, but I think it's partly in having these conversations and having an awareness. And having, I think, an understanding that we're not other, that we're them, we're just as much part of the group as you are, if you can just set aside your visceral reaction to disabled people, understand that we belong in the space with you, I think we'll go a long way.

GC: Leo, is there anything else that you want to talk about?

LG: That's a good question. The funny thing is that, I thought, in relation to the form, and deciding how I'll allow this recording to be used, I was thinking after - I went to last week's book club and we were talking about the persecution of gay people under the Nazi regime, which was super-fun. And one of the things that came up was, every time that - how relatively tolerant society in Berlin had been before that and how people had thought they could be safe and open. And you think, wow, this could all be stripped away, ripped out from underneath you, being open. And we were talking about straight pride and that nonsense. I think people don't understand, being open and being out is dangerous, it's, it's impressive and it's meaningful because it's still dangerous, you know. And there's a part of me that thinks, I'm putting this out there, some day is there going to be a knock on my door, if I'm making myself open, is somebody going to come for me eventually? And you look at that homophobic attack recently, the women on a bus in, yes, it is true, that you are putting yourself in danger and like, note to straight people: until being straight puts you in kind of legal danger, shut up about straight pride! But, as we've been talking I've been thinking, yes, there are huge dangers but there are also benefits. And for me at the moment I think the benefits, there's a very personal benefit, which is the catharsis of not hiding any more. But I think there's also, these are conversations that have got to be had.
I think a lot about the place, I was put through child and adolescent psychiatry by doctors who didn't believe that ME was a real, physical condition. I thought a lot about those kids, back there, going through that system, who are essentially being tortured by the NHS. I think about them and I think about what kinds of things I'd like to say to them. But this is another really important conversation that nobody's having with them. And for me it almost feel as if I need to sort of park my concerns about having to have a conversation with my transphobic aunt, I think about the more important, the younger people, the people who need to know that they're not on their own in this. Who really, really, really feel alone, you know, because the LGBT community doesn't speak to them and their difficult, very isolated experience. I think that's, for me and not passing judgment on anybody else, but for me that's more important, I think, than my worries, yeah.

GC: OK, thank you.