How I Go On Nights Out As A Wheelchair User
As a young black man who uses a wheelchair, people always assume that I ended up here through means of my own - they think I was either shot or stabbed because, you know, there's no other reason I could be in a wheelchair. The actual reason I use a wheelchair is because I've been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a condition that affects the mobility of my legs.
The truth is, I don't mind being asked about how I ended up in a wheelchair. I just don't like the assumptions or the awkward stares.
What's important for me is to keep my independence, so when I'm out with my mates at a gig and that particular venue is accessible, I'll keep coming back to it - because a lot of the times they're not. Some venues I've been to, the only lift they had there was to carry rubbish.
I used to have handles on my chair, and one time this guy sort of grabs my chair and he's like "Oh, let me help you" and I know he was trying to be nice and everything, but it was very invasive. If someone looks like they genuinely need help, ask them: "Do you need help?"
One thing that tends to happen when I'm out and go to buy a drink, is the bartender will make always make an effort to serve me next. I find that quite nice because who doesn't like being served first?
Listening to music is therapeutic for me. So the more accessible venues become, the better.