Contributed by Colin Darge & edited by Francis Heng
Colin Darge is a gay man with diverse abilities. He is the co-founder of abOUT, a social and support group for LGBTQ+ people labeled with Intellectual Disabilities. Colin lives in Vancouver and spends a lot of his time on the computer connecting with other people with Williams Syndrome. abOUT can be reached through Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/aboutvancouver.
On July 19, the group that I co-founded called abOUT hosted our very first official gathering. People came to the gathering and we had a really good discussion about who we are, our stories and what’s going to happen with abOUT in the future.
We watched a documentary called Our Compass, which was about the lives of LGBTQ+ folks with diverse abilities living in Toronto, Ontario. We ate popcorn and drank iced tea and kombucha, which were delicious.
Before the gathering, I felt nervous. I wasn’t sure if people were going to show up but people came. It was good for me to meet all the new people that came to the gathering. I also felt nervous because there was a time when I tried to start a group that was called Rainbow Connections and not many people attended the group. So I was worried that this group would be the same, that nobody would come. But surprisingly that was not the case. People came and more importantly, people whom I have never met before attended the gathering.
I remember when we did outreach in Richmond at the Inclusion BC conference, I felt that we were onto something because a lot of people came to our booth. We made buttons and masks and leather bracelets. We talked to a lot of people about our group and people were interested to find out more on how they could participate.
The gathering was a learning experience for me and for others, especially with the documentary. It made me want to get to know these new people more and to also meet with the folks featured in the documentary. I saw the opportunity for me to have a chosen family of queer folks, people who are just like me.
At the conference, we also met a local band called Queer as Funk and they invited several members of our group to attend their concert as VIPs! Oh my god! Queer as Funk is an awesome funky band and they are queer, like me and like others. It made me feel good. I love their music. Them being a queer band was important for me because I think queer equals love. So Queer as Funk to me is love.
The documentary was significant and important for me too because the people in the documentary are just like me. They are queer and they were people with different abilities. Again, like me. I felt that I could relate to them. One person I related to, his name is Josh. He is a dude that had relationships with other gay men but his heart got broken. When I heard his story, I felt sad for him because he was rejected by a gay man. That was my experience too. This is why I started Rainbow Connections. I wanted to change that. I wanted for myself and other queer folks with different abilities to not get rejected all the time. I want to be loved.
abOUT is a huge opportunity for people who are interested to check out and connect with other people who are LGBTQ+ and who are also labeled with Intellectual Disabilities. abOUT is so important to me because we can all learn from each other and support each other. Together, we can see what we can do about our futures. For me, the future looks like being able to spend time together with my chosen family and friends and my community. I want to find someone to love and who loves me for me. I want to find a romantic partner and I think abOUT has the potential to help me with that.
If someone asked me what abOUT can do for them, I would say it could supply them with a big safe environment for them to express who they are and be loved and appreciated for that. We also have a Facebook group where we connect with other queer people with different abilities.
I hope that through abOUT, we queer folks with different abilities can create and nurture new possibilities for our lives that we never thought we could have; a respectful, connected, and loving life.
abOUT will be holding their next meeting on October 25th, from 4-7pm at the Hub (251 East 11th Avenue, Vancouver). Come check them OUT!