This is PART ONE in a series of “Why I Can’t Keep Quiet” blogs to be published over the next month.
I was on Facebook the other night and a friend messaged me and congratulated me on how I speak my mind about things. He said it takes a lot of strength to speak publicly about what you believe and not be afraid of the backlash.
My friend then suggested I should write a blog about this, and give my readers a bit of an insight into it all. I’ve taken him up on this and will be writing a series of personal, and revealing blogs that hopefully take you a little ‘behind the scenes’.
So to begin, I guess the first question isn’t really a question but a statement.
I am a loud mouth, I speak my feelings, and I am not afraid to talk in a public forum and challenge ideologies that I believe are wrong.
If you know nothing about Mike Pulman, know that.
If you look at any of the work, particularly in the disability sector that I’ve done in the past year or so, you’ll find that there have been more than a few outlandish and controversial statements.
From my belief that the New Zealand Government should consider funding sex workers for the severely disabled, to the three-month investigation into the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand.
The night where I sat up in front of the former CEO Chris Higgins and questioned his leadership, leading to a long, and at times dangerous, series of investigative blogs that ultimately led to the CEO’s resignation following a one-on-one interview with me.
During those two periods of time in particular, I went directly against the suggestions of a lot of people that I love and respect. It wasn’t easy, but there was just this deep-seeded determination to have my voice heard. They were also times that I risked losing all the credibility I had been working so hard to try and gain.
Make no mistake about it – I’d like to think that at the core of it all – I am a guy with a decent amount of integrity, and hopefully, a reasonable journalist on my day. But above all else, some people would probably disagree and say I am more of a personality.
Wether it be on social media, on the radio, or on national television, everything I’ve ever said I firmly believe in and will continue to do so.
I don’t see myself changing, maybe I will be better at articulating my thoughts and will choose more appropriate platforms at times, but the simple fact is that the world is your platform, you’ve just got to build it first.
My friend is exactly right – I do have a big mouth and I believe what I say. I am sure that you could fill a room with the amount of people who believe that Mike Pulman is a guy that has far too much to say.
To be brutally honest here – they can go and suck eggs for all I care.
But why do I do this? Why did I make the decision to campaign on the things that I did? Why do I care as much as I do?
Honestly, because I was fed up. Things can always be improved, and you should never ever stop trying to better a particular service or give disabled people the same social opportunities as anyone else.
To say that people with disabilities are asexual is not only wrong, but it’s also uneducated. I know that society has come a hell of a long way, I know that they have better educational opportunities and more inclusion than ever before, and I know that the level of awareness towards disability is at an all-time high.
But that still doesn’t excuse the fact that a lot of the injustices that are occurring in our societies are not known, understood, or punished.
An abusive support worker in the Waikato wasn’t only able to escape formal punishment after she was caught out by her bosses, but she maintained her team leader status in the residential home. Do you remember that story? If not, you can read it here – https://michaelpulman.org/2016/06/04/abusive-support-worker-avoids-punishment/
These things effect the lives of real, scared, and vulnerable people.
Talking about sex and disability isn’t as complex as people have labelled it either. Even if it was, a complexity can be worked through. The way I see it is this. The disability sector has put this discussion into the too hard basket.
The solution isn’t just acknowledging that ‘everyone’ is entitled to a full and loving sex life, this is a blanket statement because we all know that already.
But again – this blog isn’t meant to start campaigning on one certain issue.
Sometimes I make mistakes in my work, and I’ve made even bigger ones in my personal life. Having four different jobs (journalist, radio host, public speaker, and advocate) is really tough and requires a lot of time.
But the thing is, I am the sort of person that goes into everything absolutely wearing my heart on my sleeve. I am sensitive, enthusiastic, and passionate. When you through OCD into that mix, you’ve got a person that can be challenging a lot of the time.
You’d have to ask me when I retire if I am satisfied with where I am in life. Because for me, work is life, there is often no distinction.
This was PART ONE in a series of “Why I Can’t Keep Quiet” blogs to be published over the next month.