8 Comments

  1. Annie
    Annie July 31, 2018 at 11:41 am | | Reply

    Thank you so much, Thomas and Erica, for giving such revealing, thoughtful, intelligent answers and for asking such tough, probing questions. I know that Thomas is just one person, but I can’t think anyone who will not benefit from hearing his descriptions of how it feels and what it means to be treated as differently-abled.

    1. erika
      erika March 18, 2022 at 9:06 am | | Reply

      i love differently-abled…never heard it before but will be using it!

  2. Vini
    Vini August 4, 2018 at 12:29 am | | Reply

    This is so amazing, important, and tender. So thankful for Thomas’ candor in this interview and for the important work he’s doing.

  3. erika
    erika March 18, 2022 at 9:04 am | | Reply

    I was blown away by this interview. I am the mother of teenage son with autism and hearing this brought tears to my eyes. Thomas is such bright sensitive young man..and also brave to talk so openly. People need to hear more interviews like this one to humanize and give voice to people with differences….especially the neurodiverse. Talking openly about sexuality and being gay on the spectrum is so inportant. I plan on sharing this with my son…there is no doubt ASD individual and families will will hear this and feel better about future possibilities. Thank you!!

  4. Sandra Gillim
    Sandra Gillim March 18, 2022 at 11:36 am | | Reply

    Thomas was always a favorite student of mine at BRMS when he was in middle school. Thomas was always able to express himself well, but this interview brought tears to my eyes. So glad this was rebroadcast. I hope Thomas is doing well. Please say hello to him for me.

  5. Deb Baker-Moody
    Deb Baker-Moody March 18, 2022 at 12:25 pm | | Reply

    Thomas thank you for sharing your story! You are making a difference in the world for many people. It also brought me to tears and I am so glad it caught it this morning on my drive to work this morning! So proud of you!

  6. Ben Cannon
    Ben Cannon March 18, 2022 at 7:01 pm | | Reply

    Published in Constant Listener, 2018
    Written by Ben Cannon

    There is a term, coined by the late disability rights advocate Stella Young, that is pejoratively applied to the production of stories featuring disabled people overcoming obstacles for the emotional benefit of those not living with disability. That term is “inspiration porn.” It is remarkably trenchant, cutting to the quick of the collective objectification of the disabled. But there is an unintended irony attendant with the term, specifically as it relates to the use of the word porn. It is one of the only times that disabled individuals are ever mentioned within a remotely sexual context, even as it is used in a mocking sense here. Too often the typical public refuse to acknowledge the romantic and sexual agency of those who appear different than they.

    On this week’s episode of Rumble Strip, the unassumingly brilliant podcast from producer Erica Heilman, listeners get a chance to hear just what that feels like first-hand. The episode, “Thomas Talks About Coming Out. Twice.” features Heilman in conversation with Thomas Caswell, a young man with autism, who describes his life as a disabled gay man. It is a refreshingly candid discussion on the ways that society hems in the lives of those with disabilities through unconscious expectation. Heilman’s prodigious talent for interviewing, at once frank, sensitive, and unobtrusive, is on full display, guiding her conversation with Caswell into wonderful territory. Just as it takes two to tango, it is Caswell’s openness with Heilman that gives the piece its soul. One feels an instant connection with his emotional plight, a recognition of the essential humanity that is lacquered over by labels and preset expectations.

    As I was listening, I couldn’t help but be feel it was a sort of cousin to the late Australian producer Jesse Cox’s Third Coast award-winning piece, “The Real Tom Banks”. I hesitate to describe that piece in too great a detail, just to say that both are exemplary explorations of the realities facing disabled persons in search of romantic connection.

    It is important to keep in mind however the necessity that disabled people be able to control the telling of their own stories as well. Last year I became familiar with disability consultant and podcaster Andrew Gurza through an appearance on the unique Canadian podcast Sickboy, where a trio of friends interview individuals with chronic illness and disabilities. Gurza, who has cerebral palsy and a delightful sense of humor, hosts a program called Disability After Dark, which is the first podcast to deal exclusively with sex and disability. Having launched in 2016, the groundbreaking program is closing in on its 100th episode at time of writing, providing a vast archive of topics, experiences, stories from those in the disabled community. As I’ve written about previously, listening to podcasts that don’t conform to one’s current view of the world are excellent passive channels for exploration of cultures and lives that aren’t necessarily their own. It’s remarkable that there are few better ways to open one’s eyes than by opening their ears.
    Link: http://constantlistener.com/constant-listener-weekly-august-1-2018/

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