Being a torch bearer : mixed feelings and intersections

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Charlotte of the Women’s Resource Centre asked me to write a blog about being a torch bearer for this year’s Olympics 2012. What does it mean to me? To be honest, I am not sure. It’s a great honour and I never expected to be chosen.

At the moment I am too busy to think about the event itself, but I think I can say I am curious by the fact that my nominee proclaimed me to be ‘humble and unassuming’, luckily she didnt say quiet. I do what I do because I am fired up by other people and a passion to highlight social injustice – such as domestic violence faced by disabled women and how it is more difficult for us to deal with it with the extra barriers and impairments with support needs. I spoke about this with my good friend, Michelle Daley at the Million Women Rise March in 2010 at Trafalgar Sq and as a member of the CEDAW working group at the Women’s Resource Centre.

It seems to me that it’s more important that I would be carrying the torch for honouring the organisations I am involved in locally and nationally. To represent disabled people/women play a part in the achievements of all that the Olympics stand for. According to my social networks at present, the Olympics is now morphed into a different event altogether as it looms closer with all the security measures and financial costs coming to light.

chinese calligraphy family name 'Tao'

I think a part of me want to celebrate the incongruity of me, an emigrant of immigrant parents, being a torch bearer here in the UK. My parents do not understand any of the campaigning work I do, but they know what the Olympics stand for. They are proud of me, their disabled daughter. And I am glad that I can give them that by doing this. I was never able to attend PE lessons when I was at school. Though I am not a Paralympian, I still can be a part of it somehow.

I’ve just had a little discussion tonight and a small throw away remark of not going for tokenism caught me on the quick. In everything I do, I am scrupulous about being inclusive and sometimes it means that you don’t belong truly to any specific group entirely. I put this question to the panel at the NUJ Black Members Council AGM last weekend: how do you interweave the different equality strands when they are present in your identity? It is difficult to present the complexity in having multiple identities. How do you represent each identity and identify yourself as such without losing the other? As a BME disabled woman, I want to carry the flame for the diversity in me. 

I was told that being a torch bearer is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I hope my being one here in Coventry will enable disabled BME women to feel included in this event!

- Eleanor Thoe Lisney

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  1. Pingback: Olympic Torch Bearer Eleanor Lisney | Coventry Women's Voices

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