Love and disability

Fighting stereotypes: Geelong's Thomas Banks has been touring his one-man show on finding love and dealing with cerebral palsy. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Fighting stereotypes: Geelong's Thomas Banks has been touring his one-man show on finding love and dealing with cerebral palsy. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Finding love is known for being a notoriously difficult occupation.

But when you’re a gay man navigating the ins and outs of dating apps while also negotiating the challenges of a physical disability, it can be even trickier.

Thomas Banks is a 26-year-old man from Geelong with cerebral palsy. But rather than keep his experiences to himself, he’s decided to turn his story into a one-man theatrical performance.

The aim of his show, Someone Like Thomas Banks, is to challenge stereotypes and invite audiences to see what his life with cerebral palsy is like.

Banks is a key performer of the inaugural Snap Disability and Arts Festival, which has been running at the Ballarat Mining Exchange for the past week and is due to wrap up this Sunday.

“There are assumptions in society that all people with disabilities are asexual,” he said.

“It’s hard because on one level, people assume things about me before they even meet me, so it’s difficult.

“It’s really hard because people judge you.”

His show focuses on the scenarios of Banks speaking to people online, then meeting them in person.

“People don’t normally come to a disability show, but I believe people will love it,” he said.

Karden Disability Support Foundation operations manager Emma Barrance said the festival was anchored around Saturday’s International Day of People with Disability, which aims to “break down disability barriers and celebrate abilities”.

“Some of the disability community like identifying with that day, and some people think it shouldn’t be a one-day event, it should be an everyday commitment,” she said.

Ms Barrance said other highlights of the festival this weekend were a session on diversity casting with Neighbours actor and disability advocate Kate Hood, and Sunday’s performance of Enunciations – which looks at the 21st century experience of living with a disability.

“Kate Hood is a wheelchair user and she advocatees for diversity casting and authentic screening. She’s also working as an actor, living with a disability and also playing a character with a disability,” she said.

Someone Like Thomas Banks will be held this Saturday at 8pm at the Ballarat Mining Exchange. Tickets are $10. For more details, visit www.karden.org.au/snap