It’s been a big week. Of advocacy and misconceptions and stigma and messages getting lost.

DessertCalledDiabetesGate was exhausting and the wash up of it for me is really just how disappointed I am in the whole situation.

This post is not about trying to keep the issue alive – especially given that when I wrote about it on Tuesday I was suggesting we all just walk away. In fact, this post isn’t really about the café and the dessert at all.

No, this post is about how we, as a community, dealt with the situation and how, in my opinion, many of us got it wrong. And because we got it wrong, our real message was lost.

While many people asked the café politely to change the name of the dessert and were able to articulate the reasons why, many others got defensive and aggressive. Some attacked the café, others attacked individuals who disagreed with their stance. It got ugly at times – very ugly.   Our community went from looking like people genuinely concerned about trying to stop stigma about our health condition to a bunch of wowsers.

And from there, it was a short leap to ‘Australians can’t take a joke anymore’ and ‘it’s political correctness gone mad’. Our community was attacked on Facebook, in the comments sections of news articles and on television. Studio 10 picked up the story and the show’s panel discussed it. Thanks to Jessica Rowe for being the voice of reason on the show who tried see the situation from ‘our’ side.

But that’s where the message got lost. It stopped being about diabetes. Instead, it became about people needing to lighten up and have a laugh. I laugh at myself and MY diabetes all the time. But I don’t do it at the expense of others. I would never make a joke about someone else’s medical condition or someone else’s diabetes.

We need people to understand why it’s not okay to call a dessert diabetes. We need people to understand the hurt and the stigma they are contributing to when they use this ‘humour’. We need people to understand that it’s not that we can’t laugh at ourselves – it’s just that we are a little sick of the misconceptions out there about diabetes.

We can’t get the wider community to understand our side when we get abusive or aggressive or get our messages mixed up. We can’t successful advocate anything if we can’t do it collaboratively, evenly and calmly. This doesn’t mean that we all need to agree – clearly there were some people who couldn’t have cared less about this particular issue – and that’s fine!

United we stand, divided we fall. This week, on this occasion, I believe we fell. Quite spectacularly.

There’s lots coming up in the next few weeks and if you live in Melbourne, you may be interested in these couple of events. These events are all run by Diabetes Australia – Vic. (I’m employed by DA – Vic, but they have not asked me to promote their activities here. I’m doing it simply because the events are great and people should try to get along if they can!)

Smack bang in the middle of National Diabetes Week, Diabetes Australia – Vic is hosting a movie evening where we’ll be showing a film called Sweet 16. It’s free, but bookings are essential. Here are the details.

If you are aged 18 – 25 years and live with type 1 diabetes, check out Connect – In – also coming up in July. It’s a weekend full of information and social activities. Details here – book quickly!

The latest in type 1 diabetes research and technology will be covered at the annual Research Revealed event on 26 July. Book now!

Hope you all have a great weekend. Here’s some Alicia Keys for your Friday and for my New York dreaming and planning.

 

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