To start with, tell me a little about the online “communities” you’re in, such as social media or forums or groups you might belong to?
I have really started to interact with many LGBT groups online to talk to like minded people in a non-judgemental and sometimes private space. I interact a lot among theatre groups and with circus and theatre performers, but also with my soccer team. I have a few group chats going with friends. I feel like I can really be me.
I am also on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Are these groups on Facebook or elsewhere?
How did you find these groups?
Mainly through friends who recommended them or added me.
Well being in a small town I have always been hesitant and nervous about expressing myself such as speaking as an openly gay woman, being myself… I s’pose I had a fear that people would not be accepting.
You say you feel that you “can really be me”. Do you think you are different online from how you are offline? What is the real you like?
Well being in a small town I have always been hesitant and nervous about expressing myself such as speaking as an openly gay woman, being myself such as not having to hide that, due to fear that it may effect business or that people will talk. I s’pose I had a fear that people would not be accepting.
Where among friends nothing is off limits.
Do you find that the support in these online spaces has changed how you interact in more public areas, or are you still quite private about your sexuality outside of those trusted circles?
No, I am pretty open now, everyone at work knows I am gay. I am still fearful a little but definitely not as much as I was when I first came out.
I am getting bolder and bolder and slowly reaching that stage where my thoughts are if they can’t accept who I am I don’t want them as a friend.
I have very strong support people offline too.
You mentioned you’re on Twitter as well – what types of things do you talk about there mainly?
Very much theatre and sport.
Twitter/Instagram are those public accounts?
Yes they are.
As I have grown theatre-wise I have to be careful… Twitter especially, I use it to joke around and have fun with fellow performers.
As in…be careful with what you say in public?
Yes, make sure any info theatre-wise such as castings are public before I publish them. Sometimes I know media call details and castings before due to my work because I have to write them in my Theatre People column. So it’s hard not to congratulate people publicly.
Do you find that you share many personal details about yourself in these public forums?
With my sexuality I am very open on Twitter and I love sharing my circus pics of me – unlike Facebook where occasionally there are photos of the kids. On Instagram I only share what I ask permission to use.
These days everyone’s lives seem to be assumed as being public domain.
Especially as I am close to some performers you don’t want to share pics of their kids without permission, like when I have coffee with them and the kids are there.
We’ve talked a little about your private online communities and the public online communities…do you think you act differently in each?
I s’pose yes, it depends how close you are to people and what the purpose of the community is.
Social media has helped autism-wise. If I am going to meet a performer, I interact with them online first, it kind of breaks the ice and you usually find a conversation topic so that it helps me with things such as starting conversations.
Are you close to people you’ve only ever interacted with online, or do you need to meet someone in person to feel close?
Social media has helped autism-wise. If I am going to meet a performer, I interact with them online first, it kind of breaks the ice and you usually find a conversation topic so that it helps me with things such as starting conversations, introducing myself, etc.
Do you have any good ice breakers?
Usually I have seen them in a show or know a show they are about to perform in so that is always a good start.
Oh and my circus job is always a good icebreaker as I s’pose it’s not the most common job!
Oh I bet!
Many performers know I am a performer as circus is in both my Twitter and Instagram usernames and I spin plates, which is a great icebreaker – I do have a funny story regarding that.
I was sitting waiting for a friend after a show and Hannah (photo above) walks out and goes “did you bring the plates?” I had never even spoken or met Hannah, (my friend) Teagan had told her and I’m like no, but I will next time if you give them a go.
Are pink plates your trademark?
Haha there are other colours here but the hot pink ones are my trademark as they are my favourite colour. It’s sad when like me you colour coordinate your costume to your plates!
You seem to have a lot of creative outlets to express yourself.
Yes it helps a lot to express myself positively.
Is being able to share your creativity online important to you?
Yes, definitely. It’s not to big-note myself but I love sharing my achievements and also helping others.
When I first shared my [blog] post I had no idea that other people would be interested in reading my thoughts but people did want to and that is why I keep it up because I want to help others, whether they are parents or have ASD themselves.
How do you help others?
Well I hope my poetry helps others and my writing positively impacts or inspires others.
I started my blog, Aspie Circus Girl, first and foremost as a personal outlet to vent as writing has always been a way for me to release negative energy and reclaim my thoughts.
I was at my writing group and it was suggested that I start a blog so I did. When I first shared my post I had no idea that other people would be interested in reading my thoughts but people did want to and that is why I keep it up because I want to help others, whether they are parents or have ASD (autism spectrum disorder) themselves.