Britain’s Sir Lee Pearson shared a heartfelt message of love and acceptance to people across the world following his 12th Paralympic gold medal-winning performance on the opening day of dressage in Tokyo (26 August).
The British rider, who topped the grade II individual contest with his homebred Breezer on a score of 76.27%, was chatting with the press after his test when he spoke about his hope for a more accepting world.
“Love has to prevail, really,” said Lee. “Whatever love, whatever shape or form. And I think if you’re born with a disability, if you have a child with a disability, if you’re born with a same sex attraction, if your daughter comes out, or your son, then just love them.
“Nobody wants to be different, but we have to embrace different people, because that’s society, that’s the world. Those different people, they’re not going anywhere. So you can say it’s illegal. You can make them feel awful but somewhere in the world, another gay boy, or girl will be born. Somewhere in the world somebody will be born with no limbs. Life goes on and it’s silly in this day and age that we have countries that are still in the stone ages.”
“But I’m just a horse rider…” he added, with a smile.
Lee, who is openly gay, spoke about the inward and outward struggles people across the world face, whether that is sexuality or disability, both hidden and visible, and how love is at the very heart of acceptance.
“I think anybody in any job in any life situation, that in this day and age is a shame that people just can’t be themselves, can’t accept their disability, can’t accept their sexuality,” he added.
“And I think it’s sad that we still have countries that make people feel so awful themselves. When I came out, I struggled more with my own feelings than I did with society. Society was changing when I was 20. It’s a big battle with yourself. It’s a battle you can hide as well. My disability I can’t hide, so I walked around in my head very high. That was the way I was brought up by my parents, to accept my disability.”
He added: “The Paralympics is about acceptance, so I think it’s nice that you guys [journalists] mentioned that, and, if we can’t take acceptance into sexuality around the world, as well as disability, then I think that’s a shame.
“I’m not very political. I think I’ve made change by just being, but there are very important people out there who chain themselves to gates and do fight for rights. I wouldn’t be here if those people hadn’t fought, but I think me just being, and allowing you to interview me and ask those questions, hopefully will give other people confidence to just be.
“Then there’ll be other people fighting as well in the background with government[s] and with society, because sometimes society changes government, but sometimes also government have to be brave, and help to change society.
“I am the most abnormal normal person you’ll ever meet. I’m very normal and if that comes across, that it’s ok, it’s not frightening, it shouldn’t be hidden in dark nightclubs.
“Once again, I’m a horse rider in the middle of Great Britain, and I just ride horses. But if me riding horses can help one person in a sticky situation or who doesn’t love and can’t accept themselves or their family are struggling, then my hope is that it does help somebody.”
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