Meet the drag queen who isn’t letting her disability get in the way
If you’ve read my past interviews with Sassi Afrika, you will know that she is indeed as sassy as the name suggests. However, there’s much more to this Queen than meets the eye. Living with a disability, but never letting that hold her back, Sassi Afrika is now on a mission to raise the visibility of people with disabilities at Pride events across the land.
“I am passionate because I have disabilities too. I have cerebral palsy that affects the left side of my body, and I have mild learning disabilities.”
Daniel Browne: Sassi, it’s lovely to talk to you again. Thank you for taking the time out for this interview. How have you been?
Sassi Afrika: Well honey I’ve been busy. You should know that. Everyone else does. I’ve had a great year, darling. My third album, Red Hot, came out at the end of last year. It’s been so well received. Of course, so it should be, but I am grateful for the support my music gets. No Grammys or Brit Awards yet, but I’m working on it. I’ve also been focusing more on the charity work that I do. It’s in my heart. Yes, I do have one.
DB: That all sounds fantastic. Congratulations on the new album. Let’s talk more about your charity work. What have you been doing?
SA: As you know, I support the LGBT+ community completely. Well, I am LGBT+, you know. But I’ve become a trustee with an amazing Pride charity and I take the lead on running the LGBT+ youth group, the parents support group, and the social group for LGBT+ people with learning disabilities. Everyone wants a piece of Sassi, but supporting the community comes before anything else. Someone’s got to serve the tea and cake.
“…people with disabilities should always be included. We should be visible. We are human. We are the same as everyone else. We need a seat at the table, like Solange.”
DB: I keep an eye on what you’re up to on social media and noticed that recently you’ve become more vocal about people with disabilities being visible and included at LGBT+ events. What sparked that?
SA: Darling, people with disabilities should always be included. We should be visible. I’ve been to many Prides and sometimes feel disappointed that LGBT+ people with disabilities are nowhere to be seen. Especially not as part of the line-up. It’s upsetting. But rather than just be upset, I thought I would do something about it. So, I am working for change. I don’t mean working for the bit of loose change in your pocket, but for people with disabilities to be represented at Prides. I set up the group for LGBT+ people with learning disabilities so that we have somewhere to go. So we can meet new people and not be outcasts. We are human. We are the same as everyone else. We need a seat at the table, like Solange.
DB: I hear you, and I feel your passion…
SA: I am passionate because I have disabilities too. I have cerebral palsy that affects the left side of my body, and I have mild learning disabilities. I know what it’s like to be treated differently and not be included. But my disabilities don’t hold me back. I’m here to help others achieve the same thing. We can all be Kings and Queens. Someone told me that the word disability has the word ability in it. So, I focus on my ability and help others with theirs.
“(Prides need to…) organise some chill out zones for people with physical disabilities and learning disabilities. Consider us. Include us.”
DB: What do you think Pride events can do to promote inclusion and visibility of LGBT+ people with disabilities?
SA: I think every Pride can do more. LGBT+ people with disabilities need more than access. We need a platform. We need to shine. I feel that some Prides have lots of non-LGBT+ performers, not enough LGBT+ performers, and none that have a disability. There are many LGBT+ people with disabilities who are talented and can bring that talent to Prides. So, people with disabilities need to be included on stage line-ups. For example, I am hosting the main stage at Warwickshire Pride again this year. There’s a plug. I mean, I’m not saying book me, but please do have LGBT+ people with disabilities represented. Talk to us. Get our views. Let us help you plan your Prides. It would also be nice to see stalls that focus on disabilities. Like having disability charities present. Organise some chill out zones for people with physical disabilities and learning disabilities. Consider us. Include us.
DB: I agree that Prides need to represent LGBT+ people as much as possible, so I wish you well with your mission.
SA: Thank you. I am sassy and all of that, but I am human too. I care. I want to make a difference.
DB: What’s 2018 got in store for Sassi Afrika?
SA: Well I have just told you, darling. Are you tuning in to the same programme? I will be campaigning, but I will also be bringing sass to stages everywhere. I am hoping that more Prides will book me. I have some gigs and hosting jobs coming up. Also, my new single Power Bottom will be out in time for Valentine’s Day. I know how romantic that sounds. I’m just going to be me. That’s 2018 for you.
Sassi Afrika’s latest album Red Hot is available on Spotify and iTunes. You can follow her on Twitter @SassiAfrika.