Parker Hatcher chose to meet for this Outwords interview at the St. Vital Shopping Centre McDonalds, not because he likes the fast-food joint, but because it is one of the few accessible spaces in the mall.
“I surveyed St.Vital Mall on it’s accessibility and found only 9 per cent of the stores were accessible. How is that okay?” asks Hatcher. While this is clearly an issue to him and other people with disabilities, people aren’t really talking about it.
This is why Hatcher, a musician, is trying to raise $25,000 to go on tour across Canada.
“I’m not going to stop until it’s done,” says Hatcher. “I have no choice because this is something that I have to do.”
Hatcher has been a musician for years. As Cassie Hatcher, he says he had a decent following. Since changing his name and voice, some of his following has dropped away simply because his fans didn’t follow his transition to Parker.
After his first album came out, Hatcher planned to go on tour. But the day the box of albums arrived at the door, he felt something was off with his body. “I later found out that I had lupus,” says Hatcher. “And I kind of gave up.”
According to Lupus Canada, lupus is a chronic disease. Inflammation in one or more parts of the body cause a variety of symptoms.
As Hatcher puts it, “It sucks.”
For three years, Hatcher says he laid around and didn’t do much. His mom has lupus and he says he had watched her give up on life because of the disease as well.
Then, last year, a friend asked him to travel to Toronto to perform for the release party of Mosaic, a documentary.
“When I got there, it was like my whole world came back,” says Hatcher. He decided to get back into music. “I thought, what better way to get back into life than to make another album.”
Initially, his goal was just to release another album. “It ended up becoming something that was way more personal to me than I thought it would be,” says Hatcher.
The album, titled Ward 3, is named after Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre’s ward for patients with mental health issues.
“I wanted to base the album around the extremes of emotions and feelings,” says Hatcher. The album tells of the emotions, but also reassures that it is okay to have those extreme feelings.
“Every song is based off of something that I am feeling and I realized that a lot of it was disability related,” says Hatcher. Once he realized that, he decided he wanted to use his music to help people in the GLBT and disabled communities.
He thinks touring as a disabled musician will get people talking about issues. It will also show other people that despite his disability, he isn’t giving up what he loves.
“I really hope to inspire people to do the same,” says Hatcher. “I feel like that’s my purpose in life.”
Hatcher’s campaign is running until early July. Once it is done, he will start another campaign.
“This is going to be my life now,” says Hatcher.
Meg Crane is the online editor of Outwords and the driving force behind the feminist/environmentalist magazine, Cockroach.