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DisabledSOS and The Future of Fan Representation✊

Updated: Jun 30, 2022

Written by: Mackenzie Christian

For this week's blog post, we chatted with Carly Webster of DisabledSOS, about the upcoming documentary she is a part of that will shine a light on fans with disabilities and how they maneuver the live shows and fandoms in their own way.✨

Long before Carly Webster was pioneering a DisabledSOS documentary, she was just an OG fan of 5SOS. The concept began back in 2016 when Carly and a group of other disabled fans attempted to trend the hashtag #disabledsos. They had seen hashtags for other communities within the 5SOS fandom, but never really their own. Other disabled fans began posting their stories and showing their support, and the hashtag ended up trending at #5 in the US and #3 in the UK on September 19, 2016🔥

Some of Carly’s favorite moments as a fan of 5SOS have been getting a video message from a friend from Luke Hemmings, getting Luke’s pick on the Meet You There Tour (her favorite show she’s ever been to BTW), and meeting Ashton Irwin while camping out before a show! Describing their music as “universal” and them as artists that “leave room for interpretation”, Carly connects on a deeper level to their music than most. Her favorite song being “Ghost of You,” she uses the space that 5SOS has left to interpret the song as how she feels at concerts as a disabled person - like no one sees disabled fans or they only see their disabilities. This is what inspired her first fan project! Although she started the project only a few weeks before 5SOS’ tour was set to begin, she organized for fans to raise blue lights when they played “Ghost of You”. The blue lights represented all disabled fans and unity amongst a fan base. 💙

In 2019, Carly knew she wasn't going to do a full-on tour project since the World War Joy Tour was not specifically 5SOS', so she decided to do something a bit different. She created a nearly 180-page book of disabled fan stories as a thank-you to the boys of 5SOS for their acceptance, inclusion, and kindness towards their disabled fans. 📘 She knew that not all fans had the opportunity to meet and tell their story to the band, so she wanted to be able to give them that opportunity as well as to keep the project alive. And she did just that! She was able to deliver the book before the tour started so that they were thinking of DisabledSOS on the tour, beginning to end! This is one of the many reasons why Carly is so passionate about creating a documentary for representation across the board of disabled fans.

Fans of all backgrounds, disabilities, fandoms, and genres will be featured in the documentary. Carly said she wants this because like music, the disabled community is “on a spectrum” and deserves to be represented equally. 💖 Through music, Carly and other disabled fans have found community in fandoms and online friendships through their mutual love of 5SOS and other artists like Lennon Stella, Hey Violet, Lauren Sanderson, Halsey, Shawn Mendes, Paramore (which are a few of Carly’s favorites). This documentary is hopefully going to shine a light on how hit or miss accessibility is for disabled fans at venues and how their “physical inabilities do not determine [their] ability to appreciate and be impacted by music." Carly’s aim for this documentary is to make sure everyone knows that the disabled fan community matters just as much as any other fan. A simple offer of help can make a huge difference in a disabled fans’ experience, and Carly hopes to show people how important it is to not look past disabled fans.

Set to be released early next year before the start of 5SOS’ No Shame Tour, this documentary is a huge conversation that needs to start somewhere and Carly and the rest of DisabledSOS and other disabled fans of other fandoms are ready to be heard!🤩 We hope that you keep up with the conversation that Carly is pioneering right in front of our eyes and next time you see a disabled fan at a show, treat them as your equal and see them as the fan they are! 💟

Find Carly and DisabledSOS on all socials - @disabledsos 💙

If you or someone you know have interest in joining the documentary, here is what you need to know!

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