Note: This story first ran on Wednesday April 18
Kim Baker Wilson explains how a homophobic attack changed his life.
I used to describe it like having my own funeral. The old Kim disappeared, he isn't here now.
It happened after I was walking down a street at night.
I remember being called a f****t, a hard punch to the left of my head, and a flash of white.
Things seemed OK in hospital. I got the side of my head stitched back together. My medical files say I had seizures or spasms of some kind, but nothing too serious.
The serious part came later, in stealth; it crept up in silence.
I went to get those stitches out. I said I still wasn't feeling the best. I was different.
Tests revealed something was wrong. Scary words filled a report with my name on it: Memory, low average. Executive functioning, low average. Verbal fluency, reduced ability. Impairment. Below expectation. Below average.
They were all ways of saying I was brain damaged.
At work, I got taken off the air. The thing I was great at was gone.
"Kim's work is characterised by misuse of vocabulary, unclear grammar, difficulties with logic and structure, lack of sentence cohesion," is something mentioned in a later report.
Broadcasting was all I'd ever done, and all I'd ever cared for. I was really good at it.
But now I was getting rehabilitation, and now I was getting speech therapy.
I spent my late 20s and early 30s learning how to talk and write again. It spanned years.
I had tests using what looked like children's picture books, and failed.
I had to learn to say 10 vegetables, or 10 things starting with 's', and failed.
I had to say what the similarities and differences are between a dishwasher and an oven, a glove and a sock, or a mirror and a window.
My injury is well-known in media circles. But it's not something I've talked about publicly.
I'm talking about it because while a lot has been written about freedom of speech and about sport and role models, there's still a lot that needs to be said.
I've been told I can never ski, snowboard, and it'd be best not to cycle.
Years later I've been caught out not knowing or being able to place someone if they've come up to me on the street, when I actually know them very well.
And if I'm tired and run down, I'll sometimes mispronounce a simple word. I used to say the wrong word altogether, and say something about champagne instead of shampoo.
My partner is hurt when I'm too scared to hold his hand in public, fearful I'll be bashed again.
Which takes us to more recent events.
What some people see as freedom of expression, I see as a vehicle for hate and prejudice.
I see a sanctioned target put on people who are often already doing it tough and made to feel less.
Freedom of speech doesn't need to cross a line into speech that spreads hate and puts people in harm's way.
High-profile people wouldn't be able to talk like this about other groups.
I don't know why the LGBTQ+ community has to hear it.
I don't know why people are allowed to say it.
But I do know what it does.
To many, it makes it seem like it's appropriate. It makes it seem like it should be done.
It makes it seem like it's a normal thing to say. It shouldn't be. It's not.
The person that hit me thought it was OK to say names and hit a person because they're gay.
I don't need anyone to tell me I'm going to hell, I've already been.
And there are people who are hurt far worse by people who think there's nothing wrong with wounding a gay person. At least I'm here.
* Kim Baker Wilson is a 1 News Producer.