Rosie Jones has spoken out in the BBC’s Access All podcast about the staggering levels of vile abuse she receives when she appears on TV, describing it as ‘exhausting’. She attracted the worst abuse after her two appearances on BBC One’s Question Time, with hateful trolls targeting her over her cerebral palsy.
When podcast hosts Nikki Fox and Emma Tracey asked her the comments she received, she said: ‘Literally every ableist abuse under the sun. They told me that I should be in a cage. I shouldn’t be on TV. I should die. And it was because I was exposing myself to a different kind of audience. I think Question Time is brilliant but it attracts a lot of angry people.’
Jones says that those viewers tend to get furious with her for being ‘female, disabled and gay’, which they vent online and when asked if she would do it again she adds: ‘Yes, but I would go in there more prepared and I’d probably shut my Twitter down for a few weeks.’
Jones, who was a Funny Women Stage Award finalist in 2016, stands up for being political and championing diversity, but confesses that she find it ‘hard and exhausting’. She says that it’s hard to be her ‘normal positive self’ when faced with abusive comments.
‘Being a woman and being gay means that every time I’m on TV I’ll get a comment about what I sound like, my disability, my weight, and then what I look like, my teeth, my hair, and then the gay stuff.
‘And what is awful, is every single one of those negative thoughts, I can go on social media right now and a stranger will be saying them back to me. It’s so hard.’
Jones is currently making a Channel 4 documentary about online abuse and society’s attitudes towards disabled people, which is due to air in May.
She says: ‘That has been quite hard for me because a lot of the things that I’ve shut away, masked over, I’ve had to confront. And because of that, I’m in therapy.
‘I would recommend therapy for literally everyone out there, because I’m really dealing with a lot of internalised ableism and things that I probably painted over with a joke.
‘But what I will say is by talking about this I feel a lot of release, and it’s actually going. I am not Tigger, I am not this over-optimistic, eternally happy human being who goes, “I love being disabled every day’”, because I don’t. Because society wears me down.
‘I now think in order to eradicate that, in order to face the abusers, I’ve got to come here and go, “You know what, it’s not OK”.’
Jones says that she isn’t deterred by the abuse she gets as by being one of the very few visibly disabled comedians in the public eye, she is helping to change how this is portrayed on television and the comedy industry.
‘By me going on those shows and using my platform, it’s my hope and my dream that I can encourage more disabled people to come into the industry,’ she says.
‘We’re still unfortunately at a stage where they’re getting either me or another white, straight, non-disabled person. So it is my ultimate dream that I can go on a panel show and be among two, three, four other disabled people.’
Listen to the full Access All: Disability News and Mental Health podcast here on BBC Sounds.
Rosie Jones is on her Triple Threat Tour now, see remaining ticket availability here. Catch her while you can!