It seems so strange to think that an entire month has gone by already.
Yesterday was the last day for Disability Pride Month. August is now here. Time sure goes by fast during quarantine, right?
A month of learning, leaning in and listening. A month of crying out, crying along with my fellow disabled friends that ableism sucks, and crying about the sucky parts about being disabled.
A month of saying that I love being disabled. A month of grazing my fingers against across my chest where my atrophic scars stick out. A month of staring back with a crooked smile at the way my atrophy has changed my appearance. If I don’t smile back at that appearance: am I being a “roll model” for younger girls? I battled with these thoughts this month. These are the thoughts that I wrestle as an advocate and as a disabled woman. This is realness between you and I. These mix together somewhere in between the world of Disability Pride and realness.
I must admit that despite it all, it was a month of truly really wonderful things.
Disability Pride is beautiful for many reasons. We’re not always granted access to many things. But when it comes to our identities? We’re not always granted access to owning our autonomy; owning our identity. Disability Pride allows us to take ownership; to say that this is “us.”
We are proud. We’re happy. We love ourselves. We love one another. We hope you love us, too, and the complexity this brings. Disability Pride does not mean that disability is perfect. It means ownership of identity, of autonomy; of acknowledgment. A sense of belonging.
I hope the conversation that I held the month of July made you learn.
I hope you learned from me. I hope that I taught you about new things — especially if you were able-bodied. I hope you learned about inclusion. I hope you learned about accessibility. I hope you learned about inaccessibility. I hope you learned that it’s okay if you’re still learning. We are ALL learning still.
Most of all, I hope you learned that this conversation will not end because July is over.
The ADA celebrated 30 years, but the work is not done.
The same way that Disability Pride Month may only be 31 days, these conversations will continue year-round. Keep listening. Talking about ableism doesn’t stop when July ends at midnight. I hope you know that accessibility and inaccessibility are key points in my life. The lives of many disabled people. Keep having these conversations. Keep learning.
If you’re able-bodied, please keep learning for the sake of your loved ones who are disabled. Keep learning for the sake of other disabled people, even strangers. Keep learning and engaging because our lives depend on things changing. August is here and advocacy will continue on.
I must end things by saying that I thank everyone who has helped me celebrate Disability Pride 2020! Especially everyone who has celebrated #SBYDisabilityPride2020! Thanks, especially, Salisbury for proclaiming July to be Disability Pride Month! What a way to celebrate July 2020!