So today marks the last day of July. It also marks the last day of Disability Pride Month, something I wasn’t aware of until a couple of weeks ago. I knew disability pride events were a thing with celebrations happening in places like Brighton. I didn’t realise there was a whole month dedicated to it.
From a non-disabled viewpoint the notion of disability pride may be something you can’t quite grasp. This is because of the way society perceives disability. We are socialized into believing that disability is something to be hidden- too taboo to be spoken about. Disability is often paired in conversation with shame. The language used to talk about disability is a reflection of this. Some individuals use alternative terms such as handicapable or differently abled to avoid saying disabled all together. They may believe that this empowers disabled people but for some it just further illustrates the shame attached to disability as people feel like they can’t even say the word.
(DISCLAIMER: if you like these alternative terms, that’s perfectly okay, I’m not trying to invalidate you, this is just my personal opinion)
Disabled is not a bad word. you can say it, honestly.
It is simply an adjective that describes a part of me.
Identifying as disabled signals to other people that there are simply some things I can’t do because of my conditions. Walking for long distances, lifting heaving things and plaiting my own hair to name a few examples. There will also be certain things I do differently to non-disabled people. Not being able to do these things or doing them differently is not inherently negative- it simply describes my current capabilities. My current capabilities have nothing to do with my worth within society.
Being disabled doesn’t mean that my life is a constant struggle of suffering. Don’t get me wrong some days are extremely difficult but my life still holds the same joys as the non-disabled person. As an incredible medical professional once told me ‘You can be disabled and happy, the two are not mutually exclusive.’
Accepting my disability hasn’t been an easy process but I’m getting there. More often than not I’m able to proudly say it’s a part of me but that doesn’t mean there are days where I wrestle with accepting it- sometimes it feels like admitting defeat. A massive part of my acceptance process has come from connecting with others in similar situations. Stepping away from the doom and gloom narrative of disability into a community of incredibly strong, witty and hilarious disabled activists. Who were living proof that you could indeed be disabled, happy and fulfilled. These wonderful individuals continue to help me challenge and reshape my ableist thoughts, constantly reminding me that disabled does not mean less than no matter what societal norms say.
Disability pride means placing equal value on disabled lives.
Disability pride means listening to disabled voices.
Disability pride means thinking about accessibility at all times- Closed captions on your social media are just one way to make your content more accessible
For me personally, disability pride means actually asking for help when I need it, not being ashamed for doing things differently and slowly letting go of the internalised ableism that has become ingrained in my brain.
It is the knowledge that my disability does not impact on my worth.
I saw someone on instagram say that “Disability pride is not being okay with all your symptoms, it is knowing that they don’t make you inferior.” And for me that summarises the notion of disability pride perfectly.
Disabled looks like me. Of that I am Proud.