The First Disability Pride
“The first Pride was a riot” is the motto that celebrates the famous Stonewall riots. The first Disability Pride was a revolt too, a real assault on power even.
On the 12th of March 1990, more than 1,000 disabled people marched from the White House to the US Government Headquarters, or rather crawled up the steps of Capitol Hill demanding that the ADA (American with Disabilities Act, the first American text prohibiting discrimination against disabled citizens) was finally legitimized. It had been stalling in Congress because of endless negotiations — the march highlighted its urgency and its importance for civil rights.
More than a thousand people proudly climbed the steps of Capitol Hill, alone, or dragging wheelchairs and crutches behind them. This gave rise to what would be later called The Capitol Crawl, an incredible demonstration to show how much of an impact architectural barriers and inaccessibility have on disabled people, forcing them into the margins of society.
The next day the police arrested 104 people who were continuing the protest to see their rights legitimized. It was one of the most important moments in the history of disabled people’s rights. Climbing up the steps with only one arm, 8-years-old Jennifer Keelan became the symbol of the protest. She told reporters “I’ll take all night if I have to.”
Thanks to the riots and the pressure exerted by activists with disabilities, on July the 26th 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the law, putting into effect the first civil rights law to prohibit discrimination based on disability.
This is why Disability Pride is celebrated during the month of July. It was made official by New York Mayor De Blasio in 2015, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the American Disability Act, and to honor every person’s uniqueness as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.
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Why Disability Pride is still important today
For centuries we have been taught that having a disability is something to be ashamed of, that disabled people are second-class people, that our bodies are to pity, that we have to hide under layers of clothes, that in order for someone to fall in love with a person with a disability, they must first fall in love with their interiority and their soul, because our body can never be attractive.
I mean, if you want a one night stand, you can forget about it too. You are made to hope for a person with high moral values who will be able to look beyond your body to fall in love with your inner beauty — to carry the enormous burden of disability, you obviously have to be good on the inside, at least. And I’m here to tell you that what they told us is a lot of bullshit.
The only burden we have to carry is to live in an ableist society that does not foresee our existence in the world and that considers disabled people as an unfortunate minority, when we are the largest minority on earth (about 15 -20% of the population).
I tell you that your disabled body is beautiful and incredibly sexy, and that people can have a crush on you because of how incredibly hot you are. And they may want to have wonderful sex with you, because they want you and are attracted to your outward appearance, not for who knows what high moral values (again, a little reminder: disabled people can be extremely bitchy, bossy, and evil because we are human beings, exactly like anyone else).
But to internalize this we have to show ourselves, and we have to make sure that our sensuality and our beautiful bodies are shown. We have to show ourselves in the world of porn and eroticism, we have to talk about sex and sexuality. Our sexuality must become normal, as well as the sexuality and bodies of LGBTQA+ people, BiPOC people, fat people, and that of all other marginalized communities. All of these bodies should be understood as normal and beautiful.
What I wish for in the future
I want to see disabled people talk about orgasms, sex toys, polyamory, BDSM, and the art of flirting.
I want to see disabled people work as sex columnists.
I want to see disabled people take part in the slut-walk and claim their rights.
I want to see them being worshiped as sex gods and godesses.
This is not an appeal, this is a battle cry.
I want to see us.
I want to see our real, carnal bodies made of flesh, and bones, and scars, and prosthetics.
I want to see our wheelchairs and our crutches.
I want to see us shine on television, on magazine covers, in TV series, and in the mass media.
I no longer want our bodies to be made visible with pain pornography, or as an object to inspire abled people to feel grateful and lucky not to be like us – called inspiration porn, the term was coined by Stella Young (and it’s not good juicy porn.)
I never want to see an actor without a disability play a character with a disability again, constantly leaving real disabled people on the sidelines.
I never want to read a book or take a course on feminism or transfeminism again where women with disabilities are not even named.
I don’t want to see porn where disabled people are only fetishized. I want to see erotic movies where performers with disabilities are hot porn stars like any other performers.
I want to see you pissed off.
I want to see you uncomfortable with ableism.
I want to hear you scream and stamp your feet, your fists, everything you have.
Anger is good, anger is beautiful.
We are beautiful, gorgeous.
A battle cry for Disability Pride Month of July 2022
And here I take back all the beauty: not the beauty accepted by ableism and patriarchy, but that f*cking beauty that we were denied, hiding us from institutions, turning us into freak shows, hiding our bodies from society, from people. Denying us eroticism and sensuality, medicalizing our bodies. Allowing us to be seen only if we adhere to the abled-normative ideal of the ableist and normative society. I want to see performers with disabilities in the world of erotism, I want to see them running companies, I want to see us everywhere. We demand space, we demand visibility, now and forever.
Let’s not be satisfied with crumbs, we are not the last wheel of the wagon and we never will be.
Let’s take the space, unapologetically and without permission.
And let’s not forget about all the alliances we have to weave, with those like us who are oppressed by the system that wants all bodies to all look the same (first of all fat people, trans people, queer people).
I want to see you proud.
I want to see you beautiful.
This is my battle cry for Disability Pride Month of July 2022.
I want disabled pride full of sex, joy, self-determination, and magnificence.
Fight like a hot crip, folx!