Why Disability Pride Month Matters

Why Disability Pride Month Matters

An essay by disabled woman Pieta Bouma.

Hot on the tail of June's international LGBTQIA+ month with all its colour and glory follows July; Disability Pride month. Disability Pride month sneaks in quietly, perhaps because the disability community is still so busy fighting for marriage equality, access accommodations and representation that no one’s had time to organise a parade or a party. But disability pride month is here regardless, and the disabled community, as always, has shown up ready for battle. 

Picture: Pieta Bouma 2021

It’s hard to be proud of a relentless fight for accessibility and recognition when it’s a fight we shouldn’t need to be having, a fight that just demonstrates how undervalued we are as a group. We live in a world that not only isn’t built for us but actively excludes us. We live in a world where our bodies are primarily considered broken, our disabilities a problem.  And we show up anyway. We show up in our wheelchairs, with our crutches, oxygen tubes or shaky hands; we show up on medications, between therapy appointments, with a limp, and even if you’d rather not, you see us. We show up fierce; we show up proud. Because we know we deserve better. 

As a disabled person,  It can feel like the world is screaming, “you don’t matter”. Accessible toilets used as storage cupboards, wheelchairs nonchalantly being delivered broken out of the bellies of planes, public events with no sign language interpreter, awards stages with no ramps, disabled car parks full of non-disabled people “just popping in!”; we are an afterthought. Disability pride is screaming back, “we matter”. 

We’re not proud to live in a world that requires us to be constantly self-advocating. But we’re proud of ourselves for doing it anyway. The strength, energy, self-worth it takes to insist on the medical care you know you need, to call out ableism, to tell businesses and public places they need to do better; the love for each other that has us doing this even when we don’t need it ourselves; that is what we’re proud of.  

We’re proud of the unique resilience, compassion and humour our disabilities have given us. We’re proud of our wobbly, misshapen, paralysed, shaky, weak bodies and our mobility aids and medication that protect our freedom. We’re proud to be survivors, but more importantly, to be thriving despite the barriers. Proud to be dismantling these barriers and ableist attitudes that are harmful to all. Disability pride is holding businesses accountable for accessibility. Disability pride is gently giving love to bodies we don’t see in magazines. Disability Pride is the community that springs to help when I get a wheelchair puncture late at night. Disability pride is educating and explaining to others but also accepting and appreciating ourselves. Disability Pride is as diverse as the bodies that we live in, and should be embraced by every marvel of an individual who has been told by society that their disabilities make them broken. Disability pride is knowing that the cracks are where the light gets in.  

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