If you’re reading this, then you may be nondisabled, or you may be disabled but unable to take part in GeekDis for whatever reason. Whoever you are, first of all, I want to say I appreciate you taking the time to read this and learn about GeekDis. If you have no idea what GeekDis is about, let me explain a little.
GeekDis is a month-long discussion event for the disabled community taking place in September 2021. It is a collaborative event which means I am being joined by disabled people from all over the world, all different occupations and a variety of disabilities. I, myself, am multi-disabled. I have seven chronic health conditions which have various symptoms and affect my life in a myriad of ways, hence the term multi-disabled. It’s a term I only learned this year, and I didn’t recognise myself as disabled until I was in my mid-twenties (ten years ago).
If you’re nondisabled, this may not seem like a big deal to you. But being disabled isn’t just a label; it’s an entire identity. For me, not recognising myself as disabled also meant that I didn’t contact the disability services at my first University, and doing so may very well have cost me a grade certification for my dissertation. I had to get an extension due to ill health and in some universities if you have to get an extension for your dissertation, even due to medical grounds, that results in points being docked. If I had been registered as a disabled student, I would have been excused due to chronic illness. So, as you can see, recognising oneself as disabled has very real implications for those of us in the disabled community.
So, what does my story have to do with disability representation in pop culture? A lot more than you think. Imagine never seeing yourself in anything you see on TV, read in a book, magazine or newspaper, or any game you play.
Or when you do, it’s only in a negative way.
Every single person has an identity. Whether it’s gender, their occupation, or where they’re from. Pick any one of them and imagine never seeing that anywhere. Ever. For some of you it’s probably easy, for quite a lot of you it’s probably impossible, or you’re laughing it off because it would never happen, right? We have a name for that, my friends, but that’s not the topic of today.
I’m just one person, and I also represent a tiny part of disability representation. That is why I made GeekDis a collaborative event rather than just writing a bunch of articles on my own. This topic is too big for me to talk about, and I don’t have the right to talk about other people’s experiences. What I can do is give people a platform, and that is what GeekDis is about.
If you’re still with me and would like to help support GeekDis, and in turn support accurate disability representation in pop culture, here is how you can do it:
1. Read and Listen
A lot of disabled people are going to be talking in a variety of ways over the next month, and the most important thing you can do is read and listen to what we’re saying. You wouldn’t tell a mathematician how to do maths, so leave us to do what we know, and that’s talking about what we live with every day.
2. Follow the GeekDis Hashtag!
3. Share everywhere!
One thing I’ve noticed is that everyone is quick to say they love the idea of GeekDis and to throw out the likes on social media posts, but actually sharing something about disability on their timeline? That’s where they draw the line. Don’t be that person. Hit the share button! And remember that this is a collaborative event, so don’t just share my posts!
4. Join in the Film/TV & Book Bingo
In a few days, I’m going to be releasing a bingo for watching films and TV shows, and another one for reading books. These bingos will each have a positive and a negative side. During the month of September, I’m going to ask you to try to watch and/or read at least one thing with a disabled character in it. I want you to use the GeekDis bingo card and see how many you tick off.
5. Don’t let us fight alone
Never speak for a disabled person because this implies that we are uncapable to do it ourselves and is extremely rude. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave us to fight alone. Pulling someone up for their attitude and their rudeness is ok, just do it in a way that remains respectful to the disabled person and does not push them out of the conversation. We’re disabled, not invisible.
I don’t know what sort of reaction GeekDis is going to get. It may attract trolls. If it does, and you support what we’re doing, don’t let us stand alone.
Finally, at the end of GeekDis I will be wrapping up the event with resources for anyone who wants to continue to support disability representation in pop culture, because while GeekDis is a one-month event to spread awareness it is an ongoing issue. I’ll be including resources for writers, links to bloggers and other disability advocates who are actively working to change disability representation all the time, recommendations to books and other media featuring accurate representation and so on. If you have any questions or requests, let me know using the GeekDis contact form.No tags for this post.