I originally found out about Disability Pride Month from Tonia of Tonia Says, and it wasn’t something I’d ever heard of before. I was aware of Invisible Illness Week in October, but a whole month dedicated to disability? That was a new one to me. Awareness of Disability Pride Month seems to be spreading as I’ve seen more about it this year than I have previously. You know me; when I don’t know something I go looking for answers and I found this fantastic article by Jessica of The Rolling Explorer titled “Everything you need to know about Disability Pride Month in 2021”. Perfect!
It turns out that I’m not the only one who hadn’t heard of this event which made me feel a lot better, and it really breaks my heart that this event started in 1990 and some of us are just learning about this now. I mean, fair enough, I’m a Brit and it started in the US, but that usually doesn’t stop events from reaching us now that the Internet is in full swing, especially now we have social media. There’s a fantastic Twitter Thread here that you can retweet to help spread awareness about Disability Pride Month so that more people learn about it!
The History of Disability Pride Month
It began in 1990 after the “world’s first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities” 1, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was founded on July 26th 1990. The first Disability Pride Day was held in Boston, Massachusetts and took place again the following year. Due to the passing of the lead organiser, Diana Viets, and her co-organizer Catherine Odette moving states, the event didn’t continue 2.
That was until 2004 when the first Disability Pride Parade was held in Chicago. Since then Disability Pride Parades have taken place throughout the US, and the rest of the world, including the UK; Brighton has an annual parade!
2015 was the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and to celebrate New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared July Disability Pride Month. Since then the disability community has been celebrating disability pride every July 3.
What exactly is Disability Pride?
Pride can be seen as a negative concept, however, in this case, it’s much more like the LGBTQA+ PRIDE month in June. It’s about opening up a discussion about disability, creating awareness and challenging what people think about disabled people.
The Chicago Disability Pride Parade included these goals in its mission statement and they explain it a lot better than I do:
To change the way people think about and define “disability”;
To break down and end the internalized shame among people with Disabilities; and
To promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with Disabilities can take pride. 4
Useful links to learn more about Disability Pride Month and Disability Pride:
- “Disability Pride: Definition and Awareness Information” – Disabled-World.com
- “Everything you need to know about Disability Pride Month in 2021” – The Rolling Explorer
- “What Disability Pride Means to Me” by Lene Andersen, MSW – Health Central
- “What is disability pride?” – Easterseals
- “I’m not proud of being disabled, but I’m not ashamed either” by Beth – Easterseals Blog
- “What is Disability Pride… And How to Display It” – AmeriDisability
- “Disability Pride Toolkit and Resource Guide” – National Council on Independent Living
What Disability Pride means to me
I mentioned above that pride can be seen as a negative and I understand why some members of the disabled community shy away from the concept of disability pride. This article by Ed Tobias titled “It’s Disability Pride Month — But Not for Me” explains the issues with using the word “pride” in connection with disabilities quite well. How can you celebrate something that causes you pain and difficulty? I’m not sure that “pride” is necessarily the best choice of words, but it’s the one that’s been in use since I was 6 so I can hardly do anything about the lexical choice now.
What I do agree with is the sentiment behind it. I more than agree if I’m honest, and it’s enough that I’m willing to overlook the name of the event – especially if it means something positive happens in its name. If people learn more about real disabled people, become less ignorant and there is a bit less ableism in the world as a result? That’s good enough for me.
So what does disability pride mean to me?
- Not feeling lesser because of my disabilities.
- Not accepting ableism in any form and especially not letting people tell me it doesn’t exist or is less important than other forms of hate/prejudice.
- Being proud of my accomplishments, especially my academic ones and not hesitating in doing so – I have every right to be proud of my hard work!
- Spreading awareness of what it is like to have multiple chronic illnesses.
- Talking openly about the barriers I face as someone with multiple chronic illnesses in all areas of society, including employment.
- Being there for people who have the same conditions as me, especially those who have just been diagnosed. There is comfort in solidarity and sharing experience.
- Sharing my own experiences to help people, whether it’s to educate or offer support.
- Fighting for accurate and genuine disability representation.
- And finally; talk openly about my life as a disabled person (the good, the bad and the ugly) because my life is just as valid as anyone else’s.
Disability Pride Month Plans
I have a couple of posts planned for Disability Pride Month including two I’ve been promising for a while (how I cope with bad days and a spoonie/chronic illness gift guide), but mainly I’m going to revamping the disabilities section of my blog with individual pages for each of my disabilities and related health conditions. For example, did you know I have astigmatism in both eyes? Yep, I don’t really talk about it because it’s something that I live with all the time. Things like that will have a home at last.
Over to you
Thank you for reading my post about Disability Pride Month! Please consider sharing this post or this tweet thread about Disability Pride Month so more people learn about this event. Everyone knows about PRIDE and companies fall over themselves to change their logos to rainbows every June, but this event? It goes completely unnoticed. Please take a moment to just click a button and help people learn more about it.
Had you heard of Disability Pride Month before reading this post?
Is there anything you would like me to talk about/cover this month?
Let me know in the comments 🙂
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