Disability “Pride” Month

Hello, hello! July is chugging right along. How is everyone doing? I’m not as productive as I should be, but I’m still getting stuff done. I switched both of my remaining yearly check ups to televisits, so I don’t have to worry about going to UT Southwestern this year (huzzah!). Otherwise, I’ve been procrastinating and writing and reading and submitting and querying. It sounds like a lot, but I could be writing more. Anyway, I recently discovered that July is Disability “Pride” Month. I have conflicting feelings about that name, so I thought I’d ramble about it for a bit.

Disability-Pride
It’s a thing.

I’ve never really been comfortable with pride months/weeks/days/whatever. Especially when it’s referring to something genetic. I can’t think of one good thing that has come from people being proud of their genes. It’s creepy and you literally did nothing to be proud of. If anything, you should be proud of your parents for having sex and making you.

Not all disabilities are genetic! I know this. If you survived an accident or something, you deserve to be proud of yourself. You even deserve to be proud of yourself for living with a disability. It’s hard work. I should know. My issue is that “Disability Pride Month” makes it sound like we should be proud of being disabled. I mean, if you’re proud of your disability, more power to you. But I’m not. I had no choice in the matter, so why should I be proud of it? I’m proud of myself for earning an MFA in creative writing. I’m proud of myself for trying again and again despite the plethora of rejections I receive. I’m proud of myself when I come up with a solution for something like reaching a pen that’s an inch too far away. But my disability isn’t something I’m proud of. It’s neither here nor there. I just have to deal with it. 

tenor (12)

Personally, I’d rather have a Disability History Month. I’d love to see the TV stations doing specials on people with disabilities or airing little factoids during commercial breaks like they do for other history months. And I don’t mean inspiration porn type stuff. I want to learn about Helen Keller the activist, the first blind and deaf woman to earn a BA, the author, etc. I want to hear about how Sir Anthony Hopkins delves into a role and how his acting style may have been influenced by his (until late-in-life) undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome. I want to see something about Justin Dart Jr. (a survivor of polio who ended up in a wheelchair because of it) who played a major role in getting the Americans with Disabilities Act passed thirty years ago. There are so many interesting people with disabilities, so it would be neat to actually learn about them without the whole inspo-porn twist that gets thrown into similar stories.

theonlythingworsethanbeingblind

That’s just how I feel. The word choice creeps me out, but I’m okay with having a month where people get to learn about people with disabilities. I know some people will get in huff about “why isn’t there an Able-bodied Pride/History Month?” but whatever. People just like to complain when they feel left out even though it’s not really meant to exclude them, but instead, it’s an invitation to learn about something outside of their bubble. As usual, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

It Just Irks Me

Hello, hello!  The past few weeks, I’ve been really diligent about submitting to at least two magazines or anthologies each Monday.  This means that I’ve been going through Duotrope, Ralan’s site, and random calls for submissions.  In my searches, I came across a really neat anthology that I will likely submit to if I can come up with a story that falls in the realm of Sci-Fi, but something about their call rubs me the wrong way.  They’re looking for people who “identify as disabled.”  I had to read their call three times before I realized it was that exact phrase that made me twitch every time.  Something about it just irks me.

head tilt
If I could tilt my head, this would’ve been my reaction.

The anthology is being put together by people with disabilities and will be comprised of stories/essays/poems/etc. by people with disabilities, so I want to be clear that I think it’s a wonderful thing and I look forward to reading it.  The thing that makes me pause and overthink everything is the concept of choosing whether or not to identify as disabled.  It’s something I never really thought about before, because my crippleness is so apparent that not having it as part of my identity was never an option.  In my experience, people are either disabled or they aren’t.  They don’t really get a choice.

Sure, some disabilities are less severe than others.  Some are even invisible.  But a disability is a disability regardless of whether outsiders can tell it’s there or not.  If you’re disabled in a way that isn’t apparent to others and you choose to keep it to yourself, that’s your prerogative, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re disabled.  If you don’t have a physical or mental deficit/difference, even if you want one (which apparently is a thing, though I have no idea why anyone would want to be disabled), then you aren’t disabled.  You could become disabled in the future, but you aren’t right now.  Disabilities don’t care how you identify.  They either happen to you or they don’t.

ctrl-alt-del1
From Ctrl+Alt+Del.  I still laugh when I come across this one.

I suppose my biggest issue with the idea of choosing whether or not to identify as disabled is that it implies disability is some kind of social construct that people can opt into or out of whenever they want.  It’s not.  Disabilities are diseases and abnormalities that people have to deal with every single day.  It’s not a choice.  It’s not politics.  It’s the hand life decided to deal us.

But I also know there are a lot of people who struggle with the idea of whether or not they’re “disabled enough” to claim the title.  That’s why the anthology uses the concept of identity in its call.  They want to include as many people as possible and they want people with disabilities to know that they aren’t judging what counts as a disability.  They want people to feel welcome to submit no matter the type of disability or severity.  In my head, I know and understand this.  I even think it’s a diplomatic way to handle a tough situation.  It’s just something that made me stop and think.

what-is-overthinking-disorder-1
I do this far too often.

I’m going to stop rambling now.  Feel free to leave your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!