Tomorrow we leave for Chicago. A bunch of us from Vita Community Living Services will be on our way to the Disability Pride parade - we've booked to be in the parade and march proudly both those with disabilities and those who support people with disabilities. A few weeks ago we all met, the eight of us going, and talked about the trip and the arrangements.
During that discussion we talked about what pride meant. We talked about why it was important to feel pride in oneself and pride in one's membership in a community as diverse and as vibrant as the disability community. We talked about how others might see people with disabilities as less and how we don't need to let other's diminish who we are. We talked about our rights to be treated with respect for who we are, not in spite of who we are.
This represented the first real, without question, no holds barred, discussion I have ever had with people with intellectual disabilities about pride and membership, about identity and about belonging. I've lectured on this to large groups of people with disabilities but never had the opportunity for a face to face talk about what it means to finally 'be' who you 'are' and to 'be who you are' with 'pride.'
As always people with intellectual disabilities, when given an opportunity think about selfhood and belonging, were very, very astute in their observations. They recognized prejudice for what it was. And as they did so the excitement began to build. We are going to march. We are going to declare our pride and our membership in the disability community.
We are going to let the world know that though disability may define our community and our membership in it doesn't confine us to stereotype or leave us bound to failure.
So, at 7:30 tomorrow, we head out.
Chicago, here we come!!