A quick story from the parade ... my big moment ...
I've talked to other's like me, who are considered grossly obese, and know that I'm not alone in this - going out sometimes takes combined acts of will and courage. We are not well received in the world and those of us who use mobility devises are even more reviled ... my wheelchair is evidence of how lazy I am in the minds of others. So, for me to march in a parade I need a double double ... extra fortitude and extra self esteem. But I march because I'm with Vita's self advocates and staff, because I'm with Joe and Ruby, true ... but I also march for me, to prove to myself that I understand, fully, my rights, and that I refused to cede ground.
On the route itself I hear people shout out, 'look at the fat guy, get a picture of the fat guy' often these people are in the crowd right beside me. I can hear them. But they are so intent on their picture that they lose all sense that they are in public, speaking loudly. I try as much as possible to avoid these pictures. I don't want to end up on Facebook with a horrible caption under my photo.
However, when I see these folks with I think, I am DOING and you are WATCHING ... I am PARTICIPATING and you are PASSIVE ... I am IN THE PARADE and you are AT THE PARADE. But they don't get it. Watching has become doing I guess. Anyways, I know what's up before I get in the parade and that's why I get in the parade. There are lots of ways to be proud.
But, going along the route I noticed a knot of disabled people sitting together on scooters and wheelchairs. They weren't in the designated disability access area, they were just together up at the barrier watching the parade. When one of them spotted me, he reached over and tapped the person next who called to the others. I had been seen. Several of them were large like me, others were simply regular sized mobility aid users. I got eye contact with the group and then they started cheering, wildly cheering. Thumbs when up, fists were raised, I spun my chair around to their cheers and then I shot them with my water gun.
It was a moment.
Community experienced within community.
I got the impression that they didn't expect to see someone shaped like them, who moved like them, who understood the world like them. But they did. I didn't expect to get that kind of acknowledgement, but I did.
It was my big moment.
An unexpected one.