Saturday, March 07, 2015
I Am It
Someone sent me this quote the other day thinking that I would like it. I understand the sentiment behind it but I don't actually like the idea at all. I don't like the subtle suggestion that the erasure of identity or difference will allow for a complete assimilation into broader society. I am gay. I am a person. I am totally good with both being recognized and when someone says something like, "Dave's the gay person at the office right?" I wouldn't want someone to correct them and say, "No, Dave's a person at the office." Uh, Uh. Nope. My status as a gay person or my status as a disabled person or my status as a fat person are all things that I identify with, all things that are part of who I am and how I experience the world. I do not crave erasure of any of them.
My being disabled, in language that describes me, allows me to be an activist in language. "Dave is the disabled guy who travels internationally and lectures, right?" There was a time where the word 'disabled' would not have been in that sentence. Not because there weren't those who could have, and did do it, just that, if they did their disability would have either been trumpeted or hidden in some way, it wouldn't have shared equal billing with humanity. I want it in the sentence. "Dave is the gay guy who has been in a relationship for 45 years, right?" Gay would not have been in that sentence even 15 years ago. Not that people weren't in relationships, it just wasn't talked about.
I want to be out. To be visible. To exist in life and in language. I want adjectival change. I want 'disability' in reference to me or any other person to become a descriptor not a diminisher. I can do that by having 'disability' as the adjective person as the noun and both used with a whack of other, completely surprising to some, verbs.
So do me no favours. I suspect that many would like to not use the words, gay, or fat, or disabled not so much as a sign that they consider me completely a part of 'people' but because then they don't have to say words that fit uncomfortably in their mouths.
I am it.
I believe that I advocate for change every time I walk down the street. I believe I advocate for change every time someone describes me going down the street. Use whatever freaking adjective you want, with whatever kind of emphasis, because no matter what or how you say those words, in the end, I'm still on the street, still in the world, still challenging you to see what you see.
I am it.