Dear Camera Snipers,
Yes, I dared to be in public. And, yes I saw you see me. I saw your smirks, and grins, and pointed fingers. I saw you raise your phone and take pictures. All of you took your time, wanting a good shot. You knew I could see you. You knew I was trapped, unable to escape you. You didn't care about my obvious discomfort, my obvious lack of consent to the photo being taken. I saw you, all of you, take the photo, look down and scroll through the images, select a picture and send or post it somewhere. Probably with a witty quote about my fatness, my disability, my blatant, in public, me-ness.
I know that others will look at these pictures and laugh, maybe forward them, all of them feeling superior to me. None of them will wonder why you did what you did, why you thought it was okay, why you thought that your meanness was an appropriate message to send them. I am forever in that picture. I get it.
But here's what you don't get.
I got out of the car, I went where I wanted to go. I knew that you would be there. All of you. Not you exactly or you personally, but nasty people like you. You are not unique, even though you think you are, you are ubiquitous. Nastiness is not humour, even though you think it is, and for the millions who would agree with you, that I am worthy target of your humour, nothing separates you from them in my mind. I will not remember you as you, I will remember you as just another.
So I got out of the car and went where I wanted to go. When you took that photo of me, each of you, in rapid succession, you thought you saw a fat guy in a wheelchair. You got that wrong. Yes, I am a fat guy in a wheelchair but I'm also performing a radical act of defiance. I am there not despite you but to spite you. It's my way of saying, 'Fuck you, I do not give you the power to keep me locked safe at home and away from your gaze.' It's my way of saying, 'This is my community too you ignorant piece of shit.' It's my way of swearing and cursing at those would would objectify me, dehumanize me, and devalue me.
I am HERE.
I am OUT.
I am FREE.
Your weapons of social violence can't stop me. Your smirks can't stop me. Your cameras can't stop me. I protest you and yours, and all the other faceless, nameless bigots who think they are better because they can't really think at all.
I know what I'm doing.
I know that you took a picture of my defiance.
I know that someone will notice that I just stared at the camera. I didn't blink. I didn't look away. I wanted whoever looks at the picture to be confronted by my eyes.
Because you have a picture of my body. I have a picture of your character. And guess what? What I think matters too. You will one day look at that picture and see me. And feel shame. I may one day remember you, all of you, each of you, and see who you were in that moment.
I'm proud, in this case, to be me because I couldn't bear the shame of being you.