I'm going to try to do this without offending half the blogging world. Several people have responded to my request for quotes, primarily through my email address and a few in the comment section. I haven't had the occasion to really look at anything yet as I've either been in front of an audience or in the car most of the time. However several people have asked, some in hostile tones, why I just don't quote blogs with the names that people have assigned themselves and leave it at that. Why do I want real names, would I change my mind, have been questions asked many times.
No, I'm not going to change my mind. I'm going to try and explain why.
A few years ago, when I was working on the book "Four Sight" I went with someone I met at a conference to an institution graveyard. I stood there, in the middle of a large field that was covered with plain markers. None of the markers had a name on it. Instead case numbers were printed in simple script. I was told that families didn't want people to find out, on a casual stroll through the graveyard, that they had had a family member with a disability, a family member who lived and died in the institution. These names were secret, these names had a power that these lives didn't have.
Names. The gay community became powerful when people got names. A minority that could have hidden forever lurking in the shadow cast by the majority chose not to. A few brave souls chose to give themselves names. To be public, to identify personally and powerfully with a community that was only struggling to be recognized. I knew some of these early activists. George Hislop and Ronnie Shearer were both heros and friends of mine. They spoke, one evening over dinner, about the decision to have names, to be 'out', to stand their ground.
Names. One of my first jobs in the field of disability I had to sign a confidentiality form. It was explained to me that I would be privy to information of a personal nature and that I needed to be sure not to share that information. That made sense to me. Then it was explained that I could never use an individual's name in conversation 'outside'. That even when talking to friends and family about my job, I couldn't say a last name of anyone and that it would be best if I refrained from first names as well. I wouldn't want to 'bring shame to the family'.
Names. When working on the documentary 'Life, Death and Disability'' which aired on CBC Radio One here in Canada, I interviewed leaders of the disability movement across North America. The subject of names and of identity politics came up over and over again. The idea that people with disabilities had to 'come out' as disabled people was oft said and the idea of a prideful movement was taking root. People I interviewed, to a one, were publically identified with their disability and their community. These people had names.
Names. Dave Hingsburger, disabled man. Dave Hingsburger, gay guy. Dave Hingsburger, put my name on my grave, identify me as who I am, who I was, who I was created to be. The book I am working on will have not even the slightest whiff of shame. Of a lack of identification with the people, the community, created by the experience of disability.
I know that on the internet there are all sorts of reasons for not using a real name and that shame has nothing to do with the decision. There are nutbars out there that can get weird attachments and there are stalkers who will stop at nothing to violate a person's life ... I get that. I have been twice subject to death threats and will never again have a home address that is public knowledge or a phone number that is unlisted. It is a reasonable choice to publish on the net under a chosen moniker - but to be in the book I'm putting together, real names go with real words. The book has a point of view, mine.
Name it, proclaim it.