Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Political Pants

Photo description: An elderly heterosexual couple both well dressed. He is pushing a bright red, brand new walker, she is wearing matching bright red pants and shoes.
Joe and I met them as they were coming out a door I was going in. I saw them, then waited for them to come through. When I noticed the matching pants and walker, I said to them excitedly, "That's great, that's just great, you look awesome!!" They looked, um, startled. The continued past me and went down the ramp and I went into the building.

I asked Joe to run back to them and ask if he could take a picture. He said, "I'm not doing that, if you want a picture you go ask them." I knew he meant it. I knew he knew I'd asked him to do something I was too nervous to do myself. But I wanted that picture. So I screwed up my courage and rushed through the door and down the ramp and then raced towards them. I caught up to them, called out "Hello!?" and they turned to me and came to a stop.

Words tumbled out of my mouth. I said I hoped they didn't think that this was really weird but I wanted a picture of them. I took a breath to explain and in that pause she said, quietly, "Why?" OK, I thought I going to tell the absolute truth. "I am a writer and lecture on disability issues, I think a lot about disability and disability pride. When I saw you with the new red walker and you," I looked at her then, "with the matching red pants, well, it's so out there. It's a statement about who you are and the love you have for each other and it's about not hiding and about there being no shame in being disabled and using a walker. I love it. I really would like your picture."

He had been smiling the whole way through, I didn't know if it was a polite smile or a real one. When I'd done, he said, "You go ahead and take the picture." She, looked at him, with such love, and then said, "Yes, take the picture." They stood together, as I took a couple of shots and thanked them.

I love this picture.

I love what it says.

I love that they understood that their choice of a bright red walker and her choice of bright red pants were political choices. I love that they didn't think my request was silly. I love that they never questioned, and therefore clearly grasped the idea of, disability pride. I loved that I was asked why and was made to respond. I loved that they listened hard to what I was saying and made the decision to let a writer, lecturer take their picture. I love the life they have together.

Revolution happens in small choices.

Like bright red pants matching a bright red walker.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if you blog because you're brave, or are brave because you blog, but clearly Joe is a shy fellow by comparison.

My daughter is embarrassed when I go up to a complete stranger and start a conversation. I tell her to get used to it: my mother and my grandmother did the same, and I hated it, and now I'm doing it.

EVERYONE is shy - but if one person doesn't make the attempt, a lovely conversation never happens.

Kudos to you - and the lady in the bright red pants.

It IS annoying to always be the one starting up these conversations (it seems), but I've met the nicest people. If my gambit is refused, I shut up, but often just a few words on my part result in spending time with a person, rather than reading old magazines at the doctor's...


PS And Joe was right to make you do your own asking. You wanted the photo. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I love this. And I, strictly as married-disabled-dyke to soon-to-be-married-disabled-gay-man, love you, for taking your courage in both hands and asking.

clairesmum said...

saw the title first and had no idea what the blog would be about...but had a huge grin by the time I got to the end. i think we are starting to see a shift by older people who as a group worked hard to hide age-related disabilities due to internalized prejudices against those with visible disabilities into an understanding of and sharing in disability pride (if that is the right term.) looking forward to purple hearing aides and red walkers when I need them to keep living out loud.

Unknown said...

Thanks for asking for this photo so the rest of us could benefit from seeing these fab "political pants!"