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Disability Pride Month - A brief history and What it means by Nanditha B Biju

WHAT IS DISABILITY PRIDE MONTH?

July is celebrated as Disability Pride Month. In 1990 after the American Disability Act was passed, in July of that year Boston celebrated the first Disability Pride Month and after that Disability Pride events have been held in many places throughout the globe. Disability Pride is an event to celebrate people with disability and other chronic illnesses. Some people may balk at the second word “Pride” but one thing to understand is that disability pride is not about appropriating LGBTQIA+ Pride but intertwining it and celebrating our visibility in public.


DOES DISABILITY PRIDE HAVE A FLAG?

Yes, there’s a disability pride flag. It was designed in 2019 by Martha McGill a disabled woman. Each of the elements represents a different part of the community.


The Black Field: this field is to represent the disabled people who have lost their lives due not only to their illness, but also to negligence, suicide, and eugenics.

The Colours: each colour on this flag represents a different aspect of disability or impairment.

  • Red: physical disabilities

  • Yellow: cognitive and intellectual disabilities

  • White: invisible and undiagnosed disabilities

  • Blue: mental illness

  • Green: sensory perception disabilities

The lightning bolt shape represents the non-literal lives of disabled people where many adapt themselves or their physical routes to get around an inaccessible society.


WHY DISABILITY PRIDE IS NEEDED?

Disability Pride is needed to combat the ableism that is rampant in this society. Which includes stigma against people with disabilities and barriers to access. A 2018 study published in Rehabilitation Psychology found that “Disability Pride partially mediated the relationship between stigma and self-esteem. Individuals with disabilities may benefit from the rejection-identification model (RIM), whereby the negative impacts of stigma, such as decreased self-esteem can be mitigated when they choose to connect, rather than attempt to fit in with the dominant culture. In this way, disability pride can be a vital opportunity to challenge stigma, especially when marginalization extends beyond disabilities.”


WHY DO WE CELEBRATE?

While disability pride can differ from person to person it all comes to this and that is to fight for disability representation and equal rights. Even though a lot of improvements/accessible measures have been taken in these past two decades inequalities still exist. Such as disabled individuals can’t marry the person they love, the cost of living is 25% higher, and ‘Do not attempt resuscitation is placed on patient files without their consent, and coming out and accepting is a lot harder. Most of the time inclusion and equity are just seen as two words with no meaning.


PRIDE IN WHO WE ARE

Disability Pride is continuing to evolve thanks to the hard work of many who fought for representation and equity. Existing as a disabled person in this society still has a lot of challenges. Society still doesn’t accept us for who we are but rather sympathizes/upset over our disabled identity. And for us to feel joy, a sense of happiness and inclusion we continue to go against those views and standards. There’s much more to disability than being a tragedy or something to be pitied off. And disability pride is just to celebrate that.


I hope this year you will learn a little bit more about disability and understand what it means to live in a society where everything was made to fit into the box of “social norms” I hope you will be supportive and amplify the voices of your friend or colleague or anyone who needs you. I hope you’ll understand that disability is not a bad word it’s WHO WE ARE. HAPPY DISABILITY PRIDE MONTH🏳️‍🌈


- An article by Nanditha B Biju 🏳️‍🌈


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