On Saturday, to celebrate the start of pride, I noticed the following post on Facebook:
For those without Facebook access, National Educational Association of Disabled Students shared the post from a woman named Annie Segarra. The original post read:
These spaces are denied to disabled LGBT+ people all the time due to inaccessibility and ableism.
Whether it’s a step at the entrance, a staircase and no elevator, no sign language interpreters, no sensory-friendly spaces, no allergy-friendly food options, or a bouncer not allowing someone with a service dog inside because they ask for documentation that doesn’t exist (yes, really happened), this ignorance and discrimination is unacceptable.
It starts with hiring us as organizers, it starts with integrating us into the spaces where we belonged all along. It takes the work to unlearn ableism and misconceptions about disability, it takes effort and care to make our spaces accessible. Pride is for all of us, not some of us.
#AccessIsLove #MakePrideAccessible #TheFutureIsAccessible
[Image Description: Annie sits in her wheelchair wearing a rainbow skirt in front of a door with a step leading up to it. Text on the door reads, “Make pride accessible”]
If the purpose of Pride is to take a stand against discrimination and to give people in the LGBT+ community the opportunity to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance (as taken from Wikipedia), should that not be open to all members of the community? It struck me as a particularly interesting point as on Friday I will be MCing Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN)’s annual conference with the theme of diversity and disability. The goal of the conference is given that we all have multiple social identities (i.e. Race, class, gender, ability) and these identities intersect on many levels, help employers consider what systems are in place in their workplace that provide opportunities for some, and create barriers for others.
I have always felt that as someone who has been discriminated against in the past, I should be open to all people, since I know how it feels to be excluded. I used to joke that I will work with anyone because as a disabled/anglo/jew who grew up in Quebec, I need all the friends I can get.
So how can Pride be more accessible for people with disabilities. Here are some thoughts:
1) Benches/seating area along the route so people can take breaks as needed.
2) Have a mobility company that rents wheelchairs sponsor the pride parade and have a certain number of wheelchairs for users who normally do not use one but can’t walk the whole route.
3) Have exits along the route so if someone does become overwhelmed or needs to leave the parade route, they can do so easily.
4) Ensure any indoor events are in an accessible location.
5) A raised platform along the route for people in wheelchairs to be able to view the parade.
With a little planning, Pride can be a celebration of inclusivity…for everyone.