What Pride Means to Me as a Queer Woman With a Disability
When I came out as a queer woman, I adopted a new definition of the word pride. It no longer simply meant an allegiance to a sports team or feeling confident in myself, but instead represented adopting a self-acceptance of my identity and my community. Pride to me means you are proud of your community’s history, your movement, and yourself for being a part of it. Pride is loving yourself and advocating for yourself. Having pride requires a journey of immense self-acceptance and growth. During queer events, I can feel the pride swell in my heart in a way that is hard to put into words – it makes me feel whole.
June is National LGBTQ Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York City on June 28, 1969. On this night, some brave transgender women grew tired of being kicked out of public spaces for simply being who they are – for presenting their gender in nonbinary ways and for dancing with the same gender – so they fought back. They resisted the police, and they resisted the constricting messages society had taught them. One year later, the LGBTQ community in New York City commemorated the riots with a march – and Pride season was born.
Pride is rooted in these activists who resisted and owned their identities with no shame. It is tied to an inherent need to push our society to be more accepting and more kind. Pride is rooted in the mourning that came from our community dying of AIDS in the 1980s and onward, and the current moment as we figure out how to move forward in an ever-shifting political climate.
As I became more confident in my pride as a queer woman, I yearned to feel the same way about my physical disability. It saddens me to say I do not feel this type of pride about my cerebral palsy. I do not feel the same level of self-acceptance, of camaraderie, of being ready to flaunt my disabled body and scream that I have CP from the rooftops, as I do with my queer identity. I do not feel proud of what my disability does to me – and it does not make me feel whole. Instead, my disability makes me feel weak and less than in many ways.
It was not until I felt the pride that comes with my queer identity that I understood how much my pride in my disability was lacking. Every pride month, I am reminded of the journey I took in self-acceptance and personal growth that allowed me to learn to love my queer identity and queer community, and to feel pride in it all. I am hoping that time, patience and growth, I can adopt these same feelings towards my disability. I am working towards being proud of my cerebral palsy, but Pride Month also reminds me to accept wherever I am in my journey.
My queer identity has taught me more about acceptance, love and community than anything else in my life. I am continuously striving to apply those lessons to how I view my disability. On this Pride Month, I urge everyone to accept themselves wherever they are on their journeys of self-acceptance. Whether you are at the point of marching in parades or just coming to terms with your identity, celebrate yourself. Celebrate your community, your history and your movement. On this Pride Month, I am pushing myself to adopt this level of pride in all aspects of my identity – including my disability.
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Thinkstock image by Bennian.