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What 'Queer Eye' Can Teach People About Life With a Disability

Netflix’s “Queer Eye” season 4 has recently premiered and the second episode, titled “Disabled but Not Really” focuses on Wesley Hamilton, a man who uses a wheelchair. The show addresses disability in a way that is raw, empowering and not sensationalized.

Hamilton was shot seven years ago and is paralyzed from the waist down. He runs an organization called Disabled but Not Really which provides nutrition and fitness assistance to people with disabilities. In order to prepare Hamilton for a fundraising event, the Fab Five arrive to help him make changes to his life.

The episode reveals challenges of being a wheelchair user that are often overlooked. Things like finding clothing that is functional when wheeling or having a diet impacted by the things he can reach in the grocery store. The Fab Five work with Hamilton to help make his life a little easier. All the members of the Fab Five are respectful and listen to what Hamilton needs. They are not acting as saviors, they are being true allies.

What I found most remarkable about this episode is that it is free of inspiration porn. Instead of showing disability as something that needs to be overcome, the episode shows the positive effects it has on Hamilton’s life. As a result of his disability, Hamilton was forced to reevaluate his life. He says, “my life has been better for it.” He also talks about how his disability has empowered him.

Disability is often separated from the individual and seen as something negative. This can lead to a feeling of otherness and being misunderstood. However, “Queer Eye’s” depiction of Hamilton’s life is real and relatable. This kind of well-rounded representation has been lacking in mainstream media. “Queer Eye” proves that when disability is shown truthfully, it can have positive impacts on everyone.

Image via Netflix.