Billy Kwiatkoski

@billy-kwiatkoski | contributor
Billy is a movie usher and self-advocate from Providence, Rhode Island. He has won various awards for self-advocacy, including the Advocates in Action Leadership Award, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilites Self Advocate Award, and honors from the governor of Rhode Island for reaching his employment goals. Billy is an avid gamer who can also be found on Twitch at Hotknight1966.

What I Wish Gamers Knew About Other Gamers With Disabilities

I love to play video games. Ever since I was younger and had the original Nintendo, I’ve been hooked. Currently, my gaming console of choice is the PlayStation 4. I also like whatever games I can download on my phone. Pokemon Go is my favorite, although it’s tricky to play without someone pushing me in my wheelchair. My girlfriend Mandy got me hooked on that game last month and I haven’t stopped playing it since. I am a gamer who just so happens to have a disability. I have cerebral palsy and doing things like reading instructions or hitting the right button combinations is hard for me sometimes. But I am a fast learner if someone tries to help me. I have a few good friends who are willing to explain a level to me so I can prepare, but more often than not, I run into some rude people. A few days ago, I was called a lot of mean names by people on the PS4 Network because they can pick up in my voice that I have a disability. They called me a lot of things that, let’s just say, weren’t very gentleman-like. The “R” word especially. I see my games as an escape from reality. The last thing I want to have to deal with is being made fun of. I wish other gamers would realize that although I might not be the best at what I do or I might sound funny to them, I am a person just like them. I’m just a guy who likes to game. We don’t have to all be friends, but we do have to respect each other and our differences, whether we have disabilities or not. We all log in to our games because we love what we do. Don’t you think we should at least try to be nice to one another? There are times I might need help on some things, so please have patience.Treat me the way you want to be treated, and don’t take a game so seriously to the point of trash talking someone. Think of how you would feel if someone did that to you. There are many people with disabilities who like to play games, and we just want our fair shot at being treated fairly. I am always open to meeting gamers who share the same philosophy as me. You’re more than welcome to meet me at HotKnight1966 on PS4 and Twitch. If you want to know more about the games I play or even my disability, just ask. Although there are plenty of mean people out there, I will never stop gaming. Hate will never ruin my hobby. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

How Society Can Support Relationships Between People With Disabilities

I have known my girlfriend Mandy Ree since she went to college in my hometown. She was my mentor and took me places sometimes. I knew Mandy was something special. She has a big heart, and understands me when others don’t. Over the last 11 years, Mandy and I became a couple.We fell in love with each other even though we both have disabilities. Mandy is legally blind, and I have cerebral palsy and learning can be hard at times. We accept each other for who we are and not what we can’t do. It took years for us to be taken seriously. I am a grown man with legal guardianship of myself, but some people who helped take care of me saw me as a child and Mandy as a threat. But since I used my self-advocacy skills, I fought for her to be in my life. She is smart, funny, kind, and an all-around beautiful girl I want to be with. Mandy and I love each other very much, and we want to get married. But we can’t, because both of us would lose the support we need to live on our own. Mandy doesn’t need as much help as I do, but I need staff sometimes to help me do things Mandy can’t, like drive. Because of this, Mandy has to live separately from me, so I can have my staff help me. Mandy got a job in Florida, so she lives too far away from me to visit as much. But we still make time for one another by having dates on Skype and talking on the phone. But that gets tough sometimes, and I really wish I could be with her always. I believe love shouldn’t be red-flagged by the government and society. Relationships between disabled people need to be shared and discussed with others, so we can change the rules and live a happy life. We shouldn’t be treated differently. Everybody has a right to get married without fear of losing all we have. Love isn’t about money, and money shouldn’t be an excuse to keep me and my girlfriend separate. I may not have much, but I want her to be part of my life forever. I want to walk her down the aisle someday, and maybe even have children like anyone else can. Mandy and I want to change the world and the way people think about us. We are both great self-advocates who won’t stop chasing our dreams and making them realities. We won’t stop raising our voices until things change. Mandy is worth the fight for me. And I won’t give up. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .