This past July marked the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), known to many in the disability rights world as ADA month. In more recent years, July has been designated as Disability Pride Month, coinciding with the first Disability Pride Day held in 1990 and the first Disability Pride Parade held in Boston in 2004. Ultimately, one of the primary purposes of Disability Pride Month is to uplift and celebrate disabled people individually and as a culture/community. So, if July was the moment to discuss disability pride, why am I discussing it now?
My Relationship with Disability
Over the years, as my career has continued to center on disability inclusion, I’ve developed a more complicated relationship with Disability Pride Month. Don’t get me wrong, I am LOUDLY and PROUDLY disabled! While I haven’t always felt this way, I’m grateful to be in a place where I confidently embrace my identity as a physically disabled person in similar ways that I embrace other aspects of my identity, including my race, gender, and sexuality. I am incredibly honored to be a part of the world’s largest minority group, a community that is as vast and as deep as all the oceans combined.
Because July is often the only time that much of mainstream society centers disabled people, this means that it also becomes the most exhausting month of the year for so many people with disabilities. For many of us, we find ourselves busy with events and activities and just more work that can leave us drained by the month’s end. Even still, for those of us managing care and needs of our bodies, it can feel almost counter-productive to be outwardly “celebrated” yet overworked to the point of what can feel like exploitation.
Celebrate Disability Pride All Year Round
Ultimately, as much as I appreciate a moment designated to acknowledge the experiences, contributions, and perspectives of disabled people, I wish that more organizations and society-at-large would center disabled people outside of one month. Disabled experiences do not begin on July 1st each year, nor do they end on July 30th. We are valuable every day. We live and survive and thrive every day. Thus, we deserve to be celebrated. EVERY DAY!
About Andraéa LaVant: Andraéa is a disability consultant and worked as an impact producer for Crip Camp, a feature-length documentary on Netflix. Andraéa lives in California and uses a 4Front 2 Power Chair.
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