What it means to have disabled pride

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ome people just don't get the importance of disabled pride and often they end up thinking we are glorifying something that shouldn't be spoken about. However, having a disability is nothing to hide or feel embarrassed about, and there is a supportive disabled community growing each day.

So, why is disabled pride so important?

A purple banner with pink text that says 'bring back the joy' underneath is a pink shop now button. To the right hand side there is a pair of space compression socks and in a circle around them the text says 'compression socks do't have to be boring'

It literally changes perceptions of disability. In the media, disability is often portrayed as something to be pitied and as a result many people actually don’t really understand that you can be disabled and live a full life. They think disability is one of the worst things that can happen to you.

Disabled pride is the antidote to this. It shows the world, and especially the newly disabled, that disability isn’t a bad thing. Of course, there are the hard parts to disability, disabled pride doesn’t gloss over that, but it’s not the worst thing in the world either. Changing mind-sets around disability will help remove barriers to everyday life that disabled people encounter every day, but non-disabled people might not even realise are there. By acknowledging and celebrating disabled experiences positive changes can be made.

When you stop thinking of disability as a bad thing and start embracing it you realise there is a whole underground culture and community surrounding disability. And, just like any identity, we have our own history and important figures who are pretty damn cool (hello Frida Kahlo, hello Stevie Wonder, hello Vincent van Gogh, to name a few!).

Disabled pride as a source of support

It was the disabled community that taught me how to be disabled. They gave me the blueprint to a life that included my disability and didn’t see it as an obstacle. They helped me to accept my new identity and in the end learn to love it. Peer support avoids the overly inspirational or pitying narrative about disability that is often present in the mainstream discussions about disabilities. Instead, through sharing lived experience, the positives and realities of living with a disability can be embraced. This is why (and I’ll always keep banging in about this) discussions about disability and disabled access must predominantly include disabled people.

Disabled pride empowered me to live a life on my own terms that wasn’t restricted by what society thought of me. So many outdated and damaging stereotypes concerning disabled people are still allowed to persist in media representation. By engaging with the disabled pride community I could learn from my disabled peers who were living their lives to the fullest that I didn’t need to hide away from the world, I could enjoy my life with my disabilities, not in spite of them.

Feel empowered

Now I use my disabled pride to empower others to feel good about their disability. It won’t always be easy, but like all good things in life it’ll get easier with practise.

The more of us who embrace our disabled pride, the easier it is for newly disabled people to embrace their disabilities too.

It’s a growing cycle of kindness and empowerment.

I will never be ashamed to call myself disabled and if you think I should be, then it’s time you learned more about the disabled experience.