New York’s First Disability Pride Event: What Does It Mean for People with Disabilities?
On July 12th 2015, New York held its first Disability Pride Parade, with a variety of events to bring together people with disabilities and their families and friends. The event was an opportunity to share experiences, bringing people together, and also to raise awareness. It’s set to be an annual parade.
What do ‘Pride’ events do?
Raising awareness and bringing people together are the two core features not just of a Disability Pride event, but also of any other pride event (gay pride events might be the ones that we typically think of). These events are celebrations of our differences and our similarities, no matter where we come from, where we’re going and what we’re doing in between.
Are ‘Pride’ events a positive thing?
If you’re thinking about how positive a pride event can be, then you might find arguments on either side of the coin. On one hand, bringing people together and raising awareness can only be considered as positives – fostering new relationships, building on existing ones and making the world more aware of various disabilities and how they affect the people that have them (or, perhaps more importantly, the ways in which people with disabilities are NOT affected – you don’t need to speak slowly and loudly to someone just because they’re in a wheelchair, for example, and there is no reason that a person with autism cannot run a successful business).
On the other hand, some would argue that a pride event can actually enhance the feeling of ‘us’ and ‘them’. There are arguments that pride events set people up as special, in need of a certain day/event and standing out from the ‘typical’, the ‘usual’ or even the ‘normal’.
Ultimately, what matters is that those affected by a disability are able to have a voice and a choice, feeling represented and having the option to partake or not to partake as they see fit.
Some feel that others define them by their disabilities, rather than seeing the person sitting in the wheelchair or the person behind the stereotypical image of ‘someone with Down’s Syndrome’. Others might feel that their disabilities aren’t recognised or understood, particularly if they’re hidden or invisible disabilities. The pride events, held not just in NYC but in cities all over the world (and increasing in number by the year) provide a unique opportunity for people with disabilities to share their experience with others.
With more than 3,000 people turning out to take part in the parade, it’s clear that the message behind ‘Disability Pride’ resonated with a lot of people.
Ensuring that Pride Doesn’t Occur Just Once a Year
It’s important that people with disabilities experience ‘pride’, or at least the experience of being at ease with themselves, through the whole year and not just one day.
Pride events should be seen as a launch pad or springboard for an overall better experience, so that all with physical and mental disabilities in whatever shape or form can live in a more understanding world.
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