Essay: The Disability Community Comes Together After the Pandemic
On June 11, 2022, I attended the first in-person Disability Pride event since the pandemic began. Although Covid-19 is far from over, it is uplifting to know that we have found ways to function and get through it. We have lost many lives in the disability community to the virus. We have also lost lives in our community due to isolation and lack of healthcare and home care resources.
I remember in 2020 thinking that I would never see any of my friends with disabilities (who are my family) again. This year’s Disability Pride was not just a celebration of our disability identities, but it was a celebration of life and survival.
The first part I attended was the parade. We all met at the Swann Fountain in Logan Square. I was wearing my sash and crown for Mrs. Wheelchair Pennsylvania USA 2022, and trying to find my friend/awesome lawyer Caitlin Chasar who is Mrs. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2022. Mrs. Wheelchair USA and Mrs. Wheelchair America are completely different pageants, just like Miss USA and Miss America are.
In the wheelchair community, we are all sisters. With a world trying to separate us and block our access, women with disabilities who support women with disabilities mean everything. Unfortunately, my friend couldn’t come until later, but I was able to meet Mrs. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2020 Karli Miller and Mrs. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 1st Runner Up 2022, Domonique Howell. At the start of the show, we made sure to ride together as a glamorous unit. The parade was led by ADAPT member Tony Brooks, who also uses a wheelchair.
The use of a wheelchair is not the only handicap; there are many visible and invisible disabilities that need to be represented in our community and in the parade. This includes the entire spectrum of mobility, hearing, speech and visual impairments, neurodivergent community, intellectual disabilities, chronic illnesses, mental health issues, and more.
There is also the intersectionality of disability that needs to be represented. I think our disability community shows that. We are a diverse group, of all races and ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities.
My boyfriend (who is able-bodied and new to this scene) first thought Disability Pride was for LGBTQ+ people with disabilities since it’s the week after Pride. I explained that it’s for anyone with disabilities, but there’s a lot of crossover, mostly because Pride isn’t always accessible or caring about members of its community with disabilities.
The parade took us to Thomas Paine Square with a stage surrounded by tables for the rest of the event. I met two of my favorite social media content creators of all time there: @crutches_and_spice Imani Barbarin and @thedisabledhippie Julian Gavino. It was a bit surreal to be in the same place at the same time as them.
As great as it has been to see many of my old friends from Disability Pride events in the past, seeing many new people means that despite those years apart, our community is growing and getting stronger.
The music acts were fantastic to watch too. As a musician with a disability, I appreciate events that feature disabled artists, rather than having disabled artists perform for our “charity”. People with disabilities have talent and have their place on stage.
The songs on 4 Wheel City really move me because not only are they performed by someone with a spinal cord injury, but the lyrics are about the lives and struggles of people with these conditions. Lachi, Danie Ocean, Johnny Crescendo, Gooch and the Motion, and all of the artists performing at Disability Pride are amazing and represent the art of all types of disabilities.
Also, a very important part of the event were the business and resource tables for people with disabilities. My boyfriend (who is my primary caregiver) and I have struggled with my home care, and the companies there have been really helpful and informative. I discovered other options so that I can have covered transportation outside of using the bus anywhere in my power chair that doesn’t fit in cars or vans without ramps.
I would like to thank Director Vicki Landers and Disability Pride member Isabel Kaufman for all their hard work in organizing this event. It was more than just a comeback for our community, it was a new beginning to be together for the world.
Anomie Fatale is a musical artist and the title holder of Mrs. Wheelchair Pennsylvania USA 2022. She advocates for the rights of people with disabilities with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Chiari Malformation and Quadriparesis. His platform for MWUSA raises awareness of ableist algorithms on social media to avoid misrepresentation about disability.