June is Pride Month – a time of celebration and reflection for LGBTQ folks with disabilities. Pride marks the anniversary of Stonewall – a major community action that is widely regarded as crucial to the start of the LGBTQ rights movement in North America.
Stonewall was a riot – a boiling over of a community’s frustration: Frustration at being excluded. Frustration at being made invisible. Frustration at being told their sexualities were repulsive. Frustration at being medicalized and pathologized.
It’s a measure of the progress the LGBTQ community has made – and the economic & political clout it now holds – that today Pride celebrations regularly feature prominent politicians & celebrities as keynote speakers, and corporate sponsors with deep pockets.
But it’s also worth looking around at Pride events and asking ourselves “who’s not here?”
- Is it the gay man with cerebral palsy from New West who needs family support to leave the house, and whose family doesn’t support him being gay?
- Is it the trans woman with autism living in Coquitlam who isn’t out to her home share family? Who can’t take public transit and who can’t easily book Handi Dart on her own?
- Is it the pansexual teenager from Kitsilano whose group home is understaffed this afternoon? Whose workers have decided that there’s too much of a risk of challenging behaviour, so maybe they’ll just go next year instead?
- Is it the person with Down Syndrome from Burnaby who can’t walk safely to their skytrain station in full drag?
It’s great that the conversation on gender diversity and sexual orientation is beginning to include people with cognitive disabilities. And we still have a long way to go. Wondering how you can be a part of the shift?
- Click here for a list of LGBTQ videos, resources, and news stories from Real Talk.
- Click here for a news story on Pauline Bosma -a pioneering LGBTQ activist with cognitive disabilities.
- Click here for a great bullet-point run down of tips on providing better support for LGBTQ people with cognitive disabilities.
Finally, here’s a scene from the famous movie Milk:
It’s the 1970s. A teenager’s family is about to send him to an institution to cure him of being gay. He calls prominent activist Harvey Milk for advice on what to do. As Harvey discovers, being gay is more complicated for some people than for others…