On June 11, 2022, I attended the first in-person Disability Pride event since the beginning of the pandemic. Though Covid-19 is far from over, it’s uplifting to know we’ve found ways to function and push through. We have lost many lives in the disability community to the virus. We’ve also lost lives in our community due to the isolation and lack of healthcare and home care resources.
I remember in 2020 thinking that I would never see any of my disabled friends (who are family to me) again. This year’s Disability Pride was not only 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 up at the Swann fountain at Logan Square. I was wearing my sash and crown for Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania USA 2022, and trying to find my friend/awesome advocate Caitlin Chasar who is Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2022. Ms. Wheelchair USA and Ms. 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 tear us apart and block our access, disabled women supporting disabled women means everything. Unfortunately, my friend couldn’t make it until later, but I did get to meet Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2020 Karli Miller, and Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 1st Runner Up 2022, Domonique Howell. As the parade started we made sure that we were rolling together as a glam unit. The parade was led by ADAPT member Tony Brooks, who also uses a wheelchair.
Using a wheelchair is not the only disability; there are many disabilities both visible and invisible that need representation in our community and in the parade. This includes the entire mobility spectrum, hearing, speech, and visual disabilities, the neurodivergent community, intellectual disabilities, chronic illness, mental health conditions, and more.
There’s also intersectionality of disability that needs representation. I feel 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) at first thought Disability Pride was for Disabled LGBTQ+ since it’s the week after Pride. I explained it’s for all disabled people, but you get a lot of crossover especially because Pride is not always accessible or caring about its community members with disabilities.
The parade led us to the Thomas Paine Plaza with a stage area surrounded by tables for the rest of the event. There I got to meet two of my all-time favorite social media content creators with disabilities: @crutches_and_spice Imani Barbarin, and @thedisabledhippie Julian Gavino. It was kind of surreal to be in the same place at once with them.
As awesome as it was to see many of my old friends from Disability Pride events in the past, seeing lots of new people meant that despite these years apart our community is growing and getting stronger.
The music acts were fantastic to watch too. As a disabled musician, I appreciate it when events highlight disabled artists, rather than having abled artists perform for our “charity.” Disabled people are talented and belong on stage.
The songs of 4 Wheel City really move me because not only are they being performed by someone with a spinal cord injury, but the words are about the life and struggles of people with those conditions. Lachi, Danie Ocean, Johnny Crescendo, Gooch and the Motion, and all of the artists performing at Disability Pride are incredible and represent art from all types of disabilities.
Also, a really important part of the event was the tables of companies and resources for people with disabilities. My boyfriend (who’s my main caregiver) and I have been struggling with my home care, and the companies there were really helpful and informative. I learned about other options so that I might have transportation covered outside of using the bus everywhere in my power chair that does not fit into cars or vans without ramps.
I want to thank the Director Vicki Landers and Disability Pride member Isabel Kaufman for all of their hard work in putting this event together. It was more than just a comeback for our community, it was a fresh start of being out together for the world.
Anomie Fatale is a music artist and the title holder of Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania USA 2022. She is a disability rights advocate with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Chiari Malformation, and quadriparesis. Her platform for MWUSA is raising awareness about the ableist algorithms on social media to prevent disability misrepresentation.