Reflecting on Disability Pride Month

Ruthy is a white woman with long black hair. She is wearing a black t-shirt with the disability flag on it and has drawn the flag on her face in make-up. She is smiling and holding a blue walking stick.What is Disability Pride Month?

You may not have known that July has been Disability Pride Month, a time when disabled people are reminded to celebrate their whole selves. This is a chance to celebrate all disabled people, whether they be seen as ‘overcoming their disabilities’  (a term I hate!) or simply living their lives to the best extent they can. Disability Pride was started back in 1990 in the USA, after the Americans Disability Act (ADA) was passed, however since 2015 it has been a worldwide monthly celebration.

For too long, being disabled or having a chronic illness has been seen as something to be ashamed of or something to be pitied about a person. Some disabled people have been used as ‘inspiration porn’ to shame others into acting a certain way, and many have to battle to receive government support to live. In the UK, just 53% of disabled people are in employment yet with the right support and understanding, many more could be so.

As our pride month comes to an end, please remember disabled people are so much more than just their health conditions. These conditions must be acknowledged and respected as they are likely big parts of people’s lives but remember to that these are people with feelings, passions, relationships, hobbies and likes.

For me, to ignore my seizures, M.E and bipolarism does me the disservice of ignoring my strengths and trials and i’m proud of the work i’ve put into managing myself and living a full life. That doesn’t mean it’s all I am, i’m a creative person, business consultant, gamer, cosplayer, cat lover and recently parent and my disability is just another part of why I am.

The Disability Pride Flag

[Image description: A black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a "lightning bolt" band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of black between the colors. Description ends] from creator Ann Magill
The Disability Pride flag created by Ann Magill
I didn’t know we had a flag until this year to be honest! Created by Ann Magill in 2019, each colour represents a different aspect of disabled people’s experiences and lives and is highly symbolic for the community.

  • The black represents morning for those who have died and/or suffered from ableism and also rebellion.
  • The Parallel lines indicate solidarity within the community, despite the varying experieinces.
  • Blue signified mental illness.
  • Yellow signifies neurodivergence- cognitive and intellectual disabilities.
  • White is for invisible illnesses and those who are undiagnosed- knowingly or not.
  • Red is for physical disabilities.
  • Green is for sensory disabilities.
  • Lastly, the zigzag shape show how disabled people must adapt and work around barriers to survive and thrive.

Thank you so much Ann for creating something so great for the community.

How can I be a good Ally?

Attitudes towards disabled people feel to me at least, like they’re starting to change. Greater understanding of mental illness is spreading and non-disabled people are being made aware of the uncomfortable topic of ableism – something which must be discussed more to be improved upon. Advocating for disability rights and awareness is exhausting, especially for people who are already dealing with their health complications. We need non disabled people to help support us and raise our voices. These are just a few suggestions of how you can help.

  • Believe disabled people. Trust that their symptoms are real and that they know their conditions far more than you do after a quick google or a story from your aunt. Listen to them and learn.
  • Please don’t share unsolicited advice or ‘cures’. Unless asked for, don’t tell a disabled person how yoga, kale or similar will make everything better for them.
  • Support disabled charities such as Scope, Mind, Disability Rights UK and many more.
  • Understand invisible illnesses are just as real as visible ones.
  • Avoid ableist language such as referring to the weather as ‘bipolar’, saying you’re ‘a bit OCD’ when you simply mean you like things tidy. Speak up when you hear things like this said.
  • Support rather than pity. We are not cautionary tales or people to be feared or feel sorry for. We are just people who may be doing things a little differently.

Some of my favourite disabled influencers…

There are so many wonderful people sharing their stories, ideas, hobbies, personalities who also happen to be disabled, but i’d just like to share a few  great people i’ve enjoyed following online.

  • jessicaoutofthecloset – Jessica makes amazing content about being Deaf & on Disability activism, educates on LGBTQ+ through really cool videos and shares her amazing vintage outfits. Plus her and her wife have just had a little boy who’s one day apart from mine age-wise!
  • shelbykinsxo – Shelby is a model and creates fantastic TikToks whilst sharing awesome make-up looks (especially her Bratz ones). I’d also recommend checking out her petition to educate children on disabilities in school.
  • luuudaw – Lucy is a model (with great mobility aid taste) and content creator who openly raises awareness about a range of topics including chronic illness.
  • achronicvoice – Sheryl runs the brilliant blog, A Chronic Voice and shares different perspectives on living with chronic illnesses around the world. I love her monthly word prompts and need to get back into doing them!
  • crutches_and_spice – Imani is a disability activist, public speaker, content creator and model who frequently opens up discussions and makes great TikToks.

Do you have some favourite disabled or chronically ill influencers, i’d love to follow some more!

Until the next time…

Ruthy xo

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