Photo description: Vita’s contingent in the Disability Pride Parade, in front of Queen’s Park in Toronto. Group stands behind and beside the Vita Banner.
The 8th Annual Toronto Disability Pride March happened yesterday and I’d been looking forward to it both personally and professionally. I had never been in the Toronto parade before and we began planning to go to it the moment it was announced. We made sure that Ruby and Sadie would be able to come, we believe that these kinds of experiences are important for them to be part of – and so do their parents. So we were all set. At work Vita’s self advocacy group was also organizing to take part in the parade for the first time. To say that I was surrounded by planning and excitement was an understatement.
We ended up arriving just a few minutes before the speakers started in front of Queen’s Park, Ontario’s legislative building. Ran into a few people we knew and met some people I knew just through this blog or through Facebook. Then I saw the Vita group and we all went over to meet up and get our picture taken. Disability Pride is one of the things we promote at Vita and there was a fairly large group of us.
Once the march actually began it felt good to be taking to the streets to make it clear, make it known, that we are a people, a people to be reckoned with. I wore my yellow shirt to promote my own visibility. See me. Go ahead and see me. I won’t let shame put me in mourning, I will not wear black. I don’t think I was alone in this. I saw a young man with a white and pink wheelchair. I saw a woman with brightly coloured hair. We were VISIBLE.
Shame built buildings to house us away from others.
Shame built schools to give us a grudging education.
Shame built a world where stairs and stares aim to keep us in by keeping us out.
But shame had no place in this march. Some chanted as we went down the street, others walked in silence. Me, I was one that rolled in contemplation. I had no message to those on the sidewalks that wasn’t writ large by my presence. I AM HERE.
Pride is the antidote to more than shame.
Pride is the antidote to more than internalized ableism.
Pride is the antidote to more than the dismissal of our personhood.
Pride is the only pathway to a future of any worth.
And that’s where I want to be.