Voices from Inside the Studio: What is Disability Pride?

July 15, 2019 By christea-parent

This Saturday Chicago will host its 16th Annual Disability Pride Parade, where hundreds of people with and without disabilities will gather downtown to march, mingle, and show their many colors.

The logo for Chicago’s Disability Pride Parade, featuring many differently shaped and colored hands coming together in a circle

The Mission of the Disability Pride Parade is “to change the way people think about and define ‘disability’; to break down and end the internalized shame among people with Disabilities; and to promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with Disabilities can take pride.”

In honor of the upcoming parade, asked a few of our Chicago artists: what does disability pride mean to you?

Christianne Msall: “It means trying to help people not be made fun of. People like me with Downs Syndrome.  And people living in nonprofit homes.”

Tim Stone: “Disability pride means that we can go out and march, to be supportive.  It means that I’m proud because I can face my disability.”

Alysha Kostelny: “You should have pride in what you do, pride in your work.  Everybody [at the parade] has a different type of disability.  You should be proud of who you are, because everybody’s different, and no one is alike.”

Alex Scott: “It means to be helpful, it means to be loved, resourceful, and doing things.” 

Alex and his two brothers got to ride on a float in the parade two years ago with the Anixter Center .  “It was fun… to see all the people cheering.”  Tim, Christianne, and Chicago artists Elisha Preston and Jean Wilson also took part in the parade in 2017, marching with their home community members at L’Arche Chicago.

A group of people standing and sitting outside around a large banner for L’Arche Chicago, many wearing matching blue-green L’Arche shirts, preparing to take part in the parade.

“We were marching in it, and I had to blow my whistle to make sure the people can hear me,” says Jean, describing the parade.  “I had to hold the sign up and tell them, here we are, we’re marching… to help people.”

Alysha is hoping to attend her first parade this year: “I’ve never been to one before, it sounds interesting, I’d like to see what it’s like.  It seems like I’d learn about a lot of different things”.

For many minority or historically oppressed communities, pride is a form of protest. By demanding public space and visibility, we demand to be seen and acknowledged for who we are, fully and authentically; we challenge the world to change their view of human value, and to go beyond what a person can and cannot do in order to be deserving of basic human rights and dignity.

The disability community is certainly something to take pride in; we are a tenacious, authentic group of humans. We hope you celebrate with us this Saturday, July 20th in Downtown Chicago. Details can be found at www.disabilityprideparade.org . Go out and be proud!