Let’s talk about Pride and disability.
Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. There are links in the description for several black and queer trans organizations. Today, I’m going to be replying to a comment I got on a video asking about pride parades/festivals and what accessibility is like at them. First, I’ve been to only a few prides, two in Seattle and one in Portland. So my personal experience is limited, but I’ll talk about what know from other people who have talked about this. I also will link a pretty in-depth article about accessibility and pride.
The ones I’ve been to do provide interpreters but you have to be at very specific places to be able to see them, and those areas are usually crowded and difficult to get into if you don’t arrive early. They’re also not always accessible for deaf people who also use wheelchairs because they can’t see over people’s heads. There are sometimes designated spaces for wheelchair users, but they’re not the easiest to get to and that doesn’t even mention all of the other difficulties that wheelchair users face at Pride.
I don’t use a wheelchair myself, but I know of some the problems they face. Some are as simple as cracked and uneven sidewalks that weren’t repaired when they should have been. Other issues arise when the route is set where the whole thing isn’t fully accessible for them. There are still portions in some cities or towns that don’t have ramps on curb corners, or the incline is too steep to comfortably use. People have no awareness of wheelchair users, people’ll block their way, not let them move up to the front so they can see, lean on their chairs, and generally act like they’re not even there.
It’s a whole other set of problems when you look at Pride parties or events after the parade. There generally aren’t any spaces that are quieter or more casual for people who easily get overstimulated such as autistic people. Many smaller events not connected to the big Pride event aren’t interpreted unless people reach out and request it. These smaller events are often in bars or clubs, spaces that usually aren’t ADA accessible. This is especially true in cities with older buildings that were there before 1990, because they’re not required to comply with the ADA.
I know there are many queer disabled people who just opt out of going to Pride events, because it’s not worth the energy to try and go. The few times I’ve gone, I enjoyed but it was either because I was with friends or went by myself, but had no expectations of understanding anything that was being said. I tend to still celebrate Pride, but not by going to the parade or Pride specific events unless I know they’re accessible. My queer friends and I will just get together at some place where we’re comfortable and celebrate that way.
To finish the video, I want to remind you that Pride started as a riot, continued as a march to honor that riot and the start of the bigger fight for rights. It was started by queer and trans black women. This has to be remembered with Pride often being whitewashed. When you can, support queer and trans organizations, especially those operated by BIPOC communities. I have links below to a list, be sure to check them out. And to close out, if you are disabled and queer, have you been to Pride? If yes, what was your experience? If not, if you feel comfortable with sharing, what’s your reason for not going?