Alexandra Ellen shares the significance of recognising Disability Pride Month this July and discusses its personal meaning to her.
Disability Pride Month serves as a platform to embrace and honour our disabled identities, but recognising the history, achievements, and struggles the disability community experience. The presence of disability adds to the intricate diversity of individuals in our world. However, it’s true, disabled individuals often face marginalisation and are misunderstood in the community, and this has been happening for generations. Disability Pride Month gives disabled people the opportunity to make noise, remind the world we exist and champion for a more accessible world.
Originating in the United States in 1990, Disability Pride Month commemorates the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, with the primary goal of challenging ableism and discrimination in society.
Reflecting on the significance of this month to me personally, I realise that I celebrate my disabled identity every day. My creative outlet provides a means to explore my disabled experiences and actively promote a more accessible and less ableist world. Through my disability-led performance, Betsy and I, I share the story of Ivy and her relationship with her wheelie walker, Betsy.
Ivy is coming to terms with her acquired disability and separation from her husband. She is feeling angry and resentful over what her life has become. After some debate, she pulls her Nanna’s wheelie walker out of the garage and names her Betsy. On their first shopping trip together, Betsy comes to life.
With the help of Betsy, Ivy grows on her journey, finding pride in her existence as a disabled person and is armed with the tools she needs to navigate an inaccessible world. Ivy moves from the feeling of shame about being disabled to acceptance, and I believe acceptance is the key to pride.
Acknowledging our realities and moving away from denial allows us to celebrate our diversity and find pride in who we are. As disabled artists, we have the opportunity to express ourselves authentically, explore our identities, and share our experiences with the world.
I encourage you to attend the Undercover Artist Festival from September 20-23 and witness the power of disability-led art.
Betsy and I will feature on September 21 at 5:30pm at Queensland Theatre.
See you there!
Image: Alexandra and Judy on stage performing Betsy and I. There is a wheelie walker in the middle of them and both Alexandra and Judy have their hand on the walker. Alexandra is wearing a hot pink dress and Judy is wearing a blue jumpsuit.