Common Ground: Commentary on Dwarfism, Disability and Chicago
Sunday, July 21, 2013
2013 Pride Day
LPA at the 2013 Disability Pride Parade
Yesterday was the 2013 Disability Pride Parade. The first parade in Chicago stepped off nine years ago. I missed the first parade, and I've missed at least one since then, but the parade is one of my favorite events of the year, in particular when Little People of America marches. Yesterday, six of us from the Windy City Chapter of LPA marched. We don't have a float and our group is always one of the smallest contingents in the parade. Despite our numbers, I always feel empowered when marching with other members of Little People of America. So often, as people of short stature, we are involuntarily on display. We attract unwanted attention and are sometimes the unknowing subjects of photos and videos. While marching with the parade, it's as if we regain some control. Walking down the street, we display the pride we feel as members of the dwarfism community. I am sure that while we march we get our pictures taken by strangers who happen to be on the street through which the parade passes. And I am sure some of the people who took our photos yesterday captured our image with the same malice as those who take our picture when little people are just minding their own business. But there is always a different feel to it on disability pride parade day. On random days throughout the year, the photos feel like a violation, as if the perpetrators have taken something from us. On parade days, the photos are just a nuisance that don't compete with the strength of the community. Also, I hope that strangers who see us marching as part of the parade learn something about the dwarfism community. Amidst the other disability groups, we are part of a community that has a history of struggle, achievements, and civil rights. Being a part of the larger disability community gives individuals with dwarfism definition. So often, people with dwarfism are treated differently because strangers don't make a connection between dwarfism and humanity. It is my hope that strangers who see us marching within the larger community are better able to make the linkage between dwarfism and humanity.
Access Living in 2013 Parade
For most of the history of the parade in Chicago, the route has ended at Daley Plaza, where there is a post parade celebration. The parade followed the Daley Plaza Route yesterday. Toward the beginning of the program, the program MC, Kevin Irvine, talked about pride. He said that many of us are born with disabilities, but pride is not something with which you are born. Pride is something you have to learn. Pride is something you have to practice. The Disability Pride Parade is a chance to practice that pride. Marching with LPA, much more so than marching with Access Living, or any other group, I have the chance to practice my pride. It's an opportunity I cherish because it teaches my how I should feel about myself. And that's a lesson I can apply throughout the year.