coming out disabled bigger

Image description: Screenshot from header of magazine article. The headline and byline, “‘Coming Out Disabled: Embracing our full spectrum’ by Victoria A. Brownworth,” are followed by a photo, taken outside in summer, of a short-haired white woman in a pale linen shirt sitting in front of another white woman with slightly longer hair, wearing in a sky blue tank top, who has her hands on the first woman’s shoulders; she is wearing a wedding ring (they are married).

In the Oct/Nov issue of Curve, Victoria Brownworth writes a three-page feature on disabled queer visibility. I’m one of three women—the others are Alice Wong and Ace Ratcliffe—interviewed.

It’s a good article; you should read it (either in the print edition or the $2.99 digital download). But one thing I want to correct immediately: I did not coin the phrase radical hospitality. I first heard it from Leigh Ann Hildebrand in 2013, and talked about it extensively here. I talk about it a bit more in the article. It’s a beautiful concept and in my opinion if everyone adopted it the world would be a better place.

I also also talk about my own internalised ableism and how and why it took me so long to first recognise it, and then begin to get past it:

While Ratcliffe was forced to accept and address her disability early, for Griffith the struggle took longer, but was no less harsh. “Perhaps because my physical impairments gained on me slowly, it took years to feel the sting of nondisabled people’s dismissal,” she says as she echoes Ratcliffe’s words. “It took years for me to begin to understand that I had been dismissing myself. But more likely it’s because growing up I hadn’t seen disabled queer women in real life, or on page or screen. At all. And then when finally I began to see disabled characters, they were distorted clichés: tragic cripples, angry cripples, helpless cripples. Cripples whose bodies, like those of queer people, were portrayed as sites of difficulty rather than delight. Cripples written by the nondisabled who have no fucking clue.”

The article ends:

Griffith’s call to action seems so simple, yet those of us who read coming out stories as teenagers know the path to inclusion is incredibly fraught. “We all need to see ourselves,” she says. “We need mirrors. We need to hear our own voices. Our strong, beautiful, ordinary, disabled, queer voices. We need to see and hear ourselves.

“Let’s find each other. Let’s welcome each other. Let’s practise radical hospitality. Next time you put together and article, or a party, or an event, reach out. Don’t say, ‘If you need anything, just ask.’ Do the work of imagining what we might need, and then make it happen. Don’t put the work on us. You can’t anticipate everything, but you can begin. And when we speak—on Twitter, in person, in a book—listen.”