I love Tumblr. I love the discourse. I love people pointing out ableism to me that I hadn’t been aware I was angry about.
There is a trend to make a pride flag for each individual marginalized group that falls under what people refer to as the LGBT/LBGTQ/LGBTQIA+/MOGAI/GSM etc. communities, the flags a derivative of the official rainbow flag. It became a meme and a profitable new product for a niche market. Some of these flag’s colors have become standardized but some still have competing designs that are fighting for popularity and the flags of representation have expanded to represent certain fetishes.
And of course there are plenty of joke ones.
It’s cute. It’s something fun for everyone, even kids stuck at home with only paint installed on their computer. It encourages camaraderie and bonding within each communities. Some are pretty cute and funny.
But tonight I found the best one.
Someone on Tumblr proposed a design for a chronic illness flag and thus ensued…a really good set up for a pun about angry, or, flaming queers but in good taste I’ll let it slide. Anyway, the LGBT/MOGAI were highly offended.
I have no idea what the flag’s original intention is (if it was meant to instigate anything or not) and I’m not completely sweet on the colors but this is probably unintentional genius.
It’s this specific comment that I’d like to address, admittedly because it’s mostly low hanging fruit:
The “LGBT” community has ostracized disabled people just as every other civil rights group has. Year after year we asked that Pride parades at least be accessible and the few that have at least attempted to be use that as their get out of jail free card for any other issues concerning us. Mogai is an apple that didn’t fall from the corporate charity tree, they aren’t the Amazon or Walmart of gays but besides lip service everything’s run essentially the same way.
Speaking of corporate charities… We don’t have “ribbons”
NTABs have ribbons.
It’s a traditional gesture to show support toward a person or cause, originally used to honor soldiers. The pink ribbon everyone knows and loves as well as all the other ribbons that tried to ride their coattails of by assigning different colors to different disabled groups.
I’m not the kind of person who brings Nazis into every conversation (I’m lying) but that’s a little on the nose. I will say that this tradition has persisted through the military who is the reason so many people become disabled in war zones and many of those wars are over nothing but eugenics in the first place. Also, disabled people couldn’t serve in the Armed Forces so technically the ribbons haven’t been ours for a very long time.
The only other group that has made a tradition of using ribbons as emblems are people throwing excruciating children’s birthday parties.
Not only is it a meaningless gesture of support, not a symbol of representation, it negatively impacts disabled people because NTABs feel like if you buy a pink ribbon you have disability covered, you don’t have to ally for us any more than that.
The first pink ribbons representing breast cancer were put together by Charlotte Haley and each one included a note that said “The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.” It wasn’t a sign of support or a shout out to someone who had died, it was a call to arms to actively do something for the civil rights of disabled people. Estée Lauder took it and the branding behind it to make it a meaningless product. Haley fought them but they avoided it by changing the hue of pink and copyrighted it as their own invention. Susan G Coleman can, has, and will sue you if you make your own pink ribbons, even if you are doing it for an actual charity.
Those ribbons are symbols of the commodification of disabled bodies. It there’s an organization trying to help disabled people run by people who aren’t disabled they are only interested in making money off of us. Ironic how often they complain what a financial burden we are when our lives are and extremely profitable industry. So they can entice NTABs to buy their way into heaven.
There is a cure for everything, we just need to find it. Everyone wants to be cured. No one is happy when they are disabled. Disability means the end of your life. Getting a diagnosis is weak and taking medication is giving up. You either have to be an inspiration to NTABs or you have to die tragically to get them to keep spending money, making people feel useful by buying a pen with a pink ribbon painted on it so they can tell themselves they are a good person.
All of that aside, you think chronic illness isn’t a sexuality or gender?
Chronic illness is a sexuality and gender unto itself regardless of biology. People with chronic illness are considered and made sexless, it’s compulsory asexuality. both in that gender is inconsequential because social formalities between genders can’t be as heteronormative our sexuality is nonexistent, asexual by default and aromatic at best. It’s compulsory asexuality.
Disability is a social construct. Gender is a social construct. Sexuality is a social construct. A person born disabled is assigned asexual/agender at birth and is thus queer. If you’re still having trouble grasping that concept you shouldn’t be talking over people, especially disabled people.
I get that that’s inconvenient for queer NTABs because it’s yet another reason they should stop ostracizing us but if it weren’t true why did I and the disabled children I grew up have pronouns like “wheelchair” or “crutches”? All words without gender specific etymology.
Why were we told crushes and dating were for the normal kids?
Why was it so casual in California for disabled students to be sterilized. Why did anyone think it was okay for me as a 10-year-old child to be in a meeting with County administrators discussing about how if I ever did have sex it would be rape, and anyway it’s not as if I should be allowed to reproduce in the first place. How come it wasn’t until I was 30 years old (2015) that it actually became illegal to forcibly sterilize people in California?
My story about gender is such a cliché it’s embarrassing. I thought gender was something that developed in puberty because in the media there were only men and women and none of them were disabled. If I did see a disabled adult they always found a way to work in how they don’t have a normal/acceptable/fulfilling romantic and sexual life so they didn’t count as actual adults. I also knew that everyone was telling me that gender didn’t matter because social taboos between genders didn’t apply to me because of my disability. Cripple has and is the name of my sexuality. I knew that I was never expected to get married or to date because I was very bluntly told that, as were my disabled peers. I knew that I was told I had a uterus which is something all women supposedly have but should and would. I didn’t “need it.”
I believed, like a lot of kids in my situation, that gender was a choice. It was a choice that could even physically change you. When adults started talking about how I would be going into puberty soon I would spend time sorting my into girls and boys piles to decide what gender I was going to pick, what toys I could keep. I was scared that I would have to pick soon because if you want a penis and weren’t randomly born with one you only have a second chance to grow one at puberty when you pick a gender. So if I wanted one I had to decide ASAP.
Kids, am I right?
We weren’t “born this way” because we were born with no intention of being any way. NTABs, even queer ones, will never be able to understand what that is like just like a cis person can intellectually understand what a transgender person is going through but they will never ever really know what it’s like.
Disability isn’t about sexuality and gender? Bullshit.
I get that it complicates things for you, especially because there are technically a lot of heterosexual people who are queer if they happen to be born disabled. More alphabet soup. Less ways to ostracize disabled people.
So, someone made a JPEG based off of an LGBT™ meme to represent chronic illness? Sign me the fuck up. I’ll take one in every size.
And you think mogai is going to get away with this shit as well?
Do it and become synonymous with hypocrisy.