Disability Pride Month: A history
Hello - I hope you’re surviving the heat!
We’re well into Disability Pride Month now. Not that you would know it. Awareness of the event is shockingly low, and brands and celebs could not appear to care less.
You’re very evidently not going to learn about DPM from the news or your social media feeds, so I thought it’d be nice to explore where it came from and how it’s developed in today’s newsletter.
So without further ado…
Disabled people - and disability activism - have been around for all of human history.
But the origins of DPM are surprisingly recent.
In 1990, a group of American disability activists staged a campaign for civil rights. One of their most memorable protests was the famous Capitol Crawl, when disabled people literally crawled up the steps of the US Capitol to demonstrate the price of inaccessibility.
The protests put pressure on President George HW Bush to sign the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in July 1990. It was a landmark bill - one of the first laws to guarantee civil rights for disabled people.
That month, the first disability pride march was held in Boston - and a movement was born.
Disability pride marches spread to more and more cities.
New York held annual marches between 1992 and 1996. Other events were held in Chicago, LA and San Antonio.
Parades eventually came to the UK, landing in Brighton in 2016.
The disability pride flag
The original disability pride flag was designed by Ann Magill, a disabled artist, in 2017.
Following feedback from those with sensory processing disorders, epilepsy and chronic migraines, Magill redesigned the flag in 2021. The new flag uses calmer colours and straight lines, making it more accessible.
Both versions of the flag are designed to represent the full spectrum of disabled people.
Red: physical disabilities
Yellow: cognitive and intellectual disabilities
White: invisible and undiagnosed disabilities
Blue: mental illness
Green: sensory perception disabilities
The black background has a particularly important meaning: it represents the disabled lives lost not only to illness but to abuse, negligence and suicide.
NYC brought back its disability pride march in 2015, and DPM is now an annual event online (at least in my little corner of the internet).
But the event is still deeply marginalised. Non-disabled people, brands and others don’t celebrate it in the way they do other awareness months.
There has never been a disability pride march in London.
And for a lot of people, the very concept of disability pride remains a strange one.
All of this needs to change if we’re going to build on the legacy of that first event in Boston.
How are you working to make that happen? Let me know in the comments.
See you next week,
DPM special offer
Disability Pride Month is all about amplifying disabled voices and celebrating the disability community.
So, in that spirit, I’m running a lovely special offer on paid subscriptions to The View From Down Here.
Subscribe by 31 July to get 10% off for a whole 12 months!
The anti-ableism work I do on this newsletter can only be done with reader support. If you value what I do, please consider subscribing. The special offer makes it a great time to do so!