Episode 58: NYC Disability Pride 2018

E: Hi, I’m Emily Ladau


K: And I’m Kyle Khachadurian


E: (Chuckles) You’re so enthusiastic


K: I’m tired! Aren’t you tired? We’ve both had a very long day!


E: Of course I’m tired!


K: What are we gonna talk about today, Emily?


E:  (Laughs) We’re gonna talk about Disability Pride. But first there’s  something that we have gotta do. 


K: Yeah. I have to apologize. I told a story on the last episode that was about a friend, and it was the wrong thing to do. I tried to make it anonymous, that doesn’t make it right, it won’t happen again, and honestly if it happened to me, I wouldn’t really like it so…Just clearing the air 


E: Yeah, we have to be careful, we talk about a lot of things that happen in real life and sometimes things are not ours to tell or pass judgement on so… 


K: Absolutely 


E: We just wanted to put that out there. We’re human and it’s a learning experience


K: And we will do better in the future


E: Yes, absolutely 


K: And on that note, let’s talk about how we did better in the future today!


E: Chuckles. So, today Kyle and I went to The New York City Disability Pride Parade. And we have  mixed feelings on the concept of pride. I wouldn’t say anything negative, But there’s a lot to unpack here!


K: Yeah, there’s certainly nothing negative. I was talking to Emily before we recorded the show. You know, I have nothing at all against the concept of Pride, especially how it’s used in the LGBT Community and how we used it today in parades like this. Nothing against it.  You just wonder, or at least I’ve wondered, how much does that actually accomplish? And I’ve also noted to Emily, just a little inside baseball for you guys, that I don’t feel that way when it comes to LGBT Pride and yet somehow I wonder if it’s accomplishing anything when it comes to Disability. So yes, there is a lot to unpack. Is it my unconscious biases, is it because society doesn’t take us seriously to begin with? I don’t know! What do you think, Emily?


E:  I feel…about Pride celebrations in general that it’s for the community which is so important. But  I don’t know that they’re furthering any sort of acceptance or civil rights. And as a matter of fact, I sometimes wonder if the spectacle makes us just that. Something to be gawked at and not something…or not a group of people whose identity we’re trying to celebrate. It’s an interesting conundrum in my head because I’m all about Disability Pride, I’m all about pride in who you are, I’m all about taking the time to celebrate who you are and representing yourself and letting the world know that you’re loud and proud about it. I also wonder if it’s supposed to be for anything more than just the communities who are involved. Are we achieving something?


K: Do we have to be?


E: That’s a good question!


K: I mean, I don’t know. That wasn’t to put you into a corner, I genuinely don’ know. But I think that your point earlier about…I don’t know if we’re being gawked at. It’s really hard to tell when you’re in it, you know what I mean?


E: Yeah… 


K: Like you really wanna look around and be like, “Oh look! I don’t know what they’re doing but it’s clear that they’re doing something and they’re doing it proudly.” Like, I want to believe that people believe that but like, what are the odds that everybody believes that, you know? That doesn’t and shouldn’t stop you from doing it …It didn’t stop us. But you can’t help but wonder.


E: No, it’s really, really fun and empowering to see giant groups of people who are ou there for the Disability Pride Event. This is what, the third one that they’ve done in New York City?


K: Yeah, mhmm!


E: And I think at least organizationally it gets better each year.


K: Oh, yeah. I mean, we’ve been to all three of them and this year was by far the best. And by the way, “Hello” if you were here today! I know we got some new listeners!


E: Oh, yeah! And we would love to know your thoughts on it too because one thing that I noticed this year? It felt a little lackluster in the actual Pride. And I don’t know if that was just because of where we were in the lineup but I was waiting for just this feeling of utter excitement and festivity but instead it sort of felt like, “Okay, we’re marching now, proud to be here…yay!”


K: I mean, it’s a little unfair for me to speak on that point because I don’t particularly have much Disability Pride in that sense but I was there so I can’t say that I have none, cause if I didn’t have any then I wouldn’t have been there. But I understand what you mean, you know? It’s just like…It was like …A hollow victory. It like biting into a biscuit that was nothing but air. It was nice, it was great, it was wonderful, I had fun but it was like, missing the “Umph!” that the other two had.


E: Yeah and it was definitely a “Who’s Who” of the Disability Community and Disability Organizations. And I know that Pride events tend to be symbolic anyway, but that was what it felt like. It felt symbolic to me, and I was looking to see people who were just feeling real proud of who they were. And maybe I should’ve had a part horn and you should really insert that noise here… 


(Party Horn squeaks)


K: Of course


E: And you know, pom- poms and a sign and I should’ve decked myself out in accessibility symbols


K: But, to your point though…aside from the party horn which, she only brings out on the weekends, you already do that. I mean, you’ve sticker-bombed your wheelchair.


E: That’s true, I do have the stickers on my chair


K: And in addition to the physical stuff, your entire aura, your entire being is waking up and being the best disabled person you can be…I mean we’ve talked about pressure about being the ideal disabled person. I don’t think we’ve done a dedicated episode on it but we’ve definitely talked about it on this show, and you do that stuff everyday. So maybe it’s just because that’s what you do everyday and today was just the day everyone got in a line and did it. 


E: I wonder if I’m feeling some kind of burnout. And I don’t want anyone to think that I mean for this episode to be a downer, this is more just an exploration of self that your coming on with me at the moment. Because I’m obviously super proud of who I am but I think as of late I’ve just had a couple of particularly exasperating experiences. Like last night, I was trying to get on the elevator so that I could get myself from the subway platform to Penn Station in New York City and the elevator wasn’t coming and I had a heart attack because it was like 10/15 minutes that it wasn’t coming, no joke. And I already sensed that I was about to have a repeat of a time when I had a bunch of  firefighters from the New York Fire Department carry me up the stairs of the subway. 


K: Such is life.


E: And I was thinking to myself, I literally started typing the tweet. Because it had been about fifteen minutes, nobody was answering the “HELP” button when I pushed to call for help, and I was about to tweet at the NYC Subway, which was my last resort, I really didn’t know what else to do and say: “Hey, I’d really like to go home and get some sleep for the Disability Pride Parade tomorrow, but ya know, I’m stuck on this Subway platform!” Somehow miraculously, it came down. I have no dead how…


K: It was a gift from God. 


E: But it’s just one of those things where I think I’m starting to hit a point of like, “Yeah, I celebrate myself, but I need you to respect me.” And that’s what I’m not..there’s a disconnect for me right now in the sense of Disability Pride. Like, I’m fine with who I am.


K: Well, elaborate on that because I think I agree with you. And I think that’s what the discnnect is. 


E: I like myself. I don’t like being a person in the world who has a disability. I find it very tiresome and i feel like a day’s worth of Pride isn’t even good for my own self esteem or self-image anymore, because pride in myself isn’t going to get me up a flight of stairs. And this must sound like I am buying so hard into the “Bitter Cripple” stereotype right now 


K: No, I think that’s it. And also I think that’s why it’s different than LGBT Pride too, you know? ‘Cause I mean, I’m not a member of the LGBT Community but I know enough people who are and their goal is acceptance and like, “Hey, we’re here!” But we need a lot more than that. I mean yes, the parade is “Hey, we’re here!” but that’s only like one-eighth of the battle.


E: I mean, I think that’s like over-simplifying in terms of LGBTQ+ Pride, but I get what you’re saying. Unless you’re Queer and Disabled


K: Then it just piles on! Of course, yeah


E: But for the sake of what your saying I completely follow in the terms of 


K: Yeah I’m not trying to minimize the struggles of the people in the LGBTQ+ Community at all, I just mean that it’s not the same.


E: Yeah and we’re not playing Oppression Olympics either! But yeah, I hear what you’re saying because I think that’s it. There’s is a festivity because they want people to know they are out and proud. For me… I’m Out as a Disabled person in my particular case. There is no mistaking that I have a Disability, and I’m really glad if you wanna clap and cheer at me on the streets but that’s not gonna make the elevator work!


K: Yeah!


E: And that’s the bare minimum because then if you start to talk about stigmatizing attitudes, well of course the same thing goes for all communities that have various Pride parades. 


K: Oh, of course.  


E: You know, they’re trying to combat those stigmatizing attitudes. And in that case, I’m all about it. 


K: In that instance, that’s where parades like this…shine. I think that’s the goal that these things tend to hit really well. It’s just that with us, and other communities too but I just know it because I am part of this, that that’s really only like scratching the surface and learning about the physicality of our struggles like you said. No amount of Pride is gonna turn stairs into a ramp, it’s just not gonna happen, that’s not how life works.


E: I think that’s what has been getting to me about Disability issues in general lately is like its Sisyphus 


K: Yeah 


E: To clarify the reference, it’s the Greek Mythology of the guy who keeps pushing the rock up a hill and just keeps pushing the rocks around and it never stops.


K: It never gets to the top because there is no top. But I think…I don’t know about you because I’m really not in the community as much as you are so please tell me if I’m wrong. But from what I see and from what I know from other activists I know, it seems that the majority of people tend to focus more on social issues more than say, policy. Only because it’s a lot easier for an everyday person to do that. And that’s not de-legitimizing it. I’m just saying that talking about social issues and pointing them out and stating ways to correct them only goes so far, and then when it comes time to make the change, I’m not gonna say we fall short but I am gonna say I don’t think we’re nearly as strong in that area as a group. 


E: Can I clarify?


K: Can you clarify? Oh, absolutely!


E: Like I wanna make sure I understand what you’re saying. So, are you saying that we can push for changes in attitudes, and some changes in actions but when it comes to actually having something in writing and actual policy change, that’s where it becomes more of a challenge?


K:  Yeah, and I don’t know if that’s true. But it just seems true because just personally  I know a lot of people that talk about these issues and they should. It’s almost like it’s all of the lead up and none of the follow through, and I’m not saying that’s the fault of anybody it’s just like, its hard to change the policy, it’s very hard. 


E: Well there’s a group called the Rise and Resist Elevator Action Group 


K: Oh, we were hanging out with them today!


E: Yeah, they were pretty well represented at the parade today and they’re taking substantial steps to bring about change to the Accessibility  of the New York City Subway System and transportation and I think that the problem is in a lot of ways…the activism where you’re actually changing policy is more of an exclusive club. And I’m not calling out Rise and Resist, I’m just saying the ability to take on the tasks of doing the heavy lifting and actually changing policy and not just saying “We’re here and we’re proud to be here.” It requires means that I don’t think everybody has. 


K: For sure


E: Time, energy, money, ability to get to and from, know-how etc.  


K: Does that make it less true though? I mean, just because it’s inaccessible, no pun intended doesn’t mean that that doesn’t happen. And I’m very, very proud of all the groups that do change policy, it just seems a little unbalanced and maybe it is because it’s so hard to break into but I don’t know. 


E: We’re also not super in that world. We do more of the advocating and the activism and less of the, “Here’s a law, let’s change it!”


K: You mean “Us” like us? Or us as a people?


E: The two of us


K: Oh, I would say that we are a part of tilting that scale a little bit. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I just think there’s a disconnect because there’s not that many people or groups going through the next steps and the ones that are are really doing great work. And I’m not saying that everyone should, I’m just saying that we gotta do better. We gotta do more.


E: Yeah I also don’t think that either of us are all talk no action though. 


K: I wouldn’t say that. Certainly not you. I don’t think I am either, but certainly not you


(Emily chuckles)

E: But sometimes Pride parades feel like all talk and no action, is what it comes down to. 


K: Yeah, but maybe that’s what they’re for. Maybe that’s the action that Pride parades are for. Maybe that’s the action to shout into a big megaphone that we’re here.


E: And the other thing too? I think everyone is exasperated right now… 


K: Oh yeah!


E: …Considering the particular administration that we live under? I find myself wondering if that has any sort of impact o not feeling quite so festive.


K: I mean, I don’t know about you, but how many times did we bring him up today?


E: Too many


K: I mean not even on purpose! Like during the parade. I think you’re right, I think that has not an insignificant part to do with it.  


E: But I also think that then is a Pride parade a form of protest? If you look at it that way because you’re sort of protesting the people who are trying to keep you down? Or can it just be enjoyed for the sake of having fun, being proud of who you are, and sharing that with the crowd around you. It has such a political feel.


K: See and that’s the reason I tend not to like these things. I have no problem with it, but I think that I don’t know, I wanna say that this should remain neutral, I really do want to say that. But I can tell you right now, like if there was a disabled Trump supporter in the crowd? They were keeping their mouth shut. 


E: I didn’t see one


K: Because if they…No I didn’t see one either, but you can’t look at someone and know, but my point is like,  I don’t think they would’ve felt welcome there at all even though they are just as disabled as we all were, is my point. And should that be the case? I don’t know. Cause if I say no then I’m admitting to this particular parade being all about just being Disabled and being here. But if I say “Yes” then I am admitting that it is a form of protest, and I don’t really know what the answer is. I think that’s extremely gray. You know what I mean?


E: Yeah! And I think also, this is hairy in and of itself but I think I was more conscious of things like security and policing and just generally not feeling as like “Woohoo!” I almost wonder if everyone was being a little too careful?


K: I don’t know, maybe!

E: Am I reading too much into that? Maybe.


K: I don’t want to say too much, but I don’t think it was any more or less than any other parade in New York City, they all have those cops with M-4s and M-16s hanging out. They do! Now is that overkill? Probably. But it’s best to be overkill than underkill if something did happen. Like you probably noticed it in this case because it was probably smaller than your average LGBT+ Parade, you know what I mean? I’m guessing. I don’t know how that works, truly.


E: I’m also thinking…So last month I was going through the city and I ran into the Israeli Heritage Pride Parade and Hell, if they were not the most festive people I have ever seen aside from a Gay Pride Parade. And the sheer level of festivity there…I wanted to get swept up into it! And I’m not about to get into a discussion of Zionism here, or anything like that


K: Never! Not on this show


E: I recognize that’s a whole other conversation. Politics notwithstanding, I was like, “YEAHHHHH these are my people!” And I wasn’t even in the parade but I was just like, “You just seem real happy to be here!” 


K: But have you ever been to Pride, like LGBT Pride? 


E: Sadly, no. 


K: I’m not LGB or T or + and yet when you go there it’s like, “Hell yeah! I’m here and I’m Queer!” Even though that I’m not, but you really do get swept up in the festivities. And it really was like the first thing you said, i just wasn’t feeling it. And I’m much more disabled than LGBT, you know what I mean? Just like you said with the Israeli parade It’s like, “I’m not a part of this, and I love it!”  So I mean, there’s something missing, there’s something missing.


E: Yeah and I don’t know if it was just that everyone was just able to do the same color scheme for the Israeli Pride Parade? You know, when you have that blue and white situation going and everyone’s like all matched up?


K: Yeah and then the one crip who’s like, “I don’t know how I got here but they don’t know I’m not one of them yet!” 


E: Well no, I think they clearly know because I was trying to go in the opposite direction. I was trying to get to a play


K: No, I meant the Gang that wears blue and white. I get what you heard!




K: Nevermind


E: Yeah, Crip has an entirely different meaning here, darling


K: Oh, that’s funny! I should know better, this is a Disability show


E: That was funny though! (Laughs), Yeah, and I wanna make it clear that none of this is a knock on the parade because I mean, it’s AMAZING that the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and all of the people who work on this, pull something like this off. Amazing


K: And it’s a new parade. 


E: Yeah, it’s a baby parade compared to others


K: Yeah, it’s only the third year ever. At least in New York.


E: Ad you know what the other thing was? I feel like for the first year it was such a huge step in the right direction, we weren’t yet exhausted by Donald Trump being President. It was 2016, everyone was like, “This is great!”


K: Wasn’t it ADA 25 too? Like wasn’t that also…


E: Yeah. Wait. Was it 2016, or was it 2015 that was the first one. ‘Cause then it would be the fourth year. 


K: No it was 2015. This is the third year. I remember because I was still working at CPF. 2015 was the first.


E: I don’t know if we have the facts right on that but we’ll double check. 


K: I’m pretty sure…We’ll check. 


E: Either way, the first year I think it was an immense novelty to everybody and it was a sign of progress because we hadn’t had anything like that in New York City since I believe, 1993?


K: I didn’t even think we had anything at all. 


E: Yeah so the novelty and the excitement and the sheer joy was completely palpable that first year. This year everyone showed up and wore their T-shirts because if your organization is not represented and you work on Disability in the New York City Metro area and you’re not there, then what are you even doing? 


K: You know what? I think you hit it, and in Accessible Stall fashion it’s way too late. It’s twenty-six minutes in. 


(Emily chuckles)


E: I have to hope that the troopers who sit all the way through these episodes will follow us as we evolve in our thinking in each episode. 


K: No, but I think that’s really on the nose. You know what I mean? It just felt like a bunch of organizations got together because they wanted to, but also because of a weird sense of obligation because that’s the area in which they work.


E: Yeah, like it’s a formality maybe?


K: Yeah, exactly.


E: But at the same time, I was still happy to be there!


K: Yeah, I had fun it was good.


E: Like I was still amped to see people, I loved looking at everyone’s shirts and the clever signs and hearing the festivities going on, whatever we did hear. The chanting, seeing people in the Park at the end. 

K: That was fun. Although it was funny, I only heard one chant and it was the “Back Lives Matter” chant. And yeah fine, Black Lives Matter, yes they do. But irt was just strange I didn’t hear any Disability chants, it was just strange. It was like, “Huh!” You know what I mean?


E: Well I think, and I don’t know because we were so far away…I heard that in the vague distance. My guess is gonna be that they were trying to point out that Black Disabled lives matter.


K: I’m not knocking that!


E: I know you’re not knocking it. It was a point that needed to be proven right now. 


K: I don’t know, like you said it was cool. And to be fair, also to your point, my favorite part was when it was over and the marching stopped and we got to like, mingle with everyone afterwards. That was so much more fun!


E: You know what I think? I wonder if it should be more of a festival to begin with. Because, I could be making this up but I think that other places do it as a Pride Festival rather than a Pride Parade but a parade is such a quintessentially New York thing. But the last time I marched in anything in New York City was the Women’s March and at that point I was just like, so mad that I almost forgot that I was allowed to have fun marching today!


K: Yeah but I mean that one…you’re not supposed to be happy during that (chuckles) But that’s the thing, I mean the difference between a Disability Pride Parade and a Women’s March is like there wer hardly any floats and…


E: Oh yeah, the Women’s March was not for floats!


K: That’s not what I mean, I’m just saying that the Disability Pride wasn’t a very parade-y parade!


E: It was a march, not a parade


K: Yeah


E: Yeah! … There’s a mosquito in my house everyone


K: Kill it with fire!


E: Oh my God! You guys! You guys!


K: Okay then I guess we have to cut this episode short because Emily’s having a…


E: No we don’t!


K: Okay no we don’t! She’s gonna do it! While on The Accessible Stall she’s going to kill this mosquito.


E:  I don’t even see it anymore. This is very stressful, Now I see  it. Does anyone care about the Great Mosquito Saga of 2018?


K: I do


E: Okay so I feel like we actually made all of our major points anyway and I would be glad to do Final Takeaways since I lost this mosquito


K: My Final Takeaway is this Pride Parade was cool but it just seemed a little bit lacking in cohesion and we should just strive to be better. It’s all we can ever want and ask for. 


E: My final takeaway is that I need to remember how to have fun. Because there’s a very, very good chance that everyone around us was having a gosh darn blast and we were too wrapped up in some kind of negative thinking to realize it. 

K: I was having fun!


E: Oh yeah! I was definitely having fun, but I think maybe more like loosen up? Like, okay here’s an example- I know people were having fun. Especially that woman in the unicorn floatie? 


K: Oh right, I mean how do you not have fun wearing a unicorn floatie?


E: Yeah like, the woman who was blowing on the party blower that I really wanted but you wouldn’t let me have


K: Nope! Disagree, that was awful. I am very biased against party blowers!


E: I thought it was fabulous! People with the clappers? Everyone cheering on the streets?


K: That was cool, that was cool!


E: There was so much fun and happiness to be had, and I need to get out of my own head about it


K: Are you saying that you should have some pride in yourself? I have the parade for you!


E: The Disability Pride Parade?


K:  Oh my God, maybe it did do its job, Emily.


E: Same time next year?


K: Hell yeah!


E: Yeah. This is definitely an episode for reflection and introspection because I am all about a good parade!


K: Who doesn’t love a good parade? Like, if you don’t like parades like


(Emily chuckles)


K: Like just stand still, it’ll leave you alone!


E: Yeah parades are super great. I just think there’s some different meanings in the year 2018. 


K: And on that note, this has been another episode of The Accessible Stall. Sorry for the rushed tone but we wanted to record this while it was still fresh in our brain space.


E: Yeah this is hot out of the oven because we were together all day today and then we recorded this once we got back to our respective places of living… We met up at 9:30 this morning, it’s 10:45 at night!


K: I’m entirely sick of her face!


E: No you’re not!


K: No I’m not!


E: We haven’t stopped talking since like 7:30 this morning. 


K: It’s really sickening if you think about it 


E: But it was all for the greater good of the Disability Pride Parade.


K: It was! And you know what? This was the best effort they’ve put on so far and hopefully it will get better. 


E: Yeah I’m excited to see what next year holds. I’m very excited! Oh! You know what we should have done? Stay tuned for next year guys because we’re gonna do a round up of all the best signs!


K: Did you know that we were totally prepared to do an onsite podcast and then we didn’t because we’re the most responsible people on the entire internet?


E: No, we were actually in the moment!


K: That’s true. 


E: We were living in the moment. 


K: See how positive, see how much Pride she has? She got that from this parade!


Emily laughs


E: Yeah! I mean we took some pictures and stuff but for the most part I wasn’t really like recording video, I wasn’t taking pictures during, I was just kinda taking it all in, watching the crowd!


K: You and I had pictures taken of us though ‘cause we were a circus with me on the back!


E: Yeah Oh my god, why didn’t we start with that? Kyle rides on the back of my wheelchair 

K: There were these one or two photographers who were not quite in line with us but just far ahead enough of us to turn around and snap like a billion pictures of us.


E: Well, one of them was with our group


K: Yeah, I know. But one of them also wasn’t


E: A lot of people were fascinated. I’m wondering if we’re gonna end up on some kind of news clip. 


K: Let’s find out!


E: Next year, let’s decorate my wheelchair and also your face


K: Let’s just like wear a giant cape that says, “The Accessible Stall”


E: People we wearing capes!


K: I know! We were woefully underprepared


E: It’s fine because we went and we showed our pride. But next year… Oh my God! Next year we’re gonna get an accessible stall on wheels and you can sit on the toilet and it’s gonna be like our very own float


K: Okay so next year if we don’t do this make sure you blow us up on Twitter and link us to this episode today. Goodnight everybody!


E: Thanks so much for listening!


K: Until next time


E: Bye!