Tuesday, December 21, 2010


i really like this article about when friends get jealous of folks who are on disability benefits. ive had many folks express a sense of envy, jealousy, etc because im on benefits and apparently have all this freedom to do as i please, all this free time, this life of leisure. i really wish they could understand that this is not a privilege, it is a basic survival thing. i have no other options. i have no room to move, to play with it, have no prospects for anything different, no movement. i would gladly work at a job. but i cant. i would gladly do what my parents and their parents and theirs before did, and work at something to earn a living in this messed up system, if it meant i could do it without living with this pain. But i cant. So yeah. Please dont talk to me about being jealous of this. As this article says:  "there’s nothing going on with them that you want for yourself."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This isn't a feel-good blog. There are no sparkles and rainbows for you to slide down to find disabled people in a little accessible pot o' gold, farting sequins and love for you. It's also not exactly just a pissy blog either, not all the time. But it's honest, and hopefully provides some information that you can use in the real world. And that makes a difference in mine and the lives of other folks who need things to change, like ASAP. And i'm good with that. i just want us to keep learning and re-learning this stuff, and adapting as things change. i do this kind of work because it's the right thing to do, for me, for my communities, not because i imagine everything will be amazing some day. It may never change substantially in my lifetime. As a gimp, i'm not fooling myself. i know this stuff is hard, and if i sat around waiting for the big payoff i'd lose my shit. So i keep writing, agitating, rebuilding, tearing down and building again, advocating and creating change, big, little, whatever. The more the merrier! So, in the words of Inga Muscio, let's "get it the fuck on!"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pump Up The Volume

Here's something i'd like my non-disabled friends, lovers, comrades, community members to think about:

Your ability to behave as though accessibility isn't really a big deal, or that it's a big deal but not something you really need to concern yourself with, is based purely in your privileged position within an ableist society.

If you've known me any length of time, you've known that accessibility is important. There's just no getting around that. The degree to which you allow yourself to integrate that fact into your actions is directly correlated to the degree to which an ableist society values the voices of disabled folks, which is to say, not a lot.

Think about that: the voices of disabled folks (which, if you've known me for any length of time includes mine) are not valued or prioritized in any meaningful way in this society. You access that fact, whether realizing it or not, every day, in countless ways.

Which means, whether or not you realize it, whether or not you like it, you are tapping into ENabled privilege in a way that directly impacts the lives of people with disabilities. That's definitely not some personal indictment, just a fact of living in this society.

The fact is that you've more than likely encountered more than just me talking about accessibility. If it's in the local kink community, i know this for sure, because kinky gimps have been speaking out about accessibility at kink events for a very, very long time. Friends, lovers, comrades, we speak about it, we bring it up on websites, we talk about it at meetings (if they're accessible to us), we talk about it over coffee, breakfast, and before/after sex and/or play. We are indeed talking about it.

But again, the degree to which the information penetrates is directly correlated to the degree to which disabled voices are valued in this society, which is to say not a lot.

So i want folks to think more deeply about what it means for example to give accessibility information about your events without having to always be prompted by folks with disabilities to do it. i want you to think about how your actions affect PWD on a daily basis. How it impacts our access to what are supposed to be our communities, and how that lack of access hinders growth on so many levels, for everyone.

i also want people to be more creative about it! We have such an incredible community! Talented on so many levels, resourceful, creative, thoughtful, diverse. i want more folks to think (and DO!) more about who gets to be here. i want people's actions to challenge dominant notions about who gets to be here, to turn up the proverbial (and literal!) volume on gimp voices for a change by working on cutting down your own background noise.

What are you doing, right now, to turn down your own racket? What do you need to help you do that more often? Are there disabled members of your community who have been silenced, drowned out or passed over in discussions about space and community? i guarantee even if you can't think of any, they're there. What would it take for you to reach out? What do you think would be positives for the larger community if that happened consistently?

i'm down for it for sure :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

How can fatties be at peace in this world if/when we be at peace on the backs of other fatties?

That's what i want.

i don't need nor am i interested in Health At Every Size. As a disabled person who is identified daily by sighted folks as disabled i will never have that. And i refuse to get solidarity for myself on the backs of other disabled folks, or on the backs of other fatties who do not tow the "healthy" line. i mean, i don't tow that line, but generally i can get away with a certain level of shit because i am considered to be a "smaller" fatty. Do you know what i mean? i mean that i often have some wiggle room as a smaller fatty, a little more freedom, a little less staring when i eat in public (depending on what i'm eating and how excited i am about that), a little less judgment, etc than many of my bigger friends face, certainly when they and i are together and people can compare us (eg "they're both disgusting, but at least he's[sic] not THAT fat!"). This affords me time and space to do and be in ways that some of my friends and lovers and comrades simply cant take for granted. i know this, i understand it. i fight against giving in to it. i refuse to allow it to bring other fatties down because it is apparently somehow useful as a tool to elevate me.

i am also not interested in Fat Acceptance. i dont want to be accepted, or tolerated. i want to be respected, i want to be understood, i want to be left the fuck alone. i want to be celebrated and crooned over and smothered in kisses; on and on til i forget what it was ever like to be spit on, to be yelled at from passing cars, to be sneered and gawked at, to have every fucking thing that ever went wrong with my body attributed to my fat (and yes, even as a smaller fatty and as someone who others now perceive to be a dude, all of this is what i get, particularly living in one of the most fatphobic cities on the north american continent). i want to be covered, and when or if i'm so covered in kisses that i can forget that feeling of shame and hurt and embarrassment and anger even for a moment, i will remember that this shit is all contextual, and that in 5 minutes i'll get it again, and i will remember that other people in my life are still and always feeling it, and i will smother them with kisses (literal and/or figurative, as they may desire) and i will respect, understand, respect desires for solitude, celebrate and croon the fuck over them.

How can fatties be at peace in this world if/when we be at peace on the backs of other fatties? How can we look ourselves in the mirror, or imagine ourselves in our hearts, when we are so busy gawking at other fatties? At finger-pointing, at comparing, at judging, at disrespecting each other? How can you know in your heart that i wish to be in solidarity with you when and if my behaviour tells you something else? How can you know (and how can it be so) the depth of my love and respect when and if i prove myself over and over to throw you under the bus every time it gets overheated?

The only way i can be in true solidarity with you, and you with me, is to honour, listen, act, with dignity, respect, compassion, humility, to shut the fuck up, to leave alone, to show up, and yes to smother with kisses (literal and/or figurative) when desired, and to move forward together. That's what i commit to, every day, and that is why this fatty doesn't "accept" you and doesn't want you to "accept" me; doesn't want "health" at every size; but instead understands in the deepest corners of this cavernous heart that you, me, us, we, are fucking perfect in every way possible, precisely because you are, not because of what you can prove to me, not because of what you could be, not because of how well you fit into fatphobic framing of what a worthwhile existence should be, but because you are, right now, you, we, us. 

There is something incredibly powerful about you, we, us, no?


Saturday, August 14, 2010

gimp representation

OK. So. If you're disabled and identified as such by sighted folks*, can we talk? i would love to do some kind of project with you, a photo project, or video, or writing, or audio, or a combination, or some other form altogether? i cant photograph or film my way out of a wet paper bag lol, but know folks who can, some of whom are also gimps.

i'd love to have more (any?) things i can look at and be like, "huh, that actually reflects something that looks like me, in ways i'd want to be reflected". What sorts of things have you gotten to partake in, either as a participant or observer, that made you think "shit. we need more of this"? Ya know, representation and all.

i keep returning to this post:
and thinking "damn. i want more"

Wanna do something about that?


* i.e. "visibly disabled"[sic] i hate how that's always couched in such ENabled terms! i don't know how to get away from it being centred on what sighted folks perceive, while getting my point across. There are times i do projects with a bigger base of connection than this, and there must be a better way of thinking/talking about this, but there's something to it, something about being identified as a gimp out there, in the day-to-day, that has some very different meaning to me than when i wasn't being identified that way. There are a whole bunch of things to deal with, and i really want something that talks about that, but with other folks too!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

all bodies

i cant believe im saying this, and that im tearing up while writing this, but i went to my first chunky dunk a couple weeks ago. ive never gone (that i can remember anyways) to an all-bodies swim, or chunky dunk, despite several opportunities to do so over the years. But anyways, i went. i realized yesterday that when i was there, i was also bringing in all of my baggage around it.

It was wrapped up in the tank top i didnt want to wear but felt i must because of my tits and my bruises; it was in what i however incorrectly perceived to be the judgey eyes of the non fatties/non gimps working for the pool; it was drowning in the i-dont-want-to-get-out-of-
this-pool-ever i was swimming in -- and i literally didnt want to get out. In part because, despite my inability to swim with anything resembling skill lol, i didnt want to leave this bubble of awesomeness. And in part because i was scared to try and get out because the last time i tried to get out of a pool was at the arthritis centre like a year ago and i almost fainted from the pain. And in part because i felt ashamed of being embarrassed about that.

Ashamed in a space where folks twice and thrice and less-than-half my size were bounding and cavorting together, a space where my sweetie and amazing friends were, a space where i knew if anything happened, id be ok. i felt ashamed of my body, but i think it was different than that. i felt like there was the potential for there to be some kind of relief from that for a moment, like, i dont know, like it's not that it didn't matter (because no one in that pool i think is under the impression that bodies dont matter), but that yes it mattered. For once, i felt like my body mattered, in all its fucked upness, and that that was ok, that was welcome. i dont think ive ever felt that before in such a public space.

i so badly need to go again and taste that. im so grateful this kind of thing happens. and i wont leave it so long before i do it again. <3<3<3

FYI: as a gimp, i am actually NOT obligated to attend events/spaces because you "went out of your way" to get a w/c accessible space. I AM NOT THE ONLY GIMP IN TOWN. If the point of you getting an accessible space isn't simply to increase access to your event for more community members, then YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG, OK?
Do you know how many times i've heard this same refrain over the years? How many times my friends have heard it too? Well let me tell you, it's a lot. When i have conversations with people putting on events, i talk about accessibility. When or if they end up deciding to go with a wheelchair accessible space as part of that accessibility, i am almost guaranteed to be expected to show up, as though i owe organizers a pat on the goddamn back, or my money, or my gratitude (ew) for doing what they should be doing anyways. And if i don't show up, anything i had to say on the matter is tossed out the window, because i must just be some whiner, some complainer, who doesn't actually do anything of use. Well fuck that.
Do you think disabled folks owe you something (including gratitude) for your stepping up and getting an accessible space? Well let me tell you right now: WE DAMN WELL DO'NT.
Let me repeat:
If the point of you getting an accessible space isn't simply to increase access to your event for more community members, then YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG, OK?
Fucking hell.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


So, i'm looking for more partners in crime, other gimps to kick shit up with. i'm tired of feeling frustrated and pissed off and disappointed at so often finding the same things happening over and over, no matter the amount of work PWDs put into changing stuff. i really want to create other shit. i'm super excited by projects like this:

crip sex, crip lust, and the lust of recognition

that speak to me as a gimp, that reach into my chest and pump pump pump my heart, that mean something to me coming from other variously disabled folks. i really want to do and experience this kind of thing while being able to also continue navigating (because we gotta do it) an ableist society, and not totally lose my shit, y'know? i want to honour my own unique experiences, the connections and overlaps with other folks with disabilities, work with ENabled folks, and keep it all cool; want to not lose my head and creativity and spark in it all; want to keep my focus on my communities, other PWDs, and not constantly allow myself to get derailed by fail.

The Rub? (It feels like) i can't organize my way out of a wet paper bag. Social awkwardness, lack of physical access/es, head stuff that makes it really hard to be...well...organized, even just in my own home, not feeling confident or comfortable in a 'leadership' role, and not being part of/privy to a culture that encourages gimps to organize unless we're filling the roles prescribed by ENabled folks (e.g. bitter gimp, inspiring crip, etc.), all create an environment where i don't feel awesome about organizing, but one where i feel defeat and frustration. i really want to challenge this in myself. Because organizing comes in so many forms right? i wonder what other PWDs are doing?

i wonder if there is something out there specifically for gimps around organizing, increasing our confidences, cultivating practices of working together in ways that don't feel hierarchical?

Because i could use some help on that. Any ideas greatly appreciated!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gimps Resist the G20

"Disability is the story of systemic oppression and exclusion of groups of people who are considered deviant or undesirable. In our capitalist system, disability is about who is considered to be under-productive or unproductive and enforcing consequences on those groups of people through segregation, poverty and abuse, among other things."

Why Resist the G20 In Toronto?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When i show up to an event that's billed as accessible for gimps (whatever that means anyways) and find i can get into the space fine and use the bathroom fine, but that there's such a stench of cologne in the air (and one that others may find entirely dealable or not even notice) that i want to bleed out of and pour bleach into my eyesockets just to get some relief? Yeah that's totes not accessible for me. Colognes/ perfumes/ strong deodorant and cigarette smoke are all things that make me wheeze, get headaches, and feel sick. It usually follows if i've been exposed long enough that i get actually sick, like having a cold. Don't know what the scientific schlemeel is on that, but i've noticed it many many times over the years. So yeah, i'm definitely not a fan.

But there are all kinds of reasons why "accessible" spaces are so often not accessible at all:

-If your "accessible" event is one where casual use of the word "retard" and other slurs is accepted? Yeah, that's not an accessible event.

-If your "accessible" event is one where elders are made to feel useless, uncool, out of place, and otherwise undesireable? Yeah, not accessible.

-If your "accessible" event is one where poor folks are routinely made to feel like shit for not purchasing something? Totally not accessible.

-If at your "accessible" event folks of colour are treated like exhibits? So. Not. Accessible.

-If trans people are forced to meet messed up cissexist standards of "passing" in order to get in and stay in? Yeah, that's not accessible.

-If at your "accessible" event members of your organization are found doing pantomimes of people in wheelchairs attempting to access the space? NOT. FUCKING. ACCESSIBLE.

On and on it goes. Holy Mother of Pearl some of it seems so obvious, but people's ideas of accessibility are often so limited. i've had folks freak out at me many times for sitting in the seats reserved for disabled folks on the bus because the disability symbol has someone in a wheelchair and i use crutches lol. i want ideas about accessibility expanded, because it is expanded for most folks i know. Makes sense to me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

taking a chance

Recently, i had a pretty bad relapse with my back which i'm still recovering from. It’s usually tricky, but y’know sometimes it just decides to up and go completely. So, this was going on, right when i was planning to go visit someone real important to me. i ended up going, and just being in a shit ton of pain and medded up more than usual. About a week into the visit, a new acquaintance offered me a gift certificate to a local acupuncture place. Now, i’d had acupuncture done once when i was a kid, after a particularly bad car accident, and let me tell you: it was not good. It really physically and emotionally hurt me, i was scared and didn’t know what to expect, was not listened to at all when i said it was hurting, but couldn’t physically do anything to stop it because my body was fucked (i had broken my neck, back and jaw in a bad car accident), and the people were just not understanding at all. i felt so fucked with, abused really, unheard, vulnerable, totally disrespected. i’ve never tried it since. So i was hesitant to say the least to try again, even all these years later, but took the plunge because the person is a friend of a close friend, and i thought just maybe it could be ok.

And am so glad i did.

i’ve never experienced anything like it ever. From start to finish it was so completely beautiful and amazing, respectful, supportive. i’ve never felt so comfortable and respected as a trans person, a fatty, and a gimp in a health and wellness setting ever, anywhere. This set the framework for being able to totally let go during our session, and to get the best health benefit from it.

This is what happened:

i went in with my sweetie and spoke with the person at the front, we did some paperwork and then chatted with the acupuncturist. i then went into the space. i undressed a little and got on the table, face down. She told me precisely what she was going to do, what it meant, what might happen, let me know i could say at any point what i needed, if i needed something changed, stopped, explained, anything. She began by doing some cupping on my back. i’ve experienced some of that in another (kink) context, but this...this was something else altogether. It was the most amazing (i keep using that word, i know) thing. She told me what was happening all through it. She left me for a few moments then moved into the acupuncture, left me for about 20 minutes, then returned and did some Moxi (i believe thats what it’s called). She gave me time to take it all in as we went. i told her at a certain point that i thought i was gonna get weepy and i was sorry. She made me feel unashamed about it, and provided just what i needed. i never felt judged or coddled at any point, but supported through the process in every way i could hope for.

While i was laying there, early on during the cupping, i began to have really intense visions. i was literally flying, a huge black crow (which is also interesting to me because the close friend who was the friend of the acupuncturist is named Crow, but i digress), over patchworks below me. After circling and swooping for some time, i was suddenly flying over myself sitting in my lazyboy in my apartment. i circled several times, and heard in my head “get up, romham, get up, just get up, move, come with me, get up... ” and it wasn’t in some Glee-inspired ableist bullshit way of like dreaming about not being disabled or some shit. It was about seeing myself and knowing that i can support my heart and accept others' help with that too, i can do the things i need to do, can be present even in this body that is so often just so fucking hard to be present in, i have power over my life, i have power and responsibility and i have support.
Then my crow self swooped down and tucked huge feathery wings under my armpits and swooped upwards with me in them, limp, then not, then i was just the crow again. i was flying, swooping, moving, not un-disabled but un-ashamed. i found myself crying, tears streaming onto the floor beneath me, with this stranger, my body open and vulnerable. And i felt completely and utterly safe.

Later on, my sweetie and i talked and i cried more, feeling so overwhelmed by all of it, by the pain in my body, the helplessness, the anger, the vulnerability, the embarrassment, the seeming endlessness of it all, and she was just there, loving me, letting this all come out.

i went back a week later for another session, and will most definitely go back for more when i’m down there.

i guess what i want to say is that i’m super fucking beautiful, and courageous for taking a chance on this, am so fortunate for the generosity of a new friend, for trusting in the good judgement of old ones, and for the love i’m surrounded with.

Like, woah.

oh... if anyone's interested in where i went:


in Portland Oregon.
It is wheelchair accessible and navigable, sliding scale.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tip #27 for Lovers and Fighters

This little entry is about trans stuff, but the theme applies across a variety of my experiences.
i talk, albeit short n sweetly (er, not so sweetly actually lol), about fucking. This is not about anyone but me, no judgment about what anyone else needs to do or what they call their own fabulous body. It’s a response to ongoing experiences of the “Approach Trans Folks with Caution”tm phenomenon that’s one result of living in a transphobic, cis-centric society. Because really? That shit is busted!


Let’s get at least one thing straight around here:
don’t put someone else’s body dysphoria on me.

i love my body, love my big fat belly, hair, tits, cunt, dick, chub, all of it. i feel little to no shame about my body, and don’t want lovers who approach me carrying their or someone else’s issues held out like a dandelion parachute ball that i’m supposed to navigate through a windstorm because i happen to be trans. Don’t ask me delicate, meandering questions about my “area” or “torso” or “...here...?”, or if i like my “front hole”, “junk” or (again) “area” touched or want my “dicklet” sucked, because let me tell you: i don’t.

i want you to bite my beartits while fucking my cunt, ok? Yes, i want you to eat my pussy and slobber on my dick. i want to get licked and sucked and fingered and fucked. i don’t want cute names for my body parts, least of all my genitals. i want it hard and mean and preferably while you spit in my face.

None of this means my gender identity is up for scrutiny.

Not everyone who looks the way i do, or who’s gone on some vaguely similar path as me, or hell, any other trans person at all, feels the same way about their body, or wants or responds to the same things, and it pisses me off when folks think we do. i'm only supposed to call my genitals "my dick" and am not supposed to like getting fucked anywhere but maybe my ass on a good day, because people perceive me a certain way. i'm not supposed to call my beartits "tits" at all, and am supposed to feel shame about them, because people perceive me a certain way. i'm supposed to adopt the non-consentual descriptors that others (often non-trans folks who really? need to step the fuck back) insist i should use and feel good about.
What's that? Oh right: busted! It makes me feel like there must be something shameful about my body, that the persyn/s i’m with thinks there’s something shameful about it, when i know full well there isn’t.

And that’s so far from hot.

Just ask me what i like, what i want, what feels good, what gets me off. i’ll tell you what my triggers are and if i need you to stop i’m totally able to say so. i don’t fuck unless i’m present, and want the same in lovers. i’ll ask you what you want for your own body, i’ll be present, i’ll slow down when you want, stop when you want, go harder when you want, use the words you want, and i will not put my issues on you. Return the favour and please don’t tiptoe around my body, because i’ve been doing that most of my life.

i don’t want to get hung up. i want to get beat up, fucked up, wrung out and end it all with a sweaty cuddle pile of self-love and copious cupcakes. That is super needed on a planet that says we should be ashamed of our bodies.

But mostly, that shit is hot, which is kind of the point, no?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Disturbing Bodies.

This is my body:

Is it disturbing to you? Do you need a trigger warning before you look at it? Are you disturbed by the mere sight of me? Does that sound reasonable to you? Maybe it does. If it doesn’t, well, what about other bodies? Are those disturbing to you? Either way, if you think any disabled body, any body is so disturbing that it requires a trigger warning before folks even see it for 5 seconds, i have something to tell you.

Straight up? You’re wrong. There is nothing disturbing about my body. Not about my fat, my hairy ass, my doubly hairy big tits (which i chose not to show on here), any of my scars, the crutches i use to prop all that hotness up. None of it. And there’s nothing disturbing about the body of a man who has had a face transplant either. i didn’t require the warning i was given by telecasters tonight on the news, simply at seeing his face.

But that man did deserve respect, he deserved basic respect, and he deserved the space to just fucking exist. His face isn’t disturbing to me. Ableism is disturbing to me; ignorance is disturbing to me because it takes many dangerous forms and impacts real people’s lives in incredibly profound ways.

A trigger warning? Seriously? Think about that a minute. There are so many different kinds of bodies in this world, and i’m sorry, but can you just think for even one second what a fucking unbearable ordeal that dude has been through? A surgery that went on for a day and a half that completely replaced his face. That’s no small shit right there. And you want to prepare me? Perspective, people. Perspective.

Let me say it clearly: Disabled bodies are not disturbing. Ableism is. Please, check it at every opportunity.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

mental health week

It’s mental health week, and i was reading a friend’s post about some of the stuff they deal with, and some schmo came on and talked to them like they were fucked up for sharing. So i wanted to take a lesson from my friend and share, keep it going, and not allow some folks’ unwillingness to even just be in the presence of someone's words about it to get in the way...

So, i live with occasional bouts of pretty low grade depression, have done for most of my life, more so since a physically and emotionally traumatic car accident as a teen; have PTSD from that accident and another i hadn’t healed from two years previous, as well as from abuse and assault (i’m not going to talk about the latter here at all, just fyi); have lived with ADHD for most of my life; received a brain injury in 1997 (sounds like i got something cool! yeah, no lol), and am an alcoholic in recovery since August 2002. While my counselor has diagnosed me with low grade depression and ADD (which is another, money-related rant! grrr to financially inaccessible ADD testing!), i’ve never had the Big Formal Diagnosistm due to that aforementioned non-financial-accessibility (most folks who live with it are actually never Formally Diagnosedtm) and though i was on Amitriptyline as a kid (i didn’t learn til later that it was also a fairly hefty anti-depressant) don’t take meds for either.

It’s often hard for me to distinguish between what’s related to body pain and what’s something else. And let me tell you, as someone who really enjoys collating, sorting and analyzing, that really pisses me off! i mean, honestly, i don’t know what difference it’d make, but still! i tried many years ago to talk to my GP about the low grade depression, but her response was less than helpful/supportive, and i never did anything else about it. i’ve been in (free!) counseling since about 1997, and that shit has literally saved my life. So has getting sober, as has finding a med combination for physical pain that actually helps and doesn’t make me want to scratch my eyes out (though am now at the top end of the dosing, so am unsure what i'm going to do if these ones wear off).

i have a really amazing community of friends and loves, but even with that i often wonder why i’m so loathe to talk about it. Much as i’ve worked on feelings of shame and embarrassment around my shit, it’s still there, skulking around.

My Mum was seriously injured in the same crash as me and, as soon as i could, i was busy being Florence Nightingale martyr for her, since my sister was such an asshat and busy having sex, stealing shit (including more pairs of striped spandex pants), and beating people up, including me, and hard as he tried to be supportive my Da just didn’t understand any of it, least of all the psychological trauma. So anyways, i had a “don’t ask for help” mentality drilled into me early (raised with both catholic guilt AND a protestant “work ethic”, while getting none of the benefits of either, ugh, that shit is tired!). i didn’t learn how to ask for the help i needed. But i did learn to stuff it real good because it was shameful and embarrassing and just. not. done. Learned that long before then, but the car accidents added this whole other layer i wasn’t prepared for.

And i’ve worked to get over that shit for a long time.

There are times when i’m afraid of folks seeing my life as it is occasionally when i’m home, alone. It feels embarrassing sometimes, but there it is. The combination of low grade depression, PTSD, ADHD and head injury all collide sometimes and i can lose hours at a time; sometimes i come home and cry til i sleep because everything feels so overwhelming and then it passes as quickly as it came; sometimes i just feel "off"; sometimes i wonder if it’s genetic, if it’ll get worse as i age, or if i’ll be able to drift past it somehow. Sometimes i do feel very alone, and worried about my future. i do my thing and generally? i’m a pretty happy jolly bear. i don’t self injure anymore --haven’t for a very long time (which isn’t any judgement on what anyone else needs to do to be ok, but it’s definitely good for me), and i don’t drink anymore, which makes a huge difference for me. i do fret about what my future holds as a disabled person, for sure. i don’t have a job, don’t have much income or hope for one, and i worry about my life, it scares me sometimes, yeah, and the head stuff doesn’t help.

And that’s what it’s like with support. i know so many folks who deal with a wide range of mental health issues, whether or not combined with other stuff, and it’s rare for so many to talk about it, and rare to have a support network. i’m grateful when folks talk about the stuff they have going on. It makes a difference. It makes it possible for others to talk about it, opens a space for that. And sometimes that can make all the difference.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


i do accessibility audits. i've created an almost 300 point audit, based in my own personal experiences, those of my friends, other gimps, other websites, elders, deaf folks, fat folks, trans and genderqueer folks and many others. While it focuses on physical accesses of various kinds, it covers a wide variety of issues: physical, visual, aural, specific to weight, gender neutrality, financial, etc. A good chunk of it is my stuff, but plenty from other folks too; it's my combination, my layout, and, well, me performing the audit. i put my name and contact info on it, provide recommendations based on what a group or organization has available to them, and i generally do it for free, but will accept donations or entrance to an event or what have you, free or trades, whatever works for us. Sometimes, well-meaning folks (usually with money) will tell me i should charge money for doing it. Not charge them mind you lol, but charge...someone. People have said to me "no one will value what you're doing if you don't charge them for it". i hear this time and again in various circles, about this and other things, and i want to say something about it.

i perform audits because of the frustration i and my gimp friends experience time and again arriving at some event that was listed as being totes accessible, only to discover it was anything but; and the frustration of being told time and again by organizers "we don't have the time, energy or money to do anything about it!". So i got sick of it, particularly in so called activist, anti-oppression communities, and got tired of asking organizers to do it, so started doing it myself. While it's taxing physically, i actually really love doing these audits. It's challenging and interesting and passes knowledge along and gets something done.

i offer audits for free or by donation or trade because i believe that this stuff needs doing, i want to make it as accessible as possible, and i want people to learn how to do it on their own and to pass on the knowledge. i want more people empowered and equipped to address accessibility, and i want it now.

So why do some folks who've expressed wanting their events to be more accessible, that they're committed to that, who've even printed such on their websites or pamphlets etc, who've never had an audit or anything similar done, say they want something but when it's right in front of them, for free/donation/trade, they won't take it? i think that there are times when this is directly related to the fact that i do it for free.

This is not about valuing what someone with experience and insight brings to a community. It's about placing one idea of "worth", above actually getting the work done (which is, in the end, what's important...at least to those of us who are actually affected by it). That's it: this gimp wants the work done because it can (often dramatically) impact my and my gimp friends and others' ability to access something. It's that simple. And when predominantly able bodied folks don't even respond to an offer to change that (one which is free, and which someone else will do all the work on, which isn't always the case), to me it totally belies a stated commitment to accessibility.

This is classism in action, and directly informs my experiences with ableism, and vice-versa.

Check this out:

i'm disabled and on disability benefits, so i have a pretty limited amount of money and am impacted by ableism every day, including limiting my opportunities for making bucks and social/community connections  


i recognize some of what that means in both the micro and macro, so i want to be part of making changes happen around access in my communities more often and more financially accessible to more folks 

i offer to do something for free/donation/trade based on that experience and my personal politics  


 some people (usually those with more money) don't immediately perceive the value in something if it doesn't have a $ amount on it that makes sense to them, based in their own incomes and experiences (an experience which is in a classist system just seen as the norm)  


 free work is not valued, so the work doesn't get done (because so often while the individuals within a group may have more bucks than me, the groups they're part of who i'm offering to help out aren't exactly rolling in it; and even though there's almost always an attendant claim of "we don't have time/money/energy to do it")  


i and other disabled folks continue to be impacted by the inaccessibility of events, lose out on community opportunities held in those spaces, and deal with more social isolation  


disabled folks' opinions and experiences, skills and such are not taken into consideration when groups make decisions about the space, the focus etc because we cant get in the door 


disabled folks face more/ongoing misunderstanding and isolation  


nothing changes in the community or beyond


back to the top  ----->

Well i want this changed. That's what it's all about, no? And i don't mean "let me audit something!" lol. This isn't a "let me sell (haha) my personal audit to you!" situation. i just mean that when disabled folks come to you with ideas about this stuff, pay attention, because we are the goddamn experts on this. And if we are offering it for free/trade/donation? We are doing that FOR A REASON, not because the work is of no or lesser value.

Again, i want it changed because i and other gimps need it, and entire communities benefit.
Don't follow the standard line on this, putting your own class ideas on mine. Get over the whole "if it's free or a trade it's not worth it" thing! It's simply not true. Lay with a friend in a park, play with a cat in sunbeams, volunteer at a play party, help your neighbour plant their garden, help a lover move, play music with friends: all of it is free, all of it has worth. Whether or not you're able to perceive it, so does this.


If Yer Gonna Grill Me, At Least Do Both Sides!

So, i know it can be shocking and confusing, but really, me using crutches outside and sometimes not using them inside is not rocket science. If it were rocket science, at least i’d get a better income.
i need my crutches when i need to go more than say 15 feet or so, or on uneven ground, or down stair/s or any incline, or if i’m not sure where i’m going to be. Basically, if i’m out of my apartment, i’m using them. Sometimes i use them around my pad too, if i need to get up and am having a hard time, or am just extra stiff or unbalanced that day or whatever. Sometimes if i’m at a friends’ place and know i’m gonna be there awhile, and know the lay of the land, i won’t be using them, but not always. i’ll still have them with me, but may or may not use them in the house. One reason is that i have a small studio apartment, i’m only going a handful of feet at most at a time, there are things to hang onto if need be, if i stumble, i’ll deal; but if i’m outside? Whole different story. And sometimes (clearly just to keep you on your proverbial toes) i only use one! Clear as mud? Cool.
Well, after all these years, it still really freaks people out! They think they’ve stumbled onto some cure, some salve they didn’t know they’d slipped onto my back. Or they think i’m a faker and don’t really need crutches at all a-HA gotcha!!! It’s usually the latter. And that, my friends, is incredibly annoying to witness and be the target of.
If i’m at your house and i put my crutches down while i go for a pee, or if i’m at a workshop or play party or potluck or somesuch and put down my crutches for a moment, please, do not grill me about it, ok? Because A) its none of your fucking business and b) if you don’t believe A, it’s still none of your fucking business. No really, it isn’t. i know it seems like anytime someone uses a mobility device it’s fair game, but it’s not. And if you use one yourself? Yeah, still don’t grill me. We don’t have a magical connection because we both may be gimps, and i especially don’t want to be grilled in front of a bunch of other people who i wouldn’t really be having that conversation with. That just sucks.
It has to do with not living up to people's expectations of what a "real" disabled person is all about, about the assumptions being made about who needs to use this or that kind of assistive device, and regardless of who it's coming from, it is always based in ableist ways of perceiving disability, and (so i can continue this run on sentence to its fullest) just so you're clear? That is seriously busted. 

It also has to do with a basic misunderstanding and/or disrespect of me and my ability to understand my body as a disabled person. Folks who want to question me on my use of assistive devices, and on the changing of using this or that device over time, and that is based on assumptions about the capacity of disabled folks to make decisions for ourselves, to assess our situations and act accordingly. It is an attempt to get disabled folks to fit into a very particular idea of what it is to be disabled. And if i wasn't clear already, that is also busted.
The reality is that gimps come in all varieties. We use all kinds of assistive devices, some of us don’t use any (gasp!), some on and off (gaspgasp!). Whatever the sitch is, it’s not cool to grill people on their use or lack of them. Unless you’re paying me those aforementioned rocket scientist wages, in which case, have at it!