I recently attended an afternoon concert by a symphony orchestra here in town. I went on my own in my wheelchair - nothing unusual there - and I was in one of my usual, everyday get-ups: magenta overalls; a light blue, long-sleeved, collared shirt; a blue, white and purple hand-knitted skull-cap; mis-matched high-tops with rainbow laces and with my dreads streaming all the way down my chest. A woman sat near me, and when intermission came, she walked past me, doing her best to try not to acknowledge me.
She knew who I was. She couldn’t have forgotten me. She had kicked me out of an apartment.
It was about twenty years ago. I was living in an apartment complex, and she and her husband were the managers. They evicted me, saying that my attendants made too much noise when they came and went. I believe something closer to the truth came out when my parents tried to intervene. The woman told my parents that people like me - disabled people - shouldn’t be living in their own places. (She was essentially telling my parents that they were irresponsible and neglectful. Also, shortly before this, my cat was fatally poisoned.)
Several friends encouraged me to fight the eviction. I probably could have won, but I didn’t want to raise a stink and didn’t want to stay where I was clearly not wanted. Besides, I liked the place where I moved to; not only was the location better, but being in a house was much better than an apartment.
What’s more, I feel that I have been victorious in the end. I see this woman around town from time to time - this was by no means our first encounter in the last twenty years - and it must drive her crazy. It probably disturbs her to no end when she sees me still zipping around - free - getting out there, out and about, out in the community. Not only that, but I’m doing it in all my bright colors and with my dreadlocks or mohawk or whatever flying behind me.
Every time she sees me, she sees that she is wrong.
All of us outsiders - all of us cripples, all of us queers, all of us freaks and weirdos, all of us whatever they don’t like - have to keep getting out there and show them that they are wrong. Yes, this is hard and tiring and gets to be a real drag (and not the good kind!), but if we don’t, they will get what they want - a nice, little world without us.