Monday, June 15, 2009

Still here

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.


  1. It's a great feeling, isn't it--to boldly go where everyone said you couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn/t. The pioneer spirit that founded our country, though it has had its darker sides, keep coming out in us freaks, and making the world a bigger, better place.

    One of my greatest privileges at my job as a bus driver is to assist the fabulous folks--from grandmas to rap artists to polished professionals--who are out there zipping down the bike lanes in lime green or cherry red or metal flake black chirs and scooters, not letting anything hold them back. They are such an inspiration to me. Just the fact of me being a bus driver--a non-hetero Christian woman in a rainbow prayer covery--I'm right there with you pioneering, driving right past everyone who said "women can't drive busses."

    Keep up the good work!

  2. The thought crossed my mind about the cat, and it was actually a horrible judgement, when you mentioned the poor animal ran into some foul play. The thought it was diliberate murder really yanked my chain. The person who did the dasterdly and unthinkale was ultimately trying to either get back at you personally, or just out for some sick prank. I think the latter was more to the cat haters of the world.
    Myself, have two wonderful cats like you, John, and know the pain it must have left you in, knowing your cat, at least the one I think it was, had been a lovable and dear friend. The thing about being out and about was a little like the time, being your attendant for many years, was like when we were at the openning in L.A. for the concert and debut of An Inconvenient Truth, where people were stepping all around and over and through, as I recall, literally causing fights in the crowd and police being the security for the event had to kick a freeloader out of the handicap seating area, because he could not show a disabled placard to the cop, who threatened to take him away in cuffs. The whole reason I mentioned this is because the humanity was out of control, as crowds are pushing and shoving just to be present, and the whole experience was mind numbing as one respectable person actually got up and said, "this is not right", as he had the respect and the temper to just get up and say what everyone was thinking, also saying, "I am going to get security".
    The whole incident left me dumbfounded, since I was accused of letting it go on!
    I just was an onlooker and could not believe my eyes when a lady actually stepped on you, leaving you with a throbbing foot, I assume.
    The point is I was wrong for not standing up for you, and after all was said and done I took away from the whole affair, that strangers whether they know it or not have come forward with a brave notion to call it as they see it! Not to fear but to put people in their place. Assertively or not, we as a people need to say enough is enough, not being a follower, but to lead the way in everything they do. Even if it means to fight for their rights as well as the rights of others.
    I hope you can keep on keeping on with all the courage and strength you have been using since the nine years I've known you. Peace, Daryl.