I go to Casa Colina Hospital near here in Pomona twice a week to work out. Casa Colina is a rehabilitation hospital, catering primarily to people who have become disabled, helping them learn to live with their disabilities, and it has a program for disabled people from the community to use its gym. When I’m there, I work with weights on my upper body and use a hand bike. There are usually staff members or volunteers to help me with setting up the weights or tie my hands to the bike.
Anyway, when I was there the other day, there was a new volunteer, a young woman who seemed cool, with the sides of her head shaved. As she was helping me, trying to figure out how to strap a sandbag weight on my arm, how to reattach my speech device to my wheelchair, I noticed she was wearing a gay pride bracelet. I thought this was way cool – it made me happy – and I wanted her to see my rainbow bracelet, to let her know that I understood, that she had company. And, okay, I wanted her to see I’m not just a patient, a disabled person that needs help; I wanted her to see that I have a life, a life like her.
The problem was that I was wearing long sleeves, and my rainbow bracelet, along with a friendship bracelet, was way up my arm, under the sleeve. I tried to get the sleeve up and the pride bracelet out. I kept rubbing my arm on my leg, hoping the sleeve would ride up. (My other arm, as frequently happens, wasn’t being cooperative.) But to no avail.
No. Nothing doing. I was stuck, like I was back in the closet, and the door was locked. There was no pride, no being out, today. I do rainbow laces on my Docs, but I wasn’t sure if the young woman saw them - they’re more subtle perhaps, not really out there, not like the bracelet.
Before I left, I almost tried to tell her that I like her bracelet, but a staff member came over, and I didn’t want to make an awkward scene.
I left, frustrated, but figuring that I’ll see the volunteer again and that she’ll eventually see my bracelet, especially when it gets warm and I start going shirtless in my overalls. I also thought once again about getting a rainbow sticker and putting it on the front of the cup holder on my wheelchair. That way, I will always, always be out and never stuck back in the closet.