Wednesday, July 25, 2007

FRIDA Rocks at the Disability Pride Parade!

On Saturday, July 21, for the fourth year in a row, Chicago hosted our annual Disability Pride Parade and for the second year in a row, FRIDA marched!

Between 55 and 60 different groups, local, national and international, marched up Dearborn Avenue in Chicago's Loop to celebrate disability diversity and pride. For more information about the parade, see

Several FRIDA members, family and friends dressed up in our FRIDA tshirts and got a monobrow/moustache "paint job" in honor of Frida Kahlo! We even had two "FRIDAs" under the age of five. We marched with our FRIDA banner and led chants such as "How do you spell power? F-R-I-D-A!" (sorry ADAPT! we did do a couple of A-D-A-P-Ts too!) Our group was incredibly enthusiastic and energetic as we marched to Daley Plaza!

The parade ended up at Daley Plaza and we had a table right next to the famous Picasso. We hauled out our stock of FRIDA shirts and they sold like hotcakes. We also networked and invited community members to our next meeting, which by the way folks, is Tuesday, August 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 at 115 W. Chicago.

Parade step-off was at 11 am and we were at Daley Plaza by 12. From 12 to 3 the parade organizers put on a great show of festival entertainment. Now, I'm not completely sure but there were definitely hundreds of people at this event...if I could guess, between 500 and 700 people participated overall. Tabling groups included a range of service agencies and disability pride vendors.

Why is this parade important? Honestly, the most valuable aspect of this parade is provdining a place where anyone in our community can be with others who share the disability experience. For first time visitors, it's often overwhelming to see the sheer number of folks with disabilities confidently mingling, browsing, dancing to the music, getting sunburned...together. We have so little time to feel a sense of community pride 364 days of the year that it's great to have one day where we can recharge our batteries to fight the good fight for the rest of the year.

If you, readers, live in a community where you don't have much going on in the way of disability community cultural events, then attending this parade is a good way to get a taste of what is possible in disability culture. We in Chicago are incredibly proud of the disabled artists, writers, dancers, activists, and just general people who have built a sense of real community over the years. In Chicago, disabled people ARE NOT TOKENS. We really are brothers and sisters forming our own kind of family. Some of us are more out about our disability than others, but we know that the day will come when disability shame will die.

Until then, in Chicago, we are over 600,000 disabled residents strong, and we will fight to ensure that someday every last one of those 600,000, and the hundreds of millions of people with disabilities around the world, will live with full access to all parts of life. FRIDA is proud to be part of that fight.