This weekend my wife and I performed in a rendition of William Shakespeare’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Inclusive Theater of WNY.
We had small roles as the fairies Peaseblossom and Moth and, though it will likely take weeks for my body to recover, I’m glad we did it.
There are many microaggressions that accompany disability from hostility to outright exclusion. However, one of the worst is invisibility.
People just don’t expect, see, or know disabled people in traditionally nondisabled places.
For the record, that’s pretty much everywhere.
We just passed the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yet, most of life remains inaccessible. Think about how often you go into places with just one step.
I could list obstacles for days just as a wheelchair user.
Since I’m talking about our play, how many stages are accessible?
(Hint: Not many.)
This keeps us isolated and invisible.
When you don’t meet people different than you in your daily life, you don’t notice they are missing. Moreover, they are often viewed as an inconvenience when you do notice them at all.
Instead of considering the limits of their opportunities you think, “Why do I have to build a ramp?”
This is why relationships and representation matter. You care about people more when you meet and build relationships with them.
Many people I encounter have never truly known a wheelchair user before.
Likewise, if someone never sees another person with whom they identify, they don’t see possibilities.
That’s why I did it.
That’s why I persevered.
That’s what makes waking up in this body aching for recovery worth it.
Most of all, that’s why I’m grateful for Inclusive Theater and the opportunity it provides.
Plus, I’ve met some really cool people.
Maybe someone saw the show or will read my words and begin imagining for themselves.
I hope you’ll consider my words too.
I’d be happy if you did.
Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.