Monday, 29 July 2013
On ablism and (a moment of) passing privilege
Sitting behind a table, being a door bitch for a night at a local queer poetry reading; I am severed from my wheelchair-by ‘choice’ mostly. I want to hold my girlfriend’s hand and snuggle into her while we wait for the stragglers coming in off the cold Melbourne street and my chair is too big to fit behind here, beside her. So we sit and we smooch, feeling like the queer ambassadors in my rainbow thermals, signalling our pride and our sexuality when our kisses arent. She (my chair) who is yet to acquire a name has been parked within view over the other side of the room; the place is not full enough/or no one is drunk enough to try and sit in her.
I am not aware of my passing yet, I am all too aware of my girlfriend’s hand on my thigh through my jeans and my racing heart every time…someone steps through the door and approaches our table. You see I am really bad at maths. Terrible. I didn’t even pass year 10. It is an extension of my dyslexia I think, I cannot hold a number or a word in my mind for more than a second to see what it looks like and what it wants me to do with it, how to write it down, it swims in my head, it jumbles, grows hazy and is gone before it has even reached my fingers. All this gets worse with pressure and tonight the pressure is on. Or it was on until my girlfriend saw my anxiety and came and rescued me. There are moments tonight when I try (to prove to her im not ‘stupid’? to fight against my impairment?) to handle the next customer, and she holds my sweaty hand and I deduct 12 from 20, slowly. A man comes in late and seeing my face he gives me a $2 coin, and it is now that I am aware that I am passing as normative. Usually, with my crippledom on show, in my chair, if this situation were happening to me I’d be thinking ‘’ok now jack, you are just re-enforcing a stereotype that all people with disabilities are not intelligent, get it together’’. Now, he probably thinks I just don’t want to have to search in my box for change, so he smiles and says ‘’here’’ and I know am passing. I am not this ‘thing’, fighting against or for anything. I have left my minority behind and I am just like him. Well minus the cock and plus a woman.