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Dozens of people dressed in rainbows marched, rolled and rolled through Philadelphia on Saturday, waving signs in a light drizzle as they took part in Disability PA’s 10th Annual Disability Pride Parade.
Anomie Fatale, this year’s Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania USA, said she’s been attending the pride event for years and even played there as a musician. She was thrilled to be back in person, as the past two years have been virtual.
“It’s like the world is coming back… finally seeing everyone here together for the first time since 2019. It’s a beautiful thing,” Fatale said. “I know we are still in the pandemic right now. But we find ways to get through it, and that really means a lot because we’re so much stronger when we’re together.
Chloe Leon, who said she had never been to a locally organized disability queer event, wanted to celebrate with people who are also intersectionally marginalized.
“[We’re] so excited, incredibly excited,” said Leon, who was in attendance with their partner and another friend. “There are a lot of resources out there, and we’ve already made friends – like, immediately – so it’s really amazing.”
The march ended with a festival in Thomas Paine Square, next to the Municipal Services Building and City Hall. Various tents and booths offered activities for children, a COVID vaccination clinic, and health and community development resources.
Disability Pride PA Vice President Izzy Kaufman helped organize the event.
“I think what inspired it was the injustice towards people with disabilities, just because the world really isn’t made for us. There’s a lot of ableism out there,” Kaufman said. , who became involved with the group about six years ago, “I think getting together and having fun and just being ourselves is a way to gain power and just create strength.”
Disability Pride PA is also hosting its first Pittsburgh Celebration July 23. Kaufman said there are plans in the future to expand to Central Pa.
The Philadelphia march and festival was part of the city’s Disability Pride Week. The celebrations began Monday with the raising of the flag created by the national group American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT). It is an American flag that includes the universal access symbol – a person in a wheelchair – made up of stars.
Throughout the week, Disability Pride PA also hosted a social justice sign-making event, sexual health workshops and a screening of the film ‘Then Barbara Met Alan’, which covers the lives of disabled activists who helped create the group’s first celebration in 2012.
Singer and songwriter, Lachi is the co-founder of Recording Artists and Music Professionals With Disabilities, which defines “disability culture” as a celebration of each person’s inherent and equal identity and worth.
In Philadelphia over the weekend, she performed a set of dance music from her latest releases, including her upcoming song “Bad Choices.”
“As a blind black woman in America, I believe in finding confidence in your full identity and celebrating yourself fully,” Lachi told Billy Penn. “I used to hide my disability for fear of societal reaction, but now that I openly identify as a proud blind woman, I’m free to honor my truth, pursue my purpose and hopefully , to be a model for those who will come after me.”
People like Shawn Aleong, a Temple University student and longtime disability advocate, who was more than happy to be at the event with other advocates.
“The fact is that people with disabilities deserve the same rights as everyone else,” Aleong said. “So this Disability Pride is about celebrating and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, to let them know that we can’t say one nation for all and not include everyone.”