Superfest needs to happen because people with disabilities have so few organic spaces to get together and unabashedly be themselves.
By Alex Locust
I proudly took the selfie below for Pride earlier this year and was elated to tout my long overdue, blossoming love of my disabled identity in my trademark tongue-in-cheek fashion. And yet, even though it was Pride, and even though it is less scandalous than the cover of a Mary Kate and Ashley mystery detective VHS cover, I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate myself (and more importantly my body) publicly.
The more I have come to embrace my identities as a gay man with a disability, the more I feel as though they are in opposition. I love being a gay sunbeam among a sky of rainbows, yet when I find myself in gay spaces, I have a very real awareness that my body is not welcome.
While it may not be active discrimination (emphasis on *may not*), it is clear that I am largely the odd one out in those environments and it is impossible to not question my role in the community.
I know my boyish good looks initially distracted you, but yes, I have one leg. Yes, I use crutches. No, I’m probably not wearing my prosthetic.
I think those in the know are aware that some pockets of the gay community have a dark side for perpetuating non-inclusive, narrow presentations of the ideal body and I have spent considerable effort trying to unlearn/ignore that messaging. It’s my hope that someday that gay culture continues the current trend of raising up voices from all aspects of the spectrum so that everyone feels welcome and that the marginalized don’t perpetuate the marginalization of others.
Superfest, the world’s longest running disability film festival, is important to me because I can be as disabled as I want without fear of feeling excluded, unwelcome, or unworthy as I have felt in so many environments — not just in the gay community.
At the festival, my disability identity is uplifted, heard and celebrated in the warm embrace of other people in my community who have been treated similarly in their lives. Nowhere else is disability addressed so boldly and proudly without driving down the treacherous road into Inspiration Town or Patronizing Village.
Superfest needs to happen because people with disabilities have so few organic spaces to get together and unabashedly be themselves. Gone are the days where the only depictions of disability we get to see in media are handsome, athletic, white, abled bodied men getting into accidents, becoming disabled, and finding meaning in life through sports again.
All varieties of the spectrum of life are on display at Superfest and I am over the moon that these narratives are finally being showcased.
The film festival is tomorrow in San Fransico and Berkeley. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet…what are you doing? As a very wise woman once said: