Grounding Ourselves in Disability Justice for Queer Liberation

hundreds of LGBTQ people march in NYC behind banner Queer Liberation March and holding signs like We March Against Transphobia
Remarks by the Alliance Board Member Lydia X.Z. Brown at the 2019 Queer Liberation March and Rally in NYC

This is a resistance space. No police will make us safe.

Lydia X.Z. Brown

Disability Justice is an intersectional imperative for our liberation – it is also everyday practice, guidance, framework, principle, vision, world-making.

I begin everywhere by asking us to pause and ground ourselves. Use this space the way your bodymind needs. Your bodymind deserves to be here, to be messy, to take up space. Now let us pause, tune into what our body minds need us to feel, to know, to understand about what we need, desire, crave. Let us feel the full weight of what we carry. Our righteous anger, our grief, our joy, our exhaustion, our trauma, our excitement – all that we bear.

Woman wearing rainbow colored dress in wheelchair surrounded by LGBTQ people at Queer Liberation march
Photo by Leandro Justen at Queer Liberation March

This is for the sick, the bone weary, the wobbly, the leaning, the stuttering, the signing, the overloaded, all of us who are disabled, chronically ill, mad, neurodivergent, blind, deaf, survivors of other people’s hate and pity and fear and revulsion.

This is for us queer and trans folk at the margins of the margins, struggling against queermisia and trans hate and ableism and constant onslaught of violence at the intersections.

Black transgender woman with purple hair speaking on a microphone in front of sign saying Transwomen still Facing Discrimination, Transphobia and lack of opportunities
LaLa Zannell speaks at Queer Liberation March

This is for us sick and disabled folks here who are negatively racialized, from colonized communities and nations, and bear the brunt of white supremacy embedded in rainbow capitalism and pinkwashing co-optation of our symbols, our history, our communities. Here from Lenapehoking, stolen and occupied land, to Tibet and Palestine and beyond.

Black queer person and Latinx queer person both holding signs saying Queer Liberation March
Photo by Leandro Justen at Queer Liberation March

Ki’tay Davidson reminds us that we are all interdependent, as ableism makes invisible the ways abled people are dependent and needy while pathologizing the ways disabled people are dependent. We need each other to survive, to fight, to resist, to build anew.

Photo of Black queer disability justice activist Ki'tay Davidson smiling while sitting with laptop
Ki’tay Davidson

Mia Mingus reminds us that ableism is connected to all of our oppression because it undergirds notions of whose bodies are valuable, desirable, and disposable.

[Black and white photo of a korean woman smiling with long hair and glasses, sitting on a wooden chair with plants and trees all around her.] [Photo by EPLi]
Mia Mingus, Photo by EPLi

Talila Lewis exhorts us also to practice disability justice by honoring the whole humanity of every person, and let us do so: let us remember our ancestor Marsha P Johnson, whom we honor this month, was a Black trans woman who did sex work AND gifted us with her mad disabled brilliance.

Black queer disability justice advocate holding microphone
Talila Lewis

This is for us, who live and struggle now, to build the kinds of worlds and communities we want and dream and deserve. This is a reminder that in our brokenness, our frailty, our precarity, our neediness, our limitations, WE DESERVE TO BE HERE. we deserve love and care. We deserve each other.

Black transgender woman smiling wearing a crown of flowers
Marsha P Johnson

Imagine… What justice feels like, what freedom tastes like. That world, honors and affirms all of our bodyminds in all our complexities, and supports us not merely in living but in thriving, in community as we belong. This is the world where we have achieved Disability Justice.

"Photo: Headshot of Lydia Brown, young East Asian person, with stylized blue and yellow dramatic background. They are looking in the distance and wearing a plaid shirt and black jacket. Photo by Adam Glanzman."
Lydia X.Z. Brown

by Lydia X.Z. Brown, from their speech delivered at the Reclaim Pride Coalition‘s Queer Liberation March and Rally June 30, 2019 in New York City

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