New York City Disability Pride Parade
Being part of the 5th New York City Disability Pride Parade on a sweltering day was a wonderful experience. Flight delays meant I had little time to orientate myself so felt very fortunate to arrive at Madison Square Park ahead of time. I knew no one but quickly felt at home – disabled rights are universal!
My preregistration material told me I was allocated to Section E with individuals and families however it didn’t take me long to spot a Deaf group linked with an interpreting agency, ALL HANDS IN MOTION, who welcomed me into Section C. As we waited for the start time there were some entertainers moving around raising people’s spirits. At 10am on the dot Section A lead the way to Union Square walking along Broadway with the remaining sections following in due course. I understand there were over 2000 people marching.
There was a lot of creativity in people’s costumes and sign messages. Wheelchairs became police cars, eagles and a whole lot of things besides. Groups from service and community organisations gathered using t-shirts to identify themselves and to make strong statements about disability pride and disability rights. Many included political messages.
Groups carried banners as they marched. Roads were blocked off at intersections, I was told they were all particularly busy intersections so for New York to allow so many roads to be closed off was quite something to see. There were not a lot of spectators but that didn’t matter, the spirit of the parade was strong. There were photographers everywhere. At the halfway point there were judges assessing people’s costumes.
The pace was very comfortable. There were lots of stops but everyone was orderly. The Deaf group had to be reminded constantly to stay behind the banner for the interpreting agency – had to maximise photo opportunities!
Finally, we reached Union Square for the Disability Pride Festival where multiple stalls were set up promoting …. And more importantly, two marquees were set up to provide shelter from the sun as we watched the speeches and listened to music from a variety of musicians and singers. It was an accessible event for sure, with American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters not being my language I had the option of reading the English text on a screen in the marquee. All the speeches and songs were uplifting and celebratory while also reminding us that our work is not done, there is more to fight for but we can do this with pride in ourselves.