Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image | January 30, 2015

Scroll to top



On Ableism within Queer Spaces, or, Queering the “Normal”

On Ableism within Queer Spaces, or, Queering the “Normal”
Edward NdopuDarnell Moore

Pride Parades are organized around the notion of marching and, therefore, requires that people are able to physically move to showcase their belonging.

Our daily existence as two black queer men—one a (dis)abled queer femme man and the other an able-bodied (sometimes) masculine queer man—informs our belief that our quest for liberation from oppressions based on sexuality and gender expression must also account for the ways that ableism also often subjugates some queer people. Ableism shapes attitudes, policies and systems that ultimately dehumanize, pathologize and criminalize people whose bodies do not fit into socially constructed notions of what constitutes a ”normal” human being. Indeed, ableism shapes our understandings of gender expression.

As Eli Clare brilliantly puts it, “the mannerisms that help define gender—the way in which people walk, swing their hips, gesture with their hands, move their mouths and eyes when they talk, take up space—are all based upon how non disabled people move…The construct of gender depends not only upon the male body and female body, but also on the non disabled body.” Ableism renders invisible those bodies not privileged by dominant definitions of ability, those bodies that do not fit the conceptions of gender that we often imagine.

We “read” the movement of bodies, the ways people walk, hair styles, and the ways our bodies interact with other bodies in social spaces without ever realizing that all of the aforementioned performances are gendered expressions that center on the privilege of physical movement. We tend to place a lot of emphasis on the body, and one’s use of the body, without attending to the fact that for some the use of the body is an impossibility. Indeed, for one of us, a queer who relies on attendants for personal care and grooming, such understanding wholly ignores the ways he exists in the world.

As a result, it is time to fully acknowledge ableism as a pervasive form of oppression within our queer communities. Take, for example, Pride Parades, which are visual representations of queer and trans* communities. Pride Parades are organized around the notion of marching and, therefore, requires that people are able to physically move to showcase their belonging. This does not account for the experiences of those who are not able to walk or who have to use special equipment to move. And so when we rely on our physical abilities to express ourselves, we inadvertently reproduce disability oppression. In addition, consider the ways that ablesim functions in queer dating spaces, virtual or otherwise. Pervasive in many queer and trans* dating spaces is a type of self-expression that centers on the body and the need to make ourselves desirable to others. Queer and trans* folks of different abilities, who live with chronic illnesses, or battle with addictions are left out of so many of the spaces that purport to be designed for “us.” The “party culture” that is ubiquitous within many of our communities alienates those who are not able to feel safe, validated, and affirmed within these contexts. Our lack of access to such spaces has an impact on our ability to claim our identifications and belonging within these communities.

That one of us is (dis)abled, black and queer makes his lived experience of the world unmistakably political. His corporeality cannot be separated from a broader sociohistorical context in which (dis)abled bodies are read as tragic and irreparable; queer bodies as immoral; and black bodies as criminal and expendable. These complex layers of dehumanization make it so that his body is deemed undesirable within society.

Those of us accorded with able-bodied privilege must do the work of analyzing our privileges and ensuring that we do the work of undoing ableism. While we might all be queer—resisting heteronormativity and bodying forth new ways of being in the world—we must attend to the ways that our resistance and new ways of being might easily render invisible those queers who are differently-abled. Ensuring that we respond to the diverse needs of queers during Pride, at events, at clubs, and other social spaces is a start, but the more difficult work is naming and mitigating ableist thought. In order to do that work, we have to be willing to listen, if we can, and vision, if we are able, a future that decenters our conceptions of the “normal” and truly celebrates the queer.


  1. ah, but the sneaky ways ableism pops into queer (and especially trans*) spaces ends up making it often ignored or justified. the idea that queer space needs to be a treehouse so we have something to belong to is what leads to much of the justification, or alternately it reads like the gift the queer community has for tokenism: once you’ve got one or two disabled people, proclaim the problem solved and walk away.

    how do we call out this kind of ableism (especially when it’s used to invalidate peoples’ sexualities and genders) in a way that the queer community will recognize whilst avoiding tokenization or fragmentation (“good”/”bad” disabled people) while we’re on the way to questioning ableist thought? because in communities we can’t even get into (often literally, sadly) it’s hard to start dialogue. how do we start dialogue when we’re already outsiders?

    p.s.: excellent piece, y’all…and i gotta love anything with an Eli Clare quote in it.

  2. Thanks for this article, i’d love to see more.
    A couple thoughts re: “Our lack of access to such spaces has an impact on our ability to claim our identifications and belonging within these communities” and “Ensuring that we respond to the diverse needs of queers during Pride, at events, at clubs, and other social spaces is a start, but the more difficult work is naming and mitigating ableist thought”,

    For me while those are in some ways true, it is ALSO true and becoming increasingly more true day by day for me that my queerness doesn’t belong in those spaces anyways. My queerness is often not perceived BECAUSE of those spaces, those insistances, those never ending demands that “queer” be voiced/moved/represented in a super specific way. Aside from some really specific instances, and to the chagrin of many a well-intended person, the reality is that my queer generally isn’t valued, and that’s only IN PART because i cant access the same physical spaces.

    You can’t (certainly not enabled folks) name and mitigate ableist thought when you are not ACTIVELY involved in naming, mitigating, and CHANGING ableist constructions of desire, place, community, reality, space.

    i am learning over time and exclusion that i actually often don’t WANT to try to cram the brilliance of my queer into these spaces any more. Fuck these spaces. Fuck these boring constrictions. Fuck these lies.

    (Also personally, i’m not “differently abled”. i’m disabled by an ableist system: DISabled. That’s part of naming for me: when people can acknowledge where they are ENabled as others are DISabled, we can start to talk more frankly about what prying apart, mitigating, and changing this stuff looks like.)

    • (also, ps, capitals for emphasis, not volume lol.)

  3. Thank you for this! It’s really relevant to a lot of thinking/writing I’ve been doing about gender and visibility, and it illuminated some of the blind spots in how I’ve been thinking so far.

  4. Matthew Denney

    I really wish I could like this article, but I actually disagree with it. Entirely. It’s using a misguided analysis regarding what is sees as subconscious prejudices in order to not talk about the far more important issues – like the conscious prejudices that still exist in regards to how disabled people experience sexuality, are expected to navigate social space, etc.

    This article is actually almost offensive to me, because it states that:

    “The “party culture” that is ubiquitous within many of our communities alienates those who are not able to feel safe, validated, and affirmed within these contexts. Our lack of access to such spaces has an impact on our ability to claim our identifications and belonging within these communities.”

    It stating this, it creates an inference that the *focus* on this ‘party culture’ within the gay community is the primary issue for people with disabilities, rather than the fact that this lack of access is merely a problem of physical construction and conscious prejudice. It does not even make a suggestion that people with disabilities could fully participate in this culture if better accommodations were made and people were better educated.

    The idea that Pride Marches are alienating to people with physical disabilities is, frankly, absurd. I have a physical disability. I’ve been in probably well over 100 marches (mostly anti-war). I’m in those marches with people who uses walkers, electric wheelchairs, and manual wheelchairs. I’ve never had anyone say “jeez, I wish the anti-war movement would realize that marching is ableist”. People with all kinds of severe physical disabilities CAN march, and we DO march. What is far more alienating is what someone looks at me with concern because they can’t believe I’m keeping up with them.

    The primary problem, in my experience, that we do face within the queer community is overt prejudice against people with disabilities being fully sexual and social. Your article seems to state that this is because people with disabilities are *unable* to be integrated into any of the social contexts that currently exist – as though those contexts are inherently ableist by nature. I could not disagree more. Ableism is not pride parades or the gay bar party scene, but our exclusion from those scenes due to the expectation of an inability to participate, and barriers which are then put in place to make this a reality.

  5. JJ

    While I applaud this step, I am more than a little disheartened to find no mention of non-physical disabilities. As a person with autism, I have found the LGBT community very hard to try to navigate. The problem extends beyond disabilities that are visible right away. It would have been nice for your article to have included those of us with very different brains, and therefore very different ways of being in the world. Nevertheless, thank you for your excellent article.

  6. Everyone Else

    Three words: first world problems.

    Seriously, there are children getting killed and families with not enough to eat. I’m sure they’d love to trade their problems for your made-up issues. Grow up.

  7. mme monique mercurio

    “And so when we rely on our physical abilities to express ourselves, we inadvertently reproduce disability oppression”
    I can’t see how we could express ourselves without relying on our physical ability. Expression is movement, like it or not.

    • romham

      MME Monique Mercurio, it might not be the intent of the writers, but for me i think of it more like: when we constantly centre and prioritize certain kinds of expression based in certain kinds of physical abilities, we are definitely (and IMO not inadvertently at all) re/producing ableist oppression. That’s the part that does it for me, because yeah the physical is always part of what we do. But whose body and ability gets centred & prioritized, and whose gets sidelined/ maligned/ vilified?

  8. i just want to say that the SF dyke march is totally accessible, including parking, transportation from public transportation and parking to the march start, and transportation during the march for seniors and differently abled. so not all marches are this way!

    • SFdykemarch —
      I appreciate your attention to this issue and your efforts to create access. But nothing can ever be called “totally accessible” because disabilities range greatly. For example, does *everyone* who attend the dyke march refrain from smoking or wearing scented products? If not, it is not accessible to me as a person with MCS.

    • Kris

      I can’t speak about the accessibility for physically disabled people, but I second what Sharon Wachsler said. I’m Autistic which means that I go through sensory overload. A lot of events like Pride marches can be overwhelming for me because I sense everything at once: people talking and yelling, music, smells, etc.

      Also, I (and a lot of other disabled people I know) don’t like the term “differently abled” as it treats being disabled as a bad thing, and it reinforces the stigma surrounding disability.

  9. Thank you so much for this. And thanks to Eli Clare for his brilliant, incisive words. This piece is a welcome drink on the parched landscape of my invisibility at the same time as it barely scratches the surface of the way I’m invisibilized as a disabled, bedbound white femme in queer community.

  10. Kris

    Great article, and I’m happy to see more attention given to disabled queer people.

    However, ableism in the queer community isn’t just limited to physical disabilities. It exists with mental disabilities as well. I am an Autistic (I prefer to be called “A/autistic” as opposed to a “person with autism” by the way.) bisexual, and genderqueer person, and I encounter all kinds of ableism when I express my sexuality and gender identity. When I came out my dad, he said it was my autism that was making me “confused about gender”, and, therefore, I couldn’t be bisexual. There is a very hurtful myth that Autistic people don’t have sex drives and/or shouldn’t have sex – even straight sex.

    There are times when I feel very alone, especially in real life. I have met many queer Autistics online, but I have yet to meet one in real life. I have plenty of Autistic friends and queer friends, but I have yet to meet a single queer Autistic person in real life.

    I hope to see more attention given to all disabled queer people in the future.

    Just as an aside, don’t pay attention to anything Autism Speaks says. Get your information about autism (and disability in general) from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

  11. Betram Wooster

    I say, this is a dashed jolly site, now isn’t it?

  12. b

    Very important stuff. I also agree with much of what @MATTHEW DENNEY said as far as assuming that only ablebodied/privileged folks can and do party or march or inhabit the spaces that are ableist in queer communities & elsewhere.

    also this totally reminds me of something my friend beast pointed out to me a while back.

    often bathroom signs are: Man | Woman | Wheelchair

  13. Jane

    I’m glad this article exists. To add to the comments about mental disabilities, I have a serious phobia, in addition to other disabilities. It’s not going away; I’ve had it all my life and seen plenty of psychologists. There’s a lot I can’t access, and it’s usually the phobia. I don’t expect access to physical spaces or events, and I ignored this for a long time, but it’s increasingly not worth it to me to spend time in communities where “phobia” is used to mean bigotry and hatred, because it’s exhausting and depressing, and makes me feel like the bad guy. Unfortunately, that includes most of the queer community, including articles on this site (but not this article!), so I’m not speaking as a community member or as someone you know, just someone who happens to be queer.

    If you want to read more, check out Eater of Trees’ post here:

  14. Linc

    You know what’s been bothering me about ableism in the LGBT community lately? Even more than hearing nonprofits whine that they just don’t have the money to rent an accessible office? More than listening to people complain about not being able to where scents into an event?

    Money, queer community, and ableism. I’m talking about the nonprofits in my area (Seattle). Most of them are located in inaccessible buildings. But their annual fundraisers? Always held in an accessible location. Message? Come once a year to open your wallet, but being part of our everyday life as a volunteer or person we would serve? That’s too much work for us.

    Unlike other folks here, I am actually left out of pride parades now. Which is a bummer. I run a small trans nonprofit here, and another trans group asked if we want space to march when they have their first trans pride event this year. I had to tell them we’ll just take a table, because most of the folks involved in our group are unable to march for one reason or another.

    That got me thinking: how does a group build a solid physical presence in a community space that does put a lot of emphasis on events that involve typical types of motion? It’s not just Pride, but block parties, club events, and a lot of typical mainstream LGBT things require standing for a long time, walking around, interacting with a ton of people over many hours.

    Any ideas?

    • I’m really curious about what reasons make people unable to march. An earlier commenter said that many marchers use walkers and wheelchairs if mobility is a problem. My dad uses a scooter and gets almost everywhere, including a strong presence at farmer’s markets, which require lots of “standing” and negotiating crowds.
      On the other hand, I don’t participate in marches that are appropriate for my identity (I’m trans) because I don’t *like* being in crowds, especially crowds of semi-drunk people. (A friend with a disability-centered view says that I have auditory processing disorder; I don’t think of myself that way, though.)
      Curious about what keeps your members from marching if they want to march…

      • Linc

        Most of our members have mobility and pain issues that are bad enough to compromise our ability to walk long distances, but not enough to use any powered devices. Plus, our pride route is four miles long.

        Speaking for myself, I have fibro and hereditary neuropathy. If I walk too far for too long, my joints become extremely painful and my feet go numb. There are other things my group could use that energy on, like serving folks in the community.

  15. This. This is a huge thing. People often assume disabled people to be asexual or heterosexual, and we run into issues there, from professionals and the queer community both. My familiarity with it is mostly from the Autistic community, which is really heavily Queer, but where people act like wanting to have a relationship with an Autistic person is comparable to pedophilia.

  16. Hinsdale está entre uma das pessoas vilas, cidades na América as pessoas da cidade pode decidir sobre uma série de gateways estacionamento garagem.Tory Burch é sem dúvida uma concebível, de alta qualidade, imagem de marca a vida! Tory Burch Totes? pode aumentar o seu esplendor.Recebido Barrymore agarrou a forma extravagante fêmea para um lugar diferente em seu traje pérola simplesmente por si mesma Monique Lhuillier.
    réplicas relógios diesel

  17. Quando você começa a etapa nas tarefas domésticas do dia a dia e abre dê seu toda tranquila, incrível reflexão, mágico que acontece o inesperado; manifesto que aborda preocupações irritantes, gerar a estratégia que você pode mudar e também aceitar o que você não pode alteração.
    réplicas relógios Bulgari

  18. Necessidades destacam-se: a qualidade de couro acolchoado, ouro-tom computador pessoal, flap de longo prazo com o pagamento turn-bloqueio, a cadeia ligada casal e patch bolso seguro, preto, forro de tecido, dentro de bolsos de jardim e um compartimento celular.Ao adquirir uma agência de impressão de balcão, conhecer o equipamento especial que eles sejam usando.Rex Três seu mais recente juntamente com impressoras e também outros equipamentos de passar por tudo de uma impressão de empresas, cortando, ânimo e necessidades enviando.
    réplicas relógios rolex

  19. Ele parecia estar em seu próprio azoic 1900 se uma banheira de ponto começou e também geralmente avaliação labourer colocar sacos de bagagem que tinham sido realizadas.Para assinar nossa Birkin bolsa Hermes prontamente disponíveis, eles tendem a ser crucial charmoso o suficiente para atrair a sua atenção.Ao sair de sua casa primevos 1700 pioneiras Low Bolsas tendem a ser reticules ofttimes conhecidos mais eles eram expressa para se tornar um ponto quente requintado.Este exemplo em particular são já soothe mal compactado alguns cordão uma aba criada oclusão.
    réplicas relógio michael kors feminino

  20. outro sinal ineficiente.A Net atualmente a conveniência de tendência de alta qualidade sobre essa população, então não é permitido alguém que tem a inclinação para pagar dinheiro elizabeth orçamento Kors dos homens sobre fabricantes costume possibilidade de comprar estes onde nunca antes eles são.Charlotte agora CasiraghiCharlotte Jessica Pomeline Casiraghi (nascido em 03 de maio de 1986, no meio da cidade Hospitalier Princesse Recurso em Monte Carlo, Mónaco) há aqueles segunda criança de Caroline, Queen of Hanover, Anatomical Princess of Monaco conhecimento, e do falecido Stefano Casiraghi, industrial italiano vencidos.O período de reunião transformado em memorável.Se os estados de tempo de reunião é devido à noite que é talvez a criação de atmosfera amorosa, então as chances são que você vai pulverizar esta aromas dentro do quarto e do seu travesseiro em folhas de adição.Joseph Toby Kinder estará em liberdade condicional por um número de seu envolvimento em uma disputa familiar.
    réplicas relógios Audemars Piguet

  21. One e, em seguida, uma vez que empresa altamente recomendável para a sua compra de qualidade superior prada wallet é Eurohandbag.Tags: Brinquedos personalizados, gerenciar loja de carros, crianças brinquedos StoreGood after-sales Service é muito importante para animais loja gestão por: tony dorrie | 3 de outubro de 2013 – acredite ou não, se você pode facilmente oferecer serviço de pós-venda deliberadas e notável para os clientes se eles compraram crianças brinca com sua loja, seu estado de eficiência teria chegado e melhor.
    relogios masculinos rolex

  22. Janela temperado painéis são sugeridos lado menor, no entanto, com a parte traseira abriga windows.O por que ambos os tipos diferentes são fornecidos ao longo de instrumentos podem ser devido a conferencistas automóvel salvaguarda.
    réplicas de relógios masculinos

  23. As bolsas são normalmente uma parte crucial da visão muito completa a cada passada é mulher.Eles têm sido uma pequena fração da roupa das mulheres em sua XVII ele fornece um marcou o início da moda flamboyant na história.Como Alexander McQueen disse: \x26quot;É uma baixa era de pontuação de crédito na forma -.Não haverá quaisquer regras É tudo sobre o estilo individual e privada, drenando high-end, low-end, rótulos valiosos, e up-and-coming projetistas em geral.
    réplicas relógios Vacheron Constantin

  24. On Ableism within Queer Spaces, or, Queering the “Normal” |

  25. Ele só consegue manter em curso.e indo, apelando para candidatos a oportunidade em cada geração.No que diz respeito a como um perfil da LG Prada está preocupado, ele vem com pequenas dimensões pequenas, que incluem o seu antecessor LG extras.Foi devidamente sido por um tempo com um sintoma exterior lustroso e um visivelmente simples, porém, design atraente, com um iPod preferem olhar.Mas, a GE Prada é desprovido de ter sorte de toda a garra, design bolo de casamento, se não for máquinas deslizante – ele também faz linha impressionante, além de ser um dispositivo mais fácil que vai colocar.A parte algumas pessoas vão ilustrar a sua montagem é sua tela de toque concurso alta resolução.
    rolex preço

  26. Portanto, verifique se que seu laptop ou computador necessita de ser reforçada.Em muitos casos, Laptops que foram montados há muito tempo, só tem que se aplicam ao usar substituir na sua própria memória e Ram mesmo.Investiga sua ram velho bom que permite detectar se você precisa das categorias acima.Enquanto não há uma pesquisa motores Mapas do Windows 6.5 ferramentas, Bing pode realmente ser uma opção melhor.Os mapas são, indiscutivelmente, algumas mais claras é mais simples de descobrir uma nova rota quando você ficar confuso uma pessoa seguir as instruções que é onde app.Jaquetas Strait não parecem ser para clientes psiquiátricos enfiado.A maioria casal quer jogar mais do que um pouco recebendo o uso para este item.
    rolex preço

  27. Gucci vai sempre inovando para a Jackie, então não ser surpreendido pelo que você deve fiz alguma pesquisa na internet descobri em que Jackie eighties que envolvem é muito diferente do que você observa indexados no shopping Gucci.Corretoras on-line incluem o melhor Kerle para controlar a sua mercadoria pessoalmente a dificuldade de moda anteriormente viável posições em aberto.Educador (NYSE: COH) é um líder comerciante United estados de bolsas estilo de vida de luxo e vários outros acessórios de moda para homens e mulheres.Agora você certamente deve informação útil sobre a escrita realizar uma maneira bolsa Gucci Jackie se você tem medo de receber inveja parece ser de amigos! Essas mercadorias é grande (especialmente os modelos mais recentes) e estão disponíveis em vários couro ao longo das linhas de tecido, de forma demasiado ou guccissima.
    rolex original

  28. Louis Vuitton também pode ser a imagem de nobreza a compilação requintado conectá-los, no passado; a classe alta tem uma paixão por ela, geralmente as pessoas reais, como nos dias de hoje mudaram e civilização se desenvolveu, o conhecimento de chutes de modernização trocou muito a vida de pessoas contemporâneas, muitos bem – estrelas gostei de como deve possuir tal um malas, mesmo os indivíduos normais, mas a uma catapulta constante consiste em sua alta qualidade e de origem a partir da concepção, mesmo assim cercam esta é a filosofia sobre a viagem.
    rolex daytona preço

  29. Complexo.para cada um fantástico dá um pouco mais cool tote, um junto talvez pode optar por usar o Aston de Mulberry.Em seguida é, na verdade, os indivíduos quentes de David Vuitton.Esta sandália significa com couro de patente também em cetim, este salto realmente trabalhada parece uma perna cão que geralmente completamente construído com cristal.Neste momento são tão volume de senhoras de calçados esportivos e sandálias de bens no mercado, mas este um entre os mais surpreendentes.
    rolex de ouro

  30. Esses dons se tornará o presente especial para ele.Prepare ofertas anunciadas para mover trabalho para a sua formação do Japão para em algum grau regiões mais baratas, como da Índia e do Vietnã e se esforçando para conduzir mais uma vez end vendas compensar margens regredindo.State Digital ou o chaveiro foto digital tendem a ser, provavelmente, ótimo.
    réplicas relógios Ferragamo

  31. Tenho um pouco a mesmo como eles são excelentes bolsas, que devo acrescentar.Cup passa a ser a sequência Challenger se quiser regatas poderia decidir essas empresas iate boate atende o adversário.A partir do seu terceiro America pequeno em 1876 em relação a alunos XX, em 1967, parecia haver nunca um número de uns competidor papel dele ou dela Challenger! Em 1970 esta mudou.Em 2011, o breve período America Pin ocasião mais eficaz (ACEA) felizmente introduzido comportamento laddish retornar o particular Louis Vuitton para a trinta por último América Vinho, com área de Bay Bay devido à demanda centro.
    réplicas relógios Audemars Piguet

  32. Seu site é de erros, lentos que eles desajeitado e eles só mudaram isso, foi uma vez chamado Eluxury apesar de ter efectuado problemas e um relançamento.No curso de trabalho, você vai por não indica saltar para fora o símbolo GG monogrammed, tal como identificado de todas as fontes GG autênticos.É maravilhosamente perturba muito técnicos uma vez que ver AAPL como um país \x26quot;mal\x26quot; porque você tem uma vibe fechado.Bu.Ingressos: construir o tecido e perder peso, como criar muscular e redução de peso, como criar músculo diretamente sobre homePromote sua pequena empresa com conhecida como America Vestuário Por: Parque Diaz | 04 de novembro de 2013 – Os clientes estão cada vez mais usando força de trabalho utilizada para promover as indicações.
    réplicas relógios Chanel

  33. Além disso, normalmente, é na maioria das vezes mais fácil de saco de mão réplica do que comprar o original, que é transportada por boutiques médico assim que eu residências high-end.Dia especial moda jóias é abundância disponível Olha para o mercado.Para considerar ter uma celebração de uma cerimônia nupcial indiana sem jóias não pode ser imaginado.Você deve ter parado para confiar quanto melhor do que “trabalhar” muito branco para pessoal em meus esforços pessoais para falar? Simboliza emoções tão quase em cima de nós.
    réplicas de relógios importados

Submit a Comment