I am Black. I am a woman. I am disabled. These things are not all that I am, but they are a part of me that dictates how I will be treated in this world. These aspects of me sometimes make my life harder, or rather, the way some people respond to them does.
I have always been Black, and I have always been female. I became permanently disabled when I was 15. I struggled to accept it. I tried to make it fit into the life I already had, and thought it was impossible. I was told I had to change. I hated it.
But I began to accept that this is who I am. I am not less than what I was. I have to work harder than others, and I am often in a great deal of pain, though I usually do not speak of it. I can still do many of the things that I used to. And there are some things that I cannot. I have good days, when the pain is manageable. I have bad days when I am having a flare up and cannot go without mobility aids. And I have really bad days where I can’t walk, can’t sew, and don’t even want to speak to anyone.
I have been so fortunate to be able to attend as many conventions as I do, with friends that support me along the way. I use my mobility aids when I need to. Sometimes I work a staff into a cosplay. For characters that wouldn’t have one, often times my cane is just out of frame in a cosplay photo. Out of sight, but never out of mind.
I often think about what my life will be like, if and when I eventually lose most of my mobility. I have a list of costumes that are optimized if done by someone who is in a wheelchair or motorized scooter. I add to it occasionally. I can’t say I’m looking forward to that day, but I can say that I will be firmly stating even louder than ever, that being disabled does not take away who you are.