I have been struggling for a coherent thought, so Dear Reader I have a question for you all.
If you can be black and beautiful, or gay and proud, please fill in the following —- ‘Disabled and___’
I cannot find the words to fill in the blank either, I’ve been trying for thirty-four years, give or take puberty and some time at University and I can’t do it. There simply are no words. Others have suggested ‘proud, angry and strong’ which is from a Johnny Crescendo song. It is stirring stuff, and I want to be able to get behind the idea of ‘an affirmation model of disability’, as advanced by John Swain and Sally French in their article ‘Towards an Affirmation Model of Disability’.
However, I have a question. Am I to take the Johnny Crescendo song and his motto of ‘proud, angry and strong’ as my cue – because I do have a problem with this, in fact two problems.
Very little good comes of anger, even intellectual anger runs out of steam in the end – usually into writer’s block. However good it feels, anger is cheap liquor, everybody drinks too much of it and everybody wakes up with a headache.
So no, anger is definitely not my bag. Only I have a problem with ‘Proud’ too. Of course, I am not ashamed of having cerebral palsy, of having a history of epilepsy, chronic pain or being impotent due to those pills for epilepsy. Not ashamed at all. But ‘being proud’ always sounds too much like an apology to me, and one should never apologise for oneself. Instead it should simply be stated as a matter of fact. There are few times I have brought my disability up in public, but when I do, it goes like this. We’ll assume they already know about my cerebral palsy, epilepsy and chronic pain, I have just mentioned that I’m impotent.
ME: Yes, Really.
PERSON: You’ve never had sex?
ME: No, never.
PERSON: I don’t believe you.
I never know how to answer that last response, other than to try to emphasise the truth of what I said. But occasionally I do get asked the following:
PERSON: But surely you have sexual desires.
ME: Yes I do.
PERSON: So, what do you do about them?
And here’s where I fall short. The fact is there’s very little I feel I can do about them, and I used to sheepishly respond ‘very little’, a response that was universally met by pity, and I hate pity. Sympathy in the dictionary is too close to shit. So I have a suggestion, one I hope the authors of ‘Towards an affirmation model of disability’ do not find distasteful. If you are disabled, and some asks you what you do about your sexual desires, whether true of not, say the following:
‘I go to strip clubs’
Feel free to embellish, if my interlocutor is British or American, I occasionally say, ‘I go to Spearmint Rhino’. But I much rather be remembered for my patronage of a strip club, than for being ‘angry, proud and strong’.
That’s how I fill in the blank. Thank you for your time.
 John Swain & Sally French (2000): Towards an Affirmation Model of
Disability, Disability & Society, 15:4, 569-582
 Not my phrase, Murakami’s on the subject on nationalism http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/01/haruki-murakami-hysteria-islands-row
 Not my own phrase, if you use a search engine, you’ll find many instances.