Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Passing and Coming Out--No Homo

That clever and perhaps slightly a little offensive title is meant to remind us that there are other traits people can hide, particularly behind the wall of The Internet.

Kody Keplinger's post yesterday--part confession, part pronouncement--has made me think a lot. I'll be completely ones, the accolades she received for "coming out of the disability closet"and the many comments and tweets calling her "brave" made me a little bitter.

I admire Kody, but mostly because I've been there. I have low vision, and I know how frightening it can be to navigate the world when things are blurry. I didn't leave my bedroom two weeks ago when I lost my contacts, and I dreaded having to navigate to class without them (spoilers: found them)

But here's the thing--by applauding her decision to admit to her disability, we're saying it's okay to hide it. Her reasons for doing so are heartbreaking and true--an article about her book made a fuss about her being blind and very little about her book--and i truly, truly am glad she decided to stop. However, now she has the "post about disability." The thing everyone's retweeting, saying We Had No Idea! and Talent > than disability!

Disability isn't something to be overcome. It isn't something less than talent. It isn't something that makes talent better or less, that should be hidden or screamed about, that makes anyone better or worse. Note: Kody isn't claiming to be any of those things, but the explosion about the post--which is intelligent and eloquent--makes me a bit bitter, because I live my life as writer-with-disability every day without the major accolades--but then I don't want them.

And I know it affects thing. I made the choice, I chose to put that I have a physical disability on my online dating profiles, and I've had guys flat out tell me that's why they don't want to go out with me. They "want something they can do outdoor activities with." But that's not on me. It's on them.

And in having these thoughts I realized what a hypocrite I am.

I used to mention my disability at the bottom of my query, because my book features the point-of-view of a character with a disability and also it's a huge part of who I am. But I took it out, because I didn't want it to be assumed I wanted it to get me attention---positive or negative. Since my blog address isn't the name of my blog, all hints were taken out.

I am just as guilty, in my own way, of hiding my disability.

Or maybe not, because in that area it doesn't have to matter.

And no one else can make that choice for me, or say whether or not i should make it. So I can't judge Kody, even though i've been there.

I can just be glad she decided to be real about her disability, and glad that people are realizing that anyone could have a disability, there are no universal signs, and people with just as capable. That's what I care about, and that's what matters.