I'm A Chronically Ill Queer Man, And Pride Makes Me Feel Sidelined

"Your pride isn’t accessible if it isn’t for everyone," Luan Morris writes.
"Disabled queer people are often a forgotten intersection in society," Morris explains.
Illustration: HuffPost; Photos: Getty
"Disabled queer people are often a forgotten intersection in society," Morris explains.

Pride is the most unifying event in the LGBTQ+ calendar.

The global community coming together for a celebration while continuing to fight for liberation, but for many it’s inaccessible, despite being labelled as inclusive and “for everyone”.

What does this messaging really mean if pride events continue to sideline disabled people?

Exclusion of disabled queer people results in the exclusion of our knowledge, skills, and resilience. We are important members of the community, from household names like Frida Kahlo and Marsha P Johnson, to current disabled icons like Jessica Kellgren-Fozard and Ryan O’Connell.

Disabled queer people are often a forgotten intersection in society. We face continual isolation from a world that doesn’t think about us.

“If you can’t see us at pride, then you’re failing us.”

- Luan Morris

LGBTQ+ disabled people are more likely than non-disabled LGBTQ+ people to face social injustice from poverty, through to a lack of access to quality healthcare and mental health services.

Ableism is rampant in society from subtle comments such as trivialising debilitating fatigue as tiredness, through to more obvious practical barriers which can make disabled people unable to enter spaces like clubs, which are not all accessible. This can be especially hard when a lot of queer culture centres around nightlife.

Socialising as a queer disabled person can be tough. Groups often target one part of your identity, for example one of my local LGBTQ+ support groups is inaccessible due to a stepped entrance. Situations like this can leave disabled people in limbo without support or needing to hide our queer identity.

As a chronically ill queer man, I spend most of my life housebound, which limits my opportunities for forming connections.

Luan Morris' artwork
Luan Morris
Luan Morris' artwork

For a brief window of time in 2020, pride went virtual and opened a door of access. This allowed many disabled people to experience pride for the first time.

Yet, as the world has been gradually moving back to “normal”, virtual events have declined resulting in the reintroduction of a barred entrance to pride.

I was able to attend Brighton Trans Pride in 2022 and the experience was liberating and provided a reoccurring ripple of strength and power in the following months, something many disabled people miss out on.

Pride for me takes planning, preparation, and recovery. I don’t have the same capacity of non-disabled people to just turn up on the day or the ability to spring back to daily life afterwards. I have to carefully consider which events seem manageable to attend.

“I, and all LGBTQIA+ disabled people, deserve the freedom to celebrate our queerness without discrimination, barriers, and exclusion.”

- Luan Morris

Despite the best intentions from pride organisers, many pride events fall short in their attempts of inclusion, as accessibility is not only about whether you have a ramped entrance. It’s nuanced. It looks like – but is not limited to – hiring disabled people as consultants, creating safe quiet spaces, interpreters, multiple disabled toilets, having a place to showcase disabled talent.

Accessibility at pride requires organisers to make conscious decisions about inclusion to ensure we are never an afterthought. We need organisers to lead the fight for disability inclusion and to dismantle barriers society places on disabled bodies.

I, and all LGBTQIA+ disabled people, deserve the freedom to celebrate our queerness without discrimination, barriers, and exclusion. We are valid, strong, and proud. We matter and we deserve to be visible at pride.

We deserve to be a part of pride!

The queer disabled community need our non-disabled allies to fight for our inclusion, to embrace our talents and to love us unconditionally.

This pride season, if we are going to celebrate the whole community, we cannot be selective about who we celebrate. Disabled LGBTQIA+ people exist in volumes, so if you can’t see us at pride, then you’re failing us.

Think about how you can actively embrace LGBTQ+ disabled people this year! Whether it’s by donating to charities that support disabled LGBTQ+ people like Mermaids or supporting individual disabled creatives.

I look forward to marching alongside my trans siblings and allies at Trans Pride this year to protest for our rights and celebrate trans joy.

To donate to the trans youth charity, Mermaids, head to their website now.