Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SmartAss Commentary: Cripple Queers Stay Home

Note: I never thought that I would write a somewhat positive take on a gun show and a very negative experience at a Pride event, well, ever. But here I am.

So, IndyPride was the weekend of June 11th, 2011. My family and I were excited to attend. We have friends all over the LGBT, Intersex and Queer spectrum. I am bisexual, and my girls – much to my own parental pride – feel free to decide who and what they are in their own time. So my husband, my boyfriend, my girls, and I loaded up to head downtown for the Indianapolis Pride festival.

Saturday was beautiful, but hot. There was no natural protection from the sun, but we were prepared.

Parking was a nightmare – many of the downtown spots were blocked off for the event, so we found zero available handicapped parking anywhere near the festival. So D dropped us off a couple of blocks away from the singular entrance. A grassy field needed to be crossed to reach the gate – there was no smoothed path, let alone paved walkway – to use to get in. Fortunately, the folks canvassing for a fund for college to help LGBT youth were at the gate, and I donated, still fairly optimistic about the upcoming experience.

The southern end of the park has a lot of paved walk ways, but few booths. Being near the fountain provided a cool breeze for the few moments it took to pass it. Our first nightmare began as we tried to cross the dividing street (blocked from auto traffic for the event). The people running Circle City Pride apparently decided that giving the bar tents 3 extra, mostly unused feet of space was more important than allowing people to use the city’s curb cuts. They blocked off all of them on all four corners at the ends of the street. One was left on the middle of the north side. I had a complete sense-of-humor failure as I rolled between blocked off curb cuts and eventually had enough, hit my hand breaks, and had a good cry behind my sunglasses (noticed only, I think, by my family).

The north end of the park is completely inaccessible. This made me angry not only for me and the other people at the event, but in general. This is the damn Veteran’s Memorial Plaza, dammit – how on earth are disabled veterans going to navigate this hill and stair infested park?

The festival did block off the far northern paved cross-over, making those of us trying to navigate the tents and booths travel over 4-6 times more ground to get around than the TAB attendees. I spent some time parked at the north east corner, and watched other people using wheelchairs along with parents with children in wagons or strollers curse their luck as they realized they were stuck.

Many of the displays were up small curbs and arranged on dirt paths. Again, this was almost entirely inaccessible unless you have an ATV chair. We eventually were able to find our way to the one booth run by a friend where we knew we could park and rest. Without that, we would have left almost immediately.

While I sat parked, mulling over the supposed message of inclusion of Pride Day and the associated events, my husband and youngest daughter were directed by the one friendly staff member we saw to talk to an organizer. The organizer had no care at all about the issue they brought to her and directed them to speak to a nearby city cop. This… officer, and yes, I have his name, found it appropriate to tell them to suck it up or talk to the military officer in charge of the park. The fucking hell?!?  He was rude, discriminatory, and dismissive. Thanks, Officer Friendly, for destroying my children’s first impression of dealing directly with a law enforcement representative. You are now their idea of what cops are like, in general. Ass.

Navigating in general was difficult, as most staff and patrons never bothered to look lower than eye level while traveling from place to place. Eventually I had no issue poking people with my cane while yelling “EXCUSE ME!” and running over the occasional toe. Maybe you will look for people shorter than your eye level next time, jerk.

So Indy Pride or Circle City Pride was a damn nightmare. Indy Pride was not inclusive. If you are a queer cripple, apparently you should stay in your closet. High on the Hill rocks, though, and was accommodating both at the booth and in their store. So, there was a positive note. That was,well, the only positive note.


  1. I visited High on the Hill a while back, and yes, they do indeed rock.

    On another note, I recently came back from Disney World with my fiance, his mom, and his 3 little ones. His mom has leg and feet issues, and rented a wheelchair for when it got too much for her.

    The attendants and workers at the rides and throughout the park were awesomely accommodating, holding open doors, making sure you are comfortable on the rides, etc.

    The patrons were not, especially during parades and in the shops.

    At one point, Rick and I headed out on our own. My feet were killing me from 3 days of walking on flat feet, and I can't take much pain at all. We still had the wheelchair voucher so he offered to push me around the Magic Kingdom. I was yelling "EXCUSE ME!" about a foot away from hitting park guests and they were clueless. I was tempted to buy one of those plastic, telescoping light sabers from Star Tours just to beat them away. Maybe we should get you one; it's geeky and useful.

    All I could think was I now know exactly what you are talking about. I had imagined before, but until you sit down, and everyone looks over your head, you just don't know.

  2. @Megan - that is a good taste. It changes when you have to be there, every time. But it is a good start.

  3. Whoever planned and approved the layout of the tents that blocked the curb cuts had obviously given no thought at all to wheel chair users. I was pretty disgusted.

  4. @Vargr - I was mortified that you had to see that.


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