Today, we take down one pride flag and put up another – Disability Pride. This ceremonial changing of the flags is done by so many of us who are both LGBTQIA+ and Disabled.
I wanted to look at Disability Pride flags, their colours and their meanings whilst also sharing the journey it has been on since conception.
The flag used by the Disability Movement in Spanish speaking countries is a tricolour flag with three equally-sized horizontal stripes of gold, silver, and bronze. These colours represent the three medals at the Paralympic Games, and are intended to represent the collective’s overcoming of obstacles, rather than the event itself.
This flag was introduced in 2017 on the United Nation’s International Day of Person’s with Disabilities in Peruvian parliament. Many Spanish cities and municipalities display the flag on the International Day of People with Disabilities.
The Disability Pride flag was created by Ann Magill, a disabled woman, in 2019. The colours are arranged in a diagonal zig zag from the top left to the bottom right and they represent the variety of needs and experiences of Disabled people: mental illness, intellectual and developmental disability, invisible and undiagnosed disabilities, physical disability, and sensory disabilities.
The Black Field represents mourning those who have suffered from ableist violence. The lighting bolt represents how Disabled people must navigate barriers, and our creativity in doing so; breaking free from normative authority and body control.
Regrettably, Ann’s design has been known to cause seizures in some people (although it was very much designed to be accessible and non-harmful). That is why I will not be sharing the original version here, although if you are interested and it is safe to do so it is easily googled.
However, the flag has been able to evolve and is now used in a few forms, including a striped version with pastel versions of the original colours.
So, let’s raise our Disabled flags loud and proud this month (and all months to come) to share our incredible stories, challenge normative ideals of bodyminds, find community and keep being most excellent.