16 September 2015
In her second and final blog post of Disability Action Week, Kat Lambert continues to discuss her relationship with her amazing partner, who just so happens to have a physical disability.
After spending the last four months with my amazing boyfriend, I have gained an exposure to the world of disability, the true world of disability, not the one society presents. I have witnessed the additional planning Todd must complete for the most mundane tasks. Using the toilet, showering, eating, going shopping, heading to the movies, going out to dinner, all have extra steps included in the planning process. The things that I would have thought of, such as checking venues for wheelchair access are only minuscule, there is so much more to be considered.
I have witnessed the way so many strangers dismiss him, and despite seeing him trying to pass on the pathway will not even move out of his way. He remains calm, accepts it, and says a little louder “excuse me”. I get frustrated by this and tell him he should just run them over, because they saw him, and he clearly doesn’t have the option of just stepping down the step like they do.
At so many functions we have attended people have automatically assumed I am his carer. I take great pride in correcting them and letting them know that this wonderful human is my boyfriend, and caring for him is my choice, not my career. If he weren’t in a wheelchair the question would be “is this your partner”, so why does the chair make this different? Why does the chair make it impossible to fathom that someone loves him and cares for him by choice?
As time goes on I don’t notice the stares anymore. I will proudly walk the streets with my hand touching his. I will hug him, even if the public watches on and wonders. If I sit back and let them keep the absurd mentality that I’m his carer because those with disabilities are incapable of romantic relationships, and that he is beneath them because his body lacks the ability to walk, I would be even more judgemental than I was in the beginning when we met.
Knowing what I know now, and having experienced the absolute pleasure of sharing my life with such an amazing guy (who just happens to have a physical disability), I owe it to Todd, and to those with similar disabilities to educate society, and change those perceptions. Whilst we will never eliminate disability from society, we can eliminate the stigma.