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Disability Pride

Photos: This SF Pride we made it clear that LGBTQ+ includes the blind and disabled

It’s not every day that we get to march freely down the middle of Market Street with our canes wrapped in multi-colored ribbon. But on Sunday, we took to the streets for the 2018 SF Pride parade with a rainbow-clad pan-disability contingent of more than 150 people with disabilities and our allies. To our knowledge this is the largest-ever group of disability supporters to march in San Francisco Pride.

This year’s contingent was a true testament to the shared experience of having a disability, whatever it may be, and the subsequent empowerment that comes with being seen and celebrating that identity. We’d like to extend a warm thank you to the staff, volunteers, community supporters and our sponsors, Mental Health Association San Francisco and The Arc San Francisco, who marched with us and made this a truly celebratory day.

We’re still selling our beloved SF Pride T-shirts in the Adaptations Store! Support LightHouse and pick one up for next year’s parade for only $20.

Three volunteers in rainbow spandex hold the LightHouse banner while marching at the front of the contingent.
Three volunteers in rainbow spandex hold the LightHouse banner while marching at the front of the contingent.
A woman applies eyeshadow to a LightHouse contingent member with rainbow balloons in the background.
A woman applies eyeshadow to a fellow LightHouse contingent member with rainbow balloons in the background.
Two pride participants, one standing wearing the LightHouse shirt and wearing 'Ms. Wheelchair California' sash, prepare to march in the parade.
Two pride participants, one standing wearing the LightHouse shirt and the other wearing a ‘Ms. Wheelchair California’ sash, prepare to march in the parade.
A pride participant from Senior & Disability Action marches with our contingent, holding a 'Blind, Queer & Proud' sign.
A pride participant from Senior & Disability Action marches with our contingent, holding a ‘Blind, Queer & Proud’ sign.
Contingent members from The Arc San Francisco smile and pose before the parade begins.
Contingent members from The Arc San Francisco smile and pose before the parade begins.
A little girl wearing a tutu and fairy wings smiles and jumps into the air.
A little girl wearing a tutu and fairy wings smiles and jumps into the air.
A LightHouse student stands with his guide dog and a volunteer holding a sign that reads, "Shared history, shared struggles, shared liberation".
A LightHouse student stands with his guide dog and a volunteer holding a sign that reads, “Shared history, shared struggles, shared liberation”.
A contingent member from the Mental Health Association of San Francisco smiles and holds a sign that reads, "Disabled & Proud. I can have both."
A contingent member from the Mental Health Association of San Francisco smiles and holds a sign that reads, “Disabled & Proud. I can have both.”
A pride participant with a cane walk side by side in the midst of our large Pride contingent.
A pride participant with a cane walk side by side in the midst of our large Pride contingent.
A contingent member marches with a sign attached to their wheelchair that reads "Free our people."
A contingent member marches with a sign attached to their wheelchair that reads “Free our people.”
Two Pride participants in wheelchairs laugh while marching down market street with the contingent. One holds a sign that reads "Proud to be here."
Two Pride participants in wheelchairs laugh while marching down market street with the contingent. One holds a sign that reads “Proud to be here.”
LightHouse Pride organizer Laura Millar smiles while marching, with her white cane wrapped in rainbow ribbon.
LightHouse Pride organizer Laura Millar smiles while marching, with her white cane wrapped in rainbow ribbon.
Two rainbow-bedecked pride participants march side by side, one holding a sign that says "Proud of everything that we are."
Two rainbow-bedecked pride participants march side by side, one holding a sign that says “Proud of everything that we are.”
A french bulldog smiles while his owner, a LightHouse volunteer, holds him before the parade starts.
A french bulldog smiles while his owner, a LightHouse volunteer, holds him before the parade starts.

Who are our SF Pride sponsors and why do we march together?

Thanks to the support of community sponsors The Mental Health Association of San Francisco and The Arc San Francisco, we have organized a pan-disability contingent for San Francisco Pride 2018 ready to make a strong statement about intersecting identities in the LGBT+ community. 

Learn more about their reasons for marching with us below:


Meet the Mental Health Association of San Francisco

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco LogoQ: What is the mission of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco?

A: The mission of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF) is to cultivate peer leadership, build community and advance social justice in mental health.

Q: Why is the Mental Health Association of San Francisco a proud sponsor of the LightHouse Disability Pride contingent? 

A: MHASF is a proud sponsor of the LightHouse Disability Pride contingent because we care deeply about the mental health of the LGBTQ+ communities we serve. Many of us are LGBTQ+ identified ourselves and have personal experience of mental health challenges due to stigma, isolation, and discrimination. We support one another and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our community partners to raise awareness about disability pride, rights, and resources.

Q: How does the work your organization does connect with the work we’re doing here at LightHouse? 

A: Just as LGBTQ+ communities are not a monolith but a coalition of community partners with common goals and a shared vision, MHASF is a part of the larger community of disability advocates, including LightHouse. While the focus of our work may differ, our communities sometimes overlap, and MHASF is committed to promoting equality and self-reliance for people with mental health challenges, providing professional development and skills training, and amplifying the voices of people with lived experience.

Q: What does Disability Pride mean to you? 

A: At MHASF, Disability Pride means bringing our whole selves to all we do and celebrating all of what makes us who we are. For many of us, our mental health conditions and histories have played an important role in making us the amazing, compassionate, resilient people we are today. We are proud of all we’ve accomplished, alone and together, and we want to share that pride with our community.

A: The first Pride was a riot. How can we keep this activist legacy in Pride and stay true to the spirit of the event? 

Q: Our goal at MHASF is to advocate when possible — and agitate when necessary! Pride is a celebration of everything LGBTQ+ communities have accomplished, but now more than ever, we recognize that we can’t afford to be complacent, especially when it comes to our rights and our mental health. MHASF is proud to stand with LightHouse and other members of the Disability Pride contingent to support each other and call out injustice wherever we find it.


Meet The Arc San Francisco

The Arc San Francisco Logo

Q: What is the mission of The Arc San Francisco?

A: Our mission is to transform the lives of adults with developmental disabilities by advancing lifelong learning, personal achievement and independence. Our full name is The Arc San Francisco. The “arc” in our name represents the arc of achievement. We believe that with the right support, over time, people with developmental disabilities can fulfill their highest potential, achieving personal goals and lifelong success — however it is personally defined. Our vision is to foster an inclusive world in which all people with developmental disabilities can thrive.

Q: Why is The Arc San Francisco a proud sponsor of the LightHouse Disability Pride contingent?

A: We are thrilled to be partnering with another organization that believes in the absolute equality of people with disabilities, and recognizes the intersectionality of people who have disabilities and are part of the LGBTQ community.

Q: How does the work your organization does connect to the work we’re doing here at LightHouse?

A: We have clients with developmental disabilities who are blind or have low vision. Both organizations recognize the full humanity of the people we serve which includes sexuality and sexual and gender identifications.

Q: What does Disability Pride mean to you?

A: Like LGBTQ Pride, we recognize that people with disabilities have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. People with disabilities are all born with unique gifts and talents to share, and have every right to fulfill dreams, achieve goals and participate fully in our communities.

Q: The first Pride was a riot. How can we keep this activist legacy in Pride and stay true to the spirit of the event?

A: It’s so important to recognize that The Stonewall Riots were a response by mostly drag queens, gender fluid people, and trans woman of color. They were what the police and US culture at the time thought were easy targets for bullying, harassment and abuse, and these revolutionaries had finally had enough. It’s a great story of how people who are ostracized, looked down on, shunned and seen as less than fully human can empower themselves, stand up, and demand justice and equality. By doing so, they not only liberate themselves, but all of us. People with disabilities experience so many of the same challenges that people who are LGBTQ face, and if you’re queer and disabled your challenges are even greater. By recognizing the true history of Pride we can learn from our achievements and empower everyone who is disenfranchised by our culture. We are not all free until everyone is free.

To sign up to march or learn more about our SF Pride Disability Contingent, visit lighthouse-sf.org/sf-pride-2018.