I am so eager to talk about what I saw on Oprah today. I suppose many people think strong feelings about people who are gay. I don’t know any gay people myself, but I know that I would probably have friends who are gay if I met them. I think many of the things that they experience in this world are the same as the struggles I face as a disabled person. I feel the discomfort of people in this world when I am out in the community. Their looks are not unnoticed. Their lack of compassion is felt. The lack of kindness is evident in their actions. I’m not saying that this is all people. If I walk into a room with my wheelchair being pushed, I feel these things.
The show today was about aids, and a young man and his sisters who live in a small town in West Virginia. It was 1987 and people had very angry, hurtful, mean things to say to him. They were put on the Oprah show. That was when I was two years old. I have heard what people said, and I think not much has changed for many of us with disabilities. People feel we are best in a program where others, they assume are like us, should be. They want to be comfortable in restaurants and many of us make them uncomfortable.
e experienced in a large church eight years ago, something that has left pain in our hearts. My Mom was told that I should be in the cry room at church so others wouldn’t be uncomfortable by my presence. She told them I was sixteen and that I wasn’t crying, but that I was holding my breath and trying to catch it if I was making any sounds. She was told that I was a distraction to others and they might not come back if they saw me the first time they came to church. This is a huge church, not a small one, so my sounds were drowned out by the group of people. It hurt our hearts to be seen that way. It explains why there are very few people in churches that are very disabled. People aren’t always as bold as that pastor was, but their spirits and their thoughts affect their actions towards people like me and my family.
I have some great friends and I have family who love me and that helps me feel better on days when I feel alone. But I felt sad for the man on Oprah’s show today who has died and was from a town who turned their backs on him and his family in a very big crowd on TV. I hope if he lived in my town today that I could meet him because we have some common experiences. I hope he would be loved here today. I hope he would be fortunate to live in your town. I hope if I met you today on the street that you would greet me and not just look from a distance because that makes me feel very sad. I learned a lot today, I don’t want to forget it.