This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

September-October 2016

It’s time to have an honest discussion about disability, Canada

Many of us are too afraid to talk about disability. Let's change that

Andrew Gurza@andrewgurza

ThisMagazine50_coverLores-minFor our special 50th anniversary issue, Canada’s brightest, boldest, and most rebellious thinkers, doers, and creators share their best big ideas. Through ideas macro and micro, radical and everyday, we present 50 essays, think pieces, and calls to action. Picture: plans for sustainable food systems, radical legislation, revolutionary health care, a greener planet, Indigenous self-government, vibrant cities, safe spaces, peaceful collaboration, and more—we encouraged our writers to dream big, to hope, and to courageously share their ideas and wish lists for our collective better future. Here’s to another 50 years!

As a Canadian with disabilities, I spent many years looking for the so-called perfect job. From student jobs to call centres, I was doing my best to be employed in a normal job “just like everyone else.” As I did my best to clamber and climb up the corporate ladder trying to make my mark and stand out from my peers, I also had a little voice in my head urging me to do something different—something that spoke to who I was and my experiences as a queer man with disabilities.

Eventually, I decided to quit the rat race and work for myself. I branded myself as a disability awareness consultant and with 10 years of academia and my lived experience as my guide I made it my mission to make disability accessible to everyone. My goal has always been to tell the truth about the disabled experience, and to invite people into that reality. As I began to branch out and take hold of more opportunities born out of my willingness to be accessible Deliciously Disabled took shape. I remember that Now interviewed me and asked me how I wanted to be described in the piece. I smiled coyly and said, “Call me deliciously disabled.”

Under Deliciously Disabled, I built a brand that aimed to shift our cultural understanding of disability in Canada and abroad. Deliciously Disabled worked to invite everyone to have honest, frank, and real discussions about how it feels to live with a disability everyday. I believe that we aren’t talking about disability the right way. Many of us are too afraid to talk about how disability scares us, how sometimes we don’t know what to say, how we don’t want to be disabled or become disabled. In our collective fear we have neglected the fact that disability can also be an enriching experience full of humour, truth, and fun. In my work, I strive to strike a balance between those two worlds.

Now, as I shift away from Deliciously Disabled, I’m taking that conversation even further with my new work under Disability with Drew. I intend to go deeper into the lived experience of disability, so that the next generation of disabled Canadians can see themselves represented—so that they can feel like they have a voice and an identity that actually encompasses their reality without feeling fear or shame. And it is my hope for the future that by making the experiences of disability accessible to everyone, they will see just how truly delectable disability can be.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Gurza/Twitter

Andrew Gurza is a disability awareness consultant who invites you to do Disability with Drew as he brings the lived experience of disability to intersectional communities, and shares how it feels to be queer and disabled.

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