This past weekend, A Squared was thrilled to serve as a spot on the Buffalo Grove Pride Drive Route. We are so grateful for the over 100 people who stopped by our house and the members of Illinois NOW who partnered with us to create some wonderful raffle items and decorations. The response to our first public event has been immensely positive, and we are so excited for our journey ahead!
That said, ongoing research regarding disability and queer intersectionality is demonstrating that there is a large portion of disabled individuals who are queer, especially in neurodivergent people. An interesting article by Miller et. al demonstrates how interconnected autism and queerness truly are (2020). It's a quick read, and definitely worth the 15 pages, but here's the short version:
-There is a lot of marginalization happening for both autistic and queer college students.
-Autistic individuals exhibit greater sexual orientation and gender identity diversity than the general population.
-The study looked at students at 2 universities, where LGBTQ students with disabilities participated in interviews about college experiences, identities, and identity intersections.
-Many vignettes from these interviews are included in the study.
-In a vignette, "Avery found her identities to be interconnected — “they can’t be pulled away from each other,” she said — and also pointed to anecdotal evidence of individuals who are both autistic and asexual." (Miller et. al, 2020).
Accessibility at Pride Events
So, even though we know that there is a large population of disabled queer people...
why don't we see more disabled people at Pride events?
Pride events, especially parades, just aren't as accessible in nature. Parking, large crowds, the inability to move around with ample space present physical limitations. Overstimulation presents itself everywhere- from proximity to others to loud noises and weather sensitivity. Interpreters are often not present, or hard to view, and multiple modes of communication are rarely integrated.
That is why we are so grateful for the Pinta Pride Project and the Buffalo Grove Pride Drive. Born out of a need for celebration during COVID-19, the Buffalo Grove Pride Drive allows individuals to drive from one house to another, engaging as much or as little as possible with others, across an entire city. For us, it meant that we could offer a low-sensory space for anyone who wanted to participate in their own way. We are so hopeful that the pride drive will continue to exist in our community as an accessible extension of pride celebrations for decades to come!
Our low-sensory zone included Pride PECS, cold water bottles, a cooling zone, and a variety of sensory items for anyone to use. We offered snacks, pop-its, scarves, sensory instruments, and coloring books for here or to go. In the picture to the right, you can see Elise using an ocean drum with some of the neighborhood kids, explaining the calming effects of the visual and aural stimulation.
Another great addition was that we were able to sensory items for local schools and books for our local libraries. We especially centered on books with Queer characters, aiming to add more representation to the stories in our community. We collected over 300 books as well as various sensory items.
We were especially excited to be able to give away four raffle baskets, pictured below. Each basket has books for Queer representation and other pride-themed goodies including sensory tools! Raffle winners have been called and prizes are en route this week!
We are so grateful to all of you for continuing to support our work at A Squared Arts! Leave a comment below with your thoughts on the post, or with some requests of what you'd like to see more of!
Miller, R. A., Nachman, B. R., & Wynn, R. D. (2020). "I Feel Like They are all Interconnected": Understanding the Identity Management Narratives of Autistic LGBTQ College Students. College Student Affairs Journal, 38(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1353/csj.2020.0000