Ableism and Punk on the Eve of Fest Weekend

27 10 2011

All the cool punx~*~ know, this weekend is Fest 10 and I’m finally getting to pop my Fest cherry. I’ve been looking forward to this since I got my pass over the summer and I have barely been able to think about anything else the past couple of weeks (As the Germans would say, ich bin stoked). But behind all the giddiness is a nagging reminder that I’m going to be at a punk festival with visible and invisible disabilities.

This is not the first show I’m going to ever, but I stopped going to shows a few years ago (the last show I was at was Gaslight Anthem/Murder by Death/The Loved Ones/Broadway Calls in Philly in 09, and nothing since) and while distance played a factor, sure. But primarily, I was fed up with (and at times, frightened by) the amount of ableism in the punk scene. I’m not the first person to write about the various isms in the community (30 seconds on google will point you to people who have written on it more extensively and eloquently than I have) and the response they get is almost always the same: a few messages of support, followed by everyone else trying to prove how not (whatever ism) they are, how “it’s just punk, man” or it escalates to threats of violence. It’s at the point where it’s completely expected.

Since the community is comprised of mostly cis white able bodied men, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am sick of it. I don’t want to avoid going to shows because hardcore bros and pop-punk Nice Guys(tm) tend to be ableist as fuck. I don’t want to worry about accessibility issues, or wonder what response I’ll get when I wallk into a venue with an assistive device. I know posting this puts a target on my back, and I’m sure I’ll get at least one “YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO START SHIT!” but fuck that noise. I want to see bands I love, discover some new ones, and have good times with lovely people this weekend. Am I allowed to do it all while being disabled?