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  • Writer's pictureErin Clark

Intimacy of inclusion

photo by Marta Ariza

It happens often that producers contact you and want to tell stories about you.

“Have you heard of inspiration porn?” You sweetly ask them before you say yes.

When they’re good, the producers listen keenly as you explain that currently most representations of disabled people are problematic in that they are framed from an able bodied perspective for the benefit of other able bodied people and the actual person with the disability that it’s all supposed to be about is just a prop. Also, it tends to be a boring story.

“That’s very interesting.” The producers say. And, “You are a most interesting Sex Icon, this is why I am reaching out.” And then some variation of these magic words: what story do you want to tell?

Then you say yes.

You said yes to Hannah.

She sent you a videographer, she sent you an outline of shots, she sent you a list of questions. You reframed the questions and sent them back. She worded them differently and returned them to you. You built a story you both liked. Together.

And that’s what you would really like to say about inclusion. With big demonstrations like this mini doc and by saying it over and over again. Inclusion is a matter of relating. Not mechanics. Inclusion is a relationship. It’s not charity. It’s not facilitating. It’s a relationship between types of people who have different needs. It’s a relationship where those people keep each other’s needs in mind. A relationship where they contribute to each other. They make something. Together.

You love this video for highlighting - not how amazing it is that you pole dance in the first place (which may be true but doesn’t really need a documentary) - but how Salima and you created wheelchair pole dance out of nothing. Together. It shows how accessibility and appropriate judging systems are key features, but at its very essence, inclusion is personal - and emotional. It shows that the obstacle and inspiration is not your body - it’s your relationships.

When all the details of production had been worked out and the doc was ready to publish you told Hannah, ‘If there was a TripAdvisor for producers, I’d give you all the stars. I have learned so much from going through the process with you!”

‘I’d do the same.” She replies, “And I've definitely learned a lot from you as well, speaking with you has really helped me open my eyes to how we can more positively represent disability in our projects.”

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