*Warning: this is satire, don’t get offended*
I live in Atlanta and nothing says “Good Morning!” like having a street preacher try to pray away my “afflictions.” In their eyes I’m dual diagnosis (blind and gay), one of them is less visible (no pun intended). I have a friend in the area that has similar experiences on the train. Living in the Bible belt with a disability can be a little annoying at times:
It always starts innocently enough:
“Hello!” says the stranger.
“Hi,” I reply.
“Lovely morning isn’t it?” they beam at me energetically.
I smile (not entirely in the mood to be talked to so early) and reply “Uh-huh.”
“Can I ask you a question?” they inquire.
I reply before thinking, “Sure” (and then the voice in my head screams, “NO! IT’S A SETUP!”)
“Is it okay if I pray for your disease?”
“I’m sorry, wha- no, I’d rather you didn’t. I’m fine.”
“God could make you better.”
“I’m good, I’ll pass. Thanks though.”
“Well, I’m going to pray for you anyway.”
I can find the humor in these situations now. At first, I would just get annoyed at someone trying to spiritually “fix” me. This type of situation isn’t just limited to train rides either. They could strike at anytime, anywhere. Enjoying a lovely lunch, sitting in the park enjoying the weather, getting a drink at a local bar, there are street preachers and proselytizers spring-loaded and ready to pounce like a cougar after its prey and exorcize the demons that have taken a hold of my eyesight. The speed with which they move is astounding, they can sense when you are distracted or vulnerable, and they break the sound barrier getting to you.
The second weekend in October was Gay Pride in Atlanta, a great time of general happiness and enjoying who I am in the world. With Pride, however, come the protesters. These protesters come from all over, many of which are locals. Sometimes, I get fun, awkward moments when a person that previously attempted to pray for me [for being gay] suddenly wanted to damn me, but still wanted my disability to go away. I am a paradox to many (not all) of them and I love it.
In all seriousness though, it’s important to keep in mind that not all of us with disabilities think we need to be healed or fixed. This touches on a topic I brought up in a previous blog, that of the well-meaning bystander. After discovering the ILWAD site, I now have a nice response when I just want to end the discussion polite-ishly thanks to Scott: “Why would I want you to my pray disability away? I’m beautiful, not broken.”
Have you had a similar experience? Feel free to share below; I’d love to hear them!