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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

DOWN MEMORY LANE

PART 1

I didn’t realise how much things have changed since I left my local university in 2002. I still remember how I would dream of becoming a teacher or at least be involved in education when I grew up. Just three hours at my old university and I find myself asking how I ended up where I am today.


I guess it all started a long time ago, when I became very aware that I was viewed differently because of the way I walked. As I wrote in an earlier post, one such ‘waking’ moments was when I got to know that one of my best friends had received a ‘prize’ because he had helped ‘his mate with special needs’. Today, I can say that this experience has shaped my ideas as an activist but at the time it only forced me to push away any suggestions that I was disabled, and - if I could - I would run away from any approaching disabled person for fear of being 'associated' with disability.


It was only in 2003 that I had to face my ‘fear’ of being identified as ‘disabled’. Although I started using a wheelchair during my studies due to my poor health at the time which didn’t help my mobility impairment, I never wanted to be viewed as a ‘disabled person’. I remember conjuring images of pity, helplessness and dependence when I heard the words 'disabled people'. After all, that was what I had been taught disabled people were - pitiful beings!


On the other hand, I was also terrified of the religious interpretations which oscillated between explaining off impairment as product of original sin, and to ones that proclaimed my impairment as a ‘gift’ or a means to attain my salvation. Yes, it was but for a different reason. So, disability was the last thing on my mind when I turned 22. But there was another reason, perhaps more personal that made me want to keep away from being perceived as ‘disabled’.


Here it goes … the fear of being seen as asexual! The words that referred to disabled people in Malta at the time, and to a certain point today, were all referring to people with impairments as ‘angels’. And not only did I feel threatened by this word as I was becoming a rebellious teenager but I felt that it robbed my identity and turned me into a simple, and non-human, being. Kind of like a human amoeba…


To be continued …

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