Man with cerebral palsy shares how his disability inspired him to educate others
Andrew Morrison-Gurza describes himself as "the sexiest queer cripple you will ever meet."
"I am fiercely proud of my disability and all that it brings to the table, bedroom or any other place. I want to make sure that people see my chair, and they are ready to explore what that means," he says. Growing up with cerebral palsy and a wheelchair user, Andrew never felt his disability was hard. It was never a hindrance to what he wanted to do or the things he was going to accomplish in life. If anything, it made him want to fight harder. His family always told him, "Everyone has things they can and can't do," while still ensuring he was included in everything that his peers did.
However, throughout his formative years, Andrew noticed that many of his peers didn't really know how to interact with him. He would come up against a lot of ignorance and a lack of access (to public spaces), which he says became one of his greatest adversities. These encounters and experiences inspired Andrew's decision to become a full-time disability-awareness worker. As a disability-awareness consultant, Andrew works to make disability accessible for all, with some of his main objectives being addressing the emotional impact that disabilities have on us and how we can provide the tools to have open dialogue around the topic. He asks, "How does disability feel? For both myself, and for someone who is encountering disability for the first time?" adding that these are questions that should be brought forward.
There is still a lot to break down and unpack with disabilities, so Andrew created a campaign cheekily titled Deliciously Disabled, which "offers a new language to describe disability that embraces disability not for what it could or should be, but for all that it is." As part of the campaign Andrew also asked fans and followers to tweet photos of themselves that showcased their disability or "allyship" using the hashtags #DeliciouslyDisabled or #DeliciouslyDisabledAlly. Andrew explains, "I want to show people that while it's OK to be scared re: disability, there are many delectable parts you'll miss if all you focus on is fear."
Deliciously Disabled also includes advocacy work for queer disabled folks. "The disabled community has yet to be recognized in the LGBTQ+ community. Disability suggests a different construction of queerness, and that scares the sh*t out of people." Growing up, he remembers that he didn't have any role models to look up to or other queers with disabilities who had told their stories before him. Andrew says, "I have always said that through this work, I wanted to create an inroad for other queers with disabilities to tell their stories. When I was younger, I was desperately seeking a semblance of self in gay media. We don't see disability in queer porn, in queer mags, in queer clubs because it defies all that community has been taught about what is sexy."
Andrew is on a mission to make all bodies — disabled or otherwise — be seen as good bodies. Unafraid to take up space and ask questions that need to be asked. "So often when we talk about the term disability, we tend to do so in one of two ways: medical or political." The trouble with this, though, is we begin to forget that there is a person attached to that disability. Thankfully Andrew is here to help guide us along the way.