by Jeremy Kaplan-Mayer, Mishkan Shalom
Hi, I am Jeremy. I am a TAP teen, and am part of the LGBTQ+ community. I am Trans and Bisexual. My brother George has Autism. I’ve had an Autistic brother my whole life, so I am definitely educated about people with disabilities, but there is one thing I was never aware of. I was never aware of the history of LGBTQ+ people with disabilities. I’ve recently become part of the LGBTQ+ community, but have been advocating for people with disabilities alongside my mother for my whole life. I recently have been learning about how both groups collide. I have of course known people with disabilities who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, but I was never aware of the history of LGBTQ+ disability advocates . There is history about it that I had never known or learned about.
Kitty Cone was a Lesbian Disability Rights Advocate. We learned about her in TAP. She was openly Lesbian in her life, and had a wife, named Mary Lou. Kitty Cone was a wheelchair user. When she was a young girl, she got misdiagnosed by the doctors with cerebral palsy, but then got diagnosed with polio, but what she really had was muscular dystrophy. According to Google, muscular dystrophy is when gene mutations are abnormal, and cause the bones to deteriorate. Kitty Cone struggled with this, but kept pushing through her life. She went to college, and figured out how to navigate through college despite her condition. She figured out how to live in dorms, and was a cheerleader for the college’s wheelchair basketball team. I didn’t know wheelchair basketball teams existed! One of her most notable actions was the 504 sit in. The 504 law is known as the Rehabilitation Act, of 1973. It prohibits discrimination towards people with disabilities. Kitty organized a sit-in to enforce these laws.
Kitty Cone is an example of a historical figure who is connected with these two groups, LGBTQ+ and Disabilities advocates.