February 28, 2019
When Andrew Gurza was surfing the internet recently, he noticed something disheartening: the lack of representation of disabled people being shown as desirable. Andrew decided to take matters into his own hands. Now the hashtag he started, #DisabledPeopleAreHot, has taken the internet by storm and disabled people all over the world have joined the crusade.
Sharing is Caring
Andrew explained how the now famous hashtag was born: “It started as a bit of fun. I put it on my Twitter one day and noticed that nobody was using it. I decided to run with it and thought I could turn it into something.”
Andrew, who has cerebral palsy, asked others to share photos where they felt empowered, were smiling, laughing and embracing their disability. It wasn’t long before the fun experiment took off and became a worldwide movement.
Some participants posed with their mobility device, while others chose to highlight the hidden disabilities they live with. Not only has the movement been an encouraging form of self-expression for those who live with a disability, but it’s also prompted powerful discussion into how people view their disabled peers. Many of the contributors gave an insight into the ways in which they feel excluded.
Radio presenter Niamh Hughes shared: “I’ve heard things like, ‘oh you’re too pretty to be disabled’. It’s almost like there’s this assumption that those two things are mutually exclusive. That needs to be addressed.”
According to Andrew the discussion has thrown up some difficult issues in society that still need to be addressed.
Andrew explained: “As a disabled person I felt bad because it showed how much internalised ableism we still have in our community and how afraid we’re to admit that we’re allowed to get out there and be desired.”
It seems the hashtag has prompted a wider conversation about how those with disabilities can be marginalised within society in general.
Niamh notes: “When we talk about diversity, which unfortunately has become a bit of a buzzword, we tend to talk a lot about ethnicity, race, sexuality, yet disability gets left by the wayside massively. I think bringing this hashtag to the fore has started a conversation about the lack of visibility of disabled people.”
Big Plans for the Future
Since the hashtag went viral, the effects of it and the movement sparked by it shows no sign of slowing down. Meanwhile, Andrew has big plans on how to keep us all talking about this hot topic.
He laughs: “I’m doing t-shirts! I really want to make this a thing and have fun with it.”