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People We Love: Stella Young, Melbourne, Australia

Earlier we posted something about life and work of Laura Hershey:

In a letter published to herself, writer/comedian/activist Stella Young gives her younger self advice and references this poem by Laura:

You must remember fellow crip activist Laura Hershey’s words every day. You haven’t read them yet, so I’ll give them to you early:

You get proud by practicing.

This is possibly the most important thing anyone will ever tell you. The journey towards disability pride is long, and hard, and you have to practice every single day. From where I write to you now, at the age of 31, I have been practicing a long time, and I’m still not there. That’s OK. Perhaps it’s not an achievement you can ever truly unlock. The self-doubt and the internalised ableism will always creep back in at odd moments – like when you’re on a dance floor late on a Friday night, or when your friends forget to host parties in accessible venues, or when you are naked with someone new for the first time – but you’ll get quicker at banishing those thoughts, and you’ll have far less of them than you do now.

What Laura said was true. You get proud by practicing. Practice every day. Other people can love you, but only you can make you proud.

The way you’ve been conditioned to think about disability can’t be easily fixed by just putting a positive spin on everything. It’s much more complicated than that, and so are you. Disabled people live complicated lives. Never decide what you think about something with absolute certainty. Always be open to having your opinion challenged and your mind changed.

Go ahead. Lead a rich and messy life. It will get better and better, and just when you think it can’t get any better than that, it will.

For Stella’s entire letter first published by ABC Ramp Up on October 4, 2013:

Stella Young is a comedian, disability advocate and Editor of ABC’s Ramp Up website.


Twitter: @stellajyoung


Read some of her recent work:

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