by Karen Ocamb
Originally published: July 22, 2016
Much of America shed tears of joy last May when hunky, sexually fluid “America’s Next Top Model” winner Nyle DiMarco—who is deaf—won “Dancing with The Stars.” How could he dance if he couldn’t hear the music? DiMarco’s personality, tenacity, hard work and determination to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles provided an inspiring symbol of success only a few would have even dared imagine.
But the DWTS contestant went one step further—performing the first-ever, riveting same-sex dance on the popular ABC show, illuminating an intersection between the LGBT and disability communities that is longer and deeper than many realize. Indeed, developing not only a bridge between the two siloed rights movements but a bond based on commonalities could lead to the lessening of societal stigma, greater efforts at suicide prevention and an expansion of workplace possibilities for both during these difficult political times.
The intersection and connection between the LGBT and disability rights movements was a key point addressed at a Netroots Nationpanel on July 13. LGBT legal icon Chai Feldblum, the first openly lesbian commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), moderated the panel with Rebecca Cokley, executive director of the National Council on Disability,Shannon Price Minter, transgender legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and Anupa Iyer, attorney and advocate for people with psychiatric disabilities.