A Brief History of Disability Pride Parades

Since our 2nd Annual Nacogdoches Disability Pride Parade is exactly one month from today, I thought it might be a good thing to do a little research on the history of disability pride parades. I need to make a couple points before I start. First, if you Google that topic you are likely to find the Wikipedia page that has some inaccuracies* that I aim to correct here. Unfortunately, its contents get frequently referenced on other sites. What follows here is a draft (with links) of what I plan on submitting to Wikipedia so they get it right. Second, I found all of the following by digging well past the Wikipedia page on Google to find news reports and parade web pages. I also searched for parades that had Facebook pages, but it is entirely possible (actually, I am hopeful) that there were other parades that happened but never got into the archives I searched. If readers out there have other links or personal accounts to parades not listed here, please let me know. Okay, here goes.

The biggest annual disability pride parade happens in Chicago, and they started in 2004. But according to a news release from them they got the inspiration from the first actual parade in Boston in 1990. Chicago has had 11 parades and they are still going strong as they plan for their 12th. I was honored to participate in their 10th Anniversary parade in 2103. Discovering Chicago’s parade is what gave me the inspiration to have a parade here in Nacogdoches.

The second oldest parade takes place in Silicon Valley, Mountain View, CA to be exact. They have hosted five parades so far and are also going strong as they plan for their 6th.

The third oldest parade takes place in Trenton, NJ. They have hosted four parades to date. I see no plans for a 5th on their website, but I assume they will be having another this year.

The fourth oldest parade that I can find happens in Philadelphia, PA. They have had three parades and are in the planning stages for their 4th.

As mentioned above, Boston, MA held a parade in 1990 and another in 2104, thus making it the fifth oldest parade. I see no plans for another parade.

The sixth oldest parade, and as far as I can tell the only other city to hold annual parades is our own here in Nacogdoches, TX. This will be our 2nd annual parade. We are by far the smallest city to hold a disability pride parade, which I think is worthy of great pride. As I have said before on this blog, if it can happen here it can (and will) happen anywhere.

Cities that held one parade in the past few years include Columbus OH (2014) and Colorado Springs, CO (2012).

The year 2010 was a big year for disability pride parades because it was the 20th Anniversary of the ADA. Specific parades were held that year in Columbia, MO, Logan, UT, and Davis, CA.

Finally, New York City is going to have their first disability pride parade this year. About time!

To summarize, as far as I can tell, only 12 cities have held at least one disability pride parade. The only cities to hold multiple parades are Chicago, IL, Mountain View, CA, Trenton, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Boston, MA, and Nacogdoches, TX. All of those cities with the exception of Boston hold annual parades. Six other cities have either held parades or are in the process of organizing their first parade this year.

This shows that we are a movement, people! If ever there was something to be proud of and share, this is it!

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* Wikipedia mentions disability pride parades in Detroit, Houston and Atlanta. I can find no reference to any such parade in Detroit, but they did have an arts project that then participated in the Chicago parade in 2010. I know people in Houston directly connected to the disability community, and they say there has never been such a parade there. I am trying to get some of those people up here for our parade. As for Atlanta, the only thing I can find is a Gay Pride Parade, which is not the same thing at all, though the disability and LGBT communities have close social and political ties, so it’s possible there was some connection there in a parade. As for the international disability pride parades listed on Wikipedia, I did not research those.

UPDATE 8/2/15:

Atlanta has now had a parade!

New York City has also had their parade!

That’s two new parades in a year!!

The Mountain View, CA parade is moving to San Francisco, and they are calling it a “Disability Unity Festival.” Apparently they have joined with other CIL’s to create a bigger organization and needed a bigger venue, which is wonderful, and it will happen on 9/26/15!

Chicago (12th) and Philadelphia (4th) have had their annual parades, and Trenton, NJ will have it’s 2nd in October.

That’s all the parade updates for now. Be proud and share the news!


4 thoughts on “A Brief History of Disability Pride Parades

  1. On Aug. 20,2016 at 9:30am in Spokane,Wa. downtown in Riverfront Park .We will be having our first Inland empire Disability Pride Celebration Parade. We will be with the Unity in The Community .The I.D.C. Parade will be going in to the festival .

  2. Hello, I live in Seattle, WA and I am wanting to know if there will be any events happening near by soon. I would love to get more involved.

    • I just googled it and didn’t see anything coming up, but it looks like they have had some activities in the past. Check out “Seattle disability pride” on Facebook and google and you will see what I mean. Also, disabilitypride.org links to a CIL there, which would be a good place to start getting involved. Good luck!!

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