In remembrance of poet and activist Laura Hershey

Laura Hershey, a poet and disability rights activist passed away this weekend.

I had the great fortune of getting to know Laura this summer when we both participated in a writer’s retreat hosted by the Lambda Literary Foundation. I wish our paths had crossed sooner. She was a talented poet, passionate activist, mother and partner.

Laura was featured on Feministing in 2007, in an interiew by Celina.

Here is an excerpt from that interview:

What do you think are some common stereotypes of people living with disabilities?

I think the main thing is that people think of [one's disability] as a private little problem, a tragedy. They don’t think it has anything to do with the world.

People with disabilities is one of the largest minority groups in the world. We need to recognize the existence of people living with disabilities to ensure that we have equal access and opportunity. I do not want people to think of disability in terms of charity. It’s a matter of justice. All people have rights and we have to ensure that those rights are truly available to people.

What are some issues that women living with disabilities particularly face?

Generally, things like unemployment, underemployment, invisibility in the media. The issues that all women deal with are issues that women living with disabilities deal with usually. As well as the issues that men living with disabilities deal with, or more so. Access to healthcare is a big issue. Access to primary care.

I’ve read that many young women living with disabilities are often not given proper sex education.

Yes, I think that’s true. Schools are giving less sex education anyway to anybody. But I think girls with disabilities get a lot of negative messages about their sexuality. That it’s dangerous. That they need to be protected from it rather than it’s a normal part of life growing up.

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