We have to admit that when we downloaded Adoring Allies, we were at a pretty low point in our political lives, we had just broken up with the tall, dark, handsome, and well-spoken man of our dreams and faced the future with pure dread. I mean, look at the prospects! Our relationship with our ex wasn’t perfect, but at least he could string together a full and intelligent sentence without constantly pausing to bend around and kiss his own ass. In light of what was out there, we turned to the people around us for fulfillment—the people who called themselves our allies.
The profiles for Adoring Allies were all so appealing. We swiped right on Black Lives Matter Activists enamored by the passion and community they seemed to have built. They recounted the young black youths whose lives had been taken before their time, the organizational feats they had undertaken and the hope they had for the future. You felt comfortable with them but as soon as you mentioned the high rates of disabled people who are shot and/or killed in police encounters, the mood shifted and suddenly, you felt like the odd person out. They nodded dismissively and moved on briskly, never to touch on the topic unless it could not be avoided. You would support their work in the future, but could you ever see them in the same way?
While your first experience with Adoring Allies left much to be desired, it didn’t stop you from taking a chance on the next card you swiped right on: Women’s March Advocates. You had a lot in common with them and even shared some of the same Facebook friends. They were verified. Their pictures were what drew you in; there were women of all colors and the men that had supported them. They were even a bit naughty with their pussy(hats) on display. However, when you decided to look closer at the fanfare, you rarely saw people like you in leadership. Disabled women, though somewhat involved, seemed to be an afterthought in the whole process. Throughout the date you started getting flashbacks to third grade when Sarah invited everyone in your class to her birthday party except you and when you asked her about it, she told you that you could come as long as no one else showed up (still pissed). By the time you were ready to leave, you did so before you could hear their vague hypothetical plans for the future. You never really heard from them again.
By the time you encountered the Healthcare advocates, your confidence was a bit bruised, and none of the dates you had been on had given you that feeling: like you had a future together. So, when healthcare reached out to you, you were pleasantly surprised. In every other movement, you felt like you were edging your way in and trying to mold yourself into the person they represented. But healthcare? Yes, this was made for you. Healthcare advocates loved your body and all of its curves and edges. You didn’t have to become less disabled for them, they liked the crutches and the wheels. This was a movement that was built FOR YOU. You went out and protested alongside them, taking a chance on their ally-ship. And things got heated. Don’t lie, things got hot. In fact, I even heard the handcuffs were brought out in Rochester, New York and Washington D.C. (don’t lie, naughty you. Arrest records are sexy). There was a lot of push and pull, but it felt more like give and take and when you both reached the climax of Obamacare not being repealed, you both parted satisfied. You were so excited with the thought of the future with this prospect. You could genuinely see a future. You could see you giving of yourself in this ally-ship and feeling appreciated in return. When the dust had settled, you decided to do some light Facebook stalking, you hadn’t heard from them in a while. What can you say? You’re a product of your time. Click after click though, there was no indication that you mattered to them at all, there was no glimmer that you had even participated in the movement despite feeling that the entire encounter was good for the both of you. They acted as though they came to this moment of satiation all on their own. You weren’t even a factor to them. You were used. Just a warm body and some inspiration to a political movement that you can’t even be sure will be of aid to you in the future.
So how are you to look forward with the hope that you matter? I mean, how can you recover these ally-ships while feeling used and erased? Do we have to continue to settle for the bare minimum in recognition for our emotional efforts? Or do we hold out for the Big Bang? The real thing? Some movement that will accept us, and appreciate our passion and diversity and genuinely include us. We do not want least amount of inclusion necessary so they can fall asleep congratulating themselves for their efforts in the name of diversity. So, my last question to you is this: Did you swipe left or right for the Science March?